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© Robert Sommers 2019

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

You better watch your speed...

One hundred and nineteen years ago today, engineer Jonathan Luther "Casey" Jones died in a train wreck after valiantly saving his fellow workers and passengers.

Jones was piloting the Illinois Central passenger train on a foggy night when it hit a freight train stalled on the tracks in Vaughn, Mississippi.

He was making the famed "Cannonball Run" from Memphis to Canton and it was a dangerous route, known for its tricky curves.

Jones was a teetotaler and a devoted family man, famous for his acumen with the train whistle. It was said that he was so punctual that you could set your watch by the passing of his train. Once saved a small child from the railroad tracks.

In the accident that claimed his life, the only casualty, they had no warnings, saw no flares or fuses. Casey espied the stuck freight train on the track too late, reversed the throttle and applied the brakes but still drove "Ole 382" through a wooden caboose, and three cars laden with hay, corn and timber.

Everybody else jumped off the train but Casey stayed at his post and tried to guide the iron steed to safety before the fateful collision.

His watch stopped at the time of impact, 3:52 a.m.. When they found his lifeless body, his hand was said to be still clutched tightly around the brake and whistle cord.

Zoot Allures

Peregrines


Raptor friend Larry tells me that the adults are sitting on eggs right now or at least they were the other day. I look forward to getting out to the nest soon and seeing what I can capture with my camera. It is always interesting to see the adults teach the juvenile birds aerobatics and watch them engage in airborne food exchanges.

Paula Cole



Jim sent me this. Not very familiar with her. My favorite writer, Roger Zelazny, referenced Cole in one of his books. It is good.

Endgame

I saw the Avengers Endgame movie yesterday. In 3D. I hate to say it but it was a bit meh. Tedious. Too many characters, too many wry one liners, not enough oxygen in the universe. Poor movie only had a $1.2 billion dollar opening, I'm sad for them. Pretty sure a lot of folks genuinely loved it. Looked like a movie designed to tie up a whole bunch of loose ends.  In a little over three hours.


I was a big comics guy as a kid, read the Avengers from issue number one. Even met its creator, Jack "the King" Kirby and got a drawing from him once. Wonderful, brilliant guy. But the Avengers never resonated with me like the X-Men did, at least in their inchoate periods.

Structurally it was always a little difficult for me to balance the powers of your normal everyday superhero with a god, like Thor, who came off as a fairly prissy guy even in the beginning. How do these people manage to play together?

Thor kind of went to seed in this movie, which I sort of enjoyed. Once a buff Asgardian god, now a fat drunk.

Captain America was always a little too rah rah and clean cut for my hirsute personality. Always loved Vision and Dr. Strange, especially the Steranko stuff.

I stopped reading probably late seventies, after Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch but before She Hulk and Captain Marvel entered the Avenger family.

Captain Marvel is getting a lot of play as the toughest and most potent of all the superheroes. She has a pretty cool role in this movie, certainly a badass.

To me, the most powerful superhero of all has to be Jean Grey, originally Marvel Girl and eventually the Phoenix from X-Men.This woman could destroy universes and nebulas, dissolve matter into neutrons and quarks in the time it takes to brush lint off your collar.

That is the kind of person that you want on your team. Plus she was a hottie.

But she was woefully miscast in the X-Men movies and always looked like she was on the verge of going off on a full blown psychosis. Wasn't a pleasant person to be around. Hormonal. Drama queen.

I don't think Captain Marvel or anybody else would want a piece of her, at least until she went through a little analysis. Think of a pissed off Betty Friedan with superpowers.

The plot on this one plodded. Too much time travel and too many heroes to give any real breadth to.  I don't think I have missed a movie in the franchise but I still can't keep track, who is the lady flying around on Pegasus again?

Thanos reminded me of Alan Alda or Phil Donohue, when he wasn't smiting and conquering worlds he was puttering in his garden, always good for a genocidal killer to work on his softer side. But what's with the grooves in his jaw? Industrial accident? Did he get hit with a rake?

