Monday, April 23, 2018

Dancehall Powerup Promo Video

Kate writes:
The promo piece you posted on dancehall powerup looked fun, so I googled to see when/where the classes are, and this popped up. You probably saw it at the time, but in case not … you’re in it J

Whoa! No, actually I had NOT seen this! Thanks, Kate!

My Neighborhood

"Lean on Pete"

I was stunned with the hillside that opens this preview for "Lean on Pete," because I passed along this exact road near Burns, Oregon when I was traveling back from the Idaho eclipse trip in August. What are the odds of that?

I was very impressed with the beauty of the country near Burns. If the Pueblo Indians had even seen Malheur Country, they would have given up the Southwest in an instant.

Impressive movie! The perilous journey of a 16-year-old homeless kid in the Pacific Northwest. Plus, horses!

The Addams Family - Sheldon High School


A surprising fact, since I knew Craig Howard, but it was the first time I'd ever been out at Sheldon High School. I wanted to support Choreographer Katie Rogers, and her students. The dancing did not disappoint!

Like it a lot. I particularly liked Fester, Pugsley, and Morticia.







This Video Has Been Out For Years, But I Still Find It Disturbing

Not as disturbing as googly-eyed animated cars, but disturbing enough.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Second Foray with the Bat Echometer


I went under the western end of the Interstate 80 Yolo Causeway, shortly before sunset. The device was flagging about 2/3 of the bat calls as Hoary Bats, and the remainder as the expected Mexican Freetail Bats.

I eventually attracted the attention of a Wildlife Area volunteer. He explained that there were a number of different bats here, but that the main body of mature Mexican Freetail Bats were at the eastern end of the Causeway. Later in the year, juveniles would move out here towards the western end. Both ends have spectacular and distracting bat displays at sunset in the summer. I don’t know why the juveniles would choose to live apart from their elders. Maybe their ultrasonic rock and roll grates on the ears of their parents.

I never saw any bats, but I knew they were there. I could hear them a bit. Something whirred past my head. I looked up and saw midges floating above me. If I attract insects, it’s logical I’d attract bats too.


As I left the Causeway in the gloaming, in the distance, I could see a midge tower forming. In June 2011, I saw a spectacular series of midge towers out here. I hope they come back.

Now, time to look into the spectral analysis software.



I'm impressed with the loud pings of Hoary Bats. In the lower display, the horizontal line is at 20 kilohertz, which is the upmost range of a young person's hearing range, and exactly the frequency at which the Hoary Bats were loudest. I couldn't hear them, though. My ears are just too old.

Namibia's Fairy Circles

Interesting. Deserts around the world have similar patterned landscapes:

A new study published in Nature has found that Namibian Fairy Circles are the product of not one, but two ecological forces. By combining field observations and computer models, researchers from Princeton University, the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, and several other institutions, have shown that the interaction between both termites and self-organizing plants (i.e. plants that either clump themselves together or disperse according to the availability of resources) is sufficient to explain this enigmatic landscape feature. Importantly, this new theory could be used to solve similar mysteries around the world.

One Toke Over The Line - Lawrence Welk Show (1971)

Kafkaesque

Friday, April 20, 2018

Break a Leg to the Cast of DMTC's "Guys and Dolls," Premiering Tonight!

I'm beginning to look at the 1,701 pictures, all of which I hope to have uploaded to DMTC's Smugmug Website by Monday. I'm attracted by some of the more offbeat ones:

‘These Kids Should Be In School Instead Of Protesting,’ Say People So Tantalizingly Close To Getting The Point

The Onion.

It's 4:20 on 4/20

And I'm hungry....

Bargain-Basement Toxicologist

Bill Cosby’s toxicologist isn’t top drawer. More like that hard-to-reach bottom drawer with all the junk.
At one point during an exacting cross-examination, Maryland toxicologist Dr. Harry Milman suggested to a prosecutor probing his credentials that he distribute copies of Milman’s two fiction thrillers to jurors in the stately Pennsylvania courtroom.

