Monday, December 31, 2012

The Bolshevik-Inspired GOP Triggers Its Doomsday Machine

Still a few hours left for perestroika in the House:
[T]he spectacular failure of “Plan B” – Speaker Boehner’s last gasp attempt to force a tax bill through the House – demonstrated just how much has changed since the glory days of Newt Gingrich and the Tom “The Hammer” DeLay. The rise of the Tea Party, which was supposed to restore the GOP’s power in the House, instead has split it, and pitted it against itself.

...We have had periods of ideological polarization before – before the Civil War, for example, or around the turn of the last century. And yet the legislative wheels never ground to a halt in those periods. Indeed, it was a Northern backlash against repeated congressional compromises over slavery, not a lack of such deals, that put Abraham Lincoln in the White House and triggered the secession crisis.

...By the early 2000s, with Denny Hastert as figurehead Speaker, and Majority Leader Tom “The Hammer” DeLay as the power not-so-behind the throne, the GOP had learned how to use its majority powers to exclude the Democrats from virtually any meaningful participation in the legislative process.

...The most important partisan tool in the GOP's kit (the same one, ironically, that now has the House paralyzed) was the so-called Hastert Rule, articulated by the Speaker in a 2003 speech. His job – his only job – Hastert announced, was to work the will of the majority in his conference:

...There is a name for this kind of system, although it isn't an American one. The GOP's approach to running the House in the DeLay/Hastert years bore an uncanny resemblance to the official parliamentary doctrine of the Soviet Union, which was a bit of Orwellian jargon called “democratic centralism.”

...Lenin ... wasn’t very popular. But, he realized that if he could persuade a dedicated cadre to follow his lead, and that cadre could convince a larger group (a Bolshevik majority of the majority) to obey them, he could control first the faction and then the entire party.

...[T]he Hastert Rule made it possible for a relatively small group of GOP loyalists to control a much larger legislative body. To wit: The GOP Steering Committee controlled a majority in the Republican Conference, which controlled the conference, which controlled the House.

But – and this is a big but – Leninist party control requires Leninist party discipline. And that’s awfully hard to maintain: impossible, in fact, in a deliberative body with even a modest degree of autonomy.

...A few stray defections are dangerous (as DeLay and company learned with the Medicare vote). But when an entire party faction, and a well-organized one at that, refuse to go along it can be catastrophic, as John Boehner and his team learned last week.

Organized party factions, in fact, are a poison to “democratic centralism,” which is why Lenin banned them. Factions challenge party leadership simply by existing, since they tend to reduce the leaders to just another faction, bidding for rank-and-file support.

...It probably was inevitable that it would come to this: DeLay and Hastert pushed the mechanisms of top-down partisan control further than they could reasonably be expected to go in democracy – or at least a semi-democracy. When the political environment turned hostile to the GOP, the machine finally blew a gasket, leaving John Boehner with the messy job of trying to patch it up. And he failed.

Yet another irony: Gerrymandering, which was supposed to fortify the GOP majority, instead has helped castrate it. Entrenched in their districts, most House Republicans are far more terrified of the party’s Militant Tendency (i.e. the teabaggers) than they are of GOP leadership – much less the general electorate. And with good cause, since their chances of losing a primary, while statistically low, are a lot higher than the risk of losing to a Democrat.

...As Sinclair points out, party discipline (under both Democrats and Republicans) usually has been exercised on behalf of party members, not imposed on them from above. For Boehner and company to break discipline now would be seen by many of their members as rank betrayal.

...We maybe could hope that the threat of a major recession – combined, if the debt ceiling deal also goes south, with another global financial panic – will be sufficiently terrifying to the average GOP House member that it outweighs his or her fear of the teabaggers. But right now I’m not sure it would be the smart way to bet.

In Russia, Beer Will Now Be Classified As Alcohol

The Kremlin attempts a crackdown:
Until now the brew has been considered a foodstuff along with all other drinks under 10 per cent in strength. An array of international and local brands from Amstel to Efes and Baltika to Zhiguli could be bought from street kiosks or at railway stations, as well as from countless 24-hour corner shops, just like fruit juice or mineral water.

...Beer's new status as alcohol, however, will prevent retail sales from street outlets such as kiosks, railway stations, bus stops and petrol stations – which account for up to 30 per cent of sales – as well as preventing sales between 11pm and 8am, and introducing a ban on television advertising of beer.

...The average Russian drinks the equivalent of 32 pints of pure alcohol per year and about 500,000 deaths annually are thought to be drink-related. That includes a large number of about 30,000 annual road accident deaths and of several thousand cases of drowning.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Thrift Shop

Precipitation In NM Greater Than I'd Hoped

It was supposed to be a sporadic hit and run, but it seems to affecting more areas than initial forecasts suggested. How to keep it for awhile? Dunno. So little precipitation for two solid years, so any help from above would be appreciated!

Return Of The Prodigal Laptop

M.: OK, I've been worried about this for a month. Thanks for helping out, but it's all right, I'll do the talking.
J.: OK, the story is, you got it at a yard sale, and you don't know nothin'.

(ding - dong)

D.: Hello?
M.: Is this the D. residence?
D.: Yes.
M.: I'm curious. I recently bought a laptop, and I noticed your name in it. Did you recently sell a laptop, or was one stolen from you?
D.: Yes, one was stolen from me.
M.: Well, I'm uncomfortable holding a stolen laptop.
D.: How did you get this address?
M.: It was in the laptop (duh!) I'll go get it from the car.
D.: Should we call the police?
M.: That's not a good idea. Let me get it....
J.: He got it at a yard sale, etc., etc.


M.: Here it is.
D.: Thank you. Do you know who sold it to you?
M.: I may know someone who was in the chain by which I bought it, but I don't know who stole it. And, that's it.


J.: Why did you tell him you might know someone in the chain? That was so strange! You were supposed to say it was bought in a yard sale and that you don't know anyone. And why did you tell him not to call the police? I can't remember exactly how you phrased it, but it sounded really, really creepy! Like a threat!
M.: Sorry. I was thinking about myself. I didn't want to sound like a mafioso or threaten anyone.
J.: Well, you should have apologized about that to him. He was real miserable. I don't think the laptop was the only thing stolen. He was hit real hard. He wants to know about the rest of his things.
M.: Can't help there. It wasn't even clear to me how the fellow I bought it from obtained it. At least it's off my hands!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kreayshawn - Gucci Gucci

For some puzzling reason I can't explain, I can't seem to get enough of the Oakland rapper this weekend.

