Egret and crab

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Rotary Connection

Courtesy of Acme Safe

My mom's health took another bad turn and I am headed east shortly. She fooled me a little bit and I really should have gone back last week. A bundle branch blockage to go with the other stuff.

I will be in the Virginia, D.C. , Maryland area. Even up to Baltimore. And I will need to eat. Any culinary suggestions will be greatly appreciated. My brother says I have to try the pit beef in Baltimore. Lena says the Blue Crab should be happening. What else?

I always make some proviso that correspondence will be sporadic at best during these sorts of things and then I sometimes can't stop writing so I will merely say, we shall see.

I got a note recently in which the sender said that he wouldn't spill the things I spill on this blog to anybody short of a psychiatrist. Another writer suggests that it is time to either find my "atman" or seek drugs and professional help for adjusting my mental balance.

I couldn't find my atman with a map and it has frankly never been too high on my vacation list. Pretty happy with who I am; love me, hate me or just leave me alone. My hypothesis has always been that we are fully formed before the age of seven and that any subsequent change is iffy at best.

In gratitude, Rob

(This roadrunner shot was taken through my windshield the other day. He has lived around the corner from my ranch for several years. Saw him in my driveway yesterday afternoon.)

Requiem Mass in D Minor - Mozart KV 626

Inducing Consent - Aldous Huxley

"There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution." -- Aldous Huxley, Tavistock Group, California Medical School, 1961

Chromium Assassins

Continuing this week's dark theme, the United Nations has called for a moratorium on the new class of weaponry that are known as lethal autonomous robots. It appears that all sorts of technology is moving so quickly that it is now utilized and placed into the pipeline with little or no benefit of discussion or popular consensus.

From the report:
GENEVA (30 May 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, today called for a global pause in the development and deployment of lethal autonomous robots (LARs), to allow “serious and meaningful international engagement on this issue before we proceed to a world where machines are given the power to kill humans.”
While drones still have a ‘human in the loop’ who takes the decision to use lethal force, LARs have on-board computers that decide who should be targeted,” he stressed.
“The possible introduction of LARs raises far-reaching concerns about the protection of life during war and peace,” Mr. Heyns noted during the presentation of his latest report* to the UN Human Rights Council. “If this is done, machines and not humans, will take the decision on who is alive or dies,” he said.
“This may make it easier for States to go to war; and raises the question whether they can be programmed to comply with the requirements of international humanitarian law, especially the distinction between combatant and civilians and collateral damage,” he explained.
“Beyond this, their deployment may be unacceptable because no adequate system of legal accountability can be devised for the actions of machines,” the independent human rights expert noted, based on his analysis of potential violations of the rights to life and human dignity should the use of LARs materialize.
In his report, Mr. Heyns urges the UN Human Rights Council to call on all States “to declare and implement national moratoria on the production, assembly, transfer, acquisition, deployment and use of LARs, until a framework on the future of LARs has been established.” He also invites the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene or to work with other UN bodies to convene a High Level Panel on LARs to articulate this framework.
War without reflection is mechanical slaughter,” the UN expert on summary executions said. “In the same way that the taking of any human life deserves as a minimum some deliberation, a decision to allow machines to be deployed to kill human beings deserves a collective pause worldwide.”
For the Special Rapporteur, the time is ripe for a thorough and cool-headed global reflection in order “to ensure that not only life itself but also the value of life and human dignity is protected in the long run.”
“If deployed, LARs will take humans ‘out of the loop,’” Mr. Heyns warned. In his view, “States find this technology attractive because human decision-making is often much slower than that of robots, and human thinking can be clouded by emotion.”
“At the same time, humans may in some cases, unlike robots, be able to act out of compassion or grace and can, based on their understanding of the bigger picture, know that a more lenient approach is called for in a specific situation,” he underscored.

Kronos Quartet

Hail the Cyborg

An excerpt from today's Huffpo:
...Dario Laverde, a developer evangelist at HTC, has been wearing Google Glass for just five days, and he’s already concerned its melding of man and machine doesn’t go far enough. Thanks to Glass, he now has a screen he can speak to suspended in front of his right eye. But he’s already started plotting how he could pair Google's device with mind-reading sensors that would give it direct access to his thoughts.
“I could control things with my mind without having to say anything, without having to reach up and look silly and tap this [Glass]. Because ideally, you want to look up information without it looking so obvious,” explains Laverde, the small cube on his Glass pair glowing on and off, on and off, as he speaks. “Then we’ll become the androids.”

Thursday, May 30, 2013



Brave the new world:

Some interesting news from Motorola. Their newest phone, the Moto X, may be authenticated by some rather bizarre means, a tattoo or an ingestible pill perhaps. This is a technology I thought was quite curious and speaks to some rubicon now being crossed twixt man and machine.

