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Water and stone

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cry My Self To Sleep



A nice song by one of my favorite female vocalists, unfortunately it cuts at the end...

Tally Ho

Not that it's any big but my blog dashboard shows that yesterday was my two thousandth post. Doesn't quite square with the onsite tally, which shows a mere 1971 of my exquisite offerings, but I have deleted a few things over time in order to present my readership with only the best in peak literary and auditory entertainment.

***

I took a little cruise through blogdonia last night by hitting the next blog button on the top of the screen. You get to visit other lands and see a lot of neat family pictures. Try it, it's fun. I was particularly enchanted by the antics of the Johnson family after daddy shot himself in the leg with the 9mm.

***

I have been quite interested in the twenty year old Saudi national in the news, who was thankfully caught redhanded during his quest to wreak terror and jihad on this country. Khalid Aldawsari, a chemical engineering student at Texas Tech and then South Plains College, was intent on fulfilling his lifelong dream of killing infidels and had been buying up large quantities of phenol, a chemical that can be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as TNP, or picric acid.

He listed 12 reservoirs in California and Colorado and President George W. Bush's home as targets for destruction in his emails. Khalid wanted to use baby dolls as delivery systems, which shows a nice feel for the macabre. He also planned on bombing a nightclub. The FBI found chemicals, a gas mask, a Hazmat suit, a soldering iron kit, glass beakers and flasks, wiring, a stun gun, clocks, and a battery tester at his residence as well as many notebooks describing his plans. Apparently the Saudi terrorist had been planning the attack for years and was financed by a Saudi chemical company owned by the royal family, SABIC, which sponsors over 400 students at 62 universities in the United States.

My question is, with study after study showing that the bulk of terrorist funding coming from wealthy Saudi Arabians, why are we giving these people valid visas, like our friend Khalid here had? The Times Square bomber admitted that his citizenship oath to this country meant nothing. The radical islamist believes that it is his duty to lie and cheat the infidel. For a bit of insight into this type of thinking read this article from Al Qaeda's own online magazine Inspire. Don't you think it would be advisable to take them at their word? Or is the State Department so controlled by arabists that halting the influx of terrorist killer tourists would represent a sticky wicket of bad form. Marquis of Queensbury and all that.

Now there are  approximately 1.57 billion muslims in the world according to Pew Research. If we concede that 99% of them are gentle followers of the Islamic religion of peace, we only need worry about 15 million seven hundred thousand of these violent wahabist wackjobs intent on establishing a global caliphate through terror. I will sleep better tonight with this knowledge. This 1% is like a virulent virus. Let's not make their job any easier. Profile, do whatever you have to do, the law of probability says that it is only a matter of time before one of these lone wolves is successful.  Come to America, get a good education and then show us your appreciation by blowing us up. Nice manners.

Not to mention the nasty habit of honor killing of your daughters or the beheading of the wives that aren't submitting properly. I think that it is time to nip this cultural exportation in the bud.

***

Last week I talked about number one shmendrick Noam Chomsky. This week I cast the blast's net at Richard Falk, the Princeton professor turned U.N. honcho who lavishly praised the Iranian revolution in 1979 in the NYT op-ed that I recently reprinted. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice harangued Falk last week for his mishigoss and said Falk should be removed from his U.N. posts after he claimed on his blog that that there had been an "apparent cover-up" by U.S. authorities over the September 11, 2001, attacks. Falk had written that there were "well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials."

He has taken part in a UN fact-finding mission which determined that suicide bombings are a valid method of 'struggle'.

Falk defended Vietnam era bomber Karleton Armstrong, who pleaded guilty to bombing the University of Wisconsin Army Mathematics Research Center, which killed a researcher working there and injured another four people. The New York Times reported that Falk "appealed for full amnesty for all resistors, including those who use violent tactics to oppose the war in Vietnam."

In 2004, Falk wrote the preface to David Ray Griffin's book The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11 which maintains that the George W. Bush administration was complicit in the September 11 attacks.

Falk, another self loathing yid who wants to show his great liberal objectivity to the world, regardless of the consequences, is fond of comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. He has embraced the islamic terrorist organization Hamas and has been a continual thorn in the side of the Palestinian Authority.

We have a winner for schmuck of the week, ladies and gentlemen.





Sunday, February 27, 2011

Centerfield



Fallbrook's own Duke Snider, the Duke of Flatbush, has passed away at the age of 84. A longtime resident, the Brooklyn Dodger centerfielder once owned the Duke Snider Lanes, the local bowling alley. He owned Brooklyn as well. I would run into the Duke once in a while around town, last seeing him celebrate his birthday in September at Michael Calvanese's (another Brooklynite) Cafe Des' Artistes restaurant. I was usually too shy to say anything to him, but got my nerve up once or twice. He died a few weeks after Fallbrook's other major leaguer passed away, 91 year old Cliff Dapper, the only player to ever get traded for an announcer, Ernie Harwell.

Snider lived here and farmed avocados for the last fifty years. He was Fallbrook's most distinguished and famous resident. His commanding yet humble presence still turned old guys into awestruck little kids when he occasionally surfaced around town. The last couple years I mostly saw him at the Fallbrook Pharmacy.

Edwin D. Snider was born in Los Angeles and served in the Navy in World War II. He played pro ball for 18 years, compiling a .295 career batting average with 407 home runs and 1,333 RBIs in 2,143 games, was an eight-time all-star and appeared in six World Series. Hall of Famer Snider hit 40 or more home runs in five consecutive seasons for the Bums, a feat achieved by neither Mays nor Mantle. One of the greatest center fielders of all time, the power hitting left hander was always known around these parts as a quiet gentleman. Tip your cap to the Duke. Maybe he's hitting fungoes now with Jackie and Pee Wee. An end of an era.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Red Tail Redux

It has been a cold and wet week in the Santa Margarita River Valley. Today we had hail, last night snow was forecast down to a thousand feet but never materialized.

The river was raging when I left for work this morning, an angry flow that would sweep away anything in its path. Our narrow road into the canyon is muddy but still traversable.

We first saw the large red tail female about two weeks ago, hanging around close to the old nest but never going inside. Her chest was huge and white, like our last mama hawk. While the large sycamore tree was full of leaves two years ago when we were graced with the birth of the three baby red tails,  the tree is barren and denuded at present.

I got a call from my neighbors this morning that the hawk was in the nest, seemingly laying on eggs. I left work a bit early, in the rain and took my trusty 300mm lens with me in hopes of getting some shots of the new family to be.

While the textbooks tell you that a juvenile will not mate for three years, I am pretty confident that this is our young female. I got so many pictures in 2009 that I am hoping to make a detailed comparison in the weeks and months ahead.

