Blue Heron in flight

Monday, January 25, 2016

Brave new world.

There was a thought provoking query recently on a photo forum that I frequent, DPReview, that questioned if it was ever appropriate to blur a background "bokeh" on a photograph or if it was somehow cheating. Bokeh is what happens to backgrounds when a lens is shot close to wide open with a short depth of field.

And it got me to thinking about all sorts of things regarding digital media and various arts, photography included, and the notion of artistic purity.

I love classical arts, arts that have stood the test of time. I am the sort who favors ballet over break dancing or the latest modern fad. I used to be involved in martial arts and there all always new hybrid schools springing up, melding a multitude of styles that I was always a bit contemptuous of. My school tradition traced its origins back to the 17th century. I both pay attention to and respect tradition, but I am not a slavish devotee to it.

Film and photography reach back much shorter in time of course then the 17th century. Thomas Wedgwood first captured an image from a camera obscura on leather or paper coated with silver nitrate around the year 1800.

Nicéphore Niépce and his partner Louis Daguerre created what was ostensibly the first actual photo etching in 1822.

George Eastman marketed the first roll film in 1885 and Kodak started selling cellulose acetate or safety film in about 1908. Photography really took off in the early part of the century, in my opinion hit its high water mark in the 1940's and 50's with Weston and Adams and continued to flourish until the advent of digital photography. The split between the strict representationalists and those that used the medium to embellish with a more painterly approach actually occurred very early in the 19th century.

Digital photography was born the same year I was born, 1957.  Russell A. Kirsch at the National Institute of Standards and Technology developed a binary digital version of a wirephoto drum scanner, so that alphanumeric characters, diagrams, photographs and other graphics could be transferred into digital computer memory. The CCD or charge coupled device was created in 1969 and in 1986 Kodak developed the first megapixel sensor.

Digital photography is a young and nascent art. The rules of the road are still being considered. There are so many ways to now convey our visual message. Is there a right and wrong way? Is it mandatory to follow the old conventions? The line between the photograph and graphic image is fuzzing, getting its own slightly blurred bokeh.

Film these days is frankly going the way of the woolly mammoth. Fuji just announced major hikes on film prices because demand is so weak and there are fewer and fewer processors. I am having a hard time selling a very nice Leica enlarger. Why, because there are very few people shooting film these days. I still do, on a rare occasion, but I am an exception. I love film, it goes with my decidedly analog nature, but the ease and cost of digital can not be discounted.

You can do a lot with a digital camera and a camera. There are a plethora of powerful tools available today, many incredibly sophisticated. I can pick a look, a specific old film to emulate, let's say I want Kodak ISO 32 Panatomic S, I can dial it in in Silver Efex Pro 2 with a few keystrokes. Grain, structure, whatever you want. And it hard to disagree with the notion that a photograph looks better on a backlit monitor than it ever did on a coated paper.

The purists, titans like Henri Cartier Bresson, wouldn't even crop. A photograph was an image developed by light passing through a lens for a period of time, a capture of a specific moment  and that was that. I can imagine his horror today watching people remove telephone poles with content aware patch tools. We have lost an essential element of honesty in the medium, since ex wives or husbands can now easily be removed from old photo albums with a few swipes and keystrokes. Can photography still be trusted?

I can make an image graphic, change its color, do all sorts of interesting things, things that film photographers could never dream of back in the day. And this leads me to the root of my question. With a digital tool with near unlimited options for creating an image, how important is it to obey rules that were dictated by the nature and evolutionary crawl of the old film medium?

My first thought was about one of my favorite rock and roll bands, the Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia, the late brilliant guitar player, started experimenting with a midi setup when Doug Irwin first started crafting his guitars sometime in the late 1970's. And Jerry got real good at utilizing the new tools and all of a sudden his guitar could sound like a trumpet or a flute or countless other band instruments.

And while it was cool, I sometimes asked myself, why be derivative? The midi can also sound like a thousand new instruments, things that haven't even been invented or conceived of yet. Would it not be cooler to start an entirely new idiom or lexicon than to trod on the old ground? Get a trumpet to play trumpet, ain't nothing like the real thing.

