Saturday, February 22, 2014


The song itself (and the album) was a commercial flop for The Doors. The video footage survived, though rarely seen. I like the last line: "Remember when we were in Africa?"


A few years ago an important plant closed.

This history is passed along by Peter Bysura who worked on Boeing 737 then and still does. The presumption is worked on the plane in this Boeing plant but he does not say that. He might be flight attendant. No! I'm kidding. Peter relates in 2010 people gathered at Boeing's Plant II to observe the last of three historic planes moved that were in a state of museum repair in the assembly bays. The buildings are cleared.

It is 3:00 in the morning as people gathered. It had been a long run, they are thinking, it had been seventy-five years and thousands of airplanes.

As the last three airplanes rolled out representing all the planes that rolled out of the historic building, the ritual of rolling a plane out of the hangar, the light reflecting off the wet floors, the giant doors opening, tow bars hooked up, tugs attached, the planes moving onto the ramp, the realization then these are the very last planes to roll out, to ever roll out of there, the history of the place, the weight of the understanding the depth of the history of the place suddenly washed over the assembled reverent crowd all at once and made everyone cry.

An era closed. As if closing a book. Did you notice that?

April, 1944, sixteen flying fortresses rolled out of the plant every single day.

B-52. This is my favorite photograph. One of my favorite planes, on account of Barksdale AFB. Nana couldn't take it but the roar of the engines and incredibly long takeoffs were as soothing nocturnes, comforting familiar lullabies.  

B-29, the last of the last of the last terminal final omega zed fini end of the line done Mohican B-29. (Take heart, you see the new stuff they're doing.)

Boeing B-47, a radical design at the time, six-jet bomber prototype. Peter writes this plane is the direct lineal matriarch of all Boeing jet planes produced since. I did not know that.

The entire plant camouflaged as residential.

1966 First prototype Boeing twin jet 737, Paul writes, the first one from this building, through these doors, onto this ramp.

First Boeing XC-97, also C-97 transport, KC-97 tanker, and B-377 for commercial Stratocruiser.

That was serious and somewhat emotional. But I am not so saddened by unhappy eras ending as I am saddened by unhappy eras starting.

I cannot stay that way for long. My mind tends to wander, and I allow it.

Because I always did wonder and still do wonder why does the Air Force put their lowest ranks on airplanes? It's like saying we're proud of these little dummkopfs. 

Two stripes is airman first class. You would think it would be one stripe. One of those planes is two stripes, I noticed, another plane one stripe, as if the planes have ranks and the ranks are lowest of all. Maybe it is a bomber v transport thing. I do not know.

Do you know what it takes to be a two-stripe airman?

* must comply with A.F. standards (high) and be a role model for subordinates (one stripers)
* expected to show effort in mastering necessary skills in new career field.  (try)
* ... oh, that's it.

To be a wearer of one-stripe chevron with a silver star pay grade E-2

* expected to understand and conform to military standards.

That is the symbol the Air Force puts on airplanes. Or perhaps it is a variant symbol with variant meanings. These chevron rank patches differ from regular straight horizontal parallel bars.

The symbols must remind you of winged solar disc. That is the original idea.

[winged solar disc] tons of those in stone
[winged solar disc tattoo] tons of those too.

The tattoos are all too small. Timid. Uncertain.

They don't get it at all.

They need me.

All of them do. They all need me there in the tattoo parlor with them to help them make the right tattoo-related decisions.  Every single one of them is too small. Too hesitant. The whole point is to go BLAM don't TOUCH this. It is protected. The design is more than a stamp of protection, it is complete enwrapping, enveloping, protection of wings, as a fierce bird of prey, or most birds actually, protect their offspring, their treasure, in the nest by spreading its feathers and concealing the whole lot, so the tattoo must protect the whole body by wrapping it. Completely around the shoulders around the arms, feather tips all the way to the front.

Or the other way around with feather tips reaching to the back including arms. Each feather tediously drawn. A real project. Not a little decal on the body.

Stud, if it must be that small and that stylized then raise it up where it belongs (over the door) at the clavicle. And put columns of meaningful hieroglyphics under it. It is a full frontal project. The hieroglyphics a definitive statement. The winged disc design accompanies and protects declaratives and imperatives. Not a hesitant little patch of uncertainty.

The spread wings protect the whole body. As etched on the outsides and insides of coffins and sarcopha Gusses. 

Come on. This is the idea, not the final product. The final design is 100 x more tedious.

But if you sleep on your back then you will want your protection symbol on front to warn off demons and lower-level spirit pervs, vibratory-wise, messing with your unprotected body while you're out of it and off having your out-of-body experiences, lucid dreams and the like. They do that. Ugly incomplete spirit pervs do. They roam around looking for trouble, taking advantage of unprotected live bodies. They're curious. So just for protection, for your own reassurance, this symbol will glow like a neon light and keep at a distance those scavenging creatures.

Here, lemme draw it on you.

Know what, Hotshot? Come to think of it... 

What is the story behind this tweet? theories?


Toward improving relations between U.S. and Chinese armies

" A top United States military commander said Saturday that the U.S. Army is working on starting a formal dialogue and exchange program with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army before the end of the year.

...In recent years, American officials have said that ties between the U.S. and Chinese militaries are weak and far below the level of similar ties between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. This has led to heightened anxieties among U.S. military leaders.

...The U.S. has said it does not take sides in the [territorial] disputes [between China and her neighbors], but wants to maintain freedom of navigation in the region and, more recently, has insisted that China clarify or adjust its claims in the South China Sea to ensure they are consistent with international law.

