Saturday, September 13, 2014

Roy Gaines - Dream girl


I have received some pretty nice notes this week. Apparently people really enjoy it when I am miserable. Most of us can relate.

Got this from a friend the other day:

...One curious thing I did notice as I drove 4 x 6 hours up/down 395, a whole friggen a week recently, was how many "down on their luck", older, guys and gals were standing by the side of the road with destination signs. I saw maybe 8 or 10 over the 4 separate drives. Maybe I've seen 2 over the past 35 years. A 75 year old man with a cart walking down 395 in 105 degree weather. What the hell?????? Makes me so sad for society and feel so bad about our dam ass greed.

Its funny but I have noticed the same thing. I see the same guy parked outside of Bluewater Trading every year, with the same sign, no gas, no job, need work. Unfortunately lots of cardboard sign holders with small kids in tow. Many more young people now out on the street too, staking out their respective freeway exits and corners. I guess it's a job, just not much of a living. Many have plainly given up.

Mom, I'm home!
Trying to figure out the new millennial economy is tough. The tattoo and piercing thing might be cresting, not a lot of skin around left to fill. The big holes in the ear things are getting sewn up at a rapid rate, the whistle they make is obnoxious when you are driving the car with the top down. I believe that the proper term for the apparatus are gauges.  Eventually such body modifications run into a sad law of diminishing returns, in a land where everybody is increasingly hip, is anybody truly hip?

So what are we left with? Obviously porn. Vape stores have potential, but they maybe have six months left before I think they crash. Sign twirling is always good, especially if you are still reasonably spry, apparently twirlers have two available approaches, amphetamine driven and super bored and laconic.

Long as there is a new subdivision of KB Homes popping up somewhere nearby and an anonymous strip mall or two, you are pretty much guaranteed year round work if this is your chosen path.

Unless of course, the unions get involved. International Sign Twirlers of America, may I please see your union card?

Certainly can't make it as an artist, photographer, writer or musician, all content must be free now, the people have demanded it. There's a brilliant 15 year old in Pacoima who has nothing better to do than bang on his keyboard all day and he is giving it away, so you better get with the program.

I am sick, about to venture into extreme heat with a fever. Next thing you know I will be hooked up to some intravenous device at an emergency room in Deming or something. Spent an hour puking last night, sweated buckets loading the van this morning. Going to go home and sleep for a couple hours, open a can of soup. Take off early.

Lena says I never smile for pictures.
Call me on the road.

Friday, September 12, 2014

David Bromberg - The New Lee Highway Blues

Gotta Travel On

By the time I get to Houston

I'm heading out soon.

Back on the long dotted white line, into the intense desert heat, across that great abyss and expanse known as West Texas. Lordy, lordy. Three days driving each way. Have to go chase that gelt. Get along little doggies. Lead me through the valley of the shadow of death to the brisket and the good texas ice cream.

Driving by myself, well me and the two cataracts, might be getting a bit of summer cold too, feel something scratchy in the back of my throat. We'll see what happens. I'm not a particularly good long distance man anymore, usually can find me with the windows open slapping myself in the face awake a few times the first day or two. Then I settle in.

I think that the blog has been a bit of dark of late and guess I apologize for that. If you aren't depressed right now, maybe you just aren't paying attention. The blog has elicited some interesting comments this week, I am told that I am back in form and people have been generally quite complimentary, if not forgiving.

In the spirit of depression, I might as well continue to shpiel.

Got a note yesterday from a friend who has been contemplating suicide, which is tough. This person will go nameless forever, but I empathize. I think suicide is a basic right, when you decide its time to check out it is your decision, but you need to recognize it affects everybody around you. Sometimes people no longer have the strength to fight and some people don't want to walk around zonked out on anti-depressants to kill the pain. People get tired of grinding.

Al checked out a few years ago, a guy who had everything but peace. Told me he wasn't into the material anymore. Planned things out pretty well. I get a little scared now when people tell me that they aren't into the material.

Suicide is up near 20% in the county this year. Last year 441 San Diego county residents committed the final deed.
“Some people point to the economy, but when we talk about risk factors, what we’re really talking about is life problems — loss of a loved one, financial, relationship problems,” said Stan Collins of the county’s Suicide Prevention Council. “The situation doesn’t matter so much as a person’s inability to cope.”
I think that the economy is a huge factor, people feeling guilt and shame at not being able to adequately provide for themselves and their family. If you are contemplating such an act and need to talk to somebody:

In San Diego County a county-funded crisis hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-724-7240. Counselors are also available to chat online through a secure web portal Monday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Or you can call me. Mr. Happy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Blue Railroad Train - AJ Lee and the Doerfels

Brokedown Palace

"Said it costs a lot to win, even more to lose..." Loser - Robert Hunter

I am sensing a lot of pain out there. Friends and acquaintances, at a stage of life where things should be getting easier, lazing around the proverbial fishing hole, basically now penniless, thrown out in the street.