One big room full of bad bitches

And we stunting like
Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada
Basic bitches wear that shit so I don't even bother

[Verse 1:]
Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada
The basic bitches wear that shit, so I don't even bother
I put that on my partner, I put that on my family
Oakland city representer, address me as your majesty
Yeah you can kiss the ring, but you can never touch the crown
I smoke a million Swisher blunts and I ain't never coming down
Bitch you ain't no Barbie I see you work at Arby's
Number 2, super-sized Hurry up I'm starving
Gnarly, radical, on the block I'm magical
See me at your college campus baggie full of Adderalls
Call me if you need a fix, call me if you need a boost
See them other chicken heads? They don't never leave the coop
I'm in the coupe cruising, I got the stolen plates
Serving all the fiends over there by the Golden Gate
Bridge, I'm colder than the fridge and the freezer
I'm snatching all your bitches at my leisure

And we stunting like
Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada
Basic bitches wear that shit so I don't even bother

[Verse 2:]
Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada
I'm lookin like Madonna but I'm flossing like Ivana
Trump, you know I keep that work in my trunk
Got my hand on the pump if you wanna press your luck
I'm yelling "Free V-Nasty" 'til my throat is raspy
Young, rich and flashy I be where the cash be
You can't find that? I think you need a Google Map
My pearl-handled kitty-cat will leave and press your noodle back
Now Google that groupies follow me like Twitter
I'm rolling up my catnip and shitting in your litter
Why you looking bitter? I be looking better
The type of bitch that make you wish that you ain't never met her
The editor, director plus I'm my own boss
So posh, nails fierce with the gold gloss
Which means nobody getting over me
I got the swag and it's pumping out my ovaries

And we stunting like
Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada
Basic bitches wear that shit so I don't even bother

Oh, all you basic ass hoes out there
Man I got rooms full of bad bitches
They don't need Gucci, they don't need Louis
We swagging, ehh, meow

Kaiser Permanente - Roseville

One of Jetta's close friends had a stroke, so we paid a visit to say hello.

A Bit Of Work On The House

Last night, I pulled a squirrel nest - a garbage bag's worth of dust, dirt, leaves, and wood fragments - from the space above my closet. An entire slat of the roof had been punched in by the tree rodents over the years. The only reason the huge hole didn't allow water in was that it was entirely under an eave. Nevertheless, I lost oodles of heat up that chimney over the years. Still working on that.

This morning, Joe the Plumber put a roof patch over the hole and placed a wire mesh under the eave, hopefully blocking access to any new residents. Joe also excavated a sprinkler on the front lawn that got engulfed by roots, and the rest of the lawn. (I thought I had a broken pipe: turned out, it was a buried sprinkler.)

Swept many leaves today. They are STILL coming down!

Friday, December 28, 2012


I didn't go to a casino, even once, in all of 2012!

Peter Byrne Retired!

With early forecasts suggesting Cyclone Freda might approach the Queensland coast in about a week, it was time to check on Peter Byrne and see what he made of it.

Alas, he retired!

About time!

Civil Society, New Mexico Style

The Vietnam vet was brave, and came close to paying the ultimate price, but has the satisfaction of seeing his dumb-ass antagonist go to jail. Great video too!:
The video then shows Williams with his hands in the air, and the victim still on the ground. The victim was a 62-year-old Vietnam veteran.

He told officers he did not like the bumper sticker on Williams' truck because it said derogatory things about President Barack Obama.

...But Williams told police, he told the victim to 'get out of his face', and claimed the victim ignored him. The two began to argue. It escalated to the victim ending up on his knees, with his hands up, and Williams allegedly holding the gun to the back of the his head.

Alan Simpson - Gangnam Style

We need to create some excitement for deficit control. Despite Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's warning that K-Pop will be the ruin of us all, I'm sure this video will get everyone in the right mood for some belt-tightening momentum!

Curtis Mayfield "Superfly"

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells & Batman Smells" Closes

Bitter Coloradans Hurl Blame At California And Utah Regarding The Snow Drought

Blame, blame, blame, blame, blame!

Yeah, that's just how we roll in the Sacramento Valley! Keep the white stuff for ourselves, and none for the God-fearing folk deep in the interior.

I'm gonna buy me a Sno-Cone and get a brain freeze, just because I can! I'm gonna buy me a brand-new Zamboni and park it in the driveway. I'm gonna buy me a whole bunch of snow boards and give them to kids willing to diss the Denver Nuggets.

We do it because nothing gets a Left Coaster up faster in the morning than knowing someone in Colorado Springs is making fun of our deficit. So, it's payback.

Dictatorship Of The Weak Orange Man

Congress must be a strange place, where the weakest one in the room is the one who controls all the levers:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says that the U.S. is poised to head over the “fiscal cliff,” partially because John Boehner, R-Ohio, is running the House like a ”dictatorship.”

“Everyone knows, including the speaker of the House of Representatives today, that if they had brought up the Senate-passed bill that would give relief to everyone making less than $250,000 a year, it would pass overwhelmingly,” Reid said. “Every Democrat would vote for it, Republicans would vote for it. But the speaker, he says, ‘No, we can’t do that.’ It has to be a majority of the majority. So they’ve done nothing.”

He added that the House is “being operated with a dictatorship of the speaker,” and that Boehner is “waiting until Jan. 3 to get re-elected as speaker before he gets serious with negotiations because he has so many people over there that won’t follow what he wants. That’s obvious from the debacle that took place last week. And it was a debacle.”
Maybe the situation is akin to having your mother telling everyone what to do. I'm reminded of Ethel Merman in "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

More On Twisted Contrails

Caption: "Celestial spiral. Morning of December 24, 2012, Kryukovskaya Pier."

Getting some Internet love today from the folks at Above Top Secret, who use my 2008 post regarding Traci Sotuela's photos of twisted contrails to inform discussion about a recent twisted contrail observed near Moscow.

[UPDATE: Also reposted somewhere on that Facebook behemoth. Also, here.]

Decoy-Making Amazonian Spider

I think I'll start doing this myself:
He described seeing the collection of debris in a web and thinking it was a dead spider, but upon closer inspection it appeared to be moving.

“Then we got closer and realized it wasn’t a spider at all,” he said. “We looked behind the decoy and lo and behold, we saw this little spider guy shaking [his web] back and forth trying to act all tough. We realized then that this is really something special.”

...“There are some species that will make a little ball of debris in their web, then they curl up in a ball themselves and look similar to it,” he explained. “So, if you look at a web and you’re a wasp or another spider and you see 10 balls, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to get confused and attack the wrong one.”

What A Winter-Solstice-Type Day Is Like At Fairbanks, AK

Three additional videos at the link. The sun rises only two degrees above the horizon at Fairbanks, AK (just below the Arctic Circle) on and around Winter Solstice.

NorCal/SoCal Rainfall Divide

Here is a longer-term view (6 months) of the current situation. The soggy Sacramento Valley is clear. What surprises is, that in the six-month view, the Colorado River Valley is also above its (likely low) average. The troubled San Joaquin Valley is also clear.  And LA and the upper Mojave are in bad shape too.

Checking In On Jiri Kylian

Back in the 90's, the cable subscription I had carried short video clips of an artistic nature - often classical. That was where I heard of choreographer Jiri Kylian. My impression at the time was that he was the best choreographer in the world.

Lamentably, I haven't checked in on him in fifteen years, or so. I have no idea what his current status is. Even this video is about fifteen years old. But still, it's cute!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boy, It Sure Rained A Lot Today!

0.89" at Sacramento Executive Airport, apparently. We are about 190% of normal for the water year now.

I'm getting worried about the unfairness of it all. They really need it farther south. We can certainly spare it now.

Watching Nederlandse Opera's "Dr. Atomic"

I know little about opera, but I'm very attracted to any artistic representation about New Mexico. Thus, I'd like to recommend John Adams' and Peter Sellars' "Dr. Atomic", as performed by Nederlandse Opera, in 2007.

