*

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View of Mt. Baker © Robert Sommers 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Keith Alexander Follies

I saw an article weeks ago that I think bears commenting on. It might be behind a pay wall for you but here is a link to the story. The title of the piece from the Financial Times is Why Was the NSA Chief Playing the Market?

One of the jobs of the NSA is to obtain economic information from other countries, crop forecasts, market stability, etc. Brazil was in a snit earlier this year when they found out the lengths of our economic surveillance in their country.

Presumably we don't utilize this information to benefit american companies against their competitors. But does the classified information possibly enrich our own spymasters?

Ex NSA Director Keith Alexander has been dogged by these sorts of allegations and questions for years. I recognize that a retired spook with years of service to his country has a right to make a living. But does he or she have a right to trade, sell or benefit from classified information?
At the same time that he was running the United States' biggest intelligence-gathering organization, former National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander owned and sold shares in commodities linked to China and Russia, two countries that the NSA was spying on heavily. At the time, Alexander was a three-star general whose financial portfolio otherwise consisted almost entirely of run-of-the-mill mutual funds and a handful of technology stocks. Why he was engaged in commodities trades, including trades in one market that experts describe as being run by an opaque "cartel" that can befuddle even experienced professionals, remains unclear. When contacted, Alexander had no comment about his financial transactions, which are documented in recently released financial disclosure forms that he was required to file while in government. The NSA also had no comment.
Could the boundaries of ethics and propriety have been breached by these trades? You tell me. Smells a little schmutzig..
...the trades raise questions about whether Alexander's job gave him insights into corporations and markets that may have influenced his personal financial investments. The NSA, which Alexander ran for more than eight years, routinely spies on foreign governments and businesses, including in Russia and China, where the agency has attempted to gain insights into political decision-making, economic strategy, and the countries' plans for acquiring natural resources.
The financial disclosure documents, which were released to investigative journalist Jason Leopold and published this month by Vice News, reveal nothing explicitly about why Alexander sold the shares when he did. On Jan. 7, 2008, Alexander sold previously purchased shares in the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, a Canadian firm that mines potash, a mineral typically used in fertilizer. The potash market is largely controlled by companies in Canada, as well as in Belarus and Russia. And China was, and is, one of the biggest consumers of the substance, using it to expand the country's agricultural sector and produce higher crop yields.
"It's a market that's really odd, involving collusion, where companies essentially coordinate on prices and output," said Craig Pirrong, a finance professor and commodities expert at the University of Houston's Bauer College of Business.
"Strange things happen in the potash market. It's a closed market. Whenever you have Russians and Chinese being big players, a lot of stuff goes on in the shadows."
Earlier this year, Alexander was dogged by allegations that he was selling information gleaned from his activities at the NSA to tech firms.  He invested heavily in certain firms that were doing classified work, raising troubling conflict of interest questions.
...But another of Alexander's business deals has also raised questions about whether he continues to benefit from classified information and access to top players at his old agency.
In an employment deal that prompted an internal investigation at the NSA and inquiries from Capitol Hill, Alexander arranged for the agency's chief technology officer, Patrick Dowd, to work part time for a new cybersecurity consulting firm that Alexander started this year after leaving the NSA and retiring from the Army with a fourth star. Experts said the public-private setup was highly unusual and possibly unprecedented.
Reuters revealed the arrangement last week, and on Tuesday, Oct. 21, with pressure building from lawmakers to investigate, Alexander said that he was severing the relationship with Dowd. "While we understand we did everything right, I think there's still enough issues out there that create problems for Dr. Dowd, for NSA, for my company," Alexander told Reuters when explaining why he scuttled the deal. 

He may not have crossed the lines of propriety but according to Techdirt, he is right up against it.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials, some of whom requested anonymity to discuss personnel matters, said they could not recall a previous instance in which a high-ranking U.S. intelligence official was allowed to concurrently work for a private-sector firm.
As Maxwell Smart used to say, the old revolving door trick.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams - Eddie Howard -1940


(1940) Eddy Howard (vo) acc. by Bill Coleman (tp), Benny Morton (tb), Edmond Hall (cl), Bud Freeman (ts), Teddy Wilson (p, dir), Charlie Christian (el-g), Billy Taylor Sr. (sb), Yank Porter (dm)

Olympian Perch



I have been as busy of late as the proverbial one armed paper hanger. I am just back from a trip to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, surveying an estate I have been working on for nearly a year. Got back at midnight last night, burning the candle pretty hard lately.