Proteus Digital Health has come up with the new ingestible sensor. You can watch their video here. Proteus Digital Health's 'vitamin authentication pill' is powered by acid in the wearer's stomach and creates an 18-bit signal picked up by mobile phone or other external authentication devices. It has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and was given European regulatory approval in 2010. Proteus just went on a big funding spree, raising 62 million dollars, much of it from Oracle.

According to Motorola's experts,  the average user authenticates a password 39 times a day at an average time of 2.3 seconds per authentication while power users might authenticate 100 times a day. Merely ingest our sensor and no more troubles...

Motorola is of course owned by the nice folks over at Google, the folks that give me this free blogging platform.

Is it just me or is there something slightly creepy about this idea? Computers are so freaking important to our life experience that we must now become part machine? Has to beg the question of what we are giving up when we allow this sort of intrusion and what the next step might be? Perfect for tracking all the little muggles. Would be interesting to ask Aldous Huxley for his opinion on the whole idea? Last slug on the bottle, you swallow the matrix worm.

The MC10 Biostamp is an electronic tattoo that establishes a circuit that is good for about two weeks. Your own renewable mark of the beast. This whole pursuit comes courtesy of one Motorola executive  Regina Dugan, a former director of advanced projects for the US military over at DARPA. Hello John Poindexter...

Lethal lodger

The men and women who inhabit those tall monoliths in Howard County, the ones that bear no signage or identification, were quite astounded at how readily the citizenry accepted the implant. They were sure that there would be at least a bit of blowback but there was nary a peep.

Wrap the directive in a bible or an American flag or better yet promise them a sleek new smartphone and the muggles were pretty much game for anything we wanted them to try. The glasses were the first step.

Ostensibly the devices were created as some sort of password authentication gimmick, at least that is what Joe Citizen was told. But didn't they realize that the tiny sensor provided real time data information to the master control that could pinpoint where you were, who you interacted with and what you shit out after breakfast?

I don't know whose idea it was to install the kill switch. Initially the thought was to merely immobilize the public but the guys at Darpa figured "in for a dime, in for a dollar" and with a mere swipe at the master control, all sensor laden life forms in a sector would be terminated without prejudice. 

In the few seconds it took the two milligrams of taipan venom to hit the host kidney all data could be synched back to the blade server and the device sensor effectively disabled. There was some discussion about reusing the proteus devices but it was ultimately nixed, the dead deserve a little respect, if you know what I mean, and besides, who wants to get their hands dirty?

© Robert Sommers 2013
(to be continued)

Tighten Up

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Back on earth

Fall Plowing - Grant Wood 1931
Horror of horrors. News today that an unapproved field of Monsanto modified wheat is found growing up in Oregon.   A remnant of a decades old experiment. The U.S. Ag department is frantically trying to soothe the feathers of the europeans and other trading partners, who have long mistrusted gmo products and forbid their importation. Now we are telling them not to worry, the stuff is safe, which funnily enough is what they've been saying all along and something many people, myself included, don't quite believe. They said that the stuff would never get loose too, could never contaminate any other seed stock.
...Government investigators are tracking the origin of the plants and consulting with trade partners to assure them the exposure is limited and poses no threat to human health, according to Michael Firko, acting deputy administrator at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. No evidence exists that the never-approved wheat has entered the commercial food or feed supply, he said. Monsanto said there’s reason to believe the incident is highly isolated and should not concern consumers or trading partners. 
DALLAS (AP) — The CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. says there's no quick replacement for oil, and sharply cutting oil's use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would make it harder to lift 2 billion people out of poverty.

"What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?" CEO Rex Tillerson said at the oil giant's annual meeting Wednesday.

Tillerson jousted with environmental activists who proposed that the company set goals to reduce emissions from its products and operations.

Shareholders sided with the company and voted nearly 3-to-1 to reject the proposal.

By a 4-to-1 ratio, shareholders defeated a resolution to explicitly ban discrimination against gays. The Exxon board had argued that the company already banned discrimination of any type and didn't need to add language regarding gays.

It was the 16th defeat for Exxon resolutions on discrimination against gays and the seventh on greenhouse emissions.

There is a possible smoking gun letter in the Edison San Onofre fiasco. A November 2004 letter from then Edison Vice President Dwight E. Nunn to Akira Sawa of generator manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) offered evidence that SCE had later misled regulators at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which agency was charged with ensuring that changes to San Onofre wouldn't pose a public safety risk. There is controversy regarding the pipe replacements being "like for like" and triggering a whole new permitting process and license amendment, something the energy giant denies.

A section in the letter states, "although the old and new steam generators will be similar in many respects, they aren't like-for-like replacements."

