Saturday, September 18, 2021

Angelika Gil

The cook that brushes the plates, French Laundry


© Robert Sommers 2021

Little Pink Houses

Killing the Golden Goose in the Golden State - Goodbye Single Family Housing

I voted against recalling Governor Newsom. I think he has done a pretty good job up to date, irrespective of his dining at the French Laundry during the lockdown. 

Obviously many people in my state abhor him, primarily for trying to keep a handle on the Covid crisis but I think he he did an admirable job and, in his place, I might have been even more draconian. Sorry, but your freedom doesn't trump the rest of our survival.

Face it, the way the national civil war is going, the right would try to recall him for not brushing his teeth the right way. It's just the sad way it is. Recall cost us three hundred or so million and never had a chance.

Having said that, he is really pissing me off with the new bills that will take a sledge hammer to zoning and local control of development in my state. 

I think that the bills are incredibly irresponsible and the growth that they will result in unsustainable with our limited water and already crowded roads and streets. Like it or not, the state can only support so many people.

There is an obvious ideological split in my state but there is also an urban/rural divide and this one size fits all workaround is destined to bring misery to those of us who have chosen to forsake some of the cultural luxuries of urban life and live unmolested in the country. This is a direct assault on our lives and livelihood. 

SACRAMENTO — California single-family neighborhoods could see existing parcels split in half to build new housing under a bill signed Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, a plan more modest than far-reaching housing efforts in recent years but sharply criticized by officials in some cities as an overreach on decisions that should be left to local communities.

Newsom also signed a bill allowing more housing density in areas near public transit. Both bills will take effect Jan. 1 but neither is likely to produce the supply of new housing that experts have said California needs to erase years of pent-up demand.

“The housing affordability crisis is undermining the California dream for families across the state, and threatens our long-term growth and prosperity,” Newsom said in announcing his approval. “Making a meaningful impact on this crisis will take bold investments, strong collaboration ... and political courage from our leaders and communities to do the right thing and build housing for all.”

The most controversial of the new laws, Senate Bill 9, will allow up to four new housing units on a single property in certain neighborhoods that are currently zoned for standalone houses only. The law places limits on new construction in neighborhoods designated as historic. Tenants in existing homes would also have legal protections from being displaced. For lots that are split into two parcels, a homeowner must agree to live on the premises.

As a rural resident, I know that we don't have enough water and we don't have roads built for a potential fourfold increase in housing units. Colorado River water is already being rationed. Our state can only sustain so many people, much of it is a desert. The rural beauty and sanctity of our state will be destroyed forever if this plan comes to fruition.

Newsom on Thursday also signed SB 10, creating a process that lets local governments streamline new multi-family housing projects of up to 10 units built near transit or in urban areas. That new legislation also simplifies zoning requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act, which developers complain can bog down projects for years.

“SB 10 provides one important approach: making it dramatically easier and faster for cities to zone for more housing,” the bill’s author, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, wrote in a news release. “It shouldn’t take five or 10 years for cities to re-zone, and SB 10 gives cities a powerful new tool to get the job done quickly.”

Newsom also signed SB 8, which extends the Housing Crisis Act of 2019. The act, which speeds up the approval process for housing projects, curtails local governments’ ability to reduce the number of units allowed on a site and limits housing application fee hikes, was set to expire in 2025. Now it will go through 2030.

Low cost housing has always been a pipe dream here. I know, I was a builder. Units get built and soon their values escalate so high that only the wealthy can afford them. We can not build our way out of the homeless problem either.

Builders and labor unions are loving the bills of course because it gives them a chance to steamroll local opposition to high impact projects with a single swoop.

Newsom previously had shaken up single-family zoning by signing legislation that allowed more homeowners to build in-law units on their properties. SB 9 takes that further, allowing property owners to build up to two duplexes on what was once a single-family lot.

Slow-growth group Livable California, which has pushed back against SB 9, called it a “radical density experiment” and worried developers would use it to remake neighborhoods without community input.

