Saturday, January 31, 2015

"ISIS executes second Japanese hostage"

"Addressing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the man says "Because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin.""

Kenji Goto

"McDonald's Lets You Pay for Food With Lovin'"

"We want to thank our customers for making our day and hopefully they will make someone else’s as well – that’s what Lovin’ is all about," a spokeswoman for McDonald's said.

Between Feb. 2 and 14, customers who order items during pre-selected times will get to "Pay with Lovin'." In other words, a McDonald's employee will let you know if you've been chosen to get your order for free.

"From selfies, hugs to high fives - we have a bunch of fun ways to express your Lovin',"...

"Office puts chips under staff's skin"

"Want to gain entry to your office, get on a bus, or perhaps buy a sandwich? We're all getting used to swiping a card to do all these things. But at Epicenter, a new hi-tech office block in Sweden, they are trying a different approach - a chip under the skin."
"We already interact with technology all the time," he told me. "Today it's a bit messy - we need pin codes and passwords. Wouldn't it be easy to just touch with your hand? That's really intuitive."
Relax... this isn't ISIS
I'm just here so I wont get chipped...

scrambled eggs

MoZaic brunch reminded me of this. I put their scrambled eggs on my little plate going by the buffet, knowing better all the while what the heck, and reaffirmed again why not to do that.

I discovered this technique on my own. The key elements are a lot of butter as with Hollandaise, and sour cream or crème fraîche at the end. That acidic element is what makes scrambled eggs a sauce, it is to scrambled eggs what lemon juice is to Hollandaise.

For one serving, take a large mug and fill it with hot tap water.

Take three eggs from the refrigerator and warm them up in the water. This takes only a few minutes to get the chill off.

Bringing the eggs to quite warm, warmer than room temperature is best. It will go fastest. Eggs begin to denature at 140℉, my tap goes high as 120℉. So, that is a very good start.

The eggs are cooked in your smallest pot, not in a pan. They are whisked throughout. Add a large lump of cold butter but no salt. Season when they are done. Whisked eggs go a bit funny with salt. Unsalted butter is best. Whisk over heat reaching into the corners. As soon as the butter begins to melt, that should be almost immediately, then the eggs are beginning to cook. They will thicken together immediately and before they form curds. If they begin to form curds then the curds can be whisked out when lifted off the heat, eventually the proteins will tighten up so much all the water is squeezed out. You must decide how thick to take it.

A fast dollop of sour cream halts the cooking action making further whisking unnecessary.

I don't make scrambled eggs all that much. These pictures make it seem like I do. In a court of law they could be used as fairly cogent proof of a longstanding affection for scrambled eggs, but that is not so. Scrambled eggs are not among my favorite things.

I keep thinking of all those dead baby chicken embryos being scrambled around like I am a deranged abortionist and it takes the shine right off. 

Originally I was only going to show the first picture. It makes the point. And then I thought, eh, "Why hold back?" 
A while ago I discovered by accident a technique for creamy scrambled eggs that surpassed anything I had previously. This was quite an epiphany because I come from a egg-abusive household. My family's idea of scrambled eggs is to fry them so thoroughly that all trace of moisture is evaporated and the eggs tighten up so firmly they amount to another vulcanized substance altogether. The sequence goes like this: 
raw --> cooked --> overcooked --> impossibly overcooked --> ridiculously abused --> done.  
It is all that I have ever known. 
The trick, and there is a trick, is to continuously remove the pot from the heat as soon as anything noticeable happens. The whole point is to avoid the formation of curds. You can see this happening as you whisk so pull off the pot and continue whisking off the heat so that the egg solidifies as a sauce and not as a pile of curds and then return to the heat and continue the thickening. The sequence goes like this: 
raw --> sort of perhaps a little bit thicker --> seems like it's thickening --> yeah sure, it's getting thicker --> by golly we're on to something here --> well I'll be doggone, this is actually working --> this would make a good sauce --> hey look! I can control how thick this gets --> it's starting to stand up on its own --> I can probably stop now --> done.  
All that happens in a minute.  
I looked at a dozen YouTube videos searching for something that matched this approach. All I can say is, there are a lot of truly horrible scrambled eggs out there. I weep for my country for they know not what they do. Even the chefs are creating egg curds on excessive heat. And then at length I encountered my nemesis, Gordon Ramsay. Finally! One person out of all those housewives, husbands, cooks, and chefs, describes precisely the technique I landed on by accident -- a failed sauce.

