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Palomar Observatory

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Leslie Gelb

Leslie Gelb, one of the greatest and most widely respected National Security and political affairs writers of our time, has passed away.
Gelb was Executive Assistant for Senator Jacob Javits from 1966 to 1967. He was director of Policy Planning and Arms Control for International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense from 1967 to 1969, winning the Pentagon's highest award, the Distinguished Service MedalRobert McNamara appointed Gelb as director of the project that produced the controversial Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War. From 1969–1973, Gelb was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.He was diplomatic correspondent at The New York Times from 1973 to 1977.He served as an Assistant Secretary of State in the Carter Administration from 1977 to 1979, serving as director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs and winning the Distinguished Honor Award, the highest award of the US State Department. In 1980 he co-authored The Irony of Vietnam which won the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Book Award in 1981. From 1980–1981, he was also a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.He returned to the Times in 1981; from then until 1993, he was in turn its national security correspondent, deputy editorial page editor, editor of the op-edpage, and columnist. This period included his leading role on the Times team that won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism in 1986 for a six-part comprehensive series on the Star Wars Strategic Defense Initiative. In 1983, he worked as a producer on the ABC documentary The Crisis Game, which received an Emmy award in 1984. Gelb became President of the Council on Foreign Relations in 1993 and as of 2003 and until his death in 2019 was its President Emeritus.[8] From 2003-2015, he served as Board Senior Fellow there. In addition to his work at Council on Foreign Relations, Gelb was also a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jack Tempchin

Swamis

So those of you who have fled North County for greener pastures, you ever find yourself missing the place? Perhaps you have moved to Hawaii, to Thailand, to Washington, or to the inland empire to find a place a family can actually afford to live and raise a kid or two? Or you fled liberal California for a cozy right wing Klavan near Cave Creek? Maybe you now live in a tall urban highrise, located conveniently close to culture and cappuccino in some chic Gotham.

Well this picture is for you.


The view south from Swamis. An outpost of peace and serenity in the San Diego county coastal strand. Big stand of Washingtonia filifera, the only native Alta California palm, standing at a wavy salute, beckoning you to her azure water and beaches.

It is still awesome, take my word for it. And Swamis hasn't forgotten about you, asks about you all the time, remembers all the good times we used to have. Frisbee and fish tacos, OTL, bodysurfing, Shawn's rock and driftwood sculptures, big fatties on the beach. The best of times. Chill long before the big chill.

Secretly I think she wants you to come home but that is between you two. She is good at keeping her secrets. I never want to interfere...

Ellie come home

Trust but verify

I received this email from a friend last night and unfortunately passed it on without confirming its accuracy. That turns out to be a mistake on my part.
Some of you remember Martha Raye very well. A comedian and singer, she, like Joe E. Louis had a large mouth and appeared with Bob Hope, and on other radio programs and usually played supportive roles in comedy films and musicals. She was also loved for the work she did entertaining troops in WWII and Korea.Some things you probably did not know about Martha Raye.Most of the old time entertainers were made out of a lot sterner stuff than today's crop of activists and whiners.It was just before Thanksgiving '67 and we were ferrying dead and wounded from a large GRF west of Pleiku, Vietnam. We had run out of body bags by noon, so the Hook (CH-47 CHINOOK) was pretty rough in the back.All of a sudden, we heard a 'take-charge' woman's voice in the rear. There was the singer and actress, Martha Raye with a SF (Special Forces) beret and jungle fatigues, with subdued markings, helping the wounded into the Chinook, and carrying the dead aboard. 'Maggie' had been visiting her SF "heroes" out "west."We took off, short of fuel, and headed to the USAF hospital pad at Pleiku. As we all started unloading, our Captain said to Martha.... "Ms Ray, with all these dead and wounded to process, there would not be time for your show!"To all of our surprise, she pulled on her right collar and said ,"Captain, see this eagle? I am a full 'Bird' Colonel in the US Army Reserve, and on this is a 'Caduses' which means I am a Nurse, with a surgical specialty.....now, take me to your wounded".He said, yes ma'am.... Follow me.Several times at the Army Field Hospital in Pleiku, she would 'cover' a surgical shift, giving a nurse a well-deserved break.Martha is the only woman buried in the SF (Special Forces) cemetery at Ft. Bragg.So many have done so much that we hear so little about -- thanks a lot to these people who stand up to be counted.
I received this email from K this morning. K was a longtime medical officer in the Navy and Reserves:
Robert—
Surprised you sent this out as it wreaks of details ripe for a Snopes debunking, starting with her headstone clearly showing she was a civilian. However, apparently she was granted “honorary” ranks in the Marine Corps and Army, ostensibly through the (justifiable) help of the USO, though she was only a Lt. Colonel in the Army, not a “full Bird” as this story claims. This alone makes me think she never uttered any of these dramatic, Internet-sensationalist words. 
Doesn’t mean she wasn’t a great person, though...
K
Boy did I have egg on my face. I did some checking and found this site; Investigating Claims That Martha Raye Was a Nurse in Vietnam. Turns out that the Raye story was, as my friend suggests, pretty much bullshit.
In her biography of Raye, Take it from the Big Mouth: The Life of Martha Raye, author Jean Pitrone writes that while Raye routinely told people she had worked as a nurse's aide at Cedars of Lebanon (now Cedars-Sinai) Hospital in her youth and "boasted of being a registered nurse" as an adult, in reality, she was neither a registered nor a practical nurse.
Snopes article on the subject is a little more charitable, including an a.p. report from 1966 that does mention her aiding the troops in a medical fashion for two days in a Soc Trang dispensary. In any case, you have to be more diligent than I was at forwarding stuff you have not personally authenticated.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Hummer color study


