Friday, June 07, 2013

Radar Imagery Of The El Reno Tornado



Interesting video! Cloud base is SO low! It looks like cloud base is only a few hundred feet above the ground. And the initial vortices too, all circling around a common center....



The radar imagery is striking....

Indeed, as I thought, I have a compilation of meteorological papers called "The Tornado: It's Structure, Dynamics, Prediction, and Hazards" (C. Church, D. Burgess, C. Doswell, and R. Davies-Jones, Geophysical Monograph 79, American Geophysical Union, 1990). I looked at it for ten minutes, enough to know that the tornado emerged from the south side of what's called the 'Flanking Line'. (Tornado meteorologists have their own specialized vocabulary that peasants like me have a little trouble penetrating.) I wonder if most tornadoes tend to come from there? (For a meteorologist, I'm a tornado neophyte, spoiled by an almost funnel-free life in the American Southwest.)

This should be fun....

Shut Down The Crazy Campus Preacher



THIS is the way to do it!

I remember trying to shut a campus preacher up once at the University of Arizona. I stepped forward and said: "In the 19th Century..." Someone immediately mocked "In the 19th Century...". Then I lost my train of thought.

To regain control, the preacher needs to immediately kiss someone of the same sex. Ain't gonna happen.

I Wonder Where A Proto-Disco-Type Dude Like Me Fits In?



Generation gap settling in Dance music means that, for some, it will always be 1995:
Broadly speaking, if you're an electronic-music fan older than 40, you probably dig Danny Tenaglia more than Skrillex. And chances are, if you're a Skrillex fan younger than 30, you're like, "Who the hell is Danny Tenaglia?"

Coachella 2013 exemplified this generation gap in the world of dance music. ... The Yuma was new this year, largely a response to the success of the Sahara and the fist-pumping, underdressed EDM culture that has blossomed in recent years. In fact, quite a few electronic scenesters, now in their 30s and 40s, aren't thrilled their beloved scene is now epitomized by overpaid superstar DJs and the bros who love them. Thus, many tastemakers feel the need to educate young audiences about the genre's history. The kids? They just want to ride the sonic roller coaster.

...At April's IMS Engage Summit in LA, Skrillex, once-dubbed the Boy King of EDM by LA Weekly, had a positive prognosis. "You have this new bombastic, loud, punk-rock energy, or whatever you want to call it, coming in with electronic music," he said, "and then you have the old-school techno, which comes from a different place and energy. . . . But what I see is that all of it is coming together."

Road Rash Alert

No thanks, I'll pass:
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - On Saturday, June 8th, Puerto Vallarta will join various cities and countries around the world in the 10th Annual World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR), an international movement that highlights the vulnerability of cyclists everywhere and decries society’s dependence on pollution-based transportation.

Pedalea Vallarta is organizing World Playero Bike Ride a name that alludes to an event that has taken place every year since 2003 in Vancouver, Canada. Everyone is invited to come out and ride together en masse on human-powered transport (bicycles, skateboards and inline skates), to "deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world."

The dress code motto is "bare as you dare," and creative expression is encouraged to generate a fun and immersive atmosphere during the ride. Body art, such as body painting, are common forms of creative expression, as well as costumes, decorated bikes, and portable sound reinforcement systems, such as boomboxes, musical instruments, or other types of noisemakers.

David Bowie - Fame



When this song came out in 1974 I couldn't get enough of it. I badgered everyone I knew to listen to it, which they humored me by doing, all the while rolling their eyes.

Thirty-nine years ago. Time to badger you too.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

GOP's Latino Outreach Falls Right On Its Face

Shameful Republicans:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The GOP-controlled House voted Thursday to reject President Barack Obama’s policy to end deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the country illegally who were brought to the United States as children.

The 224-201 vote broke along party lines and comes as Congress is working on overhauling the much-criticized U.S. immigration system. The measure came as the House completed action on the Department of Homeland Security spending bill.

