Snowy egret, Cardiff © Robert Sommers 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

Lying liars

The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.
Niccolo Machiavelli

Let's be clear. Politicians and leaders have always lied. From all parties. Machiavelli thought it an essential attribute for the job.

President McKinley's lie about the Spanish sinking one of our ships, the U.S.S. Maine, started the Spanish American War in 1898. LBJ concocted a fake story of being attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin to gain support in Vietnam.

Reagan signed the Boland Amendment forbidding arms sales to Iran and then did exactly that and traded arms for hostages. Clinton never had sex with that woman. The list goes on and on.

Always thought that Nixon was king of the hill in the prevarication department but he is not even in the same league as the current President. I think Nixon knew when he was lying. Trump, who is not nearly as smart, or even venal, as tricky dick, appears to believe his own lies. Wouldn't know the truth if it hit him on the head. Makes Nixon look like George Washington. And his administration seems to follow suit, from Sanders to Nielsen to whomever.

Today Trump tweeted about Germany's rising crime rate.

Which is all vell and gut except for one thing; German's crime rate is actually going down.

In fact last year Germany had the lowest crime rate in the last twenty five years.

There are sites that are tracking the Presidential lies of this President but they come so fast and furiously that I stopped checking when they started going over three thousand or so. In the first 466 days. This works out to a clip of about 6.5 per day.

This is a truly astounding metric. I have always considered myself a pretty good fibber and I would be hard pressed to match such a number. It is so bad that I heard Kellyanne Conway defend him the other day by saying that he often tells the truth too. Really?
“The president says plenty of things that are true and right and important to America ... He’s not serially untruthful.” Kellyanne Conway
He may not always tell the truth but he's not serially untruthful? Is that the new standard? And why does it sound like more crap?

His aversion to the truth just sets a new standard for humanity. When confronted with a lie the other day about dictating the famous Russia memo, he said that, and I am paraphrasing, it was okay because he wasn't under oath talking to a tribunal, he was talking to the fake news New York Times.

Why would a rational person believe a single thing this guy ever says? And Sarah Sanders is perfectly content to lie to back him up, to promulgate bullshit and deception like he had nothing to do with drafting the statement. The whole White House, from Trump to Pence to Sanders on down, just a first class bunch of bullshit artists.

Roger Stone and his pal Michael Caputo, two friends of the Donald, hip deep in Russian collusion, seem to be carved from the same blarney stone. Never met any Russians, swear under oath, but when confronted by text messages that shows they did, say that they merely forgot. Very convenient. And they are now indignant that somebody had access to their texts and emails.

The Russians wanted some big money for dirt they had on Hillary.

Kirstjen Nielsen says that there is no policy to separate parents from their children at the border and then says that they will continue to separate children from their parents in the same breath. The lies are so thick that they are dizzying. She counsels asylum seekers that “If you are seeking asylum, go to a port of entry."

Where they are promptly turned away.

Lie, lie, lie , lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, like teflon, nothing sticks to these people and our countrymen either don't care or are too stupid, or simply just don't want to bother to pay attention.

Roy Milton

Sunday portraits

Three hours after I got home from the concert Leslie and I drove to Long Beach to do the swap meet at Vets Stadium.

Up at 2:30 in the morning, it was pretty brutal.

Swap meet could have been a hell of a lot better but it gave me a chance to take some good people shots as it always does.

And it gives me an opportunity to suss out the ever changing moods and characters in this wacky world of ours, at least the slightly twisted Southern California version.

Took a few portraits. Swap meet chic.

anger management
I was packing the camera Saturday afternoon and I stuck it in a thin leather bag and then watched in horror as it slid off a chair and - smack! - hit the floor. Two foot drop with a crescendo.

Bilsland the third
I actually started crying at the thought at what I had done, what an incredible fuck up I am.

Was afraid to pick up the six thousand dollar rig and even start to assess the fruit of my gross negligence.

I fired a shot and it seems to be a-okay but now I am starting to see invisible things, probably just my fear and paranoia manifesting and coming to the fore.

girl who runs with girl who runs with the vampires
I could ship or take it to Nikon on Wilshire and see if it calibrates but can't afford to at the moment.

me too
Will flagellate myself with whips like a Filipino at Easter and see if it helps the problem any.

Not a great time to be me.

My late brother's birthday tomorrow too.

buffalo boy
Will take the camera out for another ride this afternoon and see if I can get it to calm down.

Hope everybody had a nice Father's day.

So tired on the way home, I pulled into a gas station and slept.
the floral couple

Roy Gaines

Kip and I went to a great show the other night, way out at Barrett Junction, southeast of San Diego. Billed as the JAZZ 88.3 Saturday Night Fish Fry, we were treated to the dulcet sounds of the Roy Gaines Tuxedo Orchestra and all the catfish and hush puppies we could eat.