It seems odd that Amsterdam would have hosted the finest performance about New Mexico history ever staged anywhere, but the Manhattan Project was also one of the most important events in world history. Video costs $5.00 to rent (sung in English).

Adams: Doctor Atomic on

The sequence from 2:06:20 to 2:13:47 is particularly good:


…and with the hideous old man
the whole of his demoniac retinue
has returned,
Memories, Regrets, Spasms, Fears,
Afflictions, Nightmares, Rages and Neuroses.

[Five year-old Peter Oppenheimer awakens.]


To keep the weakness secret.
To keep it secret
To deny it and break through.
In the dream of chieftains,
the corn distinct again in gold-white tuft-feathers.
The roads all paved, stony, savage;
the knocking in the chest resumed.
Your father has a passion for freedom
Rang and rang in the small boy’s head.


Then word came from a runner, a stranger:
“They are dancing to bring the dead back, in the
”We danced at an autumn fire, we danced the old hate and
the coming again of our leaders. But they did not come.


I just finished reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
and of course
to go to this mysterious mountain
on the top of which
there would be a secret laboratory
which we would go into,the doors would slam shut
and a few years later
we would come out bearing
an atomic bomb…


I assure you that now the seconds are strongly and solemnly
accentuated and each one, spouting out of the clock, says:
“I am Life, insupportable, implacable Life!”


The winter dawned, but the dead did not come back.
News came on the frost, “The dead are on the march!
”We danced in prison to a winter music,
many we loved began to dream of the dead.
They made no promises, we never dreamed a threat.
And the dreams spread.

Monday, December 24, 2012


I was channel surfing late last night and stumbled across this movie: "12". What an excellent movie! Missed the beginning, but it wasn't that hard to figure out the plot. I've never seen '12 Angry Men', so I can't compare the movies, but it stands on its own just fine!

Plot summary of "12":
A loose remake of 12 Angry Men (1957), set in a Russian school. 12 jurors are struggling to decide the fate of a Chechen teenager who allegedly killed his Russian stepfather who took the teenager to live with him in Moscow during the Chechen War in which teenager lost his parents. The jurors: a racist taxi-driver, a suspicious doctor, a vacillating TV producer, a Holocaust survivor, a flamboyant musician, a cemetery manager, and others represent the fragmented society of modern day Russia. A stray bird (a touch of New Age cinema) is flying above the jurors' heads, alluding to tolerance.

Temptation Proved Too Strong

I saw this at Brookstone, and bought it.

I also upgraded from an iPhone 3 to an iPhone 5.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Putting Restless Japanese Kids To Bed

Saw The First Of The Hobbit Movies

Liked the first of the Hobbit Movies. Much of it was filmed on Mt. Ruapehu (which is near Mt. Tongariro, which erupted recently). I got excited at one point, because I thought I spotted a flowering Pohotukawa Tree (but it was in Rivendell, and who knows if it was even real?)

Here's Kyle's review:
The final hour features two just outstanding action sequences. And they transition into each other so incredibly well. We get the heart of the film in the end here and it sets up the next film perfectly. I loved how Jackson takes the action seriously, but also has fun with it. The entire battle sequence between our heroic group and the underground Goblins is quite a feat of fight choreography and then to follow that up with a more brutal and rough action sequence is brilliant because the heroes go from looking like superheroes, unstoppable in any situation, to destroyed and beaten to mere inches from death. That contrast makes it even more thrilling for me. I found Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins to be funny, risky, and full of great character tics. I love his facial expressions. They fit within this world very well. I admit, I was hoping for Thorin to be just a bit more mysterious like Aragorn, but that might have been my inability to disconnect from the LOTR trilogy. I also liked that Jackson is not afraid to put in some Hobbit songs. One of them was too goofy for me. but they are a huge part of Tolkien's world and it was nice to hear some of them.

Meanwhile, In Hokkaido....

Seventeen meters of snow this winter, so far...

How The Romney Campaign Did Its Face-Plant

Instructive failures:
“Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and ­offices,” Beeson said. “They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters,” something that Romney did not have the staff to match.

...Democrats said they followed the trail blazed in 2004 by the Bush campaign which used an array of databases to “microtarget” voters and a sophis­ticated field organization to turn them out. Obama won in part by updating the GOP’s innovation.

...In a major gamble, the Obama campaign moved $65 million in advertising money that had been budgeted for September and October into June, enabling the president to unleash a series of attacks that would define Romney at a time when the Republican would have little money to respond.

From Axelrod’s viewpoint, the timing was perfect. Romney had been weakened by assaults from fellow GOP candidates during the primaries. Romney alienated many Hispanics by suggesting that illegal immigrant families should “self-deport,” and he said he had been a “severely conservative” governor, hurting his strategy to move to the middle for the general election.Continued

...The Obama campaign used a program called called “the ­optimizer” that linked data from its voter databases, focus groups, and television ratings to determine how to reach people who do not typically see campaign ads. As a result, Obama purchased ads on channels such as TV Land and Hallmark that were watched by voters who rarely saw news programs where ads often appear.

...Building on its 2008 field organ­ization, Obama’s campaign had far more people on the ground, for longer periods, and backed by better data. In Florida, for example, the ­Romney campaign said it had fewer than 200 staff members on the ground, a huge commitment of its total of 500 nationwide. But the Obama campaign had 770 staff in Florida out of 3,000 or so nationwide.

“They had more staff in Florida than we had in the country, and for longer,” said Romney adviser Ron Kaufman.

...“It is like sitting in the ­Alamo,” Stevens said in the postelection interview, comparing the siege by Mexican troops in 1836 to competing against the superior forces of the Obama campaign. “Yes, it is alarming. There are a lot of Santa Anna’s soldiers out there.”

...In Florida, 266,000 more Hispanics voted than four years earlier. “They altered the face of the election by driving up the Latino turnout,” Romney political director Rich Beeson said. “They told us they would do it. I didn’t think they would do it, and they did.”

Ohio was the greatest surprise of all. Romney pollster Neil Newhouse calculated that 209,000 more African-Americans voted this year than in 2008 in Ohio, while 329,000 fewer whites had voted.

“I don’t know how that’s possible,” Newhouse said. “If that is what the Obama campaign achieved, hats off to them.’’

...As dawn broke on Election Day, 800 Romney volunteers filled the floor of TD Garden in Boston. This was the centerpiece of the campaign’s turnout operation, code named ORCA, that was supposed to swallow Obama’s Narwhal program. But the Romney team was so determined to keep ORCA secret that it had never run a test at TD Garden; it had only gone through some lesser runs in a different building.

...But as volunteers on Election Day began tapping in the names of voters, it became clear something was wrong.

...The Obama campaign, which had suffered a similar meltdown in 2008 and had been zealous about testing its systems this time around, had no glitches.

...Exit polls told a stunning story. The majority of voters preferred Romney’s visions, values, and leadership. But he had clearly failed to address the problem that Romney’s own family worried about from the start. Obama beat Romney by an astonishing 81 to 18 percent margin on the question of which candidate “cares about people like me.”

