Egret and crab

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Losing Hand

Motility of Labor

Family fleeing Southwest Dust Bowl - Life

I was talking to a fairly well off friend the other day who told me that business must be great for me. The client had been staying at the Newport Beach house for a week. "Everybody is building these big houses and they have to put something on the walls." Business hasn't been too bad but I can't say that I have had that kind of trickle down.

I bring it up because economist Robert Reich wrote something last week that got me to thinking.
The geo-political divide has become so palpable that being wealthy in America today means not having to come across anyone who isn’t.
I don't write this with malice and with only a small smidgeon of envy. But I think that what Reich says is probably true. Rich means being able to insulate yourself from the disadvantaged other side in today's culture. The burden of the poor is an intellectual abstract to the 1%. Although busy with the logistics of putting the new elevator in the La Jolla pad, Mitt Romney may have and probably does have genuine empathy for the 53%, it is just that his life is very removed from their plight. As am I to a great degree for that matter. Rich means not having to look.

Reich writes something else worth considering a few months ago, Why This Is the Worst Recovery on Record.
We're now witnessing what happens when all of the economic gains go to the top, and the rest of the population doesn't have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going.
The economic status quo has become so unbalanced that it is probably untenable. Read an article the other day about the bleak future facing those now exiting high school. And I think that I see it on the street, in their eyes, the ability to win at the game has somehow become much harder.

You can find a lot of convenient targets, shiftless (insert word here) takers, liberals, minorities, etc. I think that an honest person who is paying attention would have to admit that the rules of the road have changed and that many people are not ever going to even get a sniff at an economic upturn or a way out of the morass.

Okie family heading west - Jennings and Brewster - UPI
One of the Koch brothers said something recently that also intrigued me :
We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country, rather than saying ‘Oh, we’re just fine now.’ We’re not saying that at all. What we’re saying is, we need to analyze all these additional policies, these subsidies, this cronyism, this avalanche of regulations, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency. And like permitting, to start a business, in many cities, to drive a taxicab, to become a hairdresser. Anything that people with limited capital can do to raise themselves up, they keep throwing obstacles in their way. And so we’ve got to clear those out. Or the minimum wage. Or anything that reduces the mobility of labor.
All well and good until you get to the last part. The problem with minimum wage is that it hurts the mobility of labor? What do you want to do Chuck, take us back to the hobo days of the thirties, dust bowl families scouring the nation for work? The problem with child labor is that their little fingers get so bloody...

Learned a new word. Backfill. Looks like a friend might be losing a good job at a good company. Although he was at first promised that he had nothing to worry about, looks like it may be a bloodbath. "They aren't going to backfill" he told me. Backfilling is evidently when a company uses some lucky survivors from the purged old guard to fill a present labor need.

Ithaca Porch Fest

Monday, July 29, 2013

I don´t need you

Since my annual trip to New Mexico is quickly approaching, I thought I should tune my brain up with some good ole Albuquerque garage rock. This is jefe numero uno, King Richard and the Knights, circa 1966. You can read more about the entire New Mexico 60's genre and Lance Records, here. Can't come down? Check out the Fe Fi Four.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Heat struck in the old apple

There is a neat reprinting of a New York Times article from 1852 in today's paper. Read the article here. Sensing that the alliteration might be a trifle thick and overdone in today's rather dry literary climate, the Times asks readers to chime in with a paragraph of their own in their most florid and purplish prose.

I had a submission accepted, replete with a typo that I am unable to go back and fix. Oh well, it was a lot of fun. Probably not too late to try your hand. If you actually like my paragraph you could always give me a like...

El Real Building, Fallbrook, CA

I saw this sign outside of Magee's Tavern yesterday evening and had to laugh.

Magee's is one a long line of restaurants that have called the El Real home.

The El Real is a spanish revival building that was built in the twenties by Lee Ellis, son of one of the original Fallbrook homesteaders, William Ellis, the man who built the now torn down Naples (later called the Ellis) Hotel.

Naples Hotel, Fallbrook
I snapped the picture of the El Real this morning on my phone. It was the site of the now defunct but much loved Packing House restaurant. The town lore says that the El Real was once famous for something else, being a bordello. There are a lot of small rooms upstairs, suitable for a brief reconnoiter.

The manager of the place tells me of a time not long ago when an old man walked in and wistfully asked to see a specific room, having been introduced to life's carnal pleasures on that very same spot, so long ago.

Billy J. Kramer

Lots of people took a swing at this Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition. Dionne Warwick's of course is the most famous but there were many respectable versions. Among them were covers by the Everly Brothers, Box Tops, Anita Harris, Sandie Shaw, The Carpenters, Astrud Gilberto, Cilla Black, The Dells, Stan Getz, The Shadows, Connie Francis and Dwight Yoakum. This one by Billy J. Kramer will always be my favorite.