Myself. I've been talking about this a long time.

I talked about this already here. I showed Gordon Ramsay doing scrambled eggs.  I showed the book Eggs by Michael Roux. I repeat it now because it is so critically important to your wellbeing and because the guy at MoZaic is paid to make scrambled eggs and cannot make them as well as any one of these examples. 

He just cannot.

Why? Because he didn't read my blog. Because he didn't see Gordon Ramsay's video. Because he hasn't bothered with Michael Roux's book. Because he hasn't seen these photos. Because he hasn't received an egg-epiphany. Because he does not know there is a much better scrambled egg world out there.

Enterprise crew encounter new type of Borg cube

Nikon 13mm f5.6 AIS

From Ken Rockwell's page, Nikon's 10 Best Lenses, where thirteen lenses are listed, I am pleased to see three of the four lenses I own on his list. He is omitting from his list my favorite lens, the fixed length 60mm macro lens.

Photographers say, "with a bokeh so dreamy that it's ..." and this lens has that dreamy bokeh quality. It blends the out-of-focus area more beautifully than usual, more pastel-softly, so,  good for portraits,  and with reflective glints it shows the shape of its aperture, by its flecks of reflected light you can count the edges on a glint like translucent snowflakes.

I get great closeups of food with it.

It has an incredibly shallow depth of field at close quarters, that is, a thin wall of focus. A wall of focus so thin the wall could be thin as paper. If a person's face you must decide if you want the eyes in focus or the tip of the nose, one or the other, but not both. All that out of focus, along with its glints, lends a sexy quality, even to food, like this:

The 60mm fixed focal length is my favorite lens, but when I do give up the 60mm macro and use a different lens instead then I reconnect with what makes that lens so great and why I bought it in the first place as they show me their stuff especially as I apply the techniques on them that I picked up by using the 60mm macro, chief among them; approach the food like a dog investigating scents from the table. They all are very useful each in their way.

I also do not see on Ken's list Nikon 105mm f2.0, I don't know what compelled me to read the reviews on Amazon but it was there that my interest in the lens became stoked. They are all lauding the lens for being a superior portrait lens and I don't really care so much about that. Plus the lenses I have do all that too. These people tell you how much they love this 105mm f2.0 lens.

But then Ken's list includes a ridiculous and unobtainable wide-angle lens. There is no reason for including on a list of Nikon's 10 best lenses a relic novelty lens that nobody can buy even if they could find one.
It was made back when Nikon was still great enough and crazy enough to make things just because they could. It always cost a significant fraction of what the average American family earns in a year, and used ones today sell for about the same real price as when new: about $5,000 to $20,000. 
I lusted after the 13mm ever since I was a kid in the 1970s. I saw one on display at Nikon House in Rockefeller Center in New York City in the 1970s, and saw one again in early 2008, from which I'll be penning a review one of these days. 
Nikon only made these to special order, and only made a few hundred of them across 20 years. Customers who took factory delivery in Japan were treated to a ceremony where the lens was blessed by a Shinto priest. I've only seen two in my life, both in captivity, and never seen one in the field.

Let's go look at one on Craigslist. [Nikkor 13mm]  Nope.
Let's look at Amazon. Nope.
Let's check eBay. Yes.

Price: US $33,000.00

Goodness. Deliver by hand. The dickens, you say.

Diagram from 

Yes, but what do the pictures taken with this lens look like? Because I am sensing Ken is doing a bit of bragging by mentioning an unobtainable lens. And if it were so great then why not make more of them? I expect because technology improved. 