Obama announced a program in June 2012 that puts off deportation for many people brought here as children. Applicants for the reprieve must have arrived before they turned 16, be younger than 31 now, be high school graduates or in school, or have served in the military. They can’t have a serious criminal record.

One of the most widely-backed elements of immigration reform, known as the DREAM Act, would award these immigrants legal status.

Obama’s program, done by executive action, doesn’t give such immigrants legal status but it at least protects them from deportation for two years.

Amendment sponsor Steve King, R-Iowa, is a strident opponent of relaxing U.S. immigration law. He said any changes to U.S. policy should be enacted by Congress, not orchestrated by the president.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Tropical Storm Andrea

Dwight E-Mails from Tampa:
Marc - I see that it now has a name, Tropical Storm Andrea. Any updates?
Discussion suggests that it is barely over tropical storm threshold. Strong wind shear suggests it’s in an unfavorable environment for strengthening. It’s supposed to move northward a little bit tonight, and then start accelerating northeast. Still, the heaviest rains should be south of you – between Tampa and Naples.

So, tomorrow will be wet and uncomfortable, but for a tropical storm it shouldn’t be too bad.

To be fair to the NVG model, it forecasts that the region of highest rain will swing northward just offshore, past Tampa, and cross the coast north of your location. I suspect that won’t happen, though, because it isn’t doing so now. Maybe it’s a failure of my imagination, but I still think the region of highest rain will cross the coast between Tampa and Naples. It will be an interesting test to see what happens tonight.

No matter where the region of highest rain goes, you’ll get sideswiped by some of it. Best of luck with sporadic street flooding, etc.

I Dream Of Dawn

Entering A Kind Of Proto-Monsoonal Period In NM

Not quite there yet. Still, pretty dry. But there is some activity in the state, with a mild disturbance moving across the state today, and southerly flow in the eastern portion of the state.

Western Scrub-Jay With Two Peanuts - Buridan's Ass Paradox, In Practice



Buridan's Ass Paradox:
It refers to a hypothetical situation wherein an ass that is equally hungry and thirsty is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. Since the paradox assumes the ass will always go to whichever is closer, it will die of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision to choose one over the other.  The paradox is named after the 14th century French philosopher Jean Buridan, whose philosophy of moral determinism it satirizes. A common variant of the paradox substitutes two identical piles of hay for the hay and water; the ass, unable to choose between the two, dies of hunger.
I don't know if the paradox quite applies here. The bird seems to choose the tougher nut first - likelier to be the better one.

In any event regarding my Scrub Jays, last night, the two missing Scrub Jays appeared to have joined the third. Their parents were using the more-or-less enclosed space of my yard for flying lessons. Then they abruptly vanished. At least one returned this morning. I don't know where they go. They are doing what they can to keep a low profile and escape attention. A wise move, in general, for what may be a rather large family.

West Nile virus seems to have decimated the local population of Scrub Jays over the last few years. It's time to repopulate the area with Scrub Jays.

Immigration Reform Isn't Going To Happen

Not now, anyway:
Speaking with radio host Hugh Hewitt Tuesday, Rubio said the Senate should “strengthen the border security parts of this bill so that they’re stronger, so that they don’t give overwhelming discretion to the Department of Homeland Security.” He said he was working with other senators on amendments to do just that.

Then Hewitt asked: “If those amendments don’t pass, will you yourself support the bill that emerged from Judiciary, Senator Rubio?”

Rubio answered, “Well, I think if those amendments don’t pass, then I think we’ve got a bill that isn’t going to become law, and I think we’re wasting our time. So the answer is no.”
"Those amendments" are poison pills that would require 100 percent operational control of the border before any new green cards are issued, a standard that's pretty obviously impossible to meet. The only reason to insist on them is to give Rubio a plausible exit strategy from his own bill.

...We'll see. Rubio's support, as always, is critical to immigration reform. If he bolts, it's dead. But if he insists on his poison pill amendments, it's dead too. I'd say the odds on passage just dropped dramatically.

