An accident in Oregon for Hagfish Day

Oct. 18th, 2017 10:13 am
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Posted by Pinku-Sensei

Happy Hagfish Day!  Here's the national day's description from National Day Calendar.
Hagfish Day is observed annually on the third Wednesday in October.

Hagfish are considered to be the ugliest of species. The idea behind Hagfish Day is to encourage everyone to look beyond the exterior of the Hagfish and appreciate how highly evolved they are.
In general, O.K., but in detail, no.  I'm sure there are uglier vertebrates.  Also, while hagfish are just as evolved as any other organism on this planet, they are the descendants of the first branch off the vertebrate family tree.  In fact, they branched off so early that they don't even really have vertebrae!  They're the reason why cladists call the group Craniates instead of vertebrates; the most primitive group to have vertebrae are lampreys.  See the phylogenetic diagram below.

However, I did not decide to celebrate Hagfish Day to give a lecture.  Instead, I'm doing so to note that hagfish got in the news this summer.  Watch Sloppy slime eel spill stops traffic from USA Today, which I showed to one of my classes this summer.

All USA Today could muster was "Talk about a traffic jam!"  National Geographic had a more informative description, if a less interesting video.
A car accident caused thousands of hagfish to spill on the highway, coating the road—and even a car—with slime. Hagfish, also called slime eels, secrete huge amounts of an extremely slippery mucus when stressed. The Oregon Department of Transportation used firehoses and a bulldozer to clear away the goo. The fish were likely destined for Asia, where many countries consider them a delicacy.
That was a fun video to show my students, but I think I might show The Hagfish Is the Slimy Sea Creature of Your Nightmares from the Smithsonian Channel to next year's class, either instead or in addition.

The hagfish is a slime-emitting ocean-dweller that's remained unchanged for 300 million years--and it shows. It has a skull (but no spine), velvet smooth skin, and a terrifying pit of a mouth that’s lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth.
That shows and tells a lot more about the animal itself and not just how it interacts with humans.

By the way, not only did I write yesterday that I'd celebrate Hagfish Day today, but that I'd feature the Emmy Awards that "The Rachel Maddow Show" won for its coverage of the Flint Water Crisis and its interview of Kellyanne Conway.  I've changed my mind.  I plan on posting an entry about an Emmy winner that covered the opiate crisis, but it wasn't one of the ones I listed in 'Body Team 12' and 'Extremis' both nominated for Outstanding Short Documentary plus other science, health, and environment nominees; it was one I missed entirely.  Stay tuned.

Essay Prompt: How Old are You?

Oct. 18th, 2017 12:22 am
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Posted by cahwyguy

A meme is going around Facebook highlighting a draft HHS Standard that supposedly defines life as beginning at conception. As Snopes notes: “Conservatives and pro-life organizations have welcomed the change as a much-needed corrective to Obama-era policies, but women’s health and pro-choice advocates see it as a harbinger of future federal efforts to restrict access to medical services such as contraceptives and abortion.” As an example, Snopes quotes the document’s second paragraph: “HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of 61 activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.

I was thinking about this proposed definition this morning. In many ways, it struck me as lip-service to the notion of life beginning at conception, just as the whole abortion debate is lip-service concern about life (for, after all, if there was real concern about life, then that concern would continue after the child is born — ensuring health care and minimal living standards).

Just like we know that a concert isn’t over until the instruments stay off the stage and the house lights come up, “life begins at conception” won’t be the real until there is elimination of the birthday. After all, why celebrate the day you were born if that isn’t when your life began. Being born becomes just another milestone, like starting kindergarten or going to college. Get rid of the birthday entirely. Put the date of conception on the drivers license. All those age based limits — those are based on birthday, not conception day. You should be able to vote at 18¾. Drink at 21¾. Collect social security at 65¾.

But as long as our society remains centered around the birthday, the whole notion of “life begins at conception” is bullshit. In society, life begins when you are born or able to live independently from your parent’s body. Earlier than that, and you are theirs to do with. You are, pure and simple, a body part. You are like a fingernail, or a finger, or excess belly fat. It sounds crass, but that’s what it is. If you are unable to get a government ID card or a social security number, are you alive?


I’m not saying this all to be silly. There is a reason that the Supreme Court decided as they did in Rowe v. Wade. If the foetus cannot live independently, the mother must have the right to treat it as any other part of their body. Once it can live outside their body, it can apply for a social security number and get a birthdate. Conception date is not a birthday.


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Posted by cahwyguy

As I have been reading Facebook the last few days, I’ve been seeing the flurry of “MeToo” posts from far far too many of my friends. As a hetero cis man, I’ve been trying to figure out what is the proper response. At one point, I wanted to write a post about how I never understood how men could behave that way. I don’t get why men are punitive in divorces towards their partners. I don’t get why men would force themselves on someone who is unwilling. I certainly would never behave that way (or at least I thought). Then I saw a friend who had a different take on the situation, acknowledging our role in the process. Then I saw a third friend with an interesting take on how to fix the problem. Then last night, I began to wonder how this fit into my earlier discussions on Culture Wars, and how the universe of entitled “traditional” males would receive all of this. The result: This essay prompt, asking the question #NowWhat?

The impact of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse revelations, Mayim Bialik’s opinion piece in the NY Times, and the #MeToo response thereto has demonstrated that sexual abuse and harassment is far too prevalent in society today. As men, the question is: How do we respond? Saying “I hear you” is insufficient, as is believing that it is all those “other” men that have caused the problem. The way to move forward is to start by acknowledging our culpability as men in society, and establishing a new path forward. We also need to figure out how to address the inevitable push back that will come from the Culture Wars.

Our Culpability

In examining the part we play as men in creating the problem, we need to realize that what most of us have been taught is flawed, and it resulted in some level of flawed behavior. One friend on Facebook posted the following:

I have acted as if I was entitled to my partner(s)’s attention and body.
I have pushed boundaries to get what I wanted.
I have put my wants in front of my partner(s).
I have guilted partner(s) into feeling obligated to intimacy.
I am sorry.

Reading this, as Noel Paul Stookey said in one of his Peter, Paul, & Mary comedy routines, brought me up by the short hairs. It is highly likely that most older men have behaved in this way towards their partners or potential partners at some point in their lives. After all, we’re products of the time and society we grew up, much as we hate to admit it. Much as we might have consciously tried to avoid the behavior above, we have slipped into it a few times. As we teach our children, apologizing cannot make something right. Changing the behavior can.

But behavior towards partners is not the only place we’ve likely fucked up. Some of us may have done similar behaviors towards co-workers, friends, and colleagues. From a sexist comment, a gesture, an oogle — all can come across as a form of harassment.  There are those, I’m sure, that have done even worse. After all, all those #MeToos came from somewhere.

No one can promise that they won’t slip into that behavior at times. We’re human, and we all slip up. But the first step in not doing a behavior is realizing that you do it. Then you can be increasingly aware of when you are starting to do it again … and stop before you do.

Whether you are in your 50s like me, or a young teen or twentysomething, society has learned and changed from when you were little. What might once have been acceptable is no longer. What you see in older movies, TVs, and in popular song is not the way adults should behave today, no matter how you rationalize it. We are not entitled to anything with respect to sex or intimacy; it must be given by our partners freely, with cognizance, and without coercion.

Moving Forward

Another Facebook friend shared something from one of his friends that was a succinct summary of how to move forward. It begins by recognizing that almost all your female friends have been sexually harassed or assaulted. The harassment started when they were children. The catcalling, the groping in a crowded place, the sudden rage when a man realizes that a woman won’t sleep with them. All of them. So what do we do?

  1. Stop harassing women. That includes asking strangers to smile. That includes raging at your female friends who “friend zone” you. That includes not taking no for an answer. At this point you know what’s right and what’s wrong and what’s unwanted. Stop.
  2. Stop interrupting conversations about harassment and assault. Stop pointing out that not all men are harassers. No shit. But clearly enough do that this is a problem. You aren’t contributing
  3. Stop victim blaming. Entirely. We need to move the conversation away from what the victim could have done to prevent it. Don’t ask what they were wearing, why they were traveling alone, if they fought back, why they didn’t come forward sooner. This isn’t a problem that victims need to solve.
  4. Stop injecting yourself into the discussion. Can men be harassed and assaulted? Of course, and it’s terrible and we wish it didn’t happen. And we can have that conversation, but not while we’re talking about this. Two separate problems, two different solutions. Don’t derail this conversation so that we’re addressing that this is two problems that affects some people instead one problem that affects all women. Especially if you don’t want to talk about your experience, you’re just diluting the discussion.
  5. Shut it down when you see it. Call out harassment when you see your friends do it. Maybe they’ll change, maybe they’ll stop being your friends. Either way, call that shit out. Dudes, this is where you are most powerful. Stop letting this sort of thing be ok. Public stuff like catcalling. Private stuff like ranking women. Shut it down.
  6. Fathers, uncles, older brothers: if you have young men in your lives, teach them early about respect and consent. Don’t let them joke about a cartoon “raping their childhood” or laugh about grabbing a girl’s butt. Make sure they grow up knowing this isn’t normal and it isn’t ok. Make this behavior extinct.

To recap:

  1. Shut up
  2. Stop other dudes from harassing
  3. Make sure the young men who learn from you never start harassing.

My wife also pointed me to another list of how to treat women better from The Guardian. Here are some  items from that list (adapted just a bit); I recommend you read the full list:

  • Talk to your friend who is “kind of a creep” at work. Don’t need to literally witness a man being horrible in order to believe that he’s horrible. Trust and believe women.
  • Don’t talk over women. When you see another guy talk over a woman, say: “Hey, she was saying something.”
  • If you are asked to be on a panel/team and see that it’s all men, say something. Maybe even refuse the spot! [Read this great post by Spaf on the subject]
  • Don’t call women “crazy” in a professional setting. Don’t imply that their success due to their looks. Don’t imply their success is due to anything other than their talent and hard work. [Read this great sermon on sexism and implied sexism]
  • Don’t use your “feminism” as a way to get women to trust you. Show us in your day-to-day life, not in your self-congratulatory social media.
  • Do you feel that any woman on earth owes you something? She doesn’t. Even if you’re like, “Hm, but what about basic respect?” ask yourself if you’ve shown her the same. If you do the right thing, don’t expect praise or payment or a pat on the back or even a “thank you from that woman”. Congratulations, you were baseline decent.
  • Don’t send pictures of … anything … unless she just asked for them.
  • Consent: Obtain it, and believe “no” when it is said. If a woman says no to a date, don’t ask her again. If a woman has not given an enthusiastic “yes” to sex, back the hell off.  If a woman is really drunk, she cannot consent to you and she also cannot consent to your buddy who seems to be trying something. Your buddy is your responsibility, so say something and intervene. Don’t touch women you don’t know, and honestly, ask yourself why you feel the need to touch women in general.
  • Involve women in your creative projects, then let them have equal part in them.
  • Don’t make misogynistic jokes.
  • Don’t expect women to be “nice” or “cute” and don’t get upset when they aren’t those things.
  • Don’t make assumptions about a woman’s intelligence, capabilities or desires based on how she dresses.
  • Pay women as much as you pay men.
  • If a woman tells you that you fucked up, and you feel like shit, don’t put it on that woman to make you feel better. Apologize without qualification and then go away.
  • Don’t punish women for witnessing your vulnerability.
  • Don’t get defensive when you get called out.
  • Don’t use your power to get women’s attention/company/sex/etc. Be aware of your inherent power in situations and use it to protect women, especially via talking to other men.
  • Stop thinking that because you’re also marginalized or a survivor that you cannot inflict pain or oppress women.
  • If women’s pain makes you feel pain, don’t prize your pain above hers, or make that pain her problem.
  • Don’t read a list like this and think that most of these don’t apply to you.