When I drove by the nest, perched about 150' off the ground, I found that the male was in the nest, taking his turn, while the female sat on a high tree branch far overhead. I stood in the rain and took some rather clumsy and perfunctory shots that will have to do for now. I know that magic awaits!



Last year was a rather flat year in the valley on the avian front but this year is turning out great, with our resident osprey and a host of other birds of prey cruising around on a daily basis. A rainbow rose out of my back yard as I got home and the blue herons sailed in tandem over the river's canopy.



I am looking forward to getting some really good shots, especially if Doug lets me use his 400 mm. lens. This gives me something else to look forward to this spring. I am not a superstitious person, except perhaps in the narrowest and most jungian sense of the word, but hawks and rainbows, now there's a good omen.

Friday, February 25, 2011

LSD Testing on British military




Qaddafi says he thinks that the young folks are tripping
Bin Laden dropped the acid in the coffee they're sipping

Friday Mishmosh

Renée came by today to tell me that I have been rather tepid of late with so many things going down around the world. She may be right but I think I have been pacing myself so I don't sound like a perpetual clarion of doom. The battle lines have been drawn for some time and Americans pretty much deserve whoever they voted for. Take the assault on Planned Parenthood. Anyone with a brain or uterus surely saw this coming. Unfortunately besides providing abortion care, Planned Parenthood is stop one for most women's' reproductive health care. I fear that the defunding will have devastating repercussions.

Elections have consequences and the other guys won. So my basic idea is to just sit on the sidelines and eat popcorn while Rome burns. Ditto Wisconsin.

The arab world is certainly a powder keg but frankly, I have no horse in the race. I saw what happened after the despotic Shah came tumbling down and pardon me, but I'll take a nice dictator any day. So all over the middle east, people are throwing off the yoke of oppression, fantastic, the question is, what next? The only people with any infrastructure and organizational background are the islamic fundamentalists. Typically, power is held by the military. So if I was a betting man, I would lay odds on things not turning out quite as rosy as some may foresee. Of course you can accuse me of looking at everything through a jaded prism, the blow back's potential impact on Israel. Maybe you would be right.

I do think that we should temper our expectations. These people are far from getting their tribal shit together. That is why they have always been governed by strong men. Say what you will about Tito or Saddam, the intertribal conflict tends to diminish on their watch. Of course I am a cynic. Maybe there is some middle eastern Ghandi or Saladin just waiting to spread his message of love throughout the region.

I had this quote on the nascent Iranian revolution by scholar Richard Falk on the sidebar last week and think it needs to be enshrined on the blog for perpetuity.
“On February 16, 1979, two weeks after the return of Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran, Princeton Professor Falk wrote an op-ed for the New York Times “Trusting Khomeini”. 
“Trusting Khomeini”. ….Arguing Khomeini was being judged unfairly, he concluded “the depiction of Khomeini as fanatical, reactionar­y and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false … To suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissemblin­g seems almost beyond belief. … Having created a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on nonviolent tactics, Iran may yet provide us with a desperatel­y-needed model of humane governance for a third-worl­d country.” 
Among the many examples of Khomeni’s supporters­’ “nonviolen­t tactics” that had already taken place when Richard Falk wrote his Op/Ed was the setting on fire by Muslim fanatics in Abadan of the Rex Cinema in Abadan, the doors had been locked, and within which 450 people were burned alive.”    
***

Kudos to Defense Sec. Robert Gates for his candor and honesty.

***

Kerry sent this over.

blue heron blast, lotta people checking you out.



***

Got an email from a guy who I don't know, have never met, named Eric Stevenson, from somewhere in the southeast I think, who found me on Blog Catalogue and asked if he could write a guest blog. Sure Eric, go for it:

redacted

Thanks for your contribution, Eric. Don't think malfaction is a real word but I think I get it.

Joe Walsh

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Baby Don't You Do It - Small Faces

Donovan - Hurdy Gurdy Man (L' Olympia Paris 1970 )

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The case of Raymond Davis certainly has all the marks of a Le Carre spy thriller. This 36 year old man was riding around in his car in Pakistan last month when he was approached by two men on motorbikes. He claims that they tried to rob him in broad daylight. He pulls out his glock and kills them dead, shooting them in the back according to some accounts.

 His car is searched and multiple guns, survival gear, infrared night vision equipment, a make-up kit, a telescope, long-range radio, a GPS system and a camera containing photographs of sensitive locations and several cell phones are found.

A car from the U.S. Embassy rushes to the scene of the crime driving the wrong way on a one way street and crashes, killing another Pakistani civilian. The car is piloted by CIA operatives who are then spirited out of the country. One of the two dead men's widows commits suicide.

The U.S. Consulate in Lahore claims that he is a civilian employee with diplomatic immunity. The Pakistanis say that he works for the CIA. He was driving around in a car with civilian plates. Custom and protocol dictates that authorities are notified if an employee has diplomatic immunity out of concern for the driver's safety.

According to the WaPo a note, dated Jan. 27, described Davis as "an employee of U.S. Consulate General Lahore and holder of a diplomatic passport." But a second note, on Feb. 3, described him as a member of the "administrative and technical staff" of the U.S. Embassy. That different phrasing could indicate different levels of diplomatic immunity.

Initially Davis was said to work for the State Department. The next story had him working for Blackwater's  successor, Xe as a contractor. Then he was the acting head of the CIA in Pakistan, after number one's cover was blown after the release of documents in a trial over innocents being killed in a drone strike revealed his name. Certain stories had Davis target spotting for the next drone attack. Who the hell knows what to believe? An online report from the funky "International News Network" I just read says that his real name is Redacted and that he is a former marine who served in M-5 who speaks urdu, pushto, and a host of other languages. Who knows? The CIA has basically taken responsibility for him today.

Davis left the Special Forces in 2003, wherein he is said to work for a mythical company called Hyperion LLC, which is said to exist in a telephone book and a website somewhere. Its offices in Florida have been vacant for years. His visa application, with attendant addresses, references and phone numbers, was found to be totally bogus.

The New York Times on Monday reported that Davis was part of a CIA operation tracking Islamist extremists in eastern Pakistan such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, the virulently anti-Indian group blamed for the bloody 2008 siege of Mumbai.

Pakistan wants to try him for murder. Sen. Kerry just flew to Pakistan trying to free him. The ISI, Pakistan's intelligence service is incredibly pissed, believing that if he is not CIA, he is one of hundreds of contract spooks they have been gallivanting around the country without the knowledge of the Pakistani government or intelligence service. The ISI official told the AP that Davis had contacts in the tribal regions and knew both the men he shot. He said the ISI is investigating the possibility that the encounter on the streets of Lahore stemmed from a meeting or from threats to Davis. Davis reportedly fired over ten shots at the men, a fact that leads the Pakis to believe that it was not simply a matter of self defense and not commensurate with any real or alleged threat.

