Thursday, May 31, 2007


Shhhhhh! Be vewy, vewy quiet!

The last post on you-know-what just slid off the bottom of the page.

Let's try not to wake up the wabbit.


Real danger

An interesting Op-ed piece in the Eureka Reporter by one Pete Mateu criticizing conspiracy theories. I don't disagree with his larger point, but I do take issue with a few particulars.

First, he argues that conspiracy theories are "comforting" so as to avoid thinking about what he terms "real danger." I'm not sure I'd take that line of argument. There's nothing "comforting" about the perception that we are living in a fascist police state with the veneer of democracy in which there is a vast power structure used to kill off thousands of innocents in order to obtain a political advantage. If anything, I'd say that conspiracy theorists prefer to wallow in fear. Some of them find it exhilarating.

And actually I'd love to believe that the attacks could have been carried out by "just a dozen, hate-filled religious fanatics," but I think it's pretty clear that they required a network of many more people and a certain level of organization. While it may not have been part of a grand conspiracy by the powers that be, it wasn't a random event either. I'd feel much more comfortable if it was.

I'm also not certain as to his linking conspiracy theories to utopianism. I'd say they are much more fixated on dystopianism.

Mr. Mateu then reveals some partisanship:
And why has no one leaked information to The New York Times? And, most of all, why have none of his political enemies (Democratic legislators, the ACLU, CNN News, George Soros, Al Gore, Amy Goodman [National Public Radio “Hypocrisy Now”], Nancy Pelosi or Al Franken) charged Bush with high crimes and begun impeachment?
CNN News in league with the ACLU? Who knew?

And actually, some of the people on the list have accused the president of crimes and have called for impeachment - just not for faking a terrorist attack.

Lastly, Democracy Now is affiliated with Pacifica, not NPR.

Meanwhile, lest Mr. Mateu truly believes the right wing is immune to conspiracy theories, the diagram includes a reference to Soros, among others. I think he is thought of far more often by right wingers than the left he is supposedly puppet-stringing. The diagram even links gay marriage and "political correctness" to the secret one-world government.

Diagram source. Click on the diagram to enlarge and again to clarify.


Mckee in trial

As I've said before, I can't discuss the McKee case because I represent other owners of the Tooby Ranch property and I'll be up to my ears in it if the current trial doesn't resolve all of the issues. But Sohum folk should be watching the case closely. Having lost on the Williamson Act claim the county is trying to get at McKee with fines for unpermitted developments. Potentially, this could affect other subdivisions if the county ever gets a bug up its ass about code enforcement in the rural areas.

Meanwhile, the the argument is over whether any of the improvements can be tied to McKee. From the Eureka Reporter:
Wrapping up Glen’s testimony, Cohen put a total number to the alleged improvements and building construction since Buck Mountain Ranch purchased the property in 2000, which included 44 new road segments, 31 reconstructed roads, 60 new structures, 27 culverts, six ponds, three rock pits and 15 graded areas.

But during cross-examination, McKee attorney David Blackwell established quickly that Glen had no idea who had actually done the work on the parcels that were sold off by McKee.

Blackwell systematically returned to each previously submitted photo and map exhibit to ask Glen who had constructed each of the various houses, sheds, greenhouses and roads Glen painstakingly identified in aerial and on-the-ground photos during previous days.

“I don’t know,” Glen repeated with each question. “I was never asked to identify who developed it.”

McKee attorney Robert Moore told Judge W. Bruce Watson his fear was that none of the county’s five witnesses scheduled to testify could link any of the developments to McKee, with the exception of the few he already admitted to in previous testimony.

“If they have anyone who can testify to link McKee to the improvements,” Moore said, “let them do it.”

Cohen objected to the characterization and told Watson that Moore was only trying to conclude the entire case based on one witness.
I can tell you that it's going to get even more complicated.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Yet another Humboldt blog

Not sure how I've managed to miss this one, but I tracked it through a posting in a thread below. HumCity Blog appears to be dedicated to musical entertainment locally. Looks like it's been around for awhile.

And it has part of the line-up for this weekend, which I was unable to post in the Summer Arts Thread below because it's on the Mateel site in flash form. I'm borrowing the list.

Melvin Seals and JGB - :
Peter Rowan and Crucial Reggae - :
Jr. Toots - :
Crown City Rockers - :
David Jacobs-Strain Band -
Copperwoman - :
SambaDa - :
Lansdale Station - :
Delta Nove - :
Tempest - :
Alice DiMicele - :
Scott Huckabay - :
Druid Sisters Tea Party -
End of June - :
Ishi Dube - :
NightHawk - :
Black Sand -
The Non Prophets - :
Nucleus - :
Sub Sab - :
Yer Dog - :
Jefferson Parsons -
Top Dead Center -

Circus Nature - :
Freelove Circus - :
Cirkus Pandemonium - :
plus the first Great Benbow Puppet Battle

Mark Henson Summer of Love Tour - :

This is all the info I have on this event. There is going to be a press release this week.


All but three Democratic Party candidates are boycotting Fox News

Dodd and Richardson just announced that they won't be attending. That leaves Biden, Kucinich, and Gravel - ironically the latter two being the farthest to the left of all the declared candidates. Even more ironic, the boycott puts the candidates at odds with the Congressional Black Caucus.

I'm not a fan of Fox News, but just from those two readings the boycott seems kind of silly.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Cindy Sheehan throws in the towel

The Yahoo version.
"I've been wondering why I'm killing myself and wondering why the Democrats caved in to

I've been wondering why I'm killing myself and wondering why the Democrats caved in to George Bush," Sheehan told The Associated Press while driving from her property in Crawford to the airport, where she planned to return to her native California." Sheehan told The Associated Press while driving from her property in Crawford to the airport, where she planned to return to her native California.

"I'm going home for awhile to try and be normal," she said.

Sheehan isn't the most sophisticated of speakers, often letting loose words which her opponents jumped all over to call her everything from a cold-hearted ingrate to an anti-semite. But she was into her cause heart and soul, and spoke from there as well. The article also contains comments which suggest that she may have been burned out by the megalomania rampant within the peace movement as well.

The Democrats failed in their Sartrerian existential moment. Yeah, maybe they'll put up a fight in September. And countless additional soldiers and Iraqis will die while we're waiting.

Richard M. posted on the story this morning.

Her son would have been 28 today.


My son lost his two front teeth

What's the going tooth fairy rate these days? When I was a kid we got a quarter.


Controversial show on KMUD tonight

I received a telephone call from a KMUD listener who is upset about tonight's programming. Michael Sherer is hosting controversial Rabbi Dovid Weiss at 7:00 tonight. This is the usual slot given to the Environment Show, but I guess there's different programming for the 5th Tuesday of the month.

Rabbi Weiss is a Hassidic Rabbi who aggressively pursues the Neturei Karta line that the secular re-creation of Israel violates God's law and that Jews should have been content to await the arrival of the Messiah for the formation of the new Kingdom of Israel. He has attended anti-Israel demonstrations regularly, prompting my previous notes about him. The ADL (itself a bit volatile in my opinion) has also chimed in, though I don't believe Weiss has ever used the phrase "annihilation" to describe his wishes for Israel.

