Sunset near Oceanside Pier

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Serves You Right To Suffer

Vision Test

“This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period,” said  (Sean) Spicer, in one of several statements contradicted by photographs and transit data. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”

Which of these pictures appears to show more people on the National Mall, the one on the left or the one on the right? No fair looking at the caption, it is not that hard a call. If I was feeling snarky and you said the one on the left had more people, I would point out that you are possibly part of a vast leftwing conspiracy promulgated by the mainstream press or something on that order.

But it is too late for that.  This is real and this is the only country we have got. Up is up, down is down, black is black and white is white. This election has been vintage Orwell from the start, from "don't listen to what he says, listen to what is in his heart" to the new notion of "post truthism" and alternative facts.
In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd pressed Conway on why Spicer, who blasted the media coverage of the crowds from the White House briefing room Saturday evening, would appear "in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood."
"You're saying it's a falsehood. ... Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that," Conway said.
"Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods," Todd responded.
The prevaricator in chief knows two bandwidths, a person is either fabulous or a mortal enemy. He is regularly called a malignant narcissist but appears to be a bit bipolar to boot.

And he has this rich kid bullying tendency to hit back at anyone who challenges him, friend or foe alike. This may work for an emotionally dysfunctional kid on the schoolyard but when you are President of the United States, people expect you to be accountable. You can't blame everything on someone else and you should learn that there are times that one must lay back and not be so reactive.

I think this tendency will make him very easily baited. Couple this with the fact that he doesn't appear to listen to or believe what comes out of his own mouth. I predict a very short honeymoon. He has near zero credibility already and the press can get very nasty when it is pile on time.

How soon before Spicer and Conway have nervous breakdowns?

According to the NYT, Spicer was once referred to as Sean Sphincter in the newspaper at his Connecticut College.

I talked to Vlad this morning. He said he knew I would get my protest pic on the blast. Shameless self promotion. Said he was surprised I wasn't wearing a blast t- shirt*. Busted. Truth is, I looked for one, couldn't find it in the drawer. Good call.

*available in three colors, near all sizes twenty bucks. azurebirds at gmail.com

I struggled with Women's March, Womens' March, the whole possessive plural thing. They were right but I had to think about it. Woman's March I could see...

Thanks to Gogo for sending this over:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March, North County

I didn't do my solitary demonstration in Encinitas yesterday. It was raining way too hard and my friends told me absolutely not to come. For once I listened.

So instead Leslie and I traveled with some friends to San Marcos for the North County Women's March. It was unbelievable how many thousands of people attended. Saw lots of friends and also sympathetic souls we did not know, of all ages, colors and gender. Fallbrook was very well represented by a variety of citizens. Many people worried about the future of our country under President Trump.

People assembled at the San Marcos Civic Center, initially standing in a light rain. The crowd got bigger and bigger. My sign was a big hit, if I had a dollar for every person who was conceived under the original poster or had it hanging in their dorm room. Was stopped for a pic hundreds of times.

There was lots of great homemade signage, many people very angry at our country's prospects under the new President.

We marched for about a mile to Palomar College where a large rally was being held. A christian evangelist was walking around telling the liberals that they were all going to hell in a loud voice, finally got himself excommunicated from  the rally courtesy of the cops.

At a certain time in your life you know where you stand. I am comfortable with my choices.

Keep an eye out for my sign if you are on Facebook. I should be pasted all over the internet by now.

Hadn't demonstrated in a long time but better late than never. Have to represent.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Comfortably Numb

Sorry, it has Portuguese subtitles. That might not be legal soon. English only damnit, this is friggin' America.

The March of Folly

"Know my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed."
Count Axel Oxenstierna

Imagine a ruler or President who campaigns for a particular position under the rubric of a respect for the dignity of the office and land and then when elected uses his or her newfound power as a way to self enrichment, installing family members in high positions and endowing his comrades with governorships and cabinet positions where they could get filthier rich.

A purported deeply religious figure, he raises licentiousness to new heights with his personal behavior and with that of his confederates. He throws his political opponents in jail and runs the government like a personal piggy bank, all the while making side deals with the mortal enemies of his kingdom.

I am not talking about any present figure by any means, the particular ruler in question was a Pope, Sixtus IV, the former Cardinal Francesco Della Rovere, the time was 1471.

One of the six renaissance Popes, his empire ended in near disaster. He tried to kill the Medici brothers, excommunicated Florence and used spiritual sanctions as political weapons.