Maybe Wayne LaPierre Was Right

About how well the NRA's press campaign went this weekend. It looked like a disaster to me, but I'm not in his shoes. Maybe he achieved exactly what he wanted to:
Keep this firmly in mind. LaPierre's only goal yesterday was to hijack the media narrative. He wants us talking about Natural Born Killers. He wants us talking about Grand Theft Auto. He wants us talking about mental health services. Hell, he's perfectly happy if we spend our time talking about how crazy his proposal is and how unhinged he is personally. Not only does it keep us from talking about gun regulation, but it's good for the NRA's fundraising efforts in the bargain.

...[E]very minute you spend talking about this stuff is a minute spent doing exactly what the NRA wants you to do. If you want to have any chance at all of passing gun legislation, that's what you should be talking about. Guns. End of story. The other stuff can wait.

Worst Drought On Record In New Mexico

I'm disturbed how even powerful storms haven't been enough to make it rain in New Mexico. What will it take? There are several possibilities on the horizon, but if the last storm was such a flop, these others might be too. It's like New Mexico is in a desert, or something:
"When you look at a 24-month period ending last month, it is the driest on record," National Weather Service representative Kerry Jones said.

The 1950s were considered a dry decade, but no two-year period has been as dry as the current one.

...It is also much warmer than it was in the 1950s, and drought has a nasty way of reinforcing itself.

"It's feedback. A positive feedback in terms of you have very dry soil that heats up very intensely over large areas, and that tends to prolong drought," Jones said.

This is the second-driest year since 1870, and the past two years together are the driest.

The odds are the drought will continue in the state.

Damn Squirrel

The last several days, I've heard a rustle in the ceiling above the closet in my bedroom. I wasn't sure whether there was a squirrel in my ceiling again, liked what happened about eight years ago on the other side of the bedroom, when they ate several holes through my ceiling, or whether the squirrel was under the protective eave just on the exterior side of the closet. The squirrels use the gutter to access the space under the eave, and the sound from the gutter transmits into the house.

Last night, while it was raining heavily, about 1 a.m., I heard the rustle again. I banged on the ceiling, and opened the closet.

Chaos. The squirrel was indeed in the ceiling. It had eaten two ventilation holes through the ceiling right above my clothes. There was dust, insulation, leaves, and twigs all over my clothes.

Enraged, I started banging on and shouting at the ceiling. The rustle went silent.

I ran outside, onto my back porch, and looked up at the eave. Sure enough, in the uncertain light and protected from the heavy rain, there sat a concerned-looking squirrel. I ran downstairs and grabbed some pebbles from the graveled driveway. Then I returned to the porch, ready to throw stones at my house at 1 a.m. on a rainy night, and hopefully clobber the squirrel.

The first two stones were wide-of-the-mark. Indeed, the squirrel approached each strike, just to investigate. I was grimacing at the squirrel, jumping up and down and and making menacing noises, and basically playing the role of the angry, hairless ape.

Surprisingly, the squirrel got the message after the third stone. It left the protective cover of the eave, and ran away into the rainy night.

I hope that squirrel stays away. I'll have to clean my clothes and closet, and repair the ceiling later. For now, I basically smell like wood. Eau d'squirrel, I guess.

Sacramento Ballet - 'The Nutcracker' 2012

After Junie B. Jones, I returned home and marveled at just how much rain had fallen. I checked the basement for water and put a meal into the microwave. I turned on the TV and noticed the San Francisco Ballet's 'Nutcracker' was on one of the cable channels.

Then my blood went to ice. I had forgotten! I had a ticket for Sacramento Ballet's 'Nutcracker' that very afternoon, at 5 p.m.! I got the ticket from co-worker Craig, whose daughter Viktoria had been among the dancers last weekend. What time was it? 4:40 p.m.? I could still make it to the performance, but I had to leave IMMEDIATELY! So I abandoned the meal in the microwave, grabbed my clothes (still saturated in squirrel dust) and headed to work, where the ticket resided on my desk. Then I practically ran to the theater!

Great show! Ballet is the best art form, ever, and ballet on the grand scale is the bestest of all!

Very little in the way of errors or mistakes.

Christopher Nachtrab and Alexandra Cunningham were the Snow Queen and King.

Saw familiar names in the program, but I couldn't identify them from seat M31. Since the casts are doubled and tripled, it's possible they weren't performing on Sunday evening: Campbell Salmon, Paige Almendariz, and in particular, Brittney Almendariz.

Not looking forward to the microwaved dinner now. Maybe I should eat out?

Here is the promo for last year's Nutcracker (probably taped in 2010), but similar to this year's version:

A Junie B. Jones Weekend

It's been fun! Two more shows to go.

Liked how, after the first Saturday performance, two little girls approached the light booth and thanked both Jenna and myself for being good directors of the show. We thanked them, graciously. I also liked how, after every audience member left the theater, how one boy lingered, and went to the top of the stairs, in order to burp as loud as he could.

I had one big sound mess-up at the very end of Saturday's second performance. Instead of hitting 'Advance' on the hand-held CD player controller, I hit the button right next to it: 'Info.' What that did was to change the CD player display so that it no longer showed elapsed time per track, and instead showed overall elapsed time. When the display showed I was 19 minutes into Track 19, I panicked, and played bits from several tracks, featuring many burps. It sounded like terrible Christmas indigestion.

Glitchy, this is....

Even Trained, Armed People Fail, Fail, Fail In A Mass Shooting Situation

Wow! That Was A Lot Of Rain!

At Sacramento Executive Airport, the storm total so far seems to be 2.12 inches. We are 179% of normal, so far, for the water year (which starts July 1st). Wow!

This winter's precipitation pattern in California keeps getting clearer and clearer: North of Fresno, everything is great. South of Fresno, everything is a disaster.

“I Think It Went Pretty Well”

A disconnect, perhaps?:
As criticism continues to flood in about the National Rifle Association’s news conference Friday —the first since the Newtown school massacre—the group’s president quickly concluded critics had it all wrong. “I think it went pretty well,” NRA President David Keene told the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove a mere nine hours after NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre seemingly blamed everything but guns—including movies and pop music—for the Sandy Hook shooting.

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells & Batman Smells" - DMTC - Final Dress Rehearsal

Pretty-Cool Time Lapse

Another Opportunity For The Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys To Fling Themselves Onto The Tarmac

Democrats never learn:
Repeatedly stressing that President Obama has come "more than halfway" in meeting Boehner's demands, Van Hollen stressed that the last offer from Obama had to become the new starting point for renewed negotiations. Why should "more than halfway" be the new starting point? So Obama can go more than three-quarters of the way? Or like during the during debt ceiling fight, when he went 98 percent of the way?

This is just insane. The last offer from Obama gave far too much away, and was obviously a negotiating disaster. And that's where Van Hollen wants to start from now?

...What happened to not negotiating with terrorists?

You Know What? I Blame The NRA

Americans are very, very, very good at shifting blame. It's become part of the national culture. No one ever takes responsibility for anything, ever.

Wayne LaPierre of the NRA blames the media for the Newtown massacre. He blames video games. He blames school administrators. Indeed, the NRA is as much a victim as the kids. The many decades of work that the NRA has engaged in to make it easy to get assault weaponry is unmentioned:
But I still didn’t expect to be as horrified by his ludicrous words as I was. I didn’t expect to be as chilled to the bone by his utterly inevitable suggestion that the solution to our national gun problem is more guns – nice and close to our kids.
You know what? I blame the NRA. I blame each and every member of the NRA personally for these murders. You can run, but you cannot hide, no matter how many weapons you own.