No matter. If we have learned anything about these companies and those that are charged to regulate them, it is that the big guys always win.

Some Of Shelley's Blues

The Cups and Balls

Senator Crandall

We went out to dinner after the movie last week and ran into our good friend Corrie at Peking Wok. I have always been fascinated with magic and sleight of hand and Corrie's grandfather Clarke "The Senator" Crandall, was one of the legendary magicians at the Magic Castle. He was a comedian, authored a couple books and magazines and made a tremendous contribution to the craft.

A link:
“Senator” Clarke Crandall (1906-1975) was an American comedy magician and magic dealer. He developed funny routines for such effects as the Card Duck and the Cups and Balls. He wrote a column for The New Tops called “It’s A Mystery To Me.” Abbott’s Get-Together presents the “Senator Crandall Award” for Comedy excellence each year. He appeared in Abbott’s Get-Together in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972.
And a good story here.

As The World Rises And Falls

Trippy stuff from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. Has a nice mellow, Moby Grape feel. I got turned on to Help, I'm a rock at boarding school in the eighth grade but haven't tasted this flavor in a long time. I went to a very hip, small school up in Idyllwild called the Desert Sun School. My roommate back at Hart Hall was a drummer named Ron who introduced me to Coltrane, Harry Partch, Mose Allison, A.B. Skyh, this album, so much incredible stuff, probably my greatest musical influence, way back then.

One of these musicians turned into a child molester or something. Something bad. This is a cool tune if you are into psychedelia, speaking of the subject, reading a chilling book right now about your government - Dean Kuipers, Burning Rainbow Farm . About the targeted execution of two gay Michigan pot growers by law enforcement.


Old Fallbrook

Laurie and Brian Cook are long time Fallbrookians and own the Express Copy Center on Main Ave. Laurie's family has been here for several generations and she has been collecting old photos of Fallbrook for years.

She has bound copies of her photos into two books and is selling them at their store. A little pricey at $30.00 a piece but I figured they were worth it. You won't be able to get them any where else and there were many pictures that I don't recall ever seeing before.

The picture above is my building, the old mercantile. The building was built in 1887 and was originally located at the current site of the Fallbrook Art Center. It was put on piers and moved to its present location in 1915. A large section of the cornice is still visible up top. I still have the old box car siding on my ceiling, not so sure about my wife's store, Caravan.

Here is another picture of the store, in its present location, with a train running right down the middle of Main Street. Not quite sure of the year. Horse meets train meets car.

Before avocados Fallbrook was known for olives and ostriches. The olive press was located in the building that now houses Fallbrook Fertilizer.

There are cool pictures of De Luz, birdseyes of town, the Ellis Hotel, all kinds of nice shots.

If you are a local or have an interest in Fallbrook you might want to stop by their store and check out the neat photos. Good job, Laurie!

Pretty Big Mouth


We unfortunately missed painter Brett Stokes and sculptor Wendell Perry's joint opening in Bonsall this weekend.

Fortunately, the show will be up for a while. Stop by and check it out.

Keep on Dancing

Grand Old Prevaricators

Press Release
May 28, 2013
Contact: Katy Davis

Study: Media Fact-Checker Says Republicans Lie More

A leading media fact-checking organization rates Republicans as less trustworthy than Democrats, according to a new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University. The study finds that PolitiFact.com has rated Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims during President Obama’s second term. Republicans continue to get worse marks in recent weeks, despite controversies over Obama administration statements on Benghazi, the IRS and the AP.
According to CMPA President Dr Robert Lichter, “While Republicans see a credibility gap in the Obama administration, PolitiFact rates Republicans as the less credible party.”

The study examined 100 statements involving factual claims by Democrats (46 claims) and Republicans (54 claims), which were fact-checked by PolitiFact.com during the four month period from the start of President Obama’s second term on January 20 through May 22, 2013.

Major findings:
PolitiFact rated 32% of Republican claims as “false” or “pants on fire,” compared to 11% of Democratic claims – a 3 to 1 margin. Conversely, Politifact rated 22% of Democratic claims as “entirely true” compared to 11% of Republican claims – a 2 to 1 margin.
A majority of Democratic statements (54%) were rated as mostly or entirely true, compared to only 18% of Republican statements. Conversely, a majority of Republican statements (52%) were rated as mostly or entirely false, compared to only 24% of Democratic statements.
Despite controversies over Obama administration statements regarding Benghazi, the IRS and the Associated Press, Republicans have continued to fare worse than Democrats, with 60% of their claims rated as false so far this month (May 1 – May 22), compared to 29% of Democratic statements – a 2 to 1 margin.
This study’s findings are similar to those of a previous CMPA study, which found that PolitiFact gave more negative ratings to the Romney campaign than the Obama campaign during the 2012 presidential election campaign.
Examples of PolitiFact ratings:
Pants on Fire: Michele Bachmann decries “huge national database” run by IRS with "personal, intimate" details. (May 15, 2013)
True: Obama says bipartisan background check plan “outlawed any (gun) registry.” (April 17, 2013)