Richie Parker

I listened to a program about this guy on the radio yesterday. Remarkable man. Something to remember next time that we are feeling sorry for ourselves.

"Not a lot in my life that I can't do. Just things I haven't done yet."
Richie Parker

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Funky Bank

I posted a video the other day about the poor lady in Wellston, Ohio who went on vacation and came back to find that a bank had ransacked her house and pilfered her possessions. Their GPS was off and they meant to ransack the house across the street, even though her address was clearly marked. Now the First National Bank of Wellston, Ohio is engaging in some serious damage control.

The homeowner presented them a bill of 18K for her loss and they are now trying to hondel her, demanding receipts and not so subtly accusing her of all sorts of nefarious behavior.

They say that they acted in good faith. Why, the grass at the home was overgrown, the door was unlocked and the utilities were turned off. Officials said they simply discarded what was assumed to be trash and abandoned items. You call that crap possessions? Show us receipts for the stuff and we can talk but we are not about to pay retail.

The homeowner, a nurse with children named Katie Barnett, might even be (shudder) a divorcée. Town chief of police doesn't want to get involved, says the case is closed, not smart to go up against the big local bank if you live in a little town. This incident strikes deeply in an american psyche that has long held that the family home is inviolate.

The bank put out this statement on its website today:
A message from Tony Thorne regarding current news stories about our bank 
July 25, 2013 
The First National Bank of Wellston is a 127-year-old locally owned independent bank serving Jackson and Vinton Counties in Ohio. With two banking offices and 36 employees, our mission is to serve the banking needs of the people and businesses in our local communities.On June 18, 2013, two representatives of the First National Bank of Wellston were assigned to clean and refurbish a bank-owned residential property. Regrettably, the GPS locator they used to find the property led them to the wrong home, which was located on the same street as the target property (we have since retraced their route using the same GPS, and it again took us to the same wrong location). As we discovered later, the property to which they were directed actually belonged to another individual.When our representatives arrived, they noted that the grass was overgrown, the door was unlocked, and the utilities had been turned off. The home was also nearly empty, with two dressers being the only furniture inside the premises, and a neighbor indicated that the home had been vacant for some time. Therefore, not knowing that the GPS was incorrect, our employees had no reason to doubt that they were at the right location, and they proceeded to change the door locks, clean the property, and discard what they assumed to be trash and abandoned items. Unfortunately, we did not discover our error until the clean-up process was nearly complete.This situation was a mistake on the part of our bank and – as we have done previously – we sincerely apologize to the homeowner for the inconvenience and concern it may have caused.In addition, we communicated to the homeowner our desire to compensate her fairly and equitably for her inconvenience and loss. However, the written list of items that she provided to us – and the value she assigned to those items – is inconsistent with the list and descriptions of items removed that was prepared by the employees who did the work, and with the list and values of missing items provided by the homeowner herself as recorded in an earlier telephone conversation with one of our representatives.In a meeting with me in my office, I indicated to the homeowner that we wanted to compensate her but would have to look further into the differences in the lists. We heard nothing more from her or otherwise about this situation until being contacted by a local television station, which subsequently broadcast a story that, from our perspective, did not accurately reflect the facts or the good faith actions of the First National Bank to resolve the situation. Nearly all of the news stories that you may have seen – regardless of whether on television or the internet – appear to have been taken directly from the local television report. Other than CNN, no news media that has rebroadcast or reprinted this story has contacted us to get our side of the story or to verify the claims made on the local station.Nothing like this has ever happened to our bank before, and we have instituted additional internal controls to ensure that it will not happen again. Anthony S. Thorne President & CEO
Tony, you haven't asked me for my advice but you are making a big mistake here. Pay her the money. It's about to get a whole lot more expensive. You couldn't buy this much bad publicity if you tried and now you look really cheap. You probably are demanding that she shut up if she takes the measly settlement that you are undoubtably offering but she would be a fool to.

You overplayed your hand and she now has all the bullets.  You have basically called the woman a no good liar. Doesn't look good for your bank. I notice that your troubled asset ratio is already borderline. Americans get pissed off at bankers that treat people this way. Right now there are undoubtably flotillas of attorneys beating their way to this woman's door at this very moment so that they can try to get a piece of you. Reap the whirlwind.

Chuck and Keef work it out.

Oh Carol

Last Resort - © Carol Lindemulder 2013
One of two contemporary artists that I am now representing in my gallery, Carol Lindemulder is recovering from a recent surgery. I am sure that you all join me in wishing Carol a fast and full recovery.

