Jelly, jelly so fine

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Johnny Nitro

I believe that it was Fred Salazar who first turned me on to the late John Newton aka Johnny Nitro. John was the real deal, a strat wielding gunslinger. The man at the old San Francisco club, the Saloon, performing pretty much all the time with his excellent band the Doorslammers.

Great blues guitar player, often joined by the legendary and ancient Freddy Roulette on steel, glad I was able to see him several times up there, always wonderful.

The Saloon, by the way, just might be San Francisco's oldest entertainment establishment, opening its doors in 1861 and never closing or even slamming them since. Thanks again, Fred, for turning me on to the place.

Wetting the federal beak

Two ex federal agents have been indicted on the grounds of stealing virtual currency during the Silk Road investigation. Both were members of the Baltimore Task Force that conducted the investigation that led to the seizure of the Silk Road servers and kingpin Ross Ulbricht’s arrest in October of 2013. 

Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Carl Mark Force IV, 46, was charged with wire fraud, theft of government property and money laundering. Maryland Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges, 32, was charged with wire fraud and money laundering. You can read a more detailed story of the indictment here.

Forbes breaks the whole thing down in this article. Pretty amazing story. And even more here. And it even gets better, read the Wired story, DEA agent charged with acting as paid mole for Silk Road. Who are the bad guys again? Here is the long version, feel free to skip to the end.
The Department of Justice’s 50-page complaint unsealed Monday details a wide range of alleged corrupt acts from Force and Bridges during the Silk Road investigation—from creating unauthorized undercover personas, to extorting Bitcoins from Ulbricht in exchange for information, and forging a subpoena for Venmo.
“Force and Bridges abused their positions as federal agents and engaged in a scheme to defraud a variety of third-parties, the public, and the government, all for their own financial enrichment,” the complaint reads.
Force’s charges are tied to his actions while undercover on the Silk Road towards the end of his 15-year career as a special agent. As part of the Silk Road investigation, Force went undercover as “Nob,” an imaginary drug smuggler in the United States with global criminal connections, in order to communicate with the Dread Pirate Roberts (Ulbricht’s moniker on the Silk Road).  Force interacted with DPR as instructed, but allegedly took his communications with DPR much further than he reported back to the DEA, according to the criminal complaint.  After the Silk Road servers were seized in October 2013, the feds discovered that “Nob” had had many encrypted conversations with DPR that were never officially recorded.
One of Nob’s cover stories on the Silk Road was, ironically, that he had access to “Kevin,” a corrupt government employee who worked for the Department of Justice but gave Nob information about the Silk Road investigation.  Most of Nob’s conversations with DPR about Kevin were encrypted, except one revealing message. In August 2013, DPR allegedly wrote Nob, “I could not decrypt your second message, got an error. I could decrypt the first, and have sent the 525 btc as requested.” Nob responded, telling DPR to use PGP and the two continued to chat. In his DEA file about Kevin and the conversation with DPR, Force included an agent’s note that said: “DPR made no such payment.” According to the complaint, however, DPR allegedly paid Force twice in Bitcoin—400 Bitcoins for fraudulent identification documents in June 2013, and 525 Bitcoins for Kevin’s inside information in August 2013.
Force’s alleged communication with DPR didn’t end with “Nob,” and Force allegedly used two other unauthorized personas –“French Maid” and “Death From Above.” Ulbricht allegedly paid French Maid approximately $100,000 in bitcoins in exchange for a name that French Maid claimed Mark Karpeles had given to law enforcement.  Karpeles was then CEO of Mt. Gox digital currency exchange, and the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force was trying to interview him about the Silk Road. (In Ulbricht’s trial, a special agent revealed on the stand that the FBI considered Karpeles as a possible suspect before pursuing Ulbricht as the Silk Road mastermind). The complaint lists several reasons that “French Maid” and “Nob” were believed to be the same person (aka Force): the investigation into Karpeles was privileged information, both Nob and French Maid used the same outdated PGP software, and the 770 bitcoins paid to French Maid ended up in Force’s personal account. Force used his third persona, “Death From Above,” to allegedly attempt to solicit $250,000 from DPR in exchange for personal identifying details about one of the Homeland Security’s possible Silk Road suspects. The complaint details other alleged misconduct by Force, including subpoenaing Venmo to unfreeze his personal account.
In addition to his work undercover work, Force worked extensively with former Secret Service agent Bridges, who was also on the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force. The complaint details how Force worked with Bridges to allegedly steal Bitcoins from the Silk Road, transfer them to an account with Mt. Gox, and then remove the money just before Bridges served a seizure warrant on the Bitcoin exchange. Because Bridges was the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force’s Bitcoin and Tor expert, he was the affiant on many seizure warrants related to digital currency, including the $2.1 million seizure of Mt. Gox.
A few months before the Mt. Gox accounts were seized,  one of DPR’s employees–referenced as C.G. in the complaint—showed Bridges and Force how to log into Silk Road vendor accounts, reset passwords, and do other administrative tasks on January 25, 2013. C.G. had been caught with a kilogram of cocaine by the Baltimore Task Force earlier in January 2013. The same day C.G. gave Bridges and Force the inside scoop, the Silk Road was hit with series of large thefts, tied to C.G.’s account. Believing that C.G. was responsible for the thefts, DPR commissioned hits on C.G. from Nob and another individual. DPR allegedly paid Nob $80,000 for the hit through a wire transfer, and Force and others on the Baltimore Task Force faked C.G.’s death to look like the hit actually took place. Bridges was allegedly responsible for creating “proof-of-death” photos of C.G. for Nob to send to DPR.
According to the criminal complaint, the feds believe that Bridges–under the monikers “Hush” and “Number13”– was responsible for the original thefts from the Silk Road, in coordination with Force.  A total of 20,000 Bitcoins were stolen from the Silk Road, which would have been worth $350,000 at that time and more than $20 million at Bitcoin’s height. After the theft, Bridges allegedly began bugging Force to ask DPR for advice on how to exchange Bitcoins for dollars. DPR didn’t have an answer, and Bridges answered: “Roger. Just curious.”
Coincidentally I have just finished Cory Doctorow's book For the win, which while far from exceptional, is a fictionalized story of virtual gold data miners, as told through the lens of an amateur economist anyway, somebody romantically inclined to wax poetically about the workers rising up en masse and smiting the evil overlords.

