Friday, August 02, 2013

The Grates - Turn Me On

Time for some Australian rock.

California Per Capita Energy Consumption Level Stays Flat

It's advertising, I know, but it's also true. In my view, the prime driver is the use of Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). They save a ton of energy and money!

John Still Has Some Old-Fashioned American Outrage About Surveillance

John writes:
Hey Marc,

I just saw this article on reddit. My initial reaction was skepticism but it appears to be true. If that is the case it is astounding. this is the sort of thing we were always told happened in the USSR or East Germany. And the real problem is that, with the federal government denying that it is monitoring all phone calls and internet use, how did they even get the information to conduct this travesty of justice? Is this what America has become?

I had seen the article in the press:
[T]hey were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked. ...

Have you ever looked up how to make a pressure cooker bomb? My husband, ever the oppositional kind, asked them if they themselves weren’t curious as to how a pressure cooker bomb works, if they ever looked it up. Two of them admitted they did.
I reply:
Yes, this is what America has become. It just means that truly private thoughts should never be entered into a keyboard and truly private actions should never be done in the presence of a cell phone. If you want to keep travels private be careful about the Feds watching your itinerary. Any kind of GPS instrumentation is risky, and there are instruments in any modern car. Better to go on a bike. We've twisted the concept of espionage too, to mean any unauthorized release of data, whether to an identifiable foe, or not. There will be consequences of all this, but just what they are isn't clear yet.

"Breaking Bad" Etch-A-Sketch Recap

In the build-up to the least half of Season 5, the media universe is just exploding with "Breaking Bad" related material. Watched Bryan Cranston on 'Colbert' show last night. Said nice things about Albuquerque.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

AMC Says 'Thanks!'

Very cordial of the Breaking Bad folks:
Here are the locations of the billboards.

– Lead & Broadway

– Montano & I-25 (in Car Crafter’s parking lot)

– Eubank & Candelaria (Silva’s Lanes Bowling parking lot)

– San Mateo & Prospect (just south of Menaul, facing north)

– Osuna & Vista Del Norte – across from Sandia Prep, facing EAST

– Unser & Wellspring in Rio Rancho, just north of the ABQ city line in front of Presbyterian Rust Hospital

- Rust Hospital as well, other side of the billboard.

Bring Out Yer Dead - West Nile Edition II

Yesterday, I wrote the West Nile people: "I'm writing to inform you that I missreported the location of the dead crow. It is not at 920, but rather, across from 911 20th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. I put it in a white plastic garbage plastic bag, but did not move it to a secure location, because I didn't really have one." (Plus, the last thing I wanted to do was take a potentially-diseased corpse home, which is a secure location, but which I've also been trying to keep Scrub-Jay-friendly.)

Today, the plastic bag disappeared, and presumably has been picked up by the West Nile people. But when I got home, I discovered a smushed pigeon at the bird feeding spot. I think it wasn't disease that got this bird: it just got unlucky, and got rolled over by a passing vehicle. I put it in a white plastic garbage bag and threw it in the trash.

A lot of dead bird issues lately.

My Spy Birdhouse

This is, like, the weirdest ad.

Unfortunate Appearances

Jetta: Hey, you look like Bob Filner! Ha! Ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

DMTC Season Ticket Renewal Phone Bank

You may leave your message after the beep.


"Hello, I'm Marc Valdez, a volunteer with Davis Musical Theater Company in Davis, and we are calling Season Ticket holders who...."


Hello? Hello?

(Wow, not even a ten-second gap available on this recording.... Well, keep on calling....)

Yeah, Exactly What Was Going On In Benghazi That Night?

Maybe some twists here:
Dozens of operatives working for the Central Intelligence Agency were on the ground in Benghazi on the night of a Sept. 11, 2012 attack upon a U.S. consulate post that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others dead, CNN reported Thursday:
Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings.

The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.

It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.

The Fix Is In

The full-flowering of the School Reform movement:
TALLAHASSEE — Tony Bennett resigned Thursday as Florida education commissioner following two days of raging controversy over school grading in his home state of Indiana.

...Coming to Florida from the Hoosier State in January, Bennett had faced mounting calls for his resignation in the wake of revelations, first reported by the Associated Press, that he interceded on behalf of an Indiana charter school run by a prominent Republican Party donor. On Thursday, he called those reports "malicious and unfounded" but said, "I don't think the children of Florida, the state Board of Education or our governor deserve me constantly having to deal with this while commissioner."