The Gun Club - Eskimo blue day

Strange Bedfellows

In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens. The Administration has taken various proactive steps to advance this debate including the President’s meeting with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, his public statements on the disclosed programs, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s release of its own public statements, ODNI General Counsel Bob Litt’s speech at Brookings, and ODNI’s decision to declassify and disclose publicly that the Administration filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. We look forward to continuing to discuss these critical issues with the American people and the Congress. However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process. We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation. White House statement - Office of the Press Secretary 7/23/13

Wow. The President let us know that the Administration filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It is going to be a new day in Washington...

Funny how things are shaking down in Washington re: surveillance. Republican Rep Justin Amash's bill to limit NSA data collection methodology was narrowly defeated the other day, 215 to 205. The bill would have allowed agency officials to continue collecting telephone records, but only for people connected to relevant ongoing investigations.

The proposal would also have required that secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court opinions be made available to lawmakers and that the court publish summaries of each opinion for public review. The two programs in question both allowed the government to collect the data records of hundreds of millions of Americans and also allowed the NSA to sweep up internet usage data from around the world that goes through nine major U.S.-based providers.

As noted by many, the left wing joined the right wing against the middle on this one. You had Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss parading around like bff''s representing the surveillance status quo establishment on one side and Amash and John Conyers representing the wingnuts on the other. Very strange bedfellows.

I don't have the energy to run this into the ground this afternoon but one thing about the Obama administration's response regarding this crap really makes me laugh.

The White House called the amendment an attempt to “hastily dismantle” counterterrorism tools and “not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.” Oh now you want to have an informed, open or deliberative process? Now that you have been Snowdened, after years of rebuffing Udall and Wyden, now you are suddenly putting your cards on the table. And we are supposed to believe you? Because things are going to be somehow different now that you have been caught and found out.

People are pissed and the issue is not going to simply go away. According to a McClatchy-Marist poll, 56 percent of Americans now believe that the government has gone too far in its collection of personal data. A Washington Post-ABC News poll this week shows that 74 percent of those surveyed believe NSA surveillance of telephone records intrudes on the privacy rights of some Americans. The Patriot Act will not be renewed in its current form. Supposedly, we have a say in all this too. We assume certain candidates will represent our interests and sometimes we guess wrong. Our bad.

Obama promised transparency and then went Dick Cheney on us. Remember that Obama Change website that made all sorts of transparency promises? It has mysteriously disappeared from the internet. Luckily, cached copies live forever.

The fact that there is a FISC does not reassure most americans concerned about this literally unwarranted intrusion. Not with their perfect batting average. When people have attempted to sue the government they are told that they can not prove standing or that their suit's disclosure would somehow negatively impact national security.

Sorry Mr. President, we have seen the Prism wizard behind the curtain. We will have a hard time ever trusting or believing you again.
"Have 12 years gone by and our memories faded so badly that we forgot what happened on Sept. 11?" Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence committee, said in pleading with his colleagues to back the program.
We keep getting 9/11 thrown in our faces. You remember 9/11, don't you? The part where Richard Clarke warned the Bush administration that terrorists were planning on flying planes into our buildings? The information was already there. The failure was in getting Condoleeza Rica and the administration to get off their asses and do something about it. Data was not the problem. Smarts was the problem. Every american was distraught about 9/11, if we thought that it was worth trading our freedom for we would certainly let you know.
"We Should Have Had Orange or Red-Type of Alert in June/July of 2001"
By Eric Boehlert Salon.com 3-26-4
A former FBI translator told the 9/11 commission that the bureau had detailed information well before Sept. 11, 2001, that terrorists were likely to attack the U.S. with airplanes.
A former FBI wiretap translator with top-secret security clearance, who has been called "very credible" by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has told Salon she recently testified to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States that the FBI had detailed information prior to Sept. 11, 2001, that a terrorist attack involving airplanes was being plotted.
Referring to the Homeland Security Department's color-coded warnings instituted in the wake of 9/11, the former translator, Sibel Edmonds, told Salon, "We should have had orange or red-type of alert in June or July of 2001. There was that much information available." Edmonds is offended by the Bush White House claim that it lacked foreknowledge of the kind of attacks made by al-Qaida on 9/11. "Especially after reading National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice where she said, we had no specific information whatsoever of domestic threat or that they might use airplanes. That's an outrageous lie. And documents can prove it's a lie."
Report Warned Of Suicide Hijackings CBS News 5-17-22

"Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives ... into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House." --1999 federal report
(CBS) Two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, an analysis prepared for U.S. intelligence warned that Osama bin Laden's terrorists could hijack an airliner and fly it into government buildings like the Pentagon.
"Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House," the September 1999 report said. The Bush administration has asserted that no one in government had envisioned a suicide hijacking before it happened.
     * RICE CLAIM: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 5/16/02
* FACT: On August 6, 2001, the President personally "received a one-and-a-half page briefing advising him that Osama bin Laden was capable of a major strike against the US, and that the plot could include the hijacking of an American airplane." In July 2001, the Administration was also told that terrorists had explored using airplanes as missiles. [Source: NBC, 9/10/02; LA Times, 9/27/01]