Monty Python Conquers America

Very much enjoyed this documentary. It brought back many memories of learning about Monty Python late at night on PBS in the early Seventies:

Promo Video For My Fave, Jamaican Dancehall Power Up Class

Cleaning Trash From Water

The States Race to the Bottom in the Competitive Business of Biosolids

The languid Southern summer approaches:
PARRISH, Ala.— A stinking trainload of human waste from New York City is stranded in a tiny Alabama town, spreading a stench like a giant backed-up toilet — and the "poop train" is just the latest example of the South being used as a dumping ground for other states' waste.

In Parrish, Alabama, population 982, the sludge-hauling train cars have sat idle near the little league ball fields for more than two months, Mayor Heather Hall said. The smell is unbearable, especially around dusk after the atmosphere has become heated, she said.

"Oh my goodness, it's just a nightmare here," she said. "It smells like rotting corpses, or carcasses. It smells like death."

...Alabama and other Southern states have a long history accepting waste from around the U.S.

A former state attorney general once described a giant west Alabama landfill as "America's Pay Toilet." It was among the nation's largest hazardous waste dumps when it opened in 1977. At its peak, the landfill took in nearly 800,000 tons of hazardous waste annually.

Plans to dump coal ash in Southern states have been particularly contentious. Each year, U.S. coal plants produce about 100 million tons of coal ash and other waste; more than 4 million tons of it wound up in an Alabama landfill following a 2008 spill in Tennessee.

In Parrish, the mayor hopes the material in the train cars is removed before the weather warms up.

"We're moving into the summer, and the summer in the South is not forgiving when it comes to stuff like this," she said.

Smart Moves by Both Cardi B and Bernie Sanders

Sanders needs to mend fences:
In pure “feel the Bern” fashion, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) postured his affinity for millennial culture on Wednesday by retweeting a quote from rap sensation Cardi B, who recently dropped her encyclopedic knowledge of U.S. presidents in an expansive interview with GQ.

In that interview, Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, took a deep dive into her self-professed obsession with the 32nd president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom she said was the “real ‘Make America Great Again’ President because if it wasn’t for him, older Americans wouldn’t even get Social Security.”

Sean Hannity’s Idea of ‘Attorney-Client Privilege’ Was Right Out of ‘Breaking Bad’

Ain't that the truth!:
“I might have handed him 10 bucks [and said,] ‘I definitely want your attorney-client privilege on this,’ ” Hannity told listeners Monday afternoon. “Something like that.”

Online, the “handed him 10 bucks” line immediately launched comparisons to an infamous scene from AMC’s smash hit “Breaking Bad.”

In a memorable exchange, one of the shadiest lawyers in television history, Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, tells the show’s meth-dealing main characters to “put a dollar in my pocket” to ensure that their conversations about criminal misdeeds remain protected.

...But at this point in the chaotic legal mess swirling around Cohen, Trump and now Hannity, another bit of dialogue from that “Breaking Bad” scene in the desert might be worth keeping in mind.

“The way I see it, someone is going to prison,” Goodman tells his new clients. “It’s just a matter of who.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

Astonished by the Ferocity of the Thunderstorm

Very unCalifornian:

The storm cell was apparently fairly small. We got hit, but the National Weather Service rain gauge four miles away at Sac Exec Airport didn't get hit. On the other hand, they got rain yesterday, but no rain fell here. Maybe it evens out a bit.

Yeast is Chinese

Who knew?:
When scientists in France set out to sequence 1,000 yeast genomes, they looked at strains from all the places you might expect: beer, bread, wine.

But also: sewage, termite mounds, tree bark, the infected nail of a 4-year-old Australian girl, oil-contaminated asphalt, fermenting acorn meal in North Korea, horse dung, fruit flies, human blood, seawater, a rotting banana. For five years, two geneticists—Gianni Liti, from the Université Côte d’Azur, and Joseph Schacherer, from the Université de Strasbourg—asked for samples of Saccharomyces cerevisiae from nearly everyone they met, whether doctors in French Guiana collecting human feces or Mexican tequila makers.

...The results of their analysis, published in Nature, suggest that yeast came from, of all places, China.