The Carpenters - Bless the beasts and the children

New lows

Trump administration seeks to deport children with life-threatening illnesses. Unspeakably evil.

So much for oversight. DHS BARS CONGRESSIONAL STAFFERS FROM MIGRANT DETENTION CENTERS AFTER REPORTS OF ROTTEN FOOD, KID TOLD TO EAT OFF FLOOR

Trump moves to allow logging in the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest. Goodbye Tongass.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ROLLS BACK GREENHOUSE GAS REGULATIONS SO FAR EVEN OIL COMPANIES OBJECT

The Trump Administration’s Court-Packing Scheme Fills Immigration Appeals Board With Hardliners. Surprise.

New immigration policy withholds automatic citizenship for some children of troops overseas, but not all

The water is so hot in Alaska it's killing large numbers of salmon

The US won’t provide flu vaccines to migrant families at border detention camps

Interior official threatens to withhold jobs in lawmakers' districts after opposition to BLM move.

Trump "accidentally" signals affinity with white nationalists in new campaign logo

Buzzworms

Leslie started it last week. One innocuous verse of Gallery's It's so nice to be with you and it was trapped in my cerebral cortex for at least three days. Something about the contagious nature of early seventies pop songs that gets stuck in your mind like library paste.

That song led me directly to The Fortunes' Here comes that rainy day feeling again, which segued into Marmalade's Reflections of my life. It is still socially not very de rigueur to admit to actually liking any of this stuff but one can get away with an occasional hum or tapping of the foot without risking too much opprobrium.



I managed to free my mind of all the pesky little sonic intruders until this morning. I was at Main Street Cafe and favorite waitress Sue Price came by. Her daughter took her to a Little River Band concert last night at the casino for her birthday. She loved it. My old Fallbrook roommate Bob Teague also loved the underrated Little River Band.

She was humming Happy Anniversary Baby and now I have to fight that one off all day too. Sheesh! Got you on my mind...

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Gutspiller

I was first diagnosed with cancer in 1985. I have had the same doctor since 1978, Seymour Myers. I was pissing blood at the time and wanted to know exactly why?

Seymour took an xray and found a big old malignant tumor in my left kidney. Little smaller than a baseball. Further diagnostics showed cancer throughout my bladder and ureter.

My late urologist, John Greisman, took half the kidney out, on advice of his partner. It is called a partial nephrectomy in the business.

You can live on one eighth of one kidney and if anything happened to the remaining one on the right he wanted to make sure I had a spare battery, just in case.

I lost count of how many surgeries I had on my bladder cancer, eventually started immunotherapy and was part of the first b.c.g. research project.

Cancer survivors are always looking over their shoulder, the possibility of a revisit is never far away. So when the cancer returned to my partial kidney in 2009, I wasn't really surprised.

Greisman removed what was remaining of my kidney, he kicked himself for not removing the whole thing when he had the chance, all it needed was for one aberrant cell to travel and it did. I never blamed him, you pay your money and you take your shot.

But you see the lump on the right side in the picture above, me rocking my new Moscow Mitch t-shirt? John mistakenly cut the wrong nerve, the one that holds your guts in place and once it is cut, it can't be fixed. So Quasimodo will be misshapen for the rest of his days. Hey, there are worse things, but there goes my career modeling swimsuits.

I woke up about five days ago with a pain on my right side like a horse had kicked me. Thought it was muscular at first but realized after a day or two that it was an organ causing me the intense pain. "Oh, shit," I thought, "it's back." Right kidney this time. Which feels swollen and very sore.

I saw Seymour yesterday and had a battery of tests, blood and urine. He called this morning, thinks it is probably a kidney stone, there is blood once again in the urine. Of course that's what they said last time.

I haven't seen a urologist since John died and that's a long time ago but will visit a new one this afternoon, keeping my fingers crossed. I'm hoping it's a kidney stone, never had one before. It sure beats the hell out of the alternative. And if it is cancer, perhaps they will cut the nerve on the left this time and give me some much needed symmetry.