If you want yet another list, here’s something from Groknation on combatting toxic masculinity.

Culture Wars

In my essay prompt on culture wars, I discussed how the “war” has come about because society is changing in a way that many don’t want. Entitlements and privileges that some segments had in the past are disappearing; the segments are also being “forced” to accept as equal segments of the population they previously viewed as inferior. A primary segment feeling this way are the cis het males in society, particularly White cis het males. This is what led to the election of Donald Trump; this is why Donald Trump’s boorish and insulting behavior towards women was ignored by this segment. Bluntly: The way they were raised, they saw nothing wrong in the behavior. Men have power and authority over women; they should use it.

Those men among us who are enlightened see the fallacy in this attitude, but then again, we see the fallacy in many attitudes of this group.

So now ask yourself:  How will this group react to the #MeToo flood. I’m sure some will be in the “They asked for it crowd.” Others will be in the “Well, I treat my wife with respect, it was some other guy.”. Even more will be: “So what?” There will also be the minority that begin to see the problem, and then ask themselves, “Who have we elected?”

But for many, this will just be another salvo in the Culture Wars. It will be yet another attack on male privilege and power, and they will likely double-down on the behavior.

We must, in response, emphasize that society has changed. As the friend from whom I snarfed #IHave said:

The good news is that our culture’s perception of sex, consent and negotiation is changing. When I was learning about this stuff, and/or trying to figure it out for myself, the assumption was that the person interested (usually a guy) would attempt to “up the game”, by kissing, touching a bit further etc. The other person (usually a woman) was expected to decline the advance at first, and then until the initiator had sufficiently turned them on to be interested in going further.

Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of cases where one person unknowingly violates another’s consent. Even worse, there are still a lot of people, on both sides, that think that it is still the way things are, or should be, done.

I can’t do anything about things that have already been done, but we can all work to prevent things from happening in the future.

We must make clear that, just like discrimination against Blacks or Jews or other racial minorities is no longer acceptable, this abuse of power and privilege is no longer acceptable. There must be freedom from real or perceived harassment, and it is our responsibility as men to set the example to simply not do it.

P.S.: To explain the user icon: This comes from a campaign in 2006 against men who believed they needed endangered sea turtle eggs as an aphrodisiac. In reality, there is only one aphrodisiac: a freely willing partner.

P.P.S. H/T (Hat tip) to those who have posted or brought to my attention things incorporated herein: David Bell (and his friend’s friend Mitch Kocen), Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik, Larry Colon, Karen Davis, and Gene Spafford.


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Posted by Pinku-Sensei

As I promised yesterday, I'm skipping to the last paragraph in 'Body Team 12' and 'Extremis' both nominated for Outstanding Short Documentary plus other science, health, and environment nominees that mentions a winner for the subject of today's entry.
Two nominees cover the Amazon Rain Forest and its environmental issues.  "La Amazonía: Un Paraíso A La Venta" from Univision earned a nomination for Outstanding Feature Story in Spanish.  "Deforestation in the Amazon InfoGuide" from The Council on Foreign Relations has a nomination for Outstanding New Approaches: Current News, where it is competing with "Carbon's Casualties" from The New York Times.  That story details the first crop of climate refugees, including Americans living in Alaska and Louisiana who have to move away from rising sea levels.  I might blog about that even if it doesn't win.
Looking at the list in the image above, it looks like I missed listing a feature story on Monarch Butterflies in my examination of sustainability themed nominees.  The listing of nominees by Tom Llamas as he presented Outstanding Feature Story in Spanish shows I missed another about living in the shadow of oil.

She's absolutely right; without a healthy Amazon, we can't have a healthy planet.  Also, I was lucky that I had already listed the winner while I missed two other nominees that I should have mentioned.

Here is the briefer of two versions of the award-winning report (En Espanol: sorry, no English subtitles).

El río Amazonas, la gran reserva natural del planeta, está en riesgo. Más de 20 mil animales silvestres traficados sólo en Colombia en 2016 y alrededor de 120 mil hectáreas deforestadas  han puesto la alerta. Un recorrido por la zona deja al descubierto lo que los promotores turísticos no quieren que nadie vea.
Translation: The Amazon River, the great nature reserve of the planet, is at risk. More than 20 thousand wild animals were trafficked in Colombia alone in 2016 and approximately 120 thousand hectares deforested have raised an alarm. A tour of the area left uncovered what tourism promoters do not want anybody to see.

Follow over the jump for the other winner.

Watch Scott Kelly, who also presented the award to "Collisions" for Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary list the nominees and give the award for Outstanding New Approaches: Current News Coverage.

Now watch How Deforestation in the Amazon Contributes to Climate Change.

The Amazon is a massive carbon sink, meaning it absorbs more carbon dioxide than it emits. But the forest may only be soaking up half as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it did twenty years ago, according to researchers. They say deforestation and tree die-offs, possibly due to higher carbon dioxide levels in the forest, may be to blame. Deforestation may also be disrupting regional precipitation patterns, and it has been linked to drought in Brazil's southeast. Rising temperatures and drought contribute to the death of trees in the forest, creating a cycle that may lead to further deforestation.

This video is part of "Deforestation in the Amazon," a Council on Foreign Relations InfoGuide presentation:
That's a really cool video I'll recommend to any of my students who are presenting on deforestation.

I'll return with an post about the two Emmy Awards "The Rachel Maddow Show" won -- after I blog about Hagfish Day, which is tomorrow.  Stay tuned.
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Posted by cahwyguy

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (5 Star Theatricals)Sunday afternoon we saw the first show of the 2017-2018 5 Star Theatricals (FB) Premiere season, even though we’ve been subscribing at the theatre for 16 years, since the 2000 season. Perhaps I should explain. Over the summer, what was Cabrillo Music Theatre was rechristened “5 Star Theatricals”; we, however, have been subscribing since Anything Goes in the Fall of 2000 (with the exception of the 2014-2015 season). Over that time, we’ve seen a wide variety of shows at the theatre — including, way back in Summer 2003, a little show called Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as part of the 2002-2003 season. As part of the 2017-2018 season, 5-Star opted to revive the show at 14 years and see if they could find something fresh in it. The result was an interesting updated take on the show: some aspects worked, and some didn’t, but overall it was quite enjoyable. [I’ll note that 5-Star is reviving yet another show they’ve done before later in the season: they last did Beauty and the Beast back in 2007, 10 years ago.]

Now, this isn’t our first experience with Joseph. “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is a late 1960’s pop cantata, 35 minutes long— it was the first published work by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. After the success of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, it was rewritten and lengthened with some novelty musical numbers — but at its heart, it is a simple pop cantata, essentially sung through.  I know, I’ve had the original pop cantata album for years. It tells the Biblical story of Joseph from the incident with the coat of many colors through the brothers return to Egypt through pastiches of musical styles, and is — to put it succinctly — cute. It requires some strong lead vocals, and has loads and loads of choral parts. The first time I saw the show on stage was the tour of 1982 Broadway Show when it was at the newly remodeled Pantages theatre  — in fact, I think it was one of the first shows after the remodeling. Since then, it has been lengthened a little each time it hits Broadway again. This adds material, not depth. None of this is anything to those who license it can change. The most recent time that I’ve seen the show was in December 2014, when it was performed by Nobel Middle School.

So if the text of the show can’t be changed, and the lyrics of the songs can’t be changed, how does one freshen the show. The answer is simple and triparte: staging, dance, and music. Although the story can’t be changed, the director (in this case Will North (FB)) can adjust the energy and diversity of the cast to influence the story’s perception; the addition of children and wives, in only singing roles, can influence the cuteness. The director can also influence the staging of the scenes in both positive and negative ways. The dance styles of the show are not fixed (unlike, say, West Side Story where Jerome Robbin’s dance is part of the staging). In this case, 5-Star selected a choreographer, Dave Scott (FB), who comes not from the theatre world but the modern pop “hip hop” dance world — and he brought a very different dance sensibility to the show. Lastly, the Musical Direction (in this case by Dr. Cassie Nickols (FB)) can slightly adjust songs — lengthening them through reprises, or introducing extended dance breaks in a piece. All three of these things were done in this production to make it slightly different than past Josephs.

Did it work? That’s a different story, but for the most part, the answer is yes.

There were some staging elements that had me scratching my head. In particular, during “Those Canaan Days”, there was inexplicably a mime, a fairy, and the Les Miserables red flag. Why? There was also the overuse of the projected Instagram graphics and the overuse of the animation and cuteness in the projections. But other things worked well. The diversity of casting of Joseph’s brothers brought an interesting overtone and meaning to the scene where they come to Egypt, and Joseph doesn’t trust them. Could the Bible have been foreshadowing current society’s lack of trust of unknown foreigners and people different from them? I have no idea, but this is what diversity in casting can bring. (Similarly, I read about a production of Oklahoma that cast Judd as a black man, which put the relationship with Laurie in a completely different light, and would have been realistic). The Children’s Chorus made me melt with the cute of it all. The addition of the female dancers (generally portrayed as wives), added a lot of dance energy. The addition of the school choirs brought in a lot of parents to see their kids — always a good thing for the energy of a show.