My question is, why would a CIA agent be working for Xe or Blackwater, a company hated and vilified throughout the region? Is this supposedly private company really just a CIA front operation? And could we conduct our international spycraft any more clumsily? If he was the CIA Station Head in Pakistan, I think that he could have used a little better support from the organization.

Perchance to dream...

The internet is a dangerous place. My buddy Arnold came by the other day and wanted me to sleuth for him. He wanted me to find the girl of his dreams, the one that slipped through his fingers thirty years ago, Dawn.

"Well Arnold," I sez, after a few cursory fingerstrokes. "Preliminary indications are that she is now married to a guy named Ed up in Bend, Oregon. Old Ed may not want you sniffing around his chicken coop. Furthermore that pert young vision of womanhood may not be the same glorious visage that you still have trapped in those googley eyed memory bank's of yours. May I add that gravity and mass has a way of catching up to all of us. She may not be the same comely lass that you remember."

"I know, I know Robert. I don't have to have her. I just want to see how she is doing, catch up, you know..."

I reluctantly assented. My wife has just hooked up with a girl that she hasn't talked to since camp on Facebook and the same thing is probably being repeated all over the world. I just know that the girl that sat across from me in the fourth grade was seriously into me and that we can now finally get something going.

I ended up at a brick wall with Arnold, landing at the door at one of these social networking services, My Life™, that would give me Dawn's address and phone number, if only I would sign up for a $5.95 per month fee. I tabled the thought, not really wanting to put my credit card number on the web.

***

I get a call from AmEx yesterday. "Mr. Sommers, we have had some funny looking charges come up on your account today. Did you authorize a $1495.00 charge to My Life™?" There were two other bogus online transactions that I never made as well, totalling in the thousands. I quickly cancelled the card. What is strange is that I never gave this site my account number. Just how did they get my Amex number? Did they lay a trojan horse on my rig? Is this particular company a fraud or somebody inside the company? I read something the other day about the lack of safety on wireless networks, how the online kernels are now getting easily swiped in space by unscrupulous thieves with the new technology.

Sorry, Arnold. Be careful everybody.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me

Nice rack, Paul.

The governor of Maine, Paul Le Page, scoffed last week at public concern over the plastic chemical BPA. He says the worst thing that will happen is a few women will grow little beards.

Le Page is an idiot and he has things all wrong. BPA has been shown to change the sex of fish, but is an estrogen mimicker, meaning he is much more apt to grow a nice set of manboobs and have his penis and testicles disappear than the average yankee woman is to grow a beard.


It does have a lot of other very nasty affects on living species as documented by a 2007 study by the Environmental Working Group and a 2008 project by the National Toxicology Program. The EPA has deemed it a chemical of concern and it has been banned and listed as toxic in Canada.  Dow Chemical has tried to strong arm researchers investigating the chemical as shown in this link.

Guess the goofballs are spread around the country pretty evenly.

***

Interesting article on Truthout yesterday, Why Monsanto always wins. Another chemical company that has its way with the United States government. And an article today that Monsanto GMO seeds may cause animal miscarriages.

***

The action in Wisconsin has been pretty ludicrous. A Republican governor banging his shoe on the table like Kruschev, imploring the 14 democrats to come back, but stating that he will not negotiate. This after the unions agreed to his give backs on health insurance and pensions, the only thing they are not willing to forsake is collective bargaining. I wouldn't either, let the petulant snot Walker pound sand. Polls show an overwhelming percentage (62 to 11%)  of Wisconsin citizens are supporting the public workers on this one while they command 61% support nationally. Sort of like the national favorable ratings for health care reform that the repubs never want to talk about. Or Consumer Protection. Now Walker is threatening layoffs because things aren't going his way. I wouldn't negotiate with a gun to my head either.

This whole Wisconsin deal has been scripted by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, who even had 40 buses filled with pro Walker agitators for the counter demonstrations rented and at the ready yesterday.

Walker needs to look in the mirror. He signed into law $122 million dollars in tax cuts at the same time he saw these large deficits looming. He made his own bed. At the Koch's bidding.

***

Indiana has fired Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox today after he suggested that Wisconsin use live ammunition on its protesters. Maybe he can get a new job with Gaddafi?

***

Rich Santorum is waxing nostalgic for the Crusades.

***

From Mother Jones: New Georgia law could give women the death penalty for miscarriages.

***

Prescription drug addict and fat tub of goo Rush Limbaugh has a lot of nerve capping on the first lady for being fat and too heavy for the swimsuit cover of Sports Illustrated. I think that she has been a fine first lady and appreciate her for going to bat against childhood obesity. And the restaurant said the ribs only had 600 calories, not 1500, Rush. The conservative hatred for all things Obama is so ludicrous and so palpable and has now degenerated into the most ridiculous of ad hominem attacks.

Nice Kitty...

Janice and Mike are two Fallbrookians that really love animals. Their vacations, which seem to be quite numerous to my envious eyes, center around viewing rare animals all over the world, usually in the wild. I serve on a committee with Janice and they are both really neat people.

Mike and Janice just got back from Thailand and Vietnam. While in Thailand, they visited this Tiger sanctuary outside of Bangkok.  Called Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, it is a theravedic buddhist temple that takes care of orphaned cubs. My friends were allowed to feed, walk and care for the tigers. In the first picture she is holding a three month old. In the second, she is walking an adult male. She said that the tiger was tracking another adult's scent and that she could hardly lift its head.

I asked her if they had salted away one of these cute little striped kitties in their suitcases but was told that the only thing she brought back was a nasty asian cough. Very cool trip.

Monday, February 21, 2011

another pleasant valley sunday

Yesterday, the neighbor and I took a cruise up Red Mountain in his 53 ford pickup truck. I had hoped to get pictures of the snow atop Palomar Mountain. The clouds on the ridge had other ideas. We had a real nice time anyway and I managed to find the ocean closer than I ever remember her! Got some nice pics anyway from the highest vantage around.

Who is he and what is he to you?

Shame on Columbia

I don't care if you are a liberal, conservative or politically agnostic, if you are an American you should be ashamed of this man's treatment at Columbia University.

Anthony Maschek, a purple heart recipient who was wounded eleven times in Iraq and is now confined to a wheelchair, was shouted down and heckled by students, who were angry at the prospect of the ROTC returning to campus after a 42 year absence. He was hissed and called a racist by students angry at the prospect of the ROTC's return.

Maschek is a freshman at Columbia who said, during his testimony,"It doesn't matter how you feel about the war. It doesn't matter how you feel about fighting. There are bad men out there plotting to kill you."

Maschek was an Army Staff Sergeant  with the 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.

