Thursday, July 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday


T.S.S. Nea Hellas

My father, Amos Sommers, arrived in America in 1939. He came over from Piraeus on the Greek ship Nea Hellas.  The Nea Hellas was originally the Turbine Steam Ship Tuscania but was rechristened the year of my father's passage, 1939, the year the Nazis started their campaign  across Europe. Later she served as a troop transport. She was targeted by torpedo twice by an Italian submarine, and attacked three times by Nazi aircraft in the Mediterranean, she completed her wartime service without the loss of a single life. Eventually she was rechristened the T.S.S. New York.



The TSS Nea Hellas / New York the ship of dreams for thousands seeking freedom and a new life in America

"...Coming to America was the dream of millions. The Greek Line passenger ship, Nea Hellas was the ship of dreams to thousands fleeing Nazi Germany, Greeks and other Europeans yearning for freedom and the bridge to a new life in America. During World War II she served as an allied troopship. After the war she resumed her service on the Piraeus New York route, until 1955 when she was renamed the New York, and served the northern Europe to America route."


My father was 12 years old. His name was then Amos Kaitz. Kaitz means summer in Hebrew, his native language. My father was born in 1926, in Tel Aviv. Accompanying him on the ship was my grandmother Pessia and his four year old sister Tirtzia, known forever as Terry. My eyes may be deceiving me but I believe that one can see a tiny jewish star next to his name on the naturalization slip he received after the war.



Pessia, who we called Pessa, may have actually been named Pola. She came from the town of Wyszkow in Poland, from a very large family, the great majority of whom were later decimated at Auschwitz. According to some family lore, Pessia was the name of a deceased older sister.

My father described the ship as very spartan. My grandfather Israel, must have already been here, working for a time as a chicken farmer in New Jersey and then finally with Uncle Julius in Detroit. My father enlisted in the U.S. army in 1945 as a 19 year old with a year of college at UCLA behind him. He was reticent to say much about the war but I heard some stuff at a family gathering between older relatives that was pretty hush hush.

He went back to school after the war and graduated from UCLA in 1950. He played football, soccer and wrestled there and met my mother Adelle Roberts as well, who was in the UCLA Theater Arts department.


My father now resides in an Alzheimer's group home in the Central Valley of California.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dan Flynn


John Donne
Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

"No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...."  

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It will be a whiskey day. Dan Flynn passed away this morning. I got the text early from Bill W, his best friend had left this mortal coil somewhere between 6:15 and 6:36 a.m pacific standard. His dad and brothers had fortunately just flown out from his native midwest and were with him in his last hours. As were Bill and Ann.

Dan was a good friend. Sometimes you get to pick your friends off the ideal friend template and sometimes you associate and develop friendships after long periods spent in the same foxhole. The nature of my relationship with Dan was of the latter sort. We fought in many of the same campaigns.

Dan's passing was the quickest I have ever seen. Fine a matter of mere days or maybe weeks ago, then his stomach bothered him, and then we come to find out that it is stage four pancreatic cancer that has already firmly established in his liver. A short timer, as they say in the trade.

He called me and I guess we shared a bit of gallows humour as our sort tends to do. "Beats getting hit by a bus old friend, you get a chance to say goodbye." I tried to give him the benefits of my experience with cancer but there wasn't much I could really say.

Dan is survived by his wife, who was a doctor, many friends and his family. I don't think he had any enemies. He wasn't that type of guy. He had a great hearty laugh that he used liberally. He was one of the titans in the jewelry trade and was known as a square shooter who always gave a square deal, high praise in a pond known for its rapacious predators. Smart as a whip.



Two years ago I met Dan at Valley of Fire in Nevada. I was with BigDave, fresh from his own chemo stint for the lymphoma. It was an amazing day, scampering around the rocks and petroglyphs. Jimi Hendrix's song fire came on the radio in a fortuitous synchronicity as we entered the park. It was a day that all of our collective spirits soared. I am grateful for that very special day we shared.

Dan had an interesting sense of humour, he loved Divine and John Waters, a cocktail, Waikiki, had a great ear and taste for music, I remember a wonderful night at Streetscene watching Cake with Dan, Bill and Leslie. He had a very ordinary palette and I enjoyed taking him to chinese restaurants with Cam and eating weird stuff in front of him that was sure to make him gag. Jellyfish put him over the top every time.

I'm going to miss Dan Flynn. It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance sir, I am sorry that you are going to miss the rest of the performance, you played your part excellently and you were loved by many.



Friday, June 27, 2014

Transferring Ink III

Ron Pokrasso Old Studio New Tree – work on panel – Intaglio, monotype, collage on paper, acrylic, drawing – 42”x30”


There is a wonderful new art exhibition opening this weekend at the Fallbrook Art Center. Titled Transferring Ink III, it is a juried show of prints created and submitted by some very outstanding local and national printmakers.

The show juror is the renowned printmaker and instructor, Ron Pokrasso, who currently resides in Santa Fe. Pokrasso has an MFA from Pratt, with over 40 solo shows and participation in over 150 group shows in his resumé. He has a show within a show at this exhibition with I believe fifteen of his own creations on display.

Pokrasso is giving a workshop this week at the Fallbrook School of the Arts as well, something he does on a near annual basis. The show submission prospectus allowed for many different media techniques but printmaking had to be the major element in each piece of art.

The show consists of a wide variety of printmaking techniques, woodcuts, chine collé, etching, relief, stencil, lithography, serigraphy, monotypes and intaglio among others.

The Blue Heron Gallery has loaned some historic pieces for the exhibition including works by Edouard Manet and Grant Wood.

I co juried the first show and had some input on the second. This show is by far the best to date, just an outstanding body of work. I highly recommend that people with an appreciation for art take the time to visit and see its rich offerings for themselves. The show contains 88 works from 53 artists from across the country including several works by the juror himself. Link to a comprehensive show catalogue here.

Ron Pokrasso - Who’s Pulling My Chain?, Intaglio, collage on paper image 16”x12”

I am in my fourth or fifth decade of selling artwork, Forgive me if I don’t give you an exact tally. It is my experience that printmaking is by far the most misunderstood medium in visual art.