Moving back in with their siblings or their aging parents in some cases, sifting through dumpsters. Wasn't supposed to be like this. As Robert Sommers recently said, survival is the new victory, for many of us anyway. And I predict a great new wave of depression chic.

There is a real sea change going on in the nuclear family, evidently income inequality or whatever is driving us back to a multigenerational model of housing. Big boomer generation may not go as gracefully into the nighttime as their predecessors once did.

I am reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and he shares some stories about an italian town in Pennsylvania, Roseta, that has a multigenerational social rubric and where things go on pretty swimmingly, at least in matters of health. So maybe it's not such a bad idea, living Iroquois style in our family long houses. Definitely need a larger bathroom.

Not to get off subject but the book is mildly interesting, he makes the supposition that you have to put 10k hours of work in to become good at anything. Said Mozart never wrote anything worth a shit until he was twenty which may be debatable, Bobby Fischer managed in 9k hours but he was a decided anomaly.

Talent and genius, according to Gladwell, are subservient to good old fashioned american stick-to-it-ness and hard work. So you folks trapped at 9500 hours, the message is to keep plugging, baby, your ship is ready to come in.

Eric Erickson, the conservative blogger, raised no small ire last week when he intimated that if you were working a minimum wage job past the age of thirty you need to come to grips that you are a loser with a capitol L.
“The minimum wage is mostly people who failed at life and high school kids,” Erickson said.
“Seriously, look. I don’t mean to be ugly with you people. What? So my producer from my show is in here and he's just staring at me, can't believe I said this. If you’re a 30-something-year-old person and you’re making minimum wage you've probably failed at life.”
Erickson dismissed the idea that some of those people may have just been down on their luck. “It is not that life dealt you a bad hand,” he said. “Life does not deal you cards. It’s that you failed at life.”
Now I take umbrage with Mr. Erickson. Although I have not personally made minimum wage for quite some time, I don't take pleasure in the misfortune of those people that are forced to. Better than being on the dole or stealing. People do what they have to survive. No sin in losing.

Lets face it, some of us just aren't cut out to be alpha predators. And the simple fact is that the game has now become rigged, it runs like the casinos, on a steady stream of losers. The big fallacy is that there is a seat at the table for everybody. There is not.

© Dorothea Lange
The income gap started flexing its muscle with the Reagan tax change in 1987 and is almost finished with its job of destroying the American middle class. We can go back to patrician and serf classes, polishing the master's hood ornament while they are off shussing the moguls in Gstaad or something.

I got an earful from a friend the other day about what he considered a general anti business tone of this blog. Perhaps that is a fair assessment. He specifically didn't think I was fair to Proctor and Gamble about the little plastic pellets in some of their toothpaste. Said that he doubted that they are being ingested and that if it was okay with the FDA it should be fine for Proctor and Gamble.

I am no health expert but have talked to several dental professionals who were alarmed about the polyethylene and who could envision a scenario where they were in fact ingested.

I guess I don't trust government or Big Business. Having been in and out of a cancer fight much of my adult life, I think that there is a lot of stuff out there that scientists have blessed that is killing us. Maybe I just an alarmist but I see scientists that are bought off all the time. I think that you need to keep your eyes open and keep your own counsel. Don't eat plastic. There, I said it.

I was pretty wealthy once. Thought I was retired at 35. Divorce, cancer, government takeover of my bank and the theft of 12 million dollars from the family company showed me how quickly one's plans get changed in this world. I don't care how smart, rich or talented you are, life has a way to conspire and any of us can be on our ass in about 10 seconds.

And while I rebuilt my life, I now can pay most of my bills, eat great food and occasionally take a vacation, it is not easy for me and for many/most of us. I can't remember a recent time where I haven't stared dumbfounded at the wall figuring out how I was going to work it out in any given month.

And I have lost a lot of drive. The drive to kill that most alpha success stories share. Like the race car driver whose performance suffers and is never the same after the first big crash. Mortal...