This is bad. The next project that gets pipelined in without due process and environmental controls might be right next to your place. The character of our state is under siege. It is a sad but true fact, and I speak as a California native, that not everyone can afford to live here. But if these sorts of bills pass, perhaps they will destroy so much of what we hold dear that few will even want to live here. 

I sort of wish he had signed these bills before I had sent my ballot in.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Van Ronk

Wall of thread, Manor Cleaners

Totally sprung or eating the kool aid

The world is off its hinges. Everybody is getting super testy after during the long lockdown. Friendships and relationships are fracturing or being sorely tried, often within families. We have also found out that a big and irrational lie can easily be substituted for truth without making much of a commotion. And everybody seems to be at each other's throats, at the drop of a hat. How the hell do we right our ship?

I must tell you, sometimes it is not a matter of drinking the Kool Aid but eating the Kool Aid, like I did yesterday.


I had been busy all day and had a two o'clock meeting with some wonderful clients. I had not eaten all day and was famished. I know them well enough that when I got to their house I asked them if they had any cereal or something I could eat? Completely starving.

"No cereal but F---- made some Kool Aid pie," J---- said.

Kool Aid pie? That was a new one on me. But I was starving and could not pretend I was Jaques Pepin right then. Strawberry lemonade flavor, pepto color. It would certainly do.

A bit oversweet but not terrible. I would probably do it again if necessary, He says the black cherry is good too and sometimes he does it with a graham cracker crust. His crust was actually damn good. I had eaten food like this with the Pueblo family we would sometimes see and eat with on Feast Day in Santo Domingo. Creative and simple but out of my normal wheelhouse.

Leslie had ixnayed my purchase of a New York cheesecake from Trader Joes the other day, claiming a lack of room in our freezer and I have been moping ever since. Have been dying for a slice of cheesecake for months. I pretended this pie was cheesecake and actually almost convinced myself yesterday. But not quite.

Speaking of convincing yourself, BigDave got a call from an old acquaintance of ours who is sort of off his rocker. Convinced himself that through a bunch of chemical explorations of some nasty sort another, he has figured out the secret of the universe. I haven't seen the guy in about thirty years, was always a bit addled.

Anyhow, Dave tried to talk to him about his newfound wisdom and I guess it is a monologue and not a dialogue and he has no time for other people's conclusions or epiphanies. Which is always a bore. Didn't get very far but was apparently very excited to be suddenly enlightened and wanted to share.

The funny thing and the reason I bring it up is that he feels that his latest spiritual awakening may have come courtesy of some online communication with a Chinese bot, which might even be romantic in nature. Might be a human, might be an AI simulacrum but J says it doesn't matter either way, now that he is in possession of the magic hoohaw. He is in a definite relationship, but it might be with an AI algorithm. Love the one you're with, even if its resistors need a reboot, I always say.

Which made me think back to the early days of spam comments, right after we were weaned off DOS. Some of the stuff was twisted but if your mind was elastic enough, you could convince yourself it made a small bit of sense with a little minor effort. Or at least I could. Probably at least as accurate as fortune cookies.

Guess my brain has hardened a bit since then. Hope the Kool Aid pie will help.

A different take


From Anthropocene - A drug kingpin, some escaped hippos—and the surprising benefits of mixing exotic and native animals

Of course, extinct animals are a completely different kettle of fish. Or the potential problems that could arise if they are brought back anyway. 

At least in my mind although I appear to be in the clear minority here.

Bring it! Earth is already upside down, might as well give it one last shake.

Stereo MC's

I saw this band way back when at Peter Gabriel's Womad festival in Golden Gate Park. They were fantastic. What a nice groove.

Century Towers

Our little town

Regardless of my age or lack of property ownership, I was elected for this job just as the rest of the board was. Anna Strahan

I am not overly familiar with the actions and machinations of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group. I know a few of the members have served for an awfully long time and appreciate the dedication and hard work of all the participants. I am sure it takes a tremendous amount of time and commitment to serve on this committee.

Still I have heard some rumblings about some strange goings on of late and will let these screen shots from Facebook save me from a little typing and speak for themselves. If there is another side to the story I would like to hear it. 