This argument dates back to the founding of Israel when the Haredic opposition was at its most intense. It is a subject of the Chaim Potok novel The Chosen (made into an excellent movie) in which Zionists and Hassidim end up in a physical brawl when one of the Hassidim taunts his opponent with the lines:
"You are worse than Hitler. While Hitler would destroy the Jewish body, you would destroy the Jewish soul."
Most of the Haredic community has made an uneasy peace with its Zionist brethryn, and some are even Zionists, but Neturei Karta takes a militant view of the subject.

Weiss also earned some notoriety when he attended the recent Holocaust denial conference in Tehran. He doesn't deny the Holocaust itself, but blames it on Zionists for "boycotting Germany" and thwarting rescue attempts in Europe. In his speech at the conference he had the following to say:
I am the living remnant of the people who died in the holocaust and I am here, I believe sent by God, to humbly say, simply to speak to the people here and say, “you should know that the Jewish people died, and do not try to say that it did not happen. They did die.” There are people throughout the Jewish communities, still alive in their seventies and eighties and every one of them will tell you their stories. It is something which you can not refute, but that being said, it doesn’t mean that the holocaust is a tool to use to oppress other people. And that is the most new unfortunate piece of the holocaust, why the holocaust is such a bad word, because the holocaust is being used today to oppress another people. But mind you, it is not being used by the Jewish nation. The holocaust is being manipulated and abused by a movement that refers to themselves as the Jewish nation, that usurped the name of the Jewish nation.
Hopefully it's a call-in format. He has the right to speak, the ADL protestations notwithstanding. But you have the right to respond.

The photo is from Wikipedia.

Monday, May 28, 2007


A new Sohum blog

Ecoshift, who has made one of the more productive posts in the thread below, has a blog to which he has been quietly posting. The blog is called The Visible Hand, a play on Adam Smith.

The blog contains detailed posts, sometimes of an esoteric nature, which focus on the economy and ecology particularly as the two interconnect. The posts contain links, sometimes requiring an excessive level of geekdom to digest, but all of which are quite comprehensive and useful to discussions such as whether the housing crisis can be addressed locally, statewide, or nationally.

Lots of stuff on carbon exchange, protectionism, international economics and politics, emissions regulations, and more. The blog slogan:
Irony is allowed, gentle humor much appreciated. Ideological inflexibility is discouraged.
Some interesting reads, less conducive to some of the mindless posts which grace some of the easier topics of my blog and others. As he points out, Salzman writes a piece about the housing crisis and appropriate responses, and the rest of us, myself included, fall into sectarian squabbling as the larger issue gets lost. The Visible Hand is a "higher thinking" experiment, and I'll be watching the discussions closely to see how they play out. I expect a few of the usual cro-mag comments.

Strongly recommended.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Time for a Salzman come-back?

Richard Salzman has an My Word piece in the TS. He rails against Rob Arkley, HELP, and an operative from Sacramento hawking the HELP suit and development in general as an answer to rising costs of housing (after all, it's worked so well in the Bay Area). He's already drawn a dozen comments attached to the online version of the column. He's earned a contentious thread over at Fred's.

He's got a new business website. And he has an e-mail list with an archives webpage for his writing.

For those of you new to the area, Richard was a local player who worked electoral miracles until he fell from grace. I don't believe that his transgressions were harmless, but I also believe in second chances. And whatever you think of him, he adds color to local politics.

We have a new election cycle brewing. Contrary to the assertions of one or two of the posts at Fred's, Richard was deeply involved in the last election. I know it because I was there on election day. As we know however, it didn't go very well. I attribute the results to several factors, not the least of which is his rift with Local Solutions. If progressives are going to regain the momentum they've built over the three elections prior, the two groups are going to have to work together, even if at arm's length. They start fighting turf wars, and we have a November, 06 repeat. Every time.

Seat belts everyone!


Mateel Summer Arts Festival next weekend

From the Mateel site:

Saturday, June 2nd and Sunday, June 3rd

MCC presents the 31st annual Summer Arts & Music Festival at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area

10am to 11pm Sat./ 10am to 10pm Sun.

2007 Line-Up for Summer Arts & Music Festival (Visit the site for Adobe Flash graphic - I can't post it here - EVK)

Also: More than 150 handmade craft and food booths, all-media fine arts showcase, an outrageous kid zone, roving entertainment, parades, and so much more.

Admission is sliding scale at the gate only.
(All proceeds support keeping the Mateel hall open and our programs alive.)

$12 and up per day. $20 and up for the weekend pass.

For more info or to volunteer call 923-3368.

Photos taken from the Mateel site.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


A year

As I posted earlier, I've been at this for a year now. It wasn't much before then that I'd even visited a blog. When I started I thought I'd be tossing out some occasional writings for comments from friends to hone my writing skill and maybe entertain a select group. I became drawn into local blogosphere debates over the Gallegos/Measure T election. I started to draw comments from people who followed me over here from Buhne and Fred's Blog and soon learned the downside of the medium, although I was to learn more profound lessons in the months to follow. But at the same time, I became fascinated with the possibilities for a rural community like Sohum.

There are many approaches to blogs. Some serve simply as a personal diary or log. Others are aimed at the constant and instantaneous supply of information on some topic or another. Others emphasize the value as a quasi-universal public access and the ultra democracy in expression, particularly where anonymity is available. And like other media, I've struggled with balancing various considerations. Public service value vs. entertainment value. Democratic access vs. personal accountability. Freedom of expression vs. basic decency.

My allowance for anonymous posts has become something of a controversy in local disputes where some have found themselves on the receiving end of angry and sometimes vicious personal attacks from anonymous individuals. I find myself torn because I don't want the blog to be a source of stress and anxiety for people. It's supposed to be fun. But I also want this blog to serve as a resource so that the community can know what is out there. I could shut the blog down, or disallow comments, but that would only suppress the expression, not the underlying views and feelings which will be spread on the radio talk shows, in the papers, and on the streets. Here the attacked have the opportunity for immediate response and clarification. As with any media, the content here is a reflection, not a generator of bad feelings. I have begun, with great reluctance, to monitor the comments and eliminate those which may unfairly damage someone's reputation, or cause great pain. The angry veiled threats from lawyers, the telephone calls to my office and home (and even a couple of personal visits), the comments in other media about the blog - all of these factors led me to crack down on expression to some extent. I'm still very uneasy about it. I am legally immune to liability for those who post here, but I believe that immunity places the moral burden on me to administer this medium with responsibility. I'm not always certain on the proper balance. Basically, I want some kind of foundation for posts which may damage someone, and I want posts which contain insults to have some redeeming value in content, or at least wit.

To some, the sudden democratization of media is an unfortunate development. They much preferred the time when information and expression could be controlled and contained. I'm not entirely unsympathetic, particularly after the latest round of flaming from Buhne Tribune refugees needling a local character who is unpopular for a number of reasons. Anonymity magnifies viciousness in some people. And all I can do about it other than block all anonymous comments (which would so change the character of the discussion here that even I would lose interest) is try to monitor and delete egregious comments. But I'm going to miss some. I don't have the time to read everything, and those reggae threads get pretty long.