Do we penalize Van Cliburn for playing Bach on a piano instead of a harpsichord, the instrument the music was written for? Of course not. But many digital photographers believe that we should be adherents of a puritanical sect of photographic Calvinism and obey the hard and fast rules of the old order.

I am not going to rehash the analog v. digital debate, it has been done too many times. I stopped subscribing to Stereophile when people started writing articles about how expensive power cords could make your stereo sound better. But I  can hear the bloom of analog, can hear the room on a good Van Gelder recording. A recording engineer friend says that he can perfectly recreate all the cool things I like digitally. I don't believe him.

Thom Hogan, a very well respected writer on all things photographic, wrote an interesting article recently, Are you better technically or aesthetically? And Thom makes the point that you have to have good technique. There are rules that have to be followed, no matter if we are dealing with film or digital. Things like composition, color, light value. Thom is right. You learn it in art school, before you can turn into a wild abstractionist, you better take a life drawing class or two and learn to draw. He also weighs in on something else that strikes a chord with me:
...I’m not immediately struck by the “lack of noise” or “the extremely long tonal ramp” or the “micro contrast of the fine mid-tone edges” or anything else you might call technical when I see a photo. First: does it strike my visual and emotional response in any way? Second: is it a moment I didn’t see or haven’t seen before? Third: do I want to keep looking at it? Thom Hogan
I have said the same thing many times. Better to have something technically imperfect that speaks than the opposite condition. Still it amazes me how many photographers and even artists lack basic compositional sense or create extremely boring work. Embarrassing really. I meet people who have taking pictures professionally for forty years that still frankly suck.

I think that expecting digital photography to follow the same protocol and dictates as the mother ship of film is like living in Williamsburg, Virginia and dressing up in period costume like a puritan. Pretend that electricity has not been invented. I know devotees of the arts and crafts tradition who hate turning the lights on in their homes, favoring the customary illumination of say, 1915.

I hate to go off on my familiar rant again, how stupid humans are. But think about it, the car manufacturers now pipe fake engine noise into automobiles, so that enthusiasts can experience that big engine sound that has now been largely eclipsed by new technology. Like putting playing cards in the spokes of our bicycle tires. Failing to grasp the new paradigm, being bound by outdated modes and memories.

So what about photography? I say do whatever the hell you want to do. If you want to blur a bokeh, go right ahead. Extract and declarify your girlfriends wrinkles, have at it. If you chose to emulate the masters of the past and stay allegiant to the harpsichord, that is fine too. I believe that each of us as artists creators has to decide which rules and conventions we choose to keep, if any. That is essentially who we are, it is our recognizable signature or artistic hand. What works for us.

We may love each other's work, we may abhor it. As they say in the art business; there's an ass for every saddle. I am pretty simple myself. I hate photographs that move and I hate HDR. I like photos that say something.

So don't ask me to follow your dictates of what you deem permissible and I promise to do the same for you. We all make our own rules. It's a brave new world.

Eadward Muybridge - Boston Public Library

Fallbrook from Red Mountain

I took this shot one fine day back when you could still get up to the top of Red Mountain. I think that we Fallbrookians sometimes forget just how close we are to the ocean as the crow flies. This shot brings it home.

Just think, if not for Camp Pendleton we would have wall to wall houses!

Shake Sugaree

Saturday, January 23, 2016

T-Bone Walker - I Want A Little Girl (Full Album)

Facade, Spanish Village

Gustatory Frimminx

As an epicure on a somewhat tight budget, one of the the events I look most forward to on the yearly food calendar is San Diego Restaurant Week. Twice a year, some of the best establishments in town offer a price fixe discounted menu that allows us poor schlubs from the hinterlands a chance to partake in what the rich folks are eating.

This year, for what might be our fifth year in a row, we headed back to Pamplemousse in Del Mar. Chef/owner Jeffrey Strauss's food is so damn good that we really needed to look no farther. The rube from the provinces made his annual pilgrimage to the temple of food.  We threw Love's Forever Changes CD into the player and sang ourselves to Del Mar from Fallbrook.

When the accent mark suggested we book a reservation there was no hesitation on my part. And last night's meal was indeed epic, probably the best and most consistent meal we have ever had there. The place was packed. Leslie and the accent looked elegant and beautiful, I looked a bit threadbare and disheveled but if the more turned out patricians noticed they gave no signal.