I left the movie thinking that I had just wasted three hours and two minutes of my life that I would never get back.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Five Long Years

Crucible experience, Fallbrook School of the Arts


midnight rambler



I only saw the Stones three times. I could have seen them many more times but the second time was pretty freaking bad in Oakland in 1978.

I took the BART to the Coliseum. Day on the Green. I think that I was with Indian and Richie Patrick, maybe Bobbo Schafer too. Wonder if he is still alive? I have lost touch with so many old chapters of my life.

They played with Peter Tosh, Santana and Eddy Money, who was truly awful. Apparently Toots and the Maytals also played that day but I don't remember them playing and I have a really good memory. And I love them. But no recollection. Strange.

Oddly enough, this was also Mick's birthday, the same day as when I saw the band at Madison Square Garden in 72.

They were a shadow of themselves without Mick Taylor. Don't even remember where I saw them again in the eighties but I remember it sucking so bad that I swore I would never see them again.

So happy to have caught them at their peak. I am sure that Ron Wood is a wonderful guy, it is nothing personal. To me he has a very thin tone, Mick Taylor's was always so full and robust and incredibly lyrical. I never got to see Brian, who was a stellar musician, but when Mick Taylor left, the Stones ceased to be a blues band.

Won't get fooled again.

I love the Who but surprisingly have never seen them live.

Roger and Pete are touring with a backup band and an orchestra this year and I thought about catching a show and scratching them off the old bucket list.

From the Who website:
The Who will also be releasing their first album of new songs in thirteen years later this year. On stage, the line-up will be rounded out by familiar Who players featuring guitarist/backup singer Simon Townshend, keyboardist Loren Gold, bassist Jon Button and drummer Zak Starkey, and complemented by some of the best orchestras in the U.S. and Canada.
I have heard Roger on the radio dissing the new material from Townshend but I don't care, I love the Who. Ringo's kid on drums, Pete's brother on guitar.

For about a hundred dollars a ticket I can get a seat in the nosebleed section of Viejas Arena.

But for better seats you have to shell out some serious dough.

The late John Entwistle


You can get the Who My Generation Soundcheck Experience for a mere $3150 per ticket.

I assume that it comes with limousine service, a hooker and an ounce of peruvian flake.

Seriously I think back to some of the epic shows I have been to in my life and how little I have paid for the privilege.

Rock and roll was a lot more fun when we were paying two, four, six dollars a ticket. That was the cost back when I was a concert going kid. Woodstock was $18.00 before it was free and that was a three day event.

The six hundred thousand fans that came to see the Dead, Band and Allman Brothers at Watkins Glen in 1973 paid ten bucks for their tickets.

I think I paid four dollars to see Jethro Tull, Thick as a brick, still the greatest show I have personally ever witnessed.
My sister Barbara and I saw another amazing show, the Rolling Stones on Mick's birthday at Madison Square Garden, July 26, 1972. Some guy named Stevie Wonder opened for the band. Cost us $6.50 a ticket.

That was a lot of dough back then but now it is freaking ridiculous what they are charging for concert tickets. I don't think it was all about the money back then, there was a different ethos. I guess these guys are all getting on in age and we are now paying for their hip replacements and stints. What the hell happened to "hope I die before I get old?" Guess that didn't happen.

As I recall, I have only paid obscene prices one time and that was for Bowie. Did pay a lot to see the Cream reunion in NYC. I am not going to do it again, not going to pay four hundred dollars per ticket for a decent seat. Would seriously cut in to my fun index.

Can't do it.

Bruce Springsteen

Monday Montage

It is raining today and I can't unload my van yet. Watercolors don't like moisture all that much. I am picking Leslie up at the airport tonight, cleared just enough room for her and her suitcase.

She was in Dallas for our niece's Bat Mitzvah. So the cats and I have been batching it for almost a week. Everybody is doing well but they are getting a little tired of my jokes. I mollify them with canned food and an occasional tummy scratch.

The antique show was good Friday, disastrous Saturday and good again yesterday, better than expected. Needed it. And more.

Our promoter, Michael Grimes, has been wrestling with health issues for a while and ended up visiting the E.R. I hope that he is okay. Snapped this shot of him on my phone looking positively angelic.