...China alarmed Japan, South Korea and the U.S. in late 2013 when it declared an Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, over a significant part of the East China Sea, requiring all aircraft entering the zone to provide identification and flight plans. American officials have continued to order U.S. military aircraft to fly through the area without acknowledging China’s new designation."
I foresee a multi-polar world in which China will be the hall monitor of the Far East. As things are shaking out, they will rightly share in the patrolling of sea lanes in the South China Sea.

Thank You President Obama

"The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives released data this week detailing gun production in the United States in 2012. Bloomberg summarizes the year's data."
More than 8.57 million guns were produced in 2012, up 31 percent from 6.54 million in 2011, according to data released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has been tracking the statistics since 1986.
"And that's after it rose almost 20 percent in 2011. And 30 percent in 2009."

The Wire

From the Bloomberg report...

“Barack Obama is the stimulus package for the firearms industry,” said Dave Workman, senior editor of Gun Mag, a print and online publication of the 2nd Amendment Foundation, a gun-ownership rights group. “The greatest irony of the Obama administration is that the one industry that he may not have really liked to see healthy has become the healthiest industry in the United States.”


Where the skies are not cloudy all day.


Were you a wild child, or did you usually follow the rules?

brush pen

When Palladian mentioned brush pen I was struck, "What? Such marvels exist?"

Surely such an instrument will cost dearly. I must begin saving. For that is the coming together of the desires of ages. Like hang gliding is the pinnacle of human flight, you'd think it'd be a rocket but no, it is to fly like a bird with minimal machine, so too the brush pen is the pinnacle of desires of scribes and calligraphers through the ages, the excellence of brush with modern materials and minimal fuss, ink directly to bristles, and excellent bristles at that. Just hearing about it sent a thrill.

What's next, landing like birds on branches?

Stated so casually too, dropped by way of aside. Why am I always so late, alway among the last to hear of great things?

Meininger's is right down the street. I need mat board.

The Meininger's sales lady showed me the brush pens. But not behind the display case as I expected valuable pens to be, not where I was looking. I looked around the whole island of display cases holding pens and brushes and air brush kits, and higher end items, the cases arranged in a square forming a fort for clerks to reside or hide or help people on the other side of the cases. Not there. No. The pens are hanging on display cards with all the other regular nondescript ordinary pens and various markers. I'd never have found them without her.

They are treated as if they're nothing special at all.

That amazes me.

I am dumbfounded. Baffled with the nonchalance of handling excellence. Don't you realize what you have here?

Once I got the clerks talking about using the pens it became clear they do all agree the pens are impressive. They are all artist-types working there, so at least there is that.

She is carrying my mat board cut into strips and wrapped up and various incidentals including a very cheap brush pen, I'm thinking, man, the traditional Japanese calligraphers would kill for a pen like this. She was going on about the ink cartridge inside, what to expect. I said,

"This pen is made for Japanese calligrapher, I know they would love this pen. I bet they do already since I'm late to the game. Traditionally they mixed their own ink."

"They do?"

Now that surprised me. I assumed I was idly saying something she already knew. Is she playing me?

"Yes. It's a mess too. A stick of hard black stuff. They use water and mix ink for each session. That's one of the reasons why it's such a ritual, the other reason is everything is ritual."

If you take a class in calligraphy, or if it happens that part of your grade school curriculum is Japanese Culture as it was at Narimasu and at Camp Drake then the whole time you'll be thinking, "Man, this ink-making each time is a pain in the butt. Screw that." And their brushes are bamboo, and of course everything is always taken to extreme to finest bamboo and finest animal hair. Plus all the attending implements, weight stone, ink stone to mix the ink from the ink stick, mulberry paper. A student engraves one's own seal. 

Does she understand the spirit of the language is wrapped up in its calligraphy? Does her artist heart get at all that without knowing about mixing ink? That language writing is art and art is writing and back and forth. Does she wonder as I do what it is made of, octopus ink or soot?  

She knows where this brush is in the store, what it can do, about its ink cartridge, how to use it, she is probably adept with the brush herself but she does not know the history of writing and what a stupendous brush like this means. 

It means mankind can go no further when it comes to writing brushes. We have reached the end of excellence. We should all be rejoicing for this wonderful period.

When she holds her technically advanced and incredibly inexpensive and available pen in her hand and uses it to make marks does she harken back to those earlier bamboo pens with animal hair bristles and their inconvenient messy ink kits, or earlier reed pens with smashed cellulose bristles and even messier and terribly inconvenient ink kits as I do?

Does she trip out on brush pens like I do?  

Yes, she does. She would appreciate not having to tote her black and red powder with her everywhere she goes like Egyptian scribes did to mix her own ink every day. 

I can tell all that in the distance from the back to the front by the way she responded with interest. Intense interest, not regular polite interest. Too bad we didn't have more time. I almost made a bid for more time with her by asking for help out to the truck even though I don't need it, just to spend it with her and elaborate on Egyptians fussing with ink.

That is your fix, for an Egyptian scribe, make sure you have your two powders, make sure you have a few decent brushes for the day, probably reeds with the ends smashed up. They do not mention this or draw this on their art that I notice but surely their fingers would be messed up with black and red ink and that is how you would spot a scribe, his hands are all inked up.

This is the word for "scribe" it is a determinative sign, categorized Y3 or Y4.

They match!

Anything having to do with writing gets this determinative sign, the kit itself mnhd and for writing, ssch. Associated with a person it means, "He can write!" And that is something to brag about. But not for a noble. You do not see scribe listed as accomplishment among the epithets of nobles because it would be like saying, "Lord of Two Lands, Son of Horus, The Sun on its Horizon, the Pa of Ra, and he can write."

The ink cartridge is stabbed and well-seated but nothing happens. I shake it. I flick it. Double check it. Dead. Bristles work, ink works, something between bristles and ink does not work. I call Meininger's. 