Anna Strahan is the daughter of two of my longtime friends from Fallbrook and is a delightful and hard working young woman with a bright future, hopefully continuing in public service. I do not know Ross Pike.

Anna is an independent thinker and I am sure that that rankles the old guard on the planning board. I know, I served on a planning board subcommittee here thirty years ago. 

There was a tremendous pressure to go along with the chairman's recommendations and I was finally asked to resign because I often voted against the flow and upset the apple cart. 

Having been on the wrong side of a bunch of 11 to 1 decisions I finally did so, seeing how little the board valued independent thinking. 

Jim Russell called the shots and I was plainly told that I was not welcome. I took the hint.

If Anna and Ross are indeed being denigrated for not being property owners or for being young, or having their opinions called ridiculous, as she reports, I think that it is an awful and disrespectful thing. 

Such language needs to be curtailed immediately.

When the grand experiment in democracy that we call America started, only white males that owned property were initially allowed to participate in the process.
The U.S. Constitution originally left it to states to determine who is qualified to vote in elections. For decades, state legislatures generally restricted voting to white males who owned property. Some states also employed religious tests to ensure that only Christian men could vote.
Later poll taxes and literacy tests were enacted to keep voting in the hands of the privileged and few. Women finally won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. 
Poll taxes were a particularly egregious form of voter suppression for a century following the Civil War, forcing people to pay money in order to vote. Payment of the tax was a prerequisite for voter registration in many states. The taxes were expressly designed to keep African Americans and low-income white people from voting. Some states even enacted grandfather clauses to allow many higher-income white people to avoid paying the tax. The 24th amendment was approved by Congress in 1962 and ratified by the states two years later. In a 1966 case, the Supreme Court ruled that poll taxes are unconstitutional in any U.S. election.
I am personally glad that the planning group has members that reflect the segment of the population that has to rent in our community. They have a right to be represented as well. Every local citizen should have a voice. 

We all live in the same community and some of us are not as fortunate as others but that does not mean that their opinions should not be heard and counted. It looks like some members of the group have apologized to members Pike and Strahan and that is a good thing.

I hope to learn more about this particular kerfuffle and will try to follow the actions of the planning group more closely in the future. It should go without saying that neither sexism or ageism are appropriate on the local planning board.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Woman at Leven's house with languid smoke trail

This is the sort of shot I liked to grab when I was shooting film with my Topcon in the old days, always wanted to be a stringer for Life or Look. Lots of grain, camera shake, high contrast, lacks detail, blown out highlights, but who cares?  It conveys a feeling. Composition and emotion capturing a moment will always trump technical perfection without either.

I dug this out of my archives this afternoon, always liked it.

Say what?

Warmboe brought this one to my attention. While many have talked about the need for reparations to redress the evils and horror of our country's history of slavery, California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder has a different spin on who the real victims were.

How about reparations for slave owners?Seriously.

“When people talk about reparations, do they really want to have that conversation?” he asked. “Like it or not, slavery was legal. Their legal property was taken away from them after the Civil War, so you could make an argument that the people that are owed reparations are not only just Black people but also the people whose ‘property’ was taken away after the end of the Civil War.”

They are absolutely going to love this one down at the barber shop.

Street performer, Madrid


O Lucky Man

Elephant's Memory

Abby Normal

Mammoth Undertaking

Tsk, tsk or should I say tusk, tusk; Scientists are talking about bringing the woolly mammoth back to the arctic, an extinct animal that has only been gone for ten thousand years or so. They plan on mating it with the Asian Elephant. The last common ancestor of the two species was six million years ago. The purported purpose is to increase biodiversity and to reduce arctic thaw. 

With shades of Jurrasic Park, or maybe Back to the future, we are going to pluck this big baby right out of the Pleistocene era and see what happens. Fetch, Tantor!

A group called Colossal and its founder George Church, a Harvard geneticist, is pushing the idea. They are proposing to create a mammoth/elephant hybrid, using gene editing and CRISPR technology. It would live in the new Pleistocene Park. Now what could possibly go wrong?