I am not going to get too deeply into my business but my prospects appear to be fairly good on this one. Don't want to jinx my perfect game in the eighth. I'm very grateful.


The Port Townsend area is so beautiful. A series of ferries, floating bridges and quiet country roads led me to my eventual destination, with the help of a wonderful local guide.

We passed a group of purse seiners unfurling their snares in the icy northwest waters, nets they hope will soon be teeming with salmon.


Perched on a remote high cliff over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, across from Whidbey Island, I surveyed the largely untouched view. Bald eagles landed in the tall firs by the residence every afternoon as did a large raptor that is still unidentified, either harrier or goshawk I think.

The trees, buffeted by decades if not centuries of wind, assume twisted and contorted stances of defiance, like gnarled hands of steel.

Occasionally a large container ship would pass silently through the strait.


Mt. Rainier was unusually clear the last icy morning.  My hosts tell me it is usually shrouded in the weather that it creates. Snowcapped Mt. Baker chiseled with the first light of the sun to our left.


I was working and cataloguing and didn't have much time to take pictures but managed to snap off a couple.

The days were perfect, cold and gorgeous. The water that lay resting at the foot of the jagged cliffs below was clear and near transparent. Large driftwood logs littered the beach.

The rhythms are different up north. my housemates were up hours before I was, busy in the darkness. The day is short and the sun is perched low on the horizon this time of year, right in your eyes. I found myself falling asleep hours before my normal bedtime, a victim of both the darkness and exhaustion, I suppose.


People dress differently up there too, plainer and darker. Not much flash, an occasional green Seahawks jersey peaking through. I think grunge is a natural reaction to incessant rain and conspiring seasons. Take that creator. Think you can break me? Not a chance...

Didn't see that many tattoos or religious bumper stickers. Lots of homeless though, tents all through Seattle, hippies from the bay apparently returning perennially every year like the swallows to Capistrano.


My guide had a friend seriously injured recently when a homeless guy fell off a bridge and crushed his hood. Caution, watch out for falling indigents.


I took a few obligatory snapshots on the way back to Seattle. 


The ferry, the old Rainier Beer building, probably the most famous shot in Seattle, the Space Needle through the doughnut trick.





Tried to make it to Bruce Lee's grave but was nine minutes late to the graveyard. I look forward to returning to the area soon and getting to know the place a little better. Have to thank my gracious hosts for taking such good care of me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

THE SWAN SILVERTONES-OH MARY DON'T YOU WEEP

Dark as a dungeon

Man of Peace - Leonard Baskin
I enjoy writing. Some folks say I might even have a knack. It has always been a dream of mine to become a serious writer, or should I say, to delve into the more powerful and personal writing that I occasionally flirt with but can't really publish in a public forum such as this one.

The raw stuff would blow too many circuits, or maybe get me committed to some looney ward. There is a good reason many authors use pseudonyms. Only way to be honest.

I was talking to my friend D. up in Berkeley the other day, a poet and professor who has known many poets and wordsmiths in his time. "To become a poet one must become a monster," he said.

I think that he maybe is on to something. Poets and authors, or at least the ones I tend to favor, have to divorce the world to work, hole up in cheap hotels with a handful of number 2 pencils like Gardner and Simenon, remove themselves from compression and cohabitation, find their way to places like Hemingway's Key West, Proulx's Newfoundland, or a sick and worn out Stevenson' in Samoa. Probably helps to drink.

Get the fuck out of Dodge and start peeling away the layers of onion skin within. Not always pretty. Often depressing. Writing requires a need to feel that isn't necessarily so important in the other creative pursuits.

If you look at suicides among the practitioners of the creative arts, why is it always poets and writers who punch their ticket and not bassoon players or contraltos, potters or even tole painters? What is there about the craft of writing that summons up the darker demons? Fucking writers are right up there with dentists.