"My pen doesn't work."

"It takes a while for the ink to make its way down. Give it time. Relax. I thought that too. No worries. It's slow at first." 

The first guy I spoke with knows all about the brush pen. That is how famous they are.  I went back to the pen and the bristles turned black. It works! And it is brilliant. 


Remember that song? It was a one hit wonder for Zager and Evans in 1969. An odd mariachi musically introduces the storyline before the lyrics arrange a sort of a rhyming chronology of centuries cast further and further into the future. The song culminates:
Now it's been ten thousand years, man has cried a billion tears
For what, he never knew, now man's reign is through
But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight
So very far away, maybe it's only yesterday
And so the future reflects backwards to yesterday. This is done either with rhetorical mirrors or is an ouroboros cycle. Pick your symmetry element. What's intriguing about the lyrics is the idea that mankind is God's scientific "experiment"; human free will still exists long into the future and a Dr. God comes around periodically to check the results of his timed experiment.

But why is God only present at the beginning and the end in such apocrypha?  It seems parenthetical -- like alpha and omega -- while we live here between parens.

Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi - Season's Trees

Friday, February 21, 2014

crimp mechanism

I drew this just for you because I sensed the intense interest.

This takes advantage of a bit of origami. You know, how the crane's neck and tail are formed, how moving the tail can make the wings flap.

The mechanism is a simple strip built into the card as a step using tabs that are not shown here, a crimp put into the step. Strange and unexpected things happen depending on which side of the crimp the arm is glued. One side slides content nicely in 90 degree arc, the other side flips it into the 90 degree position more dramatically. I am talking about the two sides of the crimp, the two tiny triangles formed by a crimp, that is where the action is. Additionally, the crimp itself naturally aims in one direction or another placed on the edge of the step, not just the step up edge when the card is in the half-opened position, but top edge of the band and the bottom edge of the band, the crimp needn't be placed exactly on the top or bottom edge, it can be moved in away from the edge enabling the direction of arc movement to reverse.

I put two crimps in a band formed into a step, the arms aiming in opposite directions, one arm up the other arm down, then in the style of overlapping discs with un-exact centers, attached a dung beetle to one arm covering the whole step and a large circle of dung on the other. Both only move 90 degrees but added together the movements make 180 degrees and that is considerable movement for a pop-up card, and it looks for all the world like a beetle pushing a ball of dung, in cartoon form.

The idea of crimping a corner is not limited to a step. Little pieces of triangular paper can be added in places to form a crimp, or to behave as a crimp. This is just a way of illustrating how crimps work. It can do things like lift a meerkats fingers to its ears, or lift a mortar rifle to its shoulder to knock a bird out of the sky. It can lift a bunch of flowers or put sunglasses on. They can lift things right off the page, they can make a net come down on a frog. They can do jumping jacks. 

No More Obama Photo Ops for Chris Christie

"Chris Christie won’t dine at the White House on his swing through Washington this weekend."

"The New Jersey governor is set to leave town Sunday morning, his office confirmed, before a Sunday night White House dinner traditionally attended by governors of both parties during the annual National Governors Association meeting."

"Christie sat next to first lady Michelle Obama at last year’s dinner, and drew heat from some Republicans for famously embracing President Barack Obama just days before the presidential election in 2012 as the men surveyed Superstorm Sandy damage in New Jersey."

Read More at Politico.

A Few Questions For Pat Benetar

Who among us hasn't listened to Hit Me With Your Best Shot?  And really, who among us hasn't sung along, whether in a bar, or on a treadmill at the health club, or in the back of a police car, or maybe just in the car while driving home and hoping not to be pulled over for yet another DUI ticket?  It's a catchy song.

The lyrics are, um, interesting, and I have a few questions for Pat Benetar.

When you said "Well you're the real tough cookie with the long history"  why didn't you just walk away.  A tough cookie? How did you think that a person like that would lead to a good and healthy relationship?  Or was it literally a tough cookie, one that you were having some difficulty chewing?

"Put up your dukes, lets get down to it!"  Were you soliciting a fight?  Was it with a guy or a gal, if that isn't too personal?  Or did you mean a different thing by "let's get down to it"?

No, I think you meant a fight, because look here where you said "Why don't you hit me with your best shot!"  Or maybe not a fight-fight, this does sound like you're looking for some masochistic behavior, doesn't it.  You were looking to get spanked, may be slapped around a bit before rough sex.  Hey, that's cool; we're all grown-ups here.  Whatever floats your boats.

"Before I put another notch in my lipstick case you better make sure you put me in my place."

Pat, have you considered how a thing like this might anger some women?  First of all, the lipstick reference, some women will be offended by that because they detest the use of lipstick and makeup and such non-feminist things.  At the same time, other women will like that as a subtle reference to the lipstick lesbians that are a kind of unicorn in the dating world these days (so I'm told, cough cough). Clever, having it both ways.

"Put me in my place"  See, there's a troubling part of the lyric.  It supposes that your place is inferior to someone else's place.  And someone thinks that he/she/it/them is/are in some way superior to you.  Unless you meant "my place"  is tied up on a bed or in a basement somewhere, part of that whole bondage thing.

Okay, you are putting on lipstick before being tied up and spanked.  I think it's clear now that that's what you  meant by your lyrics.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

In fact, I'll remember that while I watch this great performance.  Thanks for the *memories*.

News From Down The Interstate

There's all kinds of news from down the interstate highway that runs from here to over yonder in Madison, and then beyond.   We'll just hop off in Madison today, because that's where the news is.  It's the news of shitty people doing shitty things.  And as is often the case in Madison, the shittiest people who do the shittiest things are the Democrats and their allies.

