Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Arrival of the Snake

"Clouds of Sils Maria"

Kristen Stewart - "Clouds of Sils Maria" - Canon in D

Chloe Grace Moretz - "Clouds of Sils Maria"

"Better Call Saul" Second Season Poster

Love this picture! It's something of a manufactured image. In reality, The Dog House should be out of view, directly behind Saul, not visible in the distance down Central Avenue. The Express Inn sign has been altered. And an inconvenient real estate office sign has been removed. The picture puts three Breaking Bad filming locations within convenient view. (Plus, my childhood doctor used to have his office located towards where Saul is walking.) Love it!

Jeb's Greatest Hits Tour

Oh Jeb!:
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said on Tuesday that his brother, George W. Bush, is still “very popular” and could join his struggling campaign.

During Fox News interview, host Brian Kilmeade asserted that George W. Bush would be a good addition to the candidate’s list of surrogates because he is embraced by conservatives in the same way that Democrats are fond of former President Bill Clinton.

“Is that something that you think, if he could tell your story as well as you can if not better, is that something you’re considering?” Kilmeade wondered.

“Yeah,” Bush replied. “It is something to consider because he is very popular. And I also know I need to go earn this.”

“My brother has been a strong supporter and I love him dearly,” he added. “He’ll continue to play a constructive role.”

Kristen Stewart Wins Best Supporting Actress Award For 'Clouds Of Sils Maria'

Oh, I like this!:
Kristen Stewart collected her Best Supporting Actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle yesterday for her performance in Clouds Of Sils Maria.

Finally, getting some recognition here! I thought 'Clouds of Sils Maria' was one of the best movies EVER! Certainly the best film of all films this century. And the critics seemed to COMPLETELY misread it, too. It's not just a character study of three actresses, or a diagnosis of the insecurities of an aging actress, or half a dozen other things they said. It's spot-on, graduate-level, Applied Philosophy! It's so intellectual it would make Einstein's brain fall out.

I liked Kristen Stewart's performance, but I thought Chloe Grace Moretz is more deserving of the Supporting Actress award. Still, it doesn't matter. Belated recognition by the critics is better than obscurity.

Rainy Tuesday In Sacramento

Storm #2 is finishing up passing through the Sacramento area. So far, 1.49" has fallen at Sacramento Executive Airport, which is real generous! Typically, 3.56" falls in an average January, so today's total is 42% of that value.

But wait, Storm #3 will come in tomorrow morning, which should be of similar, or just slightly weaker, strength. The two storms together will account for about 75% of a normal January's rainfall. For winter season precipitation so far, even accounting for November and December's deficiencies, we are likely to reach normal totals in the valleys, and more than that in the mountains.

The situation out in the Pacific is still very fluid. Next week won't be the flood I initially thought. We will have a bit of drying out to do. There will be a quick-moving little storm passing through Saturday morning, January 9th. There will also be a second little storm on Tuesday morning, January 12th, next week.

But towards the end of next week, we may have a large storm again, with others after that. It may be we'll have a bountifully-wet January after all.

Another question. Is all this bounty the product of El NiƱo? I tend to think not. To me, it looks like a return to a normal California winter. The winds aren't drawing moisture excessively from equatorial areas. The Equator is off doing its own thing, like it always does. But maybe climatologists would disagree. And the media would certainly disagree. And it doesn't really matter, as long as the rain keeps falling.

Regrettable Phrase My Dentist Likes

"Let's rock and roll!"

The Simple Things

The simple things make life good.

At lunchtime, I watched a flock of starlings and two hyperventilating crows relentlessly chase a hawk all over Midtown. Poor hawk was just minding its own predatory business. Couldn't get any rest.

Tonight the formidable team of Man and Dog got out just before the rain and prowled the city streets. Dog found a dead mouse, and regrettably remembered where someone tossed the remnants of a box of Popeye's fried chicken last night. Man found a glove and gloated over Dog's failure to find a bedraggled dead cat in the gutter.

There were mysterious loud bangs around the neighborhood: not thunder, or gunshots, or car crashes, but like explosions, or giants dropping boulders, or something. Went on the Nextdoor web site, and sure enough, that perennial posting favorite of the Curtis Park neighborhood, "What's That Sound?" is the hot topic of the night.

The Oregon Situation

I'm of two minds about this Oregon militia standoff. I'm sympathetic enough with the Hammonds to urge trying a different approach. With Bundy and his crew - the textbook definition of 'outside agitators' - evisceration is just too good for these bastards.