Jetta Didn't Make It On The "America's Got Talent" Premiere Show Last Night

Maybe next week.

Parents Who Embarrass Their Kids Even Before The Teen Years

Oh, Dad!:
A man who gave his children Nazi-inspired names has dressed up in full fascist regalia as he appeared in a US court seeking to secure visitation rights to his youngest son.

Heath Campbell - father of Adolf Hitler Campbell, 7, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, 6, Honzlynn Jeannie Campbell, 5, and 18-month-old Heinrich Hons Campbell - donned a German Nazi uniform for the hearing in Flemington, New Jersey.

The 40-year-old, who also sports a large swastika tattoo on his neck, was appearing before the court in a bid to win the right to see Heinrich Hons, who was taken into care by social services soon after his birth in November 2011.

Heinrich's elder siblings had already been taken into care in 2009.

"I'm going to tell the judge I love my children. I wanna be a father, let me be it," Mr Campbell told NBC10 before the hearing.

The family hit the headlines in 2008 when a supermarket refused to write Adolf Hitler on a cake ordered for their eldest son.

...Asked whether dressing up as a Nazi was likely to help his case, Mr Campbell was confident it would not be held against him: "If they're good judges and they're good people, they'll look within, not what's on the outside."

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Pot Calls Kettle Black

"Debilitating stupidity":
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey on Tuesday excoriated New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) decision to hold a special election to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), accusing him of "debilitating stupidity" in not appointing a Republican outright.

"This is what rankles conservatives," Armey told CNN's Jake Tapper. "There's not a Democratic governor that wouldn't have seized the opportunity to appoint a Democrat senator, no matter what the status. In some states they may try to sell it and get rich off it as they did in Illinois. All Christie has to do is appoint a Republican. That's the correct move for him to make."
Yet, Christie has complicated and sophisticated reasons for what he is doing. Does any of that count? (I know you are, so what am I?)

El Reno Tornado Widest On Record

A record, apparently:
Based on veloctiy data from The University of Oklahoma’s RaXpol data (Rapid-scan X-band Polarimetric Radar) the El Reno tornado that hit central Oklahoma Friday (May 31, 2013) has been upgraded to an EF5 tornado, with a maximum width of 2.6 miles. This makes it the widest tornado on record in the United States.
And it looks like it was headed almost straight towards my friend John's house, before giving up. Luck held!

Best Oklahoma! Picture

Talking about Oklahoma, and before I forget again, I wanted to post Mark Deamer's photo of Ashley Holm (Ado Annie) and Scott Scholes (Will Parker): the best photo of the entire run of Oklahoma!

Upcoming Oklahoma! Fundraiser

I'd like to share our Oklahoma! Fundraiser, scheduled for the Davis Farmer's Market this coming weekend. We had just closed our theatrical run of "Oklahoma!" at DMTC on May 12th. Then the tornadoes started hitting. We wanted to help out where we could. For those who live out-of-town, and can't attend but would like to help, please send donation checks (with Davis' Oklahoma in the memo) to this address:

American Red Cross
Capital Region Chapter
1565 Exposition Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95815

Reid May Be Right

I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that Reid may be right. Do Democrats have off-year staying power? Well, do they? The drop off in 2010 voter turnout compared to 2008 suggests not. And the Dems are supposed to gamble their seats on turnout so fickle? Better to play defense. So, no big moves. It's a long game we are in - awaiting demographic changes that take years and years to manifest themselves. We need yet more Latino voters first.

There are plenty of dangers with this approach, of course, the big one being that the Republicans will use the nuclear option if they ever get the upper hand. Reid got past that once, however, and is confident he can do it again. If Democrats turn out in 2014 like 2012, no worries, but they'll HAVE to do so to stop this silly game. Reid is no fool. That is why he's in power and we aren't:
Senate Democrats, not just Reid, caved in January for a variety of reasons. Some wanted to avoid an acrimonious rule change on the eve of votes on immigration reform, gun control and a possible deficit deal, hoping to win significant Republican support for such legislation. Those senators believe in unicorns.