When I did have money maybe I wasn't real good with it. I gave a lot away, a sucker for a hard luck story, somebody doing worse than I was. The cancer alerted me that life was a short movie, where people mattered and not much else and the spell got broken and I was destined to live the balance of my life as a shlub.

My friend who busted my ass on the toothpaste called me a lousy businessman the other day, which stung, but he said that it was excusable because he could tell from my writing that I was obviously a tortured artistic type. Pain becomes me, as that Robert Sommers guy once said. If I didn't spend so much time pissing off the only people who were financially able to buy my wares I might be better off.

Who knows?

Got to double down, work harder, try not to miss any opportunities.

If you are a winner at all this, consider yourself lucky, talented or blessed. The rest of us salute you. But try not to rub our noses in it. What is the old chinese proverb, conduct your victories like funerals...

I saw a very interesting graph in the New York times the other day about Ferguson, Missouri,  relative to its neighboring communities, many with very similar demographics.

The average citizen in Ferguson gets one and a half warrants for what are termed petty offenses a year. Because that is how the city gets funded. That works out to close to three per household.  And people get behind the 8 ball and can't stop the can't pay cycle and pretty much live in bondage. No wonder the place blew up. Treat people like animals and they tend to act like animals.
Thomas B. Harvey, executive director of the Arch City Defenders, said the changes were about three-quarters of what they had requested. “Although it’s not exactly what we asked for, it’s a substantial step forward,” he said.
Ferguson, a city of just 21,135 people, issued 24,532 warrants for 12,000 cases last year, the group said in a recent report. That amounts to three warrants per Ferguson household.
The city’s traffic fine revenue has increased 44 percent since 2011, city records show. When drivers who could not pay failed to show up for court, the city issued warrants and increased the penalties.

Do you realize that if you acquire sufficient political power you basically get to control history? Read this fascinating story in Politico. Truly Orwellian.
Texas students may soon be reading in their history textbooks that the American system of democracy was inspired by Moses, segregated schools weren’t all that bad and taxes imposed for programs like Social Security haven’t measurably improved society. The standards require teachers to emphasize America’s Christian heritage, praise the superiority of the unfettered free market and introduce students to conservative icons such as Phyllis Schlafly and the Heritage Foundation.
David Bradley, a board member who helped write the standards, said the textbooks are supposed to reflect the standards, and the standards are set by the politicians who win election to the board.
There is an interesting process of historical revisionism taking place across our planet. Last week, the staid old british warhorse, The Economist, issued a book review castigating a writer for an American History tome that didn't take into account all the positive aspects of slavery. After an incredible uproar, the review was pulled. What's next - Hitler, the good years?

One of my favorite quotes you will not find in any google search. But I was there and heard it with my own three ears. Grateful Dead, Bill Graham memorial. Ken Kesey, Halloween, 1991. Around the 42 minute mark, Kesey talking about losing his son and the Brokedown Palace.

 "In any given situation there will always be more dumb people than smart people. We ain't winning."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fat King Melon and the friendly, if not amicable, numbers

I told Warren that I would write once more about Fermat's Enigma, Singh's brilliant story of Allan Wiles twenty year quest to solve the last theorem, the mathematical riddle that had stumped the world for the last 350 or so years. I finished the book and have to admit that I cried a little bit at the end. Never have got emotional about math before but the human aspect of the book was actually quite moving.

As I have stated before, unlike my brilliant siblings, I am no math genius. I was dragged kicking and screaming through quadratic polynomials. I swear that my algebraic defeat still burns and I am tempted to have another go at it and see if I can crack the lexicon before I finally expire.

I loaned the book out and don't have anything to consult but will try to regale you from memory with a couple tidbits in order to convince you to get it yourself and give it a read. First the concept of amicable numbers.

Did you know that the numbers 220 and 284 are called amicable numbers? Their mathematical significance was known to the ancients as far back as biblical times and perhaps earlier. Amicable numbers are pairs in which the sum of the proper divisors of each is equal to the other number.

The divisors of 220 are 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 20, 22, 44, 55 and 110, the sum of which add up to 284. The divisors of 284 are 1, 2, 4, 71 and 142, of which the sum is 220. This is the smallest pair, other pairs include (1184, 1210), (2620, 2924), (5020, 5564) and (6232, 6368).

The Pythagoreans thought that these pairs were imbued with mystical power. Their general formula was developed in 850 by the great  Iraqi mathematician Thābit ibn Qurra (826–901.) Fermat, Euler and Descartes all played with Qurra's formula.