I often have to deal with incredulous buyers who don’t understand how for instance, Gene Kloss drypoints and aquatints are often far more pricey and valuable than her oils or watercolors.

You have a job getting the public at large to grasp that prints are created to stand on their own. They are truly the redheaded stepchildren of the art world and deserve better understanding and recognition.

Too many people still equate prints with reproductions, they have a hard time wrapping their collective heads around the concept and notion that these are singular works of art that can sometimes be created in multiples but that fact in itself in no way diminishes their individual power and artistic merit. They are unique creations.

Prints have a long history, they were first pulled in the fifth century in China. The etching was probably first introduced in Germany in the early fifteenth century, lithography in eighteenth century France.

I had a chance to speak with the juror for a few minutes yesterday about his considerations in picking the show and about printmaking in general.

An intense but affable man, Pokrasso said that in selecting works he was not really interested in the already trod pathways of “traditional printmaking.” In fact very few of the selections for this show were multiple editions, a fact that he said pleases him. He said that to him printmaking was merely another tool for creating art, like a brush or stylus. He is, however, very interested in artists developing technical expertise, a proficiency he admits being drawn to.

Pokrasso confided that there was a misconception that being capable of using a press made you a printmaker. He said that in Santa Fe in the eighties there was a monotype boom that he felt partially responsible for and admitted that he had to occasionally cringe when these artists called themselves printmakers.

Mastering complicated printmaking techniques such as the making of aquatints for instance, can take decades and a lifetime of work and study. The printmaker believes that each artist’s intention in approaching a piece is what is truly important.

Gregory RadionovA Soul’s Ruffle  Linocut 40”x50”
                   
I include pictures of some of the work that I found most wonderful in my cursory walk through the show. The linocut piece pictured above was particularly strong and appealing. I am told that Radionov is a Russian emigré who now lives in Northridge.

Dakota Clay Nanton – ‘The Seduction of Holofernes’ - silkscreen, monotype, acrylic, pastel 15”x19

Nanton’s The Seduction of Holofernes is a striking mixed media work, the almost german expressionist main actors juxtaposed against a powerful madras silkscreen backdrop.

Neal Ambrose Smith HiYo Inverse intalglio-type, watercolor, india ink & color xerox transfer. Akua non-toxic intaglio ink printed on dry paper 39””x64”

Neal Ambrose-Smith is showing Hi Yo. a large and topical piece that is extremely strong. The Kirk meets John Lydon character stands out under the slightly ironic and possibly tongue and cheek heading, War against War. The sgrafitto in the background evokes Diebenkorn, Steadman and Twombly, at least to my eyes.

If you want to see a show of merit, with an extremely high caliber of submissions, I strongly advise you to visit Transferring Ink III. One of the great things is just how many different techniques and visions were employed by the different artists, all with their own unique perspective. I personally need to spend some quality time in front of these prints as I barely scratched the surface in my first pass.

The show is being held at the Janice Griffiths Gallery at the Fallbrook Art Center. It opens this Saturday the 28th, with a reception from 5 to 7p.m.. Admission is $10 for the public and free to Premier & Friends Level Members. Regular admission is $6.

The exhibition continues June 29 through August 10, 2014.  Hours are Mon-Sat 10am to 4pm | Sun Noon to 3pm.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Time to do something else for a while. Blog is going to sleep. Thanks for sticking with me all these years.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Little Sadie

Sweet Jane


Former San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos is known to have sexually assaulted at least thirteen women while threatening them with arrest. The City of San Diego has reached financial settlement with twelve of the women. The thirteenth, known as Jane Doe, has not settled at this time. She testified that Arevalos demanded her panties during a drunk-driving stop, then took her into a 7-Eleven bathroom in the Gaslamp district and violated her. Google Jane Doe and Arevalos for all the salacious details.

To date, the city has forked over $2.3 million dollars to the victims of this creep, who happens to be doing eight years in the slam for his egregious conduct. So what does the San Diego CityAttorney Jan Goldsmith do? He has this woman followed. He videotapes her at the gas station. He puts her, her family and her friends under a surveillance dragnet.
"They have private detectives following me around, videotaping myself, my family, my friends, my co-workers," said the woman, only known to the public as Jane Doe.
To make matters worse, it appears that the city is dragging this woman's name through the mud, accusing her of flirtatious and promiscuous behavior, not to mention bribery, in essence making the victim responsible for the reprehensible behavior of Arevalos.  Their surveillance showed that Doe was "kissing and hugging her boyfriend in public; attired in shorts and bending fully over ... on several occasions." Horrors! The traumatized woman should have been strapped to a gurney in a mental ward, how dare she try to lead a normal life after what she went through? The official position appears to be that they know they had a bad egg but this girl had it coming.

Lawyers with the City Attorney's Office even filed legal documents claiming Doe "bribed officer Arevalos with her panties" to get out of a ticket, but eventually the city attorneys filed a strike motion to take back that phrase.
Goldsmith called surveillance in a case like this routine. He said it was not meant to intimidate Doe, and is simply standard legal practice in a civil lawsuit.
"Some people think it's insensitive," Goldsmith said. "I can't address that. That's what practicing law is."
Goldsmith said Doe and her lawyers leaked the surveillance footage to apply public pressure for the city to settle the case for more than was prudent.
"We're responsible for what this dirt bag did, and we have a victim who is a hero. But that doesn't mean we make a bunch of people wealthy, rich over it," Goldsmith said.
The woman's attorney, Browne Greene, even accuses the Police of withholding evidence from his team and shielding the Officer.
Doe's attorney's claims the police department withheld and mishandled those notes to protect Arevalos.
They're also accusing the city attorney of misconduct by hiring a private investigator to follow and secretly film Doe for a month in an effort to attack her credibility."Their person that they had that they knew was a sexual predator, they chose not to surveil. But go ahead and surveil the victim so they can find something maybe to smear her," attorney Browne Greene said.
So the girl won't play ball and we have to paint her as an ungrateful slut. All in a day's work, I suppose. People are calling for the City Attorney to step down. During an interview with Channel 10, the interviewer had a great question for Goldsmith:
"Why would you profess to Jane Doe to do her civic duty and turn state's evidence against Arevalos. But when she files suit against the city, you had her hounded down as if she was the criminal instead. Doesn't that erode the faith the general public has in any way of becoming an witness for law enforcement." 
Great question. Yesterday the judge handling the case refused to grant a gag order requested by the city on the case. City needs to step up.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jennifer Warnes




Written by Stephen Foster in 1854. Blast mentor and stellar musician Mike Finnigan on background vocals along with Kenny Edwards and Blondie Chaplin.