I live at the back gate of Camp Pendleton, the largest Marine Base on the West Coast. I live with marines and drink with marines at the local watering hole. For the most part, the men and women that I have met are poor or lower middle class kids from the south and midwest who saw the military as a chance for a break in their life. Few have any political agenda. They are as a rule, smart, considerate and compassionate. The marines I know well are proud of the positive things that they have tried to do in the middle east, the stuff that never seems to get reported.

Who gives a shit if some guys want to drill on campus, especially a campus that receives federal funds and tax benefits? Assholes need to pick their battles and not heap abuse on a poor kid who has given up way too much already.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

That's The Bag I'm In

My Chomsky rant





A few readers have written in and asked why I like to bag on Chomsky, a person that I legitimately detest. I am afraid that my answer might be a bit long winded. Here are two letters that I have recently received:

As for Chomsky he is a vital antidote in opposition to the US propaganda machine.....put Iran in its proper historical context.....CIA got "rid" of mos/ad in 50s after his election when he wanted to nationalize the oil.....put the Shah in who was a brutal murdering dictator and then when he was over thrown gave him sanctuary.......imagine the US surrounded by Iranian soldiers and navy violating our air space and supporting a hemispheric Israel ....Iran actually cooperated very closely with US in defeating the Northern Alliance in Afghan and the US since then has designated them to be the requisite enemy......mean while the CIA is financing domestic opposition as legitimate as it is.......Russia..Israel...India...China....Pakistan....et.al have the bomb.....maybe then are not so crazy as a deterrent to US ....remember a presidential candidate .....Beach Boys ....Bomb Bomb Iran......can you imagine if Iranian PM said that..... Sunday talking heads about "surgical strikes" .....Iran has no"problems" with Russians on their border and the rest of the world is trading with Iran today as the US continually demonizes them.....ironically it is US foreign policy that provides the domestic repression  the legitimacy of the domestic repression....and quite frankly why should I give a ....Rhett Butler damm what goes on in a 4000 year old civilization 10,000 miles from here.....it was Goldman and Lehman who almost dy$troyed America while Mr Nobel prize.....I will bring "change"has rehired the same crew.....you need not worry in that Chomsky will never be given access to the end less Talking Head media....
W


hey Bob-
what is the reference about Chomsky?
I've read bits and pieces by him over the years, especially around 9-11 and thought he was ahead of the curve. I know he has a lot of harsh critics and since I am not much of a reader.....fill me in....
thanks!
S

The first letter from W is a bit disassociated but represents the philosophy of the Chomskyite pretty well. The United States of America, in tandem with its zionist co-conspirator Israel, is involved in a hegemonistic struggle to rule the world and turn their peace loving neighbors into vassal states. The second, an honest question that I hope I can answer.

I think that I can safely say that I am no pollyanna in regards to the real and imagined sins committed past and present by my country. We have certainly acted imperialistically, both with our own native population and in places like the Philippines and Central America, courtesy of the Monroe Doctrine. I have no blinders on regarding the somewhat self inflicted nightmare of daily life in Gaza and the West Bank either. I am not a believer in the concept of American Exceptionalism, we are probably not much different than any other industrialized power facing similar circumstances. I remember the wise words of a teacher in high school, Mr. Reagan. He said,"If you learn nothing else in my history class, remember that countries are as moral as economically feasible."

And although we contribute less in foreign aid by percentage than most industrialized countries, I have to say that we Americans are pretty good people. We want to help, are usually first on the scene after a disaster or calamity, and generally try to be good citizens of the world. As I have often remarked, say what you want about America, the methodists aren't shooting at the presbyterians yet. But has the divine power blown a mighty puff of air up our butt and put us in some exalted position over Canada, Norway or New Zealand, I don't really think so. Sometimes we try to do too much and end up in hopeless quagmires like Afghanistan.

Noam Chomsky and his ilk view every ill in the world as the consequence of imperialist U.S. doctrine. He has never met a dictator he did not embrace. He carried water for Pol Pot and mocked and minimized the terrible genocide in Cambodia. Chomsky said "it seems to fair to describe the atrocities committed by the United States and Pol Pot during the decade of the genocide as being in the same range. The reality is that the U.S, is thought to have killed roughly 40,000 Khmer Rouge fighters and Cambodian civilians, while Pol Pot was responsible for an approximate 1.8 million civilian deaths between 1975 and 1979. He makes similar statements regarding stalinist atrocities and those committed post war by the North Vietnamese. Ditto his approval for the policies of Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and Iran, all countries with sorry records in regards to personal liberty and freedom, including a free press. He even offers excuses for the Chinese behavior towards the Tibetans. The last Stalinist true believer.
Chomsky wrote after 9/11 and I paraphrase: "nothing can justify crimes such as those of September 11, but we can think of the United States as an innocent victim only if we adopt the convenient path of ignoring the record of its actions and those of its allies, which are, after all, hardly a secret." 
He appears to be saying that, yes, it was a terrible thing but you had it coming. And there are quote after quote like this, whitewashing the deaths of thousands of innocent people in the name of his marxist, anti U.S. ideology. It is like saying that the Somali pirates who kidnapped the poor people on the sailboat this week are justified because certain countries have decimated their fishing supply in past decades. A non sequiter that excuses the worst behavior imaginable. He equates the World Trade Center bombings with the bombing of the chemical plant in Sudan that killed one night watchman. A terrible tragedy but certainly a difference in scale. How about a little compassion for the real victims too sometime, Noam? Never for Noam, it does not fit his tried and true narrative.

One of the sickest aspects to Chomsky is his association for holocaust deniers and anti-semites. Chomsky, born a jew, is bedfellows with some of the most venal jew haters and neo nazis in the world like Jacques Vergés and Robert Faurisson. Faurisson wrote an article which declares all witnesses to the Holocaust at Auschwitz to be Jews and liars because they are Jews. When confronted with Faurisson's statement, Chomsky wrote, in a letter to Bill Rubenstein:

I see no anti-Semitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers, or even denial of the holocaust. Nor would there be anti-Semitic implications, per se, in the claim that the holocaust (whether one believes it took place or not) is being exploited, viciously so, by apologists for Israeli repression and violence. I see no hint of anti-Semitic implications in Faurisson's work ...
I am not a religious person but I am a person with strong passions regarding my tribe and my country, the United States of America. Most of my grandmother's family from Wyzkow was killed at Auschwitz. To see a person like Chomsky make statements like he does makes my blood boil. It shows a complete lack of respect for his parents, and their parents and a lack of appreciation for a people that suffered through both the pogroms and Zyklon B.

