Friday, May 24, 2013

The Dust-Up Between Michael Kinsley And Paul Krugman

Kinsley's provocation was just too much:
Krugman also is on to something when he talks about paying a price for past sins. I don’t think suffering is good, but I do believe that we have to pay a price for past sins, and the longer we put it off, the higher the price will be. And future sufferers are not necessarily different people than the past and present sinners. That’s too easy. Sure let’s raise taxes on the rich. But that’s not going to solve the problem. The problem is the great, deluded middle class—subsidized by government and coddled by politicians. In other words, they are you and me. If you make less than $250,000 a year, Obama has assured us, you are officially entitled to feel put-upon and resentful. And to be immune from further imposition.
Paul Krugman gets it: Kinsley doesn't. And that's a HUGE problem!

What is about the New Republic? It's disease of catering to conservatives was tedious by 1981. By the 1990's, it was a disease, and by 2004, when I finally abandoned it, it was crippling. They still don't get it.

"In other words, they are you and me." No, Michael, YOU are not WE! When government cuts spending, WE suffer, and YOU don't! And why, in an efficient economy like ours, that sends vast amounts of money to the top of the social pyramid, YOU happen to think WE are coddled? How the hell would YOU know? Like I say, Krugman gets it - that's why HE has a Nobel Prize in Economics and YOU don't!

Interesting 2010 Article On The Pajarito Mesa Neighborhood Of Albuquerque

(h/t Tim) A vision of the past, or a vision of the future!:
Now home to more than 400 families, the mesa is one of the largest communities, other than some along the Mexican border, to survive entirely off the grid — without running water, electricity, streets or mail. Here is a maze of unnamed dirt roads, with nary a grocery store or barbershop in sight. Adding to the sense of dislocation, Albuquerque’s skyline shimmers, Oz-like, on the horizon, a half-hour’s drive away.

...But they are not squatters: residents buy or rent their plots, and the owners pay property taxes, one of the many oddities of a community that is isolated in plain sight.

Access to water and electricity has been stymied by a legal mess and a lack of political power in the largely nonvoting community. The mesa was never legally subdivided, no streets or rights of way for power lines were set aside, and the area was never licensed for housing.

In a small step forward, this month the mesa will finally get its first water supply — a metered spigot at a single site where people can fill their barrels, instead of having to drive anywhere from 10 to 18 miles. Getting even this much took 10 years of organizing residents and pestering state and county officials, a campaign led by Sandra Montes, a former housewife who moved to the mesa in 1997 “without realizing how hard it was going to be,” she said.

Banging Away On The Book

I spent the entire week just preparing an index for my 2003 Gubernatorial Recall book. But at least that's started.

Now, time to start a third draft! It's pushed over three hundred pages of text, and I need to shrink it considerable, because that's just too many pages.

Definitely Felt The Plumas County Earthquake

Packed a punch near the epicenter:
Plumas County residents were getting back to normal this morning after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake last night shook up the area around Lake Almanor.

The temblor struck at 8:47 p.m. Thursday and was centered near Greenville, about 25 miles southwest of Susanville in far northeastern California. No major damage was reported.

..."I have open shelves in the kitchen and everything came down on the tile floor, so shards were everywhere," she said. "Lost lots of sentimental antique dishes, etc. from family. But it's only stuff. Lots of work for the shop vac."

..."It was definitely more than anything I have ever felt in the area," said Tucker. "It lasted for awhile. It just kept going. It sounded like a train going through the house."

..."We had some wine and liquor bottles break," he said. "This 5.7 was pretty solid. And we had aftershocks going all night. I didn't get much sleep because I kept feeling one every 15 minutes."

..."The good part is that the earthquake did not occur in a densely populated area," he said.

...Pacific Gas & Electric told AP about 660 customers lost power on the southwestern edge of Lake Almanor.

"We were reminded last night who's really in charge, and it's not us," said Plumas County Supervisor Kevin Goss, who represents Greenville and the east shore of Lake Almanor.

RIP, Ron Broward

A Davis institution:
Ron Broward, a Davis businessman who co-founded the popular Sudwerk microbrewery and devoted himself to finding and identifying remains of missing U.S. service members in the Korean War, died May 8 of liver failure, his family said. He was 80.

...Mr. Broward, who received the Purple Heart and other military awards, was an unpretentious man. He enjoyed mowing his lawn to relax and watching the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Chargers on TV.

"But his true love was the MIA project," his wife said. "He could go into his office and spend eight hours doing that. It was his passion."