Vengeance is coming. The only honorable way out is for all NRA members to either resign, or commit suicide.

You know - take responsibility, for once.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 - Scream & Shout ft. Britney Spears

The Ball Is Again In Obama's Court

And here comes the cave yet again. There is still room for a grand deal between the Dems and a minority of the GOP. So, if anything, the danger is even greater than before. Who else will Obama sacrifice for the New Year?:
Boehner has two problems: one with President Obama and another with his conference. And to the extent that he meliorates one he exacerbates the other. He can return to fiscal cliff negotiations with an empowered Obama, and try to eke out the sort of deal he just rejected, then pass it through the House next week, on a bipartisan basis at but a huge risk to his Speakership.

That’s the course he told members he’d pursue in the conference meeting Thursday night.

And the White House is open to it. “The President’s main priority is to ensure that taxes don’t go up on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses in just a few short days,” said Press Secretary Jay Carney. “The President will work with Congress to get this done and we are hopeful that we will be able to find a bipartisan solution quickly that protects the middle class and our economy.”

It sets up a scenario where Boehner’s old nemesis Nancy Pelosi is suddenly back in the driver’s seat, controlling the votes necessary to pass a deal.

Be With You - Kelsey B & Matt Fox (Official Video)

Reminds me of a highly-scrambled space-age version of the Southwestern Nutcracker, as done annually by my friends at Tucson Regional Ballet, except that instead of the Nutcracker waging battle on the Coyote on Clara's behalf, Clara and the Coyote join to wage war on the Nutcracker. Just a little subversive, this version.

Made The B3ta 'Best Of Week' List Again!

Woohoo! I'm on a roll! Twice this month: three times since Halloween!

The Question of the Week was:
Overcoming adversity
The Doveston asks: Have you ever fought back from a terrible illness? Got out of a job that was going nowhere? Secured a great victory against the odds through dishonesty and cheating? Warm our hearts, B3ta
I don't think people were particularly happy with this question. Thus, I was able to slip under the wire with a repost (aka 'pearoast') regarding my Australian lockout dilemma:
Stranded myself in a foreign land
As far as adversities go it was small, but it loomed large at the time: locking myself out just hours before an international trip.

At 1 a.m., I returned to Mt. Glorious, in the mountains outside of Brisbane, Australia, after an evening clubbing. My host left the country two days previously and I was all alone in his house. I prepared for my last sleepover by emptying my pockets.

Then, I remembered I had not yet studied southern constellations. So, I grabbed my southern star chart, walked out, and casually closed the front door. Instantly, I knew: I was locked out of the house!

I quickly ran around the house. All doors and windows were locked and secure. But I had to leave by 9 a.m. to make the noon flight. What was I going to do? For about one-and-a-half hours, I tried to pick locks, all the while jumping around so that the motion-sensitive outdoor lights would generate enough light to see. I found a tool tray in the garage, but it was guarded by a giant Huntsman Spider, so every time I reached into the tool tray I had to shoo the spider away.

Giving up on lock-picking, I decided I had to break a window. I decided to break the guest bathroom toilet window. I began cutting the outer screen of the window in preparation. Then I realized I was just too fat to fit through it. Plus, there was no time to see to the window's repair. So, I had to get help!

Even though this house was fairly-remote, there were a few neighbors nearby. But how could I bang on their front doors at 3 a.m.? They didn't know who I was and I had no identification. And my urgent insistence that I had to enter their absent neighbor's home might strike them as not credible.

The only thing that could work would be to find a locksmith. But how do I call anyone without a phone? I wondered whether there was a pay telephone in the village of Mt. Glorious, which was located about 2 kilometers away through the dark forest. I wasn't sure.

So off I went, tramping through the forest. The sky was overcast, so the darkness was nearly complete. I worried about stumbling over pythons or other animals in the dark. I tried to stay close to the slight glow emanating from the road's center dotted line, so that I might have at least have a last-second warning.

I found the village, utterly deserted at 3:30 a.m. Indeed, there was a phone booth there, but possessing no resources I was limited to toll-free numbers only.

I called "000", the Australian emergency number, and the Brisbane police reluctantly gave me the toll free number of Locksmith #1. He refused my appeal for help - there was little attraction to rescuing someone atop a mountain, 30 km outside of the big city. He referred me to Locksmith #2.

Locksmith #2 said he couldn't respond immediately. He was far away, but if I called back at 6 a.m., he would see what he could do.

I called back Locksmith #1, and again he refused - it was illegal to open locks for people who had confided they weren't the actual homeowner. He said that I should be grateful that Locksmith #2 hadn't turned me down cold.

These two locksmiths were the only two toll-free "express" locksmiths in Brisbane: I would need to find some coins to call others. There were toll-free glaziers, however, if I wanted to return to my host's house and break windows instead. At a loss, I lay down on a bench outside the restaurant and tried to sleep.

For reasons I didn't quite fathom at this semi-tropical locale, dawn came early. Birds like Australian King Parrots, kookaburras, and Sulfur-Crested Cockatoos were active, and I enjoyed listening to their treetop roar.

At 5:30 a.m., I called Locksmith #2 back. He sighed and asked if I had a mobile number. I said no, I had nothing. He said "look, there's nothing much I can do without a mobile number. I want to refer you to another locksmith who lives on that side of Brisbane, but I can't do it without a mobile number. You need to ask someone if you can use their mobile number." I said I was reluctant to ask before, because it had been dark. He said, "yes, but this is Australia. Everyone has a mobile number. And they'll help you too. But you need to ask."

"You need to ask." Walking past a house, I thought I heard some thumping inside. Summoning the courage, I knocked on their door. A young family and their five kids answered the door. They were new to town. They had moved into the house just the day before. The mother looked at her kids, then me, then asked "walking through the woods, weren't you afraid of dingoes?" "Dingoes!", I replied, "no, I was worried about pythons!" She said, "well, they removed dingoes from these hills a while ago and took them over to Moreton Island, but they've been filtering back, and they've been spotted again around here lately." I said "Wow, no I hadn't thought about dingoes!"

The family lent me their mobile phone and I made contact with Locksmith #3. The kids ran around the house and rounded up some coins, which they lent me to contact another locksmith, if needed. The husband decided to travel to the house to see if he could puzzle a way inside. I returned to waiting by the phone booth.

After just half an hour, Locksmith #3 arrived. We returned to the house and met the husband, who hadn't found a way into the house either. I returned his kids' coins to him.

By 8 a.m., the drama had concluded. I was in the house again and I left for the airport on time. Just the damage to the window screen to worry about (and a lingering fear of dingoes).

Tequila Break

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

OK, Everyone, Time To Vote For Piper Stoeckel Miss America!

Vote here for your favorite candidate for Miss America!

I am supporting Piper Stoeckel, Miss Arizona, for Miss America, because she is a lovely ballet dancer attending the University of Arizona in Tucson. (I recognize the big dance room at University of Arizona where her solo dance reel - partly seen here - was filmed). Bear Down, America, and support Piper Stoeckel!