The place was seriously full of eager diners, more people than I had ever seen there. The parking lot was littered with Bentleys and Teslas. I was worried about how long it would take to order and get our food. How could they pull this off? I needn't. Things went flawlessly. Food, service, timing, a well conducted symphony of food.

I have stopped bringing my Nikon to dinner so the ladies courteously took the photographs for me. The SLR is too large to do proper surreptitious food porn and my camera on the HTC phone sucks.

I will get straight to the food. After several different and tasty bread selections our most excellent and professional server John explained our options for the evening. We quickly decided.

My first course was the lobster ravioli, filled with huge chunks of lobster, seared scallops, wild mushrooms, little multicolored pear tomatoes and asparagus, all swimming in a marvelous ginger soy beurre blanc. Very rich and creamy.

This dish was so absolutely delicious that I was afraid that the rest of the meal would be a giant downhill run from there but I can happily report it was not in any way.

Leslie chose the beet salad for her first course. It contained grilled artichokes, crisped goat cheese, greens, pine nuts and balsamic. Nice, she gave me a bite, in fact the three of us as is our custom always share everything. But if I may be so bold, not nearly as sublime as mine. I am not a huge beet guy. She loved it, had no complaints.

The accent upgraded to both of the supplemental options, a duo of fois gras and gnocchi with shaved black truffle. The girls have learned over the years to work the truffle shavers at Pampelmousse and the servings were, shall we say, quite liberal.

The accent mark was kind enough to buy the table a bottle of Veuve Cliquot to wash everything down with. It was delicious but unfortunately I am finding that my allergies are accelerating and I can't drink white wine or champagne without getting instantly congested and going into a sneezing attack. Sulfites or bad genes.

Damn. Sneezed my way through an excellent dinner at Leven and Beth's last week. Thank god I have other vices that I can readily substitute.

Our entrees were not long to follow; I had the osso buco, made with Colorado lamb, crispy lamb confit, truffle mashed potato and carrots. I guess I hadn't read the menu carefully but I was astounded by the wonderful crunch of the lamb confit, which I had overlooked, the most interesting and different texture that I have ever seen with osso buco.

I asked the server for the reason for the fantastic crunch and he said the remolata and I knew that wasn't right. Les thought that perhaps it had been seared. Now I know.

My only request would have been for a marrow fork, which I hinted to the very nice g.m. Mr. Ernst, but not really forcefully. After scouting for a suitable tool, I ended up leaving one of the best parts of the shank on the plate.

The accent agu had a steak, a delicious but slightly underdone ribeye that she decided not to send back and ultimately learned to live with and love.

Leslie, my gorgeous wife, went for the duck confit with sweet white corn, chard and cherry reduction. It was absolutely superbly succulent and the portion was very generous as well.

The whole meal was just so tight and consistent. Other years there might be a weak link or two in the lineup but this meal was perfect in every respect, every dish. There is a very good reason the place was packed.

A lot of foodies run all over each other trying to find the next new thing, we are old and wise enough to recognize culinary perfection when we see it.

I saw the owner outside as he was running to Gelsons to grab some more lamb and told him so. Really on his game.

I had stupidly eaten a large lunch and wanted to forego dessert but my dinner companions simply would not allow it. Twist my arm.

I ordered a pear tarte tartin with a very thick vanilla gelato and berries.

The girls opted for the warm chocolate truffle cake with salted caramel créme anglaise, gelato and berries.

They picked right this time. The confection was absolutely sinful. Mine was good but theirs was out of the park.

Another year, another remarkable meal at Pamplemousse.

I saw my now retired cardiologist and his wife at coffee this morning. He never really appreciated this kind of thing. I hinted at the gravity of my sin but since he is retired did not ask him for any sort of absolution for my depraved gluttony. He has read the blog before, knows the nature of my perfidy, but as I said, is retired and now deserves a break.

We finished up with a shared cup of excellent coffee and they brought us a small plate of little piggie sugar cookies. Not sure anybody else in the restaurant received such a plate...

There are a few days left of Restaurant Week. You might want to give it a go.