Will stay in touch.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Reading list

Has the Amazon fire story been sensationalized? Interesting read at Forbes, Why Everything They Say About The Amazon, Including That It's The "Lungs Of The World," Is Wrong.

Now I am not entirely sure about the author of the story, Michael Shellenberger. The anti solar, nuclear lobbyist has been accused of various things over the years but it is still good to get another perspective. I am sure that the truth lies somewhere in between.

An in depth article on the subject from the expert Shellenberger cites, Daniel Nepstad Ph.D.

Earth Observatory, NASA - https://www.earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/145498/uptick-in-amazon-fire-activity-in-2019

Shellenberger refutedMichael Shellenberger’s sloppy Forbes diatribe deceives on Amazon fires .

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Good read at Mother Jones on Jeffrey Epstein from a candid source. Jeffrey Epstein, my very, very sick friend.

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Senator Lindsey Graham has more sides and position changes than Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A telling interview at the Charlotte Observer, Is Lindsey Graham a shameless apologist or a savvy strategist?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Ode to Joy

Played like a Russian fiddle

We were at a friend's house the other night and I noticed the Mueller Report sitting on the table. I picked it up and started reading it, honestly for the first time.

We can end around the argument about collusion, no collusion, obstruction, etc., I think it serves little purpose at this point. Leave that to the lawyers and politicians.

What did shock me, and know that I am not even twenty percent through the lengthy book, is just how deeply the IRA, the Russian Internet Research Agency, was penetrating and impacting our social media platforms.

Regardless of your political stripe and inclination, all Americans should be completely outraged by the sordid conduct illustrated in this investigation.

I encourage all of you to actually read the report, especially before you make up your mind regarding the question of Russian intervention in our elections.
The first form of Russian election influence came principally from the Internet Research Agency, LLC (IRA), a Russian organization funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and companies he controlled, including Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering (collectively "Concord"). The IRA conducted social media operations targeted at large U.S. audiences with the goal of sowing discord in the U.S. political system.  These operations constituted "active measures", a term that typically refers to operations conducted by Russian security services aimed at influencing the course of international affairs.
The IRA and its employees began operations targeting the United States as early as 2014. Using fictitious U.S. personas, IRA employees operated social media accounts and group pages designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and accounts, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists. Over time, these social media accounts became a means to reach large U.S. audiences. IRA employees travelled to the United States in mid-2014 on an intelligence-gathering mission to obtain information and  photographs for use in their social media posts. By the end of the 2016 U.S. election, the IRA had the ability to reach millions of U.S . persons through their social media accounts . Multiple IRA-controlled Facebook groups and Instagram accounts had hundreds of thousands of U.S. participants. IRA-controlled Twitter  accounts separately had tens of thousands of followers, including multiple U.S. political figures  who retweeted IRA-created content. In November 2017, a Facebook representative testified thatFacebook had identified 470 IRA-controlled Facebook accounts that collectively made 80,000 posts between January 2015 and August 2017. Facebook estimated the IRA reached as many as 126 million persons through its Face book accounts. In January 2018, Twitter announced that it had identified 3,814 IRA-controlled Twitter accounts and notified approximately 1.4 million  people Twitter believed may have been in contact with an iRA-controlled account. 
You start reading the report and it is just flabbergasting how effective they were.

Dozens of IRA employees were responsible for operating accounts and personas on
different U.S. social media platforms. The IRA referred to employees assigned to operate the social media accounts as "specialists." Starting as early as 2014, the IRA's U.S. operations included social media specialists focusing on Facebook , YouTube, and Twitter. The IRA later added specialists who operated on Tumblr and Instagram accounts. 44 Initially , the IRA created social media accounts that pretended to be the personal accounts of U.S. persons. By early 2015, the IRA began to create larger social media groups or public social media pages that claimed (falsely) to be affiliated with U.S. political and grassroots organizations. In certain cases, the IRA created accounts that mimicked real U.S. organizations. For example, one IRA-controlled Twitter account, @TEN_ GOP, purported to be connected to the Tennessee Republican Party. More commonly , the IRA created accounts in the names of fictitious U.S. organizations and grassroots groups and used these accounts to pose as anti immigration groups, Tea Party activists, Black Lives Matter protestors, and other U.S. social and political activists. 

A lot of people call themselves patriots in this country and then put their heads in the sand when confronted by events like this, essentially the large scale subversion of our communication systems by a hostile foreign entity. I would think the actual patriotic thing to do at this point would be to educate yourself and hope that our legislators will act so it never happens again.