As always, I'm open to input. As I've said before, blogging almost makes me believe in original sin. Almost, but not quite. I actually have faith in the power of reason and enlightenment, and I believe the species will survive the 70 million and growing number of blogs. I believe in the principle of sticks and stones, and I believe that harmful expression is best fought with productive expression. If I'm wrong, it doesn't really matter because either we will eventually slide into a police state to manage human nature, or we will slide into chaos where life is "nasty, brutish, and short."


People have asked me where I find the time to blog. They see that I'm on the computer at all hours (it's the nature of my line of work) and they wonder how I'm performing as an attorney, raising kids, and doing anything else. The truth is, it really doesn't take much time to blog. On a busy day, I spend maybe a total of 45 minutes here. Some posts take a bit of effort, and one area of my life which has suffered is my writing submissions. I've submitted writings in the past for publication, and I've done very little of that since in effect I have my own publication and I prefer to write according to my own criteria. But most posts take me maybe 5 minutes to think about, and another 5 to type and set up hyperlinks. I make an average of 2 or 3 posts a day, and maybe 5 to 10 comments in response to others who post. You see my postings at all hours, but in most cases I'm simply taking a break from work or something else.

The point of my clarification is that I'd like to see more Sohum folk blogging. People come here to read posts, and to express themselves, but the blog is directed by my interests, passions, and priorities. I'd like to see others step up. There are many different levels of involvement. Ed Denson has a blog in which he makes 2 or 3 posts a week, and he's used a blog format which requires registration to comment. It's a very different project from mine, but it is valuable in its own way. Women on Wednesday have their own blog, but they post something maybe only once every few months. Humboldt Homestead provides mostly photographs of the local beauty. So far, that's it. And with the pool of creativity we have, I hope more people step up.

Now, for your edification, here are my top ten posts of the past year.

1. 50 liberal country songs - this one put my blog on the map, and I received about 3000 "visits" in one day. I don't think I've duplicated it even with Reggae posts. I'm still getting hits for it.

2. Islam, Is it a Message of Peace? - This post was actually a thoughtful and controversial article submitted by Andy Stunich. It supplemented a public debate between Andy and Dr. Aziz, both of whom guest-hosted my radio show. I continue to get hits for this one, sometimes from the Middle East.

3. Why I can't vote for Measure T - I was expecting to be slammed for my apparent betrayal of the local progressive movement, but the responses were actually quite reasonable. This was also published in the Arcata Eye.

4. Reflections on the Marijuana Industry - I also expected some harsh responses, but the input online as well as off was mostly very positive.

5. Sohum and Ecological Roots - an historical view of Sohum submitted by an "old school" community member.

6. Who says the winners write the history? - About the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and my grandmother, and really my mixed feelings about old left politics.

7. Election Predictions - Okay, it wasn't a brilliant post in terms of writing, but I've never called an election as well as last fall's.

8. Doing Monterey with the kids - Enjoyed writing this one, and the discussion. I'm planning a follow-up to a couple of the themes.

9. Dining out with kids in Humboldt County - heavy on the public service aspect of the blog, and a fun break from politics. This one drew a moderate number of responses online, but a very large number offline.

10. Dissent in Context - This was an early post in which I explored what I consider to be the strongest case for the invasion of Iraq. I referenced a column by Dissent writer Mitchel Cohen, who was notified about my post within hours and sent me an e-mail (the first of several experiences in which famous authors became aware of posts I made about them). The post presents questions which I believe the anti-war left should reflect on, over and over again, constantly re-evaluating its positions. It doesn't happen enough.

These posts were the ones which stuck out to me when I reviewed the archives. Perhaps some of you have other suggestions. I may add to the list as I think about it. I will probably add a Reggae post, but I can't make up my mind which was "the best." And I don't want this thread to be dominated by an argument about Reggae anyway, so perhaps my selection is a artificially influenced.

In any case, thanks to most of you for making this experience enjoyable.


Vegetarian dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden

Only in America.

I don't like to make fun of deeply-held beliefs, but this is really scary! Do they explain why no dinosaurs made it onto the Ark?

From the article:
An Australian who found "Young Earth" creationism while teaching science to school children in Brisbane, Ham, 55, came to the United States in 1987 to spread the word of Biblical truth.

His fundamentalist evangelical ministry -- Answers in Genesis -- publishes dozens of books, DVDs and curriculums every year teaching Christians how to defend their faith by refuting evolution.

These glossy publications offer what they call scientific proof that the Earth is just 6,000 years old; the Grand Canyon was formed when a natural dam burst under the weight of Noah's floodwaters 4,300 years ago; and that all animals -- including the Tyrannosaurus rex -- were vegetarian before the fall of Adam and Eve brought sin into the world.

Dinosaur bones were fossilized very quickly you see, because the flood waters were so strong and all. You know how Superman crushes coal in his fist and turns it into diamonds? Yeah, it's kind of like that.


The photo is from the Yahoo article linked above. Thanks to Cristina Bauss for the link to the article.


Some early Kinetic Sculpture Race photos

Plenty more at the KHUM blog.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Spring colors in Sohum

Humboldt Homestead has some gorgeous photos up.

I've been hearing about a national bee shortage, but there seem to be plenty in my neighborhood.

And weren't bees introduced to North America from Europe anyway?


The blog's first anniversary

One year ago today I started this thing. Seems like it's been longer. I'll post some more thoughts later on. Maybe I'll highlight my favorite posts from over the year.

It all began with this post. Brilliant piece of writing if I do say so myself.


See? I didn't blog about it.

And you thought I couldn't keep a secret!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


SF police ignoring Tom Ammiano's marijuana priority reduction ordinance

Reminsicent of the months, even years, following the passage of medical marijuana where the various police agencies resisted it tooth an nail to the point where they were refusing to comply with judge's orders. Ammiano authored an ordinance which makes marijuana enforcement in SF lower than jay-walking. However, the SFPD isn't paying much attention to the ordinance.

Story at the SF Bay Guardian.

Photo source: MSNBC


More dead horse smacks

The Dimmick Ranch has made yet another press release responding to some of the never-ending criticisms and allegations. Bob D. has the details.


Iraq war voter pledge in circulation

Received this by e-mail yesterday, as some Democrats are working on a wimp-out war spending bill.
I just sent a personal message to all my representatives in Congress, I hope you will join me!

Iraq Vote Pledge

I pledge to vote against every Senator and Representative who approves funding to continue the disastrous Iraq War. We have already given far too much of our blood and treasure - and killed far too many Iraqis - for a war based on lies. We are now occupying a hostile nation divided by civil war for the benefit of military contractors and Big Oil. The only way to support our troops is to bring them home NOW, and no funds should be used for any other purpose. If Congress fails to bring our troops home, I will do everything I can - and urge everyone I know - to defeat pro-war Senators and Representatives, both in my party's primary elections and in the November general election.