If you are a gamer or a precocious adolescent I highly recommend the book and it is indeed germane to this case and honestly starts out pretty well.

Doctorow isn't necessarily terrible, think of a subpar William Gibson clone morphing into John Kenneth Galbraith. Not necessarily my cup of meat but it takes all kinds.

He actually has a pretty serious cv, worked for both Boing Boing and the EFF, check it out here. Not real impressed with how he spins a yarn but then again I can be highly critical. I had to skim the end chapters to make the pain stop.

In any case virtual gold farming is real and it is huge in our world. People are willing to pay big bucks for virtual currency, something that is merely an abstract conception. And willing to commit all kinds of criminal acts for it as well.

Lazy gamers who want to feel like big shots can get virtual money and weapons from other poor schmucks who may be slaves in some fourth world country.

It turns out that some of the virtual gold mining is forced upon workers at Chinese prison camps as I have written about before, see Working on the virtual chain gang. This thing is so big that apparently even the cops are now wetting their beak. Meanwhile Ulbricht's family seems to think he was railroaded. Stay tuned.

Dad, are you there?

Had a strange dream last night. My dad, who is now in a very diminished state in an alzheimer's facility in the Central Valley, was driving me around in a big s.u.v.. He dropped me off in a little town someplace. I was lost. Wandering through parking garages, if I remember correctly now through the haze of being awake.

I searched for him for a long time, but then when I finally found him he wouldn't (couldn't) tell me where I could find the car. Dad clearly wasn't in his right mind. I got angrier and angrier but couldn't get though to him, finally woke up.

My handwriting is suffering horribly, has been for some time. Laboring through m's, n's and r's, sometimes adding extra loops and humps. Printing is still fine but my brain is outpacing my motor skill at present writing cursively. Have I had a little stroke? If I speed up fast enough I can still almost catch my old flow but I am honestly starting to write like an old man. Leslie noticed it last week too. All other cognitive functions seem fine.

