Friday, February 15, 2013

Michael Flowers presents ONLY AN EXPERT by Laurie Anderson

San Francisco Bay Meteor

At 7:42 pm PST tonight, I saw the brightest meteor I've seen in years, heading in the general direction of San Francisco. Just sayin'....

Lo, and behold, others saw it too.

Get Well Soon, Lady Gaga

So sad to hear about this:
Lady Gaga's canceled Born This Way Ball – which was set to run 22 more nights at arenas through March 20th – will lead to nearly $30 million in refunds, according to estimates based on Pollstar data. And that's not counting the huge potential income losses from merchandise, food, beer and parking sales. "It was definitely a blow," says Bernie Punt, sales and marketing director for the Bryce Jordan Center at Pennsylvania State University, which had nearly sold out its 12,500 capacity for Gaga's March 2nd gig.

...Gaga announced on Tuesday that she was forced to cancel all remaining dates on the tour due to a labral tear to her right hip, requiring surgery.

Minimum-Wage Morons

Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) tries to blame lazy, modern teenagers, rather than the even lazier teenager she once was:
Making $2.15 an hour certainly does sound worse than today’s minimum wage, which federal law mandates must be at least $7.25 an hour. But what Blackburn didn’t realize is that she accidentally undermined her own argument, since the value of the dollar has changed immensely since her teenage years. Blackburn was born in 1952, so she likely took that retail job at some point between 1968 and 1970. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, the $2.15 an hour Blackburn made then is worth somewhere between $12.72 and $14.18 an hour in today’s dollars, depending on which year she started.
Look, I was happy to get $1.80/hr. in 1973. $2.15 would have been the moon!  She wasn't making minimum-wage!

Yglesias notes:
One thing Republicans could do in response to Obama's popular plan to help economically struggling Americans is say "yes" and vote for it. But obviously they won't do that.

So something else they could do is take up one of several alternative policies that economists tend to like better. They could embrace a larger Earned Income Tax Credit. They could embrace a Guaranteed Basic Income. They could target their assistance at families with a bigger refundable child tax credit. But they're not going to do any of those things either. Nor are they going to say that the real solution is expansionary monetary to create tight labor markets and the chance for workers to obtain higher market wages without government intervention. They're just going to offer nothing.

Our Charming Gun Nuts

SAN FRANCISCO -- State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) has received death threats before, he said Thursday, but this one was “unlike any other.”

The emailed warning that arrived four weeks ago was explicit and chilling, the San Francisco Democrat told reporters two days after a suspect was arrested in the case, so particular that it could not be ignored as “racist ranting” or protected speech.

“The author of that email specifically stated that if I did not cease efforts to deal with gun violence that he would assassinate me in or around the Capitol,” Yee said during a morning news conference here. “He stated that he was a trained sniper.”

Yee said his office immediately notified authorities about the warning, which “detailed in a rather specific way certain weapons that he possessed and exactly how he was going to kill me.”

On Tuesday, law enforcement officials arrested Everett Basham, 45, a Silicon Valley engineer who once worked with Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Chief Scott MacGregor, head of the California Highway Patrol’s protective services division, said that officers found “precursor chemicals” used for bomb making and “chemicals that had an explosive component” while serving a search warrant at Basham’s Santa Clara home.

MacGregor, who appeared with Yee on Thursday morning, said officials are “not suggesting that [Basham] was anywhere near taking action on the threat” against the legislator, but rather that “he was arrested for making the threat.”

"Urinetown" Promo Pictures Day

Karen Meeks Johnson "I Want You Back"

Glad to see Nick Leisure is posting again! (He makes fine Sacramento and Bay Area music videos, but he hadn't posted much lately).

North Korean Hopes To Reunite With South Korea And Destroy The United States

Yup, this is cause for worry, especially since their capabilities are improving every day.

I don't think North Koreans appreciate that the United States will never allow them to pose a serious threat.

I know, I known, it's supposed to be a dream. But dreams have consequences, and the United States, acting in concert with China, South Korea, Russia and Japan, may be forced to take bloody action:
North Korea, which is poised to conduct a nuclear test any day now, has posted a video depicting a US city resembling New York engulfed in flames after an apparent missile attack.
The footage was uploaded on Saturday by the North's official website, Uriminzokkiri, which distributes news and propaganda from the state media.