Set the Wayback Machine for 2010 and remember that Scott Walker won the gubernatorial race with 52% of the vote.  Governor Walker then enacted reforms that among other things, reduced the power of unions to strongarm public employees for monthly dues, and then use those dues to buy elections.  Union membership dropped drastically, as state and local government workers opted out.  Several union locals voted to de-certify.  Numbskulls took over the state capitol, made murder threats against the Walker family and so forth.  You remember all this, of course.

This led to Governor being recalled in a very acrimonious election, which he won, this time by 53%.

The Milwaukee County DA, a staunch Democrat, wanted to throw the recall election, so a trumped-up "John Doe" investigation into Walker and  several aides was launched.  Mucho secrecy, hush hush, leak leak.  After looking in every possible place for evidence of Walker's having committed a crime, no crime was found.  It was all very STASI - agents kicking down people's doors in the wee hours, seizing computers and telephones and filing cabinets, and so forth.  But the prosecutors got bupkus.

That investigation is over.  But for revenge, the hack judge running the sham of an investigation decided "secrecy, schmecrecy" and released to the news media some 27,000 pages of emails that had been seized during the investigation. All the usual media suspects are now winnowing through the emails, proclaiming that this or that will require apologies and bowing and scraping and must surely end Walker's career.  Here's the NYT article, for example.

Whose That Girl?*

Infamous femme fatale, she dealt in pleasure, pain, and pain relief. Though immortalized in a song, she doled out death.

Whose that girl?*
*A blog post in the style of Trooper York

black vs white

The next time your plastic surgeon face-lift neighbors bitch about loose oranges you can point out their contribution to global warming. 

I'm kidding. 

My plan of attack is kill with kindness. I'm very good this way with ladies. The thing is, those oranges are good. They are an asset. A valuable asset. An asset that can go far in community relations. I recall you setting up giveaways or good faith payment or whatever by setting oranges out front for people to take. 

Is that right?

I'd gather lady-like attractive boxes, make something of a presentation, ladies like that, a lot more than men do. Fancy boxes, or at least thoughtful boxes, decorated boxes somehow with special paper or something, ribbons, colored cellophane. Get ideas from gift boxes how far you decide to take it, possibly bags with rope handles, something more than grocery store bags, I'd even consider fabric headscarves that can be used, good ones, not trashy headscarves but rather excellent fabric. Japanese ladies do that, wrap things in large swaths of fabric like scarves instead of bags or boxes, and give your resources , the delightful and delicious and unique boutique oranges, directly to the receptionists or anybody you meet there, doctors and such, and turn on your charm on to them, listen carefully to their complaints or whatever and make it altogether more difficult for them to bitch at you or complain to the authori-tahs. 

And ask them, by the way, don't you feel a little bit guilty?

Why should they feel guilty?

Well, just look. Look how much effort the city and its citizens go to make sure their new roofs are white. White to reflect back the heat rather than absorb heat as black absorbs heat. It's the only smart thing to do. 

And yet your little firm over here brings inordinate amount of blacktop just to park cars. It's unconscionable, runs counter to community objectives. Like you're going against the whole thing. Surely you feel tinges of guilt about that. Surely you feel the heat rise up your skirts as you park your own car and walk into the building.


White roofs all over the place. That is unusual for a city. It follows Obama's sage advice, or perhaps the other way around, either way it is  good and responsible idea.

Then there is your blacktop parking doing the exact opposite. It's amazing people do not burn up just parking their car and walking into your place.

The starkness of their ridiculous imported ocean of blacktop drives every living creature directly into your tiny oasis, rats, coyotes, owls, hawks, pigeons. Then complain about a few little oranges on the ground like you're expected to dash out there each morning to make sure there are none to offend the peeping Toms peering over the fence from their blacktop hell? As if you are their employee? Go lift somebody's face.

I meant to say just now, here, have an attractive feminine-like gift box of oranges.

Washington Examiner" "New Obama initiative tramples First Amendment protections"

"The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…" But under the Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to send government contractors into the nation's newsrooms to determine whether journalists are producing articles, television reports, Internet content, and commentary that meets the public's "critical information needs." Those "needs" will be defined by the administration, and news outlets that do not comply with the government's standards could face an uncertain future. It's hard to imagine a project more at odds with the First Amendment."
The initiative, known around the agency as "the CIN Study" (pronounced "sin"), is a bit of a mystery even to insiders. "This has never been put to an FCC vote, it was just announced," says Ajit Pai, one of the FCC's five commissioners (and one of its two Republicans). "I've never had any input into the process," adds Pai, who brought the story to the public's attention in a Wall Street Journal column last week.
Rush spoke at some length yesterday abut this Obama's FCC initiative.
Here are the details if this is the first you are hearing of this. "The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is poised to place government monitors in newsrooms across the country in an absurdly --" I'm reading from, Matthew Clark. It's the best summary of the details. The Regime "is poised to place government monitors in newsrooms across the country in an absurdly draconian attempt to intimidate and control the media. Before you dismiss this assertion as utterly preposterous ... this bombshell of an accusation comes from an actual FCC Commissioner."

"Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its 'Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,' or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring. The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about 'the process by which stories are selected' and how often stations cover 'critical information needs,' along with 'perceived station bias' and 'perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.'"

Sarah Palin returns to TV

"Sarah Palin is returning to reality TV, this time with the show Amazing America on the Sportsman Channel. The show will be aimed at and feature stories of Americans “interested in hunting, fishing and shooting.” And the Sportsman Channel has released the first promo for the show.

The promo capitalizes on Palin’s notoriety with quotes about how much attention she grabs from a few news sources over the years, not to mention features quite a lot of red, white, and blue."