Plath
Sexton
Brautigan
Mishima
Hart Crane
Thomas Disch
Hemingway
Abbie Hoffman
Robert Howard
Arthur Koestler
Primo Levi
Hunter Thompson
David Foster Wallace
Virginia Woolf
Seneca the Younger
Swinburne
John Berryman
Zweig
Petronius
Jerzy Kosinski

All of these writers penned their own final chapter. I like Jerzy's suicide note; I am going to put myself to sleep now for a bit longer than usual. Call it Eternity.


Jerzy Kosinski
I myself spent nine years in an insane asylum and I never had the obsession of suicide, but I know that each conversation with a psychiatrist, every morning at the time of his visit, made me want to hang myself, realizing that I would not be able to cut his throat. Antonin Artaud
*
I have had two suicides in my family, that I know about. My father's mother and my mother's father. Nice symmetry. Never met the latter, lost my grandma when I was about seven, supposedly she had enough of my grandfather's reported serial infidelities and swallowed pills.

My mother's mother died of a cerebral aneurysm in 1955, before I was born. They had left Moldava in the twenties, signing a note promising never to return. Moshe, born Mondko and finally Martin, was a horse thief and smuggler of wheat and tobacco and finally a furrier. Ended up first in Providence and then headed west to sell furs with his brother Sam. Short but incredibly powerful, he sidelined as a strong arm man for the Furrier's Union, kept everybody in line.

My mother hated how her house smelled, the ghastly chemicals used to tan the hides and furs. They lived in Los Angeles, near the original El Cholo on Western. Think she was embarrassed of her parents, the poor immigrant jews who didn't know how to assimilate quite as seamlessly as she did.

My Uncle Norm wrote a fine family history. The following is what he wrote about my grandfather, a man who died the year after I was born, who I may or may not have ever met, although I got his hair.

... Dad was always physically healthy, he had mental problems, not mental illness, but problems. Dad either had too much confidence in himself or not enough.  One day he thought he could lick the world, that as long there were peasants around ( the blacks and poor whites) Moshe Wainrober would do ok. At other times he felt totally inadequate. Probably the latter was an accurate description in his later days.
Dad lived three years after mother died. He closed his business, but didn't have anything important to do. He was alone. He couldn't seem to find a job because by that time the fur trade was pretty well dying. For a little while he worked as a box boy in a jewish owned supermarket on La Cienaga. He found that his inability to write legibly kept him from even applying for a job, even driving a taxi. Of course it was difficult for anyone over 57 years old to find work, especially when that person is unskilled except for knowledge in an almost dying trade. Finally he purchased a neighborhood fur store on Vermont near Eighth St. I don't think he did too well there, In 1958, when he was 60, he locked the doors of the store and killed himself in it.

Cobb


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Analog Man



I was listening to MSNBC on the radio for a few minutes the other day, usually can't take too much of the network. These young whippersnappers are just too damn smart, make me feel unschooled and verbally inadequate. They use really big words.

And occasionally misuse them. Rachel Maddow gets definite points for using redound properly in a sentence but do I have to hear it over and over again on her promos? Sheesh! You're smarter than the rest of us. I give.

Anyway some woman in the morning was talking about this or that occurring and she used the phrase, "That is the perfect analog for the event." And I wasn't really familiar with the term being used like that, something didn't sound right. I have of course lived a quite sheltered life.

I wish I remember the exact usage, chapter and verse but I unfortunately don't. But in this usage you will have to take my word that analog was a synonym for an example, a direct fulfillment of a conceptual line. It didn't sound like it was being used correctly.

So I looked up analog.


A relatively new word, 1946, do you remember Analog magazine, the great soft cover for science fiction? Had that cool Sputnik, Aasimov space age feel.



There are many meanings to the word, in literature; a literary work that shares motifs, characters or events with another, but is not directly derived from it. In technology it is a signal that contains information using non-quantized variations in frequency and amplitude. In science a functional analog is a chemical compound with similar properties. Similar.


It can also be used as word for a substitute, for certain foodstuffs. At coffee, Ken said that in radio it denotes a continuous power or signal source. Another thought it was any information signal that wasn't digital. We know that it has a parabolic waveform without any sharp digital corners.