Church’s dreams of engineering a hybrid mammoth first deepened after an interview he did with the New York Times in 2008 about efforts to sequence the woolly mammoth genome.

At first, the idea was more of a grand intellectual puzzle. But in the years that followed, Church started to collaborate with Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan, the founders of the California-based Revive & Restore. Brand and Phelan aim to use biotechnology to help shore up threatened species and to bring back extinct ones. (Find out more about the science—and ethical debate—around bringing back extinct creatures.)

“De-extinction and the idea of what we call genetic rescue is really a story about hope and being able to repair some of the damage that humans have caused over the centuries,” says Phelan. “It’s not nostalgia—it’s really about increasing biodiversity.”

Why do I have my doubts? Is running the Whole Earth Catalogue sufficient experience to start messing round with dead animal genes? 

Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that this undertaking will not go real well? What could possibly go wrong when you reintroduce the largest land mammal to ever walk the earth to a new epoch?

The brainiacs behind this one think the new chimera will be helpful in knocking down trees and stuff. What if it is not quite as friendly or housebroken as they think it is? What is to stop it if it decided it might rather live in say, Cleveland, like the elephants that decided to go on the unannounced Chinese vacation last month. 

In case you didn't notice, Pablo Escobar's hippo herd is now wreaking havoc and taking over the Amazon. Why don't we fix that first before we go back to the lab and play mad scientist?

We can't even stop the drift from GMO corn and now we think we are capable of creating a Frankenstinian animal capable of toppling over large buildings with its nose? 

What strange recessive gene or virus does the mammoth popsicle possess that will wreak havoc on our world because the scientists had no clue of the tertiary ramifications of their cute genetic manipulations?

How do we know that the stuff mammoths like to eat is even alive anymore? Think they can live on eskimo pies?

But first I guess we will have to see if the elephants even think the hirsute mammoths are cute and want to make pachyderm whoopee with them.
“The scale at which you’d have to do this experiment is enormous. You are talking about hundreds of thousands of mammoths which each take 22 months to gestate and 30 years to grow to maturity.”

Lamm said: “Our goal isn’t just to bring back the mammoth, but to bring back interbreedable herds that are successfully rewilded back into the Arctic region.”

Whether Asian elephants would want to breed with the hybrids is, for now, unknown. “We might have to give them a little shave,” said Church.
Way, way way beyond our current paygrade and capabilities. I certainly don't trust us.

Oliphant army - Lord of the Rings

Have it both ways

Two weeks ago Republicans were bitching because Biden had left Afghan allies in their country in the clumsy and inept withdrawal. Secretary Blinken responded that people coming into our country needed to be vetted and checked out and that it took time. I can understand that. But the GOP really went after the administration for forsaking their friends.

Several congressional Republicans have said the United States should welcome refugees fleeing the country to prevent a humanitarian crisis, especially Afghans who assisted the United States. “We need to care for them,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told a local Kentucky television station last week. “We owe it to these people, who are our friends and who worked with us, to get them out safely if we can.”

In Texas, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) offered his support and prayers to refugees, especially those granted special visas after assisting the U.S. military. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) also voiced his support despite advocating for limits on refugees in the past. “We have an obligation not to leave people to die at the hands of the Taliban for the crime of helping America," Cruz told reporters in Dallas last week. Several governors across the political spectrum also offered aid and messages that refugees would be welcome in their states.

Now, Trump is taking the opposite tack, Biden's willingness to take Afghan allies and refugees will bring terrorists into the country.

Former President Donald Trump, in an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital, suggested that terrorists "absolutely" were airlifted from Afghanistan as part of the U.S. evacuation effort from Kabul last month, questioning the Biden administration's vetting process. 

The former president, during the interview, called the Biden administration’s effort to resettle Afghan allies "incredible." 

"There has never been a war — win, lose or draw — and you bring everybody into your country," Trump said. "That’s a lot of people, and at a tremendous cost already—they’re talking about billions and billions of dollars." 

