Thursday, July 06, 2017

California Man Wants To Be Florida Man

Love those reptiles:
Animal control officers on Thursday discovered a congregation of alligators and dozens of venomous snakes inside a Thousand Oaks home where twice in the last three years a cobra has gotten loose and terrorized neighbors, officials said.

Hours after investigators searched the property and recovered at least 84 snakes, Ventura County sheriff’s officials led the homeowner, Todd Kates, away in handcuffs, Sgt. Eric Buschow said.

We Need A Lot More Of This

A LOT more!:

Two men were arrested outside the Tucson, Arizona office of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on Thursday for third degree criminal trespassing during a protest. One of the men was also charged with misdemeanor threats and intimidation.

In a statement, Pima County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Cody Gress told TPM that police had been called to Flake’s office with reports of threats.

“Staffers working at the office indicated one of the protesters had made comments referencing the shooting of Rep. Scalise which prompted them to call the Sheriff’s Department as well as lock the office doors prohibiting access to the office from the protestors,” the statement said.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was seriously wounded when a gunman opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice in June. Sen. Flake was at the practice and described the incident at length to reporters afterward.

In an email to TPM, a spokesperson for Flake described the exchange in which Prichard made the alleged threat.

“You know how liberals are going to solve the Republican problem?” Prichard allegedly asked.

“No,” a Flake staffer responded.

“They are going to get better aim,” Prichard allegedly said. “That last guy tried, but he needed better aim. We will get better aim.”

The spokesperson said the matter had been referred to Capitol Police.

According to the PCSD statement, protester Mark Prichard (pictured above left), 59, “made it a point to step back onto the property after being told not to do so and was immediately arrested.”

When a staffer for Flake opened the office’s door to hand information to the protesters, according to the police statement, another protester, Patrick Diehl (pictured above right), 70, “tried to force his way into the office and passed the staffer.” He was also arrested.

“Upon further review of the evidence and statements made by Mark Prichard to the staff at Sen Flake’s office, he has also been charged with Threats and Intimidation (Class 1 Misdemeanor) on top of the 3rd Degree Criminal Trespass charge,” the statement said.

It added: “No force was used in apprehending either of the two men, and no violence occurred from the protest itself.”

More info here.

Well-Traveled (Not)

I look kinda-sorta well-traveled, but it's all smoke and mirrors. Excepting air travel to Seattle, Chicago's O'Hare Field and Washington D.C., I haven't been anywhere east of Dallas since 1978, or north of Laramie, Wyoming since 1991. Happiness can always be found in the alkaline wildernesses of the Southwest.

Create Your Own Visited States Map

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Hobby Lobby, Smugglers' Sugar Daddy

Sleazeballs' "passion for the Bible":
According to the release, shipments of the artifacts lacked “the required customs entry documentation” and were labeled as tile “samples” and shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. “and two of Hobby Lobby’s corporate affiliates.”

Hobby Lobby “consented to the forfeiture of the artifacts” and “an additional sum of $3 million,” the office said, and agreed to make internal changes including personnel training, hiring outside counsel and submitting “quarterly reports to the government on any cultural property acquisitions for the next eighteen months.”

In a statement, Hobby Lobby president Steve Green said the company “should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled.”

Hobby Lobby said it “was new to the world of acquiring these items, and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisitions process.”

“This resulted in some regrettable mistakes,” the company said.

Green said that Hobby Lobby imported the artifacts as part of its “passion for the Bible.”

In "Better Call Saul" Terms, it Looks Like Trump is Siding with Sandpiper

No more lawsuits, ever:
Arbitration does have its advantages. It’s cheaper and faster than civil litigation, and arbitrators can be selected who have some relevant expertise. In a competitive market, the benefits of arbitration should accrue to consumers in the form of lower prices.

But the extraordinary growth of mandatory arbitration over the past couple of decades is one of the more unnerving developments in modern American law. Genuine consent to arbitration is often fictional. Arbitrators tend to favor the repeat players who hire them—companies, not consumers. Arbitration agreements can forestall class action lawsuits, making it difficult or impossible to hold companies to account for small-in-size but widespread injuries. And where civil litigation can shine a light on shoddy business practices, arbitration is shrouded in secrecy.

A New Message for Donald Trump from Former Mexican President Vicente Fox

Failed at Life?

There's always the easy way out.

Tim Winton on BBC World Service World Book Club

I caught this broadcast last night on BBC World Service, and found it endlessly interesting. I've never read "Cloudstreet", but I like anything grounded in specific locales and places. I love Australia and Australian themes in any event, and Tim Winton had a very humorous and self-deprecating manner, and so I'll have to read the book soon.
This month World Book Club is talking to chart-topping Australian writer Tim Winton about his unforgettable novel Cloudstreet.

Winner of the Miles Franklin Award and recognised as one of the greatest works of Australian literature, Cloudstreet is Tim Winton's sprawling, comic epic about luck and love, fortitude and forgiveness, and the magic of the everyday.

