Apex point - © Robert Sommers 2024

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Rainbow Falls

World of Migrants

I forgot to bring a book to Santa Barbara and decided to read the bible, the only text laying around in the hotel room. I settled on the book of Numbers, Moses and Caleb, Aaron and the story of the rods, etc.. It is a very interesting book. God tells Moses to waste the Canaanites, Amalakites and the odd Hittite and swipe their real estate and my people did just that.

You see, the tribe originated in Ur and Abraham didn't like the weather or the view there and the mishpucha did a bunch of running around in the desert and Egypt before they finally found Miami Beach. Made a lot of animal sacrifices along the way, consumed a lot of whitefish and belly lox.

I am reading Herodotus and the Persian War history and so I have been brushing up on the tribal thing, the Phoenicians who lived in Tyre and Canaan were the best sailors in the world and they end up in both histories prominently. But in the book of Numbers I learn that they were originally from the Red Sea and moved to the Mediterranean later. The Koreans first settled Japan, well they and the Ainu. The Tatars were in the Crimea. The Native Americans crossed the Bering Straight. Scientologists started in the good ole Galactic Confederacy.

The reality is that we are a world of migrants. No one stayed static. Unless you live in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, I am 99.9999% sure that you are a transient. Maybe your kin have lived on their spread or in a country for a long time but we all originally hail from Africa, the human mother ship. That is if you believe in science of course, and I know that it is rapidly losing favor.

My Y people, my father's DNA lineage, the B-405 subclade of E M-34, left Somalia approximately 22,000 years ago as illustrated on the map shown above. E started wandering about 50kya. The Romans made things a little hot for us and we had to amscray and eventually found Warsaw. Which was not always a piece of rumcake either.

So just remember, we were all strangers once and we probably all stepped on somebody else's toes in order to get where we got. Be nice.

Surfer at Swami's

Junior Wells - I'll Take Care Of You

Sean Spicer Says:

“The president recognizes that it is his duty and obligation to keep this country safe,” Spicer explained. “And by instituting a process by which we look at these countries over a 90-day period and the process by which the people can come in out of this country to ensure the safety of each and every one of us, I think, is something that makes a heck of a lot of sense.”
“When you look at the 329,000 people [who traveled to the U.S. over the weekend], 109 were inconvenienced for the safety and security of us all,” the Trump spokesman said. “And to make sure that, if they are a 5 year old, that maybe they’re with their parents and they don’t pose a threat.”
“But to assume that just because of someone’s age or gender or whatever that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong.”

Monday, January 30, 2017

Soul Kitchen

Patrick Campbell

My old friend Pat from England sent some lovely shots over. Another friend of four decades. Please share and contribute, more of you and less of me...

Extant or extinct?







If we don't manage to annihilate ourselves, I think we are in for some very interesting times.

Comin' Back To Me

Data driven

Like I said, I don't have much left in my tank but wanted to talk about a few things.  Get something off my chest. Politics is interesting me much less than usual. I have a family member real sick, one of my closest and everything else means shit to me right now. Will be a difficult year, my focus will be on him. Going to be tough for all of us to make it through. Please don't ask.

Was having a conversation with a friend the other day and he mentioned that he had been talking on the phone to a friend about Idaho and the next thing he knew he started getting Idaho promotional come-ons on the internet.

I knew that they strained your emails but your phone conversations too? That can't be true, can it?

Speaking of data, Jonathan sent this over. I can't think of a link with such portent. The data that turned the world upside down...Wow. Cambridge Analytica and Psychometrics.

“We have profiled the personality of every adult in the United States of America—220 million people.” Alexander Nix 
Trump’s striking inconsistencies, his much-criticized fickleness, and the resulting array of contradictory messages, suddenly turned out to be his great asset: a different message for every voter. The notion that Trump acted like a perfectly opportunistic algorithm following audience reactions is something the mathematician Cathy O’Neil observed in August 2016.
“Pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven.” Alexander Nix 

Our smartphone, is a vast psychological questionnaire that we are constantly filling out, both consciously and unconsciously.
Michal Kosinski

I sent this link to a few smart cronies and got some very intelligent responses across the board. Shawn sent this link over: War As Easy As Typing: Alex Gibney Spills the Secrets of 'Zero Days', by William Pasternak. Ricardo mentioned a book by William Gibson where the future past and present all change together.

Hudgins sent over this early conversation with Steve Bannon, who turns out also to be an admirer of Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl.

Managing to denude the jews from the holocaust is no small feat. Congratulations.