Two near catastrophes this week. A tungsten light too close to my lightbox started a chair smoldering. Lucky I caught it, just in time. Second one is a secret.

Allergies are up, as is a seasonal asthma condition. Really been wheezing. Thankfully a friend lent me an inhaler.

Have flown into an uncharacteristic rage three times this month. Somebody asked if I was bi-polar. Just sick of talking politics I think but I promise not to bang on the table at the coffee shop again.

After months of pushing it, periods of extreme productivity, I have little or no desire to work. Need to work financially but my brain and body are forcing me to take the foot off the pedal and I am listening, oddly. Will all get hairy again soon enough. A person can't live in a state of constant acceleration. Forever anyway.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Misunderstood - Never Had A Girl Like You Before

The Loons - Another Life

dratta that errata

Lena and Ron send a picture from the playa in Joshua Tree. They have a great little place for sale out there, for peanuts.

Kip took this picture of a model up in Pasadena yesterday.

A painting from Jerry's son Max, a self portrait no less.

A friend was invited up to a property said to be Timothy Leary's in Laguna Canyon where there resides this strange rock with spaceship and other assorted carvings. Will investigate.

Forgot the sd card for my Nikon on the way home yesterday. Of course I saw my first bullock's oriole of the year on the way home. Nah-nah.

Glen Ross Campbell

I went clubbing Saturday night. You may not appreciate it but it is hard for an old guy pushing sixty to go to a nightclub and listen to loud music past one in the morning. Our constitutions get too tender for this sort of thing and most of us have long since eschewed any party favors or study aids that would either help with general alertness or reinforce the intensity and drama of the aural and visual experience.

So I went home early Saturday and took a nap. Drove down to San Diego and met Chip at Lotus Thai and after dinner we hooked on down to the Casbah. Why did I subject myself to such an experience, and a sober one at that? The answer is simply, because I was chasing a legend.

Some of you know that I am a bit of a musicologist. I collected a lot of vinyl in my youth, and have cycled through practically every musical style imaginable this side of polka and banda.

You want to know about Bulgarian Choirs and Mongolian throat singing? Just ask me. Or visit my collaborative music blog, Birdseye Music. And join if you wish or think you can keep up.

I have been to the Casbah four or five times, have seen Baby Lemonade a time or two there in the past.

Being a hayseed from the provinces who really doesn't get out much, it is hard to compare it to other similar venues, if there are any around. I used to go the Skeleton Club and that was definitely punkier. But that was then.

The Casbah seems like it has a crowd of regulars, think black boots behind starched cuff blue jeans and maybe a black military jacket. Some interesting t-shirts on in the crowd. Obviously many old friends hanging out.

A nice, friendly crowd, equal parts smart and somewhat disaffected. There were actually a lot of rather drunk women the other night, which can really add to the general ambience of a joint.

The first band was I believe called the schitzophonics. Rail thin and elastic lead singer guitar who seemingly played his guitar without ever touching the strings, quite well I might add. Whole trio was good, great girl drummer. Hot band. Richard Hell meets James White.

I tried to be a fly on the wall when I got there and happened to be sitting next to a couple guys guys recounting their worst drunken puke stories. One guy went on and on about this incredible night getting chased by cops across golf courses and having to run and throwing up in the car and cap it all off at Denny's at 3:30 a.m. with biscuits and gravy. Guy was pretty funny and we talked for quite a while and it turned out that he was a writer but I could actually tell that from his meter alone.

He ended up sharing a pretty chilling story about visiting his aunt in Long Beach as a child and finding her dead in her swimming pool when they got there, a suicide. His father fished her out and she had evidently strapped herself down with scuba ankle weights. Kind of vision that I suppose never goes away.

His wife was a tad bit tweaked on beers and shots and she figures into my story later on.

The main band was the Loons, Mike Stax's band, a record release for their new LP Inside out your mind. Mike Stax is on one of the highest echelons of musicology, founder and publisher of the widely read and respected Ugly Things Magazine, revered and renowned, justly. Knows more than I will ever know and knew it a long time ago. Great bass player for the Crawdaddies, compelling singer, backed by his wonderful wife Anya on bass.