On Russian Troll Farms

Trying Out My New Bat-Monitoring App

I've recently obtained three apps for the iPhone that promise to act like Shazam for wildlife, including two apps for bird calls. Tonight, though, was test run for the app designed for bats. If you want to listen in to those high sound frequencies, you first have to buy the ultrasonic module (about $200).

I headed down to the Midtown bat colony I first noted when I used to walk Bella. It's a perfect place for bats.

Got some nice recordings of bat chatter! The app identified most of the recordings as being from Mexican Freetailed Bats, but some recordings were identified as being from Big Brown Bats. I don't know if it means both bats were present, or if the app has trouble distinguishing between them.

I was a little surprised at the large gaps between episodes of bat activity, as if their numbers were small and scattered. It's a little early for bats. Mexican Freetailed Bats (the same bats one finds in the huge colony under the I-80 Yolo Causeway) only start arriving from their Mexican wintering spots in March. By July, there should be more.

Jump Rope, One of Hip Hop's Foundations

Furious With The Scooter Libby Pardon

Trump pardons American traitor Scooter Libby, in a Mafia-like effort to keep Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Jared Kushner from betraying his secrets.

Traitors run the United States right now:

Trouble Keeping Up With All The Bullshit

NOW Trump decides the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a good idea:
But the point is that the things President Trump has focused most on, intellectual property rights, is actually something TPP is pretty aggressive on. The point really isn’t the rights or wrongs of TPP. The point is that Trump had zero idea what TPP even was when he decided to peremptorily pull out of the agreement. It may have been bad for the US or good. But his decision was based on ignorance and impulse. Because there was nothing behind it in the first place, an about-face is completely possible.

For the record, I’m with Sasse: Trump “likes to blue-sky a lot.” That is to say, he was just spouting off and it probably means nothing. But it’s just one more example of the toll of a militantly ignorant President.

Goldman Sachs, everyone’s favorite Great Vampire Squid, notes that there isn’t much money in medical cures, only in endless courses of medical treatments:
"Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in an April 10 report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

"The potential to deliver 'one shot cures' is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies," analyst Salveen Richter wrote in the note to clients Tuesday. "While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow."

Richter cited Gilead Sciences' treatments for hepatitis C, which achieved cure rates of more than 90 percent. The company's U.S. sales for these hepatitis C treatments peaked at $12.5 billion in 2015, but have been falling ever since. Goldman estimates the U.S. sales for these treatments will be less than $4 billion this year, according to a table in the report.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Ban Targeted Advertising

This strikes me as a really good idea:
Then, over the last decade, this form of marketing became seen as insufficient—or rather, the rise of digital media made a more invasive form of marketing too irresistible. Instead of having to cast a wide net in searching for potential customers, advertisers now could know every intimate detail about those customers beforehand. They began targeting people geographically and behaviorally, based on common interests or things they liked in social media or what they wrote in emails to friends. The surveillance economy was born.

The surveillance economy should die. This manner of advertising doesn’t serve the public and it’s not even clear it serves advertisers. It facilitates monopoly, as those with the biggest data troves receive all the ad dollars. That centralizes the potential for and magnitude of abuse, with Big Data used to discriminate against groups, steer vulnerable people to financial scams, and meddle in U.S. elections. Cambridge Analytica’s scraping of 87 million user profiles through a simple personality quiz, and then weaponizing that information on behalf of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, revealed how information on social media is inherently insecure.

Tohono O’odham Nation Rejects National Guard Deployment

About time the stakeholders called bullshit on Trump:
Tohono O’odham Nation – On April 9th, 2018 the Tohono O’odham Nation issued a statement to its Tribal citizens ensuring them that no National Guard troops will be deployed to their lands. The response comes on the heels of President Trump’s request for National Guard troops to be deployed to the US and Mexico border.

The Tohono O’odham Nation traditional lands lay on both sides of the US and Mexico “border”. They have consistently fought against any attempts by the US government to build a wall across their lands and have resisted any efforts that would impede on their citizens right to freely travel throughout their traditional homelands.