Thank you
I'm still waiting for someone to post information about protests this weekend. Has the anti-war movement fallen asleep at the wheel? This would be just about the right time to exert pressure.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Guns and liberals

I've already discussed why I part with many of my liberal compatriots in my views of the Second Amendment. It was actually the topic of the very first episode of All Things Reconsidered. I have to say, all the local leftists shared my view of the amendment, the only contention coming from a conservative who didn't believe I was being candid about my real views.

My views are partly influenced by liberal law Saul Levinson's now famous article. I'm not at all sanguine about guns in particular, but the civil libertarians who have accepted the state power view of the Second Amendment undermine the integrity of the Bill of Rights as a whole.

Levinson isn't alone.
Laurence H. Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, said he had come to believe that the Second Amendment protected an individual right.

"My conclusion came as something of a surprise to me, and an unwelcome surprise," Professor Tribe said. "I have always supported as a matter of policy very comprehensive gun control."


The earlier consensus, the law professors said in interviews, reflected received wisdom and political preferences rather than a serious consideration of the amendment's text, history and place in the structure of the Constitution. "The standard liberal position," Professor Levinson said, "is that the Second Amendment is basically just read out of the Constitution."

The Second Amendment says, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." (Some transcriptions of the amendment omit the last comma.)

If only as a matter of consistency, Professor Levinson continued, liberals who favor expansive interpretations of other amendments in the Bill of Rights, like those protecting free speech and the rights of criminal defendants, should also embrace a broad reading of the Second Amendment. And just as the First Amendment's protection of the right to free speech is not absolute, the professors say, the Second Amendment's protection of the right to keep and bear arms may be limited by the government, though only for good reason.

The individual rights view is far from universally accepted. "The overwhelming weight of scholarly opinion supports the near-unanimous view of the federal courts that the constitutional right to be armed is linked to an organized militia," said Dennis A. Henigan, director of the legal action project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "The exceptions attract attention precisely because they are so rare and unexpected."

Scholars who agree with gun opponents and support the collective rights view say the professors on the other side may have been motivated more by a desire to be provocative than by simple intellectual honesty.

"Contrarian positions get play," Carl T. Bogus, a law professor at Roger Williams University, wrote in a 2000 study of Second Amendment scholarship. "Liberal professors supporting gun control draw yawns."

A point well taken, except that Tribe doesn't really need more attention. The consensus is that had somebody more liberal than Clinton been elected in the 90s, he would be on the Supreme Court. When he argued in Gore v. Bush in 2000, the justices all gave him deference that was unmistakable even when they argued with him. He doesn't need to pull a stunt to get listened to.

And it's a basic argument. From a legal perspective, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" cannot be presumed to mean simply: the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Every word in a law is presumed to have meaning and purpose, and the first part should be presumed to have qualified the right in some way. That's reasonable, and perhaps it's reasonable to interpret the amendment to bar sawed-off shotguns and switchblades from protection because there is no reasonable purpose these weapons serve in a militia. But we don't have a clue as to how the drafters intended to qualify or limit the right, and as with the other amendments, ambiguities should default towards individual rights rather than state power. It's not a melodramatic argument. It's a liberal argument.

I don't own guns. But for the Second Amendment I would support outright bans on handguns and assault rifles. I'm not certain that these bans should withstand the Second Amendment.

Photo source.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


More to do this weekend

Ernie posted this in the thread below:
I'm not certain, maybe someone will let us know, but I think that the Wailaki Tribe is having a fundraiser at Beginnings on May 26, and they will be serving food. The Redway fire department is having their 36 Annual Barbecue on May the 26. Beef and Pork. So It sounds like no one should have to cook this weekend.My suggestion would be have lunch with the Wailakis, then go to the KMUD party, then go to dinner at the Redway Fire Department, then go dance it all off to the Iron Maidens. But what are we going to do Sunday and Monday?
The fire department barbecue usually has a fire engine for the kids to climb on. It's a fun event. My family will be there.

As for Sunday, well, isn't the Kinetic Sculpture Race taking place? I can't access the website to find out. Usually, the water crossing takes place on Sunday morning.

Okay, here's the K.S.R. blog at the KHUM site.


Big KMUD weekend

First the annual block party.

Then the Iron Maiden party. Apparently they're the only all-female tribute to Iron Maiden (which probably accounts for about half of Iron Maiden's female fan base, but I'd probably enjoy this band more than its object of affection).

From the KMUD site:

And then in the evening, Rock the Block with a party at the Mateel. Opening will be Steel Toed Slippers, and the winner of the Battle of the Rock Bands, New American Classic as they open the evening of hard rocking metal for the international all female tribute to Iron Maiden—The Iron Maidens!
Cover for this all ages show is only $10 over 18 and only $5 under 18! Beer garden upstairs and mosh pit down stairs! Wear an Iron Maiden Tee shirt and get in free. Come out and support this hard rocking benefit for your favorite community radio station!
Tickets are on sale now here on the website andat the usual outlets.

Want to help with this benefit? Call 923-2513 and ask for Dave Sky.


Humboldt Bay District squabbles

Jennifer Savage of the Arcata Eye covers the last meeting, and apparently there was a contentious argument over whether to apply for prop 1B funds. The argument on its face was apparently about the wording of the bond provisions (whether Humboldt County has a "corridor of national significance") and whether a feasibility study should be completed before the grant application is made. But can't the application be withdrawn if the feasibility study comes up negative?

My guess is that the dissent is concerned that the acquisition of grant funds would fuel politics behind the railroad proposal regardless of other concerns - anything to bring money into a slightly recessed local economy. A similar dynamic took place in San Mateo County recently, when the county voted for a tunnel instead of the four-lane bypass of Devil's Slide which already had federal matching funds allocated. The mantra was "but we already have the money!" The voters there rejected the bypass anyway and now there are funds for the tunnel bypass which is under construction.

But San Mateo is a more well-to-do county now, with "quality of life issues" having more power against strictly economic concerns. The voters there did not want the Half Moon Bay area to become like Daly City, federal money be damned. Probably that approach would be a loser here even with all the NIMBYs moving in from the Bay Area.

But again, people keep telling me that the railroad connection from here to the Bay Area would be impossible to maintain due to land movement to our south. If I'm the state government, I'd certainly want that issue cleared up before I allocate any funds.

Monday, May 21, 2007


On being hip

I was thinking about the Journal's name change. I thought about other outfits which have made similar moves. Ask Jeeves for instance. Chess Life & Review decided that Chess Life was sufficient.

And then some companies change their nicknames, or abbreviations. PL has in recent years become PALCO, for whatever reason. And then there's Kentucky Fried Chicken which became KFC in the late 1980s, apparently to avoid the word "fried" in the face of health consciousness (although wild rumors circulated to the effect that they were synthesizing meat and so were prevented by the FDA from using the word "chicken"), and because for some reason they thought the initials sound more hip.

I guess I wasn't paying attention. I don't really like the food anyway, so I hadn't been in one for years. But in 1990 I was subbing at Aptos Middle School in San Francisco. It was a pretty rowdy class, but this sixth grader named "Rashad" had some smarts and occasionally put some effort into his work. The problem is that even the good students aren't really good at that age.