Outrage part two


Governor Bobby Jindal - (R)  Louisiana
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Daisy's Dead Air has done some interesting homework on the sex scandal currently being swept under the rug at Bob Jones University. Daisy has parleyed an excellent blog into a radio career and stardom in South Carolina.
From the NYT: GREENVILLE, S.C. — For decades, students at Bob Jones University who sought counseling for sexual abuse were told not to report it because turning in an abuser from a fundamentalist Christian community would damage Jesus Christ. Administrators called victims liars and sinners.
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Union Tribune, of all papers, ran a good investigative piece this week, on nursing home abuses and the utter failure of the state bureaucracy to regulate or punish them.

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Bobbie Jindal knows who butters his bread. Louisiana has lost 1800 square miles of coastal marshes. But don't even think about holding anyone accountable.
"The new maps document a disturbing trend Louisianans have witnessed for years. The state has lost more than 1,800 square miles of its coastal marshes – an area larger than the size of Rhode Island – since the 1930s, due to sealing off the Mississippi River with levees to protect towns, natural subsidence and thousands of miles of transport canals carved out by oil and gas companies.
In another rare move, a New Orleans area flood control board filed a lawsuit last year against 97 oil and gas companies, claiming they should fund billions of dollars in coastal restoration projects for their role in wetlands loss. Similar lawsuits by Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes followed. Only a fraction of a $50 billion, 50-year state plan to restore the coast has been funded.
The move to make oil and gas companies liable has been fought by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, who refused to re-appoint members of the flood control board involved in the suit. Garret Graves, Jindal's coastal chief, didn't return several requests for comment."
Of course in Louisiana, the state and federal agencies won't even look for offshore oil spills. That work must unfortunately be borne by volunteers.
“We don’t have people whose job it is to go out looking for spills; we rely on people to report things,” said Gregory Langley, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, which says its mission is to protect public health, safety and welfare “while considering sound policies regarding employment and economic development.”
The state Department of Natural Resources has 12 inspectors who check wells along the coast for compliance with regulations, a spokesman said. Though those checks are conducted without notice, the industry is so large that the department’s goal is to inspect each one every three years.
 According to a consortium report, the companies that filed 2,093 spill reports from October 2010 through September 2011 estimated the total pollution at about 250,000 gallons. The SkyTruth evaluation put the figure between 1.5 and 2.2 million gallons.
“We have problems with non-reporting, but also with under-reporting,” Manthos said. “They’re operating pretty much on the honor system out there. The Coast Guard has limited resources. If the amount is small, they are less likely to go out and take a look.
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Remember the leak in West Virginia? No, not the new one, the one from last month, Freedom Industries, the company that went bankrupt right away? Well, the principals have a little bit of a sordid past. Hey, who hasn't had a cocaine indictment?

Speaking of the new leak, it appears that the regulators think it's much ado about nothing.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry poured into an eastern Kanawha County stream Tuesday in what officials were calling a "significant spill" from a Patriot Coal processing facility.
Emergency officials and environmental inspectors said roughly six miles of Fields Creek had been blackened and that a smaller amount of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.
"This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River," said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state Department of Environmental Protection. "This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill."
"When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out."
Earlier in the day, Jimmy Gianato, director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said he didn't have a lot of details on the incident but was under the impression it wasn't that serious.
"I don't think there's really anything to it," Gianato said. "It turned out to be much of nothing."
The spill occurred at Patriot Coal's Kanawha Eagle operation.