...His tenure encountered some early bumps in June, when superintendents leaned on him to institute a "safety net" to prevent school grades from dropping dramatically. Bennett had some misgivings, but ultimately conceded.

The exercise sparked a statewide dialogue about the validity of school grades, which dipped despite the padding. One member of the state Board of Education questioned if the state had to release grades at all.

Amid the controversy, scathing emails published by the Associated Press showed that Bennett had made changes to the school grading formula in Indiana after learning that a high-profile charter school would be awarded a "C" grade.

"They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work," Bennett wrote in one email.

The formula was tweaked and Christel House received an "A."

Bennett has denied that the decision was motivated by politics. He said he ordered the change because Christel House lost points for not having a graduation rate, despite only enrolling students from kindergarten through 10th grade.

A dozen other schools benefited from the change, he said.

"It is absurd that anyone would believe that I would change the grade of school based on a political donor, or based on trying to hide a school from accountability," Bennett told reporters Tuesday. "It's fictitious, at best, and it's totally unfounded. What we did do is make sure we were getting a transparent policy right for Indiana schools and Indiana schoolchildren."

Darrell Issa, Liar

What IRS scandal? Where is it?

Oh Grow Up!

The United States does not rule the world and cannot impose its power everywhere:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says it’s extremely disappointed in Russia’s decision to grant asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says Snowden isn’t a whistleblower or a dissident. He says it’s not a positive development for U.S.-Russia relations and says the move undermines Russia’s record of law enforcement cooperation with the U.S.

Carney says the White House is re-evaluating whether a planned fall summit with President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin should still occur.
Give me a freakin' break!

The biggest whiner in the Overstuffed Warrior Wahmbulance, of course, is John McCain:
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called Russia's decision to grant NSA leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum Thursday "a slap in the face of all Americans."

...“The first thing we should do is significantly expand the Magnitsky Act list to hold accountable the many human violators who are still enjoying a culture of impunity in Russia. We should push for the completion of all phases of our missile defense programs in Europe, and move expeditiously on another round of NATO expansion, including the Republic of Georgia," he continued. "We should challenge the political convictions and detentions of Russian dissidents such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Alexei Navalny. And perhaps most importantly, we should speak out on behalf of the many people in Russia who increasingly are finding the courage to peacefully demand greater freedom, accountability, and rule of law in Russia."
The last thing the United States should ever - EVER! - do is push for missile defense completion. All those missiles do is aggravate tensions and protect no one of consequence. And we should never, NEVER, EVER - EVER! - expand NATO to include Georgia. The last time we were in the situation when NATO was considering expansion, Georgia proceeded to attack Russian territory, precipitating the 2009 war where Russia handed Georgia its ass for its troubles. Georgia is the loosest of loose cannons. It will invade Russia at the slightest pretext or encouragement, and getting free nuclear protection from the United States via NATO would be just the trick.  When you go around invading nuclear powers, there might be hell - and I do mean HELL - to pay! Russia didn't release nukes in 2009, but who knows about the future? I would like to get through my lifetime without a nuclear war, thank you.  It would be safer giving Charles Manson nuclear warheads, for chrissakes.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lost A Lot Of Sleep The Other Night

They had 1964's "Fail Safe" on TCM.

The nuking of New York City is particularly heartbreaking to watch.

Always expected nuclear war in my lifetime. Hasn't happened yet, but the nukes are still there, and it could happen any day, any place.


Done right there in the open:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge ruled on Wednesday that the Federal Reserve ignored the intent of Congress regarding a controversial cap on debit card “swipe fees” that are part of a dispute between banks and retailers.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank law called for the Fed to cap such fees, which banks charge to retailers when their customers use debit cards to make purchases.

Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sided with retailers, who argued the Fed’s 21 cent cap was higher than Congress intended.

“The Board has clearly disregarded Congress’s statutory intent by inappropriately inflating all debit card transaction fees by billions of dollars and failing to provide merchants with multiple unaffiliated networks for each debit card transaction,” Leon wrote in his ruling.

...“From the very beginning, retailers and restaurants knew the Federal Reserve Board of Governors had grossly misapplied the swipe fee law,” Mallory Duncan, general counsel at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement after the ruling.