Thursday, July 25, 2013

the night has a thousand eyes

©Alex Nino - from Satan's Tears, the Art of Alex Nino

The new Zelazny compilation has been rather revelatory. I am two thirds through the first book and have just dove in to the first perfect tale, the award winning He who shapes. It takes a while for people to find their way artistically and for a writer to discover his or her voice. Very few human beings sprout forth fully formed, the exception being the occasional Mozart or Rimbaud. I didn't realize how involved Roger was with poetry early on and it definitely colored his prose and enriched his language base. Much of his own poetry was produced for an early collection that was never published called Chisel in the sky. He was a huge lover of Dante and Hart Crane, Yeats and Homer. I found one error in the book and plan to write the publisher if I can find time. Anyway I also came across this poem in one of his stories that I rather liked, from the British poet Francis W. Bourdillon (1852-1921). It is titled The Night has a Thousand Eyes.

The night has a thousand eyes,
and the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
with the dying sun
The mind has a thousand eyes,
and the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
when love is done.

The Kick Inside

Let it qaniɣ

I was talking to my friend Gary today about the deficiencies of the english language. I pointed out that there are fifty words for snow in eskimo and not one decent word in english for the little sore you get inside your nostril when you pull out a nose hair.


I started researching the subject soon thereafter and found out that it was basically total bunk. Sorry, Kate Bush (She put out an album concerning the leitmotif called not so surprisingly, Fifty words for snow.) First off there is no eskimo language, there are a group of languages for the assorted eskimo-aleut tribes in that part of the world and their language has the same approximate number of words for snow as english, although it is true that they can be more complexly modified by their linguistic roots.

A linguist named Laura Martin traced the history of the fifty words for snow myth in 1986. Apparently it had its origin in the work of linguist and anthropologist Franz Boas who wrote the Handbook of American Indian languages in 1911. Boas had done some field work amongst the Inuit at Baffin Island.

People have gone back and forth on the subject and the phenomenon has been labeled both a hoax and a literary cliche. What the hell. I used it. It works.

And I think finally I would be remiss in not mentioning that there are approximately 180 words for snow in the Sami language of the Lappes of Norway, Sweden and Finland. And 1000 words for reindeer.

The three universal words for snow across the major inuit dialects are qaniɣ  - falling snow, aniɣu  - fallen snow and apun  - snow on the ground.

I got a little lecture from Tom at the gym the other day regarding the words awhile and a while. I think he was a little sore because I caught a misspelling in one of his memo's memos that was apparently not supposed to be released into the public arena.

Anyway Tom let me in on the fact that one is an adverb and one is an article and a noun and you interchange them at your peril. I googled it. Be my guest:
Grammatically, a while is a noun phrase in which "a" is an article and "while" functions as a noun meaning "a short period of time"; awhile is an adverb meaning "for a while."  In other words, the meaning is the same, but the structure is different:  the word awhile has "for" built into its meaning.
I guess the skinny is that when you say a while, you should mentally insert for before it and see if it works or not. I believe that I am done with it.

A couple years ago Jane Milner Mares let me have it for using an apostrophe in the possessive its. I don't do that anymore.

I pulled the Chicago Manual of Style, the editor's bible, out of the library recently. A must have for any serious editor or wordsmith. Do you know what those paper things are between the binders of a book? If you answered pages you would be dead wrong. They are leaves. A leaf has two sides called pages. Learned it in the Chicago Manual of Style. Also a lot about copyright. Full of great stuff, including a good chart of proofreading conventions. My mother was a great editor. I should have paid more attention. Read galleys for her but never grabbed the proper correction lexicon.

And then there was the moment that I realized that I was adding an unnecessary apostrophe mark to plurals. The shame...

Obama does it again

 The strange case of Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nasty Bankers Department

Big Iron

Wave, Paria

I read today that three people have now died this summer at the popular sandstone formation in Utah known as the Wave. The Wave is one of the most picturesque places I have ever photographed but have to admit that the hike kicked my ass way back when I was in better shape. Temperatures have been downright scalding this year.

The trek can be quite grueling and even hellish if you miscalculate on water. We left early in the morning but once you are there you don't want to leave and the afternoon trip back is what unfortunately literally kills you. 

I hiked out by myself and ended up walking several miles and then laying down in the shade of a bush for an hour or two to recuperate before meeting my hiking mates, one of whom, Kerry, is shown in the upper photo. I had run out of water and was seriously parched and can see how the fatalities occurred. You are a long way from anywhere out there.

Several Germans in spandex were there with 8 x10 rigs that must have weighed a ton and I salute them. It is not easy to get permission to visit the wave, we won a lottery. I expect that it will now get even harder. Don't know if I will attempt it again in my current cardiac condition. If I decide to try, do yourself a favor and take out an insurance policy on me.