Could they have been testing for the wrong chemical at the site of the new spill?
For most of the day, the DEP was operating under the assumption that MCHM, the chemical that contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians last month, was included in the spilled slurry. Huffman said that they learned late in the day that the facility had stopped using MCHM just a few weeks ago, so a different coal-cleaning chemical was involved.
Huffman said that the new chemical was polypropylene glycol, although he also referred to it as polyethylene glycol. He said that that chemical is such a small part of the slurry that they don't believe it, specifically, will have an impact.
Huffman said they had been testing for MCHM, but will now have to change their testing protocols.
Residents near the spill had complained of MCHM's telltale licorice odor, but Huffman said that the odor was from a tank of MCHM that the company was moving off site.
Oddly, in Patriot's statement the company mentioned testing for MCHM in Fields Creek.
"Recent testing initiated by the Kanawha Eagle mining complex confirmed that the level of MCHM is far below the 1 part per million screening level set by the Centers for Disease Control and in most instances was non-detectable," Orf wrote. "We will continue to work with the Department of Environmental Protection regarding the containment and cleanup activities."
And:
This is at least the third slurry incident since 2010 at the Kanawha Eagle cite (sic). In late November, black water was discharged into South Hollow Stream, and ended up in Fields Creek. The company was fined $663.
In October of 2010, there was a slurry line break that discharged into Spicelick and Joes Creek, impacting about 3 miles of stream. The company was fined $22,400.
On Tuesday, Huffman said fines alone were not enough of a deterrent to prevent spills.
"A some point companies will just pay. We have to do more than that, we can't just send them a bill and say you have to pay this to continue operating, there have to be fundamental changes made at a facility that's had multiple incidents," Huffman said. "Maybe there needs to be a top down review of all their processes. Maybe there's a cultural change within that company that needs to take place that has more of an emphasis on safety, environmental controls, things like that."
OSM investigators also found that other strategies -- including settlement agreements with mine operators and federal criminal prosecution -- don't always work in stopping future blackwater spills.
"It appears that the consequences for violating the law, even when the violations are intentional, willful and blatant, are not significant enough to be a deterrent," the OSM report said.Residents of W. Virginia affected by the first spill are getting a funny licorice taste in their water and still are apprehensive about drinking it, although some regulators think that it is safe.
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North Carolina has its own problems. The recent spill into the Dan River has upset a sweetheart deal that the State had with Duke Energy. The Governor, Pat McCrory, is a 28 year employee of the firm and has stacked the government environmental agency with ex employees.
"My administration is the first in North Carolina history to take legal action against the utility regarding coal ash ponds," McCrory said, following a private meeting with company officials. "We have been moving on this issue since the beginning of my term and will continue to do so."The environmentalists suggest his administration's real goal has been to shield the governor's former employer from far more severe and expensive penalties it might face if the cases ever made it to a federal courtroom.Amy Adams was a regional director at the state environmental agency in charge of enforcing surface water standards for 21 North Carolina counties before she resigned in protest last November. A nine-year veteran of the agency, she said she was directed in her last months to help polluters meet compliance standards, rather than issue violations or fines."We have a governor right now that has very close ties to Duke, the state's largest polluter and a major political contributor to his campaigns," said Adams, who now works for the environmental group Appalachian Voices. "Under the new administration, North Carolina has changed the definition of who its customer is from the public and the natural resources it is supposed to protect to the industries it regulates. There's been a huge push away from environmental protection and toward promoting economic growth."Since his unsuccessful first campaign for governor in 2008, campaign finance reports show Duke Energy, its political action committee, executives and their immediate families have donated at least $1.1 million to McCrory's campaign and affiliated groups that spent on TV ads, mailings and events to support him.
The North Carolina fiasco has been one mixup after another, intentional or not. The state reported faulty numbers and was found to have made its tests far downstream of the spill. And it turns out that they allowed the Duke lab to conduct the chemical testing. No wonder the people are scared.
DURHAM, N.C. – North Carolina environmental regulators acknowledged Sunday that they had erroneously reported results of early toxic tests in the Dan River after a huge coal ash spill, specifically, that arsenic was within safe levels.The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it had incorrectly reported that results of water samples taken Feb. 3 were within state standards for arsenic, a toxic heavy metal. In fact, the agency said, two samples exceeded the standard of 10 micrograms per liter.“We made an honest mistake while interpreting the results,’’ Tom Reeder, director of the agency’s Division of Water Resources, said in a statement Sunday afternoon.The leak at a retired Duke Energy power plant dumped up to 82,000 tons of ash into the river in North Carolina and Virginia. It was reported Feb. 2.Tests of samples collected since Feb. 3 have found arsenic levels within the state standard, and those levels have continued to drop, the statement said. The department has recommended that people “avoid prolonged direct contact’’ with the Dan River in the spill area until further notice.“The bottom line remains that we are concerned for the long-term health of the Dan River,’’ Reeder said. “We will continue to test the water in the river as we assess the spill’s impact and determine the most appropriate ways to clean up the river. We are in this for the long haul.’’The state had said Friday that it had earlier found levels of arsenic, copper, iron and aluminum above state standards for surface water quality. The state failed to note that it was correcting the arsenic levels inaccurately reported the previous Monday.Environmental groups have criticized the state and Duke Energy, the giant utility responsible for the spill at the company’s retired coal-fired plant on the Dan River in Eden, N.C., near the Virginia border. One group, Waterkeeper Alliance, says its tests of water samples have found levels of arsenic, lead, chromium and other heavy metals that far exceed safety standards for humans or wildlife.Environmentalists have criticized the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for working closely with Duke on spill response and water sampling. The agency sued the utility in August for improper discharge of coal ash from containment basins at 14 Duke-owned plants, including the Dan River facility.
 The Washington Post reports evidence that North Carolina's move may be a shield for the big contributor:
The state agency has blocked the citizen lawsuits by intervening at the last minute to assert its own authority under the federal act to take enforcement action. After negotiating with Duke, the state proposed settlements where the nation’s largest electricity provider pays modest fines but is under no requirement to actually clean up its coal ash ponds.
His appointee to oversee the state environmental department, Raleigh businessman John Skvarla, describes his agency’s role as being a “partner” to those it regulates, whom he refers to as “customers.”
“That is why we have been able to turn DENR from North Carolina’s No. 1 obstacle of resistance into a customer-friendly juggernaut
in such a short time,” Skvarla wrote in a letter to the editor of the News & Observer of Raleigh, published in December. “People in the private sector pour their hearts and souls into their work; instead of crushing their dreams, they now have a state government that treats them as partners.
What have we learned today, kids? If you are a betting man in a contest between ethics, environment and money, take the money play every time.

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And from Huffpo. This income inequality business is so bad that even the rich are getting screwed by the superrich.


BoB SeGeR

Outrage, part one



You will have to pardon me, I'm a little behind on my outrages. I can't get the bread I want anymore at Subway because they have removed the azodicarbonamide, the plastic chemical that not only strengthens the dough but  bleaches yoga mats and stiffens the soles of your shoes. Now that's a dual purpose chemical! Yum.

Maybe McDonalds will soon get rid of Dimethylpolysiloxane in its french fries, the silicone ingredient that is also found in Silly Putty? Nahhh. A link to some other neat chemicals found in food.

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I would assume that most Americans have heard about the little town of Negreet in Sabine Parish, Louisiana. This is the part of the United States where there is absolutely no separation of church and state and where the establishment clause does not apply. Well, here and South Carolina, anyway.

The story of the Thai buddhist kid at Negreet High School who was basically given the choice of finding Jesus or moving to another school really floors me. Read the actual lawsuit here, it is an eye opener.

I have read every news account of this story I can find. The student's father is a local and he himself the son of a preacher. The science teacher is a young earth creationist christian who feels that other religions are stupid. It is mind boggling that this stuff still occurs in America.