The staging — and especially the costume design of Beth Glasner (FB) assisted by the wigs of Leo Quang Zeller (FB) — emphasized the cultural anachronisms in the show. In general, the traditional “biblical” style was replaced by a hip-hop street sensibility for the brothers (although Jacob remained in robes, and Joseph in a loincloth); Egypt was more “King Tut”; and the musical pastiches were area-appropriate. For some odd reason, there was writing on the Egyptian wigs that I couldn’t figure out. One other costuming / makeup comment: Cover the tats. Whenever I see real tats on an actor, it takes me out of the make-believe of their character into the reality of the actor, and I wonder what they are and what their symbolism is. That’s an unnecessary distraction.  I noticed them on the Assistant Choreographer; my wife noted them on some of the male dancers.

Similarly, the new approach to dance worked well. There was a problem in that the non-theatrical dance sensibility made the dance less part of the story, and more a separate performance aspect (especially so in the ending mega-mix). But the energy and the quality of the dance was top-notch, and the additional styles of dance made what is, admittedly, a overstretched and overstuffed and over-pastiched cantata into a dance show accessible for a modern generation. All in all, that’s a good thing. It was the best they could do given the limitations of the story.

The one change that consistently worked well was the stretching of the music to provide extended dance and the occasional reprise.

Turning to the performances, this was in general top-notch. In the lead position was Adam Hollick (FB) as Joseph and Laura Dickinson (FB) as the Narrator. My wife’s summation of Hollick: Beefcake with a voice to match. I’d have to agree (and I’m not into beefcake). This is a guy who came into school on a football scholarship (so he has the bod), then transitioned to vocal performance and opera singing before transitioning again into acting and the musical theatre world. He had one of the nicest and smoothest voices I’ve ever heard as Joseph, and he captured the emotion of the character well (well, as much as there is in this lightweight show).  Dickinson brought a powerhouse voice and movement to the Narrator — this is much more of a singing than an acting role, for as the narrator she moves the action along. But that she did, with a remarkable fluidity and presence.

Another character role that stands out is Pharaoh, normally portrayed as an Elvis-type. One wonders how much of the audience even remembers Elvis, but I digress. He was popular in the 70s when this was written. Pharaoh was portrayed by Patrick Cassidy (FB) — yes, of David Cassidy and Shirley Jones fame. Cassidy has done this show many times before (I’m guessing as Joseph), and he was clearly having fun with his role here — and that fun comes across to the audience. He was a delight to watch, had a great singing voice, and got the Elvis moves down well.

Next come Joseph’s brothers: Reuben – Marc Ginsburg (FB); Judah – Mitchell Johnson (FB); Levi – James Olivas (FB); Benjamin – Patrick Viloria (FB); Asher – Cedric Dodd (FB); Naphtali – Derek A. Lewis (FB); Simeon – at our performance, Adlai Musia (FB), but normally Neico Joy (FB); Issachar – Rodolfo Larrazolo (FB); Dan – Rile Reavis (FB); Zebulon – Zy’heem Downey (FB); and Gad – Kyron Correia (FB). Most of these become interchangeable on stage unless you can memorize faces quickly, but all had great dance moves and got the choreography down well. A few were worth singling out. James Olivas, as Levi, got to take the lead in “One More Angel”, and he did a great job with capturing the humor of the piece well. Simarly, Marc Ginsberg as Reuben got the lead in “Those Canaan Days”, nailing the French bathos well. Mitchell Johnson’s Judah got the lead in the “Benjamin Calypso” and handled the calypso/island nature of that well. Lastly, Patrick Viloria’s Benjamin just was great to watch dancing.

In terms of other named characters, two come to mind. First is Cabrillo / 5-Star Regular  David Gilchrist (FB) as both Jacob and Potiphar. Gilchrist is a reliable character actor, who did great with both characters (although Potiphar with a bit of a British accent was odd). What was neat was seeing him rocking out during the mega-mix.  Tyler Stouffer(FB) played the Baker and handled him with aplomb, but was more interesting was his mime during the “Canaan Days” number. The remaining named characters were Michael Mittman (FB)’s Butler and Naomi Pacheco (FB)’s stint as Potiphar’s wife. She also served as Assistant Choreographer, which explains her great dance.

Rounding out the cast were the various ensembles and choruses. All of the brothers sans Joseph joined the ensemble at points. Additionally, the following dancers and singers were in the adult ensemble: Julia Lester (FB), Terri Woodall (FB), Rebecca Gans (FB), Devon Davidson (FB), Haley Gilchrist (FB), Alyssa Noto (FB), Alissa Tucker (FB), Miyuki Miyagi (FB), Carolyn Lupin (FB), Julia Marley (FB), and Naomi Pacheco (FB). Looking at the photos, the following folks in the ensemble stuck in my mind from some aspect of their dance or performance: Terri Woodall, Alissa Tucker, and Julia Lester. The kids ensemble consisted of: Rhythm Pacheco, Bayley Tanenbaum, Lilly Thompson, Marissa Margolis, Collin Nelson, Madison North, Taylor Lynda Thomas (FB), Marcello Silva, Andrew Grigorian, Calista Loter, Lal Besir, Luca De La Pena, Amelia Fischer , Savannah Fischer, and Drew Rosen. Can’t speak to talent, but the kids ensemble was adorable. At times, the ensembles were joined on stage by visiting local choirs — a different one each performance. The choirs performing are MATES, Westlake Elementary, Homeschoolers of Ventura County Choir, Red Oak Elementary Choir, EARTHS Elementary Choir, Round Meadow Elementary, Mariposa School of Global Education, Sumac Elementary, Lindero Canyon Middle School, OPUSD – Brookside Elementary, Viewpoint Chorus, and Oaks Christian (Note: I believe we had Round Meadow Elementary at our performance).  Julia Lester (FB) was also the understudy for the narrator.

As always, the newly renamed 5-Star Theatricals Orchestra, conducted by Dan Redfeld (FB), sounded great. The orchestra consisted of: Gary Rautenberg (FB) – Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax; Ian Dahlberg (FB) – Oboe, English Horn;  Melissa Hendrickson (FB) – Horn; Sharon Cooper (FB) – Violin I; Sally Berman (FB) – Violin II; Karen Goulding-Long (FB) – Viola; Bang Eunn Lee (FB) – Cello; Chris Kimbler (FB) – Keyboard I;  Tom Griffin (FB) – Keyboard II; Lloyd Cooper (FB) – Keyboard III; Brian LaFontaine (FB) – Acoustic & Electric Guitars I; Shane Harry (FB) – Double String and Electric Bass; Alan Peck (FB) – Set Drums; Tyler Smith (FB) – Percussion.  Darryl Tanikawa (FB) was the Orchestra Contractor. The orchestra was produced by Tanikawa Artists Management LLC. Music direction was by Dr. Cassie Nickols (FB).

Turning to the production credits: The production was directed by Will North (FB) with choreography by Dave Scott (FB) [assisted by Naomi Pacheco (FB)]. I’ve already commented on their work. There is no credit for the set design, although the program does indicate that the sets and props were provided by 3-D Theatricals (FB). The set was supplemented with projections designed by Jonathan Infante (FB). The set was a three-level beast with spaces for the various choirs and ensembles on the side, and a top piece that could connect to the projections. The set itself was fine. The problem is the projections attempted to modernize the story, with occasional Instagram snaps related to the story, and graffiti on Jacob’s tent. I’m not sure that worked, but I’m an older audience, not the modern audience. Props were also credited to Alex Choate (FB).  The lighting and sound designs were credited to Jose Santiago (FB) and Jonathan Burke (FB), respectively. Both worked well. Other production credits:  Jack Allaway, Technical Director; Talia Krispel (FB), Production Stage Manager; Richard Storrs (FB), Marketing Director; Mustang Marketing (FB), Marketing Team; David Elzer/Demand PR, Press Representative; and Will North (FB), Managing Director.

There is one more weekend of performances for this production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Tickets are available through 5 Star Theatricals (FB) on their ticketing page; discount tickets may be available through Goldstar. Additionally, 5 Star posted on their FB page: “Use code TEN4JO & save 10% off rear/side orchestra and mezzanine tickets for all evening performances! (Code good through 10/22).” This is an interesting take on a well-worn pastiche. It is enjoyable and presents a lot of great dance, but the updates and juxtapositions are jarring at times and some don’t work. Still, it is worth seeing for the effort and ideas and the attempt alone.


Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) [the company formerly known as Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB)], the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Chromolume Theatre(FB) in the West Adams district, and a mini-subscription at the Saroya [the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:

The drought has ended, and the last three months of 2017 are busy busy busy. Thursday sees us back at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB) for a tribute to Ray Charles — To Ray With Love.  The third weekend in October brings Bright Star at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) on Saturday; on Sunday, I’m going to see a thriller penned by the fellow through whom we get our Saroya (VPAC) subscriptions, Schaeffer Nelson (FB) — Mice at the Ensemble Studio Theatre LA (FB) in Atwater Village. The weekend before Thansgiving brings This Land at Company of Angels (FB) in Boyle Heights

Looking into November, we start with the Nottingham Festival (FB) in Simi Valley, followed by The Man Who Came to Dinner at Actors Co-op (FB). The following weekend brings a Day Out with Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB). The third weekend will hopefully bring Edges at the CSUN Theatre Department (FB) on Friday, the Tumbleweed Festival (FB) on Saturday, and Spamilton at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (FB) on Sunday. Thankgsiving Weekend will bring Something Rotten at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) and hopefully Levi (a new Sherman Brothers musical – join the Indiegogo here) at LA Community College Camino Theatre (FB). November concludes with the Anat Cohen Tentet at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB).

December starts with ACSAC 2017 in Orlando FL. As soon as we return, we’ve got Pacific Overtures at Chromolume Theatre (FB) and the Colburn Orchestra at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB). The weekend encompassing Chanukah sees us back at the Saroya  (FB) for the Klezmatics. We also hope to squeeze in a performance of A Christmas Story at the Canyon Theatre Guild (FB). Of course there will also be the obligatory Christmas Day movie.

Right now, early 2018 is pretty open, with only a few weekends taken by shows at the Pantages and Actors Co-Op. But that will likely fill up as Chromolume announces their dates, and announcements are received on interesting shows. Currently, we’re booking all the way out in mid to late 2018!

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.


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Posted by Pinku-Sensei

Happy National Liqueur Day!  I could have also wished my readers a Happy National Dictionary Day or a Happy National Department Store Day when I wanted to take a break from recapping the News and Documentary Emmy winners, but I decided to do something easy and familiar.  If my readers wish to celebrate those other days instead, they can go right ahead.