Maybe they have. Maybe by making it they realized how little is gained by so much extravagance and learned from those mistakes and did redesign it to something better. The one that I own. The 14-24mm. Perhaps an all around better lens. The things the lens does, correct for distortion, you can use a ruler with straight lines, the 14-24 does too. Plus a lot of other things besides. 

So what do the photos taken by this lens look like? They had better be great.

From Wikipedia.

If that's not distortion, then what am I seeing? Those pillars are not straight up and down.

Want to see what the 14-24 can do in the hands of an amateur? Fine, I'll show you.

Same dealio, Amelio. Perspective.

I win. And I wasn't even trying. 

Incidentally, those salads won me $100.00. 

The thing is, I was here a few weeks previously and was served a salad so pathetic, so lame, so limp, that I felt abused. Salad-abused. I know these people know better than to vinegar-board lettuce leaves. I pushed wilted drowned lettuce leaves around my plate and felt sorry for myself. 

Then another dinner out there in short order and I said, "Hey, know what?  Let me make the salads. I'll do the whole thing. I'll do all of it. I'll bring it all out. They agreed.

When the moment came to assemble salads we put on our voices and proceeded to be silly. I recall playing salad assembly and being silly. That's all.

"Zhese is zeh mountain and zhese is zeh snow upon zeh mountain. Zhese is zeh detritus, zeh scree, zeh rubble zat collects at zeh bottom of zeh mountain, but zeh snow must NOT TOUCH!" 

It is simple iceberg wedge with homemade blu cheese dressing. The mountain scree is unusual combination of raw fruit, melon, vegetables, nuts, crunchy light sourdough croutons 

* watermelon chunks
* large mango chunks
* large cucumber squares
* large avocado chunks
* large peach chunks

all fairly the same size, large.

* grapes
* toasted pecans

So all that is mixed in a pile and none of it is dressed. So that each diner can enjoy the unadulterated pure watermelon flavor and be happy with that, then some chunk of fruit will touch blu cheese dressing by accident and allowing the blue cheese smudge on their watermelon that occurred on their plate, the diner eats it anyway and realizes how amazing the combination is with each individual thing, avocado, grapes, down the line, a bright new combination with each thing. 

"Wow," all around the table. Circulating around. It was fun.

It is a remarkable experience to behold a table seated with adults all realizing new and delightful taste-sensations that they all imagine they discovered on their own and thought of themselves. There was a dispute over who takes the remaining pint of blu cheese dressing home.

A few days later a small card appeared in the mail reading, "Thanks for the salads" with $100 gift charge card to Whole Foods, with a WF store conveniently about 6 blocks away up 11th Avenue. 

When I used the card, I told the checkout person this story. The man could have been a GQ model. Teeth so bright they blind your eyes. Pleasant as can be. He was genuinely interested in a salad so good that one of the guests there sends a gift card. He asked tons of questions about specific salad elements as he had the time smiling throughout as he related his own similar salad success story with great enthusiasm.  

Friday, January 30, 2015


The video is both grainy and blurry, but I'd never seen it before. I like it because The Who are clearly spoofing the whole lip synching trend then so prevalent. Well, at least Moon is.

"I Can't Explain" was The Who's first hit song written by Pete Townshend, and appeared 50 years ago this month. The song was inspired by The Kinks' "You Really Got Me."  Said Townshend (later):
I was driving...I heard "I Can't Explain" on the radio. I thought wow! I've got a commission...I've got a patron...this is ART!

Romney Begs Off

"After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I've decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,"

Politically Correct Rising

Taking care of my little nephews gives me a perspective I would not otherwise have in what exactly means to be an adult.

Letting kids have their way with everything has dire consequences.

I mean, we literally do not have any adults checking the Left these days. There is a consequence to that. Every once in a while, a leftie catches a glimpse of the mess they are making and he works up the courage to say something. Jonathan Chait is the latest... Excerpt would be a mistake to categorize today’s p.c. culture as only an academic phenomenon. Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.