The definition I want is this one; a thing from which an analogy is drawn. From which of course begs the obvious question, what is an analogy?
Analogy (from Greek ἀναλογία, analogia, "proportion"[1][2]) is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target), or a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process. In a narrower sense, analogy is an inference or an argument from one particular to another particular, as opposed to deduction, induction, and abduction, where at least one of the premises or the conclusion is general. The word analogy can also refer to the relation between the source and the target themselves, which is often, though not necessarily, a similarity, as in the biological notion of analogy.
Niels Bohr's model of the atom made an analogy between the atom and the solar system.
Analogy plays a significant role in problem solving such as, decision making, perception, memory, creativity, emotion, explanation and communication. It lies behind basic tasks such as the identification of places, objects and people, for example, in face perception and facial recognition systems. It has been argued that analogy is "the core of cognition".[3] Specific analogical language comprises exemplification, comparisons, metaphors, similes, allegories, and parables, but not metonymy. Phrases like and so on, and the like, as if, and the very word like also rely on an analogical understanding by the receiver of a message including them. Analogy is important not only in ordinary language and common sense (where proverbs and idioms give many examples of its application) but also in science, philosophy and the humanities. The concepts of association, comparison, correspondence, mathematical and morphological homology, homomorphism, iconicity, isomorphism, metaphor, resemblance, and similarity are closely related to analogy. In cognitive linguistics, the notion of conceptual metaphor may be equivalent to that of analogy.
Analogy has been studied and discussed since classical antiquity by philosophers, scientists and lawyers. The last few decades have shown a renewed interest in analogy, most notably in cognitive science.
So I guess that the difference is that the nature between host and analog has to be one of similarity rather than a direct causal relationship, if that makes any sense and if I am interpreting it correctly.

Niels Bohr's model of the atom showing analogy between the atom and the solar system.
*
I learned two more words today. First Stephanie at coffee stumped me with hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia , the fear of long words and George Will.

Then Shawn sent this over;

Pronoia is the delusional belief that other people are plotting our well-being or saying nice things about us behind our backs. Now there is a wonderful way to experience life!

Pronoia, I'll have some of that!

Joshua Gone Barbados

War on the Environment!

Great headline in the HuffPo the other day, Republicans declare war on EPA or something like that. Linked you to this article on The Hill.

© Robert Sommers 2014 with a nod to Jack Kirby
I immediately had the vision of Sergeant Mitch leading the charge against the earth's environment and its godless backers.

I wrote about the certainty of this a few days ago but must confess I wish it wasn't happening. Frankly it makes me sick.

"Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) identified his top priority come January as “to try to do whatever I can to get the EPA reined in.”
He said he feels a “deep responsibility” to stop the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, as it proposed to do in January for newly built generators and in June for existing ones. But those are far from the only rules the GOP wants to target. Republican lawmakers are planning an all-out assault on Obama’s environmental agenda, including rules on mercury and other air toxics from power plants, limits on ground-level ozone that causes smog, mountaintop mining restrictions and the EPA’s attempt to redefine its jurisdiction over streams and ponds.The Interior Department is also in the crosshairs, with rules due to come soon on hydraulic fracturing on public land and protecting streams from mining waste.Helping McConnell in his fight against the EPA will be Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who said on election night that he would become chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee after having led it from 2003 to 2007. Inhofe is an established enemy of Obama’s EPA and skeptic of the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, having written a book two years ago titled “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.” He has compared the EPA to Nazi Germany’s Gestapo and pushed to roll back water and air pollution rules, ozone limits and funding for contamination cleanup."
I guess that these politicians and the people who elected them, will get to own any environmental devastation that comes down the pike, not that they really care. What I'm thinking is that if they think that polluting rivers and knocking down mountains to mine coal, and fracking, is so damn cool, that they should encourage a whole new industry, pollution tourism. Run busses out to the various sources of pollution and picnic with your families amongst the fumes and spills. Ought to add to your electoral margin.

Revel in the moloch laden landscape that you helped to create and know that you are doing god's work! Pollution is the lords way of telling us that America is running on all of its fossil fuel belching cylinders.