Which way is it going to be? I think it is fair to ask my GOP brethren to pick a side on this one, either we resettle these people or we don't but this mealy mouthed, damned if you do, damned if you don't hypocrisy helps no one and merely confirms that you stand for nothing except for hurting the opposition, no matter how irrationally. Stop with the mixed messaging.

If there is no quorum or majority on this issue within the Republican party, how about you figure it out in house before you start attacking Joe Biden? It is one way or the other.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Brown-Eyed Women

Grate Pretender


For good or ill, spent or misspent, I spent a lot of my youth traipsing around the country following the Grateful Dead.

Started listening around 1970, going to shows two years later, then really hit my stride when the band hit their stride, the magical year of 1977.

The spring tour was legendary that year and I was there many steps of the way, the greatest show of my life in San Bernardino, then Santa Barbara and three days at Winterland in San Francisco in February and March, then back east to Philly.

Band came back to SoCal in June and I caught them at the Fabulous Forum and tripping back up north for another extended nice Winterland run.

It was the best and most magic time for me and my gang and Jerry surely never played any better than he did that year on his aluminum necked Travis Bean guitar. 

The dead were at the height of their powers and in full glory, at least in my opinion. And we Deadheads had so much fun.

So as it sounds, I hold the year 1977 in some reverence, at least in terms of this most psychedelic of bands. It was never that good again, at least for me. And I caught a lot of shows in 78, something was clearly missing...

Now I was at the grocery store this afternoon, looking for string cheese, incidentally, I took a double take when I saw a large and fairly grungy guy in a Spring 77 dead tour t-shirt. I did a quick age calculation, something didn't quite add up. Was he a fellow devotee who had trod my same trail and shared a campaign back in hallowed and headier times?

"Were you on that tour?" I asked him, sizing him up like a veteran might ask a young guy sporting a khe sanh hat. "No, I wasn't," the guy said, "but I wish I was." "I didn't go to my first show until 1988."

"Ugh," I thought. "One of those." At least he was honest. This guy might have been one of the johnny come lately preppy deadheads that arrived all boozed up after in the dark got successful in the late eighties and when the band started sounding so dreadful. Made the scene so ghastly.

I thought for a moment. Should I force the impersonator to take off the shirt so I could stomp on it in Aisle Five? Would that be too draconian or a touch too severe? Why would you wear a shirt for a tour you never attended?

To me he was a like a guy playing fake cop or pretend soldier. Maybe I should have tore the sacred rose epaulets right off his lapel but I am a nice guy and not exactly wired that way.  Wasn't really my place. Live and let live, is my motto. 

Left him there with a tip of the hat and a smile. Ain't no time to hate, as they say...

Mujer en la calle, Córdoba


Kill me a son

Highway 61 unhinged


Now they are calling on god to smite their enemies and vanquish their opposition. 

I think that god could use a new spokesperson or two. He or she is just not being very well served right now. Boebert is clearly unhinged as are Greene, an evolution denier and Lindell

Many of those that claim to be acting in god's service have been doing a really godawful job of late. Like Matthew Coleman, the Christian surf camp instructor in Santa Barbara who said that god directed him to kill his two children. Which he did. 

The Santa Barbara surfing community is a tight one, and the Christian surf community especially so. Calvary Chapel in Santa Barbara has held a surf ministry for years, which Coleman participated in, though he wasn’t a member of the congregation. Senior Pastor Tommy Schneider held a special call on the Wednesday after the murders were announced, giving his congregation time to talk about what they were feeling. He tried to comfort them and make sense of how a seemingly nice guy could go so wrong. 

“We’ve seen people get carried away by things like conspiracy,” Pastor Tommy said he told his congregation. “It can be dangerous, although I’m not sure what that means for Matthew … As Jesus said: Don’t be deceived; walk in love. This walk for Matthew obviously changed course; he lost his focus.”

The conspiracy Schneider spoke of refers to Coleman’s statements alleged in an FBI affidavit, in which Coleman acknowledged he’d killed his children. He told the special agent that he had received visions and signs influenced by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories and that he had to kill his son and his daughter lest they develop into monsters due to their mother’s “serpent DNA.”