I Can Come Out Of My Bunker Now

Unbusted! The Secret Service looked at the supposedly-counterfeit $10 bill that got me into trouble at Subway a few weeks ago, and despite failing the 'pen test', they pronounce it to be a genuine $10 bill!

Free, To A Good Home

I found a wand. Did anyone lose a wand?

Life Imitates Art

Too eerie!:
Can't wait until August for the new—and, sadly, final—episodes of Breaking Bad? Then follow the pitfalls of Stephen Doran, a 57-year-old middle school tutor with stage III cancer who was busted this week for allegedly trafficking meth.

Reports say Doran received a parcel to Match Charter Middle School on Tuesday, containing 480 grams of a substance authorities believed to be meth. After catching Doran with the suspicious package on his drive home from the school, police then searched the man's house and found $10,000 in cash, a digital scale, and 38 more grams of the substance in question.

Doran, who is also a former Massachusetts state representative, is currently undergoing chemotherapy for his illness. He's now being charged with obvious drug crimes and, because it appears he had drugs sent to his school, charges pertaining to the state's laws against drugs in school zones.

Manny Aragon's House In The South Valley

While hunting for "Breaking Bad" sites in Albuquerque's South Valley, I slowed WAY DOWN when I passed this place. It looked like it was built by a demented person in a fevered fit! I wondered why BrBa never used it as a site.

Today at UBFFT on Facebook I learned from Location Scout Christian that the house belongs to Manny Aragon, former NM legislative leader (who gets out of prison come this January). That explains why the now-desolate place is surrounded by a locked chain link fence. Apparently Christian did indeed scout it as a BrBa location! It hasn't been used by the show to date, and probably never will, because it's likely to be already too famous to include in the TV series.

But still - man! - what a place! I suppose New Mexico sends demented people to the legislature, as a matter of course. Or maybe there is a subtle idea that he was trying to express through architecture.

Here's some pictures I took a year-and-a-half ago:

On Second St. SW at Camino Cuatro sits one of the most interesting houses I think I've ever seen in Albuquerque. Someone with time, money, and inclination built this ... this ... monument....

Lots of Ocotillo in use here. Lots of Ocotillo!

Whatever madness was afoot here seems to have been arrested. There is a chain link fence around the place.

Strange cinder block turrets.

Ain't Gonna Happen - At Least, Not In Oklahoma

Last night, I turned on the Weather Channel, where discussion about the Moore, OK, tornado centered around discussion about creating safe rooms in every school in Oklahoma. They said each safe room costs a million dollars to build, and that there are 1,700 schools that need them. So, doing the math, Oklahoma would need $1.7 billion for this project. the population of Oklahoma is about 3.8 million, so that works out $450.00 for each person. For a typical family of five, that means a hit of $2,250.00. You can't raise that kind of money with a bake sale fundraiser. It would mean sharply-higher taxes, or extreme borrowing, or an infusion of massive amounts of outside money.

Ain't gonna happen.

Some rich places may end up with safe rooms, but life will go on as before on the Great Plains, ever at the mercy of the fickle weather. In a few weeks, everyone will forget the names of the kids killed in the Moore storm.

We're good at that - forgetting, that is.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Apparently a 5.7 near Susanville. Felt quite a punch! I felt an early sway, wondered for a second if I was dizzy, or something, then suddenly felt quite a few more sways.

I worry about earthquakes, since the south wall of the house has settled unacceptably, and earthquakes could accelerate damage to the house, especially if the soil is wet. No obvious acceleration, though.

Hope folks in Plumas County are OK.

Wheelchair Hit-and-Run

A man in a wheelchair died when he was struck by a car early Wednesday in Sacramento.

Police received a call of a person struck by a car at about 1:30 a.m. at 19th and X streets. Police and fire personnel responded.

The man in his 50s was declared dead at the scene. His name was not released.

A witness told officers that the man in the wheelchair was in the street when a car eastbound on X Street struck him. Sacramento police said in an activity log that the man in the wheelchair was not in a crosswalk and was going against a red light when crossing X Street.

The car was described as a white two-door Honda or Acura. The motorist did not stop.
This is about the time I'm out driving around, and it occurred less than half a mile from my house: an intersection I pass through every day. I wasn't out driving around on Wednesday evening, though.

Wheelchairs in the street always make me worry. There was that fellow who got clobbered at 27th and L Streets, over my Sutter's Fort, a few years back. I cringe every time I go through that intersection. One time, I saw a car turn onto J Street at 13th just as a woman in a wheel chair was crossing in the crosswalk, and she screamed bloody murder when she realized she was going to be run over right there and then. Fortunately, the driver heard her screams and stopped his car.