You learn all sorts of things at the coffee shop. The tip box usually has a brain teaser attached and a compartmentalized true or false section where you throw your money. The other day I believe the question was about what a banana is? I said a fruit. Beeeep! Wrong, I was told. The Banana is a berry. And by the way, a strawberry is not.

These are the sorts of things that get my overactive cranium racing and I decided to pursue the subject further. First, of all the banana is a fruit. Just like a tomato and avocado are a fruit. But it is a berry. What is a berry?

The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. A grape is a berry. So for that matter is a pepper, coffee, pumpkin and watermelon.

There are modified berries that are produced from an inferior ovary, pomes, drupes and epigynous berries and all kinds of other close relations as well.

Now the banana is an edible fruit from the genus Musa derived from one of two distinct native species Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. It is a fruit that is grown from a single seed, making it a berry. Cultivation goes back possibly as far as 8000 BCE in Southeast asia. It was brought to the New World by the Portuguese in the 16th century from West Africa.

Strawberries on the other hand have what look like their seeds on the outside of the fruit. They are actually ovaries that contain seeds and are known as achene. In botanical terms strawberries are known as an "aggregate accessory" fruit. The fleshy part of the fruit is derived not from the plant's ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries.

I took the photograph of the fruit market many years ago in the Kenyan city of Nyahuhuru, near the Rift Valley. The scene was vivid and rich. It was forbidden to take photographs at this particular market but I was being bad. I had my Konica FT 2 film camera hanging near my navel as I tried to grab a few "blind" shots surreptitiously. This woman in the blue sweater heard a click. If looks could kill I would be a dead man right now.

The colorful native wraps are called kanga or kitenge. I brought several of them back with me. I would love to return to Africa one day.

I have misplaced or lost many of my africa negatives and slides and it is a shame as some of the work is the best that I have ever done. They couldn't make it through my divorce, cancer, heart stuff and general gross mismanagement. This photo hangs in my bathroom. You can see at the top that the cibachrome print is actually starting to break down. One day I need to digitize my remaining slides.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Smite them, Lord.

The "youknowwho's" are at it again. Not content to appoint themselves as the moral authorities of womenhood's collective uterus's and vaginas, and official timekeepers of the fetal heartbeat, the party of limited government has got a couple fresh new ideas to put on the table. Meet our new calvinist overlord:

Cooch, also known as Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican Attorney General of Virginia now running for governor, is proposing laws that would forbid oral and anal sex. Between married people. And that's not all. Cooch thinks that it is high time that we start penalizing people for having sex out of wedlock and for adulterous infidelity. He wants to reinstate the old "Crimes against nature" statutes.

The Centers for Disease Control finds that nearly 82 percent of men and 80 percent of women ages 15-44 admit to having had oral sex. But I wouldn't advise trying it in Virginia. Because the only thing that sucks there is the Attorney General.
“Restrictions on adultery “ought to stay on the books...Frankly it wouldn’t hurt to enforce them (adultery laws) more,” Cuccinelli is quoted as saying. Cuccinelli drew a comparison to “perjury inasmuch as the occasional prosecution or two would get people thinking twice.”
Because the government just doesn't have enough to do. I read Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter in the seventh grade, everybody did. A little smiting and stoning will get this country right back on its moral feet.

We won't outlaw sex, just mandate that it be accomplished the way god intended, in the missionary position, between a man and a woman, with both parties fully clothed and the lights turned off. As long as it's performed for purposes of procreation nobody should have a problem. Stone a few wayward miscreants, bring back the stocks, you make a little example out of a few perverts, people will get the message.
When you look at the homosexual agenda, I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul. Cooch 6/26/13
“My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that." Cooch 2009
Don't we have enough on our plates fighting a failing economy, an enemy named terrorism, not to mention tooth decay, to worry about a little pleasurable debauchery between married or otherwise consenting adults? I have an idea. Stay the fuck out of my bedroom!
If any person carnally knows in any manner any brute animal, or carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony…
In other news today, Missouri State Senate Majority Whip Brian Nieves (R-Washington) said that saving the life of a mother by allowing her to have an abortion is merely a matter of convenience.

A lot of my socially liberal, fiscally conservative pals will pull the lever for these types of loathsome pond scum. Better for the investment portfolio. You vote for them, you own them, okay? Fire, brimstone, olde testament, the whole kit and kaboodle. And no more, you know what for you.

steely dan - the royal scam

Donald Fagen takes some shots at Dylan in the latest Rolling Stone that are sort of amusing.
Fagen said, “I’ve been to Bob Dylan shows where I essentially walked out in the middle. I just didn’t like it. Usually there’s a good reason why those songs shouldn’t be done.”
“Dylan’s voice is shot. There are certainly times when that doesn’t bother me so much depending on the song, and he still comes up with ways of doing tunes that makes that OK, but with him it’s more that he does a lot of recent material. He has about a dozen minor-key drone tunes with three chords. I find that very tedious… He actually has some songs that are even more boring than some early Appalachian songs…” It's amazing that he actually . . . It's songs with 512 verses and no melody. It's more than I can bear, really.
And when asked if Dylan should see a throat specialist Fagen said, “I think a psychiatrist more than a throat doctor would probably be useful at this point.”