Had a steak at Texas Roadhouse Wednesday on the way home. It was surprisingly good, top sirloin and sides, an inexpensive Wednesday night deal. But I was seriously jonesing for a vodka and grapefruit. Didn't scratch that itch, last time it put me in the hospital with my afib. Was sorely tempted. Steak cries for vodka. I just can't do it right now.

Went to Panca, my little Peruvian joint, with Tracy and Stan Thursday night. They said they liked it but I am not really sure if they really did. Had this cool cylindrical appetizer. Causa Limeña.

From the menu; Layers of light and fluffy Ají Amarillo flavored potato, shredded chicken tossed with home-made mayo, avocado slices, hardboiled egg slices and fresh chopped tomato. Pretty and delicious.

Show is shrinking like all the shows. Once filled two big halls, we lost another row. Same story everywhere. In less than five years I predict there will not be a single antique show left in America. As it is they are now half jewelry.

I read this article by a shmegegg named Jay David Bolter this morning, How the elite lost control of art. Mr. Pointyhead seems to think that art as we knew it was elitist and that the new artforms are something like video games and what he calls the "media culture." You can have it.

I had an epiphany one early morning this week. Nature abhors a vacuum. But it loves a good toaster oven. Thanks, we'll be playing here at the Diamond Room all week. Holiday Inn, right off the Turnpike. Remember to tip the piano player.

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Rain is right on time. If we get enough it saves me a hundred or so bucks and all the plants get very happy.
Lox and bagels with Lena and Ronnie yesterday, we continue our long time Sunday pre-show tradition.

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Pretty awful when we reach a point where the rabbi asks you to bring heat to the synagogue services.

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New farm to table restaurant opening across the street. Or it was open and then it wasn't open. Not sure what is going on but want to try it. Bit pricey for this town. Lost my Guatemalan place, they pulled up stakes and moved to Vista. Damn. No more gorditos for Gordito.

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Brandon Gallery is no more. Sad. They were having continual problems with the landlord and the roof and then after 41 years said that they were finally done. Mary T and many others would be very bummed. I will miss them.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Spiders from Mars

I got bit by a spider while out in the field last week. It felt like a sticker in my thigh but I couldn't see anything, thought it was odd. I didn't look down at the spot on my leg for another day or so and sort of freaked out when I finally did.

I was sporting a huge red welt and there was a strange hardness to the skin. Hurt like hell. I put various ointments and antibiotics on the bite, took an antihistamine but it kept getting worse and worse.

Yesterday the redness was about a six inch long by four inch ellipse and I started getting worried. I lanced it and saw that there was a serious infection brewing. I started looking at various bites and I am pretty sure that I was bitten by a brown recluse, one of the nastiest arachnids in North America.

I looked at a bunch of pictures of their bites and they matched perfectly. The problem is that after a week or so, necrosis sometimes sets in and tissue starts dying. Gets real ugly. This morning there was a dark spot in the middle of the bite and I was starting to get scared. They say when it starts going blue or purple you have to get to a doctor.

Leslie applied tea tree oil, which is used against gangrene, and I went to see my doctor tonight. His nurse practitioner has had a lot of experience with brown recluse bites when she worked at Kaiser, she confirmed the culprit.

I refrained from getting a tetanus shot, which is recommended, but did get an oral antibiotic which will hopefully do the trick and also guards against staph.

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I had to laugh tonight when I heard the girl working at CVS tell a coworker that she "didn't have a photogenic memory."

I was reading a column in the Huffington Post the other day, written by one Sam Levine, a University of Chicago graduate, no less. It was riddled with spelling and syntactic errors. I sent a corrected version over and asked them if they still had an editor? An hour later it was mysteriously corrected but I didn't even get a thank you.

Of course you see this sort of thing every day on the internet. Spelling and syntax are so twentieth century.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Kerouac - October in the Railroad Earth

I like Pete

I haven't talked about politics for a while, forgive me for a short shpiel. I was thinking about the fast rise of Pete Buttigieg in the polling and have a few thoughts about his rapid ascent.