Others were said to fear giving up the minority party’s power to obstruct the majority party’s legislative agenda, because they fear Democrats will soon be in that minority. “Many Democrats are wary of such a change,” the Boston Globe reported on Tuesday, “because they could one day find themselves in the minority wishing they had unfettered filibuster power.”

Such cowardice of course is the best way to insure that Democrats will soon be in the minority. If they allow Republicans to obstruct the president’s agenda, Democrats should assume voters will see no reason to continue to elect Democrats to the White House or the Senate majority.

The Inferior Medium?

Breaking Bad and the 'inferior medium':
Liel Leibovitz, who admits to not being much of a TV watcher, argues that as good as the medium has gotten, it “does not now, nor will it ever, meet the same sublime depths explored by the great novels. It is, quite simply, essentially inferior”
M. comments:
“Something must always be happening”

If that is his primary critique of television as a medium then his favorite novel must be a stack of blank printer paper, and Office Max would be the greatest book store ever.
I comment:
You can do things on TV you can’t do in a novel, and vice-versa. Making direct comparisons between TV and novels strikes me as silly. It’s an apples-and-minerals kind of argument. Gotta love ‘em both!

Tonight Should Be Jetta's Big Night

Tonight is the premiere of the new season of "America's Got Talent", and it's likely that my friend Jetta will be showcased, yukking it up with Howard Stern. The show starts at 9 p.m. (In Sacramento, on NBC-affiliate KCRA Channel 3.)

Drop me a message on Facebook (or E-Mail at mvaldez@sierraresearch.com) if you want to send her good wishes, get an autograph, hire her for a function, or whatever. (Apart from AGT I appear to be the closest thing she has to a Manager and can put her in touch with you.)

How To Upset Scrub Jays



So, the folks at UCD were doing an experiment? They left a dead Scrub Jay at a bird feeder. Scrub Jays don't like finding dead Scrub Jays laying around.
Do animals and birds have funerals for the dead? According to data collected by researchers from the University of California Davis, the western scrub jay in California has been observed making distinct calls to other jays in the area, possibly to warn them of potential danger after discovering a dead jay. The birds then congregate around the dead body of their fellow jay. Researchers also noted that the birds appeared to stop foraging for food in the immediate area for a period of over 24 hours.

The researchers conducted experiments to see how the birds would react in comparison to different objects, such as colored pieces of wood, stuffed jays and a stuffed Great Horned Owl, to simulate the bird's natural predator.

The jays did not react to the colored wood, but had similar reactions when a predator was spotted or if a dead jay was found, both signifying a potential danger in the area.



Regarding my fledglings, one is firmly lodged, in hiding, in the hedge outside my bedroom window, but I don't know where the other two are. I scanned the yard beneath their nest, but see nothing. Were there cats? Are they in a secret bunker somewhere? Or are they in the hedge too? The parents are saying nothing. It is a mystery.

Monday, June 03, 2013

And The Ogallala Is Running Dry

Long predicted; coming to pass:
Two years of extreme drought, during which farmers relied almost completely on groundwater, have brought the seriousness of the problem home. In 2011 and 2012, the Kansas Geological Survey reports, the average water level in the state’s portion of the aquifer dropped 4.25 feet — nearly a third of the total decline since 1996.

And that is merely the average. “I know my staff went out and re-measured a couple of wells because they couldn’t believe it,” said Lane Letourneau, a manager at the State Agriculture Department’s water resources division. “There was a 30-foot decline.”

Kansas agriculture will survive the slow draining of the aquifer — even now, less than a fifth of the state’s farmland is irrigated in any given year — but the economic impact nevertheless will be outsized. In the last federal agriculture census of Kansas, in 2007, an average acre of irrigated land produced nearly twice as many bushels of corn, two-thirds more soybeans and three-fifths more wheat than did dry land.