It's About Time

In the Sixties, I was a big fan of the Space Age. This comedy didn't even live up to the standards of its cousin, Gilligan's Island, and so disappointed, but still, it had the better theme song.

Automation Comes to Interstate 40

Ten Years of Lady Gaga

She changed a few things!:
Female pop icons have long formed a core part of gay culture, and much has been written about why. Some say we live vicariously through their sexuality; more Freudian theories suggest they’re our surrogate mothers. Less controversially, one could simply say their bright pop ballads about overcoming love and loss have historically provided a light-hearted, strobe-lit, glittery escapism from a world darkened by the shadows of HIV and homophobia. Before Gaga there was Madonna, Cher, Diana Ross. You may think Gaga didn’t do anything over and above what these performers did: provide glamour and camp value. But the special place she carved in the hearts of gay people cannot be reduced to her penchant for changing wigs – Lady Gaga queered the mainstream.

It's AMLO's Time

Mexican electorate will likely bank left on July 1st:
Campaigning for Mexico’s upcoming presidential election, on July 1, has officially begun. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the left-wing candidate and former mayor of Mexico City is the clear front-runner with an 18 percentage point lead. The two candidates from the mainstream parties that have dominated Mexico for decades., José Antonio Meade of the ruling PRI party and Ricardo Anaya of the opposition PAN have had difficulty gaining traction with voters in an anti-establishment mood.

A longtime fixture in Mexican politics—this is the third time he’s running—AMLO, as he’s known, has benefited from growing tensions with the United States under President Donald Trump, which have only grown more acute since Trump ordered troops to the border and began raising fears of a “caravan” of migrants passing through Mexico. In contrast to Mexico’s recent presidents—including the current one, the dismally unpopular Enrique Peña Nieto—who have defended NAFTA and security cooperation with Washington, he has pledged to take a harder line with the U.S.

I Deserve A $25,000 Taco

I'm hungry. How about you?

Ergonomic Fail

Sitting down to the computer, I had a realization about the pain near my shoulder blade. The pain comes from mouse-clicking. I've got some kind of ergonomic fail going on.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Lake Arthur Pulls The Concealed-Carry Permits For Cops

The bright light of publicity:
The mayor of the tiny town of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, has shut down his town’s volunteer reserve-officer program after it was reported they awarded a badge to Trump-backing billionaire Robert Mercer, reports Bloomberg.

According to the report, Mayor Ysidro Salazar issued a statement saying he has shuttered his town’s volunteer reserve-officer program and has instructed current officers to return their credentials which allowed them to concealed carry in all 50 states.

Responding to a Businessweek story that reported that out-of-towner Mercer was given a badge that also allowed him to carry a weapon, the mayor said it was time to shut the whole program down.

“Because of the notoriety this was bringing, I decided to go ahead and disassemble the unit,” Salazar said, before adding the report, “didn’t put the town in a very good light.”

Along with shutting down the program, Salazar put Police Chief William Norwood, who oversaw it while serving as the town’s only full-time paid police officer, on administrative leave, pending a hearing by city officials represent the town’s 433 residents. Previously 150 volunteers were authorized by the the department, but that number had been decreased to 84 badge-carriers.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Reorganizing The DMTC Extra Programs

As DMTC Archivist, I've been indiscriminately saving extra DMTC programs for the last sixteen years, and I had accumulated about ten boxes of them in the basement. Too many. I have finally organized them by show, allowing for just 30 per shows (some shows had more than a hundred each), and I've pared the ten boxes down to just four.

For the future.

DMTC 30th Anniversary Video

I didn't realize this interesting video was out there. It was from the DMTC 30th birthday celebration in 2014. Short snippets of many shows (I started doing shows at DMTC in 2000). Notable Broadway stars include Mara Davi (at 7:23) and Jessica Crouch (at 7:50 - apparently she opens a show in NYC in a few months). I momentarily appear at 9:52.

NEW RULES - DUA LIPA - by Blacka Di Danca & Laure Courtellemont

Two of my fave dancers!

Happy 90th Birthday To Tom Lehrer!