I think that one of the many things that scares people about the current occupant of the White House is his mercurial nature.

He was the "disrupter" candidate and turned many governmental institutions and modes of conduct on their collective heads, sometimes in a very frightening way, like his entreaties to North Korea and Moscow or his appeal to white nationalists. These types of actions are contrary to long standing policies and the ethics of either party.

I think that Americans are consciously or subconsciously looking for a candidate that is sober and exhibits a modicum of solidity. A return to normalcy or to the presidency as we once knew it, before Trump.

If you look at the current crop of democratic contenders, with one or two exceptions, they seem like a fairly unremarkable bunch. Quite a few of them are very progressive and promising all sorts of free stuff, Medicare for all, free college tuition, etc.. I think that there is a problem in following the radical Trump agenda with another radical agenda that will merely swing the pendulum heavily in the other direction. The danger is always overreach.

Our country is pretty evenly divided. We need to get back to the center, find some sort of bipartisan solution, a middle ground, having been caught in this polarized political vortex since at least the last Bush administration.

Oddly enough, Pete Buttigieg might be the ideal candidate to bring us together. A mayor, an administrator. A midwesterner, not a member of the coastal elite, not a socialist, a man of faith and conviction. Clean cut, articulate, sound. Steady. A Rhodes Scholar, a war veteran, a man courageous enough to be out in Indiana. I think he will have a strong appeal to the heartland, sexual orientation notwithstanding. He also has generational traction because of his relative youth.

If a pussy grabbing schmuck like Trump can be President, a lying narcissist who received $413 million dollars from his father (when adjusted for inflation), whose real estate businesses went bankrupt six times, was a party to over 1450 legal actions as a defendant, discriminated against minorities, stiffed his subcontractors repeatedly, purportedly committed tax fraud, cheated on his ex wives repeatedly and on the current one while she was pregnant, grifted the public with a fraudulent for profit college scam, and used the presidency as a way to get rich with fat emoluments while dissuading any legal oversight, than I think Pete can too. If America can survive a shyster, it can certainly do worse than a small town mayor.

I like Swalwell as well, although he doesn't seem to be getting much of a lift. Nobody knows who he is. Not a big Kamala Harris fan after the way she seemed to protect Jerry Brown from coming clean about his dalliances with the power companies. The Picker/Poland stuff, never did get to see the emails.

Don't trust Bernie, Biden a bit long in the tooth and getting longer. Klobuchar is pretty good but has a reputation for being a bitch to her staff. Booker seems like a phony to me. Hate Gabbard on foreign policy, think Warren will only continue our uncivil war. Will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

I think I am on board.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Light in the desert


Nottamun Town

Easter, Long Beach


We sold our stuff out at the Long Beach Flea Market yesterday. That means setting the clock for two, being on the road at three and after an hour and a half ride sitting in a long line of trucks and vans that makes a serpentine crawl around Veterans Stadium in the crisp dawn air.

Set up in the dark. Pull out the boxes and tables, maybe try to get some of the early dealer business.

I used the boundary chain link fence to hang paintings and drawings on, we pitched up our tent and got down to business.

After a show last week in San Francisco which failed to fire with a booth of expensive artwork, I needed to get back to the pavement and actually sell again, this time with artwork that commanded one, five, ten and twenty dollar increments.

Try to humble myself, make transactions. Move stuff.

Was only mildly successful yesterday, it was Easter and Passover after all and a lot of people didn't show, missed a lot of regulars. But did meet some old customers, and sold some things. Had fun.

I only do the swap meet a couple times a year but people seem to remember me and it is a totally different type of customer than those who come to the indoor shows. A young and edgy crowd, slightly off kilter, easy to like.

Warmboe was in the next space, he says I have a totally different attitude out on the asphalt and he is right, I revert to the carnival barker, nothing to lose, loose patois that I just can't summon up in a stuffy old building. Actually have a good time.

Long Beach is always a freak show, and doubly so on a holiday. Lots of rabbit ears and costumes yesterday. At least I think they are costumes.

I brought a camera along but hardly took any shots. It's a great place to catch characters and faces. I was just too busy to focus on photography.