Tough to describe the Loon's music, not really totally my thing. I like the concept, equal parts garage punk, psych, elevators, british invasion, there just seems to be something too consciously vintage or retro about the whole thing and the musicianship is occasionally a little repetitive. Dense sonic wall that could use a few more rhythm changes and a few more blank spaces. The look is great and the energy is high, the sound doesn't kill me but as I said, I'm old. Can see why some people undoubtably love them. Decent music, fun.

The reason I went to listen to them was because they were joined Saturday night by one of the esoteric legends of rock music, a demigod in many circles, one Glen Ross Campbell. Campbell was a part of the legendary sixties band from Riverside, the Misunderstood. A magician on psychedelic pedal steel, the man who just may have invented the light show.

Many experts consider the Misunderstood the most underrated sixties band, their second single I can take you to the Sun is on many greatest song of all time lists for the genre from some serious rock critics including John Peel. Campbell, not to be confused with the session celebrity of the same name, has been called Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page all wrapped into one.

The Misunderstood moved to London in 1966, had manager problems, split up and did other things, Campbell starting the short lived but excellent band Juicy Lucy. He eventually splits to New Zealand, where he has been living for decades but somehow is coaxed by Mike Stax every once in a while to leave the rabbit hole and come out and play.

And play he does. This guy is absolutely phenomenal. Born in '46, that means he is pushing seventy. Missing a tooth (he told Chip it was knocked out long ago in a tete a tete with a road manager) and bearing a beret, he treated us to a sonic smorgasbord that was freaking incredible.

The guy finds notes and sounds that his peers have never even thought about. Would love to hear him play with players of his caliber, but who really is, short of Jerry Douglas? Amazing talent, I am so glad I finally got to hear him. He played with Cocker and Rod Piazza for a while too. An older guy that knows where to find every possible sound on the spectrum.

They did a pretty smoking version of Who do you love where things got slowed down and goopy for a while. Very cool.

It is great to me to think of a bunch of local guys from Riverside, CA, just up the 215, making such an impact internationally, and how few people in America have ever even heard of them. Astounding.

I was in the second or third row when Campbell joined the Loons after their opening set. I had a pretty obnoxious and definitely unconscious young woman keep walking right in front of me like I didn't exist in space. Maybe pretty high. Look at me, I'm a tree. Poser type, trapped in a convoluted inner script. Didn't respect anyone else's space.

I was trying to be a good sport and not say anything, just be mellow Robert, do not engage when out bursts the drunken guy's now even more drunken girlfriend who suddenly emerges and plows into the chick that thinks she can occupy the space in front of me and be a tree. Accidentally, mind you. Forearm shiver, exit stage right and never to return. Lawrence Taylor never delivered such a hit. Cosmic vindication t'was.

Ricardo, Dave - remember this night?

Ruminations, factoids and geshtalty self examinations.*

Lot of stuff rolling through the ether, I'll try to affix a few virtual post it notes. 

I knew that Governor Mike Pence was headed for trouble in Indiana and that he was going to be digging himself a very big hole on the Sunday morning news show and dadgummit, I was right. I hate it when that happens.

He had six  opportunities to answer a very simple question; whether the measure legalizes discrimination against gays and lesbians. And he refused,  repeatedly rope a doping and squirming out of a very simple yes or no question.

It is rare in this day and age for a bigot or racist to actually self identify as one. You have to look at their actions and the crowd they hang with and then it is usually not so terribly difficult to discern. Never believe what anybody, especially a politician, is actually saying.

Interesting column from Tom LoBianco in today's Indianapolis Star. This controversy may actually be helping Pence with his electoral base.