More on the story of the GOP war on the EPA at the New York Times.


Jefferson Airplane-War Movie


A friend mentioned that the Grateful Dead might get together once again for some anniversary show. God, I hope not. It just won't work anymore. Word has it that Zeppelin was offered a fortune to perform and turned it down. I personally wouldn't walk across the street to see them. I would however love to see the original airplane again and would pay good money for the opportunity if it ever presented itself. Feel proud to have seen the original unit, without, Signe, Skip or Spencer of course. We love you, Grace, Paul, Marty, Jack, Jorma, Slick. Play.

Epoch of incredulity


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. Charles Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of the times, it was frankly more of the same. Another week in life's hopper. Actually on balance a pretty good week although it certainly had its peaks and valleys. I have definitely enjoyed better shows, but it broke the recent bad streak I was on and I like the way I did it. Kid got his mojo back.

I was active on the floor, searching for value and then after putting a smaller than normal margin on top, flipped pretty much everything I bought. Bought some great material. It's sure fun when its flowing and I think that it flowed for a lot of people this weekend. Nice when the gears line up. Rare these days.

Would have sold near everything except I let an old couple bring a Bertha Lum print back because the colors didn't match their couch. Old softie that I am. Basically I got down and dirty and just grinded all week. Bloody knees and elbows but I feel purty good. One of the high points for me was when they made the announcement that there would be a two o'clock lecture on the history of the use of plastics in antiques. I already feel like a throwback, that one put me right over the edge. It's your planet now, have at it.

*
The best part of the week was seeing my younger brother John and his family. He is an engineer in San Jose. We have been estranged for too long, my fault entirely and I had never met my 9 and 11 year old niece and nephew. Criminal. Great to see Connie, John and the whole family.


I introduced them to some friends that live in their area and we made plans to spend more time together when we get the next opportunity.

*
Guess I will start with the high points and then swing on down to the dips. It was my birthday Thursday, fifty eight if you are wondering. I was joined that evening by ten or so old friends at my current fave chinese place, Koi Palace.


I have written about Koi Palace before, it is situated in a rather nondescript Serramonte shopping mall in the working class berg of Daly City. This is the place that many of the local asian population thinks is the best in the area.


I found Koi Palace on Yelp a few years ago looking for the best dim sum in the city but still haven't made it there in the daytime when dim sum is traditionally served.


I am crazy about the food there, it being clean and of high quality. The fish in the tanks don't look tumor ridden and radioactive like in some chinese restaurants.

Our party was seated at a large table with a lazy susan and we all sipped chrysanthemum tea while we perused the menus. We ordered quick and ruthlessly, the table being inhabited by mostly hard core foodies.


The menu is interesting and well illustrated. There is a set menu and a family dinner menu. Birdseye menus and Superior menus too, it can get pretty fancy and expensive.

Like the pretty lady out front said, when you are there you have to try the seafood.


We started off with hot steamed pork buns and fried tofu, which were sort of like soy tater tots. I thought about the fifty three dollar bowl of soup, which is called buddha jumped over the wall but passed. Not sure what's in it but I'm trying to stay off rhino horn and shark fin at this point of my life. Pork buns were delicious.

They have large special dinners there like this one as well. Have to order the whole suckling pig one day. I am a sucker for maraschino eyeballs.

We ordered squab, a salt and pepper crab, a giant steamed whole fish covered in ginger and cilantro, suckling pig, pee shoots, gee what else? More stuff. The pig was heavenly, moist flesh and perfectly crispy skin. Thought about ordering the concubine chicken but didn't want to be unfaithful.

One diner thought that the crab tasted like it was seasoned with barbecue potato chips, but in a good way. Caked and beautiful, it's taste and texture were awesome. Both times I have visited the crab was delectable. They tried to hook us on some $65.00 a lb. fish but we settled on a perfectly fine swimmer for a third of that. Squab were fat and juicy, perfect. Not Le Cheval perfect but perfect.


We gorged. I ate until I felt like it could have been me up there on that platter with the maraschino eyeballs. I think my companions felt the same, many who have been friends with me back to the seventies and early eighties. Comfort in old friends.