I am reading a wonderful book by the late historian Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989), The March of Folly from Troy to Vietnam.

Tuchman ably illustrates in this book how our rulers, from ancient Troy and Judah through the near present day, so often engage in the exact behavior that is least beneficial to their self interest and end up destroying their country.

In fact, in a world of myriad positive possibilities we humans so often find that one narrow road that will ultimately do us in.

Fascinating book, should be read by all students of history and government. Find it at your local library, like I did.

Calvin Trillin has a delightful piece over at the New Yorker, Counting Shrimp. Whatever gets you through the dark night.

Larry Miller is reading Will Durant's 1939 book on Odysseus and offers this pearl, courtesy of the goddess Athena:

"Bold man, crafty in counsel, insatiate in deceit, not even in thine own land, it seems wast thou to cease from guile and deceitful tales, which thou lovest from the bottom of thine heart."

Learned a new word today from Robert DeGoff, kakistocracy, defined in Merrian Webster as a government by the worst people. Greek etymology, of all things. I guess it all depends on whose Bull of Minos is getting gored?

The election has been held, mostly legally and in accord for the rules we set for these sorts of things, with a little push from the Russians and James Comey of course, but America has spoken and certainly deserves whatever it gets. President Trump has been sworn in. The Republicans now control two branches of government and will soon have their way in the third, the Supreme Court, thanks to some nimble slow walking by the prior Senate. So it is on you guys, do what thou wilt.

Heard yesterday that there are already plans to raise the eligibility age for Medicare two years to 67, privatize Medicare and social security, slash Medicaid and pretty much unstring the safety net. Wonder how may Trump supporters will be singing a different tune, especially since such cuts are shown to more negatively harm their own states?

It is also apparent that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts are in the conservative crosshairs and may not have long to live. Bye Bye Big Bird. If you can't find it on Fox, how important can it be anyway? Better to spend the bread on a big wall, I suppose. I also heard that cuts to public broadcasting also hurt red states worse but not sure if that is true or how the nexus is made.

I think that the Democrats and progressive should be every bit as cooperative as the conservatives were during the Obama administration. Every bit.

Good luck, America.

Jive Turkey

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Maybe its the weather or something like that...

Sanoguy sent me this last night. Excellent forecast, looks like lots more rain coming. And it appears that my inauguration demonstration is going to be quite soggy and maybe a little lonely. Everybody has pretty much pulled out. I don't blame them. Bruce Hall says that he is going to stop by and throw things at me. I hope so.

Leslie asked me what I was going to do and I told her that I was going to get wet.

Acoma pueblo aquatint*

*post truth - a photo of mine that sort of resembles an aquatint - Rob


Dr. Kevin Starr

I think that it is important to note the recent passing of the preeminent writer and California historian, Dr. Kevin Starr. His magnificent volumes on the history of my native state should be required reading. The last one I read was Endangered dreams: The Great Depression in California and the scholarship was thorough and superb.

Starr served as California State Librarian from 1994 to 2004 and was appointed State Librarian Emeritus. He died of a heart attack last Saturday. The following is an annotated list of his authorship.

Americans and the California Dream, 1850–1915. (1973 and 1986) New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 494. ISBN 978-0195016444 (1986) OCLC 641725018, 254930084
Land's End (a novel) (1979) ISBN 0-07-060880-6
Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era (1985) ISBN 0-19-503489-9
"Sunset Magazine and the Phenomenon of the Far West". Sunset magazine: a century of Western living, 1898-1998. Stanford University Libraries. 1998. ISBN 978-0-911221-17-6.
Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s (1990) ISBN 0-19-504487-8
Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California (1996) ISBN 0-19-510080-8
The Dream Endures: California Enters the 1940s (1997) ISBN 0-19-510079-4
Embattled Dreams: California in War and Peace, 1940-1950 (2002) ISBN 0-19-512437-5
Coast Of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2002 (2004) ISBN 0-679-41288-3
California: a history. Random House. 2005. ISBN 978-0-679-64240-4.
Golden dreams: California in an age of abundance, 1950-1963. Oxford University Press US. July 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-515377-4.
Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America’s Greatest Bridge. Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 9781596915343.

Speaking of librarians, I was saddened to read the saga of the Florida librarians who concocted a fake persona "Chuck Finley" to check out books that they didn't want the library to lose. You see, if a book isn't checked out in a one to two year period, it is generally pulled from circulation. They managed to save 2361 titles before their scam was discovered.