He's still going strong!My mom had his first album (they show the album cover in the article at the link):
Lehrer — who grew up on New York City’s Upper East Side — certainly sees a connection between his mathematical training, which began at Harvard at the prodigiously young age of 14, and his compositions. He was drawn to songwriting in his teens; after failing to respond to classical-music training, he switched to the study of popular music. In an interview in 2000, he summed up the fields’ dual impact. “The logical mind, the precision, is the same that’s involved in math as in lyrics,” he said. “It’s like a puzzle, to write a song.”

Lehrer agrees with mathematician Stanislaw Ulam (one of the builders of the atomic bomb) that rhyming “forces novel associations … and becomes a sort of automatic mechanism of originality”.

Weekend Zumbathon With the Barreto Brothers, Pakko, and Rosalie Fortner (From Santa Maria)

More Conservative Horseshit

Because I'm a liberal, I didn't get to see this horseshit Facebook was offering conservatives in the 2016 election:




Mexicans disagree about priorities:
MEXICO CITY (The Borowitz Report)—Hoping to resolve the seemingly intractable conflict over immigration, Mexico surprised the world on Thursday by agreeing to pay for Donald J. Trump’s psychiatric care.

...While some Mexican taxpayers argued that a full course of psychiatric treatment could prove more costly than a border wall, Peña Nieto warned against skimping on such a necessary expense.

“When the safety and security of the world is at stake, eight hundred dollars an hour is a bargain,” he said, but added that Mexico would try to find a therapist who takes insurance.

Meanwhile, the Soros Rewards Program is doing well:
Dear Valued Soros Protester™,

We’d like to thank you for your participation in the recent March for Our Lives and for being such a loyal Soros Protester™. Together, we sent a message to Congress and the NRA, and we are fostering a real conversation about sensible gun control in our country. Throughout our storied history of compensating work-shy millennials to protest in favor of the Soros Liberal Agenda™, we’ve set unprecedented crowd size records, made nearly 3.5 million clever posters, and paid out nearly $25 million in Soros Bucks™. However, effective today, we will be restructuring our Soros Protest Rewards Program™ to offer you better incentives as a thank you for your time, your Instagram posts, and your delightfully clever protest signs.

New Mexico is my home state. Don't tell ICE.

Zombie Raccoons in Ohio

I've seen aggressive raccoons when they are in a group, but I've never seen a zombie raccoon:
Witnesses describe the furry black-masked creatures assuming aggressive postures toward humans, showing no fear and impervious to attempts to scare them off with noises or movements.

Robert Coggeshall, a retired banker turned nature photographer, described the “extremely strange behavior” of a raccoon that entered Coggeshall’s front yard as he played with his dogs.

“He would stand up on his hind legs, which I’ve never seen a raccoon do before, and he would show his teeth and then he would fall over backward and go into almost a comatose condition,” Coggeshall told WKBN.

Libertarians Are Defunct

For the moment, Libertarians are basically defunct.

Kevin D. Williamson was just fired at The Atlantic - for good reason. I don't think we'd get along. I don't agree with the last sentence of this article. Still, I like the rest:
The GOP’s political situation is absurd: Having rallied to the banner of an erratic and authoritarian game-show host, evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr. are reduced to comparing Donald Trump to King David as they try to explain away his entanglement with pornographic performer Stormy Daniels. Those who celebrated Trump the businessman clutch their heads as his preposterous economic policies produce terror in the stock markets and chaos for the blue-collar workers in construction firms and manufacturers scrambling to stay ahead of the coming tariffs on steel and aluminum. The Chinese retaliation is sure to fall hardest on the heartland farmers who were among Trump’s most dedicated supporters.

On the libertarian side of the Republican coalition, the situation is even more depressing: Republicans such as former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who once offered important support for criminal-justice reform, are lined up behind the atavistic drug-war policies of the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose big idea on opiate abuse is more death sentences for drug traffickers. Deficits are moving in the wrong direction. And, in spite of the best hopes of the “America First” gang, Trump’s foreign policy has not moved in the direction of Rand Paul’s mild non-interventionism or the more uncompromising non-interventionism of his father, Ron Paul. Instead, the current GOP foreign-policy position combines the self-assured assertiveness of the George W. Bush administration (and many familiar faces and mustaches from that administration) with the indiscipline and amateurism characteristic of Trump.