This is Qurra's formula:  if

    p = 3 × 2n − 1 − 1,
    q = 3 × 2n − 1,
    r = 9 × 22n − 1 − 1,

where n > 1 is an integer and p, q, and r are prime numbers, then 2n×p×q and 2n×r are a pair of amicable numbers.

Rubens - reconciliation of Jacob and Esau
It is said that the significance of 220 was even known to the writers of the torah, in Genesis 32:14, Jacob gives 220 goats and 220 sheep to his brother Esau as a way to try to signal friendship. It is also noted in the Koran.

Talismans and charms with one or the other number inscribed were sometimes used in the middle ages to attract lovers, at times a suitor would swallow something printed with one number and slip the other number into the drink of the object of his or her intentions. Or wear them as amulets with similar goals.

Here is a rather cabalistic look at the first two amicable numbers. Please do not ask me for an explanation. I was as bad at the sephiroth as I was at math.

1927 play that introduced the truel
Perhaps you have heard of a truel? It is an interesting construction in game theory.

Imagine a duel but with three protagonists instead of two. Let's say they are badass gunfighters. The first desperado we shall call Mr. Apple, the second Mr. Banana, and the third Mr. Cherry. These varmints have done pissed each other off and decide to fight a truel.

Each gets a gun and they take turns shooting at each other until, as usually happens in such matters, only one person is left. Mr. Apple, who hits his shot 1/3 of the time, gets to shoot first. Mr. Banana, who hits his shot 2/3 of the time, gets to shoot next, assuming he is still alive. Mr. Cherry, who hits his shot all the time, shoots next, assuming he is also alive. The cycle repeats. If you are Mr. Apple, the worst shooter, who should you shoot first for the highest chance of survival?

This one takes some pondering. In fact it a bit counterintuitive. In a probability sense Mr. Apple, the worst shot, has a 52% chance of winning if he does the smart thing.

Which is to fire his gun into the air.

In this way, the second desperado and second best shot, Mr. Banana, will most likely shoot at Mr. Cherry, who has the greatest likelihood of killing him. Mr. Banana has a 18% chance of survival while the best shot, Mr. Cherry, has a 30% chance of living. But Apple gets the next shot in the rules of the game. And has significantly increased his chances of survival.

Hey tough guy, my innate effeminate tendency towards beta subordination is ultimately going to clean your well toned clock!
So sometimes the weakest person actually wins.

A link to the math behind the answer.

I digress regarding the Fermat book. Hard to put down. The greatest benefit was the introduction to some of the amazing mathematicians of ancient and modern times, Euler, Fermat, Shimura and Tamiyama, Germane, Turing, the book gives us great vignettes of some truly brilliant people. Makes me wish I had paid more attention in class.

The book makes the interesting observation that just because something works for the first million or so numbers doesn't necessarily hold for million + 1. And half of infinity is still infinity. As is twice infinity.

A photon checks into a swank hotel. The man at the front desk asks him if he has any luggage. The photon looks at him and says, "You know, I'm really traveling light."

Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet

I was privileged to spend the afternoon listening to some great music with Dave Blackburn and Robin Adler. Their Mutts of the Planet concert in Carlsbad was one of the years musical highlights for me and I think everybody else who was privileged to be in that audience.

We listened to a couple of cuts from their upcoming concert release over at Kip's on his amazing sound system. Robin and Dave are both brilliant musicians, multi-talented. Dave was my long time guitar teacher, but an amazing drummer, all around superb musician's musician, producer and sound engineer. The kind of musician I would like to be if I had talent, an ear and a decent sense of time.

Their CD should be available next week. Look for it at

Make sure you listen to the lead guitar work of Jamie Kime on Hejira. Zappa alumni, grammy winner. Amazing  player.

El Pueblo

I first heard about the place about three months ago. I wasn't going to believe the great mexican food you could buy at the car wash in Cardiff. Several people mentioned it. One of Lena's dental customers is an emigré from Mexico and he told her that it was his favorite mexican restaurant in the area.

Ron and Lena and I drove to Marshall's yesterday afternoon to look for some clothes for my upcoming trip. I had gone to two Nordstrom Racks looking for a sport coat and again struck out at Marshall's. Did buy these psychedelic shorts, just as a cool cultural artifact to wear some halloween. Found the coat at Macy's later in the day. Not matching...

Let's see, psylocybin, peyote, pot, baby baby woodrose, datura, yup that just about covers it...

We stopped at the Mexican place on the way back. "Can't beat the 99 cent fish tacos," she tells me. It is located in a Valero Gas station off Birmingham, on the east side of the freeway. Place is called El Pueblo.