To observe today, I'm sharing two of the most popular videos from Tipsy Bartender on YouTube that involve liqueur, in this case, blue curacao.  First, the 31 Shot Glass Rainbow Shot Challenge, which was used in the opening of the rest of Skyy's videos for 2015.

Can it be done?! Rainbow shots using 31 shot glasses!
Now the video that Skyy refers his viewers to, How to make Rainbow Shots!.

The prettiest shots ever...RAINBOW SHOTS! These are the best looking rainbow shots ever!
Sweet & Sour
Orange Juice
Blue Curacao
Skyy's are pretty.  Emma's, not so much.  Brown isn't a color of the rainbow, but that's what she got instead of yellow.  I'm sure it tastes just fine.

Back to the News and Documentary Emmy winners tomorrow with two statues going to stories about the Amazon.  Stay tuned.
[syndicated profile] cahighways_feed

Posted by cahwyguy

Upright Citizens Brigade (VPAC)The live entertainment break that started when we went off on vacation in August is over, and the theatre calendar thought the rest of 2017 is quite busy. The drought-breaker was the first show in our 2017-2018 season at The Soraya,  the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB): an evening of improv comedy from the Upright Citizens Brigade (FB), featuring Sasheer Zamata (FB) and Matt Besser (FB), with  Jessica McKenna (FB), Hillary Anne Matthews (FB), and one other player who was only named from the stage.

Going in, I noticed that this was one of the most poorly attended shows we’ve been to at VPAC. The upppermost balcony was closed, and I’d estimate the crowd was perhaps one third to one half of its normal size (but significantly younger). I’m not sure why, but this wasn’t the expected draw.

As for the show itself, it wasn’t what we expected — although to be true, we didn’t know what to expect. Perhaps an evening of topic sketch comedy, or a series of standups? What we got was five people, five chairs, soliciting stories from the audience. After hearing each embarrassing story, the improv team would riff on various aspects of the story.

There were points of the show that were very funny, but there were often a lot of misses and missed opportunities. That’s how improv goes, I guess. It’s something that would work well on the small stage of UCB over on Franklin in Hollywood, but I’m not sure it works in the large hall like the Saroya (VPAC). [I’ll never get used to that name.]


Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) (well, make that 5 Stars Theatricals(FB)), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Chromolume Theatre(FB) in the West Adams district, and a mini-subscription at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:

The drought has ended, and the last three months of 2017 are busy busy busy. This afternoon brings a supposedly refreshed version of  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at 5 Star Theatricals (the company formerly known as Cabrillo Music Theatre) (FB). Thursday sees us back at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB) for a tribute to Ray Charles — To Ray With Love.  The third weekend in October brings Bright Star at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) on Saturday; on Sunday, I’m going to see a thriller penned by the fellow through whom we get our Saroya (VPAC) subscriptions, Schaeffer Nelson (FB) — Mice at the Ensemble Studio Theatre LA (FB) in Atwater Village. The weekend before Thansgiving brings This Land at Company of Angels (FB) in Boyle Heights

Looking into November, we start with the Nottingham Festival (FB) in Simi Valley, followed by The Man Who Came to Dinner at Actors Co-op (FB). The following weekend brings a Day Out with Thomas at Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB). The third weekend will hopefully bring Edges at the CSUN Theatre Department (FB) on Friday, the Tumbleweed Festival (FB) on Saturday, and Spamilton at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (FB) on Sunday. Thankgsiving Weekend will bring Something Rotten at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) and hopefully Levi (a new Sherman Brothers musical – join the Indiegogo here) at LA Community College Camino Theatre (FB). November concludes with the Anat Cohen Tentet at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB).

December starts with ACSAC 2017 in Orlando FL. As soon as we return, we’ve got Pacific Overtures at Chromolume Theatre (FB) and the Colburn Orchestra at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB). The weekend encompassing Chanukah sees us back at the Saroya (VPAC) for the Klezmatics. We also hope to squeeze in a performance of A Christmas Story at the Canyon Theatre Guild (FB). Of course there will also be the obligatory Christmas Day movie.

Right now, early 2018 is pretty open, with only a few weekends taken by shows at the Pantages and Actors Co-Op. But that will likely fill up as Chromolume announces their dates, and announcements are received on interesting shows. Currently, we’re booking all the way out in mid to late 2018!

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.


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Posted by Pinku-Sensei

The next paragraph from 'Body Team 12' and 'Extremis' both nominated for Outstanding Short Documentary plus other science, health, and environment nominees listing winners after the one that mentioned "Collisions" named the nominees that examined the intersection between sports and health.
Medical issues in sports were the subject of three nominees.  "Russia's Dark Secret" from 60 Minutes on CBS explores doping in Russia's sports teams, particularly in Olympic events.  It's nominated for Outstanding Investigative Report in a Newsmagazine along with the other nominee exploring the health aspects of sports, "Cost of the Game: The Dangers of Youth Football" from Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO.  The latter segment might just get the U.S. to yes on the question of "Are you ready for no football?"  So might "Friday Night Lights" from Vice News Tonight, which is nominated for Outstanding Feature Story in a Newscast.
Of those three, the only winner was "Cost of the Game: The Dangers of Youth Football" from Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO, an appropriate awardee to examine on a football Sunday.  Watch Byron Pitts present the award for Outstanding Investigative Report in a News Magazine.

For the rest of the clip seen above, watch The Dangers of Youth Football: Real Sports Trailer (HBO).

Bernard Goldberg investigates the alarming number of high school football deaths-and sits down with Terry O’Neil, a former executive producer of NFL football, to discuss the lack of protection for younger players and researchers at Boston University to hear about their new findings.
As a former high school football player, those statistics are scary and make me glad I seem to have escaped brain damage.  They also make me glad my son played soccer instead of football.

There was a third nominee about football that I missed in last week's listing of nominees.  It won an award, so follow over the jump for two videos about it.

The nominee that I missed was "In Football We Trust" from Independent Lens on PBS.  Watch Clarissa Ward present its award for Outstanding Business & Economic Documentary.

Before it aired on PBS, it was a documentary that aired at the Sundance Festival.  Here is its official trailer for the threatrical release.

Official 2015 Sundance Film Festival Selection
IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST intimately portrays four young Polynesian football players struggling to overcome gang violence, family pressures and near poverty as they enter the high stakes world of college recruiting and the promise of professional sports.
As someone with family connections to Utah, I'm pleased to see the state's high school football players featured.  On the other hand, I have a feeling that when the rest of the U.S. is ready for no football, the relatives of the young men featured in this documentary will be among the last ones playing.
[syndicated profile] neonvincent_feed

Posted by Pinku-Sensei

I began the section over the jump in 'Body Team 12' and 'Extremis' both nominated for Outstanding Short Documentary plus other science, health, and environment nominees by naming and describing two nominees for Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary.
I found three nominees that were more science than either health or the environment.  Two of them were nominated for Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary, "A Bear's-Eye View of Yellowstone" and "Collisions."  The former looks like a fun follow-up to 'Wild Yellowstone: The Frozen Frontier' -- last year's Emmy winner for Outstanding Cinematography: Documentary and Long Form.  The second is much more serious and on-topic for this blog, the story of a native tribal elder's recounting of his being witness to an atomic bomb test in the Australian Outback.  Not only does it talk about the event, but also the elder's philosophy on caring for the environment.  For both of these nominees, it is not the content that is being recognized, but the technology used to tell it.
Reading between the lines, one might be able to tell that I was more impressed with "Collisions."  So were the Emmy voters.  Here is Scott Kelly, star of "A Year in Space," announcing the winner of Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary.

Like Lynette Wallworth, I find the timing of this production's release particularly apt.  Here is the trailer that describes both the story and the technology being honored.

A work of stunning visuals and powerful narrative, Collisions tells the story of Aboriginal elder Nyarri Nyarri Morgan who lived as 1000 generations before him in the remote Pilbara desert of Western Australia-- until his life was dramatically impacted by a collision with the extreme edge of Western science and technology.  [Lynette] Wallworth is an acclaimed Australian artist and documentary filmmaker known for producing immersive artworks that provoke a profound emotional response. She is ideally positioned to explore the storytelling potential of VR, and sees the new form as the perfect vehicle for Nyarri to communicate his story.
Congratulations to Wallworth and all the people she named in her acceptance speech.

That's not all.  Follow over the jump for a video of one of the tests and another about the site today.

First, Atomic Bomb Test (Australia) from worldswonders.

Yes, that's what Nyarri Morgan likely saw.

Next, The Wall Street Journal describes the former nuclear testing site as An Australian Tourist Attraction With a Radioactive Past.

More than 50 years ago, the British government tested nuclear bombs in the remote desert near Maralinga, South Australia. Now, after decades of radioactive cleanup, the site is open to tourists.
Australia is on my bucket list of places to visit, but I'm not sure I want to tour a nuclear test site.

I'll have more on the News and Documentary Emmy winners next week.  Stay tuned.
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Posted by Pinku-Sensei

Beware!  It's Friday the 13th!  To observe the occasion, I'm noting that this unlucky day is also the U.S. Navy's birthday, so I'm featuring naval and maritime superstitions.  I begin with Nautical Superstitions Maritime Myths.

A Sea Worthy list of Maritime Superstitions.
Yes, number five is Friday the 13th and it does reference the U.S. Navy.

This ad from Look Insurance -- 7 Superstitions On The 7 Seas -- features a different set of superstitions.

Ahoy sailors! Check out our latest animation video which shows the 7 most common sailing superstitions amongst seafarers!
That's a really well-animated video of the list, but it doesn't explain why any of them exist.  For that, watch Tour Guide Talk: Naval Superstitions from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Join Intrepid Museum Tour Guide Matt Harris as he shares some of the history behind certain naval myths and superstitions. Why are bananas bad luck on ships? Why are cats good luck? Watch to learn more!
Yes, those explanations for why bananas are bad luck and cats are good luck make sense.  Not all superstitions are arbitrary or silly, so I'll remember no bananas on board!

Chained Chum Looking for a Theme

Oct. 14th, 2017 05:13 pm
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Posted by cahwyguy

Observation StewAs I read the various posts that become essay prompts, I collect articles of interest that become themed news chum posts (which typically require three or more common-theme articles). Sometimes, however, the themes never materialize or prove insufficient for a post on their own. When that happens, we have chum looking for a theme… like this. However, in writing these up, it turned into a “chain”, post: where there might not be a connection between the articles, but there is a chain of connection between any two bullets.