There are so many things I want to try here in the future. The lobster was about three foot long and the giant crabs were crawling out of the clean tanks.



Melissa is recently back from France and she gifted us with some premium olive oil from Brittany? Somewhere, also gave us some local Bay Area gin she is favoring these days.

Yesterday she gave me some freshly shot wild duck from her Chico gig that Leslie is going to prepare tomorrow, maybe on the barbecue if we can figure out the high fat/flare up thing. Thanks, Melissa.

My breath must be really bad if you can see it.
And thanks to everybody who attended, thanks for the mango birthday dessert and the birthday wishes! Wonderful to have you celebrate with me, my friends. Sorry the rest of you missed it. Next time.


*

I was basically on my own at this show, Cam helping Bill with Dan's estate. Continuing my recent poverty chic tour, I stayed at the tony Howard Johnsons in San Mateo, a slight step up from the elaborate, detention facility like, Motel Six in Carpenteria.

Tried to read, hated the book, an Ishmael Reed compendium. Hit IHOP one morning and realized that I couldn't see, or resolve my visual information anyway, blurry vision all day. I am trying to set up an operation, hope it takes care of things.

Waiting for cardiac clearance. My ophthalmologist, who I called that night, said it was probably the visual stress of driving that whacked my system. The rapid degeneration has been amazing in its speed. Seeing better today, after 15 hours in the car yesterday.

So I am trying to get down and dirty as I said and have even hit Denny's on this tour, if only to reinforce my proletariat street cred.

*
Michael took me to a crowded and trendy bruschetta restaurant in San Mateo. B Street and Vine. I wasn't crazy about it. You order four different bruschettas for $12. They have panini too. I did the bruschetta and it was a mistake. Too many disparate food elements in one's digestive tract. I call it the French Laundry syndrome.  Salami and feta and dates and pistachio, all mixed up, well, you get it. Was okay, wouldn't go back.

*
Did korean chicken at O.B. Chicken Town in Berkeley. Excellent, although the chicken seemed a little sweet to me. Needs more bite. Noodle sausage and regular sausage as well as a couple other dishes.

Great place, neat traditional korean atmosphere. Sweet host, very friendly, I might add, recent korean research be damned.


Did a few other meals, Creola for sherry lobster bisque, catfish, and beignets, Kristy's for breakfast once, my normal Burlingame morning hang. Place is like the rockwell calendar on the wall, a throwback like me. I sit at the bar and shmooze with the locals, close my eyes and listen to the perfect music of plates, bells and griddle in their beautiful train station syncopation.


*
There is a whole bunch of stuff that I want to write but I think I need to chop things up so I will stop here. I did have a revelation on the way home. I was driving on the five south home, couldn't see my dad, with my vision logistics and nightfall, when I saw a sign for Bravo Farms at the Kettleman City 41 junction.

The great  highway is full of Del Tacos and your normal corporate road food but the sign said barbecue and ice cream and I thought, what the hell? Rare to find anything resembling food. Guess it is part of a small chain.


The exterior of the place looked just a tad sketchy and overdone. Overproduced Temecula old west, which I loathe. But when I went inside and checked out the menu, whoa. I considered the brisket tamales and had a tri tip sandwich instead, accompanied by their own fried curds. They make their own cheese at Bravo Farms and it is excellent, while not cheap by any means. A delicious lunch in a sea of mediocrity. Now they may have had a problem or two in the past but hey, who hasn't?

This place is such a step up, if you are traveling north on the five. check it out. Honestly, e coli, listeria and all, it beats the road competition hands down. I have got vestigial organs for filtering stuff I hardly ever use. Delicious beats occasionally deadly every time.

Bravo Farms.Very friendly, knowledgable and helpful staff. Good food. Really.

*
Person pulled out ahead of me in a souped up flame orange charger, almost tore off my front quarter panel he/she was so close. Driver tore into a gas station. I followed close behind. Didn't know who was driving. Screeched in, I'm pissed.

Guy pops out in a red 50's bowling shirt, modified mullet greaseback, fancy rock and roll shoes. Big bald spot. Fading central valley rocker gone to seed.