IRA groups active in the campaign covered a range of issues and included purported conservative groups (with names such as "Being Patriotic ," "Stop All Immigrants," "Secured Borders," and "Tea Party News") , purported Black social justice groups ("Black Matters ," "Blacktivist," and Don't Shoot Us"), LGBTQ groups ("LGBT United"), and religious groups ("United Muslims of America"). Throughout 2016, IRA accounts published an increasing number of materials supporting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. For example, on May 31, 2016 , the operational account "Matt Skiber" began to privately message dozens of pro-Trump Facebook groups asking them to help plan a "pro-Trump rally near Trump Tower." 

In reading the Mueller report it did seem like Trump, wittingly or unwittingly, had the Russian ops people on a yoyo. If he had bad news, like the pussy grabbing video, almost immediately the Russians or their proxies at Wikileaks would release something damaging to Hillary Clinton. They really had their horse in the race.

In preparation for the 2016 Convention, foreign policy advisors to the Trump Campaign,
working with the Republican National Committee, reviewed the 2012 Convention's foreign policy
platform to identify divergence between the earlier platform and candidate Trump's positions. 788
The Campaign team discussed toning down language from the 2012 platform that identified Russia
as the country 's number one threat, given the candidate's belief that there needed to be better U.S.
relations with Russia.

And he seems to have paid them back in spades.

IRA-purchased advertisements referencing candidate Trump largely supported his
campaign. The first known IRA advertisement explicitly endorsing the Trump Campaign was
purchased on April 19, 2016. The IRA bought an advertisement for its Instagram account "Tea
Party News" asking U.S. persons to help them "make a patriotic team of young Trump supporters "
by uploading photos with the hashtag "#KIDS4TRUMP."  In subsequent months, the IRA
purchased dozens of advertisements supporting the Trump Campaign , predominantly through the
Facebook groups "Being Patriotic," "Stop All Invaders," and "Secured Borders." 

The right wing media was entirely penetrated by the IRA and played like a fiddle.

...while posing as a grassroots group called "Black Matters US." In February 2017, the persona
"Black Fist" (purporting to want to teach African-Americans to protect themselves when contacted
by law enforcement) hired a self-defense instructor in New York to offer classes sponsored by
Black Fist. The IRA also recruited moderators of conservative social media groups to promote
IRA-generated content, as well as recruited individuals to perform political acts (such as walking
around New York City dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask).

I look forward to reading the entire report and compliment those who have already done so. I would like to think that the scale and enormity of Russian intervention will provoke outrage but really have no sincere hope that it will actually do so. We are too stupid, too complacent, too lazy, too easily manipulated to seriously do anything about the gross intrusion by the Russians, look at the failure of Senator McConnell to do anything to counter it to this day. No, unfortunately, it will probably only get worse. China is manipulating Hong Kong coverage on Facebook as we speak. We in this country don't seem to ever learn.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Curio Cowboys

Wayback machine

I forgot about the tie died bow tie. Does my hairstyle qualify as a mullet? Beautiful lady here. Leslie informs me that the occasion was Big Dave's wedding. 92? 93?

Log Cabin Saps

The Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative gay group, came out with a statement earlier this week trumpeting their support for President Trump. 
Last week, the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Donald Trump for president in a Washington Post op-ed. In the essay, the chairman and vice chairwoman of the advocacy group for LGBTQ Republicans credited Trump with “removing gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook” and “taking bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community,” such as launching a campaign to oppose the criminalization of homosexuality abroad.
Such a strange payback. Yesterday the Justice Department filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that employers should be allowed to discriminate against, or even fire, their lesbian, gay and bisexual employees simply due to their sexual orientation.
At issue is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it a crime for employers "to fail or refuse to hire" or otherwise discriminate against a prospective or actual employee "because of such individual's... sex."
Talk about self loathing. I fail to see how any gay person could ever justify supporting this administration when it blatantly acts against their self interest like it did yesterday.
Just last week, the Justice Department filed a similar brief in a different case dealing with anti-transgender discrimination, arguing along the same lines that federal civil rights law does not protect transgender employees from losing their jobs.
Remarkably, the department argued in its memorandum that the reason anti-gay discrimination is not unlawful under the ban on sex-based discrimination is because, in cases of adverse treatment by an employer, both gay men and gay women would be addressed equally poorly.
Upon experiencing discrimination from an employer, both men and women in same-sex relationships "would be similarly situated — and they would be treated the same," the department argued, negating a claim under Title VII's sex-based protections.
This month alone, the Trump administration has pushed to allow federal contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ people, to remove healthcare discrimination protections for transgender people, and told the Supreme court to make it legal nationwide to fire or refuse to hire trans people.

The actions of the Trump administration here are downright evil, antithetical to any notion of fairness and morality, whatever sophistry and justifications they may have at the ready.  In pandering to their anti-gay base they are jeopardizing the employment and well being of a lot of American citizens. For a gay person to join these guys would be like me joining Jews for Hitler. The Log Cabin group should be ashamed of themselves.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Murder of Maria Marten

Leslie with dragonfly, Two Bunch Palms


Happy Birthday Leslie!