This is what happens when weak minded people get hooked on religion and religious conspiracy theories, they go insane and do horrific things. We have been getting a lot of similar nonsense in the last few years, from Pizzagate to the fake Sandy Hook garbage. Usually a biblical tie in somewhere.

Many of the whack jobs claim a divine inspiration for their evil actions and perfidy. If someone claims they have a direct line upstairs, my sincere advice to you is to run away, as quickly as possible.

And don't even think of mixing god and meth. That never works out. Don't be like the guy in Florida who recently whacked four people he did not know because, you guessed it, god told him to.

In an interview with deputies, the suspect described himself as "a survivalist" -- a term that generally refers to a person who proactively prepares for a post-apocalyptic world -- and confessed to being on methamphetamine, Judd said. 

The suspect's girlfriend told authorities that he had been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and had been acting erratically in the past week, saying that he was receiving visions from God, according to the sheriff.

"She said he had PTSD. 'I've seen him depressed. I've never seen him violent,' she said," Judd said. "But a week ago today, meaning last Sunday, he did security at a church in Orlando. And he came home and he said, you know, God spoke to him and now he can talk directly to God. And she said, 'I've never seen that kind of behavior.'"

Or Lori Vallow, who believed that she was duty bound to kill her two children, because they had been turned into zombies.
"She was told by Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow that they held the religious belief that they were a part of the 'Church of the Firstborn' and that their mission in that Church was to lead the '144,000' mentioned in the Book of Revelation. They also stated their mission was to rid the world of 'zombies,'" according to the police document.
This brand of unhinged fundamentalism seems to be moving across cultures and geographical boundaries. But they all sound very much the same, irrespective of origin. And they all think they are talking to god.

If you know someone who is talking to god and believes that he or she is called to do terrible things in his name, I think it would be a very good idea to call the authorities and get them committed to a mental institution as quickly as possible. And don't give me Abraham and Isaac, I think ol' Abe was nuts too.

Why people kill in the name of godThe role of self-enhancement in religious aggression - Psychology Today 

Nine Below Zero

Great Horned

Hong Kong Blues

Hoagy Carmichael sings kicking Buddha's Gong here, a slang reference for smoking opium. From one of my favorite Bogart movies, To have and have not.

Food night in Temecula

I have been craving sushi and we decided to see if we could find some good fish in Temecula. I googled best Sushi in Temecula and a relatively new restaurant named Sakura came up several times. 

Normally we go to Hana but we were getting a little tired of it and the size of the sashimi salad keeps getting smaller and smaller.

I loved this Yelp review on the place, one of the few negatives, maybe if you have only eaten sushi in Fallbrook... But honestly true because our sushi spots here are pretty marginal.

So we head up there, place is right off the freeway and we walk in to a fairly antiseptic cavernous setting full of television screens and are met with cold stares. 

Guy at the sushi bar says no seating without vaccination cards, I detect with a faint air of hostility, we sit down. 

Place has a vapid Orange County feel, trendy, all form, no substance, warmth or ambience thing going.

We try to talk to the sushi chef but it turns out he speaks no english, not sure if he is Korean or Japanese but he seems quite unhappy and quickly stultifies all of our attempts to communicate. 

We are the only people seated at the bar.

The other sushi chef, who does speak english, says we will not be able to order until all the to go orders are filled. 

This takes upwards of forty minutes and the place is not particularly crowded.

We order hamachi kama while we wait. The server has never heard of it. The sushi cutter says they have it. It never arrives, ever.

We finally get our drinks and are able to order our food, from the server, the sushi chefs want no contact with us.

We finally get our food but there is no wasabi, ginger or setups.

We have to ask one, twice, three times before we receive these things and are finally able to eat. Like five minutes.

The quality of the fish is indeed excellent, although the outré bland tuna tower was an absolute bore and they placed onions on it against our express wishes. 

The price for the superb fish was reasonable. But the rice was not well made and did not stick together. We had a spider roll and an iteration of a shrimp tempura roll, some wonderful tuna sushi.