This one liked to bait his teachers. And so he came into the room just after the lunch bell went off to tell me that he was going off campus to KFC to "get me some hot wings." I guess I was supposed to wag my finger and threaten him, but instead I said without looking up from the papers I was grading, "that's nice Rashad. But what is KFC and what are hot wings?"

I'll never forget the look of disgust on his face as he retorted, "man, you're so caught up in the sixties, you don't know what's happening around you!"

Sixth grade. A twelve-year-old. Only I was too young for the 60s, but math wasn't his strong point. Hey, I didn't even wear my hair long! 15 minutes later the staff room was rolling on the floor laughing, especially the teachers who knew him.

He's probably just out of law school by now.


Press Democrat coverage of the Reggae on the River demise

The article is by Glenda Anderson. Somebody was kind enough to post the link in the Reggae thread below. They got most of it right this time, although she describes our community as "tightly-knit." Tightly-wound is probably a better description these days.

Only a matter of time before the alternative press of the Bay Area gets a hold of it. I'll be fascinated to read their take on the whole thing, and how they describe the community.

Addendum: Somebody posted a link in the comments thread to this article. They didn't mangle the story as badly as AP, but apparently there are two permits and there's going to be a trial in November.


Wars and rumors of wars

Last week I received a telephone call from someone who frequents this site asking me if there were any local (Eureka) plans for a demonstration on Memorial Day - when national protests are supposedly being planned. I've asked around, and nobody seems to know. War Resisters League doesn't have anything about the national protests. ANSWER has the usual weekday protests which exclude 95% of the population who have to work.

Anybody have any info? If there are indeed protests planned for this weekend, the organizers are doing a terrible job promoting them.


Meanwhile, the other side held it's "Surrender is not an Option Day" (I wasn't aware that it was being proposed!) yesterday. 5 anti-surrender folk showed up at Rep. Thompson's office to give him white feathers and surrender flags.

Man, Thompson's getting it from all sides, isn't he?

I've been wondering why Paul E. and the other civilly disobedient folk haven't been harassing some of the militant war supporters, like the guy representing the district over the hills to our east.

Thanks to Fred for bringing my attention to the pro-war protest.


Image is from Wikipedia which has an interesting timeline of anti-Iraq war protests.


Addendum: The "peace weenies" were right.


Soy abuse

Thanks to Andy Stunich for sending me the link. This NY Times op-ed piece entitled Death by Veganism explores the issues - the hook being a murder/cruelty case against parents who only fed their infant soy milk and apple juice causing their child to starve to death at 6 weeks old.

I should note that my adopted son was fed formula in Korea for the first 9 months of his life, supplemented by a rice tea of some sort. He may have had solid foods as he had no trouble eating them from the moment we picked him up. Months later we moved him to enriched soy milk (so he did get his B12, D, etc.) and by then he was eating fish, eggs, cheese and plenty of protein sources. He continues to prefer soy milk over cow's milk, though he wasn't too happy last year when we switched from a brand which contained more sugar. He is very healthy, bones and all.

We switched my daughter from formula to soy milk as well, and she now sometimes prefers cow's milk. She is also very healthy.

I don't know what was in their formula, however, I'm told that Koreans introduce fish into their kids' diet at a very early age. The way my son has always consumed salmon with enthusiasm suggests he was getting it from his foster parents. But the question I have in the Atlanta case (any links would be helpful, I don't have time to google it at the moment) is whether veganism per se was the issue, or simply the lack of adequate proteins. Aren't there vegan infant formulas? And the links below raise the question as to whether there are more direct soy-related health risks.

I also think that murder is a strong charge for the case, and cruelty charges misplaced. Negligent manslaughter seems more appropriate if they were acting against medical advice. I do remember from law school that the Christian Science parents who allowed their kids to die for religious reasons weren't charged with more than manslaughter, and I have to wonder whether the Georgia prosecutors were acting out of a cultural bias. On the other hand, there may be more to the case than the op-ed piece specifies.


This guy thinks that soy products cause homosexuality and smaller penis sizes. There doesn't seem to be any medical research to support the conclusions, however, Mothering Magazine raises some other health concerns about the consumption of "phyto-estrogens" present in soy.


Photo source.


Addendum: My wife, who enjoys reading Mothering Magazine, tells me that they aren't exactly neutral when it comes to the issue of infant soy consumption. She tells me that "they want everybody to breast feed their children until their kids are 40 years old."

Second Addendum: Here is a thoughtful if incomplete vegan response to the NYT op-ed piece.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Over 50 thousand plants taken

Thanks to Cristina Bauss for the heads-up.

At the upper Mill Creek drainage - more alleged Mexican cartel activity. Obviously they were all starts, but we're still talking about a major operation. This bust alone more than doubles the number of eradicated plants this year. They also seized an AK-47.

From the statement:
Due to this trend of large-scale, organized marijuana cultivation on public property being tended and guarded by armed subjects, members of the public are strongly urged to use caution and be aware of their surroundings when accessing public property. If evidence of marijuana cultivation is observed, members of the public are urged to leave the area and notify law enforcement immediately.
Addendum: I fixed the link and added "alleged" before "Mexican cartel" to address the concerns of some commenters.


Cleaning up Eureka

That's what we did with the kids yesterday - literally. Eureka puts on an annual "clean up the waterfront" event where folks show up and don gloves and one of those, uh, picker upper things and clean up the trash along the city's coast. You get a t-shirt and lunch out of the deal. We were going to be up there anyway for music classes, so the four of us set out and dug in.

My son and I and another family made it all the way down to the balloon track. It's a good learning experience. About an hour into it, on our second bag, my son asked, "why do people dump all this junk all over the place?" That question was worth the price of admission.

He also found a book of matches with all of the matches burned while the stems were still attached. He asked me why. I thought about just responding that someone was playing around, but I decided to tell him that it's used for making drugs that aren't good for you. He didn't ask for more details, which was fine with me. Should I be laying that topic on him at age 5?

We returned to the boardwalk where lunch and some good blues music were waiting for us. Mayor Virginia Bass and some other volunteers served us up. It's a nice festive idea and a good experience for the kids. We'll probably do it again in the future.


Also visited the new Eureka Natural Foods later in the afternoon. If you were there between 4:30 and 5:30 and you saw two little kids running down the aisles followed by a very tired middle aged man - that was us. My wife was kind enough to drive home so the rest of us got a much needed nap.

The place was packed. Both the Eureka Reporter and North Coast Journal boxes were empty. It wasn't just a hippie crowd. It's hard to believe that the county can support four large natural foods grocery stores, plus the myriads of smaller versions, but it seems to be the case.


Photo from the Eureka Trails site.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


For the Michael Moore bashers

A secret publicity stunt? From the NY Daily News:
Filmmaker Michael Moore has come to the rescue of his harshest critic.

For several years now, Jim Kenefick has been railing against the Oscar-winning director on Recently, Kenefick wrote about the difficulty he was having paying his wife's medical bills. Fellow conservatives guided him toward a cheaper health insurer, but Kenefick said he still had trouble making payments.