Federal intervention in the ranching economy of the American West has a strong colonial bias. The only way to extract value from low-value lands is with cooperative action between government and private ranchers. Taxpayer money from coastal cities is used to pay for roads, services, and water in the West, so that hard-pressed ranchers don't have to. Still, even without direct ownership, the ranchers have effective control over the lands, and all without having to pay property taxes. It's a good deal for the country as a whole: the government gets taxpayers and ranchers get services. The system works best with dry, very-low-value lands (formerly known as Taylor lands) in the American Southwest.

In this Oregon case, though, these are comparatively-lush, higher-value lands that these ranchers own. The ranchers didn't have that many leased lands and apparently weren't as heavily dependent on the Feds as most ranchers. Over the years, the Malheur Wildlife Refuge was expanding, leading to conflict.

Security-state conservatives set the trap the Hammonds fell into. The sentences for arson the ranchers received are absurdly high - a misuse of new Federal powers granted since Oklahoma City and 9/11. Who did conservatives think these laws would be applied against anyway? Muslims? No, other conservatives!

Thus, I'm open to the Hammonds getting lenient treatment.

Ammon Bundy and his crew, however, need to be hammered. HARD! They've been spoiling for a fight for a while now (like 2013's Bundy ranch standoff and 2014's Recapture Canyon ATV riding stunt). If we appease them now, they'll be back for more later. Take them out, now!:
The critical thing to understand is that the same logic is what led to this Oregon situation. The leaders of this occupation — the Bundy brothers, Jon Ritzheimer, Blaine Cooper and Ryan Payne — are demanding that the government hand over a huge amount of wealth to a bunch of conservative white people, on the grounds that they want it. Ammon Bundy has a video on his own Facebook page, making it clear that a huge federal giveaway of lands to the people that live near them is what this is all about.

There’s no reason to embroider this. The Bundys and their supporters want the federal government to hand over federally held lands, free of charge, to the people in the area, so they can enrich themselves off those lands without paying the taxpayers back for what they use. Some of the folks want to graze animals for free, some want access to the minerals under the ground to sell without having to buy them first, and others want to cut down trees they didn’t buy and sell them at a profit. The common theme here is that the taxpayers should give them a bunch of stuff we own, because “freedom” and “constitution” and “the people” and whatever nonsense words they are flinging around to say they want free stuff.

What’s frustrating is that it’s not entirely unreasonable for citizens of the U.S. government to want access to federal lands, within reason. It does belong, as Bundy says, to “the people.” But the fact is they are already getting this. Ranchers in Nevada only pay the government $1.35 per cow per month to use federal lands for grazing, compared to the average $15-$18 that private land owners get. This difference amounts to a huge federal giveaway to ranchers. But getting $13 per cow per month in free cash isn’t enough for these greedy monsters. No, they want the federal government to cover the entire cost of their cattle grazing. Because “freedom” and “the constitution.”

Sledgehammer Shannon

Not buying into the Uber Goober:
Liss-Riordan has heard all this before. When she litigated similar cases on behalf of cleaning workers, the cleaning companies claimed they were simply connecting broom-pushing "independent franchises" with customers. When she won several landmark cases brought by exotic dancers who had been misclassified as contractors, the strip clubs argued that they were "bars where you happen to have naked women dancing," Liss-Riordan recounts with a wry smile. "The court said, 'No. People come to your bar because of that entertainment. Adult entertainment. That's your business.'"

Uber's argument is pretty similar to that of the strip clubs. "Uber is obviously a car service," she says, and to insist otherwise is "to deny the obvious."

A Tale of Three Storms

Storm #1 is done here (0.20" at Sac Exec Airport, which is more than I expected, seeing how the storm hit coastal areas like Monterey and San Diego, plus the Coast Range harder). It's still raining in various places (lots of rain in Arizona, particularly just north of Tucson). Storm #2 comes in later tonight, and Storm #3 on Wednesday.

Then, a break for a while, towards the weekend.

Then, the badly-battered Really Resilient Ridge will cave in next week, on Tuesday, January 12th, and finally expose California to the raw fury of the North Pacific. Next week should be great!

My Life Has Been In Cool Places

Sacramento is #4 and Albuquerque is #5! Woohoo!
At a time when many of the people living in said cities are wondering, where to next, take a look at these five secretly cool destinations. Believe it or don't believe it - things are absolutely happening. Put on your big pioneer pants and jump in before everyone else does.

Battles Of The Past Yet To Happen

Lt. Commander Rebecca Jordan, hero of Smog Town troops in the Battle of Interstate 5.

Time to review New Year's 2014. Time to revisit "The Great War of the Californias" (which was won by everyone declaring victory and going home).

Among the holdings at the Di Rosa Art Museum near Napa. They actually have on display the immense panoramic canvas of "The Battle of San Francisco". Salute the heroes of that Great War!

Here's a trailer.

I'm As Sexy As My Shirt