I asked a conservative friend how he thought things were going in the new administration and he said the same thing two other conservative friends have said. Good. The market is up and he is putting good people in the cabinet. I gritted my teeth, mumbled "great" and said nothing else. Well I told one guy that I hated practically every cabinet member, or at least their policies, but managed to keep my mouth shut this time.

Because this guy is pretty wealthy, lives off his stock income and the market and the rest is bullshit from his point of view. Things are good because the market is good. He has little interest in much that doesn't affect him directly or his wallet anyway. Saw this link today about Republicans trusting Trump more than they trust the media. I totally believe that that is true.

The media today is a mess. On both sides. Because both sides engage in so much shaping. Fox devoted about eight seconds to the recent Women's March. A large percentage of older white americans watch Fox and so the march never happened. Because it didn't make their news tunnel.

I loathe partisan media and long for the days of Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley. Call it down the middle news people without conspicuous agendas.

I think you have to be intellectually rigorous today. I don't know how many of you use the many links at the bottom of my blog but you will notice that they are in all shades of the political bandwidth. I read all of them, right to left, left to right. Give me all the data and let me decide.

I don't blame the messenger necessarily, although I hate those that cynically manipulate propaganda that they know to be untrue. I mostly blame lazy low information humans. Hominids are so binary, you have to swing one way or the other, little room for nuance of divergence.

You know who Scott Adams is? The guy that writes Dilbert, the cartoon that is occasionally funny and which riffs on stupid bosses and office dynamics. He happens to be a Trump supporter. Last year he wrote a blogpost explaining why. I got from it that he worked hard for his millions and thought Trump gave him a better shot at holding on to them.

Anyway the guy has a real intense band of right wing sycophants now, the Infowars, Breitbart, The Hill type commenters. Today he posits that if Trump turns into Hitler it would be because his opponents wanted him too and so, they will be responsible for it. Very convoluted.

Adams wrote a nasty, smarmy blog on the women's march. I got in and mixed it up a bit but it got too tedious. The misogyny was pretty thick. Check it out if you can stand it.

Great expectations

It was a pretty good week in Santa Barbara. I did a little better selling at the show than I expected to do. Had some decent meals, didn't get sick and managed to catch a little scenery. Success!

I also found a wonderful linocut from the important late african american artist Elizabeth Catlett that I believe I can probably make a few shekels on. Buying is fun, selling usually slightly less so.

It is interesting, after all of these years I have finally figured out that if you have low expectations you usually do better than expected. If you lead with your horns, thinking that you are going to kill, you usually have your lunch handed to you. Funny how that works...

Earl Warren Showgrounds

Anyway all the numbers lined up and I found buyers happy to pay up there or perhaps I should say, not so miserable to pay and did some biz. Now the show paled to the old days but these days there is a whole new frame of reference for what constitutes success. It is called "Can I pay my bills this month?" I have little concern beyond that. Maybe not the best job in the world but it does give me an opportunity to travel, write, take pictures and pontificate  and that ain't all bad.

As always I am very grateful for those of you whose purchases manage to keep me afloat.

My customary habit is to set up on the second day and then to explore the area. I visited the Monarch Butterfly Preserve in Goleta at Sperling Grove, a nice walk that had a lot going for it but few butterflies. A local told me that it had been a tough year for them.

Once again I couldn't get the camera to quite flow right but managed to grab a few that were acceptable.

Afterward I made a mistake and ate at the wrong Mexican tri tip and chicken place on Hollister. Wasn't cheap but I ended up leaving the carne on the table. Muy peligroso.

I drove over the hill and caught the sunset at Lake Cachuma in the Santa Ynez Valley. Very pretty , I need to do more exploring of this area where the beautiful people abide.

Had some good meals, a nice breakfast with talkative folks at the bar at Jeanine's, a 50th anniversary dinner at Chuck's Steak House, the owner Larry is a friend of mine. Best cioppino I ever had, a special at the Nugget, a meal I shared with Petteford.

Stayed at an old Motel, the Town and Country on State, which was really fine except for the second night when some tweakers decided to work on their cars til the wee hours in the parking lot.

So tired last night I had to stop at the Arco in Wildomar on the way home and sleep in the parking lot for a half hour. When I am swerving around on the freeway doing fifty it means I need to get off and close my eyes for a minute.

Feeling a little beat up today, will try to settle back easy.

It was good to get away from the computer for the week and the daily outrage. Funny, like Cassandra, I saw it all coming but was not believed. And I am more nonplussed than many at the goings on in Washington, because number one, I called it and number two, it helps to have low expectations. Or did I already say that?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

All aboard!

Deportation of  German jews to Riga, Latvia 12/13/41

Every day brings a new surprise from the Trump administration. I predict that the fireworks won't really start flying until the mass deportations start. And I think that it might pose a real quandary, at least in the community I live in.