I am a little embarrassed to say that I had never heard of Roy Gaines until Kip introduced me to him about four or five years ago. I loved his sound at first hear. How did I not know about him?

Originally from Texas, Gaines was a childhood musical prodigy, first playing piano and then guitar.

He was brought up on stage at the age of 14 to play with his musical idol, T-bone Walker, who he later played with.  He moved to California at the age of 16 to play guitar with Roy "Pops" Milton.

Eventually he became a sideman for a variety of headliners including Chuck Willis and Ray Charles. He also played with Junior Parker, Bobby Bland, Big Mama Thornton, the Everly Brothers, the Supremes, Bobby Darin, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight amongst others.

Like T-Bone and very few others, Gaines is one of the rare  musicians who can sing as beautifully as they can play. Last week he played with his twenty piece Tuxedo Orchestra at the Playboy Jazz fest at Hollywood Bowl. I think it is fair to say that the diminutive guitarist deserves far more acclaim than he has received to date. The eight piece band we saw ripped, was a musical delight from start to finish. Music was great, crowd was great.

We had wanted to bug out early but I couldn't, I was transfixed as were the rest of the people in the crowd. Gaines is either 83 or 87 but he still nails it in every way. If you ever get a chance to hear him, do so. I talked to him both before the show and at the break, he signed a record and cd, just the coolest cat.

If you watch the second linked video closely I think you can see yours truly macking down on catfish.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Marsh hawk

The great dumbing down.

There have been a spate of articles in the last several years about a very worrying trend, mankind is getting more stupid. Who knew that was even possible? I.Q. scores are apparently dropping quite rapidly.

A recently published study verifies the decline, even showing intelligence variation within specific families, which rules out a dysgenic cause (i.e. stupid parents having stupid kids.)

This isn't big news to anybody who reads a paper, turns on the television or opens his or her eyes, but it is troubling. Wish I was smart enough to figure it out but I'm not. A curious statistic is that this trend does not appear to exist in people who eat fish at least once a week.

The drop in smarts reverses a long term trend called the Flynn effect that saw an increase in intelligence quotients since the Victorian era of about three points per decade. Things seemed to hit the skids with people born after 1975. Now we are losing about 7 i.q. points a generation.

One only has to read the letters of Abigail to John Adams, try to solve a 19th century elementary math primer or go on TMZ to see how far we have actually fallen. Wonder what the cause is? Is it environmental, laziness, bad parenting, sweetened cereal? Who knows? Get smart, people. Eat more fish.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Summer Wages


Peregrine falcon juvenile, Torrey Pines

One of my friends thought that he should let me know that my falcon pictures really weren't up to snuff this year. Says that they lack my usual quality.

I have reached a point with my photography that my skin is a bit thicker than it once was. Funny, you rarely if ever see any personal work from the people who like to criticize the most. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course.

He may very well be right. I got some great shots the last several years. Like the one you see above that I never processed until today. Conditions are always different.  Is it possible that I got a little more cooperation from the universe last year?

Like with everything, you have to take what you are given. Maybe I had better opportunities in prior years? Maybe I just suck... In any case I can go to bed and sleep well tonight knowing that I did as best as I could this year. So nice to know that you are scoring from home. Asshole.

Dappled sky, Schwabacher's Landing



There was a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal the day before yesterday, Renewables turn the heat up on fossil fuel. It is behind the usual pay wall so I will give you the upshot.

Global expenditures on renewable energy are far ahead of the spending on coal, natural gas and nuclear power. This is driven by falling costs in producing wind and solar power.

I find this interesting because it comes at a time when the Trump administration is proposing subsidizing and propping up the old dinosaurs that are the coal and nuclear industries. Subsidies come out of your pocket by the way. Natural gas has been supplanting coal for the last several years for a variety of reasons, why would you want to prop up coal short of naked political pandering? Or did I answer my own question? And the shoreline at San Onofre is now littered with nuclear waste that we can't figure out how to properly dispose of.

More than half of the added new power around the world in recent years is now renewable, according to the International Energy Agency. What I find really cool is how fast this is occurring, forecasts are for 56% of world energy to be renewable by 2025. The talking head they quote at M.I.T., Francis O'Sullivan says that costs for wind and solar have fallen so much that it is now the cheapest option. Other technologies are conversely getting more expensive.

The percentage of energy globally from renewables in now 12.1%, more than double the figure from ten years ago. In the U.S. it now stands at 17%. According to the experts quoted 40% is in clear sight.


Mostly Pow wow kids

I am still processing pow wow shots from this weekend. I really enjoyed taking them, I have received both compliments and complaints, much more of the former thankfully. Some of you don't exactly share my appreciation for the genre but the great majority of you do so I am going to share one last set.

I got a nice email message yesterday from one of the tribal administrators, who liked the pictures a lot and is going to send some out to the dancers.

That means a lot to me. Happy to share.