Books are like old friends to me. It pains me to see the glaring omissions at my local library, the wonderful writers who have not made the cut in today's world. Stout, Upfield, Forester, Simenon, the list is endless and tragic.

I feel sorry for the people in Florida. I hope that no one loses their job. We need people to love the sad and lonely old books that have lost favor in an age when people mostly can't see beyond their own noses.

A hover of steelhead, Sespe Creek 1911
Just finished a book by another great historian, Robert Glass Cleland's 1957 book The place called Sespe, The History of a California Ranch. Interesting history of a land grant in the area near present day Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Evidently the Dons remembered who they owed money to and who owed money to them very well, keeping meticulous records in their wills, one of which is recorded in this book.

Cleland wrote the epic book The Cattle on a thousand hills, a must read for any aspiring Californio.

I got this note yesterday from the Friends of the Fallbrook Library. I snuck in and looked at the show yesterday and it is truly wonderful.

Two outstanding art exhibits are on display in the library. On the Reading Patio Fallbrook artist and businessman, Merrill Everett, exhibits tall, colorful, blown glass “Totems”.  In the Community Room, “Women Who Print” features eleven women printmakers.  Curated by Denise Kraemer, Riverside college printmaking instructor, the show includes striking themes and a wide variety of techniques including monoprints, chine colle, woodcuts, lithography and etching.
You are invited to the reception for the artists this Friday, January 20th from 6 to 8 pm. Live music and refreshments will be served and you will have the opportunity to view some great art!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Joni Mitchell - Urge For Going

Eye of the forest

Stephen Stills w/Jimi Hendrix - "White Nigger" 1970

Fly on, little wing

Leslie brought a book home the other day that I am finding interesting reading, Jimi Hendrix, Starting at zero; in his own words.

This is a compendium of the late guitarist's own writing put out a few years ago by two of his friends, Alan Douglas and Peter Neal.

I think that lovers of popular and rock and roll music will find it somewhat illuminating.

I am sort of skipping through the thing but there are some very interesting passages; his clashing with Little Richard for looking too flamboyant on his tour, Richard wanted everyone else in a drab uniform so as not to upstage him. Played a tour with King Curtis as well. I never knew that. A lot of the stuff in the book is new to me.

He talks about his fear of opening up for the Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens and Engelbert Humperdinck on one tour. The prelude to the pretty music. He says in the book that Humperdinck's voice was flawless and then says that you have to be good looking and have a flawless voice when you have no imagination.

The influences he does cite and admire are noteworthy, Brian Jones, Dave Mason, Spencer Davis, Dylan and Tom Jones among others. Cut his teeth listening to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. I am looking forward to finishing this book, it explores the innermost of a very introspective, brilliant and occasionally moody man.

Jimi mentions that some of his least appreciated work were actually his favorites, he points to Burning of the midnight lamp as an example. Hendrix makes the distinction between heavy music and light music, said that on occasion he wanted to be like helium.

I believe that you succeeded Jimi. Peace.

Give me a break.

I have been doing enough bagging on the incoming administration, time to call bullshit on Vice President John Kerry.  Yesterday he admonished  President elect Donald Trump for castigating Germany's Angela Merkel in a public forum.
"I thought frankly it was inappropriate for a president-elect of the United States to be stepping into the politics of other countries in a quite direct manner," Kerry told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
Like you have been doing for the last eight years to Israel, John? On a near monthly basis. In the most chiding, paternalistic and patronizing way possible?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Candye Kane

Candye sang one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard when we attended a memorial at the beach for our late friend Clark Crouse, the sometime photographer for the Bellyup Tavern, a frisbee partner and dearest pal. Clark died of ALS. I hope that a copy of the performance will surface one day. Now unfortunately they are both gone.

Peter Sprague

Mar y strelitzia

Diana Monzeglio - Leucadia

North County Splendor

We had a nice weekend. Leslie had a yoga seminar in Encinitas Saturday and I took the day off. I dropped her off in the early afternoon and went to Swamis and took some pictures of surfers but the waves were small and I largely failed, at least photographically speaking. Struggled with the tools all day.

Afterwards I drove to Ron and Lena's in Cardiff and hung out. Finished my third recent book on historical greek battles, by Barry Strauss, the Battle of Salamis, The Naval Encounter that Saved Greece -- and Western Civilization.