Some libertarian moment.

James Vandeventer is Running For Congress From Oklahoma

James was a fellow candidate for the 2003 California Gubernatorial Recall Election, so his race for the Second Oklahoma Congressional District (Tulsa area, and NE Oklahoma) piques my interest:
Oklahomans 1ST! It's time for NEW Visionary Leadership!

We don't have to live like this!

KIDS, Teachers, Vets, Elderly, Poor, 1st Responders & those in need ARE #1!

Time 2 GO MARKWAYNE! 3 TERMS ARE UP!



Take Oklahoma to the TOP!

YES ON SQ788 Medical Marijuana!

Protect Our 2nd Amendment but we need SENSIBLE Laws TO KEEP Guns out of the HANDS of the WRONG People!



Gateway to Native America! Miami, Sallisaw, Durant!

Claremore, how about a Boardwalk at Claremore Lake? Oolagah? Eufala? Or? We have a BEAUTIFUL STATE! LET'S Showcase it and make some $$$$!

Grove, how about a theme park to showcase Grand Lake?

All Religions Protected!

STOP the HATE! Rebuild Our Churches!

Let's Put God back in Our Hearts, Homes, & Churches!

LOVE THY NEIGHBOR!


...I am running as a HYBRID Candidate! I was a lifelong Reagan Republican until approx 2003. I have VOTED for many Candidates REGARDLESS of PARTY!

WHY? BECAUSE Oklahomans/American Patriots like you, COME 1ST! I don't care what your Religion is, what color you are, and I REALLY DON'T WANT to know about your sex life! WHO you love and MARRY IS YOUR BUSINESS! NOT THE GOVT OR CHURCH! LOVE THY NEIGHBOR!

WE ARE NOT SENT OUT AS POLICE FOR Christ! We WERE SENT TO SPREAD LOVE, FORGIVENESS, AND THE TEACHINGS of GOD!


Clueless Dog

The Real Reason For The Trump-Bezos Rivalry

Money:
President Donald Trump’s net worth declined by more than $600 million in the past year, according to the Forbes 400 List of the richest people in America. However surprising Trump’s loss may be, the reason for it is even more unexpected. Trump’s real estate holdings, specifically those in New York City, have taken a big hit in the past year, as retail values are struggling in response to Amazon’s e-commerce gains.

...Appearing on CNN Tuesday, Forbes assistant managing editor Kerry Dolan leveled blame for Trump’s real estate losses on e-commerce’s domination over retail, mentioning Amazon. Specifically citing the lease of the Niketown store and the Trump Tower property, Dolan said that retailers are suffering—even on the high end. It would appear that Amazon’s strategy of e-commerce over brick and mortar retail is winning, and that is having an effect on real estate values, she added.

91% of Average

After the last spell of rain, the 2017-18 rainy season (Nov. - Apr.) at Sacramento Executive airport is now 91% of average - nearly a carbon copy of the 2015-16 rainy season two years ago, which ended at 91% of average. There are chances for more rain over the next week, however, so maybe we'll just barely edge rain totals two years ago.

Meanwhile, SoCal is in bad shape. The LA Times reports the rainy season at Los Angeles is just 37% of average.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Stupid Wine Tariffs

Given worldwide overproduction of wine, the U.S. can ill-afford losing Chinese market share - one of the few places with growing demand - but that’s what Republican misrule will give us:
But China, which included wine on a list of 128 products worth $3bn targeted for potential tariffs, is confident that its growing market power, fuelled by a rising middle class, will give America pause.

That's true even when it comes to wine, which represents a tiny fraction of the trade between the two countries.

Exports represent only 5% of overall US wine sales. And only about 5% of wine exports, some $79m, are destined for China.

Wine-makers are worried about tariffs anyway. They say even if they can afford to lose business in China now, the country is critical to the industry's future.

"We're not in a position to lose market share," Mr Parr says.