Pamplemousse Grille

514 Via de la Valle, Suite 100
Solana Beach, CA 92075

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Nikkor 85mm 1.8d

I asked Ken to loan me his Nikkor 85mm 1.8d because I am planning on doing some portrait work in the near future. On the way to work this foggy morning I saw a red tailed hawk return to the site of the old nest in the sycamore for the first time. This is the nest that fell down a few months ago.

This was the lens on the camera, the only one I had at the time and I shot it wide open and then bracketed a little bit. You use what you got. Very sharp. This shot is basically unaltered, right out of the camera.

Notice the white spot on the back of the hawk's head. Not a bald eagle. Beth introduced me to the concept of leucism and it is the proper explanation for the loss of pigmentation.

When I got home from the medical procedure yesterday I bracketed a bunch of shots of this Kuan Yin in my yard. Very nice lens. Nice bokeh. This one is stopped down to f2.2. He is going to loan me his 1.4 50mm and we will see what it does to backgrounds.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Up the down staircase

Most literary agents and english lit teachers will tell you that it is never a real good idea to write and publish while waiting off the effects of a general anesthetic.

But here at the Blue Heron Bast, we are bareback baby, a high wire act that never edits and always works without a net, so here goes.

The first item on this year's bucket list was to take care of something that I have put off for at least eight years, a comprehensive inspection of my colon. I am proud to tell you that I did so today.

And let me save you the trouble, they found neither my head nor your car keys up my ass. I am sure that they would have told me if they did.

You are supposed to get a colonoscopy at 50. I never did and with my previous cancer history in the general neighborhood I should have.

I met with the nurse practitioner a few weeks ago. He explained the procedure in detail to me and asked if I had any questions. I told him I just wanted to see how big the doctor's hands were and if he trimmed his nails. Was the doctor going to jump right into the operation or would he just hug and hold me tight for a while? Would there be music and mood lighting?

This is a rather intimate area and I can tell you truthfully that his prospective mission was the maiden voyage through the portal in question and my whole lower G.I.. To boldly go where no man (or woman) has ever gone before. I was rather nervous.

I drank the noxious bowel prep last night. Ghastly, even worse than described if you can believe it. Like drinking bile. I hurled twice and once again this morning. When I tell you that my poop canals were sparkling clean, I kid you not. You start shedding liquid in a way that you might think the human physiology incapable. You could eat off my sparkling tubes now.

I gritted my teeth on the long ride to the Colonoscopy Center in Encinitas this morning. You have to drink a gallon or so of water after the asshole cleanser and I thought that I was going to lose it once or twice. Les drove me.

I signed consents and directives and met the anesthesiologist, who was a foreign woman, a real sourpuss with absolutely no sense of humor. I decided to table my bedside patter and better colonoscopy material as I don't think this one had cracked a smile since she witnessed her last lynching in the Teheran square.

I'm like dear god, if something awful happens, please don't let this old bag be the last thing I lay my eyes on this side of the mortal coil.

I eventually did wake up and got the news. All looked good, six polyps, all removed, all hopefully benign, a little diverticulitis, an unmentionable or two. Cool. The doctor was very nice, said I needed to do this more regularly, wants to see me back in three years. I hope they have better tasting prep by then.

Now that I buckled down and did the dirty deed, (did I tell you I crapped myself on the way home?) I can get all smug and tell you that if you are over 50 and have never had one, you need to get one too. Your asshole needs a clean bill of health. This asshole has his.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Grandview Beach, Leucadia

I had some business on the coast yesterday and decided to see what the waves looked like. There were nice periodic 8 to 10' sets at Grandview although a surfer I was talking to said that they were more like 12'. Nice steep faces, good shape. Several surfers were out taking advantage although the guy I talked to said the shape only really held up at Swamis, a little further down the coast in Encinitas.

Whales were spouting off in the distance. I thought about how lucky I am to get to see the ocean on a regular basis. A lot of people can't. If I lived in Barstow or Needles it would be near impossible. Got to count my blessings.

Senor Blues

Monday, January 18, 2016

The spy who was left out in the cold.

Robert Levinson
Caroline Glick had a bombshell on her Facebook page the other day, alleging that the Obama Administration was pressuring Interpol to lay off on prosecuting 14 Iranians suspected of involvement in the Argentine synagogue bombing.