The Center for Media and Public Affairs is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization, which is affiliated with George Mason University. It has monitored news coverage of every presidential election and every new administration since 1988. For CMPA findings on the Obama administration see: cmpa.com

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hello it's me


I saw an interesting blurb in the Reader the other day from Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird:
A frequent sight on Soweto, South Africa, streets recently is crowds of 12-to-15-year-old boys known as "izikhotane" ("boasters") who hang out in their designer jeans, "shimmering silk shirts, bright pink and blue shoes, and white-straw, narrow-brimmed fedoras," according to a February BBC News dispatch. Flashing wads of cash begged from beleaguered parents, hundreds may amass, playing loud music and sometimes even trashing their fancy clothes as if to feign an indifference to wealth. Since many izikhotanes' families are working-class survivors of apartheid, they are mostly ashamed of their kids' behavior. "This isn't what we struggled for," lamented one parent. But, protested a peer-pressured boaster, "(Y)ou must dress like this, even if you live in a shack." [BBC News, 2-1-2013] 

I'm no cultural anthropologist, I just play one on the internet. This is an interesting phenomenon, doubly so to me after my ruminations on my recent style fail this weekend. So  I looked it up. It goes much deeper. Read this post by Lindokuhle Nkosi, Burn Swag Burn.
...They bill themselves as street performers, but their art consists of little more than branded clothing and face-offs with rival crews who compete over who has more money. The trend called “ukukhothana”, loosely translated as dissing, is a money-conscious South African version of the USA’s diss battles, but where the American jokes would begin with: “Yo mama is so…” these kids start theirs with: “I’m so rich I can…” And then proceed to demonstrate how much money they have by engaging in wasteful behavior. Starting in the smaller black communities of Gauteng’s East Rand, the phenomenon quickly filtered into Soweto. In a recent incident, a boy from Pimville bought a bucket of KFC chicken, threw it on the floor and then stomped on the chicken pieces, using his R2000 pair of loafers to grind the white meat into the ground before setting the food alight – and then the shoes.
In the 1950s, a similar trend arose amongst migrant workers and mine labourers who were subject to the cramped and confined conditions of hostel living. Men, separated from their families and forced into a perfunctory sense of congeniality, would hold contests in which they would trade their grimy overalls for the finest suits and flashy two-toned brogues. Called oSwenka, the winner would receive a goat or blankets and maybe some extra money to send home to their families in the Bantustans. For the izikhothane, there is no tangible prize; but the admiring glances from girls in the crowd seems to be sufficient reward.
Word spreads quickly. In a few minutes, a group of over sixty school children have gathered in the park awaiting the next izikhothane battle. The boys arrive in a loud, colourful fashion. Luminescent Nike Dry-fit T-shirts, multi-coloured tracksuits, ostentatiously branded shoes and mismatched soccer boots, their bright attire is in stark contrast to the environment. ...“Everyone knows The Exclusive Italian Konka’s are the best,” says 16 year old Lesego. “It’s all about bragging, being better than everyone else. You have to show that you are the number one cheese boys.” Claiming the top spot however, reaches some ridiculous extremes.
Are these south african youths riffing on consumerism, asserting their liberation from the material, exposing a personal conundrum, heavily conflicted, working it all out, what the hell gives? Buy the coolest shit and then destroy it. Sounds like a big goof to me. Making fun of us perhaps?

Collateral damage that may have arisen when the poor and dispossessed watch their international peers on television driving nice cars and living the good life. People with nothing hungrily staring at those that don't appreciate having nearly everything. Maybe they are merely crudely imitating the entitled.

Hey, where's my slice? 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Come On

I recognize your artillery.

I wrote up and posted a little thing for Bob Dylan's seventy second birthday saturday. All was cool until I talked to musicologist Vlad Smythe later in the day. "Uh, Rob, Dylan's birthday was yesterday."

Oops. I pulled it. Timing as they say, is everything.

Tracy wanted to know why I wasn't publicly kvelling over my article being posted on Reader Supported News, a first for me.  "Well Trace, "I says, it's like the aging superstar baseball player tells the green rookie after his first home run, "Act like you've been here before, kid." I appreciate the posting.

One of the baby hawks took his or her first, rather clumsy steps from the nest yesterday, finally landing on this dead branch about twenty yards away. The birds sibling stared quizzically from the safety of home base. These birds are making very quick progress, especially when you consider they come from a single parent household, something I have never seen before. Daddy went out for a pack of smokes...