I was using a difficult lens, my nikkor 55mm ƒ1.2 and got very few keepers. This is the film lens that I had converted to work with my D850 digital.

It is a manual focus lens and shooting wide open is difficult if you are not nailing the proper focal plane. Missed exposure and focus, shots were soft. I should have narrowed it down. Should have taken more time and care. But I didn't.

Oh well, failure is my middle name. Next time I bring the nikkor 85mm 1.8. Far more forgiving.

I was in my cultural anthropologist mode driving in to work today and I was thinking about humans. So many cultures believe in religion or a higher power of some kind.

I think that it is maybe because life is such a struggle, so bleak for so many, without the prospect of a resurrection or better life ahead in this life or in the hereafter people would simply lose hope.

Not be able to put their shoes on in the morning. Things have to get better, right? So invent what you have to invent, believe what you need to believe, whatever gets you through the day and long night.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Del Mar setup starts the day after tomorrow.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Parisian Redo

South Rose Window, Notre Dame
People are very upset about the fire at Notre Dame and justifiably so. What a terrible loss. It is an incredible building with stunning stained glass. But in the final analysis, it is a building, and in a design sense, let's be frank, it was strictly outre.

On a slightly different subject; in my mind, the toll of the conflagration doesn't come close to the enormity of the tragedy at the Bataclan in Paris in 2015, the terrorist attack that killed 89 people. Buildings can be replaced, it is much more difficult, if nigh impossible, to replace people.

catacombs
My understanding is that it was time to give the eight hundred year old bird a facelift anyway. We're in the 21st century now, my god. Get with the times. Au revoir, already.

I hear that they are going to lean heavily on chrome and split faced travertine in the upgrade, try to go a little bit danish modern. Lots of teak. Wouldn't kill them to put up a little wallpaper either. Maybe something metallic?

And all that religious stuff? I don't know about you but I think it's a real downer. Why not lighten it up? I'm thinking coral and pistachio with subtle notes of graphite.

Overstuffed pews in pony hide would be a nice way to go too. Some of that slick Italian lighting. Corian for sure. Let Damien Hirst do the new windows. Maybe throw in a little Walter Keane. Should be very exciting. Time to swing, no?

Friday, April 19, 2019

Dreadlock Holiday

Portrait from San Francisco


I asked this man to smile for the camera. He told me that he was smiling.

S.F. Eats

Had some interesting eats in San Francisco. Stuck around the South Bay mostly. First night out with Loughlin in Burlingame, we went to Sapore Italiano. This is Michael's favorite local restaurant, it was my second visit there. I arrived a few minutes late, very hard to find parking on Burlingame avenue. We started off with brushcetta and arancini for appetizers.

I ordered veal scallopine a la marsala, Michael chose the veal piccata. Although the food was certainly delicious and the place is wonderful, clean and airy, I thought the food was a little better on my first visit. The arancini was slightly underdone. My marsala sauce was a bit heavy, Michael's piccata was better than mine. Still an excellent meal, hard to go wrong there.

Second night out was with Rick. I have been jonesing for Peruvian food lately. We tried to get into Limon Rotisserie in Burlingame but it was absolutely packed. It looked a little bit fancy but we were after all, in the very affluent town of Burlingame and most everything is upscale. Maybe I will try another time, did not feel like waiting.

Instead we walked around the block and decided to go for Burmese food at Rangoon Ruby. It is right next door to another Burmese restaurant, an older one, I bet they loved the newcomer moving in next door. In fact there are a whole bunch of Burmese places in the San Francisco area, never seen a concentration like this anywhere.

Rangoon Ruby is a small chain, they also strangely enough also own a Peruvian restaurant in Belmont. They stuck us way in the back, past a door in the other room, perhaps afraid that my unkept hair and scruffy demeanor would scare off the landed gentry.