Offbeat Las Vegas Museums

A nice summary, like the Neon Museum, among others:
You can get a mite wistful looking at signs from formerly swanky hotels and casinos, now merely memories. It may not be the Louvre, but the Neon Museum is a tribute to pop art of the era, heaping dollops of Americana. Its visitors center is the former La Concha Motel lobby, shaped like a shell, one of Vegas' best examples of programmatic architecture.

Dave Nachmanoff's Yolo FCU Contest Entry



He's trying to round up votes here. (He's in third-place right now.)

Cosmic Gate & JES - Flying Blind



Jes Brieden is SO good!

Darrell Issa - A Cold Case

Remember, as Darrell Issa attacks Barack Obama, that he is a suspected car thief and arsonist, and not in the best position to hurl accusations about anything:
Along with his brother, Issa was charged with stealing a car in the 1970s, but he was never convicted. In 1982, Issa, a businessman, was suspected of arson after a suspicious fire brought down one of his factories. No charges were filed.

A 2011 profile of Issa in The New Yorker detailed both incidents.

Nice Profile On Sherrika Darnell



Sherrika is a friend from Step One, and lately she's been doing lights for Runaway Stage Productions:
As the 24th St. Theatre on-call technician, Sherrika Darnell has lit up our lives, and the lives of our theater renters, for the past two and half years. Many adults and children have had the thrill of performing for the first time on a stage with the help of Sherrika’s designing and operating the lights and sound for their productions.

...Some of the theater groups she’s worked with include Garbeau’s Dinner Theater, El Dorado Musical Theater and Runaway Stage Productions.

Sherrika says, “Anything I do in the theater and the dance world gives me an opportunity to let my creativity flow, and hopefully bring a smile to someone else, which in turn makes me smile. Life is about inspiring health and happiness.”

Route 66 Museum In Victorville

Need to visit:
VICTORVILLE – They were in their early 20s, hip in that effortless European way. He wore cool shades and a three-day stubble; she bore piercings in all the right places – lip, eyebrow, helix of the ear lobe. They said they were from Pamplona, Spain, but rolled their eyes at mention of the running of the bulls.

Too touristy, the gesture meant.

Yet Borja Marcos and Oihane Almagro were standing in front of one of the West's monuments to touristic diversions – the curio- besotted California Route 66 museum – snapping photos of each other before a giant mural.

Tenth Anniversary Of "Flying Monkey Productions"

Thirty shows under their belts!:
Time flies when you’re having fun. Flying Monkey Productions, the brainchild of Sacramento natives Ryan Warren and Julie Soto, celebrates its 10th year of producing high-quality youth theater with a revival of its first production, “Seussical the Musical,” June 7-15 at California Stage.

Warren and Soto have produced 30 shows under their theatrical moniker Flying Monkey Productions, which engages hundreds of young artistic acolytes in all aspects of theater production.

Nice Profile On Amanda Graham

Sacramento Archivist at the Sacramento Public Library:
Ever wonder who might have lived in your house, attended your school or walked the streets of your neighborhood many years ago? Who were they, and how did they live? Would you find their names in the early social registers? The answers to these questions and many other historical clues are at your fingertips. There is a library specialist who can help you unearth maps, plans and photos showing your community and maybe even your own home being built.

Meet Amanda Graham, the archivist of the Sacramento Room located in the Sacramento Public Library at 8th and I streets, which houses collections of local, regional and state historic material. She oversees seven specific collections that include books, maps, photographs, periodicals, manuscripts, city directories, and eye-catching ephemera—printed and illustrated materials like sports and theater tickets, advertisements and postcards.

Owens Lake Massacre Site

Finally located it, but running afoul of air pollution efforts:
On March 19, 1863, 20 soldiers and 10 white settlers attacked Paiutes who were reportedly killing livestock in the area. The battle began in a nearby oak grove and the Paiutes ran into the lake, hoping to swim to safety.