We went with a couple of friends down to the big city to see the band Love saturday night. We are hard core Love groupies as are Lev and Beth, who saw them in Los Angeles in the seminal band's infancy.

Arthur Lee, the founder and lead singer of Love died of cancer in 2006. We love his band, this would be the first show for us without Arthur at the helm, although we had seen the band cover for him while he was in a dysfunctional state once at the Coach House.

We tried to eat first, Cucina Urbana was packed and we couldn't get anyone to talk to us, let alone seat us at the nearby Hexagone. Ten minutes, not a glance. If you need shitty French attitude, I highly recommend the place. We finally had enough and settled on Bronx Pizza. Cheaper and better food.

We made it to the Casbah around nine, in time for the distaff band the Rosalyns to play. They were tight and rocked pretty good, especially on the Black Sabbath cover.

The doorman let us know that Love wouldn't even come on until midnight which was problematic, since it was a school night and I had a car show to judge early Sunday. Must suck it up.

Another old Los Angeles garage band from the sixties showed up, the Sloths. They had dug up a lead singer that looked like he didn't get a lot of sunshine and may have had physical restraints somewhere along the way, but they played well and were a lot of fun.

I had never been inside the Casbah before and it was quite the scene. Fun, punk, urban hipster. As a podunk farmer from the tulies, I always feel a bit inadequate in a style sense at these sorts of shows. I was wearing the standard Rob issue, hawaiian shirt, levis and sneakers. Squareness personified. The place was full of mods in pointy boots, cool sixties polyester, some excellent haircuts. Real sartorial splendor.

Have to make note to self to get some duds for clubbing. Need to pay a bit more attention to my image. Leslie looked great in the leather jacket, she of course cut her teeth at the clubs, but I always feel like I have a long sheaf of wheat in my mouth and am sporting my lamest pair of overalls. This goes back to my hippie days when I tried to meet the aliens at the Rainbow Room in Hollywood for the first time.

Anyhow, I located a corner in which to perch and watch and found myself sitting next to some local rock demigod. People were stopping by to get their pictures taken with him and doing the requisite amount of genuflection. Don't know who the dude was but he obviously had cachet. Long black locks, white pointy boots and sunglasses. It is of course the ultimate cool to wear sunglasses in a dark room, John Kay proved long ago that nothing else screams hip like this number. When the sycophants had moved on, I watched him quickly look around and then push the shades up to read something. I wanted to gently chide him but didn't. A real hipster would never lose the shades. Ever.

The occasion of the show was the thirtieth anniversary of Mike Stax's Ugly Things magazine. Chip Lyon turned me on to it a few years ago and it is a great scholarly look at 60's and garage music. I used to work with a guy Lou Bacher whose son played with Stax in a band, the Tell Tale Hearts. The British bass player Stax was responsible for some very cool bands reuniting the whole weekend. I met a couple smart and engaging people and look forward to returning one day.

We decided to take a walk around the block at 11 when we saw two of Love's guitar players, Rusty Squeezebox and Mike Randle walking across the street. We said hi, I had corresponded with Randle  and I think he used to check the blog every once in a while. The nicest cats you could ever imagine, the entire band is just amazingly great. And phenomenal players to boot.

The show started around midnight. This was to be an interesting night. The band had a stand in lead singer from Sweden, Ebbot Lundberg, from one of the most acclaimed european bands, Soundtrack of our Lives. The original drummer from the Forever Changes album, Michael Stuart-Ware shared the stage on a couple numbers, still kicked ass, thank you. I had never seen him before. He was the founding drummer of the sixties group the Sons of Adam that often played the Avalon. Love now has a keyboardist who also plays the trumpet who was a great addition as well.

When the band started the first number I had a slightly sick feeling in my gut. It was just not the same without Arthur Lee. Was this night going to be torture? Sound wasn't very good and the vocals were sloppy. Took a  song to get it together.

Lundberg is a giant Falstaffian character but a bit over animated for my taste, master of the dramatic flourish, made me think of a blown up Ian Anderson but didn't sing with quite the requisite conviction for this part. Big shoes to fill. He kept disappearing and they would have to keep calling him up on stage where he pirouetted around in his heavy military jacket. Was worried that he might fall into the crowd and kill somebody...

Luckily the band finally found the proper gear and it ended up being a cranking set. The syncopated counterpoint between original guitar player Johnny Echols and Mike Randle was powerful and reminded me of Dwayne and Dickey. Randle is now playing a tele, a rare choice from a guy who used to swear by the white Gibson ES -335. I hate to use the words original since Baby Lemonade played with Arthur far longer than any other band.