Piper Stoeckel gets caught in an Arizona haboob:

Inspired By Scarlett O'Hara And A Half-Remembered Past, Desperate But Adaptable Greek Professionals Return To The Land

Forty Years Ago - The Last Men On The Moon

From Eb-Misfit:
At 5:55 EST on December 14, 1972, the excursion crew of Apollo 17, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, lifted off from the Moon on their return trip home.

Deep Cover at The Pedestrian Crossing

At Sunrise Mall With E.

Food Court at Sunrise Mall, Citrus Heights, CA.

Ah yes, the simple pleasures of the consumer society!  A Heisenberg T-Shirt! (Christmas shopping at Hot Topic, Sunrise Mall, Citrus Heights, CA.)

(An interminable hour, trying to force a decision. Finally, E. takes several dresses into the fitting rooms at J.C. Penney's, in Sunrise Mall. E. emerges, to throw a pile of brand-new dresses on the floor and take a kick at them.)

E.: I HATE THIS! I HATE IT! It is so hot in there, and I was sweating and the dress was sticking on me and there was no one around to help. It makes me so mad! IT MAKES ME SO MAD! I hate; I HATE trying on clothes in the store!

M.: But you know exactly what will happen. If you buy a dress and take it home before trying it on, it won't fit, and you'll just have to return to try on another. I'm tired of playing that game. If you want me to buy a Christmas dress for you, you have to try it on in the store.

E.: (gesturing with her foot) Those two fit; those two don't.

M.: Good! Let's go to the Food Court!

Booby Traps

The dangers:

The amusement:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lots Of Fiber On The Menu, I'm Sure

For the discerning European traveler:
Located on a small island between Antwerp and Ghent in Flanders, the hotel is shaped like a giant colon, complete with a giant replica of an anus, The Huffington Post reported.

Originally an art piece, Hotel CasAnus is the creation of Dutch designer Joep Van Lieshout.

...Travel blogger Tom Hall wrote, "It is as normal as sleeping in a slug-like space can be."

Piers Morgan Redeems Himself

I haven't liked Piers Morgan much, and especially not after the British hacking scandal, but all is now forgiven. Last night's interview on CNN was the best I have ever seen on the network, ever (but it's not posted on YouTube yet).

Here is the second-best interview, ever, from the night before last:

"Singin' In The Rain" - Stand Out Talent - Tower Theater

On Saturday, I joined DMTC friends in Roseville to see "Singin' In The Rain" as performed by Stand Out Talent. This fairly-new group now works out of the Tower Theater in Roseville. Since I was rehearsing sound effects with the Junie B. Jones cast at DMTC Saturday evening, I was seated late, just before 'Make Em Laugh'.

It was interesting to see what is basically a new theatrical group in town (and one that focuses on youth). I knew only one cast member (Haylie Roberts) and I didn't even recognize her at first, because of her wig. (Apparently Taylr Ashley was there too, but I don't really know her.)

The fellow playing Cosmo (Alex Crossland) moved well for his size, sang well, and was funny (but needs to improve general acting skills). Spencer Peterson and Olivia Lawrence made a fine Don Lockwood and Kathy Seldon. The best performance, however, was by 16-year-old Carli Meyer, especially as she sang 'What's Wrong With Me?', fracturing the English language while playing the character Lina Lamont. Spectacular!

It was odd, the way the rain fell from the pipes in the ceiling aloft in a perfectly geometric arrangement of four connected squares. An amazing meteorological phenomenon!

Missed the Cyd Charisse dancing interlude. Pity. Apparently due to small cast size for this show. They needed just one more dancer!

In any event, a great show!

E. Likes Nat King Cole

E.: MMMMMMMMAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRCCCCCCC! I LOVE Nat King Cole! When I was 13 years old, and lived in the Philippines, I used to listen to him on the radio. They had a radio show on at midnight, and I stayed awake just to listen to him!

M.: Yes, he's a good singer.

E.: That's what they call the Classic Music.

M.: ???

E.: Yes, the European composers used to compose the music, like Beethoven and his Fifth Movement, just for the singers like Nat King Cole.

M.: I think of Nat King Cole as more of a jazz singer. And Beethoven is known more for his symphonic music. The classical composers aren't known much for vocals, except maybe for Handel, and....

E.: Beethoven went deaf after his Fifth Movement, because the European musicians liked to play their music SO LOUD! Anyway, Elvis was a rock singer. They used to call him King Of The Rock.

M.: There's a difference between Classical Music and Classic Rock.

E.: Some people call Elvis King Of The Soft Rock, but I call him King Of The Hard Rock.

M.: Rock and Roll....

E.: And Michael Jackson! King Of The Pop! And Willie Nelson!

M.: Country....

E.: Yes, I LOVE Nat King Cole!

Think I'm Having Trouble With That Homeless Yo-Yo Again

I know, I know, it's all nice and private between the garbage cans in the alley behind my house, but could you resist the urge, and defecate somewhere else?

At The Arden Fair Mall, With E.

I'm A Star!

Ideology. Believe In Movement. 25% Off. At Macy's, now!

E.: MMMMMMMMAAAAAAARRRRRCCCCC! There are no good dresses at this Macy's!

M.: There aren't? Everywhere I look, I see dresses. There must be a good dress out there, somewhere.

E.: Somehow it's not the same! Can we go to Sunrise Mall, tomorrow?

M.: (sigh) OK.

DMTC's YPT "Pinocchio" 2012

Went and saw "Pinocchio" on Friday evening. Noa Solorio in the title role, and the rest of the YPT cast, did a fine job.

Interesting, the turnover in YPT folks. The half life of kids in the company is about three years, so I was amused that even someone like Tessa feels a bit alienated from the group now, since she knows so few people in the current cast.

Myself, I was feeling nostalgic for the November, 2004 "Pinocchio", remembering how brilliantly Meeka Craig played Signore Volpone, the Fox. I wish she was onstage again. That's really her natural habitat.

That Moist Tongue Is Now Licking The American Southwest

Why isn't it raining in New Mexico? According to Intellicast, the cloud tops are certainly cold enough. I know the NOGAPS forecast showed a persistent band of downward velocities just east of the Rockies that should suppress rain over eastern New Mexico, but I don't believe that crap. In any event, it should be raining there. But according to ABQ & Cannon AFB radar, nada.

I need to complain to the authorities about this.

Obama Decides To Throw Old People Under The Bus

Time to say no, and head over the cliff:
Late last night, the White House offered a plan with two major concessions to Republicans. First, it would hike taxes on the wealthy, but only on income above $400,000, instead of the current $250,000 threshold. Second, and far more controversially, Obama offered to change the formula used to calculate Social Security benefits in a way that would cut outlays to seniors slightly while saving the program $225 billion over a decade.

Mystery Of The Dazed Kestrel

Picture of a kestrel, from Wikipedia.

Per usual custom, I arrived at work late this morning (18th & J Streets in Sacramento), parked my car, and went around to the back of the car to open the trunk and retrieve my briefcase. Just then, I heard a distinct *thump* behind me.

Looking around, everything seemed normal, except for what looked like a bit of refuse on the pavement: like a feathered piece of wood lying just outside the parking lot fence, by my employer's back door. It looked like an American Indian in ceremonial regalia had tossed away a small, feathered pipe, or something.