Mediaite (scroll down for brief video)

How successful will Palin's show be? free polls 

NYT: "Do Curlers Make Good Housekeepers?"

"Every job invites its share of inane, clichéd questions, and being an Olympic athlete, at least in this respect, is like any other job."
And so it is that Aidan Kelly, an American luger, is often asked “if I feel ridiculous wearing a full spandex suit all the time.”

The sliding sports — luge, bobsled and skeleton — are particularly prone to misapprehension, particularly among casual observers who look at them and think of glorified sledding.

“What is the stupidest question?” said the American bobsledder Dallas Robinson, the brakeman on a two-man team. “The problem is that when I say ‘stupidest question,’ I’ve probably asked all those same questions, so I’m admitting to my ignorance of the sport prior to becoming an athlete of the sport.”

“A lot of people think the brakeman brakes throughout the track to help control the speeds,” he said.

“That is not the case. That is not the case at all. No, my head’s down between my legs and I’m praying the whole time. When the track’s over with, I pull with the brakes, and that’s it.”

Curlers, of course, get the most generally clueless questions, starting with, “Are you the sweeper or the thrower?” (Answer: They do both.)

Another question: “Do you clean the ice?” said Johnny Frederiksen, vice skip of the Danish team.


Where gentlemen don't ask and ladies never tell.

O Canada. Ever been? I have been twice, just over the border at Niagara Falls. The second time, in my early forties, I was at the concession window at the camp I was at. Without thinking, I asked the lady could I use an American stamp to mail a postcard? She said no, and I replied, somewhat bemused, 'but we're so close to the border...' and immediately realized how stupid I sounded.

De Blasio diaries: Mayor de Blasio’s SUV was caught on camera speeding through Queens and blowing through two stop signs Thursday — just two days after he announced a sweeping street-safety plan.

"The mayor — who was riding shotgun on the way back to City Hall from a pothole-filling photo op — was twice clocked going 15 mph over the speed limit by a WCBS/Channel 2 news crew."
The two-car caravan also ran past two stop signs without even tapping the brakes and changed highway lanes without signaling, the CBS video shows.

De Blasio’s wild ride came after his pledge to personally abide by his “Vision Zero” proposals, which aim to entirely eliminate traffic deaths in the city by 2024 with measures that include a 25 mph speed limit.

“We’ve put a very bold plan before you, and we want the public to know we’re holding ourselves to this standard — and we intend to achieve these goals,” he said at a Tuesday press conference. (ed bold for emphasis) READ MORE
Are the mayors actions in keeping with his campaign pledge of taking "dead aim at the tale of two cities"? You tell me.

NY Post

"Hits, link, temperature, all around, pressure, wet, wind, rain."

Come on, America. Look, every other country does the word "climate" better than you.

Look at Turkey (Turkey's flag). That is the way to say, "Lordy, it's warm" + "change" = climate

Then for "climate change" US fingerspells the word "climate" + signs the word "change"

Overlap there between countries, and crazy wild overlap with "change." They're making it up.

Weather is a word that is all over the place in the US. An important word, I think, and I do it the way I see here on this site, two "W"s touching and tapping, distinct because thumb and pinkie are touching on both hands for a 4-point touch with 2 W's sticking up alternating positions, other versions in five good online dictionaries have W's all over the place, W's facing and shaking like it's cold, two W's facing each other and shaking down as if personifying weather, both full hands spread shaking straight downward as if saying, "all that in front of us." Sometimes the word is conflated with "wind" and even sometimes with "war" also with their own versions. Those word clouds blend into each other confusingly and with idiosyncratic style making context everything.

This vexes me.

In one of the best earliest dictionaries, one that I check for everything, for the word "climate" the word "weather" is substituted and fingerspelled instead. Except the woman leaves out the "th" in weather, she spells "weaer" and the viewer is expected to know she means weather. This utterly defeats my phonetic method of receiving and forces me to resort to "sort this puzzle and discover the missing pieces" mode of receiving. I made the video large, moved the slider slowly and see clearly "t" and "h" are not formed, the thumb is there as if thinking about making a "t" and two fingers available right there for an "h" but not done, and lazily omitted and then so is the "th" sound omitted, needed but missing for the word "weather" to form in my mind without a delay of reconstructing puzzling missing phonemes.

grammar chiseled in stone

Was this shown already? Man, try to get a word in edgeways around this place sometimes.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Advances In Condom Research and Development

They have been made of tortoiseshell and horn. They have been made of the finest silk and the coarsest leather. They have been made of pigs’ bladders and sheep’s intestines. They have been made of rubber (natural and synthetic). They have been made of plastic. But none of these has quite fitted the bill.

It seems that at least five research teams are working on creating a better condom.  Some of the researchers are funded by Bill Gates through his foundation.
Reinforced with graphene.
Carbon sheets.
Coated with hydrogel.
Rapid deployment.

More here.

House of Cards

"Watching Season 2 of “House of Cards.” Not to be a scold or humorless, but do Washington politicians understand how they make themselves look when they embrace the show and become part of its promotion by spouting its famous lines? Congressmen only work three days a week. Each shot must have taken two hours or so—the setup, the crew, the rehearsal, the learning the line. How do they have time for that? Why do they think it’s good for them?

“House of Cards” very famously does nothing to enhance Washington’s reputation. It reinforces the idea that the capital has no room for clean people. The earnest, the diligent, the idealistic, they have no place there. Why would powerful members of Congress align themselves with this message? Why do they become part of it? I guess they think they’re showing they’re in on the joke and hip to the culture. I guess they think they’re impressing people with their surprising groovelocity.

Or maybe they’re just stupid."