It has been interesting to read the comments people have posted on these stories. Because it must be said that the great majority of people, christians included, find this behavior over the line and reprehensible. One woman said Welcome to America, majority rules but most people are frankly appalled, as am I.

Get Along Home Cindy



She was a fixture at coffee, a large woman with a hearty cackle, perched on the bench outside every morning with the smokers. She sure needed the nicotine, man. She rolled into town a few years ago, think she was from Missouri, drove a sparkling clean green Volkswagen.

I got along with her well, she had an infectious southern laugh, which she displayed on a daily basis. Sang her this song 'bout every time I saw her, which was often. She sometimes sang back. Seemed a little nervous at times, a fish out of water and miles away from the home pond.

She disappeared a while ago, I thought that maybe she had died, perhaps she had been hospitalized or was convalescing, I know that for a few days she was in a wheelchair. Then there she was back on the bench recently like nothing had happened. Except she couldn't walk very well.

Tuesday was Cindy's birthday. Maybe she gave herself a present. What she did was she shot her son in law dead. Heard the cop cars scream by, didn't know where to. Folks say she went to the casino after the deed was done, then came back to Primo and had a coffee like nothing ever happened. Stashed the gun and went on with the rest of her day.

Papers say she didn't like his manner with the grandchildren. Heard he left her in town to fend for herself for interminable lengths on occasion. Perhaps there was some bad blood. Maybe she wasn't in her right mind. Maybe she was reacting to some weird meds. Maybe she had simply had enough.

Who the hell knows who was right or wrong in situations like this? Who knows what causes people to snap? I do know you don't go round killing your kin, murdering your daughter's husband and your grandchildren's' father. Not for being too strict. And when you do take the law into your own hands, you can expect to pay a big price. Who knows, maybe she would like to take it all back, but now the deed is done. Might not be seeing her for a while, if ever.
An autopsy revealed seven .38-caliber bullets in the victim's body as well as four other holes where bullets had entered and exited, Prior said.
"She (the defendant) then left the residence, tossed the gun in a nearby drainage ditch and threw the ammunition away," Prior alleged. "She then went to Denny's for breakfast, she went to Pechanga (Casino) for gambling, she went to the liquor store for cigarettes and she went to her favorite coffee shop to end her day."
Around 5 p.m. that same day, officers caught up with Cdebaca, who originally denied knowing that Eustaquio was dead and denied any involvement, Prior said.
Later that night, however, Cdebaca told police she was responsible, stating that the victim "better be dead," Prior alleged.
Cdebaca told police that she didn't like the victim and that "if he were here, she would kill him again," the prosecutor told reporters.
Get along home Cindy, Cindy. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Northern rations

While the northern campaign can in no way be characterized as a stunning success it did have its few small moments.  One of them was dinner with my friend Michael at my favorite neighborhood restaurant, Creola in San Carlos. After all, an army can not march on an empty stomach.

I should start this post with the proviso that am in no way an oenophile. If it is red I will generally drink it and mostly enjoy anything beyond the gallo stuff that comes in a cardboard box.

Michael does know his wine and brought out a special bottle that has been in his cellar for decades, a 1961 bordeaux Chateau La Lagune. This winery from the Haut Medoc region is one of fourteen Troisièmes Crus (Third Growths) in the historic Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.

He explained to me that '61 was one of the two best vintages from the last century, the other being the '45. (My checking around says that the '49 wasn't too bad either)

While the bottle has lost a lot of fluid in the neck, he told me that it was possible that I would be drinking one of the greatest wines to ever trickle down my throat.

Michael had called Edwin, the owner of Creola a few hours earlier. Unbeknownst to us he stayed an extra couple hours to properly serve and decant the wine for us.

We arrived and he had a little operational room set out in the kitchen to deal with the evening's star libation.

He found the perfect tool for extracting the 53 year old cork, a cork that has stayed surprisingly moist in Michael's cellar.

We were served corn muffins. I ordered the shrimp fennel bisque with sherry, spiced up a skoche with a little black pepper.

Michael had a salad, something that Creola has always done exceedingly well.

For an entrée my dinner companion chose the filet, something Creola does better than anybody else around, in a very unique way. I have written about it before, you will just have to try it.

Edwin told me that duck was back on the menu and I opted for the canard l'orange.

The host brought the decanter out with three glasses. The owner graciously accepted a taste. The color was a bit murky but not brackish. There was no trace of cork. I sniffed the violaceous liquid and there was no hint of acridity or tannin. The first sip was soft and luscious. Wow!

Michael, who has a much better nose than I do, isolated the individual smells. He characterized it as a tobacco box nose, in the best sense of the word. I detected a faint note of anise or licorice.

The meal was fantastic and the wine just got better and better throughout the evening. Even the color changed into a deeper red. I don't think a half century old wine could be any more perfect. One of the very best I have ever tasted. Still had all the necessary structure and shape.

I have a '59 Chateau Margaux that I think I will open with Michael later in the year. I hope that it is still drinkable, we will see.

Finished the meal there as we customarily do with the cafe du mond style beignets. Rather epic evening. Thank you, Michael, thank you Creola for a great meal!

Creola
344 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 654-0882




Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tales Of Brave Ulysses

The Executives - "Sit Down, I Think I Love You" 1968




The Australian band the Executives, featuring a vocalist named Carole King, 1968, here they rework the Springfield ditty. Slight garage pop feel, not terrible.

I claim cobalt


A lot to write about but I think I am going to have to ease in for a couple days and maybe see what percs up to the surface.

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Maureen Dowd wrote a great piece a few days regarding the general dumbing down of the media today, Still mad as hell.
What would Paddy rant about the viral, often venomous world of the Internet, Twitter and cable news, where fake rage is all the rage all the time, bleeding over into a Congress that chooses antagonism over accomplishment, no over yes?
She is right. Gary's Chicaros, Giraffe kills, radioactive fish, gay linebackersarsenic rivers, etcetera, we're all paddling through the same daily fetid swamp of muck and outrage. We seek out the enragement du jour and blissfully tweet, facebook and blog the bounty back to our respective camps, further reinforcing our clannish ossification, not to mention dialing up the white noise of constant chatter. One's shoulder gets tired picking all of the low hanging distractions, the inclination, at least for me, is to try to pierce a veil or two if possible, a macro view perhaps making more sense of it all.