This complete the triumvirate of Thermopylae and Marathon. Amazing what an outmanned army of free men can do when fighting for their lives and native land.

Have to find Herodotus histories now, might reread Mary Renault's The Persian Boy. Still on the greek thing.

After I finished my book Lena and I decided to go walk around and get some shots at the Self Realization Fellowship. 

I hadn't been on the grounds since I was 17, when they kicked me out of their basketball court, which was reserved for monks at the time. 

My white balance and iso was off and I didn't grab anything real good but it was sure beautiful after the recent rains and an absolute joy to walk around in up there.

Afterwards we walked to the small park over Boneyards to the north.  When I was a kid there was a rope from that spot to the nude beach below. I had my first apartment on third and i streets nearby, at the Lanikai, when I was 17.

A beautiful blond girl who worked at People's Food in Solana Beach lived in a tree half way down the slope. Enchanting lass if I remember.

Some nice folks we met at the rail pointed out whales in the horizon. Lena had been watching for them all month but this was a first sighting.

And there were more together than I had ever seen at one time. Counted six separate blasts at one point in one group. Gray whales I guess.

They largely stayed outside of the sharp range of my 600mm.

Cool to watch them. They hung around for a long time. I saw dolphins too. Beautiful day on the beach. Wish I could have taken better shots. Feel like I have failed and missed an opportunity but my lens can only go so far. Wish I could afford to take the next step.

Afterwards I read and then picked up my wife. We went back and feasted on appetizers.

Leslie let us all help stir her incredible risotto, this time made with artichoke hearts, arborio, mushrooms, saffron and parmigiana cheese that we brought back from Italy.

Lena and Ron made scrumptious shrimp. The rest of the group all drank champagne, I had chamomile tea. Bob and Shela came over for a visit and we all had a great time enjoying each other's company.

Yesterday we relaxed at home. In the afternoon we went down to Bronx Pizza and then the San Diego Civic to see the last performance of Rent. Great musical and I was able to watch some cute chicks make out outside at intermission. Nice weekend.

I never forget how lucky I am to live in a place that has never yet lost its soul.

Crimea River

I think that the best advice I could give any of my friends who are worried about the future of our country is to keep your powder dry and don't waste too many bullets or energy worrying. Pretend it's a b rated movie, something with Danny Kaye and a stupid petulant king in the sixteenth century. Or you're a member of the French Resistance, living in Vichy France. The third act will be a beaut.

We will get through this, we have been through a hell of a lot worse. Yes, we are an international embarrassment but you just tell people you're Canadian and shrug it off.

Now if I was a citizen of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland or the Ukraine, those people have good reason to worry. Because Herr Trump now says that NATO is obsolete, as is the EU. This is a major deck reshuffle and might pave the way for the Russian Bear to recoup some major real estate. Think Trump will utter a peep?

I don't know if nasty videos really exist of Trump paying for the waterworks in some scuzzy Moscow hotel but if the russkis did have that sort of evidence, it would certainly make his current behavior a lot easier to understand. Don't forget that this story wasn't written by some wack guy over at Infowars, it was a respected member of MI6.

The Israelis, no friends of Obama, have been advising the present administration to put valuable intelligence behind a firewall before Trump and Flynn start spilling all the secrets. Probably advisable, considering his intemperate irrationality and apparent feelings towards our own intelligence community.

I no that I keep repeating myself but isn't it amazing how the Republicans have been so quiet about us rolling over for our comrades in Moscow? Obama sold out a few allies too but some of us spoke up, regardless of party. Putting NATO in the crosshairs is a totally different matter.

The President elect is certainly picking some interesting new friends. He calls out Merkel and then has a meet with French far right nationalist and anti semite Marie LePen, introductions by Steve Bannon no doubt.

Russia has such an interesting history in the Crimea. You might want to read about the forceable removal, starvation and slaughter of the native Tatars, a hundred and fifty thousand exterminated by Stalin alone after their forced removal in 1944.

We probably are helpless to avert some major national and international mistakes but we can at least keep a good historical record for the eventual reckoning, not that that will do much good. Watch who questions the wisdom of this new detente and watch who keeps their mouths shut.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The new un-civil war

WaPo 12/28/16

I will be the first one to admit it. I am having a tough time navigating all this new "post truth" stuff. You will have to give me a little time. I was talking to a conservative friend that I love dearly the other day, gnashing my teeth a little bit regarding the upcoming prospects for our Republic, when the conversation turned to the popular vote tally in the recent election.