"Someone e-mailed me and asked if an 'anonymous' benefactor could offer to pay my first year's premiums - $12,000," Kenefick wrote on his site.

He was skeptical when the check arrived. "I opened a whole new account at my bank, waited for it to clear, checked twice with bank personnel to make sure it wasn't a scam, and waited a full 60 days before spending the money. At that time, I started drawing on it and paying the monthly premiums until it was gone."

We can now confirm to Kenefick that his secret benefactor is none other than the dreaded, detestable, loathsome Michael Moore.

Moore didn't contact us. We heard it on our own. Yesterday, his reps said they couldn't reach the director, who is in France getting ready for tomorrow's screening at Cannes of his new movie, "Sicko."

One friend of Moore's did say, "We sure are happy Jim's wife received the care she needed."

Kenefick admitted the $12,000 "was like manna from heaven at that time. ... My business was almost dead, my wife was very, very ill, and I was racking up a few little health problems of my own. That money made it possible for us to begin to turn our lives around."

Still, he doesn't sound especially grateful.

Having suspected Moore might be his secret patron, he contends that his bete noir made the gift just to publicize "Sicko," which takes aim at America's health-care system and, we've heard, touches upon Moore's covert generosity.

"I knew he was using me," said Kenefick. "Moore is going to try to make me into one of his little puppets."

Kenefick wants it known that "I'm not an idiot. I know when to say yes to something, even if the string attached is obvious. What kind of moron turns down a free 12 grand?"

Certainly not the same kind of moron who bites the hand which feeds him.

Addendum: Well, it looks like Moore did intend to make some hay out of his gesture. There's apparently some mention of it at the end of Sicko. Kenefick posts about it, and rants.

I don't know. If somebody gave me 12 grand to make a point, I don't think I'd be playing the part of a victim. It takes an odd mindset.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Coastal characters

I just spent the day on the Mendo coast. I spent several summers there in the mid to late 1980s. Used to be that you could go into any coffee shop and some larger-than-life curmudgeon would share local lore and wild stories of every form. You had street musicians with varied talent. Real Estate agents pushing the religion of Urantia. A wild paper out of Anderson Valley (which would later take some controversial turns). That was before the scented-soap and tourist trinket businesses took over the town of Mendocino and Fort Bragg was still a mill town.

My father hired the owner of the rental/party works place south of Fort Bragg to work a backhoe for a house we were building on Albion Ridge Road. He worked long days for awhile and often we invited him to stay for dinner. When I told him I was a history major, looked at me, took a sip of wine, and said with apparent earnestness "I was on the Mayflower you know." He proceeded to tell me that in his past life he had almost died of scurvy while sailing, but took in some citrus fruit to cure himself. I didn't have the heart to tell him that the citrus cure for scurvy wasn't found for centuries after the Mayflower. And he was a jolly folksy kind of person, so I didn't see any need. If he believed he'd been on the Mayflower that was good enough for me.

The dotcom/wine boom gentrification is slowly sterylizing the place, but you can still run into some character here and there. Today it was at the deli in Westport. The owner, she's a little grumpy sometimes but man can she make a sandwich! I recommend the crab sandwich. Just don't try to pay her before she prepares your food.

My partner and I ate at a table outside and I asked him if he knew the history of Westport. A voice from behind me started right in and the following words, more or less, flowed out like a river in between puffs of his hand-rolled cigarette:

"Westport was part of the Pomo Indian empire, but later it was the largest seaport on the West Coast, before San Francisco. They shipped logs and coal here. See the ridge up on the hill? There are train tracks. This could have become a major city, but something happened.

You know, the ports in San Francisco are all privately owned. During World War II the military tried to use the ports but the owners made them pay the going rates. The government lost all the eminent domain cases. They had no power. Companies run things.

You know, Kennedy, before he was killed - he created the two dollar bill. Do you know why? Because they have to pay six cents on every dollar they print and Kennedy wanted the government to create it's own currency, the two dollar bill, to address the deficit. The two dollar bill would now be the most common currency if he had not died. Makes you think, huh? Bush didn't want the two dollar bill. Neither does his son. Have you ever seen a two dollar bill? The next president to try it was Carter and look what happened to him!"

And so on. He went on like that. I just pretty much nodded between bites of my sandwich.

It's been said that the quality of literature has declined with the improvement of mental health treatment.

Source for photo of Russian Gulch bridge.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


A fun radio show tonight

Tom and I learned that we're myopic, delusional, arrogant and suffering from "Freudian psychiatric denial." A caller told us that just before he started ranting about "the Jews." Apparently he was ignorant of the ethnicity of his favorite brain doctor.

The theme was anti-Americanism on the left. We expected more denials. Instead we got several callers who believe that Americans are ignorant, selfish, and "loathsome." It wasn't until the fourth caller that we heard that it was really just about the government and not the people.

We got sidetracked a couple of times into discussions of whether the US was the decisive factor in the overthrow of Chile.

The debate raged in the studio after the show for awhile, where Tom was accused of engaging moral absolutes. Lots of irony tonight. I hope to have Tom on again whenever he visits.

Interesting post on anti-Americanism at Wikipedia.


Name change at the NCJ?

Check out the latest cover. "The Journal of Politics, People, and Art." A different logo, with "THE" figuring prominently in the new image.

What's the story Hank? Or maybe I should ask, what is Arkley trying to pull?!!

Meanwhile, the cover story is a nicely constructed project of HSU students writing about the economic woes of Fortuna and Arcata through the eyes of working class residents of both - kind of an oral current history. Terkelian. And it raises serious questions about the future of the north coast community.


Jim Wallis on Jerry Falwell

A nice eulogy with some pertinent points about partisanship and dialogue.

The intro:
I watched much of the cable television coverage of Jerry Falwell’s death and legacy. And I did a lot of grimacing, both from the uncritical adulations of his allies (who just passed over the divisive character of much of Falwell’s rhetoric), and also from the ugly vitriol from some of Falwell’s enemies (who attacked both his character and his faith). And there were even some who attacked all people of faith. I ended up being glad that I passed up all the invitations to be on those shows. On the day of Rev. Jerry Falwell’s death, I was content to offer a brief statement, which read:

I was saddened to learn that Rev. Jerry Falwell passed away this morning at age 73. Rev. Falwell and I met many times over the years, as the media often paired us as debate partners on issues of faith and politics. I respected his passionate commitment to his beliefs, and our shared commitment to bringing moral debate to the public square, although we didn’t agree on many things. At this time, however, what matters most is our prayers for comfort and peace for his family and friends.

Two days later, I might add that Falwell, in his own way, did help to teach Christians that their faith should express itself in the public square and I am grateful for that, even if the positions Falwell took were often at great variance with my own...
It's one of the reasons I was attracted to the faith in my younger years. I've posted about it here and here. Humility, empathy, and redemption are not necessarily prominent virtues in the secular left, particularly among the perpetually wounded.

Call it a lead-in for tonight's radio show.