This fellow crossing X Street deserved better.

Jerry Brown Puts In A Good Word For Latin

Jerry Brown gives some advice:
[E]veryone should take Latin "because it makes you smarter." Brown, as he often reminds us, is very smart, went to a Jesuit seminary, and often uses Latin quotations.

Is Joe The Plumber Getting Stable Again?

Joe The Plumber has a girlfriend! She has a place, too. So, Joe's battered, broken old van is in her driveway awaiting repairs. An exhausting journey is at an end?

In any event, they came to my house this evening to collect some of the boxes I've been storing for him. Time to set up house!

The last three years have been particularly stressful for Joe. Recessions always are. Here's hoping Joe becomes just another happy Citizian of River City!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tayla Banks - Magalena

The day wouldn't be complete without some Brazilian Samba!

Wet Weekend

Spent a lot of time on both Saturday and Sunday paddling around three swimming pools at California Fitness, on Bond Rd., in Elk Grove. Pool, jacuzzi, pool, jacuzzi, etc.

Racquetball court. I like the blank look of this room.

"The Big Bang" - Sutter Street Theater, Folsom

Chris Schlagel (Keyboard), David Holmes, and Michael Coleman.

Excellent two-man show at Sutter Street Theater in Folsom on Friday night. Ate with the Isaacsons and Mary Young at Mel's Diner before the show.

Very fun show. The reasoning is that these two fellows use a temporarily-empty apartment to pitch a Broadway show to potential investors. The show is anticipated to be the biggest Broadway spectacular ever staged. They present what is basically the entire history of the world. Clever sketches include Two Jews building the Pyramids, Napoleon and Josephine, and a Rock music sketch. My favorite sketch was 'Cooking for Henry VIII'. Noblesse obese, indeed!

Worried About Oklahoma City

I E-Mailed John:
First guess is you're out of harm's way. Is that right?
He replied:
Yep, I'm on the northwest side. The damage is about 20 miles SE of here in Moore. It's the damndest thing about that--Moore seems to get devastated every few years...
I replied:
Glad to hear you’re all right. To me, that’s what matters.

I’m beginning to think idly about visiting Oklahoma City sometime. It’s possible I might visit Austin, TX, over the next year, and I was thinking OK City too, since they are so close.
John replied:
It sure looks like one hell of a mess down there and the tornadoes are still tearing their way eastward.

By all means come to OKC sometime. Summer is not a good time with the heat and humidity--and, of course, deadly tornadoes!!! Fall is usually a lot better. OKC and Austin may seem close but the drive is about 7 hours so you probably will want to fly if you come out this way. Southwest flies to both places.
I replied:
I thought I heard somewhere that you can point to any given piece of ground in Oklahoma, and a tornado will hit it – an average, once every thousand years. Sounds like the Gods don’t like Moore.
John replied:
The number I heard was once every 4000 years--which seems like fairly good odds. But sometimes randomness plays tricks on us...

ABC News Loses Its Credibility

Just a gang of right-wing hacks.

"Scandalgate" Is The Big Scandal

It's ridiculous, getting worse, but it also doesn't matter Daily Kos is now calling it "Scandalnavia":
Good reporters like Maggie Haberman and Ken Vogel aside, even Politico’s trademark triviality sometimes provides an important political service.

Case in point: Its hilarious “D.C. turns on Obama” piece last week, which marked the crest of Scandalmania and also helped explain polls that show Americans trust President Obama’s version of events when it comes to the Benghazi and IRS controversies. I expected polls to show people believe the president on these issues, but I’ll admit I was surprised to see his approval rating actually ticked up a bit despite the constant drumbeat of scandal. But it did — and that should force the media to look in the mirror, though it probably won’t.

...The GOP tipped its weak hand on the IRS scandal over the weekend, when top Republicans were forced to complain about a White House “culture of intimidation” rather than point to evidence that the White House directed (or even knew about) the Tea Party targeting. Not only Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell but Texas Sen. John Cornyn used the very same “culture of intimidation” talking points. The creative Peggy Noonan came up with the memorable notion that the GOP doesn’t need (and won’t find any) proof that the White House directed the IRS mess, because Obama was using a “dog whistle” to sic his pack of political hounds on his enemies.