It is my wife, Leslie's, birthday today. A nice round number birthday.

She is awesome and beautiful inside and out and always will be.

And she sure has a knack for meeting rock and rollers.

Here she stands between Martha Davis from the Motels and Johnny Christo from the Escape Club at a recent concert.

Love my baby.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Doc and Merle

Julie Miller - Broken Things

Green green grass of home

Today's broadside from the NRCC:


I hope the Danes will get a little sense before we have to go over there and take what's rightfully ours! Greenland the fifty first state, now and forever! We obviously need something new to fuck up.

Leon McAuliffe & His Cimarron Boys - Eating Right Out Of Your Hand

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hummer


Jim Pepper - Witchi Tai To

Santa Fe dreams

Interior view, Mission Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Porciúncula - Pecos

The shows in New Mexico were okay. Started off with a bang, ended with a fizzle. Could have been much, much worse and also a whole lot better, like everything I suppose. Planted a few seeds, left some irons in the fire, will see if anything sprouts.

The night before the first show I had a very strange dream. They wheeled me into the show in a wheelchair. Asthmatic and grossly overweight but even worse than the present actual reality. John Morris, the promoter and my great old friend, famous of late for his work long ago as technical director at Woodstock, wheeled up on his own scooter, took one look at me and quickly assessed my situation. "Wait here," he said demanded. I must have really looked like shit.

The next thing I knew he returns with two tall Plains Indian fellows, in retrospect I guess you would call them medicine men or healers of some type. They took several large eagle feathers out of a pouch and started wiping them over my body from a distance of several inches, head to toe. This went on for about two minutes. Pushed the air around. Cleaned me up a bit, I suppose, I don't know, definitely not my area of expertise.

For some reason or another I felt instantly purged of my illness and sadness, healed if you will. One of the Indians sees some chromatic colors radiating off my body at my right hip. He looks me in the eye and says "Oh, you're one of those." At that moment I woke up, not sure what it all means. But I definitely felt better when I woke up. Dream felt so real. Alive again. Hope it took.

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heard about another dream later on on my trip

Another dealer, who shall go nameless, evidently lost his girlfriend fairly recently, I think to cancer. She came to him in a dream, some months later. Said that she had bad news, that he also had cancer. He needs to check it out. Dealer wakes up, shakes the dream off, weird, he felt fine. At some point or another he looks in the mirror, might have been brushing his teeth. Notices a lump on his tonsil, better get that looked at. Turns out he has throat cancer.  Got medical treatment. He was bearing a scar across his throat when I saw him. Did he save himself or was he helped by something outside himself? Did this woman who loved him reach through the stars? Amazing. He would never have been checked out if not for the dream. What an incredible world we live in. I shook his hand at the show. We had never spoken before, but were now part of the cancer survivor fraternity together.

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Our buddy Stan has been in bad shape, lost his vision a couple years ago. Stan has had an illustrious career, bass player in the Incredible String Band, manager of Muddy and Janis Ian, Fillmore roadie, ace photographer and teacher, so many things, so talented.

But he had a bad bout of cancer and then the eye thing with his vitreous humor which totally blinded him.

Doctors at Columbia said there was nothing they could do. So he spent a couple years in the dark. But the doctors at Sloane Kettering thought differently.

They fixed our Stan, in fact he is driving again. From blindness to sight, what a story and blessing.

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Drove to Williams the first night. Had breakfast at Lilos in the morning in Seligman and decided to take the 66 to Kingman, one of my favorite side roads.

Saw a huge buck pronghorn right out of the gate with a gigantic antler rack. Few minutes later saw the golden eagle on a pole, not far from where I saw one last year.

Didn't jump out fast enough to get a decent shot before it flew away but it is still fortunately ensconced firmly in memory.

Flyin' Shoes

Va en Shalom?

“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”Donald Trump
I would like to spend a few moments on the Jew thing. You see, I am one of those ignorant, disloyal American Jews that President Trump was talking about yesterday. I don't consider Benjamin Netanyahu my Prime Minister, as Trump suggested earlier this year, or even my king. I think Israel is going down the wrong road and has been for many years and even plays a nasty, double game. I have much more in common intellectually with a Jew from for instance, Cleveland, than I do with the average Israeli.

And I think it is a fast, slippery slope from being a legitimate victim to becoming a victimizer.
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. Friedrich Nietzsche
I appreciate the founding of Israel. Not to fulfill some messianic biblical prophecy but to provide succor and a haven for the jews in my family and other families to escape from the gas chambers and pogroms. They had nowhere else to turn. My grandfather, who fled from Poland, was a founding member of the Histadrut and helped build the original electrical grid in Palestine, but left in 1939 with my dad, who was himself born in Tel Aviv.