I have looked all over trying to find corroborative reports, to little avail. The Gateway Pundit ran this post. If this story is true it is an abomination but not so surprising given this administration's evident attitude about a certain people. I will withhold judgement. But there may be something to it.

The Iranian Fars News service ran a piece yesterday that may substantiate the claims.

I have previously written extensively on the Nisman murder and Iranian complicity in the 1994 Synagogue bombing in Buenos Aires. Interesting article at The Hill today tangentially dealing with the Argentina bombing subject by Toby Dershowitz and Joseph Humire, US should help Argentina solve terrorism case.
1. Nisman’s 2006 report that led to the indictment of senior Iranian officials for their role in the AMIA bombing had a classified version prepared by Argentine intelligence. The Argentine government version should de-classified. This could shed light not only on the bombing itself – which killed 85 and injured hundreds – but on how Iran builds its terror networks throughout Latin America. Public access to the classified version is especially important following the recent release of a 2012 audio recording of former Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman admitting to the president of AMIA that Iran was behind the attack.
2. While Kirchner disbanded the Intelligence Secretariat in February 2015 following Nisman’s death, the prosecutor’s criminal complaint identified several individuals who helped Iran in its backchannel talks with the Kirchner government. Several of these individuals likely remain as intelligence assets for Iran in the restructured Agencia Federal de Inteligencia. Investigating these individuals would help unravel the web of spies who are obstructing Argentina’s efforts in the AMIA investigation.
3. With a fresh investigation under new stewardship, Argentina should undertake – and the United States should support – an independent investigation into whether Iran had any role in Nisman’s murder. Washington should share its intelligence on the role of Iranian networks in and around Argentina at the time of Nisman’s death.
4. At least three of the five Iranians for whom Interpol has issued “red notices” in connection with the attack—Mohsen Rabbani, Mohammad Asghari, and Ali Fallahian—have filed appeals with Interpol that their red notices, which are tantamount to international arrest warrants, be lifted. Officials in Macri’s administration have told the organization they are “determined to keep the notices in effect" and asked if it requires more information before it makes it recommendations to Interpol’s secretary-general. The U.S. should fully support maintaining the red notices when they come up for review in November.
I would like to think that our government would not stoop to running interference for Iranian terrorists but am not optimistic. After all, this administration pleaded with the court last year to derail a judgement against the PLO for damages in a terrorist attack that killed and injured United States citizens. In the Argentinian case, it is interesting that they have Timerman on tape admitting Iranian involvement after years of repeated denials.

I will wait and hope that all of these allegations are baseless. That my country has not sunk to such depths.

Rescue workers searching through the rubble of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community center after a deadly bombing on July 18, 1994. – Photo: AP
Anyone who thinks that Iran doesn't know exactly where Robert Levinson (or his remains) are is a naive fool. His family isn't real happy with the administration, who never even notified them of the impending hostage release. See Levinson Family: We feel betrayed by White House.
The 67-year-old Levinson, who served for more than two decades with the FBI before retiring, disappeared off Iran's Kish Island in March 2007. For years the U.S. government said Levinson was working at the time as a private investigator, but in December 2013 his family acknowledged that he was, in fact, working as a freelance "spy" for a rogue CIA operation. The Iranian government has long-denied holding Levinson or even knowing where he is – the latter claim doubted by some U.S. officials and Levinson’s family.
Guy goes deep cover for his country and is cast adrift. Like the Iranians are going to release a guy named Levinson...

The NGO/ Israel two step has been interesting. The proposed Israeli bill would require Israeli NGOs that receive more than half of their funding from “foreign political entities” (i.e., the European Commission and European governments) to make that information public whenever they lobby elected Israeli officials and whenever they publish their reports. Sounds quite reasonable.