“They failed to heed Congress’ call to set fee standards that were ‘reasonable’ and ‘proportional’ to the actual cost of a transaction,” Duncan said.

Meanwhile, Back In Crazy-Land

Need to move farther and farther right, but according to the poll, probably just right on gay marriage and guns:
But when it comes to a prescription for the party’s electoral ills, a majority of GOP voters said their leaders should move further to the right, not the center. Fifty-four percent of Republicans told Pew that party leaders should move in a “more conservative direction,” while 40 percent said they should take a “moderate direction.”

With regard to the issues dominating Washington these days, more Republicans believe that the party’s positions are not conservative enough. By a roughly two-to-one margin, more Republicans said the party’s position on immigration is not conservative enough than those who said the position is too conservative. The margin ballooned to four-to-one when it came to the party’s position on government spending.

On gay marriage, slightly more Republicans (31 percent) said the party’s position is too conservative than the number who said it’s not conservative enough (27 percent). Gun policy was the only issue tested by Pew wherein a majority (58 percent) said the party’s position was about right.

I Didn't Know Neil Young Has An Albuquerque Song Too!

"Albuquerque" - Breaking Bad/Weird Al Mashup

Freakin' hilarious!

"La Sylphide" - Bolshoi Ballet - Tower Theater - Pathe Cinema

Sally arranged that we should see this ballet. Apparently Pathe Cinema distributes movies of very recent ballet performances, in the manner that live opera is sometimes shown in local cinemas. The Tower Theatre showed "La Sylphide" twice (on Sunday afternoon, and Tuesday night). The number of showings is small, and the entrance price considerably-higher than for most movies, but for the discerning viewer, it's the next-best thing to being in Moscow to watch the performance itself. Sally was surprised that the Tuesday audience wasn't the Bunhead crowd, but rather, quite a bit older (probably because of ticket price).

I was a little confused, and worried I might have the information wrong, but apparently Ekaterina Krysanova played the lead role:
LA SYLPHIDE is one of the world's oldest surviving romantic ballets, dating back to August Bournonville's 1836 version based on an adaptation of an 1832 French ballet of the same name. The version presented today has been adapted by choreographer Johan Kobborg and gleams anew at the Bolshoi Ballet. Starring Ekaterina Krysanova, Vyacheslav Lopatin, Anna Rebetskaya and Denis Savin, the human realm of a small Scottish village becomes transformed by the appearance of beautiful, winged spirits.
Here is a delightful video featuring Ekaterina Krysanova. Loved her musicality!

Must continue seeing these presentations!

It's amusing how the Romantic ballet choreographers loved using Scotland as the world's most exotic place. Or Spain. Or both, if they could be wedged into a coherent plot.

Here's another video, in Don Quixote:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bring Out Yer Dead - West Nile Edition

Here is a pleasant scene, across from 920 20th St. in Midtown - except for one detail.  Walking back to work from Subway after lunchtime, I stumbled across a dead crow. It was disturbing, because this location, right next to a sidewalk, is in a high-traffic area, full of passersby, and their dogs. So, realizing the dangerous and contagious nature of the West Nile virus that has swept through the area in recent years, I reported the dead crow to the Authorities.

Later in the afternoon, the Authorities left a message on my voicemail. They had already made pick-ups for the day in Sacramento. Would I mind going out there myself and put the dead crow in a plastic bag, to isolate it for pick-up later?

There's the dead crow.

I always figured that if I died from disease in Sacramento, it would be from meningitis. For being a rare disease, meningitis is shockingly-common in Sacramento. But West Nile virus will do too.

Now, in a plastic bag.

The Ting Tings - "That's Not My Name"

Previous YouTube postings expired, but always liked the song, and want to keep it.

Breaking Bad: "Ozymandias" Teaser

David Bowie - I'm Afraid of Americans

This was a big hit in the UK around 2006, but for some reason it didn't catch fire on this side of the Pond.

Feelin' For The Little Black Girl

Eating lunch at Subway when the black girl (about age 9) approached. She wanted to know if I wanted to buy a pencil to support gymnastics team. So, I started asking questions. What school? What team? She really couldn't answer. Lori the Manager came over, and gently asked her to leave. No pencil purchase was made. A minute, later, her entire family trudged past the restaurant: defeated looking dad and mom, pulling a red wagon carrying even smaller kids down the sidewalk, with other kids walking along.

Dead Crow

On west side of street, across from 920 20th Street. Is that damned West Nile time again. Submitted a report.