Bassist Dave Chapple was smoking, the whole thing rocked, we were ecstatic. I remembered why this band, along with Johnette, are my two favorite acts to see these decades. Rusty found his voice, later at the bar he told me that he couldn't hear himself in the beginning.  I love Rusty, he is solid as a rock on rhythm and really has pleasant pipes. I am not sure they need another vocalist but I don't think Lundberg is the guy by any means.

If you get an opportunity and liked Arthur Lee and Love, I urge you to catch this band. They deliver something special sonically. We hadn't seen them for seven years and that's too damn long. Shame they are not better known, as well as they play.


I got back at three in the morning, up at seven again to judge the Fallbrook Vintage car show. Which incidentally, is the oldest continually operating car show west of the Mississippi.

It's a good thing I don't drink anymore. But I was dead tired. Mahoney and I judged 30's domestic and vintage european sports car classes. My supposedly good knee and what I think is an arthritic hip were giving me fits.

There were too few judges and too many cars but I bugged out after my two classes. It was hard to walk. Went home crashed for four hours in a dead sleep, then back to the coast for a late birthday party for R & L.  Shrimp, scallops, risotto, a wonderful salad and mango cake amongst the greatest of friends.

Somehow we made it home before midnight. Today I am truly beat to death. But it was quite a memorable weekend. Don't think the old body can take too much more fun.

Family and friends

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Linger On


Ferrous Felcher

We took advantage of my new found senior discount and checked out Iron Man 3 on thursday at the local theater. I had seen the first of the new franchise but must have missed number two and so the story line was a little disjointed.

Movie was really good but I have to confess Tony Stark was never one of my favorite superheroes when I was a fan as a kid. Another rich guy with a lot of toys. I could always read Richie Rich or Bruce Wayne if I needed that.

I was more of a X-Men, Avengers, Spiderman, Doctor Strange, Deadman,  FF kind of guy. Neurotic superheroes, Marvel was good at that. But I loved Jack Kirby and he and Heck were the original Iron Man artists so I tried to keep up with it when I could.

Robert Downey Jr. is a great actor and came through with another awesome performance. Great damaged/wise ass dialogue. Paltrow was also really good, Cheadle same. Kid actor was super. Guy Pearce was uncharacteristically wooden and sort of lame as the villain, Mandarin. Ben Kingsley was excellent as the drugged out space case.

I guess what bothered me was seeing Cheadle in his own Iron Man suit and a million other Iron Man suits flying around. Hard to follow and confusing. Neat to see the Malibu house get destroyed. If you are a fan of mindless, brain numbing fantasy and wanton, gratuitous violence, like I am, then I urge you to see this film.

Really more excited about the new Wolverine and X-Men release if we ever get one.

Slim Harpo

When they come to take you down...

Remember David Silva, the poor schmuck from Bakersfield who died recently following a major ass beating from the Bakersfield Sheriffs and C.H.P.?

This was the case where gestapo like cops went into private residences in the middle of the night and seized people's cell phones, trying to recover possibly damning evidence that the many witnesses chronicled. Some of that video was purportedly "accidentally" or mysteriously deleted.

Well the coroner's report has come out. And lo and behold, the death was an accident. Obese, alcoholic man with hypertension. A sequelae of properly applied restraint procedures. Never know when that cholesterol is going to sneak up and bite you, do you? Nothing to see here folks, move along...

Stolen Moments

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wayne Schoenfeld

© Wayne Schoenfeld 2013

I met a very interesting and quite successful photographer in Santa Barbara, Wayne Schoenfeld. Wayne is quite adept in the craft of both artistic and documentary photography. My understanding is that he gets a very good price for his prints. After looking at his portfolio and unique approach, I can understand why.

Check out his website.

My Funk

Birdseye view

Obama is now calling for limits on the drone program. Isn't that like a successful second story man arguing for limits on thievery?

Nice of the Senate to not allow GMO food labeling. Can't trust Americans to make personal choices for themselves, can we? 64 countries around the world require GMO labeling but americans can't handle the truth.

37 different attempts by the House to repeal Obamacare. Estimates are that this has taken up 15% of their time since 2011. I wonder what this has cost the American taxpayer? Of course, they aren't finished yet...

When I heard about the nasty beheading in London I immediately thought Lutherans, it has to be the Lutherans. Alas, I was wrong, the religion of peace has struck again. Allahu Akhbar. The Nigerian born killers say it is payback for the killing of moslems in Syria, Mali and the middle east.

I have a problem with this sort of thinking. For one thing, the west has largely stayed out of the sectarian conflict in Syria. So we are supposed to pick one side over another now? In Afghanistan and Mali, we have tried to go to bat for ostensibly moderate factions against religious extremists who think nothing of inciting terror and murder in their own lands and flying jets into our tall buildings. Who is speaking for these other people?