There is a peculiar tendency amongst liberal and secular jews to fall all over each other trying to show their great objectivity, fairness and detachment. Especially if it is contrary to their own best self interest. This reinforces the paradigm of the long suffering victim that many hold so dear to their heart. They bash the Israeli state with no firsthand knowledge of what it would be like to be surrounded by an enemy who has vowed your annihilation. This supposed exercise in liberal freethinking flies in the face of what is in my experience true in regards to Israel, having lived there for a protracted period and through several skirmishes and countless rocket attacks.  Look at the map above, look at the large section of the Sinai that was traded to Egypt in the interests of peace, does this tiny nation really look like an imperialist regime intent on gobbling up a large section of the mideast?

The reality is that it is a tiny land mass of people who returned to their ancestral homeland after a long diaspora, and after several attempts at living peacefully with their neighbors, were forced to pay for their nation and right to exist with their own blood. They are surrounded by religious fundamentalists intent on restoring the caliphate. The Israelis are intent on not handing the implements of their own destruction to those that would kill them.

Israel is a nation whose Palestinian inhabitants and native arab population has more education, freedom and access to medical care than any other neighboring arab country. Where women can drive and wear the clothes of their choice. Where Israeli human right's groups work tirelessly to ensure that all of the population is treated as fairly and equitably as possible, even those calling for the destruction of the state. Where Arabs have a seat on the Knesset, the highest governing body in the land. A land free of the internecine killings between wahabists and salafists, shia and sunni that seem to permeate all the neighboring countries.

Utopian idealists like Chomsky and his brethren have a lot of gall in rapturously defending the enemies of civilization and the United States while living in this country. I think that Noam should move to Caracas or Iran and put his money where his mouth is. Too many of his assertions have been found to be flat out lies, his "blame America for everything" jingo so very shallow and phony when held up to the light for actual inspection.

Please look at some of the links I provide, the Chomsky hoax link is pretty comprehensive. 

The Chomsky Hoax

Chomsky loves Bin Laden

Chomsky and holocaust denial

Deconstructing Chomsky

Chomsky and Indochina

The U.S. is a terrorist state - Chomsky

Chomsky on Iran

Chomsky on Venezuela

Kosovo and North Korea - Chomsky

Chomsky Quotes -

“If it were true that the consequences of not using terror would be that the peasantry in Vietnam would continue to live in the state of the peasantry of the Philippines, then I think the use of terror would be justified.”
(Alexander Klein, ed., Dissent, Power and Confrontation [McGraw-Hill, 1971], p. 119)



“Jews in the US are the most privileged and influential part of the population... privileged people want to make sure they have total control, not just 98% control. That’s why antisemitism is becoming an issue.”
(Variant, Scotland, Winter 2002)



“I see no antisemitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers, or even denial of the holocaust.”
(Quadrant, Australia, October 1981)

“in comparison to the conditions imposed by US tyranny and violence, East Europe under Russian rule was practically a paradise.”
(Letter, in Alexander Cockburn, The Golden Age Is In Us [Verso, 1995], pp. 149-151)


(on 9/11) “for the first time in history the victims are returning the blow to the motherland.”
(La Jornada, Mexico, September 15, 2001)




Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Incredible Billy Stewart



Everywhere a sign.

I guess that I should write something.

Hmmm. What the hell is interesting out there that I haven't already killed a thousand times?
Boehner, Bachmann, Governor Walker, too easy targets and besides, I'm off of politics for a while.

I did think it was cool that the tea party formed an alliance with the democrats and defunded one of Speaker Boehner's pet projects, the F-35 jet engine that nobody from the Pentagon wanted. So what if we lose some Ohio jobs, right John? What was it that you said the other day, so be it? If only they could have shot down Shelby too. Maybe this thing will get interesting...

***

Minnesota Dem Betty McCollum is getting death threats for going after a very sacred cow - stripping Nascar teams of Pentagon sponsorship. She had to alert Capitol Police after receiving a fax with the message "Yo, Slut Betty," "Shut Your Phucking Pie Hole!" The fax then reads "without exception, Marxists are enemies of the Constitution" and "Death To All Marxists, Foreign And Domestic!" 

McCollum's proposal seeks to ban the military from spending taxpayer money on racing sponsorships. Currently, the Army sponsors a car in the NASCAR's Sprint Cup series to the tune of about $7 million per year. Total military expenditures on racing run past $30 million. Similar to the post office's huge and wasteful expenditures on Lance Armstrong's racing team.

Her Chief of Staff Bill Harper says that they are fielding lots of calls. "Lots of Mississippi people, North Carolina people. We had a Florida person."

Guess she will have to learn not to mess with Bubba.

***

I am starting to read up on the philosophy of structuralism. I was reading a book on semiotics and sort of tapped into structuralism.

Semiotics, the study of signs and symbols comes from the greek σημειωτικός, (sēmeiōtikos), "observant of signs." John Locke wrote about Semiotics in his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1690. But the real father of the philosophic pursuit was Charles Sanders Pierce who in the 19th Century defined the "quasi-necessary, or formal doctrine of signs", which abstracts "what must be the characters of all signs used by...an intelligence capable of learning by experience", and which is philosophical logic pursued in terms of signs and sign processes.

Pierce referred to three kinds of signs - iconic signs, or those that clearly represent the objects they represent (like the above road sign), indexical signs, which represent concepts that we associate with a particular sign (like a falling rock sign) and symbolic signs whose meanings are determined by convention e.g. a skull or hazardous sign.

Charles Morris followed Pierce and extended the discipline beyond human communication to animal learning and the use of signals.

The founding father of semiotics was the swiss linguist Ferdinand De Saussere (1857-1913) who identified two parts of a sign - the signifier, or actual sign itself and the signified, the conceptual meaning ascribed to it.

Semiotics breaks signs into three major categories, semantics, syntactics and pragmatics. Semantics is the way that signs relate to that which they refer. Syntactics deals with the way that words relate to each other and the formal components of sign structure. Pragmatics relates to signs' effects on people.

If you look at the photograph that I post above, you will see a picture of a sign that I took off Interstate 40. The very elementary fonts are designed to be understood on the most primitive level when whizzing by at 80 mph. Information transfer in its most basic form. Eat and Gas. Highly effective in its most primal and simplistic modality.

Structuralism is a concept championed by the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. It analyzes the human condition semiotically, as a system of signs. Strauss believed that this underlying language affects man in a very direct way, no matter what culture we happen to spring from.

First, that a structure determines the position of each element of a whole. Second, that every system has a structure. Third, structural laws deal with co-existence rather than change. Fourth, structures are the "real things" that lie beneath the surface or the appearance of meaning. One of the tenets of structuralism is that it be understood that these structures are not concrete manifestations of reality, but cognitive models of reality.

Not to belabor this exercise in pointy headed intellectualism but one of the main precepts of structuralist and post structuralist theory is the concept of binary opposition. The pairs in the structural system are either similar or opposite.  Man/woman, good/evil, civilized/savage, white/black, all are broken down to the elementary binary dichotomy.  But the kicker is that one of the polarized partners is usually dominant,  hence we now live in a culture that tends to favor conservative, straight, white men.