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I was a bit betwixt by the news that a court had found for t-mobile over att in a trademark case that involved of all things, color. You can evidently own your own piece of the color spectrum these days, not to mention bring suit against any spectral interlopers.

T mobile rocks the world with its patented magenta color and they think that Aio, an ATT subsidiary, is poaching its chroma with their plum color. Not really a plum, more of a brick. To my eye, they are worlds apart but a judge didn't see it that same way. He is ordering Aio to refrain from all use of the color known in the trade as Pantone 676c.

Federal District Court judge Lee Rosenthal writes that "T-Mobile has shown a likelihood that potential customers will be confused into thinking that Aio is affiliated or associated with T-Mobile based on the confused association between Aio’s use of its plum color and T-Mobile’s similar use of its similar magenta color."

T Mobile says that customers know it for its distinctive magenta hue and that its use of the color is protected by trademark law. It maintains that it owns the hexadecimal color better known as #EA0A8E.

Look at the two colors and the two type styles above. Is this not absolutely silly and frivolous? And what neanderthal would confuse these two colors, let alone logos? They are miles apart chromatically.


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This makes me think of two similar stupidities, McDonalds suing everybody in the world with the audacity to have a Mc prefix to their business name, including a million or so Scotsmen and Annheiser Busch's myriad of lawsuits against a Czech brewery whose origins date back to the 13th century and who have been brewing under the Budweiser moniker since 1876.
In 1994, McDonald's successfully forced Elizabeth McCaughey of the San Francisco Bay Area to change the trading name of her coffee shop McCoffee, which had operated under that name for 17 years. "This is the moment I surrendered the little 'c' to corporate America," said Elizabeth McCaughey, who had named it as an adaptation of her surname.

This is the reason the bard suggested that first we kill all the lawyers. This cockamamie notion that corporations can lay claim to a chunk of the color bandwidth, not to mention divvy up the english language and lay claims to the commercial use of people's given names.

I hereby claim the letter R and will be seeking royalties in the future from all of you who deign to use it.

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I had an interesting discussion with an ex Xerox employee from the Palo Alto Research Center the other day. The PARC group was basically responsible for the personal computer you have today but never monetized their research.

He was laughing at the audacity of Microsoft going after patents that they had themselves appropriated from Xerox.


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I tell you, a new outrage every day.


2.11.14



The show sucked. Thanks for asking. Having said that I have multiple irons in the fire and feel pretty good about the prospects. Like most of us, will continue to grind.

Problems

Monday, February 3, 2014

Big Bopper



The day the music died, February 3, 1959.

Greetings from the northland


Jeff and Jeremy have been spending a lot of time at their cabin in Alaska. They love it up there. Seems like they have some rather large regular visitors. When they're not trying to get into the truck they are running around the yard.

video

Eliza Gilkyson



The accent mark's son, Chris, sent me this one today, one of his favorites. I'm taking off again soon. Had a couple sales today, the patient might live.

Dear Diary

Charge it.

Dean Spanos, the owner of the local pro football team, the Chargers, has been bucking for a new stadium for some time. This weekend he was pontificating that cities that don't pony up for new stadia should not get Super Bowls in the future.
“I’ll continue to support franchises where the cities have been supportive of their stadium efforts,” Spanos said. 
Don Bauder, among others, has been writing about the ridiculous notion of paying for these monstrosities for years. We need schools, we need to pave our streets, we have a myriad of infrastructure problems, we don't need to subsidize billionaires so that they can max out advertising revenue and corporate skybox revenue for their sports teams.

If you want to personally finance it 90 to 100% I think the city should be willing to take a look, Dean. The 49ers managed to do it. If you want to pout and take your toy and run to Los Angeles, hasta la vista baby. It will be tough but we will live. Now this is notwithstanding the fact that the Superbowl that was played here was by all accounts, a wonderful and very successful affair. After all, where would you rather play, San Diego or New Jersey?

The Union Tribune has been acting as a waterboy for the team for ages and they think that the taxpayers should be happy to pony up the expected $800 million it will take to get something built.
Now the question is whether the city and taxpayers should be willing to help the Spanos family, the wealthy owners of the Chargers, with construction of a stadium likely to cost at least $800 million. Within reason, our answer is, “Darn right.” 
...We invite this group to stand back and look at the big picture. There are only 32 NFL teams and only 30 metropolitan areas with NFL teams. There are many cities that yearn for a team. And there are many billionaires eager to buy and relocate teams, even as the price of a franchise keeps ascending...Civic lethargy must not cost us our membership in one of the world’s greatest and most elite clubs.
The publisher of the Union Tribune is of course, Doug Manchester, a hotelier, who would just love to have a new stadium built downtown near his Grand Hyatt. So forgive his obsequious toadying.

You know, I have a pretty good memory. I remember the city putting over $83 million dollars into rehabilitating Qualcomm only to be told the very next year that you wanted new digs. And it was their fault that their lawyers got outsmarted by you guys on the ticket guarantee. Sheep trying to make a deal with sharks. You blame the duck or do you blame the scorpion who asks for a ride across the lake?