  • You’re The Top. Food waste in this country is incredible. From perfectly good food we throw away because it is “expired”, to edible food we don’t realize is edible. In the latter category go the tops of many of the vegetables we eat. But they don’t have to go into the trash: here’s how to use them. Here’s a great quote: “We throw an enormous percentage of food away, not only wasting food we know about but also food we don’t think of as being part of the farm-to-table sequence. Sometimes, when I’m at my neighborhood farmers market pulling beet greens and carrot tops out of the discard bins behind the produce stalls, someone will ask me what I’m doing with them. Or, more often, they’ll ask the nearby farmer whether the tops of the various vegetables they’re buying are edible. Fresh greens are gorgeous, fragrant, healthful and enormously flavorful; they’re also endlessly useful in cooking. Not only do we use herbs and greens in soups, salads, sauces and stocks, but also in bouquets garnis, as garnishes, even in cocktails. Why we value some more than others is pretty arbitrary.”
  • Is all Salt the Same? Speaking about food ingredients, normally, when we think of an ingredient, we think it is interchangeable. After all, does it make a difference what brand of pasta we use, from what company the herbs are sourced? Well, it turns out that when you’re talking about salt, it does. I’m not talking sea vs iodized: I’m talking Kosher Salt. Not all Kosher Salt is the same. Representative quote: “a cup of Morton is nearly twice as salty as Diamond Crystal. Its thin crystals, made by pressing salt granules in high-pressurized rollers, are much denser than those of Diamond Crystal, which uses a patented pan-evaporation process, called the Alberger method, that results in pyramidal crystals. While different brands of fine sea salts and table salts generally have around the same weight by volume, kosher salts do not. “And it’s not only the weight,” says Lalli Music. “Morton is a coarser salt. It takes a little longer to dissolve.” So even at the same weight, it actually performs differently. It’s easier to add too much of the slow-dissolving Morton salt because it may not have fully liquefied when you’ve tasted something.” The difference is so telling, recipes have to specify the brand.
  • Clip It. Little things like salt are critical. We often don’t think about these little things. For example, clips. Now I’m not talking MS Clippy (although I did read a fascinating history of Clippy). No, I’m talking bread clips, those little pieces of plastic that close our loaves of bread. It turns out there is a whole family of different clips and types, and some have gone as far as to develop taxonomies of the clips. Favorite quote: ““Much like insect wings,” the site authors elaborate, “occulpanids are grouped according to the dentition (or lack thereof) in their oral groove, which often dictates both their ecological niche and biogeographic location.” Each bagged specimen is also tagged on the site with an “ecological classification” based on the biomes in which it has been found (e.g. grocery aisle, hardware store, asphalt road, landfill, oceanic gyre or gastrointestinal tract).”
  • Knit One. Clips bring things together, as does knitting. My wife is a knitter, so articles on knitting catch my eye. The first in this group explored the history of knitting, from the earliest  days to the present day. Representative quote: “Despite high hopes, my research revealed neither mortals nor gods. Instead, knitting’s history is made up of an assortment of clues, competing theories from scholars and half-rotted fragments on the verge of disintegration. Not exactly the fun romp through fairy tales I was hoping for. Unlike spinning or weaving, knitting doesn’t figure in any ancient myths. In fact, there isn’t even an ancient Greek or Latin word for knitting! The word “to knit” didn’t make an appearance in the Oxford Unabridged English Dictionary until the fifteenth century and wasn’t part of any European language until the Renaissance. All this confirms that knitting is a relatively new invention.”
  • Purl Two. The other knitting articles are connected in a different way: the describe two groups of knitters on each coast. On the East Coast, Alan Cumming (of Caberet) fame has opened a new club that has a stitch-and-bitch night. In a club promising “Downtown Debauchery”, “It’s like a jamboree, with our ‘Knitmaster’ Tom teaching people different types of stitches, and having a weekly challenge, such as hat, scarf, shawl, and then working to have a few gifts for the holiday season,” Nardicio revealed.  On the West Coast, a tight knit (heh) community has formed around a UCLA Campus Club that teaches knitting. Now, this isn’t a touchy-feely “north campus” club, but a club that meets in the Engineering building.  Started by a third-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student, the i-KNIT-iative knitting club meets in Boelter 5514, providing a space for members to learn how to knit, crochet and do other forms of needlecraft, while socializing and de-stressing in the process. The club is also working to produce scarves and beanies for donation to homeless shelters around Los Angeles at the end of fall quarter. While members bring their own projects, the club supplies materials such as bags stuffed with yarn and knitting needles for members who plan on donating their finished product.
  • Men Using Their Organs The Right Way. Knitting is an activity you do when you’re bored. Where is the best place to be bored? A baseball field. But all is not boring there. Here are two interesting stories about baseball organists. The first is about the organist for the Boston Red Sox, Representative quote: “They’ve devised various challenges to accomplish this. “Sometimes, he plays a song, and I’ll play a song it reminds me of,” Kantor says. “We also do theme nights.” Earlier this year, when members of the ‘67 pennant-winning team were in attendance, they only played songs from 1967. On July 20, the anniversary of the first moon landing, they always stick to songs about space. “Fans will get into it, too,” Connelly says, if they notice. When the April 21 game became an impromptu Prince tribute, it made national news.” On the other end of the country, there is the organist for the LA Dodgers, who tries to do something similar. Representative quote: “Ruehle took over in 2016 following the retirement of longtime Dodger organist Nancy Bea Hefley, who had held the post for a remarkable run of 28 years. But he has quickly earned the respect of music aficionados among the Chavez Ravine crowds for his savvy use of pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, classical and other genre song snippets woven in with the boilerplate baseball-organ repertoire.” Both articles highlight one of those things that are often in the background, yet are so importance for providing a special ambiance.
  • So Is That XL, or XXL? An old joke, oft told between guys about their organs, is that comdoms only come in L, XL and XXL, because no one would ever buy a small. But with condoms, size is importance and not all men are the same: and you don’t want it slipping off because it is too large. This has led to a new business: Bespoke Condoms. A Boston-based company has begun selling custom-fit condoms in 60 sizes, in combinations of 10 lengths and nine circumferences. As the custom-fit condom company, Global Protection Corp., pressed the F.D.A. and industry standards associations for changes, a key priority was smaller sizes, said the company’s president, Davin Wedel. Until recently, standard condoms had to be at least 6.69 inches long, but studies find the average erect penis is roughly an inch shorter.
  • Getting the Rage Out. Now we move from one form of baseball bat to another: real baseball bats. In Los Angeles, a downtown “Rage Room” has opened. Here, co-founders Peter Wolf and Edwin Toribio allow guests take out their angst on a variety of delightfully fragile inanimate objects with their weapon of choice. As Emperor Palpatine would say, “Let the hate flow through you.” Rage Ground offers five separate rooms of various sizes for smashing, though they’re all linked in such a way that a large group could turn them into one massive anger-fueled free-for-all for around 25 guests at a time. Various packages include a variety of objects to obliterate, including glassware and household appliances. For instance, a $13.99 starter package gets a single person five minutes with three small items and two medium items. The “Get Smashed” package ($29.99), which is particularly popular, scores one person 10 minutes with eight beer mugs, five shot glasses, and three martini glasses. For an extra fee, Rage Ground also offers specialty items for destroying (they’re currently all out of Trump pinatas), or guests can make a special request for a particular item in advance.
  • Native LA. Speaking of Los Angeles, last week brought Indigenous Peoples Day in Los Angeles. Yes, the banks were closed. But it did bring out an interesting article on the natives of Los Angeles: The Tongva-Gabrieliño tribe. California was home to thousands of people before Spanish settlers arrived—around 350,000 across the whole state—and the Los Angeles Basin in particular was home to the Gabrieliño-Tongva people. The movements of the Tongva peoples set the stage for what would eventually become Los Angeles. Their footpath through the Sepulveda Basin was the original 405 freeway. The L.A. State Historic Park was formerly a fertile basin within a mile of Yaanga, the Tongva people’s largest known village in the area. The Hahamog’na, a band of the Tongva peoples, settled along the Arroyo Seco river, which now comprises Northeast Los Angeles.
  • Jacked Around. The Tongva got jacked around, but if they were buying a new iPhone or Pixel, that couldn’t happen. No jacks. The 3.5mm jack is increasingly disappearing — for no good reason other than profit. Don’t believe the BS about more space in the phone. 3.5 mm jacks provide a universal way for things to connect. Bluetooth is touted as universal, but typically tends to be a walled garden forcing you to a particular manufacturers product for the best sound.  Always remember this: Even if you are the customer, shareholders come first. Changes made aren’t always for the benefit of the customer, but for the profit of the company.
  • Software Replacements. A great example of this is software, where a few articles on replacements caught my eye. Google is replacing the easy to use Google Drive with Backup and Sync. What’s changing are the apps. The major difference between Backup and Sync and Drive File Stream is the latter’s ability to stream files from the cloud—the popular “placeholder” capability that can display copies of all of your cloud-based files, without actually storing them on your PC. Backup and Sync syncs files more traditionally, placing local copies on your desktop, and then backing them up in the cloud. If you want to back up your photos and videos, you’ll use Backup and Sync. Ditto with a generic USB drive that you want to add to the cloud. On the Microsoft side, Skype for Business (the meeting app we love to hate) is going away. It is being replaced by Microsoft Teams, ostensibly to put pressure on Slack. Microsoft is also promising better meetings with Teams in the future, thanks to AI. Microsoft is building in machine learning, cognitive services, and speech recognition to improve a meetings experience and make it easier to set them up and receive follow ups after the meeting has concluded. But some replacements are never as good as the original. For example, RSS and similar syndication is still the best way to keep on top of things.  [and although not mentioned in the article, Newsblur is still my RSS reader of choice.]
  • Running Away. All these changes make you want to run away. If you do, you probably want a passport, given the mess with RealID. The winter is the best time to get one, according to the LA Times. They report that the State Department is claiming that Americans should apply for or renew their passports before January because processing times are shortest between September and December. Demand for passports typically heats up in the new year and continues into summer. If you want to get your passport back quickly, now is the time to apply or renew. Why get a passport? Something called the Real ID Act will go into effect in 2018. The law, passed in 2005, requires state driver’s licenses to meet certain security standards to be considered a valid federal ID you can use at airport security checkpoints. California is one of the states whose driver’s license does meet the requirements. If you have a license issued by a state that’s not compliant, a valid passport is your best bet for airport identification. Not to mention that you need a passport now to go to Mexico or Canada. [Hmm, mine is from 1976. I think I should renew.]
  • End With The Best. If the fall is the best time for passports, here are some more bests: (1) Best VPN services; (2) Best Art Supply Stores in LA.