I have been quite intrigued with the whole kerfuffle, and have enjoyed reading a wide range of reactions, both pro and con. The Federalists and the Libertarians, who never met an instance of private discrimination that they didn't love (let the market sort it out) are predictable but entertaining.
As a libertarian, I hold that everyone has a legal right to discriminate against, or organize a boycott of, an entity they don’t like. Laws like RFRA act as if religious reasons for discriminating against someone are valid in ways other reasons are not. To put it one way, they wrongly discriminate in favor of religiously-motivated discrimination.
The intellectually-consistent position is that all people should be legally entitled to practice discrimination, but practicing discrimination is itself a tactically unsound way to achieve social progress.
I don't want to spend a lot of time hashing this thing out again but thought that this article from Mother Jones was spot on. This bill is not like all the other bills across the nation  and this is how it is different:
The Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA—and most state RFRAs—do not. First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.”....What these words mean is, first, that the Indiana statute explicitly recognizes that a for-profit corporation has “free exercise” rights matching those of individuals or churches. A lot of legal thinkers thought that idea was outlandish until last year’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the Court’s five conservatives interpreted the federal RFRA to give some corporate employers a religious veto over their employees’ statutory right to contraceptive coverage.
Second, the Indiana statute explicitly makes a business’s “free exercise” right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government. Why does this matter? Well, there’s a lot of evidence that the new wave of “religious freedom” legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. Willock. In that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple’s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico’s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state’s Supreme Court held that the RFRA did not apply “because the government is not a party.”
I also thought that the words of law professor and RFRA supporter Professor Daniel Conkle were disingenuous at best.  The bill is about establishing a legal standard and granting religious believers legal consideration does not mean that their religious objections will always be upheld. I'm voting for it because no court in their right mind would uphold it.

If Eli Lilly and the NCAA exert a little muscle, methinks this bill is toast. Because if there is one thing they love as much if not more than god and apple pie in Indiana, it's basketball.

Lost in the RFRA white noise is the good congresswoman from Arizona who opined last week that church attendance in our republic should be mandatory and required.

Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen, of Snowflake was involved in a Senate Appropriations meeting when she tossed this one out:
“And how we get back to a moral rebirth in this country, I don’t know since we are slowly eroding religion at every opportunity that we have. Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth,” she said.
I think that it would be advisable to worry about your own moral rebirth and keep your nose out of mine, Sylvia. Because if it is a requirement there isn't much choice involved, is there?

Charles Calvert, fifth Lord of Baltimore
But for a little background, this is a teaching moment. Our forefathers came to this land escaping religious tyranny of the kind the Arizona Congresswoman advocates. The land they were escaping from was of course Massachusetts, where the nasty anglicans and puritans were making life miserable for everybody.

The concept of religious freedom was first enacted in Maryland, founded by the Catholic Lord Baltimore, in 1634. The Lord drafted an act that was enacted that read "No person or persons...shall from henceforth be any waies troubled, molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof."

Unfortunately some sixty plus years later, after Maryland's Protestant Revolution of 1689, freedom of religion was again rescinded and an act was passed forbidding Catholics from holding political office.

Eventually other states followed suit in trying to establish beachheads for the free exercise of the religion of your choice, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. Madison and Jefferson were both firm proponents of religious freedom, perhaps borrowing the concept from Roger Williams, a Baptist.  Thomas Jefferson wrote that the First Amendment erected a "wall of separation between church and state." A wall that some people in this country have been trying to breach for centuries.

 Got a letter from a friend who gave it to me pretty good last week. What can I say?

I laughed at your blog.  Sometimes……
well…I was not laughing at YOU, just the notion of this old fart forcing himself to write down his ongoing geshtalty self examinations and in particular the idea that you actually think you are on your own when you arrive to find an entire corps of like minded enthusiasts….

I also received a wonderful letter from a newspaper editor telling me of her fondness for my writing and suggesting that I go into syndication. That is very kind. Thank you for the compliment. Don't think it will ever happen. But we are still barreling down to a million views and I am very proud of that. Hard to do that without lots of pictures of boobs or cats.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Calling Richard Starkey

Photo by Kenneth Ray Seals Photography, All Rights Reserved,ken@kenseals.com
Ken was shooting for the Village News last week and got the plum assignment to photograph the Ringo Starr All Star Band at Pala Casino. Here Ringo is basking in the love like Richard Nixon.