British MP George Galloway thinks the west is getting a taste of what it deserves after Syria and of course, Palestine. This is the type of liberal thinking that drives me crazy, here and abroad. It is always our fault.

Congressman Darrel Issa sounded really pissed with disgraced IRS commish Lerner's taking of the fifth the other day, claiming that her opening statement may have abrogated her constitutional right against self incrimination. He definitely seemed ready to grab the pliers and pull her fingernails out, make her talk.

Many of my Republican friends are quit vocal in their hatred for Barack Obama. They are less willing to tell us which of their own standard bearers they support. Gohmert, Palin, McConnell, Cruz, Bachmann, King, Ryan, Rubio, Cuccinelli? Have we ever had such a murderer's row of nutcases on that side of the aisle? Seriously, if you are a republican, please tell me which leader you support and why.

I am not so troubled by the IRS targeting political organizations masquerading as nonprofits. Citizens United opened up this powder keg. It was never the intent of the law to allow the Karl Roves and Koch brothers this sort of free ride and clear abuse of political influence. I don't like it from either side of the aisle. Ditto for churches that tell their flock what and whom to vote for.

5/23/2013 -- Global Earthquake Overview -- Pacific unrest -- Volcanic EQ...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

mas rapturas

Bruce called me around noon and told me about an alternate hawk nest to check out in Fallbrook. We had visited the nest several years ago, when it was populated by red shouldered hawks. I was at Pedro's when he called today, chomping on my fried chicken burrito. but jumped in the car as fast as I could and high tailed it for the site.

This nest, while in the same old dead eucalyptus tree, is on a crotch of a lower bough and now populated by a red tailed hawk and her three eyeass. This is great because I can once again look down at the nest and hopefully get some good shots.

These are not "them" but it gives us a taste of maybe what is to come. As soon as I got there, mama hawk departed towards the east. She made a lot of noise for a while and then started making some gorgeous lazy circles against the range of avocado and citrus laden hills.

I waited a long time for her to come back but she failed to return. I will be back early tomorrow morning and see what I can capture. Will be nice to have more birds to check out.

Lucky to live in a place as beautiful and unspoiled as Fallbrook.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

E-mail bag

Buddy Rich


The invitation.


Interesting discussion regarding evolution

This is pretty idiotic but also illustrative. Crystallizes the debate pretty well.  I managed to watch almost half. Let me know if you can finish it.


New study finds that humans have lost an average of 14.1 points on their I.Q. since the Victorian era. The test measured the period between 1889 and 2004. Apparently the wrong people are breeding. This is the first direct decline in intelligence ever reported. It appears that we humans are losing our edge.

The researchers examined 14 distinct studies in the time period. From the Huffpo:
"The reduction in human intelligence (if there is any reduction) would have begun at the time that genetic selection became more relaxed," Dr. Gerald Crabtree, professor of pathology and developmental biology at Stanford University, told The Huffington Post in an email. "I projected this occurred as our ancestors began to live in more supportive high density societies (cities) and had access to a steady supply of food. Both of these might have resulted from the invention of agriculture, which occurred about 5,000 to 12,000 years ago."
These findings are in direct opposition to a popular theory called the Flynn Effect that found that successive generations get smarter. We Blasters are doing our part. The rest of the dumbshits are throwing off the curve.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Roebuck "Pops" Staples and Family

Rose Garden, Santa Barbara

Tin Soldier

High Plains Karma

Dear Senators Coburn and Inhofe;

As much as we would like to help the great state of Oklahoma after the recent tragedy, we are sorry but we just can't do it this time. And you will eventually thank us for it. You see, to continue to give you money would only foster a dangerous "culture of dependency" and nobody, least of all yourselves, would want that.

After all, Texas and Oklahoma are consistently among the top states to receive disaster funding and yet their representatives consistently vote to deny FEMA funding. We don't want to be enablers and you will feel much better about yourselves as you pull yourselves up by your own Oklahoma sized bootstraps.

Those pussies in the northeast had the audacity to include planning for future disasters and studies on the effects of global warming on weather in their request and you sure showed them. Your square jawed, high plains grit and determination to "go it alone"will be a model for the rest of the super entitled nation.

You folks and 34 other GOP senators voted against Sandy relief and helping those bums back east living in those "minority type" neighborhoods.

In 2011 Senator Coburn, you filed Amendment #610 to offset $7 billion in FEMA funding. One would hope that you now show the same perspicacity and grit in finding programs that benefit your home state to now cut.