Precipitated by separate personal tragedies, two poor families flee their rural homes to share a "great continent of a house", Cloudstreet, in a suburb of Perth. The Lambs are industrious, united and religious. The Pickleses are gamblers, boozers, fractious, and unlikely landlords.

Over the next twenty years they struggle and strive, laugh and curse, come apart and pull together under the same roof, and try to make the best of their lives.

Shocked and Saddened By The Passing of Merari Ceyali

Andres sends this horrifying news:

"Every sunrise gives us more days to hope, so hope for the best"

This is a fundraising by friends and family of Merari Ceyeli.

We send our deepest condolences to her whole family, especially her three beautiful babies. She will forever be in our hearts. Please join the effort to provide peace and love to the Ceyeli-Gomez family.

Angels are often described as the presence of peace, joy, love, tranquility, laughter, light and life ..... to all of us who crossed path with Merari remember her as an angel. Gone too soon. Our beloved Merari, touched many hearts for the 27 years and brought light with a smile to all.


We will be updating details on the service date.

1 Peter 5:10: And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Desafortunadamente estamos pasando por un momento muy difícil y nos estamos inclinando hacia ustedes pidiendo su apoyo y ayuda para los gastos del funeral de nuestra querida Merari Ceyeli. Cualquier donación será de gran ayuda. Muchisimas gracias

Familia Ceyeli-Gomez

Merari was always a smiling presence in the front row of Andres and Alfredo Barreto's Monday and Tuesday evening Zumba classes at Step One Health and Fitness. The idea that she has passed on is a horror.

Andres has organized a fundraiser to help with funeral expenses.

And so, what happened? The City of Roseville Police Department reports:

Update: Sunrise Ave. reopened in both directions at approximately 3:30 a.m. July 4.

At 8:53 p.m. tonight (July 3), officers responded to a single-vehicle collision on Sunrise Avenue at Oak Ridge Drive. A two-door coupe was being driven south on Sunrise Avenue from Douglas Boulevard and collided with a sound wall. The driver, who was the sole occupant of the car, was pronounced deceased at the scene. Alcohol is not a suspected factor in the collision. Sunrise Avenue will remain closed between Douglas Boulevard and Frances Drive until approximately 2 a.m. while Roseville's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team examines the scene.

Update: The driver who died in last night's collision was identified as Quiryat Merari Ceyeli-Gomez, age 27 of Sacramento. At about 8:53 p.m. July 3, Ms. Ceyeli-Gomez was driving her 1997 Chevrolet Camaro coupe south on Sunrise Avenue from Douglas Boulevard when for yet-unknown reasons, as she approached Oak Ridge Drive her car hit the guardrail on the west side of the road and then careened across the roadway, colliding with a sound wall on the east side of the road. The driver, who was not wearing her seat belt, was pronounced deceased at the scene. The collision is being investigated by Roseville Police Department's MAIT (multi-disciplinary accident investigation team).

Total Vehicle Sales Sagging

Total vehicle sales have been sagging ever since The Orange Menace took power.

He Tried

At Last...My Right Arm is Complete!!

Fourth of July was a hard day. Steve hurt himself early-on with the cotton candy spinner, so I became the workhorse instead. Hour after hour, leaning over and into the maelstrom of sugar. My legs and shoulders ache today.

People kept snapping my photo, so if I could assemble all of the photos, you'd be able to see how progressively became encased in sugar. Little kids were impressed when I'd peel the sugar of my arms, like Walking Dead scabs.

Scott suggested that this was the look I was going for:

But instead, I was going for this look:

Learning Cotton Candy

Urban Farming in Sacramento

Tilling Oak Park:
This is in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento, California, which is currently battling food insecurity, poverty and gentrification, which is largely the result of historical racism, redlining and other tactics designed to undermine the fabric of the community. Oak Park is Sacramento’s first suburb. After World War II many non-white Americans moved here because other neighborhoods were racially restricted. Now it’s the “it” neighborhood for out-of-town investors to flip houses and make a profit.

“Most gentrification efforts are led from the outside in. What we’re doing is we’re making change from the inside out. And people are seeing that. We’re transforming the ‘hood for good,” Yisrael tells me.

As we speak, he transfers young plants from the greenhouse to palettes outside so they can harden off before getting planted in the ground. Then he goes out to till the soil in one of his gardens (or as he calls it “dancing with the earth”), opting not for a rototiller, and instead using a broadfork. He jokes that interviewing a farmer is a “moving target.”

The Yisrael Family Farm has been in operation since 2011, before there was much talk in the media about “urban farms.” They grow food for themselves (crop varieties change with the seasons) and they also sell what they don’t need to their neighbors via a table on the driveway. Yisrael tells me the prices are significantly lower than the organic produce at grocery stores because he doesn’t have to worry about the same overhead and transportation costs.