Ken only stayed for a handful of songs but got some great shots as usual. I love the shot of Todd Rundgren in his very psychedelic shirt.

Photo by Kenneth Ray Seals Photography, All Rights Reserved,ken@kenseals.com
The band included Rundgren, former Santana and Journey keyboard player and singer Gregg Rolie, former Toto singer and guitarist Steve Lukather, former Mr. Mister lead singer and bassist Richard Page, saxophone player Warren Ham, and drummer Gregg Bissonette.

Kudos to Ken. Check out the link for more awesome photographs.

Lee Michaels - Murder in My Heart for the Judge

Gingham dog and the calico cat

The Duel

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
‘T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t’ other had slept a wink!
      The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
      Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
            (I was n’t there; I simply state
            What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went “Bow-wow-wow!”

And the calico cat replied “Mee-ow!”
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
      While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
      Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
            (Now mind: I’m only telling you
            What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,

And wailed, “Oh, dear! what shall we do!”
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
      Employing every tooth and claw
      In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
            (Don’t fancy I exaggerate—
            I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning, where the two had sat

They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
      But the truth about the cat and pup
      Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
            (The old Dutch clock it told me so,
            And that is how I came to know.)

Eugene Field


The UAE joined the Egyptians and the Saudis in going after the Houthi shiites in Yemen today. Other countries allied in the strikes are Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan. Pakistan may be involved as well, it is not entirely clear at this point. Four fifths of all yemenis are Sunni but that hasn't stopped Iran from trying to insert a shiite needle there to prick its major antagonist, the Saudis.

The Russians aren't real happy about this and neither are our new pals in Teheran. America is apparently helping the offensive with drones, logistical coordination and intelligence. The Houthis have been soliciting help from the Russians and Chinese for some time.

Talk about being on two sides of a coin at one time. This is actually very big, or it has the potential of getting really big. Iran and its shiite proxies on one side, our old allies the House of Saud and the gulf states on the sunni side. All of the other subtle machinations and feints of late have been subtexts for the coming main event. 

And here Uncle Sam is on both sides at once. Very Clumsy, not to mention stupid. Can't serve two masters in war. You lose no matter what happens. A crucible experience just waiting to happenSyria and Hezbollah are of course backing their Persian masters.
Hassan Nasrallah, chief of Lebanon's pro-Iran movement Hezbollah, said in a speech Friday that Saudi Arabia will be roundly defeated and called for a political settlement.
"Otherwise, defeat and shame will meet the invaders," he warned.
This is the battle royale that has been shaping up for the last 1400 years or so. If we were smart we would get the hell out of dodge and do nothing, let the gingham dog and the calico cat eat each other up. Ask any cop. Not ever smart to get involved in domestic disturbances.

Hudgins sent this handy matrix along which is loosely titled the middle east clusterfuck. Might help add some understanding to the complexity of the problem.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Greetings from Thailand

My buddy MJ is married to a thai woman Oa and they, along with their child Harper, split their time between California and Thailand. I believe that his wife's native village is very rural. He sends shots along of his recent excursions to Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

I wish I knew more about these and that he could narrate and explain but he can't so we will just enjoy the visceral visuals, shall we?

Michael sent me a letter: Robert
This group of pictures are 90% from Jatujak the largest outdoor market in the world, you can buy centipedes, monkeys, caimans, flowers, and unreal art and food. We get a lot design of inspiration from the crafts.

My spouse is definitely not a fan of hot weather so it surprised me yesterday when she saw these pictures and said that it would be fun to go to Thailand and have Michael show us around. Hmmm.

R Dean Taylor - Indiana Wants Me 1970

Notes from flyover country

Indiana wants me, but I can't go back there.

Indiana's Republican Governor Mike Pence has signed the so called "religious freedom" bill that will allow people to discriminate based on their religious views. Pence signed the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act in a private ceremony Thursday. He says that the bill, SB101, will in no way lead to discrimination.
SB-101 Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer. 
I started looking into the issue and went to one of the principal supporter's website Advance America.