This might be my favorite Steely Dan vocal, by David Palmer, now a digital photographer.

This, that and the other thing.

Thank the lord, divine intelligence, mother nature or even serendipity for the one and a half inches of rain that fell on Idyllwild Sunday morning. Not to mention the 3500 fire fighters. Town was saved.

CNN reporter caught some heat yesterday for what might have been a slightly tongue in cheek comment about the Duchess of Windsor's "brilliance" in foaling a male child first time out as the new royal whelp.
 "My first thought, I have to say, was this is how brilliant a royal Kate is. There are women throughout British royal family history that have panicked over not being able to deliver a boy. And here we are -- Kate did it first time."
Such a talented princess...Of course it is ridiculous, even if you care, as there is no more right of male succession, I suppose people still favor Kings over Queens.

The world is agog over the whole royal thing. Not really an american tradition, royalty. Unless you are a rapper or sports hero of course. Since the Kennedy's anyway.

I was talking to friend Dave whose mother is a brit about the world's strange preoccupation with the kid and the royals. He said that since they lost the right to behead you, the excessive veneration is mostly just reality television.

Had a great meal at Le Bistro last night. Very special, amazing wine pairing. The Puglian vintner was flown in from Italy along with a translator and cohorts. All organic, no sulfites, no machine picking, very old school. The vineyard has been in the family since 1837. One of the wines cost $240.00 per bottle, only 2400 bottles produced a year, supposedly one of the world's ten best.

Although I am no longer drinking, I had to wet my beak and quaff last night, but very sparingly. We had a great table, whole place was wonderful and the food was superb. They added sausage to the gnocchi and a brown sauce to the pork normandy that tied it all together. Tremendous evening.

Doug's brother sent him this different perspective on Martin/ Zimmerman.  Bit of a hatchet job but draw your own conclusions.

High Falls

Rufous necked Wood Rail

The birding world is atwitter. A Rufous necked Wood Rail is hanging out in the Bosque del Apache in New Mexico, the first recorded sighting in the United States.

Every year I take a side trip between my New Mexico shows. Looks like I will be taking a little ride to see if I can espy this lovely creature lolling amongst the cat tails.

I did Bosque del Apache two years ago. It is a little sparse in the summer but still wonderful.

The Rufous necked Wood Rail is normally found on the coasts and tropical jungles of central and south america. This guy may want to recalibrate his gps.

From Wikipedia:

The Rufous-necked Wood Rail (Aramides axillaris) is a species of bird in the Rallidae family. It is found in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and subtropical or tropical mangrove forests.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dolphin's respond and identify with a unique whistle.

In nature, dolphins 'whistle' by name.

Pacific Vibrations - Rick Griffin

Jumpy the dog

Race and Justice

Interesting article on racial discrepancies and the law over at AlterNet today. 

Blacks Who "Stand Their Ground" Are Often Imprisoned

Defendants in Florida who employ the “Stand Your Ground” defense are more successful when white and when victim is black.
Zenitha Prince
An analysis conducted by the Tampa Bay Times last year showed that defendants in Florida who employ the “Stand Your Ground” defense are more successful when the victim is Black. In its examination of 200 applicable cases, the Times found that 73 percent of those who killed a Black person were acquitted, compared to 59 percent of those who killed a White.
Similarly, an analysis of Supplemental Homicide Reports submitted by local law enforcement to the FBI between 2005 and 2010 demonstrates that in cases with a Black shooter and a White victim, the rate of justifiable homicide rulings is about 1 percent. However, if the shooter is White and the victim is Black, it is ruled justified in 9.5 percent of cases in non-Stand Your Ground (SYG) states.
In SYG states, the rate is even higher—almost 17 percent, according to John Roman of the Urban Institute. 

Hedy West - Little Sadie

I was reading the new Zelazny compilation and it mentions that Roger was once engaged to Hedy West for five months. Apparently his mom stepped in and kaiboshed the whole deal, maybe thought that the folk singer moved a little too fast for the kid from Ohio. Hedy wrote the popular folk tune 500 miles.

Deer,Lena dear.