It also makes money. Every media company knows that stories about race and gender bias draw huge audiences, making identity politics a reliable profit center in a media industry beset by insecurity. A year ago, for instance, a photographer compiled images of Fordham students displaying signs recounting “an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.” The stories ranged from uncomfortable (“No, where are you really from?”) to relatively innocuous (“ ‘Can you read this?’ He showed me a Japanese character on his phone”). BuzzFeed published part of her project, and it has since received more than 2 million views. This is not an anomaly.

In a short period of time, the p.c. movement has assumed a towering presence in the psychic space of politically active people in general and the left in particular. “All over social media, there dwell armies of unpaid but widely read commentators, ready to launch hashtag campaigns and circulate petitions in response to the slightest of identity-politics missteps,” (read the whole thing)
Conservatives might rejoice in the schadenfreude, except for the problem the unaddressed PC takeover of the culture brings about. A sort of copycat effect, in that Some conservatives may exhibit PC tendencies themselves. In a way is understandable, because once PC is the norm, you either adjust to it or you are exorcised (driven to the margins) from the public square ie labeled a racist... bigot... homophobe... yadi yada.

So, no, I'm not rooting for 'casualties'.


Remy: I need a #Hashtag

Thursday, January 29, 2015

temple mayor

And so the Mexican Chia Pet™ is born by adorning hundreds of carved skulls along a tzompantli, a rack of skulls, this rack in stone but others in real human skulls, fitting them out tufted with chia tops.

By the wrath of Huitzilopochtli, who knows his city to be colorful, lively, noisy, redolent and interesting.

See? He takes umbrage with the whole characterization.

It is more than that. This is the spot. The spot where the whole city was founded. The precise spot where an unusual omen was seen to fulfill a prophesy regarding the establishment of a city for a wandering tribe of ne'er do well marauding killers and looters. It was time to settle. An unusual thing to predict as omen but not so terribly uncommon in nature. Eagles have to stand somewhere in the desert to tear up a snake that they caught and a cactus is good a place as any. Nevertheless this is the spot where long ago an eagle stood on a cactus while eating a snake, and that is what the priests, dreadful fellows, bathing is against their religion, said that is what you'd see when you'd know it for certain.  So it is important.

But it wasn't so much a desert as a swamp.


One of several islands in a swamp.

And it was a rat, not a snake.

And it was an owl, not an eagle.

And it was a log, not a cactus.


Over time, after the Aztecs, as the city grew the swamp shrank until it disappeared completely except for its softer under layer making problems for structures built on it.

Temple mayor is where the mayor lives.

Not really. It's how you pronounce "major" en español. The main temple was a pyramid, not this rack of skulls.

The rack of skulls chiseled in stone is no idle iconography either. They represent actual skulls. If anything the four sides together, and the limitation of stone are an understatement even if the whole planter were filled with skulls.

An outfit like ISIS is at this level of human organization. Lower, actually, they haven't built a city by stacking a quarry of rocks nor managed straight avenues nor canals, but they are at the level of tzompantli.

It just occurred to me that Obama is a natural speaker of Nahuatl. He's got that "tz" combination nailed, seen also in the word Huitzilopochtli.

Whenever I read how advanced the empires of Central and South America in glowing terms, they at their height, how precise they were with their stone-fitting, how advanced their mathematics and their astronomy, compared with Europe at the time in their so-called Dark Ages, then I am forced to compare Europeans building cathedrals at that same time in competition with each other throughout Europe, one after another, to see how tall they can go and how open with colored glass that read as biblical text.

It's not that clever to pile rocks and to stargaze.

When you climb around them, say, at Chitzen Itza, a logical place due to its proximity to Cancun, on them and through them, then you see for yourself how short everybody is.

And I mean short.

You keep expecting representatives of the Lollypop Guild and the Lullaby League to demurely appear from behind rocks. And while you are walking along from the ceremonial pyramid area across the road to the astrological area and notice the rubble strewn all around along the path, the pieces of buildings and random structures, chunks of carved stones, blocks with carvings of people and faces and creatures and words, you're thinking, "That would make an excellent coffee table." And, "That would look good in an alcove." And, "I can see that with a pin light on it inside museum presentation." And, "This would look good matted and framed." And, "I can do something with this." And, "That would certainly make a unique headboard."