Addendum: Our favorite hippie has a slightly different take in her eulogy. The lesson of Falwell's life is that it doesn't pay to be nice to liberals.


Judge Neville's case comes to trial

Last year retired Judge Harold Neville was involved in a shoot-out with alleged car thieves during his attempt to block them from leaving the area of the crime. Nobody was injured. The Eureka Reporter has some details.

Obviously a visiting judge had to be called in who doesn't know Neville.

Neville came out of retirement when Judge Banducci passed away a few years back, and helped to cover the Southern Humboldt court. I've always found him to be fair and I can only think of one ruling I disagree with in numerous cases I've brought before him - which says something.

He also presided over my son's adoption.

I don't know what happened last year, but I'm glad he's around to tell the story.


Input thread regarding the format

I received complaints from some dial-up folk that the pop-up comments were timing out. I switched to the page format, but some of you don't like going back and forth between the main page and comments pages. Another advantage of the page format is the ability to conduct a word search to find individual posts.

So which is your preferred format, and why?


Well, yeah. Whatever.

The Mateel statement.

Bob has the Reggae Rising statement.

So basically all that is left of Reggae on the River is a lawsuit.

I'm tired. I'll post the stuff as it comes in, but I won't be commenting much.

Times-Standard coverage

Eureka Reporter coverage

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


The Wet Mon returns!

I just heard some great news! Joanne Gerkins, half of the original ownership team of Nacho Mama's, is returning to Garberville. She's on her way up to Eureka as I'm typing this to get her business license. Apparently she's bought back the business.

The subsequent owners in Garberville have been nice enough, and the food has been very good. But I'm looking forward to the nostalgic euphoria of my first surfing burrito in 8 years.


Gallegos wants guns

It's about time he made it back into the headlines. It's been too quiet for too long.

The Eureka Reporter reports:
Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos has signaled his intent to spend more than $30,000 on technical weaponry and equipment — including more than $18,000 for semiautomatic rifles — and county officials want to know why.
To tell you the truth, so do I!

Addendum: Looks like other bloggers are taking an interest. Rose of course doesn't miss a beat. Fred's making the Vroman comparison. Pickins may be slim, but it's a bonafide Gallegos story!

Photo source.


100 thousand "visits"

Again, I'm not completely sure what a "visit" is as opposed to a "hit." I have more "page views" than "hits" and I have more "hits" than "visits."

So again, thanks to the 5 of you who've visited the blog 20 thousand times each. You've made my day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Mumia Abu Jamal's case coming to a head

A new trial or a new date with death. It could be decided this Thursday.

It's hard for me to find something to say on this topic. I've thought about dedicating a radio show to an interview with somebody who has poured through the volumes of information and can provide objective analysis of the case. A Google search kicks up sites one side or the other, but each side focuses only on the facts which supports its conclusions.

Based on what I've read and heard there isn't much doubt that the trial was a sham. I also tend to believe that he pulled the trigger. What that makes him guilty of, if anything, I can't say. Officer Faulkner was apparently beating the crap out of his brother at the time.

Jamal's detractors often argue that "even his brother" who was present at the time has "never denied" Jamal's guilt. There is apparently a witness who says that somebody else shot Officer Faulkner. Jamal's brother has stayed out of the the picture. I have to ask the question that is absent in everything I've read so far. Could Jamal's brother have taken possession of Jamal's gun in the struggle and done the deed? Nothing in any of the accounts would contradict that conclusion, and it would seem to explain Jamal's vagueness in his account.

A number of similar "causes" have turned out to be guilty in the past. Sacco, and probably Vanzetti, were probably guilty. The evidence seems pretty clear that the Rosenbergs were guilty, or at least Julius. Geronimo Pratt appears to have been innocent. Ruben Carter, well, who knows? Re Alger Hiss I was raised believing he was innocent. In the early 1990s I came to the conclusion he was guilty. But now I'm having third thoughts having reviewed the "Venona evidence" (I find the timing of the release of information and the allegedly incriminating document itself along with the "Ales = Alger" conclusion suspect), which maybe I'll discuss in another post some day.

Ironically, in all of these cases I find the trials and other aspects of the process troubling and minimum, and in some cases blatant travesties of justice. Every single one, and more.

That in mind, I don't know if Jamal is guilty. Was he justified in pulling a gun on the officer if the officer was way over the line with his brother? Was the shooting deliberate? Was it self-defense? Jamal was also wounded by the officer's gunshot, and I have a hard time believing that he spun around after having been shot in the head. These are questions that haven't been answered to my satisfaction, and the apparently illegal use of peremptories against black prospective jurors certainly seems like a violation of due process alone.

I wish there were more hours in the day.


Reggae on the River no more

From the ROTR website:

May 15, 2007

After months of trying to settle with Dimmick Ranch and People Productions, no agreement has been reached. This leaves the community’s festival in jeopardy with hundreds of thousands in costs and no permit or venue.

To produce an event two things are required - the permit and the site. In the beginning it was felt that the Mateel as owner of the festival permit for almost 23 years in addition to their binding contract with the land owner would have no problems.

Then Dimmick Ranch terminated the Mateels lease. People Production & Dimmick Ranch posing as the permit applicant applied for the Mateels permit under Reggae Rising. Then “Reggae Rising” (the property owner and People Productions) announced their intention of doing the Reggae Rising Festival on the same day, at the same time and at the same venue. The planning commission who handles the permit process decided to allow both sides to continue with the application (crazy but true). Then, the commission would not rule on who the applicant was, stating “let the decision be made by the courts”. Even though the decision is clearly the commission’s responsibility, they skirted it to avoid the political fallout. This doomed the event to conflict that could only be settled within the court system. We held out as long as possible in hopes of a resolution. The Mateel has tried everything in their power to convince Dimmick Ranch to settle fairly and in good faith.

Without a permit and venue this leaves us no choice but to cancel the event for 07. All tickets will be refunded at the place of purchase.

We wish to thank all of you for the, love, understanding and support you have shown 2b1 and the Mateel during these trying times. We know it’s a difficult transition that will not be easy but we will do everything we can to help alleviate problems.

2b1 was asked to help the Mateel in its time of need, because their doors were on the brink of closing. Financially they were loosing the fight for survival. We felt it was important the dream stayed alive. Humboldt is a community built from the ashes of the 60’s, forged by a self sustaining economy that fostered a world renowned festival. This adventure spirit, anti-establishment philosophy, and spiritual belief in unity built the community, which developed a festival so full of love the world has taken notice. This spirituality is important and above all must continue.

“Reggae on the River” has become a place of almost religious importance. It is a yearly renewing of the faith, a time where goodness, caring for one another, sharing one’s love, shedding the worlds problems, and cleansing from the everyday bull, all happen in the name of “UNITY”. It is a place where we raised our children and met our wives, husbands, lovers and companions. It is where groups of people meet from around the world to socialize and renew their faith in our culture, reinforcing our beliefs and strengthening our morals and renewing our code of ethics. This is the spirit and love we have all felt at “Reggae on the River”, this is what’s important.