And what happens to the old stadiums? Gone but hardly forgotten. Here is an interesting article, As stadiums vanish, their debt lives on.
It’s the gift that keeps on taking. The old Giants Stadium, demolished to make way for New Meadowlands Stadium, still carries about $110 million in debt, or nearly $13 for every New Jersey resident, even though it is now a parking lot. The financial hole was dug over decades by politicians who passed along the cost of building and fixing the stadium, and it is getting deeper. With the razing of the old stadium and the Giants and the Jets moving into their splashy new home next door, a big source of revenue to pay down the debt has shriveled. New Jerseyans are hardly alone in paying for stadiums that no longer exist. Residents of Seattle’s King County owe more than $80 million for the Kingdome, which was razed in 2000. The story has been similar in Indianapolis and Philadelphia. In Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Memphis and Pittsburgh, residents are paying for stadiums and arenas that were abandoned by the teams they were built for.  With more than four decades of evidence to back them up, economists almost uniformly agree that publicly financed stadiums rarely pay for themselves. The notable successes like Camden Yards in Baltimore often involve dedicated taxes or large infusions of private money. Even then, using one tax to finance a stadium can often steer spending away from other, perhaps worthier, projects.“Stadiums are sold as enormous draws for events, but the economics are clear that they aren’t helping,” said Andrew Moylan, the director of government affairs at the National Taxpayers Union. “It’s another way to add insult to injury for taxpayers.” 
Economists have published numerous studies over the years warning taxpayers about the foolhardiness of public financing. This article by James Joyner, Public Financing of Private Sports Stadiums points to several studies illustrating the raw deal for the citizenry. Or this one, America has a stadium problem.

What is the average life of a stadium anyway? 15 years? Twenty? The Miami Arena was torn down after a mere 10 years of service. What happened to the concept of sustainability? The beauty of hundred year old parks like Fenway or Wrigley?

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We will sorely miss you and the team, Dean, but we will just have to find a way to manage. Fool us once...


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Yes It Is

Exploding Plastic Inevitable 1967



Sig's tale


I introduced you a while back to my friend Sig Shonholtz, the famous Los Angeles watch dealer and all around great guy, not to mention grand deacon of his own religion of ironic destiny. Caught Sig in Del Mar one day and he recounted the following story which he is graciously allowing me to publish. I could add a few things, like Page's saw blade gravel of a voice, but it is after all, his story. Hope that you enjoy it. 


My Afternoon with Andy

Andy Warhol once suggested that we all get 15 minutes of fame. What happens if you have your 15 minutes of fame with Andy Warhol himself? Well, that is exactly what happened to me in 1984. I was an advertiser in his "Interview" magazine. One day I received a call from Page Powell, Andy's personal assistant. She said, "Hi Sig, its Page......Andy wants to meet you." "Me," I said,"Why does Andy want to meet me?" "You are the only advertiser without an office in New York and he is surprised you are in the magazine," she said. I thought, OK, why not? As it happened I was going to be in New York in a couple of weeks. I said, "Page, I will be there in two weeks and will stop by."

When I arrived in New York I called Page and agreed to meet her and Andy at his "factory" warehouse on Broadway around 4:00. I had plenty to do that day so I preferred to meet later in the day. I was a vintage watch dealer and had several appointments. The day started auspiciously. I left my hotel in midtown with a very heavy bag over my shoulder, it probably weighed 60 pounds. I immediately saw a magnificent woman who walked past me so fast I did a double take. Now, I am a fast walker, perhaps I am (or at least was) the fastest walker you have ever seen. In those days friends had to jog next to me to keep up, while I simply walked. I decided that I had to meet her, she was stunning. I lit out after her and realized that she was the fastest walker I had ever encountered, now I really had to meet her. It took a few moments to build up my momentum and with my heavy bag I was catapulted forward. I finally caught up with her, she looked like she was going to a modeling job. I started a conversation about.....what else but.....walking fast....talk about pulling teeth. She clearly was not interested but I did not care. I do not mind rejection or failure, I mind my own inaction. I chatted away like an old grandmother on a bench. But keeping up with her with the 60  pound bag was not easy, if for no other reason than the heavy bag was throwing me off balance and I almost knocked her over at one point, that certainly did not help the dynamic. After a few blocks we finally parted ways....and she did not even say good bye to me.

Fast forward to later in the day. It was 4:00 PM and I had been Up Town to Down Town and gone from the East Side to the West Side. I had been on the move since 9:00 am. I got out of my cab and slammed the door and turned around......there she was....the FAST WALKER. She was right in front of me, she turned around as soon as I slammed the door. "Hi, it's me," I said, almost breathless because of the coincidence. "It's our destiny to meet.......we belong together," I declared. I told her that I was just going across the street to visit with Andy Warhol and did she want to join me? Here she was, one of the fastest walking women on the planet (I am certain of that). She looked at me with a blank stare and just said "no thanks", that was it, not even a smile or a curious look. Oh well, I thought she must think I am stalking her but she has no sense of humor and certainly no sense of adventure. Now, you do not know this, but I am a  "Non Spiritual Coincidentalist" and I keep track of my coincidences, and this was certainly unusual. I used to be simply a Coincidentalist but I found it created too much controversy. Some people argued with me that "There are no coincidences." meaning that everything is predestined. While others insisted that "It is a just a statistical possibility." I looked for the center between the Spiritual Coincidentalist or the believers as I called them and the Anti Spiritual Coincidentalist, or the statisticians. I became simply "Non Spiritual", I am a gigantic wonderer. I wrote this coincidence down in my coincidental story files under the category of "statistically possible events", but it seemed like an odd one. By the way Fast Walker,if you are reading this, how have you been? I miss you. Now that would really be an amazing coincidence.


I arrived at Andy's "office" and "met" him in the alcove of a stairwell, I found it a bit odd, but went along.  Our conversation was convoluted, sentences were not linked together, they had nothing to do with each other. I kept telling myself, "Siggy, don't confuse the artist with the man". I wondered if he was nervous meeting me but I thought I am the one that should be nervous. We finally went into his office and sat down for a few minutes. The conversation started to make a little more sense. After a short while Andy said he had to leave and would be back later. Page came and took me into the "factory" part of the warehouse and I soon learned what the word factory actually meant. Page said, "Sig, I have to leave, but I will be back later, you can stay here if you want to." Then she asked me if I wanted to "buy some original Andy art" and left.

I realized I was completely alone in the "art studio". There was a row of canvases lined up on the floor of a very large and long room. They were about 10 inches square and there were perhaps 25 or 30 of them. I was there alone for about 15 minutes when two men marched into the room dressed as "Flaming Queens". They were exquisite, flamboyant, theatrical and colorful. They brought out several trays of acrylic enamel paint, blue, red, orange, green, yellow, purple and laid them out on the floor at intervals near the canvases. They had some wood cuts with them, about 4 or 5 inches long. I realized they were $ signs. That's right dollar signs. Andy Warhol was the Houdini of the art world and he was determined to mock that world. What better way to mock it then with "factory made art" of dollar signs.