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Posted by cahwyguy

userpic=trumpA friend of mine from our synagogue brought to my attention a wonderful article that serves as an essay prompt. This article is about Trump (heh heh, I first typed Tramp) attending the Voters Values conference — an evangelical voting group — and wading into the culture wars. Some relevant quotes from the article:

“We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values,” Trump said to applause, before slamming people who don’t say “Merry Christmas.”

“They don’t use the word Christmas because it is not politically correct,” Trump said, complaining that department stores will use red and Christmas decorations but say “Happy New Year.” “We’re saying Merry Christmas again.”

I’m sorry, but what Trump is promoting is NOT Judeo-Christian values. If it was, it wouldn’t be shaming Jews who say “Happy Chanukkah” or “Happy Holidays”. In fact, it isn’t even Christian values, which are much more accepting of people and socially forward. It is specifically Evangelical Christian values, which promote the idea that you are not saved by Jesus unless you have accepted him and all the tenets of their version of Christianity — and to many extents, it goes beyond that to White Evangelical values, which view Jesus as a white man, and view every other religion and skin color as not worthy of being saved, and hence inferior and of no value.

This is a view that was related last night on the new Fox series The Orville, with a storyline about an alien race who believed that its religious doctrine gave it the right of superiority of other races and species. It was the only species with a soul, and that gave it the right to destroy anything it deemed inferior, and to devalue anything developed by a soul-less people. The skin of these people was pale white, and what destroys them is transparency.

I’m sorry, Mr. Trump, but the values you and your core followers are trying to protect are not Judeo-Christian, and are barely even Christian, based on my understanding of Christianity.

  • Judaism teaches the value of human life, and putting the life of the mother (who can go on to have more children) over the life of an unborn child. Abortion is permitted, and birth control is permitted. Your actions to limit both are against Jewish thought.
  • Judaism teaches the value of human life, and thus, the value of healthcare. If it is within your power to provide such care, you do. Your policies are actually making health care less available and of lower quality, injuring life.
  • Judaism constantly reminds us that we should always remember that we were once slaves, and watch out for the poor among us. It also teaches that the greatest charity is that which comes when you don’t know the giver. Thus, Judaism supports all the social programs that provide safety nets without guilt or shaming. You want to dismantle those programs.
  • Judaism emphasizes the importance of Justice. You work against that when you mistreat minorities and others with pre-existing conditions (race, sex, orientation, religion, gender).
  • Judaism understand the importance of the separation of Church and State, and that the State should not be imposing any particular set of religious values. Whenever that has happened, it has been bad for the Jews. Yet what you have been proposing and encouraging is just that: enforcing values that are not Judaism on Jews.

Further, your administration has been tacitly encouraging white supremacists,  neo-Nazis, and antisemites. Instead of harshly condemning them, you equivocate and indicate that both sides are at fault. Since when are Jews worshipping at a synagogue in Charlottesville at fault for their worship, worthy of having antisemites with swastikas pointing weaponry at them. Is that a Judeo-Christian value that you uphold?

Would you stand against mistreatment of Jews by law enforcement — if it came to that — just as we’ve seen you standing up against law enforcement’s mistreatment of blacks and hispanics and people from the Middle East? Oh, right, you haven’t done that.

Would we see you speaking out against any double standard for serial sexual abuse and harassment? You’re quick to condemn Harvey Weinstein — a white Jew and a liberal. But where is the acceptance of your own sordid history of equivalent or worse behavior? If it disqualifies men like Weinstein and Weiner, why isn’t it disqualifying people like Newt Gingrich and you? It is acceptable if it is done by a White Christian, because we know they are superior and thus have the right to do so? Is that the Judeo-Christian value that you defend?

You constantly speak out wanting to muzzle the media, but what media do you want to muzzle, and what is that code for? It is a coincidence that the organizations you want to muzzle are the ones not espousing a strictly evangelical-supportive view? When you listen to the hateful rhetoric of antisemites, who are they saying controls the media organizations you hate, vs. the media organizations they love. Is that a Judeo-Christian value?

In truth, Mr. Trump, the only value you respect is the value that lines your pocket or massages your ego. But the gospel of prosperity — and especially Trump prosperity — is not a Judeo-Christian value. It is worship of the self, without any regard for your place in the Kingdom to Come. It is living for what you can get now, not the value you would have in the afterlife by living as Jesus taught, caring about others and going out of your way to life up the whores in the street. For someone who purports to be a Christian, where is your demonstration of Christian values (as opposed to your pandering for Christian votes).

Mr. Trump, there is no “war on Christmas” (except by those commercial entities who have made the focus profit, instead of the birth of Jesus). I won’t get upset if you wish me a Merry Christmas. But I’ll get really upset if you shame me for wishing you a Happy Chanukkah back. I’ll get really upset if you push your evangelical values on me claiming they are Jewish or even real Christian values.

In the episode of The Orville last night, the Krill were destroyed by sunlight. In political parlance, sunlight laws open up what is being done for all to see — no secret meetings, no secret agendas, no countries behind the scenes working on other agendas. Mr. Trump — you are Krill — and continued sunlight by the media and investigations will be your downfall, especially as people learn the truth about what you are doing.


Essay Prompts and Culture Wars

Oct. 12th, 2017 01:38 am
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Posted by cahwyguy

userpic=divided-nationI love my strongly Conservative friends. They are such a reliable source of essay prompts and blog material. Today’s catalyst was the following:

What’s the end game, lefties? What’s your desired outcome in this cultural war you’ve waging? Is it to take over everything in America, run every institution in your own image, whatever that is? Or is it to destroy them all, as is now happening with the BSA and the NFL?

There is so much I could unpack in this comment, such as the fact that the BSA is actually keeping boys and girls in separate Cub Scout dens, or that one would think that the values of the Boy Scouts would be values they would want girls to have as well, or the fact that what is happening with the NFL is not an attack on the anthem, but rather kneeling for the freedoms that we pay lip service to in the anthem, but that we don’t see on the streets.

But that’s not what caught my attention. It was the phrase “culture war.”

We have so many wars in this country: culture wars, a war on Christmas, a war on values, a war on women, a war on drugs — one might forget what war is. It is not a heated political discussion. It is a dirty battle in which people not only may die, but do die, from the actions of the enemy. It was World War II and the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War and the War in Afghanistan. It is people coming back mangled and in pieces, or in coffins. I know war. The culture war is not a war, and you have no right to trivialize war and its horrors by equating the two.

But if this is to be a “war”, exactly what is at stake here? You notice that they never quite say. A recent This American Life touched upon the issue quite well, however.  What is being attacked is the traditional “American” culture of the early 20th Century: a culture where whites had unquestioned privilege, where women were second class citizens, where blacks and minorities were less than third-class citizens. It is a culture where sex was binary, relationships were normative, society was clearly Christian if not Protestant, and other religions were second-class or at least subject to prejudice. This was Jim Crow and Antisemitism. But of course, one cannot say that one longs for such things — there is the belief that the “thought police” (otherwise known as the dreaded Liberal) will come for you. So what you long for — what you say is under attack — is American Culture and American Values.

Look at the examples in the essay prompt. The kneeling football players are “insulting the anthem” by standing up for the rights of blacks to walk and drive in our cities without harrassment. In their eyes, the anthem stands for the values above, and standing up for the rights of minorities goes against those values.

The BSA? Well it is those pesky girls invading our boys only spaces. The Boy Scouts — in their eyes, mind you, not the eyes of the BSA — is where boys can be boys, and learn the right values such as how to treat women. I wonder if Harvey Weinstein or even our humble President was a Boy Scout. After all, we all remember what he tried to teach the Boy Scouts.

The folks who are up in arms about a culture war appear to want the culture as it was in the days of Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens. Workhouses for the poor. Women either put up on a pedestal for modesty and virtue, or treated as sluts and whores. White men as the unquestioned Gods of society, unquestioned pillars of virtue. Society as a Christian one, with Christian values and feigned charity towards all, but all the wealth for the upper crust. That is the fictional movie image. For most of those living it, life was shit.

We are not dealing with culture wars. We’re dealing with cultural shift. We’re dealing with a world that has come to realize that all people have worth and value. We’re dealing with a world that has slowly, begrudgingly, come to realize that everyone deserves to be treated fairly and with respect, irrespective of those aspects they can’t control, such as skin color, sex, gender, orientation, social strata, religion, genetic predispositions — otherwise known as pre-existing conditions. We aspire for healthcare independent of pre-existing conditions. Why can’t we aspire for a society that does the same.

It is especially significant to see such an essay prompt on today, National Coming Out Day, when we should feel free to say what we are without fear of recrimination or reaction. Coming out is more than just stating your orientations or attractions — it is announcing to the world a public acknowledgement of who and what you are.

So, in that spirit, and in the spirit of making clear what side of the “culture war” I’m on: I’m a clear and present Liberal. I’m a Humphrey-ite Democrat. I believe in those progressive values that all are valued, that your right to practice your religion and beliefs ends where my right to practice mine begins. I believe that my body is my body, and your body is your body, and her body is her body, and none of us should be telling or legislating what we can be doing with it.  I believe we all have to stand up for what we believe in.

So is there a culture war? Yes, but not in the way you think. It is not the white patriarchal culture that is dying however. It is women who can’t get abortions. People that can’t afford healthcare or housing. LGBTQ…. who are being beaten in the streets or blown up in the clubs. It is blacks dying in the streets at the hands of law enforcement, or minorities dying at the hands of immigration officials. It is those who are defending the “traditional” culture who are perpetrating the war: they are bringing physically lethal weaponry to battle that most dangerous weapon of all: the idea of equality and justice.

So, how did I do on the essay, teach?


Camp Family

Oct. 10th, 2017 06:16 pm
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Posted by cahwyguy

Last night, there was terrible news out of Santa Rosa for anyone that loves Jewish summer camps: “As many of you may have heard, since 10pm last night, forest fires have been burning in Sonoma and Napa counties. It is with tremendous shock and sadness that we share that the majority of the buildings at our beloved Camp Newman home have been destroyed.” (URJ Blog Entry)

I never attended URJ Camp Newman. I spent 10 years of my youth at their competitor and sibling: the Wilshire Blvd Temple Camps (Camp Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp) in Malibu. All I knew was that there were two other Jewish camps in California, the Conservative’s Camp Ramah in Ojai, and UAHC’s Camp Saratoga (later Camp Swig) in Northern California. I never knew, for example, that UAHC had purchased land for a new camp, Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, in 1997; nor that they had closed Camp Swig in 2004 moving camp operations to Camp Newman. The reason for the closure of the Saratoga facility was economic: the land was in an earthquake red zone, and the cost of updating and retrofitting the buildings was prohibitive. They moved what camp art they could to the Newman site, and closed the camp and attempted to sell the land (which upset a lot of people). The sale fell through, and I could find no clear information on what happened to that land other than a paywalled reference that it was sold in 2010.‡

But Jewish summer camp is special, and I know the hours I’ve spent worrying anytime there is a fire near Malibu. I remember helping at camp after a fire, and I remember how close fire has come to destroying buildings at camp. I can only imagine the spiritual pain that Saratoga / Swig / Newman campers, staff, and alumni are feeling,

Buildings will be rebuilt. The ground will be scoured for artifacts and art that survived (ceramics and concrete are wonderful that way). There will be a re-sanctification and new energy, and the spirit will return. This summer will see the camp return to pioneer roots for sure, with temporary rougher facilities and a spirit of re-creation for the future generations. Art will show a rebirth through fire, just as the literal fires of the Holocaust were followed by a rebirth of Jewish spirit.