Anyone watch House of Cards? I limit my viewing to one major show at a time, and I've decided on True Detective. Regardless, I have zero interest in HoC.  It strikes me as more realistic than the horrifyingly sincere West Wing, but still, no.

Update: Coincidentally, Blogginghead's Scher and Lewis (46 seconds) touched briefly on House of Cards yesterday. I guess it is extremely watchable, but I try to limit how much TV drama I  become addicted to. 

Seis Californias

"Supporters of a plan to divide California into six sates can begin collecting signatures to get the proposal on the ballot."
Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced that the proposed ballot initiative – known as Six Californias – could move forward Tuesday.

Under the plan, from venture capitalist Tim Draper, most of the Bay Area would be considered “Silicon Valley.” Napa, Sonoma and Marin Counties would become part of “North California.”

Valid voter signatures are needed from 800,000 to put the measure on the ballot statewide.

Even if voters approve the plan, it would face an uphill battle in congress.
CBS SF via Drudge.


Lighten up and let the sun shine in

Are You Exceptional?

Zodiac (n.) late 14c., from Old French zodiaque, from Latin zodiacus "zodiac," from Greek zodiakos (kyklos) "zodiac (circle)," literally "circle of little animals," from zodiaion, diminutive of zoion "animal" (see zoo).
Are you an obvious exception to what or how your sign predicts you should be?

"You do things sometimes for a stranger. You simply do them"

Expert from a NYT Magazine article "In the Company of Truckers".
I lifted the hood and stood there. It was getting dark. Several truckers came over to help. Theories were suggested, but no one seemed to know what the trouble was. A petite and wiry man walked up, grim-faced, carrying one of those Igloo coolers for six beers that was filled with a jumble of greasy tools. The others nodded in his direction and someone said, “There’s your man.”

I’ll confess I was slightly disappointed by his junky-looking tools, but the others acted as if the messiah had arrived. He did not acknowledge me; he simply went to work as the rain fell on us. Among other things, my starter was bad. The wiry trucker was disconnecting the Impala’s custom headers to get to it when a tow-truck driver, a big, chubby man who told me to call him Snacker, got involved. Snacker had keys to a parts warehouse 60 miles east and offered to fetch the replacement starter and charge me only cost. The trucker and I went inside and drank sour coffee as we waited for him to return. He insisted on paying for my coffee. He never made eye contact. “You’re so kind to help me, and you won’t even let me buy your coffee,” I said. He replied, almost impatiently, “I have a daughter.” The thing is, he wasn’t nearly old enough to be my father.

When Snacker returned, it was around 10 p.m. The trucker proceeded to install the new starter and reconnect the exhaust, a task that — with no lift and in the rain in the middle of the night — was not enviable. When he was finished bolting the exhaust manifold, he had grease in his eyes. My car still would not start. After a lengthy diagnosis, he said the problem was a bad part in the electronic ignition, which had fried the original starter. Snacker, now part of our one-night team, agreed to go east once more to get the module. “I’ll get everything ready for when he returns,” the trucker told me. “You go sleep in my rig.” I protested. He insisted. “You have to drive to California tomorrow, and that’s a long ways. Get some sleep.” I thought it would bother him less if I complied, instead of pointing out that he had a tanker of chemicals that surely needed to be delivered someplace.

If you haven’t slept in a trucker’s cab, I can tell you that the interior is fancier than you might imagine. His special trucker alarm (almost impossible to turn off) blared at 5 a.m. The trucker himself was on the floor, below the slim bed. He was shirtless, a hand towel draped over him like a sad little blanket. As we both got up, we said nothing, made no eye contact, just like the night before. The rain had stopped, and the sun was coming up when Snacker returned with the magical part. The trucker installed it. The car rumbled to life when I turned the key. Snacker whooped. “Go, you’re set — that’s it,” the trucker said to me. I stayed there. I could not leave. “I must pay you. You worked all night on my car.” But I had given all I had besides gas money to Snacker for parts. “No,” he said. “No way.” I begged him to give me his address. I was crying. It could have been lack of sleep, but it was also a moment when I understood what it means to be overwhelmed by kindness. He refused and mentioned his daughter again, and it felt as if my insistence would disrupt the entire system by which he was operating. READ MORE 

"Predicting crashes: Forget consensus. Forget Soros $1.3 billion bet"

"How to predict a crash? The secret is programmed in your brain, your genes, your psychological personality profile. You’ll do what you always do. Look within. You’ll keep playing your own version of musical chairs, either naturally bullish or naturally bearish, timing your exit strategy to suit your risk tolerance, your judgments, your beliefs, biases, ideologies, not the data.

Yes, you will read new warnings, like “ Soros doubles a bearish bet on the S&P 500, to the tune of $1.3 billion.” You may double down too. Or do nothing. You may listen to Hulbert, Gross, Gundlach, Ellis, Shilling, Roubini and Schiff. And still do nothing. Or something. You will listen, take it all in, and do what you always do. Your way, based not so much on all the warnings, the facts, evidence, predictions. Rather you’ll make your own decisions based on some inner consensus of voices that always guides you from deep inside your brain.

But when the Mack truck suddenly shifts into high gear ... accelerating rapidly ... finally catching all of us by surprise... none of this will matter ... you’ll never hear it coming ... till too late ... few did in 1929, in spite of all the warnings ... you didn’t hear in 2000 ... nor in 2008 ... nobody will in 2014 ... the Mack truck will finally catch all by surprise, once again."

Market Watch via RCP

Any advice? Any predictions? Anyone planning on getting out, at least partially?