However, "a strong wind was blowing from the east and the Indians could make little progress in swimming against it; therefore they became easy targets for the men hunting them," historian Dorothy Clora Cragen wrote in her book, "The Boys in the Sky-Blue Pants."

After taking a shot at one of the Indians trying to swim beyond the range of gunfire, a white settler raised his fist and shouted, "Die, damn you, in the lake!" she wrote. "And the Indian did."

...DWP archaeologists discovered the site a year ago, but its existence had been kept private to prevent looting and vandalism. Now, a nasty dispute between the department and air pollution authorities is forcing it into the open.

...The effort largely succeeded, but air pollution officials said the DWP needed to do more. Over the objections of the utility, Great Basin called for mitigation measures on other portions of the lake bed — including the land where the DWP later made its discovery. Now, the utility is siding with Paiutes who want to make the area off-limits to dust mitigation projects.

Close Call On The Berries

James says he had one of those bags from Costco, and set it aside when preparing the Smoothies on Saturday, but still, it's a little too close for my peace of mind:
Health officials have linked an outbreak of acute hepatitis A that has sickened at least 30 people in five states to a frozen berry and pomegranate mix.

Cases have been reported in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California. In a release Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the first victims fell ill on April 29 and the most recent case was May 17. It is believed more will come.

The outbreak appears to be linked to a frozen berry blend sold by Costco called The Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend Frozen Berry Mix, a frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix. Costco is notifying all members who purchased the product since late February and has removed it from its shelves.

...Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Of the people who've been sickened in this outbreak 47% have been hospitalized, CDC said. Some people who contract it have no symptoms but many have fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal and joint pain.

...The strain of hepatitis A in this outbreak is rarely seen in the United States, said CDC's Lola Russell. It's known to circulate in North African and the Middle East. The same type of hepatitis A was identified in a 2013 outbreak in Europe linked to frozen berries and another one in 2012 in Canada linked to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt, she said.

Greta Gerwig Was On 'The View' Today

Promoting "Frances Ha"!

More Greta Gerwig links:

Review in Sacramento News and Review.

SacBee review.

SacBee Ticket cover story.

The Newspaper Business Is Collapsing

Really? REALLY????:
The Chicago Sun-Times has laid off its entire 28 person photography staff.

In its place, reporters are being given mandatory training in how to use their iPhone to take pictures.

...But as astonishingly good as the iPhone camera is, for a device crammed into a cube less than a quarter inch on the side, it is still a camera built around the constraints of its tiny size. My iPhone camera is no match for even a dedicated point and shoot camera, let alone a DSLR.

And here’s a bigger problem. It is a faint hope to expect journalists to take pictures that are as attention grabbing as those taken by professional photographers.

Where that Corporate Personhood Push Is Going

Keep your hands off:
Mining pharmacy records, the company assembled profiles of hundreds of thousands of American doctors and millions of individual patients, with names and other identifying details encrypted. IMS Health turned around and sold access to those files to pharmaceutical companies, making it easier for the firms to target (and reward) the physicians most likely to prescribe expensive, brand-name drugs.

Eventually, doctors and state officials caught on to what IMS Health was doing. Where the company saw a business opportunity, they saw a strategy that violated patient privacy and could increase health care costs.

...Had the issue remained subject to a normal democratic process, it would have continued to play out that way—through a gradual, state-by-state debate about whether so-called “prescription confidentiality” laws make for good policy. But IMS Health did not want that kind of fight. Instead, it filed separate suits against the three states that had first cracked down on its business, invoking the First Amendment. The selling of prescription records, the company asserted, is a form of free speech.

For most of U.S. history, such a claim would have been a dead letter in court. But when it comes to the First Amendment, we live in interesting times. In June 2011, the Supreme Court struck down the new data-protection laws, arguing that they discriminated against IMS Health. “The State,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority, “has burdened a form of protected expression. ... This the State cannot do.”