Lena loves the carrots and hot sauces there, which come in several strengths. Ron ordered a carnitas taco, Lena went with her favorite. I ordered a fish burrito. I noticed that the new sign misspelled shredded as "sheredded" about fifty times over and saw a flash of pain across the girl's face that was taking my order when I mentioned it.

 I am sorry, I can't help being a spelling nazi, not that I am in any way perfect. Baristas the world over quake at my approach.

Food was great, well pretty good, not Bulltaco on a great day great, but a place I will definitely visit again when I am in the area. You should too. As good or better than most of the -itos, -bertos joints in its class. Check it out. Give you a chance to eat and wash the car.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Spinal Tap Live At Glastonbury 2009 - "Stonehenge"

Monday morning quarterback

Ex Bush White House Press Secretary Dana Perino lambasted the President the other day for the poor "optics" of walking through Stonehenge by himself.
"I don't mind that the President spent 20 minutes sightseeing and knocking something off of his bucket list," the former George W. Bush spokesperson said during Friday's edition of "The Five."

"But remember this is the White House that says they're not that worried about optics?" Perino continued. "Today, to show the President of the United States standing alone amongst the rocks, by himself ... I would have asked David Cameron or somebody to walk with him. Get some staff or have some — take the pilot, whatever you have to do so you don't have to, he's standing alone. I don't think that's a good optic."
I had to wonder about this on several fronts, wtf, could he be accused of kowtowing to the all important druid vote?

Is it tawdry for our leader to be consorting with pagans, no matter how long they may have been dead? Was he engaged in some sort of covert black mass? Just what is the exact problem here? Dude was finished with his NATO summit and had a chance to cross the british rocks off the things to do list.

In fact, the pictures reveal that the assertion is patently false anyway, as all available photographs show him in good company the whole trek through the stone pillars. I hope that you can sleep better now.

Of course Perino is famous for being one dim bulb. This is the woman who needed a few hints to identify the Cuban Missile Crisis.

"It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure."

This is the same woman who said that women who are victims of domestic violence should make better decisions and that atheists should amscray back to their own country. Not exactly brilliant but admittedly kind of hot so we can let this overly intellectual stuff slide.

Problem in this country is that we have way too much optics and far too little substance.

Romney is on record today saying that he would have done a better job than Hillary would and bashing Obama. Easy to say. Who will ever know? But I think a decent person would refrain from such idle speculation and exit gracefully. You lost loser, no one was buying what you were selling. See ya. Feel free to try again.

And need I remind everybody again, it was Bush and not Obama who inserted the language into the Iraq agreements that we would be out of their country by date certain. Of course the neocons want us to be fighting a permanent war in the middle east, a constant battle against the enemy named terrorism makes it quite a bit easier to suppress freedom on the domestic front.

You know as much as I disagree with our president on civil liberties, pot and several other issues, it is easy to forget the economic morass that he pulled us out of.  I forget, why do we hate him so much? Is it because he is a muslim or a communist? I think that he has done a fairly competent job, considering he is leading a divided nation that can't stand each other, and that anything he could possibly do will be vilified by the opposition. I'm serious, all of you Obama haters, please let me know what is most irksome to you about his policies.

I think that he is a realist who got tired of the bullshit and has sort of packed it in. Disengaged. Overly clinical and dispassionate. He's human. I can make a pretty good case for or against Obamacare but the reality is that it is working for many and a huge contingent of uninsured americans are now protected.

We need to get used to this level of vitriol because whatever party is in charge, it ain't going to change. Too many talking heads with daggers poised, too much vapid instant analysis, too little scholarship and analysis, too little objective neutrality.

Fox may have started it, but we are now left with two equally stupid armed media camps. And an increasingly intellectually lazy and stupid electorate.

Henry Kissinger gave an interesting interview to NPR this week touting his new book World Order. He points out that Iran is a potentially far greater threat than Isis, something I agree with completely. The Persian empire is the one that is quietly getting rebuilt, right through Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

It was disheartening to see Maliki fly up north in his last act as outgoing prime minister last week and exhort his troops to kill the infidels. They don't catch on to the concept of democracy or pluralism too well in the middle east and he made matters worse, subjugating his sunni citizenry, sewing the seeds of revolt that results in factional civil war and in the strengthening of groups like the Islamic State.

Now Obama is looking for help in fighting the Sunni and is going to pretend that there is some benign neutral party in the region. Good luck on that.

Doug Bandow of Cato Institute on Iraq and Intervention - Third time is not the charm.