"Well, you know Trump would have won the popular vote overwhelmingly if you took away those three million votes that the illegals cast."

I blanched and tried to explain that every independent fact finder in existence had debunked the notion of widespread illegal voting. Republican and Democratic experts alike have said that it simply doesn't exist. People like Politifact. They explain that the number seemed to spring out of the mind of a Republican political operative from Mississippi named Gregg Phillips.

Infowars ran with it and it took on the mantle of truth for many voters. But it was never substantiated or corroborated. There is some evidence that Trump electors may have voted illegally but we don't have to get into that and Snopes seems rather neutral on the subject.

Factcheck.org breaks down the fallacy of voter fraud pretty well here. Even Trump propaganda minister Kellyanne Conway denies it occurred. But the myth lives on, because it has done its job in manipulating certain voters. Dead people aren't voting, illegals aren't voting but people are twisting the truth in a conscious and cynical way and the deception has had its intended effect.

Over half of Trump supporters believe that Obama was born in Kenya and 46% believe Hillary Clinton was involved in a satanic child sex cult that operated out of a pizza parlor.

I explained this to my friend. "Find me some proof, any proof. It doesn't exist." He said that some very smart college kids explained the flood of illegal voting to him and that he trusted them. Said that it all came down to which news you trust.

And there it is.


I am not particularly mad at Donald Trump. It is not about personalities but issues and policies with me. I am mad at my fellow Americans. For being so ill informed and stupid. For surrendering our standards and principles so casually (e.g. fully vetting cabinet candidates, requiring tax returns and demanding ethical firewalls of our elected officials.)

Trump seems to have an interesting way of picking cabinet heads. Find the person who harbors the most hostility to any particular job and appoint him to lead the department. Like Pruitt at EPA. Appoint a guy like Tillerson at State who lies through his teeth about lobbying the Russians and doesn't miss a beat. The list goes on and on. Puzder at Labor, a fast food guy who doesn't believe in overtime pay. DeVos for education, a woman who wants to defund public education. A robber baron, Mnuchin, at Treasury who was involved in a string of questionable practices, redlining and foreclosures at One West and who was accused of failing to lend to minorities.

Watch him dismember the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency that stood up for consumers and clawed back millions from banks like Wells Fargo who sought to shield their chicanery from the american public with their arbitration boilerplate.

It is going to be an interesting time, lots of damage will be done, maybe four years, maybe eight. We deserve whatever we have coming.

I thought it was interesting that Republicans, who are normally so concerned about state's rights, are grousing because Portland and the Northwest doesn't want to allow coal terminals in their harbors so that rich industrialists can ship their product to Asia.

Environmentalists say they represent a thin green line in the Pacific Northwest standing up to the coal industry.
If we allow these projects to go forward, not only will we have a local impact, they would release globally significant quantities in the air,” said Dan Serres of Columbia Riverkeeper. “So it threatens the health of the fishery here in the Columbia River, but it threatens the health of the climate in the long haul.”
With a Trump administration, though, some see a showdown brewing. The president-elect’s pick to run the Interior Department is a staunch supporter of the coal industry who hails from a coal-producing state. Republican Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke has criticized the port rejections by state and federal regulators.
Others see room for a legal challenge invoking the Commerce Clause.
These ports are for the Western United States, and the landlocked states who want to be able to export products overseas need access to those ports,” said Rob McKenna, a former Republican attorney general in Washington state. “I think it raises real constitutional issues when states systematically try to deny them access to those ports.
Good luck northwest. Those people could care less air water and your fisheries. All about money, subsidizing rich industrialists on the government dime, with the prospect of throwing a few jobs around. 

If I had to bet, I would say that we are going to get steamrolled on every issue I care about, from the environment, to reproductive rights, gay rights, integration, public education, civil liberties, foreign policy, all the way down the line. Unless we get involved in some unforeseen war, perhaps we will find new enemies in the Ukraine, or China god forbid, who knows, that might put things temporarily off track.

Due to an antiquated and unfair electoral college system, a minority of low information rural troglodytes gets to tyrannize the rest of us for the foreseeable future.

If you are a rational person, who pays attention to what is actually going on, you have to say that we are quite fucked.