Every Dystopian YA Novel

Easter Procession Past My House

Like clockwork, every year:

Modern Times


Then this stupidity:
MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A student shot in his school's cafeteria in two years ago received detention this month for walking out of class as part of a national day of protests against school shootings.

Against the wishes of Madison Junior/Senior High School's administrators, Cooper Caffrey and 42 other students participated in the March 14 walkout, a month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. But some in this community of 8,500 residents about 30 miles north of Cincinnati say that if anyone has a right to protest, it's these teens.

Caffrey, now 16, was one of two students shot and two others injured during the resulting confusion Feb. 29, 2016, when James “Austin” Hancock, now 17, stole a gun from his great-grandmother, brought it to school in his backpack and ultimately used it at lunchtime. The other student shot, Cameron Smith, was hit in the back and unable to walk for weeks, according to his grandmother.


And maybe a motive:
Appearing on CNN Tuesday, Forbes assistant managing editor Kerry Dolan leveled blame for Trump’s real estate losses on e-commerce’s domination over retail, mentioning Amazon. Specifically citing the lease of the Niketown store and the Trump Tower property, Dolan said that retailers are suffering—even on the high end. It would appear that Amazon’s strategy of e-commerce over brick and mortar retail is winning, and that is having an effect on real estate values, she added.

Wes Anderson's "Isle of Dogs"

There seemed a dearth of interesting movies this last weekend, so against my better judgement I went to the Tower Theater to watch Wes Anderson's "Isle of Dogs." To my surprise, I was pleased by the entire film. One review I read claimed there were long, dull stretches in the film, but if there were any there, I never noticed them at all. Among others, stars Bryan Cranston as Chief and Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg. A really fun movie!:



Reconsidering The Value of "The Death of Stalin"

I wasn't that impressed with Armando Iannucci’s “The Death of Stalin,” but that isn't necessarily a reflection on the movie. It all depends on how one views it. People with connections to Russia and life in the old Soviet Union might view it quite differently. I was struck by this review of the film:
Western audiences are accustomed to images of Stalin as a terrifying despot and mass murderer; now that his reputation has been rehabilitated under Putin, Russian audiences are used to seeing Stalin as an almighty leader who brought the USSR to victory over the Nazis. The idea of presenting a comedy about Stalin to either of these audiences is startling. Critics on both sides of the crumpled Iron Curtain have expressed disgust at its willingness to laugh at such a dark subject, but many viewers have been delighted. In considering the laughter that The Death of Stalin produces and portrays, it’s important to remember that laughter comes in many varieties: giddy, aggressive, delighted, sycophantic, relieved, sadistic, mirthful, embarrassed, subversive. Laughter is a sophisticated tool that can convey meanings unavailable to the strictly serious-minded.

As I watched The Death of Stalin, I thought of Soviet literary critic Viktor Shklovsky’s famous theory of ostranenie, or “enstrangement,” the artistic device that gives us a new understanding of the familiar by making us see it as if for the first time. By disrupting habits of perception that have become automatic, ostranenie allows us to reach a new understanding, a sharper feeling. I saw The Death of Stalin with a friend, a Jewish refugee from Soviet Moscow, and together we alternated between hysterical laughter and gasps of horror at the scenes of people being taken away in the night or summarily shot. The laughter made the horror seem new.

A useful way of thinking!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Liking This Mashup

First Day Of Mowing This Year

Mow. Mow. Trim Plants. Skim Dirt (it didn't rain that much this winter, so less dirt than usual). Light watering. Some sidewalk trimming. Cutting more ivy out of the trees. Addison the Dog came over from next door and spent some time exploring the basement.

Really Enjoyed Dancehall Last Night


Thursday a week ago was a little off, but last night was great! A videographer was there too, so in a few days there will be a video!