What has surprised me through this, however, is how I have been touched by destruction at a camp I’ve never attended. The larger Jewish Camp family is truly a family: whether CHK or GHC, Ramah, Kutz or Newman, or Alonim, or any of the myriad of camp options, we are all in pain when “camp” is hurt.

I wish the URJ Camp Newman community a refluah shleimah — a speedy recovery. Those financially able to help could visit the camp’s donation page. #NewmanStrong

[‡ ETA: It looks like it was sold to a group called Valley International Academy, but their current webpage puts them in Campbell. That may be an administrative office, because other pages still show them in Saratoga. There is also an Environmental Impact Report and architectural documents for a rehab into some new center by a group called Valley Inception, LLC (which would destroy many of the original cabins) in 2015. They are a technology firm, and as for use, all the EIR says is “rehabilitate an existing camp / retreat facility, Camp Saratoga, through obtaining Architecture and Site Approval (ASA) and Grading. Proposed project scope includes demolishing (9) existing cabins, consolidating and building four (4) new camper / staff cabins, one (1) facility storage building, reconstructing the existing Norris House for administration functions and various site improvements such as installing new parking lot, internal access serving the new buildings, ADA and utility upgrades. […] A similar rehabilitation was proposed by the previous organization, Camp Swig, and approved in 2002. Upon completion of the rehabilitation, subject facility will resume operation hosting a variety of programs in varying durations year-round. Summer programs may be as minimal as days or weeks, while school year programs will be longer. ” Thus, it appears this is now a boarding school.]


A Matter of Perspective

Oct. 9th, 2017 02:24 pm
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Posted by cahwyguy

[Today is Illegal Immigration Day — the day that we celebrate when the inhabitants of Miami Beach discovered an illegal boat person on their shore, and made the gigantic mistake of offering him and the others on his boat asylum… and look at what happened. In Los Angeles, of course, they just renamed the day Indigenous People Day. Back in the 1950s, however, the day was called Columbus Day, when we celebrated a city in Ohio for reason no one really knows, other than we needed to give bankers a 3-day weekend in October, because we all know they need the respite.]

In 1961, the humorist Stan Freberg issued Volume 1 of The United States of America, a musical telling of the founding of America through the Battle of Yorktown (Volume 2 goes through the end of World War I (“They’ll never be another war…”)). The first scene on Volume 1 relates the story of how the Indians discovered Columbus. Although many things have changed since 1961 when this was recorded — Columbus is no longer held in the same regard, the portrayal of the Native American would likely be very different — there are still points that ring true, especially the exchange:

Columbus: Alright. Hello there. Hello there. We white man. Other side of ocean. My name, Christopher Columbus.
Chief: Oh, you over here on a Fulbright?
Columbus: No, no. I’m over here on an Isabella, as a matter of fact. Which reminds me. I want to take a few of you guys back on the boat to prove I discovered you.
Chief: What you mean discover us? We discover you.
Columbus: You discovered us?
Chief: Certainly, we discover you on beach here. Is all how you look at it.

As today is Columbus Day, let us remember that unfortunate day that the Native Americans discovered a Italian sailor, and the world was never the same. Just look at all he brought us: “real food: starches, spaghetti, cholesterol, … all the better things. That’s called progress.”

I present a transcription of the scene, just as it happened:

NARR: 1492, Madrid. The Queen of Spain grants an audience to an obscure Italian sailor. There, in her chambers, plans are made destined to change the course of history.
COLUMBUS (CC): Alright, we’ll go over it once again. First you hock the jewels, you give me the money and I buy the ships. Then I discover the new world, you dump the king, and I’ll send for you.
QUEEN ISABELLA (QI): You say you’ll send for me, dahling, but will you?
CC: Look, we’ve been all through this before.
QI: I know, but really, you’re such a dreamer. You’ll go out there and sail right off the end of the world.
CC: I will not!
QI: You’re such a charming boy, dahling. Why don’t you forget all this? I’ll set you up with a nice little Fiat agency over in West Barcelona.
CC: I don’t want a Fiat agency!
QI: Then why don’t you go to art school like your friend, Da Vinci? I’ll put you through.
CC: If Lenny wants to starve to death, that’s up to Lenny. Me, I want to discover the new world, carry out my dream. (trumpet fanfare)

ANNOUNCE: His Majesty, King Ferdinand.

QI: (gasp) The King.
CC: Oh, sure, he’ll be at the inquisition all afternoon.
QI: Time just slipped away. Quickly, take the jewels and go, over the balcony. (door opens)
CC: Too late.

QI: Good afternoon dear. How was the inquisition? Amusing?
KING FERDINAND (KF): Dullsville. Same old… say, who’s that?
QI: You remember Christopher Columbus.
KF: You mean old “round, round world”. (laughs). You and your Bohemian friends.
QI: He’s not Bohemian, he’s Italian.
KF: Italian, Bohemian. Look at him in that hat. Is that a crazy sailor?

QI: Crazy? I’ll tell you how crazy. He’s a man with a dream, a vision. A vision of a new world, whose alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears. With purple mountains magestied above the 2 cents plain
CC & KF: (fruited)
QI: Fruited. He holds these griefs to be self-evident, this “round, round world” with Indians and justice for all. Let us then go forward together toward Miami Beach, so that the dream of this crazy Italian boy, indivisible, should not perish from the map. (cheers from crowd)

CC: Is that moving? Was that a great bit?
KF: I always said this girl had a lot of…Wait a minute! I ask a simple question, I get a pageant. Why should Spain sponsor you? Why don’t you go to Portugal?

CC: I did—they bought “The Price is Right”
KF: Oh.

CC: Then I have your permission to sail?
KF: Have you had your shots?
CC: I have.
KF: Permission granted.
CC: Gracias. Areva Derchi
KF: Hasta La Vista
QI: Adios (Mariachi band: Adios Muchachos, Compañareros)

KF: Would you get out of here? (footsteps) Strange, he left by the balcony.
QI: Force of habit I guess.
KF: Yeah, yeah, how’s that again.
QI: Nothing.
KF: Isabella? When are you going to quit fooling around with these nuts?

(on ship) 1st Mate: Admiral Columbus, sir. The men are weary, on the point of madness.
CC: Well, that’s the trouble with labor today. Don’t they realize we’re going to discover the New World?
KF: You’ve been saying that for the last 57 days.
CC: Nobody forced you to come along, your Majesty.
KF: My doctor told me I should go to Florida for the winter.

KF: I still can’t see what you needed three ships for?
CC: I got a better deal on the fleet rate.
KF: I’ll accept that. But we better sight land soon, there’s rumblings of mutiny.
CC: Really?
KF: Come over here and listen

Crew: Rumble. Rumble. Rumble. Mutiny. Mutiny. Mutiny.

CC: I see what you mean. I’ll jump up here on the rigging and speak to them.
KF: You mean on top of everything else this ship is rigged?

CC: Now hear this! This is the Admiral speaking. I know the going has been rough, but if you can just hold out a little while.
Crew: (rumble rumble)
CC: Stop that rumbling down there.
KF: Who can blame them! The whole thing is madness! I don’t like the way the crew is acting!
CC: You’re overplaying it a little bit yourself there.
KF: I tell you the world is flat, and that’s that!
CC: It’s round as your hat!
KF: It’s flat as your head!
CC: It’s round!
KF: It’s flat!

CC: It’s a round, round world
It’s a round, round world

I contend it’s round,
and it’s gonna be found
When all the results are in
It’s a round world now and it’s always been

KF: Flat Flat world
It’s a flat, flat world
I insist it’s flat as a welcoming mat
And he’s sailing off the end
How about our crazy Itralian friend?

CC: Friend, Get hip
Would I climb aboard this ship
If I didn’t have odds the earth was highly spherical

KF: It’s a miracle if it is

CC: Square, square king
You’re a square, square king
If you don’t believe
You’re gonna receive
The shock of your royal life
When the ship pulls in at Miami…

Crew: Yo, ho, ho and a Dramamine
We are loyal subjects of the king and queen
But what kind of nut would you have to be
To borrow a ship and put out to sea
When you don’t know what’s on the other side


KF: All week long on a hardtack bun
Brother, who said getting there is half the fun
Give up my throne for one Navy Bean
No wonder I’m turning three shades of green
How could I go on such a loony trip

CC: Round, round world
It’s a round, round world
I contend it’s round
And it’s gonna be found
When all the results are in
It’s a round world now
And it’s always been


Crew: Crazy kind of scheme
It’s a cockamamie dream
If we don’t sight land we’re gonna scream

CC: Get hip
Would I climb aboard this ship
If I didn’t have odds
The earth was highly spherical

KF: It’s a miracle if it is


Crew: Yo, ho, ho through the wind and rain
There’s a typhoon coming up
But where’s John Wayne?

CC: Square, square crew
You’re a square, square crew


CC: If you don’t believe
You’re gonna receive
The shock of your salty lives
When I take command in the name of…

KF: I feel like a red witch having a wake
How much of the ocean bit do you think I can take
Claim that land in the name of…

CC: Isabella and Ferdinand
KF: That’s Ferdinand and Isabella:

Both: New rulers of this round, round world
Crew: Crazy kind of scheme, It’s a cockamamie dream, but we hope that’s its a round, round world.

KF: Well, for all our sakes, I hope that…
Lookout: Land Ho! (horn fanfare)

KF: What was that?
CC: French horns.
KF: No, before that.
CC: It was the lookout, he sighted land.