...MSNBC’s Chris Hayes has taken to calling the past 10 days of media frenzy “Scandalgate,” making the point that the real scandal here is journalists conflating three very different issues — Benghazi, the IRS and the DOJ’s targeting journalists in its leak investigations — into one big, undifferentiated mass of … well, they don’t know what, except it’s gotta spell trouble for the president.

...What’s most disturbing, though, is that the paranoia and anger of the Tea Party base, as echoed by an intimidated, primary-averse GOP leadership, are taken seriously by Beltway journalists, who then lose their own ability to distinguish fact from right-wing fantasy. I keep thinking scandal fever has broken, but it’s not over yet. Still, these latest polls may make a few journalists nervous about insisting that they speak for the American people, and the American people are angry about scandals. They’re not, yet, and the Beltway’s insistence that the opposite is true just shows how “the town” doesn’t know much about the rest of the country.

Big Problems Near Oklahoma City

Ever-present danger out there:
A tornado was on the ground near Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon, moving toward populated areas.

The National Weather Service issued a rare tornado emergency for the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, meaning that significant and widespread damage and fatalities are likely.

Video from CNN affiliates showed a funnel cloud stretching from the sky to the ground, kicking up debris.

More than 171,000 people could be in the path of the storm.
Live Blog

Author Takes Issue With Many State Birds

The Western Meadowlark is a great bird, but too many states claim it:
Seven cardinals but no hawks? Come on!

Surprise Motivation Talk At Step One

After Pepper Von was injured (I think, towards the end of February, with a torn meniscus in his knee - a common-enough injury for a professional fitness instructor) I saw him only once more, a few weeks later, when he explained he'd be back in about four weeks. I took this short healing time as bravado: torn meniscus can be slow to heal. Nevertheless, four weeks passed, and Pepper remained absent. I figured something was up, but didn't know what.

At the end of last night's workout, Pepper made an appearance. He looked a bit frail, and had lost weight. Turned out, he'd caught a staph infection in the hospital, and suffered several additional surgeries as well. So, over the last several months, Pepper has been fighting for his life. And is still doing so.

Pepper thanked us for remaining steadfast, and discussed the dark times he has had. For someone who's been as healthy and active all his life as Pepper, this blow is terribly cruel. But we will persevere, as Pepper has - and will.

Jonathan Karl Should Stop Being A Hack

Here, here! (via Daily Kos):
[A]t every level of his steady rise in the business, some executive should have looked at Karl's resume, seen The Collegiate Network there, and then shitcanned the thing before the interview process even began. Are there conservatives who are good reporters? Absolutely. But all the ones that I know came up the same way I did, and none of them came up through the coddled terrariums of the activist Right. They learned their craft. They were not trained to be spies in the camp of the enemy. They were not trained to be moles. And every damn one of them would have checked those phony e-mails before throwing them out to the public, and most of them wouldn't have fallen for them, because they are journalists, reporters, and newsmen. They are not partisan warriors, propagandists, or hacks. If Jonathan Karl doesn't like being called a hack, then he should stop being a hack. Here's one way to do it.

Blow the source who lied to you and, therefore, lied to us.

Do that. Or be a hack.

There's no third alternative.

They Explain To Mark S. Allen How Truth Or Consequences, NM, Got its Name

Mark S. Allen is with a spacesuit in southern New Mexico.

"Get Fierce Funk" On Good Day Sacramento

This is my crew! And this is the routine they taught us yesterday evening!

In the front, Corina Bianca is on the left, and Krystle Morales is on the right. Djembe accompaniment by Tyehimba Kokayi.

I thought they were trying to kill me, actually. We did this high-intensity routine straight, for an hour and a half. No breaks. No mercy. At all. Like I mentioned on Facebook, I'm not 25 anymore. Never was. But maybe I can reach 25, if I keep up.

Breaking Bad Addiction

Resistance is useless:
Clearly, suspense is a key factor. The writers of these shows have taken the need to know what happens next to a new level. They’ve learned how to break off an episode at the very moment when it all hangs in the balance, for example, when Walt gets into a car where Tuco, a sociopathic rival, waits in the back seat with a gun.

...But if the story line propels me into my TV grotto, it’s the realism that keeps me there. There’s nothing artificial about “Breaking Bad” — the spell is never broken. The dialogue is pitch-perfect. And there’s a lot of useless but fascinating information: you can learn how a meth lab operates, how money is laundered and guns are sold, how to murder people.