Approaching, I realized it was a small hunting bird, in some kind of agony. Its back was arched, as if in pain. It was conscious, and breathing, and evidently alarmed by my approach. At first, I had trouble seeing its claws, but that was because they were partly-curled. I thought, "It's a kestrel!" I started cooing to it, hoping to ease its tension.

What happened? Apparently it had either flown into the building itself (confused by the lighting off the reflective exterior tile?), bounced off the side windows of the building (once again, confused lighting on the windows?), or had flown into the canopy over the back door. Or perhaps it had toppled off a perch on the building above the back door, onto the canopy, and onto the pavement. Whatever happened, it was quite an irregular event for a bird like this.

Not wanting to touch the bird, in the event it had West Nile virus, and out of an desire not the frighten it too much, and also because an injured hunting bird can inflict a variety of injuries from its claws and beak, I started calling the Wildlife Care Association on my cell phone.

After about two minutes, the frightened bird noticed I was distracted, rolled over, and flew away. It seemed to fly true and straight, so whatever impact it had endured was not immediately mortal.

I related the experience to several of my co-workers. Craig thought it was an omen of the impending Mayan Apocalypse this Friday. Gabe said "One in the hand is worth two in the bush!" Candy said the bird had too much Egg Nog (she didn't like the Apocalypse idea, and preferred to think positive).

[UPDATE: The fellow from the Wildlife Care Association called back after listening to my taped message. He said this sort of thing can happen. Birds from the foothills come into the valley for the winter, and perhaps this bird lacked city experience.]

Monday, December 17, 2012

How The Wild West Became The Not So Wild West

How exactly did folks in the Wild West put up with all the craziness and violence of the frontier?

Well, they didn't. They enforced sensible gun control laws like all sensible folk would do:
Frontier towns — places like Tombstone, Deadwood, and Dodge — actually had the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation.

In fact, many of those same cities have far less burdensome gun control today then they did back in the 1800s.

Guns were obviously widespread on the frontier. Out in the untamed wilderness, you needed a gun to be safe from bandits, natives, and wildlife. In the cities and towns of the West, however, the law often prohibited people from toting their guns around. A visitor arriving in Wichita, Kansas in 1873, the heart of the Wild West era, would have seen signs declaring, “Leave Your Revolvers At Police Headquarters, and Get a Check.”

A check? That’s right. When you entered a frontier town, you were legally required to leave your guns at the stables on the outskirts of town or drop them off with the sheriff, who would give you a token in exchange. You checked your guns then like you’d check your overcoat today at a Boston restaurant in winter. Visitors were welcome, but their guns were not.

In my new book, Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, there’s a photograph taken in Dodge City in 1879. Everything looks exactly as you’d imagine: wide, dusty road; clapboard and brick buildings; horse ties in front of the saloon. Yet right in the middle of the street is something you’d never expect. There’s a huge wooden billboard announcing, “The Carrying of Firearms Strictly Prohibited.”

While people were allowed to have guns at home for self-protection, frontier towns usually barred anyone but law enforcement from carrying guns in public.

When Dodge City residents organized their municipal government, do you know what the very first law they passed was? A gun control law. They declared that “any person or persons found carrying concealed weapons in the city of Dodge or violating the laws of the State shall be dealt with according to law.” Many frontier towns, including Tombstone, Arizona–the site of the infamous “Shootout at the OK Corral”–also barred the carrying of guns openly.

Today in Tombstone, you don’t even need a permit to carry around a firearm. Gun rights advocates are pushing lawmakers in state after state to do away with nearly all limits on the ability of people to have guns in public.

Who's Been Naughty? Who's Been Nice?

Is It Just Me, Or Is That Tongue Of Tropical Moisture Moving Fast?

Interesting movement from the SW....

Saint Evil, The Mysterious Stranger

(h/t Kelsey)

Kelsey repeats that this video was banned from TV in the 80's. It's funny, but I'm sure I've seen this on TV before - probably Sunday morning religious hour TV, when people would expect it the least.

"Downton Abbey" Does "Breaking Bad"

(h/t Noel)

RIP - Jenni Rivera

I was channel surfing last night, and "A 4 Ruedas" from San Francisco was running concert footage of the late Jenni Rivera. I was completely unfamiliar with her, but developed a fondness just from watching her. It's clear why her fans are devastated:

(or this one - a crowd pleaser!)

Adele - "Skyfall"

I haven't seen the movie yet, but the theme song song strikes me as the best of the Bond series!

The American Dystopia Where We Will All Have To Own Guns


I was rather shocked when I first heard this report. Did I hear it correctly?

Josh Deaser of "Just Guns" - you know, near Denny's, on that seedy, semi-lawless stretch of Auburn Blvd. near Watt - said, with respect to the CT massacre:
"If somebody were to have a gun there, a concealed weapon, properly trained, know how to use it, the situation would not have gotten as far as it did."
Huh. Really!

Deaser says nothing, of course, about the mental stability of the concealed weapon carrier(s). We are heading to a dystopian future that only a gun shop owner could love, where everyone is required to be armed.

It strikes me the Nazis were more sensible about these things. Nazis wanted to euthanize the mentally ill, not train and arm as many as possible (and thus better-equipped to euthanize us all).

Of course, some in this country are fond of saying that when the Nazis took power, they disarmed the people, in order to keep them weak and helpless. That's false, however. The Nazis disarmed the Jews, but were happy to relax the rules for most everyone else. Triumphant Aryans had to be armed Aryans:
The 1938 German Weapons Act, the precursor of the current weapons law, superseded the 1928 law. As under the 1928 law, citizens were required to have a permit to carry a firearm and a separate permit to acquire a firearm. Furthermore, the law restricted ownership of firearms to "...persons whose trustworthiness is not in question and who can show a need for a (gun) permit." Under the new law:
  • Gun restriction laws applied only to handguns, not to long guns or ammunition. Writes Prof. Bernard Harcourt of the University of Chicago, "The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition."
  • The groups of people who were exempt from the acquisition permit requirement expanded. Holders of annual hunting permits, government workers, and NSDAP party members were no longer subject to gun ownership restrictions. Prior to the 1938 law, only officials of the central government, the states, and employees of the German Reichsbahn Railways were exempted.
  • The age at which persons could own guns was lowered from 20 to 18.
  • The firearms carry permit was valid for three years instead of one year.
  • Jews were forbidden from the manufacturing or ownership of firearms and ammunition. 
I like Billmon's take:
I think the gun nuts are in somewhat the same bind now: Their movement rests on an absolute, or near-absolute reading of the Second Amendment as an individual right to bear firearms.
What that means—practically as well as theoretically—is that events like the Sandy Hook massacre can’t be stopped, or even slowed, by the tools presently available to law enforcement. ....
And so a logical deux ex machina: The solution to gun violence is to arm everybody! No need for tampering with the Second Amendment, or waiting around for tiny corpses to cool so that we can begin talking about whether we should be talking about eventually having a national conversation about guns.
All we need to do is make sure any would-be assassins die instantly in a hail of bullets from surrounding onlookers the moment they draw—without, of course, harming any innocent bystanders in the process. Piece of cake.
...But we can at least hope that the gun nuts are heading down the same road as the anti-abortion nuts: Finally alienating a generally, but not passionately, sympathetic public with their progressively more extreme positions.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The 501(c)4 Groups Are A Colossal Dark Joke

Tax their ass:
In the confidential document, Crossroads GPS acknowledged that it intended to influence elections. “Consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the organization may, in the future, develop and/or distribute independent political communications,” it said. But, the group added, “[a]ny such activity will be limited in amount, and will not constitute the organization’s primary purpose.”