"Did you know you almost hit me pulling put out back there," I inquired in my peeved tone. Asshole almost didn't register, blinked twice, said he was sorry and slithered away like nothing happened.

*
 That's about it for now. Soon.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Drill, motherf*cker, drill aka money always wins...


On the day after, I am sure that many liberals and progressives are trying very hard to keep away from high ledges and sharp objects.


Your favorite scribe, who saw this one coming a mile away and has long been disappointed by the performance of both the president and congress, which ever party, has adopted a zen like detachment and grudging acceptance of whatever comes down the pike.


What's the worst thing that can happen anyway?  So we pull evolution from the high school curriculum, we can deal with that. Country went a hundred and fifty years without Darwin, none the worse for wear.

Shoot the invaders on our borders on sight. Well, that might teach the hispanics to actually come out and vote next time. Get rid of the IRS, FDA, EPA and any other federal alphabet acronyms consisting of three letters or less. I, for one, believe that the private sector is perfectly able to police themselves.

A ptomaine scare or serious epidemic is just what this country needs to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Toughen us up a little bit. And you watch, execute a few dozen women who have had or are contemplating an abortion and see how quick the rest of the miscreants get in line.


I was driving up the Grapevine through the Tejon Pass the other day when I saw that the pass was engulfed in the thickest smog layer I have ever seen in all my years of driving on the Interstate 5. Driving through the middle of it was like looking at the world through a yellow fish tank. I snapped a picture.

I happened to call my friend K and described the pollution to him. K is a republican and a pretty optimistic sort of guy. "It's all in your attitude, Robert. Look at the smog and count your blessings for America's energy independence."

He was, of course, right. Where I reacted to the thick and fetid air as a nasty despoliation of nature in all its native grandeur, K looked at it as a proud reminder of the national machine at work, fossil fuels not only powering the great american engine but their smoggy byproduct also helping create some really spectacular sunsets. All in your perspective.

*

One of the GOP's first efforts is going to be the quick approval of the Keystone Pipeline, so that our friendly neighbors to the north can more expeditiously get their oil to a hungry Chinese market. Now the Keystone runs right through the Oglala aquifer in Nebraska and the people there have taken the government to court. Worrywarts. They don't sound like patriots to me. 

Let them move to Kansas if they don't like it. Besides, like the oil companies say, isn't pollution really a thing of the past with all of our sparkling new technology? And if it does spring a few leaks, who ever made an omelet without breaking a few eggs? Merely minor collateral costs for doing god's work.

*
Gulf bird soaked in oil - © Charlie Riedel
Was interested in the recent news that the gulf oil spill had left a bathtub ring the size of Rhode Island on the bottom of the drink. The April 2010 accident spilled 172 million gallons of oil into the gulf. Independent scientists analyzed 3,000 samples collected at 534 locations, and identified a 1,250-square-mile patch of the deep sea floor where 2 to 16 percent of the discharged oil was deposited.

BP says "prove that it was ours."
BP questions the conclusions of the study. In an email to the AP, spokesman Jason Ryan said, "the authors failed to identify the source of the oil, leading them to grossly overstate the amount of residual Macondo oil on the sea floor and the geographic area in which it is found."
There were no chemical signature tests because over time the oil has degraded and it's impossible at this point to do such chemical analysis, but all other evidence, including the depth of the oil, the way it laid out, the distance from the well, directly point to the BP rig, said Valentine and study co-author Christopher Reddy, a marine chemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
Outside marine scientists, Ed Overton at Louisiana State University and Ian MacDonald at Florida State University, both praised the study and its conclusions.
Deny, deny, deny, these stalwart corporate citizens really know how to play the game. Look at the fracking studies and the earthquake clustering.  Causal evidence could smack them right in the punim, these pros still know when and how to deny.


Republicans of course hate environmentalists and love pollution and development, especially if it is confined to low income areas located far from their own tony estates. Creatures, both flora and fauna, that can't get with the program and adapt, simply have no place in our new world order.


Look for a big new push to drill in our National Parks, Alaska, all points near and wide. The hogs are out of the barn and heading to the trough. The whole country can now look just as polluted as Texas, Louisiana, Eastern Wyoming and North Dakota. Going to be a great cycle.