There are a lot of well to do people with large spreads here, undoubtably many of them rely on illegals to cut their grass and keep the lawn jockeys polished. Ditto the smiling faces that cook your food and clean your tables in the local restaurants.

What is the right thing to do when you see those very same faces on the large white buses headed to the deportation facilities? Do you a) look away and pretend you don't see them? b) smile and wave and wish them well on the next journey of their life? c)  throw a rock at the bus and tell them not to let the screen door hit them in the ass?

I remember watching an interview with ordinary polish citizens that asked them how they felt when their classmates were deported during the holocaust. One man sobbed uncontrollably, guilt ridden for saying nothing, a woman said it was great, more potatoes for the rest of them. Depends on your perspective I guess.

I say be careful what you wish for. Americans are soft and won't do certain jobs, considering it beneath them. Our economic engine might just slow to a crawl.

I cut my own lawn but I undoubtably know lots of illegals. Never been much of a problem. This should be really interesting. My advice is to avert your eyes, you might see a familiar face and there is no need to disturb your chill.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Lee Michaels - Murder in my heart for the judge


photograph by Matt Mahurin

My wife and I were having a conversation over dinner last night when she suggested that somebody or other was gaslighting. "Gaslighting," I said, "I'm unfamiliar with the term." She suggested that I look it up.

Now I pride myself on a having a pretty broad vocabulary. I admit to being pained at being one-upped by my spouse, articulate and wise as she is.

The only gaslighting I personally remember involved a zippo lighter and an old pair of bluejeans at an infamous motel room in Glendale that I will leave for others to recount.

So what exactly is gaslighting?

I looked it up. Thought I was pretty worldly but think this one slipped by me. Wikipedia has an even better definition. Says it is a favorite tool of narcissists and sociopaths. And most everybody is familiar with it apparently but me.

Clinical psychologists suggest that one's will to resist the manipulation is related to one's ability to trust in their own judgement.
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target. Its intent is to sow seeds of doubt in the targets, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term owes its origin to Gas Light, a 1938 play and 1944 film, and has been used in clinical and research literature.
I predict that this word is going to soar in our new post truth, alternate fact, drumpfian reality. Wish I could put money on it.

Learn something new every day!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Serves You Right To Suffer

Vision Test

“This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period,” said  (Sean) Spicer, in one of several statements contradicted by photographs and transit data. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”

Which of these pictures appears to show more people on the National Mall, the one on the left or the one on the right? No fair looking at the caption, it is not that hard a call. If I was feeling snarky and you said the one on the left had more people, I would point out that you are possibly part of a vast leftwing conspiracy promulgated by the mainstream press or something on that order.

But it is too late for that.  This is real and this is the only country we have got. Up is up, down is down, black is black and white is white. This election has been vintage Orwell from the start, from "don't listen to what he says, listen to what is in his heart" to the new notion of "post truthism" and alternative facts.
In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd pressed Conway on why Spicer, who blasted the media coverage of the crowds from the White House briefing room Saturday evening, would appear "in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood."
"You're saying it's a falsehood. ... Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that," Conway said.
"Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods," Todd responded.
The prevaricator in chief knows two bandwidths, a person is either fabulous or a mortal enemy. He is regularly called a malignant narcissist but appears to be a bit bipolar to boot.

And he has this rich kid bullying tendency to hit back at anyone who challenges him, friend or foe alike. This may work for an emotionally dysfunctional kid on the schoolyard but when you are President of the United States, people expect you to be accountable. You can't blame everything on someone else and you should learn that there are times that one must lay back and not be so reactive.

I think this tendency will make him very easily baited. Couple this with the fact that he doesn't appear to listen to or believe what comes out of his own mouth. I predict a very short honeymoon. He has near zero credibility already and the press can get very nasty when it is pile on time.

How soon before Spicer and Conway have nervous breakdowns?

According to the NYT, Spicer was once referred to as Sean Sphincter in the newspaper at his Connecticut College.

I talked to Vlad this morning. He said he knew I would get my protest pic on the blast. Shameless self promotion. Said he was surprised I wasn't wearing a blast t- shirt*. Busted. Truth is, I looked for one, couldn't find it in the drawer. Good call.

*available in three colors, near all sizes twenty bucks. azurebirds at gmail.com

I struggled with Women's March, Womens' March, the whole possessive plural thing. They were right but I had to think about it. Woman's March I could see...

Thanks to Gogo for sending this over:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March, North County

I didn't do my solitary demonstration in Encinitas yesterday. It was raining way too hard and my friends told me absolutely not to come. For once I listened.