Why? Because he couldn't handle the oppressive religious stuff. He didn't believe in it, or even in god frankly, and he saw that it would only get worse over time. And I have seen with my own eyes that it has, having lived in Israel through two periods of war and conflicts, having personally faced multiple barrages from Katyushas to Scuds. The change and movement to the orthodox right in the country in two decades was astounding to me and has only got worse over time.

For base political reasons, the Prime Minister has ceded all power to the religious right. The Orthodox Rabbinate has total control over marriage between Jews in Israel, marriages consecrated by Reform or Conservative rabbis in Israel are not legally recognized, and there is no option for civil marriage for Jews in Israel. Ditto conversion, which is also under the exclusive control of the Orthodox Rabbinate, which does not recognize non-Orthodox converts as Jews. The Yeshiva students and haredi don't serve in the military, under a concept known as Torato Umanuto, they recite the torah instead. The right wing, guided by a biblical map of conquest of Judea and Samaria, is now absolutely running the show.

King David plays the harp - Gerard Van Honthorst - 1622

Netanyahu and Trump have a bromance going that is causing more and more American Jews to consider their support for Israel. We know who the people chanting "The jews will not replace us" at Charlottesville will vote for. We also know the overwhelming political affiliations of the young men shooting up the synagogues. Netanyahu supporting vicious anti semites in Hungary and elsewhere like Viktor Orban is equally pernicious. If Netanyahu does in fact lose the total support of liberal American jewry, he will only have himself to blame. Of course Trump is under his own messianic allusions or should I say delusions...

Forgive them father, they know not what they do...

I could go on and on but I won't, I don't have time. I have not left Israel, Israel is leaving me. They paid lip service to Oslo and the two state solution and slowly and by attrition have put enough holes into a future contiguous Palestinian state as to make it utterly unworkable and impossible. Just as they planned.

Do the Israelis have an existential right to exist and live in dignity and self determination? Of course they do, as do every people, including the Palestinians. Yet the thought of living in a "Jewish" state is frankly as nauseating to me as living in a "Christian" state or a "Buddhist" state.

I would much prefer living in a "free" state where people are able to worship and believe, or not worship and believe, as they personally choose, than a theocracy of any kind.

Once upon a time, I had many friends in Israel, both Israeli and Palestinian. I went back for the entirety of the Desert Storm War and found that the two peoples were basically no longer speaking. The Palestinians had been conveniently dehumanized and put into a handy invisible box by the occupation. I met Israelis who lived a mile apart from Israeli arabs and had never engaged in conversation with them their entire lives. That is not healthy.

Of course neither side is blameless, both sides have made plenty of mistakes. In some twisted way they deserve each other, both intent on playing a sick and pathological end game that can only result in utter catastrophe. What do psychologists call it in marriage counseling, the dark dance? They are playing it in spades.

I am proud that roughly 76% 79% of American Jews voted Democrat in the last midterm election. It tells me that they have not lost their jewish heart. The Israelis I am not so sure about.

Gram Parsons

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Rover Schmuck

We are all humans and we all have our prejudices. Sad but true. Even me over here at the Blue Heron Blast. I admit it. I am beginning not to be able to stand the majority of people that buy, rent, lease or drive black Range Rovers.

I'm over at Ohoris Coffee near Kaune's Market the other day. The one that used to be Capitol Coffee. My go to coffee spot in Santa Fe. I parked in an open parking space and ventured in to enjoy a cup of java and read my emails. Had some time to kill before the show.

I left to go to work and I see that a shiny black Range Rover has parked about four inches from my door. No way in hell to get in, the other side of the van was full, I'm screwed. Parking lot was near empty but no matter, Mr. or Mrs. Important can obviously do what they want. Utter lack of consideration.

Oblivious man could have parked in fifty other spaces without troubling anyone. But no matter. It is after all, their world. And I drive a lowly Chrysler that has admittedly seen better days.

I stormed into the joint and demanded in a rather pissed voice to know which a-hole was driving the sparkling clean, anthracite hued, status symbol on wheels that would probably never touch a dirt road in its entire lifetime. This typical, entitled, thirty something douchebag, looks up in the air with palpable disgust and consternation and finally consents to move his car. Wouldn't even look at me as we walked outside.  I was wasting his very valuable time. Lord Fauntelroy was dressed like a young bond trader.

No apology, no nothing, he just exuded punk ass entitlement from every spoiled little pore on his cross trained, Kambucha laced, millennial body. How dare I be put out? I had embarrassed him at his local coffee shop. It was probably a good thing that he kept his mouth shut. I was in no mood. My anger at his lack of consideration was starting to mix with the serious class envy chip on my shoulder and the results would not have been pretty.

Ran into another black Range Rover at Willy's Arco in Fallbrook here before I left. Young guy going around the pumps because he didn't know what side his tank was on decided to cut me off while I was pulling into #3. Like I didn't exist. Because he could and didn't give one shit about the consequences of his actions. Typical selfish brat. Willy watched the whole thing play out and we had a laugh together at the guy's boorishness. What is with these jerkoffs? Do they make you submit to and pass a sociopathic personality test before they will give you the fob?