James Zogby, Arab American and Maronite christian, never met a terrorist he didn't love, has penned an article In defense of christians in which he makes a case for muslims and christians co-existing in the middle east. Let's see, who is he forgetting?

When I saw the headline I made a bet with myself how many paragraphs I would have to read before he bashed Israel and I wasn't too far off the mark. Members of what are termed the "completion" religions have a remarkably forgetful view of their own history.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Omar new head of El Shebang

Infidels beware, Somalia's most exciting  Islamic rebel group, El Shebang, today named Abu Ubeid Ahmed Omar to be their new leader following the killing of the previous leader in a U.S. airstrike.

The Somali militants unanimously selected Omar on Saturday at a meeting in an undisclosed location in Somalia, said rebel commander Abu Mohammed. Omar is believed to be an assumed name, and the new leader's real name is not known.

"It was time to call the kid up from the minors. He's really done everything we've asked from him. Five tool terrorist."

Omar has a long history with the firm, starting out in the terrorist mailroom and working his way up from the bottom smiting and beheading before assuming the titular helm of one of the leading terrorist groups on the scene today.

"I'd like to of course thank Allah and all the little people without whom I could never hope to maraud and pillage. And of course my agent."

Omar may want to stay away from his phone and stop looking out the window. Just saying.

The Battle Is Over But The War Goes On

Blast tally

The blog is edging back up to normalcy, in terms of readership anyway, I understand the writing might be a tad rusty. And it was supposed to be like riding a bike... Even when I was on my literary sabbatical I was still getting at least 500 hits a day, something to be said for past verbosity.

So this is where we stand this morning:

17k visitors last month, not bad. I am only sending it out to a very few people, see if the rest of the readers find their way back.

The question is when do I hit a million pageviews? A contest, closest to the date I go over gets a photograph of their choice.

Saturday Shutters

More of you and less of me is usually a good thing and so we reach the portion of the show we call Saturday Mailbag.

© Michael Bradford 2014
Last year Mike and his son Buck moved to the town of Spavinaw, Oklahoma where he is fixing up a new barbecue restaurant. They both love to fish, Buck is a long time woodsman and fly fishing guide. Mike sends me this lovely sunset picture he took on his iphone while bass fishing on Lake Spavinaw.

I didn't know much about Spavinaw so I googled it. Birthplace of Mickey Mantle. Last population count was 437. Mike says the people are excited about the new restaurant and some locals even came over and serenaded him at Christmas. Very friendly people.

© Ted Fleming 2014

Ted sends a bunch of great pictures from his home in Kauai. Can't afford to visit this year. Damn.

 A westside green flash.

© Ted Fleming 2014

My New Mexico pal had a bear visit the night before last and eat the bird feeder. Again.

After 15 plus years in Frogbutt, Roy pulled up stakes and moved back to Nederland, Colorado. Says it is starting to get cold at night already.

© Roy Cohen 2014
My biologist friend "Black Bart" recently returned from a couple week salmon fly fishing trip on some extremely remote atoll on the Bering Sea in Alaska. Fat hungry fish entering fresh water for the first time, gobbling up flies like nobody's business, all day long...

Going to the sun © Kip Peterson 2014
Kip recently returned from Montana, a state his wife happens to be from. They went back to a favorite spot, Lake McDonald in Glacier Park, where they used to love to sit and watch bald eagles. No raptors this year. Why? 

Well perhaps because some smart guy genious introduced lake trout, which killed the native kohkonee, cutthroat and a bunch of smaller species. And the lake trout is also an apex predator, eats all the smaller stuff, and as a result has the high mercury concentrations that ends up killing the birds. 

Funny but not funny how that all works...I can remember seeing 13 bald eagles on one tree in Kootenai one year when I was thumbing around.

Kip is a heck of a photographer and sends this pretty forest shot courtesy of his Leica M-9.

© Kip Peterson

Kip sent another nice shot, this time with a Sigma DP2 Merrill like mine.

© Kip Peterson

I was talking to Bruce at breakfast about an old Maine Coon Cat he had that chased dogs out of the yard and would only drink from running water. Had dinner with R & D last night and they have two Maine Coons, which are probably directly related to the Norwegian Forest Cat.

Squeak also prefers running water. Biologist D says that there is probably a good scientific reason, running streams being aerated and less likely to harbor nasty parasites and infections than stagnant pools. A very strong genetic disposition in these cats.

Ziggy Marley was fun, if you think fun is being packed with nine million other people on hot asphalt like sardines, that is. Music was great but I am officially too old.