I am posting this so that she can see some of the kid shots. Easier than sending a thumb drive.

This batch is mostly younger people. Families. The kids are awful cute. I hope that you enjoy them.

As always, click on one and they all get bigger.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cisco Houston

The new junior partner.

Donald Trump has obviously got a total mancrush on the Supreme Leader of North Korea. The young dictator Kim Jong-un is terrific, smart, handsome, fun, talented, a great negotiator, blah, blah, blah. Practically dry humping the little rocket man's leg.

I was thinking about Kim and all the adulation and decided to look him up on Wikipedia. Wow. What a hoot he really is.

In office for the last six years, Kim is estimated to have murdered over 400 of his countrymen. There are said to now be between 80,000 and 120,000 political prisoners currently in hard labor prison camps, they often have to catch and eat rats to survive. The UN estimates that 60 thousand children are now on the brink of starvation.

Kim Jong un once killed a deputy minister for appearing to nod off in a meeting. With an anti aircraft gun. That will keep the rest of the guys up.

Then he murdered an uncle. Not content with just offing him with the anti aircraft gun, he finished the job with a flamethrower. Nice! But overkill? Hello!
In December 2013, Kim Jong-un's uncle Jang Song-thaek was arrested and executed for treachery. Jang is believed to have been executed by firing squad. Yonhap has stated that, according to multiple unnamed sources, Kim Jong-un has also put to death members of Jang's family, to completely destroy all traces of Jang's existence through "extensive executions" of his family, including the children and grandchildren of all close relatives. Those reportedly killed in Kim's purge include Jang's sister Jang Kye-sun, her husband and ambassador to Cuba, Jon Yong-jin, and Jang's nephew and ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong-chol. The nephew's two sons were also said to have been killed. At the time of Jang's removal, it was announced that "the discovery and purge of the Jang group ... made our party and revolutionary ranks purer ..." and after his execution on 12 December 2013 state media warned that the army "will never pardon all those who disobey the order of the Supreme Commander".
O Sang-hon (Chosŏn'gŭl: 오상헌; RR: O Sangheon; MR: O Sanghŏn) was a deputy security minister in the Ministry of People's Security in the government of North Korea who was reportedly killed in a political purge in 2014. According to the South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo, O was executed by flamethrower for his role in supporting Kim Jong-un's uncle Jang Song-taek.
Don't just kill somebody, kill all their relatives too. We all have a drunken uncle that likes to act out at Thanksgiving. But let's be honest. Who here has ever shot at him with an anti aircraft gun?

Where did he learn this stuff, from a Marvel comic? Galactus was a big pussy next to this guy. Oh, yeah, he has his brother whacked too last year. Sounds like somebody we can definitely do business with.
Trump: “I think he liked me and I like him. And I understand the past and, you know, nobody has to tell me, he’s a rough guy. He has to be a rough guy or he has been a rough person. But we got along very well. He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country. He wants a lot of good things and that’s why he’s doing this.”
Van Susteren: “But he’s starved them. He’s been brutal to them. He still loves his people?”
Trump: “Look, he’s doing what he’s seen done, if you look at it. 


The caged bird dances a jig, the minnow grows cold in the pond.

The real news is way too scary and divisive to even step into. Not a lot of fun. Think it is best to either keep our head under the pillow or find a good distraction. Language is always good.

Ivanka Trump is in the news for tweeting a "Chinese" proverb that apparently has as much to do with China as rigatoni does or the Bossa Nova. China, while amused, wants nothing to do with it.

"Those who say it can't be done, should not interrupt those doing it." 

Really not too bad, considering. If the Chinese didn't pen this gem, well it is on them, perhaps they should have. Not like they haven't had four thousand years to deal with this sort of inscrutability.

But perhaps we can do better. We should have a fake Chinese quote contest and see what shakes out.

How about "Only a fool believes a batshit crazy emperor" or "If you add starch to that collar one more time I am going to start using the Mexican laundry down the street."

There are people who trace bad quotes for a living. The fake Ivanka quote is said by Quote Investigator to first show up around 1903 in a Chicago publication called "The Public." They in turn ascribed it to Puck. Around 1914 pre-eminent bullshit artist Elbert Hubbard had a little run with it and the rest is history.

I had a run in with a fake Chinese quote a few years ago. On a birding site. A local birder from Ramona who shall go nameless let this one fly;
"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." Chinese Proverb
Nice in an adolescent unicorny sort of way but completely fabricated. I wrote her to tell her it was bogus. She never wrote back. Just as well. It has been ascribed from everybody from Lou Holtz to Maya Angelou, its literary antecedent may come from early 19th century England but not China. I admit, China sounds way cooler.

Anybody remember a few years ago when I went a round with this one?
The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.
Not attributed to the Chinese but the Japanese this time. Almost the same thing, right? Totally phony. You can see my post-mortem here.