When Bad News is Good News

"Worsening U.S. Divorce Rate Points to Improving Economy" said an annoying headline. I was so annoyed with it I waited a day to put it up here. Trying to figure out why it's annoying, it's annoying. I mean, shouldn't I be glad, that, other than getting passed over for an Oscar, there is really no bad news anymore. Sure, there is high unemployment and Miley Cirrus is doing... whatever. We have no privacy to speak of and a president who literally does whatever he wants. But, there is a bright side to that too, I'm sure. I'm probably annoyed that I haven't thought of it, micro-aggressive rube that I am. I know you are, but what Am I?

Anyway, Am I alone on this? Check out the little personal story that is supposed to give us some kind of hope or whatever.
Hard economic times had kept Amy Derose and her husband Lawrence locked in an unhappy marriage for the sake of their engineering firm in Pompano Beach, Florida.

“The business was hanging on by a thread and we had to hang on,” said Derose, 53, who had been married 35 years and worked as the business manager. “We couldn’t afford to split. He needed me in the business and I needed him.”

With Florida’s economy and housing market recovering, “we are definitely on the upswing” and revenue is rising at their 24-employee company. That is allowing the couple to move forward with their divorce this month after years of showing up to work as if nothing were wrong personally. Now, she is looking for a job and “couldn’t be happier.” Read More
The article goes on to explain how split-ups mean new households, who will need more stuff, that will need to get built, bought and shipped. And, isn't it all wonderful to make lemonade.

Bloomberg News


Where the sidewalk ends.

Who loves bluegrass?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Masters Degree Requirements, ca 1200 AD

I'm reading this book, which you can purchase from Amazon dot com by clicking on Lem's Amazon portal.

A few chapters describe how universities were formed in Europe in the 11th century.  The first universities issued certificates or licenses for Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts.

A Bachelor of Arts certificate took 4-5 years to earn, and at the end of it the student had to "determine a question", essentially orally defend a question given him by his instructors, using all he had learned.

A Master of Arts certificate took another two years and provided a license to teach in any university in Europe.  Since the only books available were the few that had been laboriously copied by monks, books were "heard" rather than read, that is, a professor would read and explain them to students, encouraging discussion.

Four Russian Travel Tips For Visiting America

What is Russia's take on American etiquette for Russians who are planning to travel to America and spend time here?  I hope they begin by recommending the Vodka thread elsewhere on Lem's Blog, but I'm not certain the Russkis have picked up on it just yet, judging by the comments.

Anyhow.  Four things visiting Russians are reminded to remember when in America.

On giving gifts to Americans:
Business gifts in the U.S. are not acceptable. Moreover, they often cause suspicion. Americans fear that they could be construed as a bribe, and in the United States that is strictly punishable by law.
On talking to American women:
 US etiquette prohibits flirting with a woman who is not your girlfriend or wife. If you are not acquainted with a woman, whether she be in a restaurant, on the street, or on the subway, do not look at her legs, etc. Americans could easily call the police on you, even for just ogling her.
On socializing with Americans:
Showing up at a business associate’s home uninvited in the United States is not acceptable. You may be invited to a picnic –if you’ve known each other for several years and are social outside the office. As a rule, the invitation will be only on a weekend, and you don’t have to prepare for something extravagant. Everything is the same as ours, only with far less booze. Bring something sporty - ball, badminton, Americans are certainly fervent fans of these things.
On American optimism:
These people get used to smiling from the cradle onwards, so they do not pretend to be cheerful. The desire for a successful happy life is inculcated from childhood.
I know a few Russians who now live in America.  It's a safe bet none of them read this article.  Unless there was a part two that included advice for the newly arrived Russian travelers to spend all day at the same table in a coffee shop arguing Russian politics, regard quart bottles of vodka as snack food, yell at everyone about everything, pound strangers on their backs at random moments, and consider following the law a semi-amusing theory.

Except Irina, the lovely Russian woman who opened a restaurant near my home, and is responsible for 39 of the 40 pounds I am overweight.

"It's a question of budget and staffing."

"No Swiss fighter jets were scrambled Monday when an Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot hijacked his own plane and forced it to land in Geneva, because it happened outside business hours, the Swiss airforce said."
When the co-pilot on flight ET-702 from Addis Ababa to Rome locked himself in the cockpit while the pilot went to the bathroom and announced a hijacking, Italian and French fighter jets were scrambled to escort the plane through their respective airspaces.
But although the co-pilot-turned-hijacker quickly announced he wanted to land the plane in Switzerland, where he later said he aimed to seek asylum, Switzerland's fleet of F-18s and F-5 Tigers remained on the ground, Swiss airforce spokesman Laurent Savary told AFP.
This, he explained, was because the Swiss airforce is only available during office hours. These are reported to be from 8am until noon, then 1:30 to 5pm.
"Switzerland cannot intervene because its airbases are closed at night and on the weekend,"
Is that why Hillary and Obama didn't do anything during the Benghazi Embassy attack? It happened during their off hours.

Extreme cold and the grid

"With the lowest temperatures in two decades, the PJM Interconnection [a power grid section serving eastern U.S.] said that in January it experienced eight of the ten greatest electricity demands ever recorded. The grid operator serves a 13-state region in the eastern United States and is responsible for ordering up power supplies and ensuring their delivery to customers.
PJM has already hit record highs — when peak demand exceeded 140,000 megawatts on two different occasions. Just as California is asking customers to conserve water, the grid operator has requested its customers turn down thermostats. According to the RTO Insider that tracks the PJM, federal regulators are allowing it to lift its $1,000 price cap through March 31.

The cap “is preventing competitive marginal cost bids and resulting competitive prices that are needed to balance supply and demand,” says the newsletter. Such a tack, RTO Insider reports, won’t lead to market manipulation as producers have to provide detailed reports to market monitors."
Forbes via RCP

Remember the August 2003 Northeast blackout (not all areas within red zone were affected):

Thomas Sowell: Is Cruz Hurting the Cause He Stands For?