The State Department's John Kirby did quite a dance last week explaining why it was okay for the goose but not for the gander to interfere in other sovereign countries internal politics, supplying cash and fomenting demonstrations in this case. Now Hillary appears to be up to her neck in it too. Remarkable.
In a Dec, 18, 2011, email, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Thomas Pickering suggested that Clinton consider a plan to restart then-stalled peace negotiations by kickstarting Palestinian demonstrations against Israel.
Pickering described the effort as a potential “game changer in the region,” recommending that the United States undertake a clandestine campaign to generate unrest. Clinton requested that his email be printed.“Most of all the United States, in my view, cannot be seen to have stimulated, encouraged or be the power behind it for reasons you will understand better than anyone,” he wrote, suggesting that the government enlist liberal non-profit groups in Israel. “I believe third parties and a number NGOs [non-government organizations] on both sides would help.”
I honestly think that I will sit out the next presidential election. Hillary of course, also is on record for breaking a prior President's promise to Israel regarding land and security, the famous George Bush 2004 letter.

What is Hillary's present relationship with Sid Blumenthal anyway? He and his son seem like pretty fervent anti zionists. I would hate to think that they are going to be effecting policy if she is elected. Fabiani, Blumenthal, the Clintons sure know how to pick them.

This administration has been the most openly hostile to Israel of any Presidency in my lifetime. As Ben Rhodes so famously said, dealing with Israel is a lose/lose proposition. Obama has an interesting philosophy, treat your country's enemies like friends and your friends and allies like enemies.

I thought that the recent Frontline series on Israel was interesting, especially his crony David Axelrod's interview. Obama thought that he was the closest thing we would ever have to a jewish president and is anguished at how he is perceived by some segments of American Jewry and in Israel. And I think that Axelrod hits on something profound here.
I remember a time when I worked in the White House, and I went to find the president, and he was sitting in this small dining room off of the Oval Office. He was just staring into space. He was very contemplative. I said, “What’s on your mind?” And this was in the midst of some of these back-and-forths with Bibi, and he said, “You know,” he said, “I think I’m the closest thing to a Jew that has ever sat in this office. The people who I’m closest to, the people who are mentors of mine, the Ab Mikvas, the Newt Minows, the values with which I was raised, I feel very close to the community, and it hurts to be depicted somehow as hostile to the community. It bothers me.”
And when you think about his history, it’s quite right. Hyde Park, where he really came of age politically, it’s a very integrated community, but a large Jewish population and a very progressive one. And a lot of the Ab Mikvas, Newt Minows and so on, these were people who were progressives in the ’60s, and when the civil rights movement was taking place [they] were outspoken advocates for civil rights. Those were many of the battles that were being fought in Chicago. Obama identifies with the Jewish community as the community that stood with the African American community in those very difficult fights back in the ’60s, in addition to his general appreciation for the kind of progressive tradition in Judaism, valuing education, valuing tikkun olam — repairing the world — and so on. …
One of the things Jeffrey said to us was, in a weird way, that [Obama] was surrounded by progressive Jews all his life. But then he comes across Bibi Netanyahu, and Jeffrey says in some ways, Bibi is the first ultra-conservative Jew that he had ever met, and he didn’t quite understand how to deal with him.
Obama made the mistake of confusing Israelis for squishy, liberal Chicago jews. And anyone who has lived in Israel for a long period of time as I have, or is the son of a sabra, as I am, knows that this is a major error. They are very different. Because the rubber hits the road there and they have a unique sense of what is really going on in the neighborhood that doesn't quite dovetail with the standard, progressive utopian platitudes. It is a very tough neighborhood and all sides play a very hard game. Obama has done a remarkable thing, dividing progressives and pro Israel jews in this country in a sophisticated triangulation strategy. Jews okay, Israel bad.

Obama was asked pointedly if he was an anti semite last year and he gave an odd, somewhat dispassionate answer, "There's no evidence of that." I thought of first officer Spock. Not a denial, more of a "I cover my tracks" kind of answer.

I find it curious that the Obamaites can pledge to stop collecting intelligence on foreign leaders yet make an exception under the guise of national security for tapping the intelligence of Israel's leader, a country that has legitimate national security concerns. And that Barack can admirably plea for tolerance and understanding for muslim americans yet have no qualms about tapping the phones of prominent jewish americans who might be talking to Israelis.