I ordered Burmese curried pork, Rick is having a tough time physically with spice, he had a pumpkin stew of some kind. I ordered moderate heat, Rick said no heat and his dish turned out sort of bland but flavorful. My meal was good and the coconut rice was delicious. I am not very well acquainted with this cuisine but it is definitely different than thai and worth getting to know better,

Afterwards we decided to do something about Rick's late in life sweet tooth and found a place called MK Crepe Island that served crepes and ice cream. Our server was Cambodian, they also served Banh Minh. The French were around those parts for so long of course they can make crepes although mine was a little thick and chewy and served like an ice cream cone. It hit the spot.

I had been thinking about Peruvian all week. Made up my mind to get some even if I had to go alone. No need. Faithful friend Rick was on board. Lots of places within a couple miles of the show, we settled on Mancora Cebicheria.  The restaurant was spartan but very authentic. In fact we may have been the only gringos around in the packed joint.

Now I am far from an expert on this cuisine but I really have enjoyed my limited exposure. I ordered my mainstay, aji gallina, Rick had seco norteño, a braised lamb shank cooked in beans, white rice, cilantro beer broth and onion sarsa. We traded bites, mine was good, although half the size I get at Panca in Oceanside, his was simply over the top fabulous. Had a salad and savory empanadas too.

The root of my love for this cuisine is that delicious little pepper, the aji amarillo, there is nothing else in the world quite like it. My dish was slightly different than what I am used to, they use walnuts instead of pecans in the sauce and add olives as a garnish. Both versions great.

Next time I am up I will try one of the other places although we both will certainly come back. Dessert was picarones, a deep fried sweet potato with powdered sugar and syrup. And flan. Excellent.

Pizza one night at Kerry's. Old dear friend with incredible sound system. Decent pie, if a bit overloaded with olives.

Sunday night I went to dry up my tears after a crappy show and decided to visit my old reliable South San Francisco food hangout, Grand and Linden. But where to eat? XLB kitchen was so bad last time out that I think I am finally done with it, gloppy chow fun and very shitty attitude on the part of the staff. Too many other places to get xiao long bao without the tsoris.

I thought about Ben tre, the delightful Vietnamese place on the corner but settled on Grand Palace Seafood Restaurant, a big, ornate Chinese affair that does dim sum during the day. Wouldn't kill me to try something new. I ordered a prime rib chow fun with XO sauce and a combination barbecue platter, a lot of food.

The chow fun was pretty good, the barbecue plate was very creepy. The roast pork was delicious and identifiable, very crispy on top, the rest of the stuff looked like it crawled out of the deep. I asked what the stuff was, no one could or would tell me. One item looked like a brain cross section. Eech! Sort of ran out of there.

Had a nice breakfast with Warmboe, Cam and Diana at Nini's coffeeshop the next morning. Good food and a nice patio where we dined.

Later on Dave took me to a place in the Haight called Bacon Bacon which was not very impressive. People may love it, and apparently they do, but my grilled cheese and bacon sandwich with bacon jam tasted rancid and the coffee in the jam was slightly off putting. Hype, not flavor.


Nice to hang out with my buddy. So this was a different trip for me, no Creola, no New England Lobster Company, no Iron Gate, no Koi Palace, still I managed to eat pretty well all in all. And thanks to all of you who picked up the check.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Missing one old coot


Tiken Jah Fakoly - Max Romeo



Pat sent me this from across the Atlantic.

Rick



And the dawn don't rescue me no more...

Ramblings

I am selling an amazing work by Susan Ricker Knox. It is a scene of Ellis Island painted in 1921, the ninth painting of a thirty two painting exhibition that hung in the United States Capital that year.

It is titled The lonely refugee. The subtitle on the back is Czechs, Italians and Jews coming to America. Lots of labels, extensive provenance.

There was an anti immigrant hysteria in America around that time. Sound familiar? This artist from Bar Harbor, Maine obviously felt their plight. My mother's family came the following year from Moldova, the terrible Kishinev pogrom a horrible memory. I appreciate the help of the artist in illustrating their arrival.

I think that this is a significant painting, although it is not very expensive. Its message is powerful. Do you notice that it is titled refugee singular instead of refugees? Our eyes go to the forlorn woman in the red babushka. What is she fleeing? What has she seen?