And I'm not the first. Google range rover and asshole and see what comes up.

About to invoke the dreaded curse, may your stupid Range Rover spend more time in the garage getting fixed than in your driveway and my mechanics tell me that they usually do. Mess with me, I dare you. You've seen my car, I don't care, I will take serious damage to dole it out at this point. War is declared.


Desperados waiting for a train

Asphalt philosophy 101

I was driving towards Albuquerque when I saw my favorite road sign, Gusty Winds May Exist. I called Morty to share.

"Morty, I just passed the sign Gusty winds may exist. Who the hell writes this stuff, Jean Paul Sartre?"

"That's nothing, Shecky" he said. "In ten minutes you'll get to Nothingville. That town's moniker was chosen by Neitzsche."

In California we would just say Gusty winds ahead or Gusty Winds present, none of this Zen/Kierkegaard type stuff. It's hard enough to stay safe and sound on the roads without having to ponder the existential aspects of weather related phenomena. Way above my pay grade anyway.

I consulted my dictionary. Existence is the fact or state of living or having objective reality. Is the wind alive? Alone and unperceived can its reality be said to be objective by any metric?

I mean, what is existence anyway? And if the wind did in fact exist at one time, does its short life span grant it lifetime perpetual status on this earth? And once it dies down, does it still exist? Or do we? And if the wind may exist may it also not exist simultaneously in the quantum world, like Schrödinger's cat?

This is heavy shit, man. I really don't need to be intellectually challenged like this at this stage of my life. I just want to get where I'm going so I can hopefully empty my bladder.

Looking forward to soup and shuffleboard, let's leave weighty topics like this for the kids to ponder.

Old dogs, children, and watermelon wine

Pecos bound

After I left the upper Pecos River I decided to head down to the historic pueblo church. You pass the beautiful Forked Lightning Ranch to get there, a 13,000 acre spread once owned by the rodeo impresario Tex Austin.

Tex hit a bad streak somewhere along the way and checked out, it was eventually bought by the actress Greer Garson and her hubby Fogelson, the Texas oil tycoon. Later a portion of the ranch was sold to Jane Fonda.

Pecos Pueblo is like god's gift to a photographer. I can not be in the general area without running over to take a shot or two.

It always delivers something. The pueblo was first inhabited around 1100 a.d., the church was built by the Spaniards in 1619. Originally the place was known as Cicuye.

two tourists with black umbrellas

The way the majestic clouds roll in from the north is just spellbinding.

I didn't have a lot of time and didn't feel like dragging my tripod up the hike to the pueblo, decided to stick with hand holding.

Didn't see any of those end of the world clouds I have captured before.

Still always wonderful to capture its intriguing form and lovely shadows.

Such a picturesque building!



Road Food

For some particular reason people are often interested in what I have been eating. This road trip was a mixed bag, the agony and the ecstasy, as it were. Started the thing off with a Tommy's Burger in Barstow, a culinary repast that usually christens every journey eastward on the Interstate 40.

You either love Tommy's chiliburgers or you hate them, I happen to love them.

The best meal I had in town was by far the proscuitto wrapped trout at Il Piatto with Joseph and Linda.

Served on a crisp polenta cake with wild mushrooms, it was superb, as was the rest of the meal which included calamari and I forget.

Haven't touched a drop in nine months but had to have a sip of the most excellent Italian valpolicella.

Tried Himalayan food for the first time with Michael Horsley at Tibet Kitchen. Decent and interesting, not exactly thrilling. Had the momos and some other stuff. Would give it another go and see if there was something else on the menu that I liked better.

Had a great meal at Denny's after the show one night with Eich, Jeter, Friedman, Bradford and Musial.

I had the pot roast and I am not kidding, it was pretty damn good. Plus they are putting jalapenos in the creamed corn now as a special. Would eat it again in a heartbeat.

Ate a lot of meals at the Pantry. Corned beef hash has gone way down hill, sorry to say. Durango omelette is the ticket there, with a light dollop of green chile. Most boring sopapilla I have ever tasted.

Ate at La Fonda one morning for good luck. I always get the trout but stayed with fruit and yogurt this time. It is a tradition for me to eat there and the one waiter has been there for a thousand years. Love the room.

Big crew one night at Gabriel's in Tesuque. I had never been really crazy about their food but my carne adovada this night was incredible, a rich, piquant sauce. Most Fallbrookians don't get really excited about table side guacamole, yawn.

Had smoked duck hash at the Tuneup one morning that sounded better than it tasted with Barry and Sarah. Ate at Harrys a couple times, always good, turkey enchiladas once and turkey meatloaf another time and I forgot what I ate on the third try.