I find structuralism pretty interesting, as well as its connections with structural linguistics and phonemics. As different as cultures seem, we are all remarkably similar when viewed through the structuralist prism. Silly hairless apes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Insane

Merle Travis performs "Lost John"

Tuesday Tsoris

Nice to see Obama decide to cut financial aid to the poor for heating oil. His conversion is almost complete. What do we get next? Puppy Stomping?

***

In Iran today, 1500 opposition leaders have been arrested. Ruling party members are calling for public execution of the opposition. I am waiting for Noam Chomsky to defend his Iranian pals again.

The Chomster Mumzer

***

Julian Assange is all atwitter over the release of trial documents regarding his sexual molestation case in Sweden. He is demanding that his records be sealed. Come again, Julian, you believe in confidentiality all of a sudden?

***

The Chamber of Commerce has hired some real scumbags from the defense and intelligence business to slur and defame their political enemies. Of course all the senior staff is pleading total ignorance. Compartmentalization. It's a beautiful thing.


***

Curveball admits that all that WMD stuff was bullshit.

***

Anyone with half a brain knew that all the election time GOP "big tent" language was bullshit as well. It didn't take long for them to throw the gay republican GoProud group right off of the bus. Although the Log Cabinites were pretty pathetic in believing them in the first place.

***

This is me eating the last shortbread cookie from the French Laundry this afternoon.





Taj Mahal - Queen Bee

Week in Review

The northland trip was successful. I got back last night. It was beautiful all week in the Bay Area. I was rooming with my normal buddy Cam, who is a bit of a lush, but managed to only start off only one day with shots, so we did not descend into our normal alcoholic stupor.

I don't have a lot to say, since I am fighting a bit of writer's block. Hardly took a picture either. However a few rich vignettes from the week do seem to rise to the surface of my memory.  We stayed at the Crown Plaza in Foster City (a city that rose like the phoenix from the garbage dumps a few decades ago.) There was a loud wedding, party or function every night. On Saturday, returning from dinner, we returned to the hotel to find a pretty but bombed out young girl sitting on the sidewalk path to the hotel, with a pool of puke on one side and her mascara running down her face. She had evidently peed her pants as well. Her friends were comforting her. Cam, in a most compassionate voice, tisked," We've all been there honey." Wish that I had my camera as she looked like one of the painted marionette dolls from Night Gallery.

***

The show is probably the largest antique show on the west coast, but has shrunken considerably in the last five or six years. Where it once was two large halls with a slough of side rooms, now it barely fills one hall. Dealers have retired, died or given up the business. There are a variety of factors, including the internet, recession and a lack of interest in things antique on the part of the younger generation.

Where I was once one of the green rookies in the business, I have suddenly turned into one of the old grey beards. When and how in the hell did this happen?

***

I heard from a lot of Blast readers at the show. Got an earful from a couple that I had stopped sending it to. I sort of handpick who is going to get the Blast, figuring that people can bookmark the site if they want to, not wanting to constantly inundate everybody with my stream. But a few take umbrage when they are missed. Do I create a master list and hit everybody, risking alienating people with my verbosity, or continue to just mail it to you ever so often?

It is also interesting to me that certain people tell me that they like the personal stuff the best, while others tell me that they just want the political or hard edged stuff and dread the personal. Some come only for the music. Some come for the food. Some just want to savor the delicious and witty repartee. I know that I obviously can't please everybody and will just keep trying to tread the delicate line and give you both barrels to the best of my ability.

***

I went out to a bar in Burlingame on night with a few of the guys. A rather large and very forward woman quite openly signaled her availability to me. I graciously declined but sincerely appreciated the offer. Always nice to be asked.

***

I stopped at my normal hotel stop in Santa Nella on the way back. There was a loud cacophony of shrieking sound over the hotel that I had never heard before. On closer inspection I saw that it was a huge  flock of starlings. It was Hitchcockian and intense. They were shitting everywhere and you couldn't even touch the handrails. Creepy. If it had been my hotel I think that I would have pulled out the shotguns. They have raised their price twenty bucks and stopped taking coupons, so I may have to find a new resting spot.

***

Took a tiny bit of guff about my "trip to the Castro." Will only say that I think there should be a spot for J.Edgar Hoover and Clyde on the Rainbow Walk as well.

***

Saw my Dad on the way back. He may have a tumor behind his eye. It is shut and he won't stop itching it. He is in a sort of V.A. hospice daycare. He doesn't know my name but did call me son, which was nice. I hope that he has a soft landing as well. I appreciate my stepmother's devotion so much and don't know what we would do without her.

***

A rush is falling asleep in the second lane only to wake up and find that you are still alive and driving 75 miles per hour. Three occasions yesterday. I stopped and took a short nap.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rainbow Honor Walk

Isak Lindenauer is a friend in San Francisco. He is also one of the preeminent antique dealers in the country, specializing in arts and crafts and early twentieth century decorative arts. Isak is a rare bird in that he is one of the few antique dealers in this day and age that engages in serious scholarship, having written and researched extensively on early San Francisco artisans like August Tiesselinck and Dirk Van Erp. I have always respected his impeccable taste and his devotion to the aesthetic period that he loves.

Isak is also very active in the gay community. His shop is located in the heart of the Castro at 4143 19th St. SE in San Francisco.

Isak recently contacted me about a project he has been heavily involved in for the last two years, the Rainbow Honor Walk. He is the founder and co-chair with David Perry of an all volunteer steering committee which is shepherding this project forward. With the unanimous support of the full San Francisco Board of Supervisor and the Department of Public Works, they are working to establish a sidewalk honor walk to celebrate the accomplishments of the LBGT community. Here are the first twenty names to be placed on the walk:

Jane Addams (1860-1935)
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
George Choy (1960-1993)
Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
Keith Haring (1958-1990)
Harry Hay (1912-2002)
Sylvester James (1947-1988)
Christine Jorgensen (1926-1989)
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Del Martin (1921-2008)
Yukio Mishima (1925-1970)
Bayard Rustin (1912-1987)
Randy Shilts (1951-1994)
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
Alan Turing (1912-1954)
Tom Waddell (1937-1987)
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

The group is moving towards getting a 501 C-3 non profit tax designation. They are currently working with the Castro Benefits District board as a sponsor so they can accept tax deductible donations in the interim. They have a website - rainbowhonorwalk.org and are on Facebook - rainbowhonorwalk.com where they hope all supporters will "friend" the project to spread the word.