Or try to derail the military job opportunities of a simple jewish dentist, because he has family living in Israel and might have the dreaded "dual loyalties." This stuff would be comical if it wasn't so sad. Liberal McCarthyism at its finest.
In his interview for the position, Pincus was open about the fact that he has family in Israel, including his mother, who has dementia, as well as two of his siblings. He also had a son that briefly served in the Israeli army before dying of a drug overdose. Otherwise, he has no friends in Israel and no financial stake in the country. In fact, the security investigation deemed Pincus as someone who was not "vulnerable to blackmail, extortion, coercion or duress."
Despite the investigation's results, Pincus was denied security clearance due to "divided loyalties" to Israel. The Office of Personnel Management explained:
“You have weekly telephone contact with your mother and brother in Israel. You added your mother, sister and brother may have contact with neighbors in Israel. Foreign contacts and interests may be a security concern due to divided loyalties or foreign financial interests, may be manipulated or induced to help a foreign person, group, organization or government in a way that is not in U.S. interests, or is vulnerable to pressure or coercion by foreign interests.
After public pressure the Pentagon reversed itself last week, without comment or explanation. But it still begs the question, when exactly did the jews and Israelis become the enemy?

Iranian President Rouhani made a statement to the Iranian parliament when sanctions were lifted the other day that said all the parties involved are satisfied with the deal "with the exception of Zionists and warmongers ... American hardliners and extremists." And I heard this and thought, well Barack Obama agrees with this guy completely.


"Those young people were on their hands and knees in a begging position with their hands up and thugs behind them with guns, and then we talk like it's OK. It's not OK. It's lack of respect."
Donald Trump

Secretary of State John Kerry said on CNN that once he heard about the sailors' detention, he was "very frustrated and angry", and that "I raised it immediately with the Iranians." The tough talking sterile cuckold, they are probably trembling in Teheran.
A few weeks ago, U.S. military commanders accused Iran of firing rockets not too far away from an American aircraft carrier and several other ships. The ships were given 23 seconds of warning. One Navy spokesperson said, "Firing weapons so close to passing coalition ships and commercial traffic within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane is unsafe, unprofessional, and inconsistent with international maritime law."
What was interesting about this story is that the Iranians absolutely denied that it happened, than had to backtrack when the United States released video of the incident. Great pals you got there, Barack.

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Tehran's Provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani stressed that in the recent case of the capture of US Navy sailors, who had intruded Iran’s territorial waters, the world witnessed how powerful and at the same time kind Iranians are.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy surrounded and captured the US sailors bravely and powerfully, Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani said, addressing a huge gathering of worshippers here in Tehran on Friday.
“This sends a message to the US and other countries that Iran is powerful, mighty, and strong, and at the same time shows kindness, which we witnessed in the recent release of the US forces,” he added.
In similar remarks on Thursday, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the US sailors’ case showed that the Persian Gulf’s security is in Iran’s control.
In a message to the Commander of IRGC Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, Boroujerdi said the “brave” move by the Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf indicated that Iran controls the security of this sensitive region.

Next we can talk about the current state of human rights in Cuba. Next time.
Cuban human rights activists are at increased risk of detention or harassment from the authorities amid demonstrations on International Human Rights Day, 10 December, said Amnesty International following a wave of almost 1,500 arbitrary arrests in just over a month.
Yesterday, police in the capital Havana arbitrarily restricted the movement of members of the prominent Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) group of activists as they prepared for today’s demonstrations. This came after at least 1,477 politically motivated detentions in November 2015, the highest monthly total in many years, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN).
“For weeks on end, the Cuban authorities have used a spike in arrests and harassment to prevent human rights activists and dissidents from protesting peacefully. This is a systematic problem that silences Cuban activists in their own streets. For years, harassment on Human Rights Day has been the rule rather than the exception, and is absolutely unacceptable,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Linger on

Keep on keeping

It's kind of crazy but I realized the other day that this is the ninth year of the Blast or it will be anyway in early March sometime. Tell me anywhere else you can find such cheap entertainment?

Thanks for tuning in.

Going Going Gone

Dunescape #37 with violas and piccolos

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

Baltimore Oriole

Spare pics

some old images I have been playing around with recently.

Paddle board surfers, Cardiff Reef
Off San Diego Harbor
Sunset - Swamis
Niagara Pool
Avalon Casino at night

Dance of the Cnideria

Utah taffy pull
fin whale

Laguna de las Flores
crow near socorro