You voted again in 2011 against funding FEMA after it ran out of money, because, in your words, funding FEMA would have been “unconscionable. Your partner Inhofe skipped that vote altogether. The bill passed, luckily by a 61 to 38 party line vote.

Senator Inhofe proposed getting rid of grants for storm shelters and replacing them with tax breaks. Here's what you said in your speech:
I can tell more stories about Moore, OK, when we had our 1999 tornado where everything was devastated on one side of the street and nothing was touched on the other side of the street.
It is an art to understanding where these are coming from. We now have developed that art. There is not a person who could be in the path of a tornado who doesn't have the facilities and the resources to see what is out there and where it is coming.
You both thought that Sandy relief was "wasteful spending." This is your press release, Senator Coburn. And here is an article regarding the stances of some of your fellow hypocrites.

The recent events in your state are truly horrible and we all genuinely mourn the loss of life. It is sad that now is the time that your fellow americans must administer this lesson in tough love. Your constituents deserve better. But then again, they did vote you into office in the first place.


The American Public

Alone again or

Love - Casbah

We get to see one of our favorite bands at the Casbah this saturday, Love revisited aka Baby Lemonade.

Original Love guitar player Johnny Echols is playing with this band.

Should be really good to see Mike Randle and the boys again.

Course I am judging the Fallbrook Vintage Car show the next morning so I might get a wee bit frayed...


Monday, May 20, 2013


Last of the Hollywood Swingers - a short story.

Bobby's Cliff Notes - "Why Darwin Matters"

Here are some of things I gleaned from Michael Shermer's book Why Darwin Matters. Be advised that the book is now six years old and some of the material and studies are probably slightly out of date. Nevertheless I think that we can assume that most of the data and suppositions are still valid.

According to a 2005 poll by the Pew Research Group, 42% of Americans hold strict creationist views, holding that man has been in his current form since the "beginning of time." 48% believe that man evolved over time into his or her present form. 64% or respondents were open to the teaching of creationism along side of evolution in the public schools. 60% of Republicans were creationists and only 11% accepted evolution compared to Democrats at 29% and 44% respectively.

Populations tend to increase indefinitely in a geometric ratio, 2. 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512 1024...

In natural selection, there must be a struggle for existence. Not all of the organisms produced can survive. Organisms that are better adapted leave behind more offspring than those that are not. This is called differential reproductive success.

The fossil record records mostly the equilibrium or static period. Species change happens rapidly and there are less transitional organisms extant to create fossils. This theory is called punctuated equilibrium. 

Vestigial structures stand as evidence of evolutionary history. This is why men have nipples. Because females need them and it is more efficient to build the human architecture in the uterus from a single structure. Men have an evolutionary remnant of the uterus on their prostate.

Eight percent of humans have a 13th rib like our hominid cousins, the gorillas and chimps.

The human coccyx is a tailbone left over from our common ancestor's tails.

Goosebumps are a vestige from an evolutionary time when our forebears puffed up their fur for warmth. He goes into the utility of similar spare parts like appendix's, third eye lids, hair and extrinsic ear muscles (which allowed the relatives to discriminate precise sound.

The earth is approximately 4.6 million  billion years old.

The seven strongest predictors of religious beliefs are 1. Being raised in a religious manner. 2. Your parents religiosity. 3. Low levels of education 4. Being female. 5. a large family 6. lack of conflict with parents. 7. being younger.

[Note: I find this survey very poorly written and near incomprehensible. Such as #5. Is that being in a large family or having come from one?]

Ain Soph © Rick Griffin Estate
The six cosmic numbers of Sir Martin Rees, British Astronomer Royal:

The first number, Ω (omega), 1, is the amount of matter in the universe. If this number had been one unit higher, the universe would have collapsed upon itself long ago.

 ε (epsilon), defines how strongly atomic nuclei bind together.

D = 3 - the number of dimensions in which we live.

N is the ratio of the strength of the electrical force to the gravitational force.

Q =1/100/000th, the fabric of the universe, if it was smaller the universe would be featureless, larger, it would be dominated by black holes.

λ (lambda) = 0.7, the cosmological constant or antigravity force.

String theory allows for 10 to the 500th power of possible alternate worlds, all with different laws and constants. For your information, merely twelve zeros are a trillion.

Exaptation is when a structure evolved for one purpose is co opted by the organism for a different purpose.

Our genomes include a bunch of junk dna, orphan genes, fragments, tandem repeats, pseudogenes and a lot of other useless trash.

Entropically, systems change from hot to cold, ordered to disordered and from complex to simple.

Symbiogensis is a theory proposed by Lynn Margulis in 1970 that argues that species evolve, at least microbially, through an exchange of genes.

Over 300 species engage in same sex sexual activity.

Most plants and a quarter of all animal species have individuals that can not be classified as either male or female.