The video is shot as a dream sequence, with a young man seeing himself on board a North Korean space shuttle launched into orbit by the same type of rocket Pyongyang successfully tested in December.

As the shuttle circles the globe - to the tune of We Are The World - the video zooms in on countries below, including a joyfully re-unified Korea.

In contrast, the focus then switches to a city - shrouded in the US flag - under apparent missile attack with its skyscrapers, including what appears to be the Empire State Building, either on fire
or in ruins.

"Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing," runs the caption across the screen.

"It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze with the fire started by itself," it added.

The video ends with the young man concluding that his dream will "surely come true".

"Despite all kinds of attempts by imperialists to isolate and crush us... never will anyone be able to stop the people marching toward a final victory," it said.

The North is expected to conduct its nuclear test as a defiant response to UN sanctions imposed after its December rocket launch.

Leave Your Guns Outside

The GOP's Technical Obsolescence

Yes, the glory days of direct mail are ending (and if the GOP doesn't cut the USPS some slack, they will end even faster), but the direct-mail people are still in charge:
The unnerving truth, which the Red Edge team and other younger conservatives worry that their leaders have yet to appreciate, is that the Republican Party’s technological deficiencies barely begin to explain why the G.O.P. has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. ... And today, people I know who are under 40 are embarrassed to say they’re Republicans. They’re embarrassed! They get harassed for it, the same way we used to give liberals a hard time.”

...Young Republicans now lament that no one from their side has stepped up to organize a conservative version of RootsCamp. Michael Turk, a 42-year-old Republican digital guru, suggested that the failure of G.O.P. technologists to do this springs from a uniquely Republican trait. “They all wanted to make money,” he said. “And so as a result, Katie Harbath, who was one of my deputies at the R.N.C., is now at Facebook, and Mindy Finn” — a longtime G.O.P. digital operative — “is at Twitter, and Patrick and I each started our own companies. We all found ways to parlay that into a living for our families, as opposed to just doing it for the cause.”

Several G.O.P. digital specialists told me that, in addition, they found it difficult to recruit talent because of the values espoused by the party. “I know a lot of people who do technology for a living,” Turk said. “And almost universally, there’s a libertarian streak that runs through them — information should be free, do your own thing and leave me alone, that sort of mind-set. That’s very much what the Internet is. And almost to a person that I’ve talked to, they say, ‘Yeah, I would probably vote for Republicans, but I can’t get past the gay-marriage ban, the abortion stance, all of these social causes.’ Almost universally, they see a future where you have more options, not less. So questions about whether you can be married to the person you want to be married to just flies in the face of the future. They don’t want to be part of an organization that puts them squarely on the wrong side of history.”

...Many young conservatives also said that technological innovation runs at cross-purposes with the party’s corporate rigidity. “There’s a feeling that Republican politics are more hierarchical than in the Democratic Party,” Ben Domenech, a 31-year-old blogger and research fellow at the libertarian Heartland Institute, told me. “There are always elders at the top who say, ‘That’s not important.’ And that’s where the left has beaten us, by giving smart people the space and trusting them to have success. It’s a fundamentally anti-entrepreneurial model we’ve embraced.”

...One of several G.O.P. digital whizzes who went unused by Moffatt’s shop in 2012 was Vincent Harris, a savvy 24-year-old social-media consultant whose efforts in Texas helped catapult Ted Cruz to an upset victory over a better-known candidate in the U.S. Senate primary. Harris told me he saw the Romney campaign as “a very insular, closed operation,” symptomatic of a partywide affliction. “There’s an old guard in Republican politics, and that old guard is mostly made up of television and direct-mail consultants,” he said. “And you can say that’s generational — but at the same time, David Axelrod has to be the same age as Karl Rove, right?

...It is Harris’s last point — that the G.O.P. is stuck with its current leadership for the next decade or more — that incites particular angst in young Republicans. With palpable envy, they describe the forward-leaning impulses of the Obama campaign....

...But, I asked Plouffe, wasn’t the G.O.P. just one postmodern presidential candidate — say, a Senator Marco Rubio — away from getting back into the game?