Chunks are laying scattered all over the place.

There isn't enough manpower to organize it all. It's not possible. Their best efforts fall well short. You see attempts at organization all over the whole grounds, chunks arranged by type in rows, all swamped by the amount of rubble laying around.

So you might as well take some.

Make something useful out it like an attractive and unique patio planter. It needn't be anything so dreadful as a skull.

Look around. There is a lot to go through. It could be something attractive. It could be a lizard or a scorpion or a snake.

Islamic Cleric Issues Fatwa Against Female Selfies

'The Pursuit of Beauty: Bounded Gaps Between Primes'

"No formula predicts the occurrence of primes—they behave as if they appear randomly. Euclid proved, in 300 B.C., that there is an infinite number of primes. If you imagine a line of all the numbers there are, with ordinary numbers in green and prime numbers in red, there are many red numbers at the beginning of the line: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, and 47 are the primes below fifty. There are twenty-five primes between one and a hundred; 168 between one and a thousand; and 78,498 between one and a million. As the primes get larger, they grow scarcer and the distances between them, the gaps, grow wider."

"Prime numbers have so many novel qualities, and are so enigmatic, that mathematicians have grown fetishistic about them. Twin primes are two apart. Cousin primes are four apart, sexy primes are six apart, and neighbor primes are adjacent at some greater remove. From “Prime Curios!,” by Chris Caldwell and G. L. Honaker, Jr., I know that an absolute prime is prime regardless of how its digits are arranged: 199; 919; 991. A beastly prime has 666 in the center. The number 700666007 is a beastly palindromic prime, since it reads the same forward and backward. A circular prime is prime through all its cycles or formulations: 1193, 1931, 9311, 3119. There are Cuban primes, Cullen primes, and curved-digit primes, which have only curved numerals—0, 6, 8, and 9. A prime from which you can remove numbers and still have a prime is a deletable prime, such as 1987. An emirp is prime even when you reverse it: 389, 983. Gigantic primes have more than ten thousand digits, and holey primes have only digits with holes (0, 4, 6, 8, and 9). There are Mersenne primes; minimal primes; naughty primes, which are made mostly from zeros (naughts); ordinary primes; Pierpont primes; plateau primes, which have the same interior numbers and smaller numbers on the ends, such as 1777771; snowball primes, which are prime even if you haven’t finished writing all the digits, like 73939133; Titanic primes; Wagstaff primes; Wall-Sun-Sun primes; Wolstenholme primes; Woodall primes; and Yarborough primes, which have neither a 0 nor a 1."

California condors

Bill and Alice took great pride in their work with endangered species but there are still many problems to be sorted. It never ends. Sometimes it seems to them that their solutions to problems just create more problems and it always is one challenge after another.

Whispering sweet nothings in her ear. Calling each other condor-endearments.

Well it's a happy ending then innit. They conjured forth all that they knew about child rearing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Will the Real Taliban Please Stand Up

White House Claims Taliban Is Not A Terrorist Group
Would you trust this White House to keep Iran from acquiring Nuclear Weapons capabilities?
I mean, if they don't consider the Taliban terrorists... who do they consider terrorist?
I believe Israel should be interested in knowing the answer to that.

Ralph Peters: Obama Admin "Pressuring The Army To Whitewash" Bergdahl Fiasco

"If you let Bergdahl walk -- it's not about this pathetic little creep, Bergdahl, it's about the principle -- if you let him walk with full pay and benefits and a promotion despite overwhelming evidence that he deserted his post in wartime, you make it virtually impossible to prosecute future deserters."


Around these parts, a block from here, a place organizes a lot of raves that attract teens. They must wait outside until the magical moment something is announced, like location or some such. The youth music scene is cultivated right here. Nearby clubs organize with Westword to host bands. The summer time is quite active. The sidewalks are not kept up consistently block for block, a lot of that is left to proprietors I suppose in conjunction with city in relation to taxes and to fees, but you can always tell when you are approaching such a place that sells tickets where teenagers congregate in any numbers, the sidewalk suddenly becomes covered with gum, and I mean covered but only for a portion of the block. Like a cushioning of sorts.