It was Kennedy, of course, who authored Citizens United, which established that independent political spending by corporations is shielded by the Bill of Rights as well. The IMS Health case, which drew much less attention, shows just how pervasive such free speech arguments have become. Once the patron saint of protesters and the disenfranchised, the First Amendment has become the darling of economic libertarians and corporate lawyers who have recognized its power to immunize private enterprise from legal restraint. It is tempting to call it the new nuclear option for undermining regulation, except that its deployment is shockingly routine.

Last summer, the tobacco industry used the First Amendment to have new, scarier health warnings on cigarette packaging thrown out on the grounds that the labels constituted a form of compelled speech. Ratings agencies like Standard and Poor’s and Fitch, whose erroneous and possibly fraudulent AAA ratings of worthless securities helped cause the banking crisis, have leaned heavily on a defense that deems their ratings mere opinions and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing to gut the disclosure requirements in new securities regulations, citing the free speech rights of hedge funds and publicly traded companies. Attorneys working for Google have argued that, since search results are speech, its rights are impinged by the enforcement of tort and antitrust laws. Southwest and Spirit airlines have employed the First Amendment to resist efforts to force them to list the full price of tickets. The incomplete, misleading cost, they have argued, is a form of free speech, too.

Fred Schauer of the University of Virginia calls such claims “First Amendment opportunism.” Free speech is a cherished American ideal; companies are exploiting that esteem, as he puts it, “to try to accomplish goals that are not so clearly related to speech.” The co-opting of the First Amendment has happened slowly, but not at all by accident.

...In the course of forging the world’s most powerful free speech rights in the ’60s, the Supreme Court had placed relatively few limits on the scope of its judicial review, compared with other parts of the Constitution. Perhaps, given the kind of cases coming before them, the justices failed to imagine that the mighty, as well as the marginalized, would come to make use of the First Amendment.

Painting The Elk Grove Cat Cage

Meow. But the potato-based EtOH interfered, so not much got done.

Could Not Be More Surprised To See Steve Walker On The Billboard



I was driving down Broadway, and I saw this billboard that looms above Tower Liquors, right across from the Tower Theater. Look at that! That's Steve Walker! Bigger than life!  I guess Steve is big enough now that he's going all-mogul on us!

Steve is the landlord who owns the apartments immediately adjacent to me, just west of where I live. I don't see him very often - maybe once or twice a year these days - but I've probably known him since 1995. He grew up in those apartments, and it was probably his first real estate purchase. He's been assiduously keeping up that property ever since (even after the laundry-vent fire they had a few years back). Hard work!

Since Steve grew up next door, he knew the people who lived in my house long, long before I lived there. He once asked a strange question. Turns out, when he was young, he was in what is now my living room, when a depressed house member accidentally fired a bullet through the floor. So, he asked: "Have you ever found a bullet in your basement?" The answer was no - at least, not yet. (I once found a bullet in the gutter, but that was something different.)

If I ever sell my property, he is my natural real estate agent: he has a vested interest in doing a good job.

I wonder just how big he's got?

Scrub Jay Sunday

This morning, I awoke to the unmistakable sound of a juvenile Scrub Jay outside my bedroom window. I looked out, and sure enough, there was the bird, looking in. To get into that hedge the bird had to fly over a fence and around the side of the house. Don't know where the other two are: they aren't hiding in the geranium anymore. Trying to keep an eye on the parents. Fun!

Here are photos of one of the parents:

Set Photos For "Cats"



DMTC's Theater Is Named The 'Jean Henderson Theater'



















The Most Dangerous Time Of Year



Here is a picture of a geranium, as seen through my basement window, where three baby Scrub Jays have sought shelter on a warm Saturday afternoon. The nest is up above. At this stage, Scrub Jays aren't quite strong enough to fly, so they spend a few days on the ground, where they are highly, highly vulnerable. Living on the ground is a phase in the lives of all Scrub Jays, as well as many other kinds of birds. I hope I'm right that there are no cats or other predators nearby.

Jetta Shows Up Briefly In Howard Stern's Promo Of The New Season Of 'America's Got Talent' On The Katie Couric Show



Just briefly, at 18:33, in this low-quality video.