Pouncing, he replied: “Let me tell you something. The Hispanic voters in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico don’t give a damn about Marco Rubio, the Tea Party Cuban-American from Florida. You know what? We won the Cuban vote! And it’s because younger Cubans are behaving differently than their parents. It’s probably my favorite stat of the whole campaign. So this notion that Marco Rubio is going to heal their problems — it’s not even sophomoric; it’s juvenile! And by the way: the bigger problem they’ve got with Latinos isn’t immigration. It’s their economic policies and health care. The group that supported the president’s health care bill the most? Latinos.”

....The Republicans did in fact recently have a David Plouffe of their own. As one G.O.P. techie elegantly put it, “We were the smart ones, back in ’04, eons ago.” Referring to the campaign that re-elected George W. Bush, Plouffe told me: “You know how in fantasy baseball you imagine putting up your team against the 1927 Yankees? We would’ve liked to have faced off against the 2004 Republicans.

...Plouffe wasn’t referring to competing against Bush’s oft-described architect, Karl Rove — but rather, against the campaign manager, Ken Mehlman. “Mehlman got technology and organization and the truth is — I think it’s completely misunderstood — it was Ken’s campaign,” Plouffe said.

...Mehlman, according to Bush campaign officials, persuaded Rove to invest heavily in microtargeting (a data-driven means of identifying and reaching select groups of voters), which helped deliver Ohio and thus the election. He advocated reaching out to minority voters both as Bush’s campaign manager and later as chairman of the R.N.C. ....

...He left politics in 2007 and subsequently came out as gay....

...Bret Jacobson, the Red Edge entrepreneur, insisted that the solution was ultimately a simple one. “I think the answer for a vibrant Republican Party is to make our North Star empowering every individual in this country to follow their own dream, free of legislative excesses,” he told me.

...But, I asked him, don’t social conservatives feel a moral obligation to legislate their beliefs? Did Jacobson really expect the Rick Santorums of his party to let a new generation of Republican leaders tell them what to accept and how to behave?

Jacobson did not back down. “Even the Republican Party rejected Santorum,” he said. “He got some attention, and he certainly received votes. But he didn’t win.”

In a sense, however, Santorum and his fellow archconservatives did win, by tugging Mitt Romney and his pliable views rightward. Then Romney lost, and so did the Republicans.

Animation Of What The Earth Will Look Like From Asteroid 2012 DA14 As It Flies By

According to Space Weather, the asteroid is coming the south, whereas the Chelyabinsk Fireball came from the north, suggesting different origins.

Chelyabinsk Fireball Is Just AMAZING!

This is totally, absolutely the most AMAZING thing ever!

Apparently Russians drive around with dashboard cameras in routine operation, so they captured lots of video of this spectacular event.

I've read the injury total is now 700, and climbing. Was anyone killed?

I wonder how many impacts there were, and where? Meteors often explode before hitting the ground, because they are loosely held together, and can't stand the stress of atmospheric entry. Did the fireball completely vaporize, or are there chunks littering the Russian countryside?

I read somewhere there were sporadic power outages too. Is that true?

Best compendium I've seen!

And the blast! A series of sonic booms?

A useful video, with discussion, at the New York Times.

State Of The Union, And All That

E.: MMMMAAAARRRRCCCC! Look! He did it again!

M.: (looking up) Did what?

E.: Look at his lips!

M.: Oh, he does that nervous, twitchy thing, and licks his lips!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Scariest Drive Home From Davis, Ever!

Scariest drive home from Davis, ever!

I was driving east on I-80, from DMTC rehearsal in Davis, towards Sacramento. The highway construction people were closing the right lane and laying down traffic-guiding flares there (this was on the uphill segment leading to the crest of the bridge crossing the Sacramento River). A big rig moved slowly in the center lane, with me behind him, moving at 55 mph, or so.

A car speeding at about 90 mph raced past me on the right and tried to lane-change himself between the truck, and myself. He lost control, and fishtailed facing left, in an amazing skid across the entire freeway, ripping years of rubber right off the tires in furious smoke. The screech of the skid echoed off the guardrails. It was something out of Hollywood! I thought for sure I was going to T-Bone the driver's side, and kill him (but do me no favors either)! My mouth was agape, looking through his side windows a very short distance ahead, while still traveling at highway speed, thinking "he's gonna flip; he's gotta flip!, why doesn't he flip?"