The group eventually reported over $70 million in election spending to the Federal Election Commission in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of that money went to opposing Democrats, and, as ProPublica points out, the group also announced it spent an additional $50 million on anti-Obama ads outside the window during which it was required to report spending to the FEC.

In the 2010 filing, the group also offered a breakdown of its planned activities, saying 50 percent of its efforts would go to “public education,” 30 percent would go to “activity to influence legislation and policymaking,” and 20 percent would go to “research.”

...Crossroads GPS is organized as a 501(c)4 “social welfare” organization. As such, it is allowed to raise unlimited sums of money without disclosing its donors. Such groups have become popular vehicles for political spending in the last two federal election cycles.

Nani Understands An Intuitive Sense Is Helpful In Learning Physics

Today's big question is: "What is Nani doing these days?"

Turns out, she's learning to juggle!

(Nani's done other interesting stuff, like getting murdered here....:

Spike Full EpisodesSpike Video ClipsSpike on Facebook

And wielding a sledgehammer here.)

Trouble With The SubContractors

More signs that PG&E doesn't know what it's doing. Glad I live in SMUD territory!:
Under California law, PG&E must conduct inspections every three years of all underground enclosures used to house cables, transformers and switches.

...PG&E has experienced a string of explosions and fires in underground vaults in San Francisco, including a corrosion-related 2005 blast in a vault near Union Square that sent a manhole cover hurtling 30 feet and seriously injured a passer-by.

...PG&E officials say an employee tipped supervisors that a colleague was certifying underground electrical switches and transformers in the San Jose area as safe without ever inspecting them. A probe of the accusation has led to the dismissals or suspensions of 14 workers and the finding that about two dozen inspections had not been carried out and another 50 were suspect, PG&E said.

...PG&E compliance manager Jadwindar Singh told the commission that the company had identified 401 inspections that it suspects were not carried out as advertised in the San Jose division, which includes Gilroy, Morgan Hill and Milpitas. PG&E said it had fired one contract worker for allegedly failing to make the inspections and lying about it.

Once Again, The Gun Crowd Benefits

It's important to remember, with these various gun slaughters that we've seen of late, that there are a number of right-wing groups (like the NRA) and merchants (like gun shop owners) that benefit from them. Each slaughter creates uncertainty, which just provokes people to BUY MORE GUNS! It's that simple.

The answer is also pretty simple. Stop buying more guns!

Laws by themselves won't help much - there are just too many guns out there. The only way out is to stop playing this game. People have to do this for themselves.

When Exxon workers were sent into the Alaskan shoreline wilderness to combat the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, the only way that seemed to work to prevent bear/people conflicts was to make sure that people weren't armed. Armed nakedness made people more prudent about avoiding trouble.

Like "The Compleat Guide for Volkswagen Repair" noted many years ago, we'd all drive more safely if we were strapped onto our front bumpers like Aztec sacrifices.

No arms is the only good way to go. Guns almost always enhance the danger.

Weather In NM Today

Albuquerque has gotten less than 2/3 of its normally arid precipitation this year, so more (0.05 inches so far today) is very welcome!

When You Die Overseas, Anonymity Somehow Mitigates The Pain

Base jumping has its dangers:
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz - Thirty seven-year old Eiliv Ruud of Foss Fallskjeriy, Norway died Dec. 4 while base jumping at Salt Trail Canyon, a tributary of the Little Colorado River.

Investigators believe the victim began his base jump from a height of approximately 1000 feet above the canyon floor. Witnesses said it looked like Ruud traveled about 500 feet when a gust of wind blew him into the canyon wall.

...The first deputy to arrive contacted a man and woman who traveled from Norway with Ruud to base jump at Salt Trail Canyon. The two said they were standing with Ruud at the edge of the canyon and all three planned to jump. When Ruud hit the wall, his companions said it looked like one of his parachutes deployed but failed to work properly causing Rudd to spiral out of control. They said they heard the sound of what they believed to be Ruud striking the canyon floor.

Good Things Sometimes Happen In Washington, D.C.

We're finally getting Lieberman's brand of evil out of the Senate! There is a role for partisanship polarization in politics, and Lieberman's ultimate exile demonstrates that, after twelve years of chaos-making Republican shock doctrine - no, make that 18 years, since the 1994 Congress - no, make that 34 years since Proposition 13 - that the needs of the American public will finally start getting some much-needed attention from our political elites.:
It was a lonely farewell for Joe Lieberman.

When the senior senator from Connecticut stood to give his parting address Wednesday afternoon, just one of his colleagues, Delaware Democrat Tom Carper, was with him on the Senate floor.

...A few more senators arrived during the 20-minute speech, but even by the end Lieberman was very much alone — which is how it has been for much of his 24-year tenure.

...Lieberman was excommunicated by his party (he won as an independent in 2006 after losing the Democratic primary) and retired this year rather than face probable defeat. Yet he received little love from the Republicans, either, because despite his apostasies on key issues — the Iraq war, above all — he remained a fairly reliable vote for the Democrats.

...And so it was a man with few political allies who bid the chamber farewell. “I regret to say as I leave the Senate that the greatest obstacle that I see standing between us and the brighter American future we all want is right here in Washington,” he said. “It’s the partisan polarization of our politics which prevents us from making the principled compromises on which progress in a democracy depends.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Made The Popular Answers Page This Week At B3ta!

Made the "best" answers page at the British humor Web Site this week! I submitted three answers this week, but only one of them made it to the "popular" answers page.

I made "best" page last month too, with my story about Mt. Hood. I must be on a roll!

Here is this week's question:
Made me laugh
Rob asks: Has anything happened recently that's made you laugh? Share your stories with us - we need the joy.
My response was:
Break time at the Haunted House
I was one of several dancing zombies at a theater remodeled as a Haunted House this last Halloween. The episodic, vigorous hunt for brains was hard work, of course, and we were resting between waves of visitors. One of the Haunted House guides was a teenage girl dressed as a cat - cat whiskers, cat ears, cat tail. She sprawled face down on the stage. A teenage boy reached over and playfully lifted up her little cat tail. "Stop!" she shouted. "You've got to buy me dinner first!"

The Rich Girls Of Alaska

Greater degree of corruption there than in Mexico:
The continuing move of the entire Palin family into reality television careers is an amusing downfall story, but it took a serious turn today with the news that the state of Alaska had provided $354,348 in subsidies to Bristol Palin’s most recent venture into the genre, her Lifetime show Bristol Palin: Life’s A Tripp, which had such dreadful ratings it was yanked from its slot after two episodes.

...If the purpose of film and television production credits is to keep jobs in-state or to convince companies that otherwise might not have produced shows in a state to consider filming there, it’s not remotely clear why Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp would have been a good candidate for those credits. Alaska is Palin’s childhood home. ... Alaska was the most logical place for her to do it, even absent a subsidy program. That the show got tax credits from the state suggests more an eagerness to distribute them to whatever project came along than a real effort to attract new and unexpected business to the state.