Poor dears cannot keep the stuff in their mouths nor dispose of it properly. Or maybe they think that is proper gum disposal, spit it out on the sidewalk, done, just like that. Out of sight, out of mind. It's organic. It dissolves magically by rain and the elements.

I do know spearmint gum is an important part of any minty fresh breath superpower regimen. 



Display of feathers and prancing. Stilted homoerotic tango.

But honestly, what's with Sherlock's fancy footwork down here? What is that? What does that do? Flit like a butterfly display of agility? Fists rotating to keep them guessing when one will come flying out of the windmill. The form is funny.

I love this.

Robert Downy Jr.'s version shows the odd Victorian form initially, then changes, as fight scenes do nowadays long after one or the other would already be well unconscious. After you're sucker punched from behind like that, you're out, or else you're thinking, "What just happened, how'd I get here?" Not plan a series of moves and countermoves in sequence, then perform it. We get to see it twice.  Did he say, "... weaken right jaw, now fracture, break cracked ribs, traumatize solar-plexus, defecate entirely?" "Defeat jaw entirely?"  Because if he does say, "defecate entirely" in the planning then he leaves off "pooped pants" from his summary.

Still, a very odd way of punching. In the first Sherlock example he says only ruffians fight that way, backhanded, and he is a gentleman so delivers straightforward punch. A fist does make a terrible weapon, with all those little bones in there. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


That's the original 1964 version which languished until a producer added (without Simon's or Garfunkel's knowledge)* faux "live applause," electric guitar and bass, and drums. But those changes got the public's attention and the immortal song climbed the charts 50 years ago.

The original version above has a sort of underlying purity; it's not an "unplugged" version of "Sound of Silence." The popular version was a studio creation -- much the same way that The Rolling Stones put together "It's Only Rock And Roll (But I Like It)." link  
*Paul Simon was horrified when he first heard the remixed version after its release. The problem was that the original recording's tempo was uneven, and the studio musicians had to impose one. There's a point in the remixed song -- right about at the line "and the people bowed and prayed" where the drummer sort of stutters and resets the tempo. I find this whole story ironic in view of Columbia Records using the same studio musicians for the overdub that they used for Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" (sans Al Kooper). It was Kooper who famously couldn't keep the tempo in that song, forever giving it that characteristic "leading from behind" organ signature. 

Ben Carson on Gay Marriage: “I don’t think it’s over”

If you dodge the question, then it’s the kiss of death,” said social conservative Sam Clovis, who finished second behind Joni Ernst in last year’s Iowa GOP Senate primary. “Candidates have got to be declarative about where they stand. Period.”
“If you’re not vocally pro-life and pro-traditional marriage, I don’t think you can win here because you’re going to get hammered,” added Clovis. “Maybe you could win in New Hampshire, but it’s a different culture.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa caucuses, said that judges upholding a right to gay marriage does not make it morally acceptable for states to give out marriage licenses.

“There’s no such thing in the Constitution as judicial supremacy where the courts make a ruling and it becomes quote ‘the law of the land,’” he said before a speech to conservatives here Saturday, in remarks that drew criticism. “A great example of this is the 1857 Dred Scott decision, in which the Supreme Court in one of its most horrendous decisions … said that people who are black aren’t fully human. Now Abraham Lincoln said he wasn’t going to fully abide by that. Nobody argues that Abraham Lincoln should have abided by the Dred Scott decision. We recognize that he had the courage to realize that he didn’t have to enforce something that was morally wrong.”


1. If you can be yourself on stage nobody else can be you and you have the law of supply and demand covered.

2. The act is something you fall back on if you can’t think of anything else to say.

3. Only do what you think is funny, never just what you think they will like, even though it’s not that funny to you.

4. Never ask them is this funny – you tell them this is funny.

5. You are not married to any of this shit – if something happens, taking you off on a tangent, NEVER go back and finish a bit, just move on.