SB 101 will help protect religious freedom in Indiana by providing protection for individuals with sincerely held religious beliefs, along with Christian businesses and churches.
SB 101 will help protect individuals, Christian businesses and churches from those supporting homosexual marriages and those supporting government recognition and approval of gender identity (male cross-dressers).
Hmmm, really worried about the cross dressers, are we? Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage. Just exactly how many men have tried to use the women's restroom anyway?

Sounds like discrimination to me, but what do I know? It is obvious the hoosiers are under attack by the forces of the ungodly. Even if the Governor claims it will not further discrimination, evidently its supporters see things differently.

Indiana U. bully throwing chair
Lets take it to its furthest conceivable conclusion; my bible tells me that black people are accursed in the bible. The old curse of Ham. To wit:
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. –Genesis 9:20-27
Good enough, I'm not serving blacks in my establishment, my restaurant or my hotel. And if it is a mixed race couple, miscegenation, sorry, same answer. Yids, don't even ask. In fact such laws were prevalent in the United States until they were finally overturned in 1967 in Loving vs. Virginia. From Wiki:
In the United States, anti-miscegenation laws (also known as miscegenation laws) were state laws passed by individual states to prohibit miscegenation, nowadays more commonly referred to as interracial marriage and interracial sex. Typically defining miscegenation as a felony, these laws prohibited the solemnization of weddings between persons of different races and prohibited the officiating of such ceremonies. Sometimes, the individuals attempting to marry would not be held guilty of miscegenation itself, but felony charges of adultery or fornication would be brought against them instead. All anti-miscegenation laws banned the marriage of whites and non-white groups, primarily blacks, but often also Native Americans and Asians.
In many states, anti-miscegenation laws also criminalized cohabitation and sex between whites and non-whites. In addition, the state of Oklahoma in 1908 banned marriage "between a person of African descent" and "any person not of African descent"; Louisiana in 1920 banned marriage between Native Americans and African Americans (and from 1920–1942, concubinage as well); and Maryland in 1935 banned marriages between blacks and Filipinos or Malays.While anti-miscegenation laws are often regarded as a Southern phenomenon, most western and plains states also had anti-miscegenation laws.
Although anti-miscegenation amendments were proposed in United States Congress in 1871, 1912–1913 and 1928, a nationwide law against racially mixed marriages was never enacted. Prior to Perez v. Sharp (1948), most U.S. states had and variously enforced anti-miscegenation laws. In 1967, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Loving v. Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional. With this ruling, these laws were no longer in effect in the remaining 16 states that at the time still enforced them. However, the active repeal of the laws was not complete until Alabama did so in 2000 after failing to do so in several earlier plebiscites on the matter. At the time, nearly 526,000 people voted against the repeal. 
It doesn't have to be gays or blacks, it could be jews, catholics, buddhists, muslims, atheists, take your pick. You run afoul of the deity of my choice and you are in big trouble buster. Or at least the government approved brand we tend to favor in these parts.

A slippery slope to be sure and a possible return to a state of mind that many of us thought we had left ages ago. People don't like somebody for one account or another and suddenly they have scripture to back up their right to discriminate against them. Starts out with a single case of discrimination, in the end you get redlining and be out of town by sundown. Has happened before. America at its nastiest.

Pence casts the bill as one restraining big government and as typical blames the media for causing the hubbub.
"I'm not aware of cases and controversies. I mean as I travel around the state one thing I know for sure —Hoosier hospitality is the greatest in the nation. Hoosiers are loving, caring, generous to a fault," Pence said in an interview with conservative radio host Greg Garrison on Thursday. "People that have strong hearts, strong values. But this isn't about any present controversy as much as some in the media want to make it about. It's about making sure that Hoosiers have the same protections in our state courts as they have in federal courts and as 30 other states have."
Pence, in that same interview, said the law was modeled after legislation passed by Congress in 1993 and that the idea was simply to make sure Indianans had the same protections as elsewhere in the country.
Earlier in the day Pence signed into law legislation barring the state from requiring businesses to serve gay and lesbian people if those businesses had religious objections.
"This is about restraining government action, Greg," Pence said.
Conventions and some large companies have already signaled their intention to vacate the state's cheery shores at the earliest possible opportunity.

Indiana Welcome Wagon.