If you are interested in helping them, donations and correspondence may be mailed to:
Rainbow Honor Walk
584 Castro Street, #113
San Francisco, California 94114
Tax Deductible Donations may be made to the "Castro Community Benefit District" and notated for "Rainbow Honor Walk" at the bottom of the check.

Flying Dragon

I have been helping an elderly couple dispose of their estate for the last several months. They bought exquisite oriental pieces in the 1950's and 60's. Last month I sold a rare chinese recumbent elephant for them. They recently consigned this magnificent japanese cloisonné dragon vase. It is quite large, standing approximately 11" tall and 9" square.

The early gilt wire piece dates to about 1870-1880 and was probably made in Nagoya. I found a similar vase on the cover of an old japanese cloisonné book. The work was painstaking and precise with each color fired separately. Some of the cells have inherent color changes which must have been quite difficult to achieve. The inner construction is precise and superb and even the bottom is intricately finished.

I am displaying the piece at San Francisco and thought I better take pictures before it leaves. It is one of the finest objects that I have ever had.

Thin Line Between Love And Hate

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mean Streets


I bought this great 24 x 30" oil of these young ladies in the mission district yesterday. I believe that they may be girl scouts trying to sell some cookies. A man came by and told me that the location was 18th and South Van Ness in the Mission District of San Francisco. Whiz Burgers is in the background. I think that the feel of the painting is early seventies from the cars and the brushwork.

I can't make the signature, something like Juva maybe. The seller told me that it was purchased from a gallery originally. Kind of Hopper meets Thiebaud. Really dig.



***

Last night Melissa and Gary came down to the South Bay to join me for dinner. We picked an old warhorse, The Iron Gate in Belmont. The Iron Gate is one of those elegant restaurants of yesteryear where tuxedo clad staff deliver old world service. Decidedly Ratpack. It is the kind of place to take your parents, something I did when my father was able. 

Salads are made tableside and lots of dishes are flambe'd. Foster, Jubilee, curbside caesar's. Chateaubriand. It is a charming place to enjoy a swank evening. 

Last night we started off with escargot, which was delicious. Gary and Melissa split a spinach salad which was torched tableside. I had a great bowl of minestrone. They brought out nice blackberry sorbet's between courses. We ordered our entree's and then things started to get weird.

There was a couple sitting right behind us with serious issues. He was a thirtysomething mediterranean sort that might have driven a Transam or Vette. Ring on his thumb, a real dandy. Very well dressed but quite subordinate companion in a black and white houndstooth coat. The vibes were getting really bad as he started letting her have it. Very dark cat. They ordered steak diane and then decided they didn't want it, than they did again . He decided to be a nasty prick. People started turning their heads. Suddenly it rose to a crescendo as he started pounding his cutlery on the table shouting "fuck, fuck, fuck!" The poor girl paid the bill and hustled him out as the rest of us shook our heads in bewilderment.

We got our entrees. I had sand dabs that were off menu. My favorite fish, they were lightly battered, flavorful and just perfect. Melissa had a New York steak and Gary had veal saltimbocca. Her steak came out overcooked and she sent it back. The next one was tough. Gary was happy with his dish as was I. 

We ended the meal with delicious soufleés, both grand marnier and chocolate.  They couldn't have been better. Our waiter's were attentive and charming. There is no nouvelle to be found at the Iron Gate. The same chef for the last two decades. Nothing ever changes. A clientele on the far side of the AARP divide. If you want a nice dinner and an old school evening in a classy joint that is showing it's age a bit, check out this neat restaurant. Next time I want to try the Tournedos Rossini with truffles and pate.


Governor Brown

I have always been a big Jerry Brown guy, but the California Governor is impressing me anew with his tough, no nonsense attitude.

I applaud his going after the redevelopment agencies. I have worked with various redevelopment agencies in my years as a developer and contractor and my brother and father's firm had extensive dealings with them. Never have I seen fiefdoms so rife with fraud and favoritism. With no practical oversight. The blight designations can be totally spurious. Not all redevelopment agencies are bad but I can recall more than a couple that were borderline criminal. I think that the Governor is on the right track in seeking these deep painful cuts.

He also is stopping the ex governator's plan to sale/leaseback 11 state owned buildings - a move the independent Legislative Analyst says will cost the state about 6 billion smackeroos.

And he flew coach down to Los Angeles the other day and used his senior discount.

Way to go, Jerry!

and yes, I know... he nailed Ronstadt too.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Doctor Robert

I drove up to the Bay Area again yesterday, stopping off to stay with the greatest chef I know, Melissa Rossi and her boyfriend Gary in Berkeley. I was burnt out from the drive and we stayed home and had a simple supper.


They are hooked on the new Showtime series Shameless with William Macy and Joan Cusack and we watched it on demand. What a great freaking show. I am not a television guy and it's probably a good thing but I really recommend this frenetic series. I believe that there have been five shows since the series debut in early January.


It was hard because Melissa wanted to talk and whatever is going on with me has made it hard for me to communicate, recently. It's like something weird is happening inside my brain. And people are reacting very strangely to me. I said hello to two young chicanos in front of my store and one of them yelled and called me a puta. A little while later I repeated my entreaty with two older latina women and they acted like I wasn't even there. Another odd response happened this evening while checking into my hotel. I think I may need some quiet time by myself to get my mojo back. My circuits are obviously misfiring.


***


A friend came by the shop the other day to tell me that his wife had gone two years between mammograms and had been recently diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer. She is going to undergo a radical double mastectomy this week and then a particularly nasty chemo for a year. I wish her the very best. Women need to have regular mammograms. Catch these things as early as possible.


I started trying to relay any wisdom I had gleaned from fighting various cancers for the last 25 years. It is harder for my friend as his wife is gluten intolerant and the diet will be more difficult. But a few suggestions from me:


1. Eat a banana every day in the hospital. Hospital rooms seem to suck out all your potassium.
2. Don't be afraid to ask for crackers. Graham crackers are very nice.
3. Take charge of your recovery. Don't lay it on a doctor, no matter how wonderful he or she is. They say commitment is like bacon and eggs. The chicken (or doctor) has a certain level of commitment, but the pig is all in. You are the pig and it's your life. After the fifth recurrence of my bladder, kidney and ureter cancer, I found a new doctor, pissing off a very good friend. He got over it. It was the right thing to do.
4. Take as little pain medication as you possibly can. If you can tolerate it and can get over your moral qualms, smoke or ingest marijuana. I went through my last kidney removal on an aspirin and joints. My pain level never rose above two on a ten scale. Ditto my mitral valve heart surgery. When they put me on narcotics my pain level was always at eight or nine, my body craving more dilaudid and convincing me I was in pain. Pot helps you detach and view your predicament as more of a third party. Best thing around for nausea too.
5. Marinol is worthless. They pull everything fun out of pot and leave you with a stupid round pill that does nothing. Don't bother.
6. It is my experience that cancer patients all make up two lists during their travails: those that should have been there and never showed and one for those that came unannounced out of the blue and helped immensely. Let them help.
7. Kubler Ross talked about the five classic ways we react to grief - anger, denial,  bargaining, depression and acceptance. I reacted with anger. Lo and behold a Texas hospital did a study and found that angry people lived longer. It is okay to be pissed off.
8. When I first got sick in 1985, I got this huge lust for plums. They were bringing lugs in to the hospital room. Couldn't get enough of them. About a year later I was listening to a cancer doctor on the radio who said that they had found an acid under the skin of plums that helped fight cancer. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs!
9. After two or three years of not getting much better, I went to the biomedical library at UCSD and found every research study being done on my particular cancer everywhere in the world. I ended up seeing Dr. Sheldon Hendler in La Jolla and smuggling an unapproved drug up from Mexico, isoprinosine, as well as some other cutting edge stuff. I was getting lymphocyte enumeration panels from Specialty Labs and was able to chart my own t-cell recovery. I became part of a BCG research study. Do what ever you have to do, you have one life!
10. Tell the people you love that you love them. Don't be a day late.
11. If you need a long term i.v. try to get it in the arm instead of the hand. After a few days, hand placements can really hurt.
12. In my experience, the cancer itself never hurt. The stints hurt, the attrition of anesthesia and the whole hospital grind, sweaty sheets, becoming a human pinata, etc., but the cancer did not. But I was lucky enough to go through an immunotherapy program instead of chemo, there may be pain involved there.
13. If you do go through chemo, you may come back with curly hair.
14. Once you've had the visit from Mister C, you spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder.
15. Cancer is obviously not an automatic death sentence. Cure rates have risen dramatically and many people who have faced the same cancers you may be facing are living long, rich, productive lives. Nevertheless some people may want to come around and start administering last rites. They tend to suck all of the oxygen out of the room. I kicked my own mother out of the hospital when I had my first surgery for indulging in this maudlin behavior. You may have to temporarily excise negative people from your life. On the flip side, on some occasions, certain asshole friends who you may have thought that you could count on, will now avoid you like the plague, as if the stuff was contagious. Let them go too.


I don't talk about my cancer experience much on the blog but it was a pivotal event of my life. I honestly can tell you that cancer was one of the greatest blessings that I have ever had. Because it taught me how to live for the moment. I never knew how long I had to live but I did know that I was going to live whatever life I had left to the fullest, on my terms. My friend John Favors told me that he loved me the other day and that he is choosing to surround himself with people who have faced death in their lives. An interesting perspective. I think that the prospect of facing death helped strengthen me. A few years ago I found out that I had less than a ten percent chance of making it three years after my initial diagnosis. Ha, I fooled them. But I did mention that if I knew that my chances were so shitty, I would have taken better care of myself.


I hope that all of you stay well. If anyone ever needs to talk about anything that they are going through physically privately with me, I am here for you. Once you have gotten the big C, you are part of my family. I want to help you in any way that I can.


Peace and Health.

Monday, February 7, 2011

54-46 was my number

I have come not to bury them but to praise them...


Interesting couple of days. It has been a really good month in the shop and I leave again for San Francisco this week for another show. Wanted to offer a few thoughts.

***

In the spirit of fair play a few commendations are in order.

To George Bush, who said that America was in danger of becoming a nativist country and who seemed to be speaking counter to many in his party. The article here.  He has been an excellent former president, never taken shots at his successor and has been a voice of reason and tolerance lately.
"My point is, we've been through this kind of period of isolationism, protectionism, nativism," he said. "I'm a little concerned that we may be going through the same period. I hope that these "isms" pass," he said, adding that it would allow the U.S. a more orderly look at immigration policy.Bush said growing up in Texas gave him the opportunity to interact with different cultures."We ought to welcome people from different cultures to America," he said.
***

To William Kristol, conservative editor of the Weekly Standard for calling out Glenn Beck for fear mongering.
When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He's marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.

It is nice to hear from moderate republicans who are willing to brook the zanies and have the intellectual integrity to take a temperate stance in these matters.

***

And across the pond a nasty little skuffle is brewing between the British government, who have had enough of their muslim citizens and guests fomenting terrorist attacks at their doorstop and the typical mamby pamby bleeding heart liberals at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch who never met a terrorist they didn't love. An interesting article here in the DailyMail.

Apparently an Al Qaeda operative named Abid Naseer who came to Britain as a student and was ruled guilty of being complicit in attack planning of a bombing at the Arndale Centre in Manchester, England  and planned subway attacks in New York is fighting extradition to Pakistan on the grounds that he may be tortured.
Last May, a court ruled Al Qaeda operative Abid Naseer and his accomplice Ahmad Faraz Khan could not be deported because it would infringe their human rights.
The pair were planning a 'mass casualty attack', probably against shoppers at the Arndale Centre in Manchester over the Easter holiday last year.
But judges said Naseer, 24, and 26-year-old Faraz Khan - who came to Britain as students - should not be sent back to Pakistan because of the risk they could be tortured.
Critics branded the judgment by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission was 'outrageous' and Home Secretary Theresa May expressed her disappointment.
European judges have turned Britain into a ‘safe haven’ for foreign terrorists, the independent reviewer of anti-terror laws warned yesterday. Lord Carlile said rulings by the European Court of Human Rights had undermined efforts to deport dangerous individuals intent on causing mayhem. The Liberal Democrat peer and QC attacked the court for refusing to allow the risk of harm to British citizens to be weighed in deportation hearings. Instead, only the human rights of the suspected terrorist can be taken into account.

‘The effect [of the court’s rulings] is to make the UK a safe haven for some individuals whose determination is to damage the UK and its citizens – hardly a satisfactory situation save for the purist,’ he said.

Lord Carlile’s comments angered human rights groups. Kate Allen, UK director at Amnesty International said: ‘The global ban on deporting people to countries where they’re at risk of torture exists for a very good reason – to protect us all from the threat of being tortured.’

God save us from these idiots. A bullet would be much cheaper.

***

 Finally a big bronx cheer to the Department of Agriculture for caving to Monsanto and deregulating genetically modified alfalfa (GM) which is resistant to the herbicide Roundup. The Center for Food Safety and other opponents in the scientific community are worried about these strains not being geographically isolated so that they are now free to contaminate all the natural strains. Power of the agribusiness buck trumps common sense once again. This is an accident waiting to happen.

Contamination of organic and traditional crops by recently deregulated, genetically modified alfalfa is inevitable, say experts in the field.
"Some degree of cross-pollination will occur regardless of what mechanism is going to be put in place,"  predicted Jeff Wolt, an agronomist with Iowa State University's Seed Science Center.