"Freshman Senator Ted Cruz says many things that need to be said and says them well. Moreover, some of these things are what many, if not most, Americans believe wholeheartedly. Yet we need to remember that the same was true of another freshman Senator, just a relatively few years ago, who parlayed his ability to say things that resonated with the voters into two terms in the White House."
Senator Ted Cruz has not yet reached the point where he can make policy, rather than just make political trouble. But there are already disquieting signs that he is looking out for Ted Cruz — even if that sets back the causes he claims to be serving.

Those causes are not being served when Senator Cruz undermines the election chances of the only political party that has any chance of undoing the disasters that Barack Obama has already inflicted on the nation — and forestalling new disasters that are visible on the horizon.

The most charitable interpretation of Ted Cruz and his supporters is that they are willing to see the Republican Party weakened in the short run, in hopes that they will be able to take it over in the long run, and set it on a different path as a more purified conservative party.

Like many political ideas, this one is not new. It represents a political strategy that was tried long ago — and failed long ago.

In the German elections of 1932, the Nazi party received 37 percent of the vote. They became part of a democratically elected coalition government, in which Hitler became chancellor. Only step by step did the Nazis dismantle democratic freedoms and turn the country into a complete dictatorship.

The political majority could have united to stop Hitler from becoming a dictator. But they did not unite. They fought each other over their differences. Some figured that they would take over after the Nazis were discredited and defeated. Read More
The American Spectator via Hot Air


Where the rubber meets the road.


Ever been to Hawaii? I was stationed there awhile, and I wonder if I'll ever return.

I was surprised to learn recently that cruise lines go to Hawaii. Of course, the majority of time is spent on board during the voyage to and fro, but I always thought, even before the advent of cruise-mania, it would be neat to go by ship.

Is this not a lovely song?

NYT Bookends: "What’s Become of the So-Called Literary Bad Boy?"

"Who was badder than the housebound, life-abstemious Emily Dickinson, kicking open the doors of perception with every poem?"
It’s the question every writer faces, every morning of his or her life: Am I Malcolm Gladwell today, or am I Arthur Rimbaud? Do I sit down with my pumpkin latte and start Googling, or do I fire a couple of shots into the ceiling and then stick my head in a bucket of absinthe? Which of these two courses will better serve my art, my agent, my agenda? Old hands are ready with the answer: If you want to stick around, kid, if you want to build your oeuvre, you’ve got to be — in the broadest sense — sober. You’ve got to keep it together. There’s no future in going off the rails. “You go in dutifully, slavishly, and you work,” commanded Norman Mailer, his head-buttings long behind him. “This injunction is wholly anti-romantic in spirit.” But his sternness communicates the strain, does it not, the effort required to suppress the other thing: the room-wrecker, the Shelley inside, the wild buddings of Dionysus.

This is where the literary bad boy lives today, at any rate — in the mind of the writer. He is a legend only, a creature of folk memory. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of traditionally chaotic real-life writers out there, right now, staying the course, crashing about and appalling their spouses; I imagine the ratio of Rimbauds to Gladwells has remained pretty much unchanged since the beginning of time. What’s changed, for us, is that the media is no longer interested. This year we also mark the centenaries of Dylan Thomas and John Berryman — two famous wild men, casualties of an era when poets seemed to have the life expectancy, roughly, of nose gunners. Thomas in particular, on his visits to the United States in the early 1950s, was a headline-making literary bad boy: feted and indulged, alcoholically ablaze, a kind of hedonistic scapegoat. And it killed him, of course.

Then came rock ‘n’ roll, youth, pop, big changes in the apparatus of fame. Now the literary bad boys had guitars: Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, John Lennon. They plugged directly into the emergent nervous system of the culture. How was Theodore Roethke going to compete with Jim Morrison? (Poetically, even — I’ll take Morrison chanting “Ride the snake/ To the lake” over Roethke’s “I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils.” But that’s a discussion for another day.) There was some overlap: Hunter S. Thompson performed the writer-as-rock-star to great effect, and Mailer himself, in middle age, held his own in what he called “a new electronic landscape of celebrity.” But the mass mind had moved on. READ MORE 

Run for something

Run to support fight against breast cancer, I bet. I heard noise outside and most of the noise was over by the time I realized, roused and got the camera. Very cold outside. It warmed up right after this. 

meerkat pop-up card

This is a six-page pop-up card I made for my younger brother and his new wife to celebrate their wedding.

4. Pinocchios


"4. He has the kind of face that doesn't say "small penis" to me. The nose.... "

True or false?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"The Coen brothers’ classic Fargo opens with the message: “This is a true story.”

As Chick said the other day... "Let's Talk About Movies."
Of course, it isn’t a true story but in 2001 it was reported that a Japanese woman had been hoodwinked by the claim and traveled to the U.S. in search of the suitcase full of money that Steve Buscemi had buried beside a snow-capped fencepost in rural Minnesota.
David and Nathan Zellner, another set of filmmaking brothers, have produced an extraordinary ode to that misguided voyage into America’s frozen heartland. In the film Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, a dissatisfied Tokyo office worker discovers a wet VHS copy of Fargo in a cave outside the city. She dries the damaged tape and tries to decipher the crackly scenes; enticed by the prospect of buried treasure, she sets off on an ill-fated odyssey in search of the loot.
“I’ve always loved conquistador stories,” said David Zellner, the director, after the film’s screening in Berlin. “This was the closest thing in real life to a mythology; going across the sea to this exotic strange land—there’s something fantastical about it. I loved the idea of someone going to the New World looking for riches.” READ MORE
Pulled from The Daily Beast (Sadly, the movie does not appear to have a trailer)