2b1 will wait for the courts to resolve the dispute and is 100% behind the Mateel. Once resolved we believe the community can again come together behind Reggae on the River’s founding principals of love, spirituality and "UNITY"

Much love and respect,


Addendum: The Mateel has posted some attorney letters sent over the past few days.

Second addendum: No coverage from either of the daily papers this morning.


It's the little quirks

Just had lunch at Garberville's only Chinese restaurant. A woman a few tables away ordered the Mongolian beef lunch special. Now I was raised in and around San Francisco. Down there, if you order a lunch plate you get the main dish served on top of the rice. But if you wander more than 20 miles from the city the primary food is served next to the rice. I've wondered about this. I know that northern Europeans and their American descendants tend to prefer to segregate their food, and in fact around the turn of the 20th century immigrants were encouraged to serve food this way rather than cook their homeland stews and whatnot as part of a plan of assimilation.

But I've always figured that the primary food served as the flavoring for the rice. Well, this woman a few tables from me - she eats all of the Mongolian beef without touching the rice. My first thought is that she's on the Atkins/South Beach anti-carb kick, but then she begins to consume the rice. By itself. Not so much as a drop of soy sauce.

This had me slightly concerned. I mean, somebody who would eat that way - there's no telling what else she might do. But I assume since every single Chinese restaurant I've visited north of San Rafael serves their rice dishes this way, it must be marketing to a preference. To each their own.


Don't know why it made me think of this. Before I moved here I worked as a paralegal in SF for a law office located in the Maritime Plaza, a medium sized black thing near the waterfront. There was a scene outside the building in the old movie The Conversation. Gene Hackman has just had a terrifying meeting with a sinister corporate villain played by a young Harrison Ford. Great scene, and the building's exterior was perfect for the mood.

As with any 9 to 5 job your commute tends to homogenize and you get to know the people who arrive at the building at the same time. For instance, there was this one old guy - I have no idea what he did - but he dressed very nicely every day per the "old school" I imagine. Every day he would enter the elevator and even though his floor number button was usually already hit and lit up, he would hit it. Just to be sure I guess. I guess he was probably type A: do it yourself if you want it done right. Possibly at some point in his long life he had left a lit up button unhit, and the elevator skipped his floor. After that, he could never be too sure. You pack your own chute. Add your own cliche.

But he was nothing to the newcomer who arrived a few months before I left. A woman entered the elevator one day. But instead of turning around to face the door like normal non-psychotic people, she would stand facing the rear of the elevator and turn only to leave. Did she not trust us? Or was her motion and lack thereof the most natural? The elevator is a room, and the most natural thing to do in a room is to stand in a circle. Maybe even talk to each other.

Thing is, in the elevator space it actually felt like she was crowding us and we'd tend to back up away from her, probably without even thinking about it. I mean, somebody who would stand there looking at us - what else is she capable of?

I wonder if she did it on purpose.


Did anybody see the "strange thing" at the circus last night?

Yeah, PT Barnum was right. I was suckered and I would have coughed up the 50 cents to see the "strange thing." But when we got out of the main event my kid was overtired and wanted to go on the rides one last time.

What was it, a two-headed pig fetus?

Addendum: The circus was indeed in Fortuna last night. They have a great shot of the clown-dominatrix swinging from a trapeze.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Aspiring to chimphood

Barbara Ehrenreich expounds on the benefits of chimp status - from free health care to free love.

Did you know that chimps can take human blood transfusions?

Bill isn't the oldest chimp on the North American continent as advertised by the way. Cheeta, of Tarzan fame, is older.


Pope Benedict loses it in Brazil

This article was forwarded to me by Cristina Bauss who was raised in Brazil.
BRASILIA (Reuters) - BRASILIA (Reuters) - Outraged Indian leaders in Brazil said on Monday they were offended by Pope Benedict's "arrogant and disrespectful" comments that the Roman Catholic Church had purified them and a revival of their religions would be a backward step."

In a speech to Latin American and Caribbean bishops at the end of a visit to Brazil, the Pope said the Church had not imposed itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

They had welcomed the arrival of European priests at the time of the conquest as they were "silently longing" for Christianity, he said.

I guess the question is whether he and his advisers are truly clueless, or whether he is playing to reactionary Europeans who are tired of apologizing for genocide. In either case, I'm wondering if there's going to be another schism. Check out the local Church comments towards the end of the article. I'm wondering if he's looking for an excuse to come down on liberation theology, a movement which was born in Brazil. Brazil has a history of involving the church in reactionary politics, with a Rosary march in 1964 in support of the military coup of the time.

Also kind of reminds me of the arguments made in this country that slavery was actually good for the Africans and their descendants.


Sex and ethnicity in chess and academics

I played a lot of chess as a kid. Even won a couple of tournaments. But grown-up interests took me away from the game. A few games here and there - my best games have actually been against the homeless guys who set up boards down on Market and Powell in SF. But my son has recently taken an interest in the game and we play a couple of games each evening.

I was looking for chess educational materials and came across some interesting sites including this one where you can play online against people across the globe. I play as "Kunsoo" (my son's social worker given Korean name) with my homepage here. I'm not yet a subscriber, but I think they offer a terrific service so I want to chip in. Subscription enables you to play more than 6 games at a time, though I barely have enough time to keep up with the games I have.

I also came across some blogs by a remarkable woman named Susan Polgar (altered from her Hungarian name Polgár Zsuzsanna). She was the first woman to obtain grandmaster status. Her sister has actually taken the game to the next level and became the first woman to rank within the top 8 players globally.

Susan, now a New York resident, has taken a great interest in encouraging and incubating young girls into the game, including the organization of a special tournament. She also has a blog dedicated to girls in chess. I have to note that all of the girls photographed on the blog's front page are either Asian or bearing Russian names (at least I think they're Russian). Bobby Fischer aside the Soviet Union pretty much dominated the world championship from World War II to the USSR's demise and even awhile after, although one of those champions was Latvian rather than Russian.

My mother taught elementary school in San Francisco for several decades. She was known as a teacher who made rigorous demands of her students (which put her at odds with some of her colleagues who felt she pushed too hard). She earned a reputation and Asian and Russian immigrant parents often requested that their children be placed in her class. I'd be curious to know if the kids in the blog photos are first or second generation. And if it's true that these other cultures value education more than we do at this point in our history, is it going to have an impact on our economic well-being long term? Will our immigrants save our asses?

More thoughts later.

The photo is from Polgar's blog and depicts sisters named Ellen and Evan Xiang, who are kicking ass in scholastic chess competition in Texas. Understand that Ellen's rating is only slightly below mine when I stopped playing competitively, and I was a pretty good player. If she won the K-1 championship in 2004 she can't be more than 10 now.

Chess for peace. Not sure what it's all about, but it made Gorbachev visit Kansas.

Addendum: North Coast Chess holds tournaments around the year. The next is a team competition on June 9. Hit the link for details. Apparently you get a break in the fee if you have a digital chess clock. I'm assuming analog clock are unacceptable? I haven't used it in over 20 years, so I'm not even sure it works anymore anyway.

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