I was talking to my friend Lena yesterday and she commented that she really liked the picture of the deer I had photoshopped on the Grand Canyon rim. "Uh, excuse me," I said. "It was not photoshopped." Goosed up a bit but not otherwise manipulated. In order to salvage my professional pride, I now post the original accompanying shots. Hmmmph!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

High Tech Celebrity Sycophants and Grok

High-End Stores Use Facial Recognition Tools To Spot VIPs. - NPR

How to build a digital brain - Jeff Hawkins

United States declares war on Australia, bombs Great Barrier Reef

Aussies vow retribution. Old Faithful and Mt. Rushmore on high alert.
Sydney - Home Secretary Jack Spratt says that the country will not take the bombings lying down. "We're rested, tanned and ready for a scrum, mate. You yanks have just stepped into the wrong billabong. If you ever want to see another six pack of Foster's in America again you will quell your provocative adventurism. We got some blokes in the outback that will point the bone at ya and the results won't be pretty."

Donny Hathaway

Skittled, scuttled and sunk in Sanford

A lot of people, politicians and pundits have been complaining this week about the President injecting race into the Trayvon Martin murder case. Obama has been called the race baiter in chief. How could he? We all know that racism is no longer an issue in this country. Let's look at the facts of this particular case:

Trayvon Martin, a young man from Miami, is visiting his father in Sanford, Florida. They watch the NBA All-Star game at a house in a gated Sanford community, the Retreat at Twin Lakes. In the evening, Martin walks to a 7-Eleven to get some Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea. While walking back, he draws Zimmerman's attention, a guy patrolling the neighborhood in a sport-utility vehicle. Zimmerman calls 911 to report "a real suspicious guy."
"This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something," Zimmerman told the dispatcher. "It's raining, and he's just walking around looking about." The man tried to explain where he was. "Now he's coming towards me. He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male...Something's wrong with him. Yup, he's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is...These assholes, they always get away."
Do you honestly think that Zimmerman follows this young man around if he is a white dude wearing top siders and a La Coste shirt? The racism and profiling in this case started a long time ago, when this young man had the nerve to try to buy some skittles and walk through a white neighborhood.

I don't really care if he had weed in his system, what percentage of Americans do you think do these days?  He's a kid. Maybe there had been a problem with black kids in the neighborhood, but not this black kid. Zimmerman had no right to gun him down. Last I heard, it was not a crime to be black in this country. But sometimes you would think that it is.

Wait until tomorrow

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mas Oyama

I wrote earlier today about the writer Roger Zelazny. Roger and I once had a conversation about our mutual love for martial arts. I believe that he was a kyukashinkai student of the famous Mas Oyama. I was a student of Hung Gar kung fu, a totally different animal, but I have tremendous respect for Mas Oyama. I will never forget seeing his manual for spearing little pieces of paper with his fingertips, breaking boards floating in a pail of water without creating ripples, splitting arrows shot through the air at him. He was the real thing.

Tales of the Inexpressible

Dear Roger

I have mentioned before what a major inspiration the late writer Roger Zelazny was in my life. I first discovered him while attending boarding school. The book was Creatures of Light and Darkness.

In the ensuing years I devoured every Zelazny book I could get my hands on. The recipient of multiple Hugo's and Nebula Awards, Roger wrote the best science fiction of his or to my taste, any time.

Lord of Light, Nine Princes of Amber, Jack of Shadows, Mana from Heaven, Home is the Hangman, the list is endless.

When I was young and wandered into a bookstore and was lucky enough to find a new Amber book, an event that happened about once a year, it felt like christmas every time. No matter where I was in my life, it meant a stop, a time out so that I could find myself in the comfort of Zelaznyland again.

Roger missed occasionally, who doesn't? But he had an appreciation for the intricacies of the human condition, an ear for language and a literary batting average that towered above the great majority of his peers.

I was lucky enough to meet my literary inspiration, several times in fact. Had an opportunity to tell him how much he meant to me. Never will you find a more humble and wonderful artistic hero.

I was in the library the other day and chanced upon a book by Roger that I had never seen, Threshold Volume 1: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny. It is first of a completed six volume set, everything the man ever wrote. This volume covers work from his early years through the mid 1960s including The Doors of his face, the lamps of his mouth.

I am in heaven. There is stuff in here that I have never seen. Yippee. For more information about the New England Science Fiction Association's Zelazny Project, click here.

Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition

The Gate to the Minds Eye


Chimp - Carnegie Mellon

I have watched the DARPA robotics challenge from the periphery. There is so much to talk about regarding the program I can barely scratch the surface on a saturday afternoon. But let us start at the beginning. What is DARPA? DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. You can read their own pdf here. DARPA is an agency of the federal government that was established in the face of Sputnik in 1958. It's self described mission; preventing technological surprise from adversely affecting our country while creating surprises for U.S. adversaries.