Keep sending in those shots, folks!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sow the hamsin, reap the whirlwind

Roger Waters has written another screed excoriating the evil Israelis and championing the Palestinian right to violent resistance.
"It is easy for those of us who do not live under the tyranny of the occupation to condemn the military wing of Hamas for using randomly fired rockets that might cause civilian casualties in neighboring Israel, and I do unreservedly condemn it. Having said that, an occupied population has the legal right to resist the military of the occupier." 
Waters viewpoint is nauseating to me. Rockets might cause civilian damage and if so, so what? The Palestinians have a right to violently resist the occupier. Waters sentiment the last several years has been so typical, doesn't hate jews, just Israelis, blah, blah, blah. Walks like a duck, talks like a duck...
As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace. While 'the process' is going on the settlers continue grabbing land and building their settlements… and then when the Palestinians finally erupt with their pathetic fireworks they get hammered and shredded with state-of-the-art missiles and depleted uranium shells because Israel 'has a right to defend itself' ( whereas Palestine clearly doesn't). And the settler militias are always happy to lend a fist or rip up someone's olive grove while the army looks the other way. By the way, most of them are not ethnic Israelis - they're 'right of return' Jews from Russia and Ukraine and Moravia and South Africa and Brooklyn who came to Israel recently with the notion that they had an inviolable (God-given!) right to the land, and that 'Arab' equates with 'vermin' - straightforward old-school racism delivered with the same arrogant, shameless swagger that the good ole boys of Louisiana used to affect. That is the culture our taxes are defending. It's like sending money to the Klan. Brian Eno
Pathetic fireworks? Ethnic Israelis? The Klan now? I don't know where to start... Byrne decides to level the playing field by having what amounts to a weak and lame counter argument by a "good jew (a jew who dislikes Israel)," who promises not to ruffle the liberal party line.

I personally think that Israel has shown an admirable restraint in the recent conflict. As Hamas has publicly admitted, they funded an operation that instigated the current hostilities in which their operatives kidnapped three Israeli teenagers and murdered them.
"Another senior Hamas official who currently lives in Turkey, Saleh al-Arouri, one of the founders of Hamas’s military wing, was taped at an Islamic scholars’ conference in Istanbul describing the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers as “a heroic operation by the Qassam Brigades,” referring to Hamas’s military wing."
So Hamas and its proxies in Gaza can lob thousands of missiles at their neighbors, kidnap and kill innocent Israelis and yet Israel is forbidden to react, and obviously the bad guy for defending themselves? This is Pink Floyd logic, or at least Roger Waters logic, the man who deigned to put a star of david on a pig balloon. The gall of those filthy jews to try to inhabit their historic homeland.

Now we come to the point of today's little sermon, Gaza. Gaza has been said to have now been bombed back into the stone age, it will take at least twenty years to rebuild, the evil Israelis are heartless abusers, who had the temerity to inform the population that they had better scram before the airstrikes and that it would not bode well to shelter operatives pointing rockets at Israel.

Now Gaza needs cement.

For rebuilding. But can we guarantee that said cement won't end up in a tunnel full of weapons and explosives under Israel, no of course we can't. But send it anyway.

It is estimated that each of the thirty six tunnels uncovered by the IDF required 350 truckloads of supplies to construct. The new plan has the U.N. administering the cement supply. Considering that the Hamas terrorists have used the U.N. compounds in the past to launch rockets towards Israel, forgive me for my skepticism regarding their newfound plans for the concrete.

In fact Palestinian munitions were found at three U.N. schools this year and there have been some allegations that U.N. vehicles have been used to transport rockets in the past. The U.N. has a bff and it has always been Palestine.
"Israel's claims that Hamas uses UN premises to store weapons has been given substance by the discovery of arms caches at three UN schools on 16, 22 and 29 July. The UN says the schools had been closed up for the summer holidays, and condemned their appropriation by militants as "flagrant violations of international law". It said it immediately informed all relevant parties about the discoveries."
Hamas explosives by the baby's crib.
Hamas is using the civilian population for cover for its aggression and then playing the hurt martyr when discovered, reflexively screaming about collective punishment. They are content at present, crowing about winning the war and enjoying war reparation payments from their rich gulf neighbors.

I have to wonder what Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel, Cruz, Brian Eno, Bardem and the rest of the ilk would consider to be an acceptable mideast paradigm for Israel in dealing with its hostile neighbors? Short of mass suicide of course.