His car didn't flip, though - it had a low center of gravity - and the tires took the entire, brutal punishment. Instead, he fishtailed again, facing right this time, exposing his passenger side to another possible T-Bone ramming from my vehicle. I finally stopped dead on the freeway, with the car full of acrid smoke and the screech echoing from above the Sacramento River across the entire city, but he sped away, despite the presence of the cop just over the crest of the bridge, trying once again to get around that damned truck! WTF?

My composure was - to say the least - rattled.

The ironic thing is the cop was just out-of-sight, so as far as California Highway Patrol is concerned, it never happened. The driver may have big tire issues, though, as a keepsake.

I need to go back there during the daytime, with a camera. I bet the skid marks on the roadway are legendary. The homeless folks living under the bridge are probably still talking about the screech.

(Alas, it's probably a bad idea. Pedestrians on freeway bridges are generally known as roadkill....)


I never saw this movie, but Gabe says my experience sounds something like this:

Confronted With Drones, The Texan Cockroaches Scuttle

You don't understand - Texas is precisely the right place for drone intrusiveness! Those damned Tejanos have so much to hide!:
State Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, said he is carrying legislation to prevent this futuristic technology — increasingly used by everyone from aviation hobbyists to law enforcement authorities — from capturing “indiscriminate surveillance.” It is an effort, he said, to defend Texans’ right to privacy: “Why should the government or anyone else be able to watch my every move?”

...Gooden’s House Bill 912, which is being sponsored in the Senate by John Whitmire, D-Houston and chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee, would make it a Class C misdemeanor to use an “unmanned vehicle or aircraft” to capture video or photographs of private property without the consent of the property’s owner or occupant. It would be an additional penalty to possess, display or distribute an image or video captured by an illegally operating drone.

The bill provides exceptions for law enforcement authorities, as long as they have a search or arrest warrant and are in immediate pursuit of a suspect. It also does not apply to property within 25 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico, where drones are used to enhance border security.

“It will be a greater burden on the hobbyists, but I think that’s okay,” Gooden said. “If you’re asking me to choose between my right to privacy and a hobbyist’s right to take pictures from the sky, my privacy comes first.”

Unmanned-aircraft experts say the bill is vague and would effectively nullify the benefits of drones for private use.

...“If I’m using it to continuously monitor somebody, I think we could make a law that would forbid such a thing,” Humphreys said. “But if I’m up there doing some other benign research and happen to capture your picture inadvertently, I don’t think ought to be outlawed.”

...Gooden said that the bigger question is one left unanswered by his bill: whether Texans should be able to shoot down drones hovering over their private property illegally. His answer? Absolutely.

“We should have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our home or on our private property,” he said.

Is It Possible To Puncture The Neo-Con Bubble?

Don't know, but some people make the effort. People like Paul Bremer are among the most evil people alive:

This past week, while giving a speech at an event organized by the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society in London, former U.S. civil administrator of Iraq Paul Bremer was confronted by the legacy of the human catastrophe he had helped facilitate during his tenure in that country. In an incident captured on video, an Iraqi man in the crowd who stood up to address the panel and said that he had been forced to flee Iraq after “the U.S. destroyed my country” threw both his shoes at a seemingly stunned Bremer before being removed from the event. In the commotion afterwards he can be heard to yell “You f***** up my country, you destroyed the country. F*** you and f*** your democracy.” After regaining his composure and suggesting that the Iraqi man “improve his aim if he wants to do things like that”, Bremer addressed the quieted crowd by saying “if he had done that while Saddam Hussain had been alive he would be a dead man right now”. Upon hearing Bremer’s words of proud reassurance, the gathering of neoconservative think-tank intellectuals burst into applause — a moment emblematic of the arrogance which legal impunity has generated for the architects of one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the 21st century. For Bremer — who often refers critics to “the Iraqi people” when questioned over the country’s monumental cost in human suffering during his civil administration — to be confronted by one of those very same Iraqis and still maintain his hubristic defiance is indicative of his moral bankruptcy and that of the neoconservative movement for which he remains an esteemed representative.