Anyhow the reason I bring the painting up is that a man came up to the show and said he really liked it. Have known he and his wife for decades but they only talk, never buy. So he sent his wife over and she considered it for a moment and then shared that the refugees just weren't quite happy enough. And I had to bite my fucking lip not to say something very unpleasant. And I didn't.

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Was talking about history repeating itself at the show, like is happening with immigration and somebody said something that I really like but I will be damned if I remember who she was... But she said something very clearly - History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes. I like that.

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Rick gave me something to ponder at one of our dinners, not sure if it is true. He said that in his experiences, people that smoke pot think that they are always right. Debatable. Rick doesn't smoke, I do occasionally. Do I think I am always right? No, just about 97% of the time.

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Funny thing at the show, I watched Persian people buying shiny objects like mad from the blingy booth across from me at Hillsborough and couldn't help but think of magpies. Wish I had a taste for that stuff but I don't. What was Polonius always going around saying? To thine own self be true. What a curse that can be. Would gladly sell my soul to the highest bidder, I can't even get a shitty offer.

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Hard to believe that my sister would be fifty two if she was alive today. She died on this very day in 1983, not even sixteen. Ten years and one day younger than me.

Must have been in the back of my mind today.

Separate and unequal


Bill Warmboe gave me a copy of geographer Jared Diamond's article The Global Peril of Inequality when I was up in San Francisco. Diamond is a professor at UCLA and wrote the Pultizer winning book Guns, Germs and Steel. Food for thought when considering the factors that influence migration waves.

The essay is fascinating. It was published last December in National Geographic. Let me know if you get hit with a paywall and I will scan it and post it word for word. He points out that rich countries have average incomes about 100 times bigger than the poorest countries.
The ... result when inequality and globalization collide is that people with spartan lifestyles want affluent ones. In most developing countries, increasing living standards is a top policy goal. But millions of people in those countries won’t wait to see whether their government can deliver higher living standards within their lifetime.
Instead they seek more affluent lifestyles now by immigrating to developed countries, with or without visas: especially to western Europe, the United States, and Australia; and especially from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Whether immigrants are seeking economic opportunity, a haven from violence, or political asylum, it’s proving impossible to control recent waves of migration around the world.
For a long time the disparity in income and resources went unnoticed but with social media and communication the poor now know what they are missing and they are understandably pretty pissed. Because they are honestly never going to get a seat at the table. There are simply not enough chairs.
Global inequality itself isn’t the direct cause of terrorist acts. Religious fundamentalism and individual psychopathology play essential roles. Every country has its crazy, angry individuals driven to kill; poor countries have no monopoly on them. But in poor countries today, people are barraged with media visions of lifestyles that are available elsewhere in the world and unavailable to them. In anger and desperation, some become terrorists themselves; others tolerate or support terrorists.
Diamond predicts more big terrorist attacks, as long as big differences in living standards and resource allocation persist.
We promise developing countries that if they just adopt good policies such as honest government, they too can enjoy affluence—but that promise is a cruel hoax. The world doesn’t contain enough resources. We’re already having difficulty supporting a developed-world lifestyle now, when only about one billion people of the world’s 7.5 billion enjoy it.
The pie is only so big. So what do we do?
...it won’t be possible for everyone to achieve the dream of the developed-world lifestyle. Just do the math.
An average consumption rate per person means the amount of oils and other resources that the average person consumes a year. In rich countries those rates are up to 30 times as high as they are in poor countries.
Multiply each country’s current population by its average per-person consumption rate for a resource—say, oil—and add up those amounts over the whole world. The resulting sum is the world’s current consumption rate of that resource.
Now repeat that calculation, but with all developing countries achieving consumption rates up to 30 times as high as their current ones.
The result: World consumption rates increase by about 10-fold. That’s equivalent to a world population of nearly 80 billion people with the current distribution of consumption rates. Some optimists claim that Earth can support 9.5 billion people. But no optimist is crazy enough to claim that the world can support the equivalent of 80 billion people.
Diamond says that the issue is not hopeless, we could change. We could curb our excessive consumption and make it fairer for everybody. Just like we could lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. But unfortunately as everybody knows, we won't.