They dipped the wood cuts into the paint trays and proceeded to "stamp" them onto the canvases. But I quickly realized these were not your average queen assistants. These were The Kings of Queens,  they were Thoroughbred......Parade Horse....Prancing Queens. They had style and proceeded to dance around the canvases as if they were choreographed by Balanchine. They did pirouettes as they stamped, every now and then they threw in a backhanded Toreador movement and sometimes they let loose like Flamenco dancers and stomped their feet. Each, one at a time, they took turns stamping and dancing. I imagined Baryshnikov on a stage making art for Andy Warhol. It was an entire ballet, I was spellbound, I had never seen anything like it. I was watching Swan Lake in Andy's factory. I could not believe my eyes and realized I was in a rare moment. They paid no attention to me but I decided to move to a more discreet corner because I did not want to distract them. I can tell you for a fact; time stood still. I do not remember how long I was there because so much seemed to happen. After awhile, perhaps 20 or 30 minutes another queen came in, he was just as enthusiastic but he went into what we used call an "absolute....hissy...fit". He literally screamed out "What.....have.....you.....done, Andy wants more Red?".....They shouted back, "no,,...he....doesn't,.....he....just...told...us..... he......wants.....more.....blue". Now, me, I was there the entire time and I did not see Andy say anything to them, so they must have made that part up. But I kept silent because it was not really my problem and I did not want to disturb the beauty of the moment.

After some time they realized it did not matter at all and one of them threw up his hands and said "oh, who really cares anyway" and all three of them removed the paint trays and left. I stood there alone for a while in silence, still in my corner just thinking about the scene. Finally, Andy came back in and did not even give the "paintings" a glance for even a second(obviously he did not care either),he seemed not to notice me. He unceremoniously started to sign them with a pen. He started at the beginning and worked his way down the entire row of Dollar Signs. Andy Warhol.....Andy Warhol....Andy Warhol....Andy Warhol he wrote, and then left the room. Once again I was alone. I sat down in a chair not knowing what would happen next and started to think about the entire day.

Page finally came back. "Hi Sig", she said and asked me, "So, did you decide if you want to buy some original Andy art"? Well, the first thing that came to mind were the dollar signs. "Page, how much are those", I said, pointing to the row on the floor? She said, "They retail for $10,000, but you can buy one wholesale for $5,000"? I thought about it for a moment and asked myself if I could really justify spending $5000 for "one of those" after watching it being produced, it seemed ridiculous to me. I thanked Page and said good bye to her and Andy and left....deeply wondering about the "Art World."

A couple of months ago I was visiting with a friend who is an art appraiser. I shared the story with her and suggested that I thought they might be worth $75,000 or perhaps $100,000 now. She looked at me strangely and said, "I don't think so". A quick search of her extensive database revealed that they are selling for upwards of $600,000. I was speechless and realized that for as long as I have worked in my field as I professional, I could have bought 4 or 5 of those and just put them in a box and would have something great to add to my retirement fund.

The moral of the story is "don't always stick to what you know" or "do not confuse quality with value." 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

William Binney on intelligence data collection v. analytics

Blind John

San Diego Police Department starts using facial recognition software

San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) -- More than two dozen San Diego county law enforcement agencies have started testing facial recognition technology used to help identify people in the field.

Currently, the software allows officers to compare any photo of your face to a database of local mug shots. But there are concerns about what may happen next.

Patrol cop Robert Halverson is one of seven officers in the Chula Vista Police Department who carries a tablet computer loaded with the facial recognition software, made by FaceFirst, LLC.

"This only taps into the county booking photos," Officer Halverson said while demonstrating the software to CBS News 8.

"This is just an investigation tool. It's only scanning against that one database to compare faces," he said.

Twenty-five local agencies currently are testing about 180 of the devices, paid for with a Homeland Security grant under a $475,000 annual contract with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).

The devices and software allow officers to snap a photo of a person in the field and compare that image to mug shots already on file.

"I think a policeman doesn't like it when someone gets away with not being held accountable, like say, they give you a bogus name and you weren't able to catch it," said Officer Halverson.

Right now, the software ties into the county's criminal mug shot database of about 1.4 million images. But privacy advocates says it's only a matter of time before facial recognition technology is taken to the next level.

"Once you have this technology you can use it for other things," said Dave Maass, a technology investigator with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in San Francisco.

"You can use it to take security camera footage and run an identity check on that. You can grab Facebook images and run an identity check on that," said Maass.

"Let's say the police are videotaping a crowd of protestors. Then can turn around and they can use this facial recognition software to start identifying the people in the crowd," said Maass. "That's problematic. It's problematic for free speech. It's problematic for freedom of association. It's problematic for privacy."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation wants SANDAG to implement strict privacy and usage guidelines before facial recognition software goes mainstream with local police agencies.

"Local law enforcement has this way of taking a technology before it's been regulated and pushing it to the extreme," Maass said.

EFF also is worried that the technology may soon allow police to tap into the state's DMV photo database and use facial recognition to identify people through driver's license photos.

"People are worried about the privacy with the DMV and stuff like that," said CVPD Officer Halverson.

"We're only taking the photo of the person if we have a criminal reason like an arrest or a criminal investigation. It's not just anyone on the street," said Halverson.

SANDAG currently is in the process of developing and updating draft guidelines for the use of facial recognition technology by local law enforcement, according to the agency's Associate General Counsel, Shelby Tucker.

"The changes we are anticipating have to do with making it clear that we are not using the DMV photos. We never have and never plan to use the DMV photos," Tucker wrote in an email to CBS News 8.

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More: Center for Investigative Reporting - Facial recognition, once a battlefield tool, lands in San Diego County

EFF - San Diego Gets in Your Face With New Mobile Identification System