Sacramento Ballet's "The Great Gatsby"

Lobby at the Sacramento Community Center.  I said 'hi!' to Ron Cunningham as he strode to make his pre-show 'Great Gatsby' speech in his natty tux.  He replied 'hi!'

Ron Cunningham gives his pre-show talk regarding Balanchine's "Who Cares?" and his own world premiere of "The Great Gatsby."

Connor Mickeiwicz narrated the show itself.

Show principals:Jay Gatsby (Stefan Calka), Daisy Buchana (Alexandra Cunningham), Tom Buchana (Christopher Nachtrab), Jordan Baker (Isha Lloyd), Nick Carraway (Oliver-Paul Adams), Myrtle Wilson (Amanda Peet), George Wilson (Michael Separovich).

Standing ovation.

The Gatsby mansion parties were beyond awesome!

What made this show very special was use of live musicians (Billy Novick's Blue Syncopators) and vocalists (Frances Wheeler, particularly her rendition of Clara Smith's "It's Tight Like That".)

I hope we'll see the show performed again!  And again!

DMTC's Third Cake Auction

Tessa's "Dark Side of the Moon" Cake (in 2 parts).

Tardis cake.

Christina Rae's Petite cake.

Heart Cake.

One of Mary Young's cakes.

I believe this Coconut Cake went for the highest amount ($40).

Heidi Johnson's 'Crazy Good Chocolate Sauce'.

Noel's Strawberry Princess Cake.

Becca Chin's Chocolate Cake (which I bid on, and ultimately got!)


Adam Sartain's Dump Cake.

Optical Illusion Cake.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.

Kitty Litter Cake.

Steve says the event raised $900.  More than I expected!

Speculation Starts On Why The Pope Is Resigning

Where there's smoke:
Adele Stan addresses what virtually everyone is thinking but nobody will admit (at least on TV, particularly MSNBC where "pope news" is right up there with a terrorist attack for the amount of attention it garners.)
Citing age and infirmity as his reason for leaving the papacy, Benedict's action comes just weeks after he opened his celebrated Twitter account -- and less than a month after the decades-old child abuse scandal drew nearer to the pope's door, with revelations published in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month that Cardinal Roger Mahony, then Archbishop of Los Angeles, sought to evade the law in cases involving the sexual abuse of children by the priests in his charge by sending them to treatment facilities in states that did not require health professionals to report the crimes to authorities.
...They haven't even begun to scratch the surface of these document. Mahoney and Ratzinger worked closely together and Mahoney was previously thought to be one of the rare exceptions to the Cardinal cover-up, at least to the degree he's recently been revealed to have been involved. So, most likely, was Ratzinger. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Weather Channel Decided To Name Just About Everything

Yeah, it's all pretty stupid:
The Weather Channel announced last fall that it had decided to begin naming noteworthy winter storm systems, and the current blizzard is providing its most high-profile chance to do so. As a result, those who visit are greeted with headlines dominated by "Winter Storm Nemo." Meanwhile, those who opt for are warned of a regular old "major winter storm." The reason: Federal forecasters are refusing to play along with what is widely seen as the cable channel's PR power play. The Media Decoder explains:
[T]he National Weather Service ... has advised its forecasters not to follow the channel’s lead. ... [W]eather experts continue to roll their eyes at the channel’s storm-naming, just as they did when it was announced last November. It’s widely viewed as a marketing ploy, even though some skeptics admit that the names help raise awareness about storms. On Thursday, a National Weather Service spokesman reiterated, "We never have, nor do we have any plans to consider naming winter storms."

Tim Reckert's "Head Over Heels"

Linda Walker at Tucson Regional Ballet has a message to her far-flung students, and their friends:
Hi, all.

The Reckart family is proud to announce that their son, Tim, has been nominated for an Academy Award. The Reckart family has been with the Academy of Ballet since 1989. Their third daughter, Elizabeth is now a member of the Tucson Regional Ballet Co and she too is most proud. Tim’s Oscar-nominated film, "Head Over Heels", is now available to watch on the internet. The film is ten minutes long. If you are on Facebook, you can watch it at

and to help Tim with pre-Oscar buzz, please “LIKE” the film.

If you aren’t on Facebook, you can watch it at

Please pass this on – the more people who see it, the better. Thank you!

Miss Linda