Slowly getting to know the songs (it's been 2 1/2 years, but I'm a slow learner). Here are a couple of songs I liked:





One song we haven't heard in like forever is this:

Robert Mercer’s Secret Adventure as a New Mexico Cop

Cash for conceal and carry:
Until a few months ago, Mercer, 71, ran what is arguably the world’s most successful hedge fund. He employs a phalanx of servants and bodyguards and owns a 203-foot yacht named Sea Owl. He was the money behind Breitbart News and Steve Bannon, whose fiery populism helped propel Trump to the White House, as well as the data firm Cambridge Analytica, which shaped the campaign’s messages. Shortly after the election, Mercer donned a top hat and welcomed the president-elect to a costume party at his seaside mansion on Long Island. What was a guy like that doing in the desert, wearing a gun and a shiny badge?

I was surprised when I first heard about Mercer’s sojourns in Lake Arthur, but then I’m used to his surprises. During the two and a half years I’ve covered Mercer, I’ve come to think of him as a hard-right version of that guy in the beer commercials, the Most Interesting Man in the World. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of incredible-but-true Mercer stories, including his pioneering research that begat Google Translate, his funding of a stockpile of human urine in the Oregon mountains, his million-dollar model train set, and his habit of whistling constantly, even during work meetings. The common threads in these stories are a fierce intelligence, a wide-ranging curiosity, and an utter indifference to the judgment of others. The story of his adventures in Lake Arthur, which hasn’t been previously reported, adds yet another strand. It shows just how far a man of means will go to get something he can’t buy: the right to carry a concealed firearm anywhere in America.

What Happened in Wisconsin When NRA Lobbyists Wrote the Gun Laws

Ghost Ride The Whip (For The Church Set)

A demonstration of God's power:
Atlanta mom Bakari Warren wanted to prove to her children, ages 5 and 7, that God was real.

And so she crashed her Ford SUV to prove that God would keep them safe, reportedly closing her eyes and letting the car cross over a busy intersection, crashing into a utility pole.

“The children told the officer that their mom wanted to prove to them that God was real and God would protect them,” a Norcross police officer told a local TV news station.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Clarity

Skiing on Mars

Don't eat the orange snow:
Skiers and snowboarders were met with orange-tinted snow in Sochi, Russia, this weekend.

The usually powdery white snow turned colors due to a sandstorm that blew across the Sahara Desert in North Africa.

"We're skiing on Mars today," exclaimed one social media user as he skied down the slopes.

The sandstorm made its way through Greece up to Russia and was so big that it could actually be seen via NASA satellite imagery.

The Athens Observatory said on Friday that this is one of the largest transfers of desert sand to Greece from the Sahara ever.

The African dust covered the entire country and concentrations were the highest in the last 10 years, according to the observatory's meteorological service.

The red dust caused limited visibility for people as they tried to make their way down the slopes in Sochi.

"Death of Stalin"



Dark humor. Nevertheless, I was puzzled when other people in the theater were laughing. I guess I'm in a morose mood these days.

Still, some funny bits.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sacramento "March For Life" - March 24, 2018



I went down with Wei to attend the Sacramento "March For Life." It was a little hard on me - I was having a bit of a relapse on Friday and Saturday, but the effort was definitely worth it. The march started at Crocker Park and went a fairly-short distance to the west steps of the California State Capitol building.

When the Sacramento March For Life reached the California State Capitol on Saturday morning, an error became apparent. An inferior megaphone made it impossible to hear the city’s leading politicians speak. The audience chafed in frustrated, enervating silence.

Then several things happened for the better. A louder megaphone was brought in. The audience dwindled to a more intimate size. And most importantly, politicians stopped speaking and high school students began testifying. Suddenly, things got much more interesting (see video above).

One of the speakers (the young woman under the ‘Am I Next’ poster in the video thumbnail picture) praised the rally for being so diverse. Myself, I thought it was still pretty white. But no question, the rally’s most die-hard participants tended to be from the young cohort. Their moral clarity was fierce.

High school students see perfectly well how their lives are being sacrificed to provide for the comfort and convenience of gun fanatics. They will soon become the votingest young generation America has ever known. And they know exactly who their mortal enemies are:





















On the march we passed by 555 Capitol Mall (the building on the left) - the Sacramento lobbying headquarters of the National Rifle Association (NRA).




































































Speaking here was Dr. Richard Pan, my representative in the California State Assembly. Could. Not. Hear. A. Single. Thing. He. Said.