So instead Leslie and I traveled with some friends to San Marcos for the North County Women's March. It was unbelievable how many thousands of people attended. Saw lots of friends and also sympathetic souls we did not know, of all ages, colors and gender. Fallbrook was very well represented by a variety of citizens. Many people worried about the future of our country under President Trump.

People assembled at the San Marcos Civic Center, initially standing in a light rain. The crowd got bigger and bigger. My sign was a big hit, if I had a dollar for every person who was conceived under the original poster or had it hanging in their dorm room. Was stopped for a pic hundreds of times.

There was lots of great homemade signage, many people very angry at our country's prospects under the new President.

We marched for about a mile to Palomar College where a large rally was being held. A christian evangelist was walking around telling the liberals that they were all going to hell in a loud voice, finally got himself excommunicated from  the rally courtesy of the cops.

At a certain time in your life you know where you stand. I am comfortable with my choices.

Keep an eye out for my sign if you are on Facebook. I should be pasted all over the internet by now.

Hadn't demonstrated in a long time but better late than never. Have to represent.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Comfortably Numb

Sorry, it has Portuguese subtitles. That might not be legal soon. English only damnit, this is friggin' America.

The March of Folly

"Know my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed."
Count Axel Oxenstierna

Imagine a ruler or President who campaigns for a particular position under the rubric of a respect for the dignity of the office and land and then when elected uses his or her newfound power as a way to self enrichment, installing family members in high positions and endowing his comrades with governorships and cabinet positions where they could get filthier rich.

A purported deeply religious figure, he raises licentiousness to new heights with his personal behavior and with that of his confederates. He throws his political opponents in jail and runs the government like a personal piggy bank, all the while making side deals with the mortal enemies of his kingdom.

I am not talking about any present figure by any means, the particular ruler in question was a Pope, Sixtus IV, the former Cardinal Francesco Della Rovere, the time was 1471.

One of the six renaissance Popes, his empire ended in near disaster. He tried to kill the Medici brothers, excommunicated Florence and used spiritual sanctions as political weapons.

I am reading a wonderful book by the late historian Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989), The March of Folly from Troy to Vietnam.

Tuchman ably illustrates in this book how our rulers, from ancient Troy and Judah through the near present day, so often engage in the exact behavior that is least beneficial to their self interest and end up destroying their country.

In fact, in a world of myriad positive possibilities we humans so often find that one narrow road that will ultimately do us in.

Fascinating book, should be read by all students of history and government. Find it at your local library, like I did.

Calvin Trillin has a delightful piece over at the New Yorker, Counting Shrimp. Whatever gets you through the dark night.

Larry Miller is reading Will Durant's 1939 book on Odysseus and offers this pearl, courtesy of the goddess Athena:

"Bold man, crafty in counsel, insatiate in deceit, not even in thine own land, it seems wast thou to cease from guile and deceitful tales, which thou lovest from the bottom of thine heart."

Learned a new word today from Robert DeGoff, kakistocracy, defined in Merrian Webster as a government by the worst people. Greek etymology, of all things. I guess it all depends on whose Bull of Minos is getting gored?

The election has been held, mostly legally and in accord for the rules we set for these sorts of things, with a little push from the Russians and James Comey of course, but America has spoken and certainly deserves whatever it gets. President Trump has been sworn in. The Republicans now control two branches of government and will soon have their way in the third, the Supreme Court, thanks to some nimble slow walking by the prior Senate. So it is on you guys, do what thou wilt.

Heard yesterday that there are already plans to raise the eligibility age for Medicare two years to 67, privatize Medicare and social security, slash Medicaid and pretty much unstring the safety net. Wonder how may Trump supporters will be singing a different tune, especially since such cuts are shown to more negatively harm their own states?

It is also apparent that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts are in the conservative crosshairs and may not have long to live. Bye Bye Big Bird. If you can't find it on Fox, how important can it be anyway? Better to spend the bread on a big wall, I suppose. I also heard that cuts to public broadcasting also hurt red states worse but not sure if that is true or how the nexus is made.

I think that the Democrats and progressive should be every bit as cooperative as the conservatives were during the Obama administration. Every bit.

Good luck, America.

Jive Turkey

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Maybe its the weather or something like that...

Sanoguy sent me this last night. Excellent forecast, looks like lots more rain coming. And it appears that my inauguration demonstration is going to be quite soggy and maybe a little lonely. Everybody has pretty much pulled out. I don't blame them. Bruce Hall says that he is going to stop by and throw things at me. I hope so.

Leslie asked me what I was going to do and I told her that I was going to get wet.

Acoma pueblo aquatint*

*post truth - a photo of mine that sort of resembles an aquatint - Rob