Can't Help Feeling Some Schadenfreude Regarding Flooding In Corrales

The TV people have also reported on flooding on Via Oreada on the south side of Corrales, but the flooding around Loma del Oro (and presumably Valle Vista), more to the north, has caught the most attention.

Can't help but feel some schadenfreude: this was all predictable. Hell, I predicted it, back when I was in high school.  They first started tinkering with dams, earthen berms, and the like, on these hills near Loma del Oro back around 1973, in order to control the destabilization of the landscape caused by the presence of Rio Rancho, but the act of creating a dam just creates new flooding opportunities, from water pouring off the steepened face of the dam, if nothing else. The harder they try to control the water flow, the more flooding they will cause. It's not a matter of levee maintenance. No amount of maintenance or money will ever suffice. The situation is fundamentally not controllable. Properties need to be condemned, and the sooner they recognize this situation (which has been obvious since 1973), the better.
Blame the levee all you like: it's not the responsible party. Take a look in the mirror, maybe.
Joyce Daza's garage is filled up with about half a foot of mud. She says this is the 2nd time since she's lived here that flooding has damaged her home. This time it's worse because that levee we think broke and the levee is made of Earth, so, it brought all of the mud this time NOW FACING 100 THOUSAND DOLLARS WORTH OF DAMAGE, DAZA IS TURNING TO NEIGHBORS FOR HELP... CLEARING DIRT FROM FRONT YARDS AND USING SANDBAGS TO PROTECT HOMES FROM THE NEXT MAJOR RAINFALL to shore up the houses for the next onslaught that's coming from the South. NEIGHBORS SAY THE FIRE DEPARTMENT WAS HERE TODAY... ASSESSING THE DAMAGE AND TRYING TO FIND THE BEST WAY TO CLEAR STREETS. IN CORRALES LAURA THOREN KOAT ACTION 7 NEWS. ACTION 7 NEWS REACHED OUT TO THE CORRALES' MAYOR'S OFFICE TO FIND OUT WHY THE LEVEE WAS NOT MAINTAINED... OUR CALLS WERE NOT ANSWERED.
If they make the levee out of concrete, the water will eat through the sandy soil and undermine the concrete foundations. Concrete is not the solution. Nor is it weather modification.  Prayer won't help either.

Just get out! Condemn the land, and get out!

Work It!

The fine crew I try to attach myself to (and that I was with at Hayward on Saturday) at Step One.

Tropical Storm Flossie Approaches Hawaii

The weather forecasts showed Flossie hitting Hawaii a week ago, but what were the chances of that actually happening?

Pretty good, actually.

Tom C. is in Oahu too. Maybe some stories later?:
Flossie's center of circulation will glide over or near the "Big Island" of Hawaii Monday. This will lead to gusty winds and the potential for some tree damage, higher swells reaching east-facing shores, and an attendant threat of rip currents.

Well Played Korean TV, Well Played!

Karina posted this on Facebook. Hilarious! I have my own grudge against KTVU, and I love seeing them get some of their own.
You probably remember KTVU’s royal eff up with reading obviously fake Asian names for the pilots of the Asiana crash. Names like “Wi To Lo” and “Ho Lee Fuk”.

It looks like a Korean news agency is having some fun at KTVU’s expense. After the landing gear failure of the Southwest flight at LGA they showed this graphic with American pilot names “Captain Kent Parker Wright”, “Co-Captain Wyatt Wooden Workman”.

They even went as far as making up fake names for people to interview. Flight instructor “Heywood U. Flye-Moore” and skeptical passenger “Macy Lawyers”.

Well played Korean TV, well played.

"Disney's Aladdin, Jr." - DMTC - YPT

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Get Fierce Funk - Hayward Master Class

Corinne and Margaret waiting for a ride at Step One.

K.: It's so good to see you, Marc!

M.: I brought plenty of cameras to film the performance.

K.: That's nice, except that it's a class, not a performance, and you won't be able to film much, because you will be the one performing, along with the rest of us.

M.: Oh....

KO1 Fitness - Hayward.

Singing in the park, right behind the flowering tree, across the street.

Pepper Von wasn't present, but his evidence was everywhere.

Master class (Nina, Corinne, and Martin in foreground).

Tyehimba bangs the skins.

Posing for pictures after the Master Class.

Remarkable still life.