...THEN there’s the background, the territory. We know our way around Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha, Joyce’s Dublin and Bellow’s Chicago: now we have the Albuquerque of “Breaking Bad.” It’s a second home to me: I know its restaurants, its scrubby desert, its ranch houses with their two-car garages and swimming pools. The characters become weirdly familiar, too. I spend more time in their company than I do with my closest friends. I observe them closely. There comes a point when these are no longer actors to me: they are real people leading their lives.

...The most compelling thing about the show, though, what makes it unique among TV series, is its depiction of how good and evil can coexist in one person. Walt gets into the meth business for an altruistic reason: he has lung cancer and wants to ensure his family’s financial security after he dies. Walt is a decent man. He cares for his teenage son, who has cerebral palsy; he feeds the baby. He’s monogamous even when he’s separated from his wife, Skyler. He’s a moralist: “It’s about choices, choices that I have made, choices I stand by.” And his knowledge of chemistry, displayed at odd moments, makes him endearing. (The show was pitched as “Mr. Chips” becomes “Scarface.”)

...The corruption of character doesn’t happen overnight. Its progress is insidious. Most of the characters in “Breaking Bad” are not all bad; even Mike, the resident hit man, can hand his granddaughter a bouquet of balloons before heading off to put a bullet in someone’s head. Like the characters in Dostoyevsky, Camus and CĂ©line, Walt inhabits a world of moral ambiguity that TV has never been given the time to explore in depth until now. I watch “Breaking Bad” for the same reason I read the classics: to discover why people act the way they do. (Also, it’s colossally entertaining.)

A Cornucopia Of Nouns

I've basically finished a second draft of my California Gubernatorial Recall Election book. Yay! Now, I need to create an Index to it. But that's proving to be more arduous than I expected. Turns out, the Recall Election, for being just 2 1/2 months long, was still an absolute cornucopia of nouns: 135 candidates; dozens of newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations; cities and towns from one end of California to the other; companies; TV shows; actors; Propositions; Legislative Acts; mementos; restaurants; hotels; airlines; aircraft; Presidents; judges; politicos; you-name-it! I could just cover the important stuff in the Index, but then it loses utility, or I could keep it big, but balky. The Index is harder to manufacture than the manuscript!

Rand Is Sending Out A Dogwhistle To Have The Damning Memo Manufactured.

What slimy sumbitches!:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) claimed Sunday that the Internal Revenue Service had a "written policy" that said agency officials were "targeting people who were opposed to the president."

"And when that comes forward, we need to know who wrote the policy and who approved the policy," Paul told CNN.

When CNN anchor Candy Crowley pressed Paul for details, the junior Kentucky senator revealed that he had only heard about the memo.

"Well, we keep hearing the reports and we have several specifically worded items saying who was being targeted. In fact, one of the bullet points says those who are critical of the president," Paul said. "So I don't know if that comes from a policy, but that's what's being reported in the press and reported orally. I haven't seen a policy statement, but I think we need to see that."
This is just the famed Republican projection at work. Some tool is making the memo right now! Peggy Noonan too:
The dog whistle quote came via NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday from Peggy Noonan, who can no longer be taken seriously as a writer or pundit. When host David Gregory pressed her on the lack of evidence for her claims that the IRS scandal was worse than Watergate, Noonan insisted that the president “was giving a dog whistle to people who could launch this thing.” The former Reagan-Bush speechwriter vividly summed up, in her thousand points of crazy style, where the IRS “scandal” went over the last few days: Obama didn’t need to order the tax agency to harass Tea Party groups (and his critics don’t need proof that he did so): his criticizing the group during the 2012 campaign, as well as blasting the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, represented an implicit order to do so.
What does the Rude Pundit say?:
So we've reached the point where the narrative on the IRS "scandal" is crystallizing into something completely impervious to proof. If you think about it, it's really pretty damn impressive, considering how Obama-hating conservatives were burned by the Benghazi Email That Wasn't There. Now, from right-wingers fringe and mainstream, they've created a way to blame Barack Obama for the IRS's overworked, underfunded agents' asking some Tea Party groups for extra information before bestowing tax exempt status on them that can't be disproved. Call it the Conspiracy of the Wink.

Apparently, in addition to his Kenyan hoodoo magic and his radical Muslim America-hating agenda, Barack Obama can order low-level government workers to stretch the law by merely implying that it's something that would please him. Yes, yes, like potentates of old, Obama's minions act on their interpretation of his whims in order to please him and get in his good graces. Or something. Who the fuck can tell at this point. Either way, Obama is evil, don't you know?

Liked The Headline

From SoCal:
"Big rig carrying fruit crashes on 210 Freeway, creates jam"