Crew: Hurray

CC: Quickly, hand me the glass.
KF: Alright.
CC: No, no, the other one.
KF: Oh? (pause) Oh. (sound of wine pouring)
CC: To the New World!
Likewise (clink)

KF: Alright, alright, give the kid top billing.
CC: I claim this land in the name of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain.
Indian Chief (IC): How?
CC: Well, first I stick the flag in the sand, and then I…
KF: Watch yourself Admiral. Natives. They may be hostile.
CC: Well, we’re all a little hostile now and then. Some of us are able to sublimate. Others can’t adjust. You know how it is.
KF: I know, but you better try to talk to him.
CC: Alright. Hello there. Hello there. We white man. Other side of ocean. My name, Christopher Columbus.
IC: Oh, you over here on a Fulbright?
CC: No, no. I’m over here on an Isabella, as a matter of fact. Which reminds me. I want to take a few of you guys back on the boat to prove I discovered you.
IC: What you mean discover us? We discover you.
CC: You discovered us?
IC: Certainly, we discover you on beach here. Is all how you look at it.
CC: Yeah, I suppose. (pause) Well, my men and I were wondering if you could spare a little food.
IC: What kind num-nums you want?
CC: What is that strange looking plant you’re holding there, with the little yellow kernels?
IC: You mean this? (trumpet fanfare)
CC: Yes, what is that?
IC: French horns.

CC: No, no, what you’re holding in your hand.
IC: Oh, corn.
CC: That’s what I thought it was. What else you got to eat around here?
IC: Berries, herbs, natural fruits, and organically grown vegetables.
CC: Just as I suspected. What kind of a diet is that! That’s why I’ve come here, to fulfill my dream.

IC: You have a dream?
CC: Yes I do.
IC: Would you like to talk about it?
CC: I certainly would. My dream is to open the first Italian restaurant in your country. Give you some real
food: starches, spaghetti, cholesterol, … all the better things. That’s called progress.
IC: Hmmm.

CC: Now right here would be a good location for the restaurant, ocean view and all that. Is there room for a parking lot?
IC: You kidding? Whole country is parking lot.

CC: I suppose. Well, I’d like to put a little deposit down on the property, here…
CC: …I only have a few dubloons on me, so if you direct me to the nearest bank, I’ll get a check cashed.

IC: You out of luck today. Banks closed.
CC: Oh, why?
IC: Columbus Day.
CC: Oh, yeah. (pauses) We going out on that joke?
IC: No, we do reprise of song, that help.
CC & IC: But not much… no…


CC: Round, round world
It’s a new found world
And the land looks good
Like a continent should
Complete with a flag unfurled

Indians: Yo, ho, ho and a buckskin sleeve
Now the white man’s here I guess
It’s time to leave
But why go to war and fight like a jerk
Perhaps we can pick up some kind of work

Indians: In an Indian extravaganza
Wyatt Earp or Bonanza

CC: Please don’t call us, we’ll call you

KF: Step aside pal, meet the new
Both: Big cheeses of this round, round world!


It’s So 18th Century

Oct. 6th, 2017 08:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cahighways_feed

Posted by cahwyguy

Sometimes, all it takes is a phrase to start my mind going. In this case, it was a post by a friend of a meme that said: “There is something wrong in a society in which guns and ammunition are a right, but healthcare is a privilege.” My response was that it sounded so 18th Century. I meant that in all seriousness. Let me explain.

Like anything, our country and its governing documents are a product of the time it was born, just like (although many won’t admit it) the Bible was written through the eyes of the times in which it was written. Reform Judaism, the movement to which I belong, teaches that we must continually reinterpret those timeless lessons for today’s times and values.

Consider when this country was formed, and when the Bill of Rights was written. There was persecution from England against speech and the practice of religion. There was regular quartering of soldiers in homes, and the British were confiscating guns and disbanding militias so the the people couldn’t fight back. There was slavery, and state militias were being used to enforce owner’s rights. Women were second class citizens with defined roles, and in many states, non-whites were not even citizens. Gay relationships were certainly in the closet, and as for the rest of TQ…. — you didn’t hear about it. Healthcare was non-existent or poor, and land was cheap. Anyone could be a self-starter, and redefine their identity. The world was much simpler, and the weapons less powerful. There was a fixed aristocracy, and the power of what we now call Evangelical Christianity wasn’t there. Most of the Founding Fathers were Deists. Society was such as non-Christians were fewer and less well integrated. Eastern religions? What were they? Non-Europeans or non-Africans. Miniscule populations at the time in the Americas.

This was the environment in which our Constitution and the Bill of Rights was written. It reflected the humans that wrote it, who wrote it with their immediate needs and concerns in mind. It was not intended to speak to all times; it was known by its founders to be imperfect. Consider this: We can amend the Constitution. We can’t amend the Bible. Whose authors thought it was perfect?

We’re in the 21st Century. We need a Bill of Rights for today, that reflect the timeless notion in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” and in the Preamble to the Constitution: ” establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”.

What should be in this bill of rights (we can argue about citizens vs residents vs …):

  • To ensure life: All citizens must have access to a basic level of health care and preventive medicine: not only to protect their lives, but to ensure that which is communicable does not infect others.
  • To ensure life: All citizens must have a basic livable income, sufficient to provide shelter and sustenance.
  • To ensure liberty:  All people in the United States must be treated equally, irrespective of any status by birth or inheritance: religion, race, gender, orientation, sex, size, or differences in ability.
  • To ensure liberty: All citizens must have a freedom of privacy in their personal affairs.
  • To ensure liberty: All people must have the freedom to practice their religion inasmuch as it does not impinge on the rights of the others to practice their religion.
  • To ensure the pursuit of happiness: Gun ownership should be permitted but controlled to ensure the public safety: (including distinctions on the type of weapons, regular training and mental health checks, storage rules, and strict limitations on non-hunting or self-defense weapons.

Those are just a start. I’m sure you could think of more, including many of our current limits on the Government imposing its religion or a pre-set morality.




[syndicated profile] cahighways_feed

Posted by cahwyguy

userpic=divided-nationA few days ago, prompted by a post from an Evangelical Conservative friend of mine that mass murders were only committed by Islamic Terrorists or the Radical Liberals, and the Vegas Shooter had to be one or the other, I said:

There are times my very Conservative friends make posts that infuriate me, and make me start typing a comment … which I promptly delete because I know it is like teaching pigs to sing (and I’m not calling them pigs, only using the expression): I’ll only get frustrated by the response, which won’t change anything. Thus, I don’t bother with those discussions. It makes me appreciate other friends at different parts of the Conservative spectrum, with whom we can have an intelligent discussion, learn from each other, and often find some middle ground.

In response to this, we’ve had a very good discussion over on Facebook on both the differences and similarities between left and right, and including agreement with my sentiment above from people who I consider to be on the both far ends of the political spectrum. Then, this morning, while reading my RSS feeds, NPR pops up an interesting article about now nothing divides Americans more sharply than politics. It noted the following in it’s leed:

Pew has been measuring attitudes on policy issues and political values dating back to 1994, and its latest check-in finds — perhaps unsurprisingly — that Americans are more divided than ever.

“The fact that Republicans and Democrats differ on these fundamental issues is probably not a surprise, but the magnitude of the difference is striking, and particularly how the differences have grown in recent years and where they’ve grown,” Carroll Doherty, Pew’s director of political research and one of the authors of the study, told NPR.

We are divided, and we’ve gotten so entrenched in our bubbles and our labels that we not only fail to recognize people as individuals with individual views, not party positions, but we fail to listen. We engage in discussions not to listen and learn from the other side, but to convince them that is why THEY are wrong and WE are right. That’s wrong.  There are very few issues that are simple binary — most are complicated with nuances, and multiple mitigations to address areas of concern.

Then, while reading another burst of my RSS feeds, there was an interesting opinion piece in the Jewish Journal: “Toward a Radical Middle“. In it, the author talks about how in the Facebook era, there were things on the Left that you were not allowed to criticize; similarly, for those on the Right, there were things you couldn’t criticize. Polarized much? One reformer noted in the article coined the term “regressive left” to describe the illiberal takeover of the left, the slow chipping away of every liberal value.

What I really liked was the article’s conclusion:

How do we get out of this mess? For one, we need to return to real — classical — liberalism. But what does that mean?

The easiest way to describe real liberalism is that there are certain principles — freedom of speech; freedom of religion; a dedication to liberty, justice and individuality — that are nonnegotiable.

But — and here’s a very big but: Liberalism allows for policy differences. You and I don’t have to agree on immigration, tax reform, even abortion — but our arguments must be rooted in liberal principles. Freedom of speech, for instance, involves defending the right of others to express their opinions, even if we disagree with them.

But No. 2: Politics need not color our culture or our lives. You can watch a movie or see an art show and — get this — just enjoy them, even if they have no connection whatsoever to social concerns.

Finally, But No. 3: Along with rights come responsibilities. There is a set of values attached to liberalism, what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the content of your character.”

Because of how skewed the political spectrum is, classical liberalism now sits in the center. That’s OK. It is precisely this ideology that can create common ground between the right and the left and nurture a saner society.

Call it the rebellion of the radical middle.

I, for one, look forward to that saner society, vs. the dysfunctional one we have today.

Talking to the Wall

Oct. 4th, 2017 11:53 am
[syndicated profile] cahighways_feed

Posted by cahwyguy

Those of you who read me on Facebook may have seen my vaguebooking about banging ones head on a wall: it doesn’t change the wall, and only hurts your head. You may also have seen my comment over the weekend: “we became ghosts to the wall, leaving us concerned and relieved”.

Perhaps I should explain a little.

About 6 months ago, we took in someone we care about who needed some help. The intent was to see if our different set of parenting skills could help this person do better in life: succeed in school, learn to be an independent adult. We had some successes, but it was often two steps forward, and one and three quarter steps back. Combined with this was a tendency to self-sabotage — when the situation got hard (as situations as an adult often do), the solution wasn’t to address the issue as an adult, but to retry self-defeating behaviors. As time went on, we learned that the causes of the problems were more complicated than we initially believed. Even with beating our heads on the wall, we came to realize that we didn’t have the correct skill set to change the wall. We were attempting a DIY for a solution that required a knowledgeable craftsperson.

We were on the verge of working together with this person, and others that care about them, to find a specific solution when they abruptly decided to move out, leaving a mess to clean up, with nary a thank you or hugs. Hence, “concerned and relieved”.

So this is a message to the “wall”: Even with what has happened, we still care about your well-being and your success. We’re here if you need to talk or figure out solutions. We fervently hope that you find a life situation that works for you and helps you grow into the remarkable independent successful adult we know you can be. When you reach or even get close to that point, you are welcome here.


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