Best strawberry scone I have ever tasted out at Cafe Fina on the old Las Vegas Highway. Had decent Peruvian at Sabor Peruano at DeVargas Mall.

Had a great night and meal with the girls at the Grille at Quail Run. I went for the chicken schnitzel. Talked long into the night with Vicky and Terry, Jan retired early. We dug deep.

Ronnie Guy brought me an Arby's Roast beef and cheddar sandwich one day, practically inedible. I don't know what that stuff was but it was not cheese. Carl's burger was better the next day.

Feldman and Bowman joined me for a wonderful meal at the Duke City Kitchen on the way home.

I guess I will save the worst for last. Stopped at the Hopi Travel Plaza near Holbrook. Restaurant now shuttered, place pretty beat up. But there is a Burger King inside. It looked really dangerous but I was hungry. Ordered the mozzarella sticks and chicken nuggets. Tasted like they deep fried the stuff in forty weight motor oil, perhaps hadn't changed it out since the Clinton administration. There was a white fungal looking chemical bubbling up on the side of one of the extruded chicken kabobbers that had me a little worried. I threw half of the thing in the trash but confess to eating a few of them out of shear sheer hunger and desperation. Waited a few minutes to see if I would expire and got back on the road.

Not the usual trip for me culinarily speaking. No cashew mole enchilada at the Plaza Cafe. No Jambo, no Santa Cafe, was invited to Geronimo once but gracefully declined. I decided not to treat myself to one of those places unless I had a major victory and they were unfortunately not forthcoming. But Il Piatto was as good as I remember either of them at their best so I am not complaining.

The main thing was not to overdose on green chile. I stuck with the hotter red most of the time, it is ultimately more forgiving to my tender constitution. I can eat so much green chile and all is fine and then I hit the tipping point and it ain't pretty.

Hit Tommy's on the way back too.

Bon Appetito!

Blaze Foley - Big cheese burgers and good French fries

Nature's creatures


Terry DeWald is arguably the top Indian basket dealer in the world and a heck of a nice guy to boot. He has always been an easy and exemplary guy to deal with.

The ex professional baseball player is lucky enough to live near the marvelous Sabino Canyon near Tucson, a part of the Coronado National Forest. Sabino Canyon is famous for having near year round water that brings in a lot of large mammals.

He sent a story and some great pictures over from his backyard.


Each morning upon awakening I like to go out on our upstairs deck adjoining our bedroom to check out the new day.  Since the creek is presently dry I first check out our fountain, which is a small 3 metate waterfall coming  from the overflow of our artesian well.  When I turned to look at it…..I did a double take….then slowly walked backwards inside and sprinted downstairs to get my good camera, telling Peggy not to go outside until I darted back upstairs.  Then we both slowly crept out on the deck and I started taking these photos.  It looked like the classic shot you would see in Tanzania of lions drinking at a waterhole.  They were extremely thirsty.  I don’t know how long they had been drinking before I first opened the door but as we stood there they drank consistently for the next 45 to 60 seconds until one peeled away, but the other two kept on drinking for another  minute or more.  Maybe they are Irish cougars.  Upon showing these shots to Josh Taiz, the wildlife biologist at Sabino Visitor Center/Coronado National Forest, he concurred that the cat on the left was the mother and the other two were her two twins likely about a year and a half old.  If you look carefully at the first two shots you can see small dimple spots on their twins’ coats attesting to their youth; as compared to the darker and more consistent chestnut coat of the mature mother.  



We could not believe they didn’t notice us. They were  perfectly lined up there, like at the drive thru at an In-N-Out Burger with the one intent of getting a cool and refreshing drink…. and nothing was going to distract them.  Josh said that a mature cougar need one deer a week to survive, and that these three cats likely were killing three to four deer each week.  Maybe less, depending on random hors-d’oeuvres in the form of poodles and fluffy cats fatally using their pet doors in the middle of the night.  After the one twin strolled to the right and stretched it came back as you can see, and then the mother caught sight of us and slowly went down into the creek bed.  Take a look at the second to the last photo to see how big her upper legs are compared to her twins (highlighted by the BLUE ARROW).  Her tail is also much beefier.  Once she got down to the sandy bottom she just plopped down and relaxed for another few minutes before all three of them slowly and silently went back into the desert.  


We’re having the grandkids over to spend the night this weekend.  

We are not going to be camping out in the backyard.  

At least until the creek starts flowing again after the monsoons.  Terry



Amazing to have three big cats in your back yard, no? My friend Paul Parker lives in Santa Fe and shared the following shots of his recent backyard visitor, a large black bear.



Kerry Olson showed me pictures of an even larger bear gingerly walking around her place in Santa Fe. I am going to text her and ask her to send them to me so that I can share them with you. She was worried that she had not locked her front door. The black bear had massive paws. I would have been freaked.

Here they are (she has even better ones):