Lumbering Weight

I wish the shuffling raccoon would just leave my roof. He's making me nervous.

Drunk Driver Making Their Way Across Oklahoma

People See Right Through Kris Kobach

Fortunately, people see right through Kris Kobach and his clownish commission's efforts to throw all Democrats off voting rolls under the guise of voting security. All the worst players are back, and they are making illegal demands and ordering people to submit:
Some of you remember the 2006/07 US Attorneys firing scandal. What most people don’t clearly remember is that the US Attorneys scandal was really a voter suppression scandal. The US Attorney firings were just a secondary operation meant to root out US Attorneys who wouldn’t play ball with political appointees at the Department of Justice and the White House on the broader voter suppression operation.

What we have now with President Trump’s ‘Election Integrity’ Commission is a much more thorough-going, ambitious and open effort to do the same thing.

Needless to Say, Trump is Vile

Mika Brzezinski, at the time Trump was saying her face was bleeding:

Trumpcare Comes Corrupt Right Out Of The Box

Trumpcare is designed to allow the states to spend money supposedly dedicated to health care on ANYTHING AT ALL! Corruption is baked into its DNA:
Under the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act, however, states would only have to prove that their plans won’t increase the federal deficit. Worse, the language is such that so long as that stipulation is met, the Department of Health and Human Services has to approve those plans, no matter what the other details may be.

So, as University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley explains at Vox, a state could submit a plan to take the federal money it gets for health care and instead spend it on something else entirely. “What’s stopping a state from … using Obamacare money to fund public schools or affordable housing?” he muses. Such a request wouldn’t change the amount of government spending, so HHS would have to give it the green light.

This one provision, then, threatens to turn federal health care funding into a slush fund for states. And that will be a very tempting proposition, because state governments are strictly constrained by how much revenue they take in and must balance every year.

Not A Chance

The National Enquirer is a Blackmail Tool

This has been clear for some time. Trump uses the National Enquirer to blackmail people. Gangsta behavior from a Gangsta President, and criminal too:
The hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday accused the White House of blackmailing them with a potentially damaging story in the National Enquirer, which they said was eventually published after they refused to “grovel” to the President and apologize for their critical coverage of them.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post Friday, co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough hinted at the threat: “This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas.”

...Scarborough said he and Brzezinski were even questioned outside Brzezinski’s house at one point by “a guy in a van that was just staked out there, watching.”

...Scarborough painted the incident as part of a larger trend of Trump using the Enquirer as a vehicle to attack his enemies, pointing to damaging stories that he said were “planted” in the paper about then-rivals Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz during the presidential campaign.

Frank Rich's Article on Trump

I'm afraid we'll be stuck with Trump for awhile, but I do like the historic viewpoint of this article:
The skids of Trump’s collapse are already being greased by some of the same factors that brought down his role model: profound failings of character, disdain for the law (“If the president does it, that means that it is not illegal,” in Nixon’s notorious post-resignation formulation to David Frost), an inability to retain the loyalty of feuding White House aides who will lawyer up to save their own skins (H. R. McMaster may bolt faster than the ultimately imprisoned Nixon chief of staff H. R. Haldeman), and dubious physical health (Trump’s body seems to be bloating in stress as Nixon’s phlebitis-stricken leg did). Further down the road, he’ll no doubt face the desertion of politicians in his own party who hope to cling to power after he’s gone. If the good Lordy hears James Comey’s prayers, there may yet be incriminating tapes as well, Trump’s weirdly worded denial notwithstanding.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Halcyon Ballroom Dance Days

Here's a big oh-so-beautiful piece of my life right here!!!

Living in Tucson in 1981-82, I fell into a social circle of ambitious ballroom dancers. My instructor was the world's loveliest dancer, Margaret O'Hanlon, and she danced with Lonnie Mitchell. They joined with Rick and Sandy Valenzuela, and the circle shifted to Desert Terrace Dance Studio. The going rate for instruction was $60/hr, but I was a graduate student and couldn't afford anything near that, so Margaret gave me a deal and allowed me to pay $25/hr. It was glorious! And such a strange crowd - heiresses who didn't care for money but loved to laugh; world-class talent; the inscrutably exotic. But the center of the universe in 1981 was Ron Montez and Liz Curtis in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the circle soon shifted there. Being a poor graduate student, I couldn't follow for long, but I loved hanging out with them.

This video is from that exact time. There are the heroes of the age, Ron Montez and Liz Curtis. But more importantly, at 1:29 and again at 1:37, there is couple #116: Lonnie Mitchell, and the world's most beautiful dancer, Margaret O'Hanlon!!!

I lost touch with them. Time moved on. Rick Valenzuela had a brief moment of fame. He was Vanessa William's obnoxious but incredibly-gifted partner in the ballroom dance epic, 1998's "Dance With Me." (Liz Curtis had a supporting role in that film too.) And the rest dance on in comparative obscurity. Oh, to be young in that universe again!