6. NEVER ask the audience “How You Doing?” People who do that can’t think of an opening line. They came to see you to tell them how they’re doing, asking that stupid question up front just digs a hole. This is The Most Common Mistake made by performers. I want to leave as soon as they say that.

7. Write what entertains you. If you can’t be funny be interesting. You haven’t lost the crowd. Have something to say and then do it in a funny way.

8. I close my eyes and walk out there and that’s where I start, Honest.

9. Listen to what you are saying, ask yourself, “Why am I saying it and is it Necessary?” (This will filter all your material and cut the unnecessary words, economy of words)

10. Play to the top of the intelligence of the room. There aren’t any bad crowds, just wrong choices.

11. Remember this is the hardest thing there is to do. If you can do this you can do anything.

12. I love my cracker roots. Get to know your family, be friends with them.

"I only have 24 hours left to live"

A new message posted Tuesday to websites used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) included an audio statement, seemingly read by Japanese captive Kenji Goto, in which he relays the latest purported demands to secure his release.

Monday, January 26, 2015


I saw American Sniper yesterday with my son. The other half of my family expressed no interest in seeing it nor even hearing what we thought of it. That probably represents America in a way.

My first reaction afterwards was to call my mother to get some PTSD family stories straight. Her brother-in-law (my uncle) had served in WW II and had survived fierce hand-to-hand combat at Guadalcanal, and had had problems. I was way too young to remember anything about that or the aftermath and she's my only living link back now. I will let those stories be, as horrific as they were, out of respect for the dead and for the living as they still affect the next generation(s). I also wanted to know more about an older cousin who had fought on helicopter gunships in Vietnam. He was older than me by 10 years and so I never knew him well as a kid like I did other cousins. I do remember his going over there -- conscripted. And I thought about him during scenes of "American Sniper." He returned home to a small Wisconsin town --the same one where my parents grew up and which I knew as a kid. I remember hearing about how dynamite explosions at a local stone quarry used to give him the jitters. My mother told me some detail about how his later marriage dissolved that I had never heard. I will not repeat those stories either, out of respect for the living but suffice it to say it could not have been his fault.

"American Sniper" isn't supposed to be about those wars but it is somehow. It's supposed to be about the Iraq War.  I have no family who served there, but only a dearly loved neighbor who did two tours in Iraq as a Marine. I wrote about him here. I thought about him too.

I felt a jumble of other emotions: guilt, anger, pride.  The anger came from critics dissing this movie as "pro-war." I mean, WTF?  Another piece of residual anger comes from unresolved issues dating back to Vietnam and its aftermath. When I was 19, I saw members of a mayoral administration openly cheer the "anti-war" killers of an innocent man -- one of whom is still at large. I can never "unremember" that.  That story doesn't belong here and I already wrote about it here. I see the same attitude today. I cannot square it with reality. The guilt part is more complex and I'm not quite willing or able to confront that yet, let alone talk about it.  The pride part come from the sense that somebody can still make movies like "American Sniper."  See it -- I think it's supposed to disturb you.

"How close a huge asteroid just came to Earth"

"NASA scientists are saying that an asteroid that appears to be about a third of a mile in size will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon on Monday."
How close is that? 

Said Yeomans: "While it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it's a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more."

In other words, specifically the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's: "Don't panic."

Candide Thovex

You might not know who Candide Thovex is now, but trust me, by the time you finish this article, you will probably be more than a little in awe of him. (continue reading) or just watch this insane video.

"California threatens to seize land..."

[F]rom billionaire if he doesn’t start letting surfers use his beach.

“This is the route he’s chosen, and it’s unfortunate because certainly this is a property that hopefully can be available for those who want to come and enjoy it,” said Betty Yee, California’s controller and a commission member who would help make the eminent-domain decision. “My hope is that it can get resolved through negotiations.”

“I live here, and I want to be able to bring my kids here,” said Krishneil Maharaj, a 35-year-old information technology project manager who recalled scattering his grandmother’s ashes at a family ceremony at the beach a decade ago. “I don’t think one man should be able to cut off access to this beautiful spot.”