The Gazans get to shoot at Israel and Israel can't fire back? They can continue to kidnap and kill, to fire from schools, kindergartens and hospitals and United Nations compounds but the Israeli response must guarantee to hit only direct perpetrators? Turn the other cheek. Crazy. And Israel needs to open the crossing back up and disregard the fact that every time they do, the Palestinians take the opportunity to violently resist and pickoff a few Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The world is very quick to pillory the Israelis. Last week Hamas executed a reported 27 palestinians for collaborating with Israel. Never mind that Israel's Shin Bet has stated that none of the people killed were actual sources. It will serve as a warning not to talk or dissent.

No trial, no jury, just a sack over their head and a bullet. Where is the international outcry? With the crazy as batshit and murderous islamists there is of course always a different standard.
“One mustn’t express an opinion about the war. They’ll make you trouble if you say anything. I speak my mind, but others, if they say what they think, they’ll say they’re collaborators, or they’ll beat them or even kill them.” AP similarly warned that “Under Hamas rule, it’s rare and dangerous to share even as much as a hint of criticism of the government with outsiders.”Gazan citizen
What do we know about the recent war? Approximately 4500 rockets were fired from Gaza.  It is estimated that 875 fell inside their own border. They are said to have about 2500 to 3500 rockets left at their disposal.

32 tunnels were dug with the purpose of attacking Israel. 14 of those tunnels in fact reached into Israeli territory. Many more kilometers of tunnel underlay Gaza itself.

Israelis say that 2127 Palestinians died in the conflict a number that includes 616 combatants. 71 Israelis were killed. Palestinians, irrespective of the toll of death and destruction, think that they have won a great victory and have witnessed the breakdown of the myth of Israeli superiority. Hamas popularity has never been greater. Israel must let the people freely travel, and allow the Gazans material to rebuild, even if it means more Israelis being killed by Gazan aggression.

The U.N. is predictably calling for an end to the blockade, travel restrictions and anything else that is hindering the Palestinians, the health of Israel and its citizens be damned. I knew U.N. personnel when I lived in Israel. I used to drink with an irishman who worked for the U.N. and lived at the guest house at Gesher Haziv. He, like most of the U.N. people tended to be very anti Israel. Neutral to the point of blindness.

I had to laugh when the U.N. force was forced to scurry into Israel when attacked by Syrian rebels the other day. Guess their buddies didn't get along with them as well as they had hoped.


I truly believe, the son and grandson of an Israeli, having lived in Israel through two conflicts and having personally been subjected to the onslaught of the katyushas, that Israel hates playing the part of jailer but has been forced into the role by vicious terrorists who seek its total destruction. It is difficult to negotiate with someone who doesn't recognize your right to exist and has vowed to annihilate you. And it should go without saying that it is considered very poor form to shoot rockets at people that you wish to parley with.

It is easy to quarterback from your easy chair in Cleveland and to tell them how they should react. The Palestinian should not think that they can commit hostile actions against Israel and be insulated from response, by either civilian complicity and cover or predictable world opinion.

I worked building apartments in Israel in the 1970's, worked with and had good relations with many palestinians, in fact I still do. I got into a big argument at a dinner party recently with a guy from Saudi Arabia who refused to admit that there were many Israeli arabs living very happy lives within the state. He said that I didn't know what I was talking about, what he read trumped what I knew empirically from my own experience.

Israel has not been blameless in its actions. It has squandered opportunities for peaceful resolution, mainly with an oft duplicitous settlement strategy. But let us be honest about Hamas and its charter. These are people dedicated to Israel's destruction. The face of Hamas terrorism is not very different than the other groups that promote Islamic terrorism and the caliphate, the Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, Boko Haram, al Shahab, Isis, Hezbollah, Jemaah Islamiah, Al Qaeda, etc..

Imagine that they are your neighbor and are just waiting for a day when their weaponry improves and they can do you in, like they tried to exterminate the Yazidis and Turkmen in Iraq the other day. There are no good guys in the region, Americans are silly to even consider throwing in with a murderer like Assad, a man who has used chemical warfare on his own people, in order to combat the newest bogeyman, the Islamic State.

Like it or not, there is only one state and people that you can count on in the region, with the exception of the kurds of course, maybe you can figure out who they are for yourself.

So I wrote to Sirius radio about not being able to listen to the Pink Floyd channel on Deep Tracks because of Waters antisemitism and they sent me back a note that suggested that I should listen to more Pink Floyd.

Press faster or you'll burn in hell

Press faster or you'll burn in hell
© Bob Mankoff