"Frances Ha" - Friday Night At The Tower



Friday night, I went to see Greta Gerwig's new movie, "Frances Ha" at the Tower Theater. I liked it for its portrayal of an awkward period in one's life: a sort-of rebellion about accepting a lower position than one might like in life. A very mild version of "denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance." The IMDB plot summary is here:
Frances lives in New York, but she doesn't really have an apartment. Frances is an apprentice for a dance company, but she's not really a dancer. Frances has a best friend named Sophie, but they aren't really speaking anymore. Frances throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possible reality dwindles. Frances wants so much more than she has but lives her life with unaccountable joy and lightness.
The movie features Greta's home, Sacramento's River Park neighborhood, too. It was nice seeing the city as an outsider. Her parents are in the film as well. The movie features Connor Mickiewicz (and presumably his dentist father, Tim, too), but as an illustration of how balkanized Sacramento Theater is, I haven't seen Connor since 'Babes in Arms' at the Woodland Opera House in - oh, was it 2000? - and I still haven't made it over to New Helvetia Theatre, so I didn't recognize him.:

Critics seem to like it (LA Times):
Effortless and effervescent, "Frances Ha" is a small miracle of a movie, honest and funny with an aim that's true. It's both a timeless story of the joys and sorrows of youth and a dead-on portrait of how things are right now for one particular New York woman who, try as she might, can't quite get her life together.

...Though both Gerwig, a fixture on the New York independent scene who's moved on to bigger features, and Baumbach, Oscar-nominated for writing the marvelous "The Squid and the Whale," are known quantities on their own, they've increased their effectiveness by working together.

For the actress, a quicksilver presence with a fluid face who couldn't be more natural on screen, "Frances" is an opportunity to build a character of unexpected complexity. For the director, having a gifted collaborator able to be so completely present adds a lightness his films have not always had and has made possible an irresistible command of the moment.

If anyone lives completely in that moment, it is Frances, a 27-year-old apprentice dancer who is so many often contradictory things at once it's difficult to know where to begin — or end — in describing her.

Feckless and rootless, gawky and graceful, over-analytical and uncertain, always apologizing yet often oblivious, Frances is making a hash out of her own life because she doesn't know any better. If there is a wrong turn to be made, she will take it; if there is a way to sabotage herself, she will find it. A more or less disposable person for everyone she knows, she is aware that adult life is beyond her capacity at present. "I'm so embarrassed," she says. "I'm not a real person yet."

And yet there is something unmistakably endearing about Frances, something winning in her vulnerability and her pluck, the way she bounces back like a Joe Palooka toy from her many misadventures. She is unmistakably good-hearted, and it is impossible not to root for her as she throws herself into life and tries to determine if there can be a place there for her. Frances' woeful mantra in these struggles, which she brandishes whenever life's pressures become too great, is the defensive "I'm not messy, I'm busy."

Hard-Ass Security

Went to see 'Frances Ha' at the Tower Theater Friday night. As I walked across the theater parking lot, the security guy rolled into the parking lot and flashed his lights at me. "What now?", I thought. Turned out it was Chris Petersen, doing his nightly rounds! Broadway and X Streets are his corridor. He pointed at a newspaper box adjacent to the theater and talked about rousting a drunk woman who had been sitting on the box the other day. She fell over and knocked the box on top of herself, and cursed him repeatedly. She walked off, but there was nowhere she could go in the neighborhood, because that was Chris' turf too. He showed me his taser. Says he uses it once a week. Watch out, or he'll bust your ass too!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Can't Have Nice Things In The Desert

People are stealing the sliding rocks of Death Valley:
"We've had more instances of folks taking the rocks," Death Valley spokesman Terry Baldino said. "They don't seem to understand that outside of the Racetrack, these marvelous rocks have no value."

Lunar Mascons Explained

They occur because the Moon's interior used to be warmer than it is now.