Would I ever go back? Very doubtful. Vibes suck. Service was slow and lousy, servers ignorant, sushi staff unfriendly. Perhaps I will go back to Sushi Camp, the place my friend Tony likes.

Rather than end the evening on a low note, I asked Leslie to run over to a place I recently discovered in Temecula, Chef K, for a dumpling dessert. Place has a limited dim sum menu and does Shanghai style, one of our favorites. The old Shanghai restaurant is gone.

I had eaten here once before, the place located in the Stater Bros. shopping center and had tried the xiao long bao soup dumplings.

I have certainly had better but for Temecula it was okay and beats driving all the way to Din tai fung.

Frankly, the chow fun I had on the previous visit was terrible, the beef having absolutely no flavor whatsoever, noodles good.

Having said that, we ordered the large serving of xlb last night and they hit the spot and I would go back again and see if there are things there that I like better. Place is nice, elegant in a way.

But honestly, if you live in the San Diego or Temecula area and are serious about asian food, do yourself a favor and drive to Convoy.

Birding Panama

My lucky friends Beth and PJ are in Panama on a bird watching trip. Pj is a professional ornithologist and can make more aural identifications than anyone I know. I think that she can identify over 500 birds by sound.

Beth sent me some pictures that definitely make me feel very jealous!

I believe that Panama has the second most number of bird species in the world, after Colombia. I think that the birds in the video above are keel billed toucans.

This is the national beer of Panama.

I hope that they send more pictures! Looks like a wonderful trip.

Live feed - Canopy Tower


mot mot


black and white owls

three toed sloth

rare forest falcon

An optimistic Covid 19 take

From the New York Post - The US is nearing immunity from Covid 19 by Joel Zinberg,  M.D., J.D., a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and an associate clinical professor of surgery at the Icahn Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Calvin and Hobbes


Washington spenders

Good article from E.J.Dionne today in the WaPo. He gets a little dramatic at the end of his shpiel but makes some good points here nonetheless that I print. Funny that GOP spends like bloody pirates on their watch (the national debt rose $7.8 trillion dollars during Trump's term) and then suddenly get concerned about debt when the other guy is in charge. 

I don't blame Manchin and Sinema for being thrifty and playing to their base but I think they are being used by the right and could easily find themselves alone in the middle of the highway without a friend to their name one day.

...the much-discussed $3.5 trillion price tag is a lot of money. But that number is based on 10 years of spending. Sharon Parrott, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, points out that the $3.5 trillion should be placed in the context of an anticipated gross domestic product of $288 trillion over the same period — meaning that this debate is over roughly 1.2 percent of the economy. That’s hardly a gargantuan investment in social equity and economic stability for tens of millions of our fellow citizens.   

Moreover, as both Parrott and my Post colleague Catherine Rampell have noted, backers of these programs are not proposing to throw the whole thing onto the national debt. On the contrary, as Rampell reminded us recently, lawmakers voted last month for a maximum deficit increase of about $1.75 trillion, with all or most of the package to be paid for with new revenue and budget savings elsewhere.

Sonic Youth - Teenage Riot

Cotton Mather

I saw an interesting article at a Harvard website today. Mandates and the antipathy they provoke evidently go back a lot further than even George Washington.

On a November day in 1721, a small bomb was hurled through the window of a local Boston Reverend named Cotton Mather. Attached to the explosive, which fortunately did not detonate, was the message: “Cotton Mather, you dog, dam you! I’ll inoculate you with this; with a pox to you.’’ This was not a religiously motivated act of terrorism, but a violent response to Reverend Mather’s active promotion of smallpox inoculation. The smallpox epidemic that struck Boston in 1721 was one of the most deadly of the century in colonial America, but was also the catalyst for the first major application of preventative inoculation in the colonies.