Thor - Virginia Tech
DARPA funds a lot of research and development in hopes of using said research down the road. And so we have the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

DARPA created a contest where global teams were solicited to create software to build robots designed to help humans in disaster response situations. The first go round was purely virtual. Here are the stated objectives for the challenge:
The DARPA Robotic Challenge will focus on developing robots that can operate in rough terrain and austere conditions, using aids (vehicles and hand tools) commonly available in populated areas. Specifically, we want to prove that the following capabilities can be accomplished:
Compatibility with environments engineered for humans (even if they are degraded)
Ability to use a diverse assortment of tools engineered for humans (from screwdrivers to vehicles)
Ability to be supervised by humans who have had little to no robotics training.
Supervised autonomy is critical, as it allows simple tasks to be performed by the robot without full-time operator intervention. This will be especially important in unreliable communications environments.
robosimian - NASA
Twenty-six teams from eight countries qualified to compete in the VRC, which ran from June 17-21, 2013. DARPA had allocated resources for the six teams that did best, but at some point they changed the number of entrants to nine. They are as follows:

    1. Team IHMC, Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola, Fla. (52 points)
    2. WPI Robotics Engineering C Squad (WRECS), Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass. (39 points)
    3. MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. (34 points)
    4. Team TRACLabs, TRACLabs, Inc., Webster, Texas (30 points)
    5. JPL / UCSB / Caltech, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. (29 points)
    6. TORC, TORC / TU Darmstadt / Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. (27 points)
    7. Team K, Japan (25 points)
    8. TROOPER, Lockheed Martin / University of Pennsylvania / Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Cherry Hill, N.J. (24 points)
    9. Case Western University, Cleveland, Ohio (23 points)

Schaft Inc. - HRP-2 based biped

DARPA built its own robot as well. Say hello to ATLAS.

ATLAS is a hydraulically powered robot in the form of an adult human. It is capable of a variety of natural movements, including dynamic walking, calisthenics and user-programmed behavior. Based on the Petman humanoid robot platform, Atlas was modified to meet the needs of the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

    Near-human anthropometry
    2 arms, 2 legs, torso and head.
    28 hydraulically actuated joints with closed-  loop position & force control
    On-board real time control computer
    Electric power & network tether
    On-board hydraulic pump & thermal mgmt
    Crash protection
    Modular wrists accept 3rd party hands
    Head-mounted sensor package with LIDAR,   stereo sensors, dedicated sensor electronics and perception algorithms.

DARPA has also created the fastest robot this side of ricochet rabbit. Check out the Cheetah.

IHMC high point robot
I had a couple thoughts and early observations. The first one is how smart it was to package this as a benevolent mission project to assist man in disaster response. How the black ops people must be itching to figure out how to reconfigure these puppies into high tech weaponry and killing tools. Hey, easy to do. After all, what good is a robot if it can't blow shit up?

The other initial observation is how many of the robots assembled homo sapiens. Four digits, opposable thumb, two armed bipeds, hmmm, where have I seen that before? Wouldn't a sixth finger come in handy, sure would if we could teach them to play piano? And four extremities, wouldn't a third arm free the other two up for texting and who knows what? Looks like most of these guy's appendages are capable of both ambulation and manual dexterity. But why an even number of limbs?

Of course, machines with human like anatomical structure might have an advantage in completing human tasks. And who knows, maybe one day these things will have to pass for human? Might be an advantage to fit in.

Still, I give points to those creators who have lost their anthropomorphic conceit and tried to break the mold. Love the chimp.

It must be jelly - Johnny Long Orchestra

Fat and Culture

I suspect that I would look really hot in Mauritania.

Friday, July 19, 2013


My friends Pete and Gary both grew up in Santa Ana in the early sixties. Pete loved the Chantays, Gary favored this band, the Rhythm Rockers. I guess you proclaimed fealty to one or the other of the great surf bands, but not both. Both of these bands played the famous Rendezvous Ballroom.

Le Bistro

Le Bistro is doing a special italian wine pairing on Monday night. We got a blast from Colleen the other day.

I have eaten at Le Bistro a couple of times recently and the food has improved a lot. We had a nice time and the hosts were great and very engaging. It would be nice to see more people in the seats. Entree's are less expensive and the menu has been tweaked. We really enjoyed ourselves. Here is a picture of last week's pork normandy.

Is it Chef Robert's pork normandy? No, it is not, he has retired. You will never get that again. The new rendition is a bit more subtle, the flavor set is a little more reserved. I would like to see it with added caramelization but it might just be me.

Beautiful plates. Leslie had the duck and gnocchi, we had a great salad and a really fantastic apple dessert. Carpaccio to start, wonderful buffalo mozzarella plate with beautiful heirloom tomatoes as well. Excellent bread, so hard to find these days.

I give Steve and Colleen a lot of credit for trying to make this restaurant fly. They had some growing pains but I think that they are now finding their stride. These things take time. Give them a shot. You will have a nice meal. Maybe I will see you there Monday night.

Le Bistro
119 N. Main
Fallbrook, CA