...Although inoculation was already common in certain parts of the world by the early 18th century, it was only just beginning to be discussed in England and colonial America. Cotton Mather is largely credited with introducing inoculation to the colonies and doing a great deal to promote the use of this method as standard for smallpox prevention during the 1721 epidemic. Mather is believed to have first learned about inoculation from his West African slave Onesimus, writing, “he told me that he had undergone the operation which had given something of the smallpox and would forever preserve him from it, adding that was often used in West Africa.’’ After confirming this account with other West African slaves and reading of similar methods being performed in Turkey, Mather became an avid proponent of inoculation. When the 1721 smallpox epidemic struck Boston, Mather took the opportunity to campaign for the systematic application of inoculation. What followed was a fierce public debate, but also one of the first widespread and well-documented uses of inoculation to combat such an epidemic in the West. 

Mather was a Puritan, a scientist and an intellectual with a historically checkered life, being at least partly responsible for the Salem witch trials. The article goes on to mention that vaccine techniques reach back at least as far as China in 1000 CE and were widely practiced in ancient Turkey, India and Africa. I leave you with a note from another founding father:

In 1736, I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of 4 years old, by the smallpox taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly and still regret that I had not given it to him by Inoculation; This I mention for the sake of parents, who omit that Operation on the Supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child dies under it; my Example showing that the Regret may be the same either way, and that therefore the safer should be chosen. Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Sweet Jane

Die free, it's worth it?

We all read the same stories every day. BillieBob, an ardent antivaccer, is on his or her deathbed pleading with his or her loved ones to get the vaccine with his or her dying breath and not to follow their bad example. And then they sadly expire, leaving everybody behind. 🕱🕱🕱

Like poor Megan here. The internet is literally littered with similar tales of woe. People like Josh Tidmore. Cindy Dawkins, a mother of four. Michael Freedy, a 39 year old father leaving a family of five. These stories have been labeled the new "vaccination regret" genre. There are frankly far too many of them.

And it made me wonder. Why don't we ever hear about the inverse happening? Why don't we read about the poor Covid patient who says, "Yes, I am probably going to expire soon and never see my friends and family again but I did it for liberty and freedom and it was worth it. Please don't get the shot. It's for pussies. No regrets." 

Funny we never hear about those. There have to be plenty of them out there, aren't there?

Surfer, Huntington Beach Pier


Kraftwerk - Autobahn

Behold the metaverse


Not like this has not been forecast for decades but now it seems like it is only a matter of time.

Marc Zuckerberg, a guy that has always sort of viscerally freaked me out, is introducing Facebook Glasses in a partnership with Ray Ban.

The goal of Ray-Ban Stories is to “lay the groundwork in the minds of consumers for the many, many, future products that we have to come in this space,” Facebook’s vice president of augmented and virtual reality, Andrew Bosworth, told me. It’s all part of Facebook’s goal to build what it thinks will be the next major computing platform after mobile phones. The company has over 10,000 people making consumer hardware, including a smartwatch it plans to help control its eventual AR glasses, which are internally codenamed “Orion.”

For Luxottica, the idea was to make smart glasses “not just a technological gadget, but something sexy,” according to Basilico. “We started with a sleek design and then we retrofitted the technology.”

Smart to go sexy, sex sells. This iteration will allow phone and picture taking capabilities, no augmented reality quite yet, no stun or kill capabilities announced at this time either.

Don't worry, it is coming.

But even more pernicious than the specter of these fancy new gadgets is the fact that the step after that, hardwiring the technology directly into our neural systems, is surely just around the corner.

The last frontier, they will claim that it is much more safe and efficient.

And then we humans will be always plugged in, twenty four seven, getting a constant stream of slick advertising, porn and social connecting, even in our sleep. It will be a dream for Zuckerberg and his ilk, a cadre of stooges waiting for some Manchurian signal to answer the retailer's clarion call.

And eventually we can just do away with our bodies, having rendered them mostly vestigial or like the Dark Troopers, they can remove the human element, the machines being much more dependable, efficient and competent anyway in the final analysis.

Beware the technological singularity. Don't let them install the chip in you until you have thought about all of the possible effects and repercussions.

"The Singularity will allow us to transcend these limitations of our biological bodies and brains ... There will be no distinction, post-Singularity, between human and machine." Ray Kurzweil

That is certainly how it starts...