Friday, November 27, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The most interesting theme is the notion that Dan White was a tortured, closeted gay who was simultaneously drawn to and repelled by Milk. In the movie, White is ultimately the biggest victim of homophobia, while Milk, supremely comfortable in his own skin and a fighter from the very beginning, is anything but.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The movie? Not bad overall, but not worth the $14 I spent. Too much teen angst and snogging for my taste. The new Dumbledore pales in comparison to Richard Harris. The memory pensieve is quite cool: Harry sticks his head in a toilet bowl and trips out. The journey across a lake straight out of Dante to retrieve the horcrux is poorly done, not nearly as intense as it is in the book (yes, I read it). Biggest problem: the vivid three-dimensional characters that J.K Rowling created in her excellent novels are portrayed by, alas, appealing kid actors who grew up to be second-rate young adult actors. What can you do?
“As an expert on the causes of the Great Depression, I’m sure Ben never imagined that he would be part of a team responsible for preventing another. But because of his background, his temperament, his courage, and his creativity, that’s exactly what he has helped to achieve.”Like, what he said.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
To the Editor:
The claim that giving away permits keeps the price of emissions low reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how cap-and-trade programs work (“House Backs Bill, 219-212, to Curb Global Warming,” front page, June 27).
The price of emissions, and therefore the effect of the program on fuel and energy prices, will be determined by the total supply of permits (the cap), not by how they are initially allocated. Consumers will have to pay the price either way, as well they should, for their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.William A. Sundstrom
Santa Clara, Calif., June 30, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
So let's drive south on Middlefield Rd., which runs roughly parallel between El Camino and 101. Toward the southern limits of PA you'll pass our fine local grocery store, Piazza's, and soon cross the border into Mountain View. Bear left after the Toyota dealership onto Old Middlefield Rd., which passes through a typical ugly CA landscape of small warehouses and light-industry businesses, punctuated by a string of cheap eateries. At the corner of Rengstorff, we have three quite good Mexican/ Latin American establishments: La Costena, famous for made-to-order burritos, the reliable Los Altos Taqueria, where you can get a hearty bowl of homemade soup along with the usual fare, and the greasy but very tasty La Bamba, featuring a nice pupusa.
Until tonight I had heard good things about but never tried Uncle Frank's BBQ, at the back of a dive bar called Francesca's. I am not a BBQ expert by any means, but I found the food very fine and the portions, well, bordering on excessive. I recommend it.
A sad moment in Old Mid food history was when DeeDee's chaat buffet and Indian grocery, just past Toyota, closed and was bulldozed to make room for... say what?... an overgrown vacant lot! But you can still eat very well for not much on Old Middlefield.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Criticism? Too much drum! Prieto is awe-inspiring, and he plays with the band, not against it, but he's so clever and busy (and loud in a small space) that one is easily distracted. Not an unpleasant distraction, mind you...
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
I had heard that the fifth season was a let-down, and how could it not be, following on 3 and 4, perhaps the two most perfect TV runs ever? Still, as a person who briefly contemplated a career in journalism and did a very short reporting stint on a small-town paper, I actually found the newspaper story line pretty compelling. The final episode's closing epilogue was uncharacteristically contrived and unnecessary, however... an unfortunate way to go out.
For all its emphasis on shades of gray, The Wire clung to fairly standard cop-show moral conventions in its portrayal of the police: flawed and capable of very bad behavior, but with their hearts in the right place-- in fact so much so that we were inclined to accept that their ends justified their means. What defied cop-show convention was that the bad guys could be understood as complete human beings in terms of their development, motives, and moral code... and that, nonetheless, to understand is not-- necessarily-- to forgive.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Everyone can easily point to their favorite culprits. The housing meltdown and recession are big proximate contributors, for sure, but the budget problem is structural. California's extremely rigid 2/3 majority requirement for both tax increases and budget passage is clearly an obstacle to a reasonable solution, particularly in the context of political polarization. The more polarized the legislature, the more extreme the views as you move away from the median legislator, and we now see what happens when the wacky right-most 1/3 hold veto power over the whole budget process. Even Arnold, nominally a Republican, has given up on these idiots and devotes his energies to badgering the Dems.
A new state constitution could offer a way out in the long haul, and I'm sympathetic to holding a convention. But in the land of Prop 13 you do have to be careful what you wish for. An alternative would be measures to depolarize the legislature. Even left-wing Democrats, who would personally be losers in a system that favored more centrist politicians, ought to be willing to make the sacrifice if the ideological cutoff at the 2/3 majority could be moved leftward toward the center. It's hard to imagine much real progress under the current rules until this happens. The new commission-based redistricting scheme provides some hope here, but it will take a long time before the impact is felt.
Bottom line in the short run: Please, please, please, Barack, help us out! Or perhaps a more Terminator-like threat is in order: Barack, don't turn us away, we can pull the rest of you back down with us!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I include an additional photo for those whose tastes in flora run in a more conventional direction: one of several glorious ceanothus bushes in the back yard. A native plant every drought-conscious California gardener should consider: looks fantastic year round, and thrives on neglect.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The tanoak has tremendous aesthetic value, its rather smooth light gray bark, mottled with patches of moss, providing contrast with the deeply fissured and dark maroon redwood trunks. The tanoak's ovoid, deep green, and slightly serrated leaves remind me a little of the leaves of the American chestnut, a magnificent east-coast beauty that no longer grows beyond head height before succumbing to the chestnut blight.
Our tanoaks now suffer a similar fate, alas--this species apparently the tree most vulnerable to sudden oak death. The accompanying photo, from a UC-Berkeley report, is typical of what one sees throughout Huddart Park. One's sadness at what may eventually be the loss of 100 percent of the tanoaks is compounded by the thought that the sudden oak death organism, Phytophthora ramorum, is ubiquitous in these hills. The notion that its spread may be slowed much by human effort seems wishful thinking to me. If the true oaks prove to be no more resistant than the tanoaks, the California landscape faces drastic and depressing changes ahead.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Update: I guess we already owned it. Some history I should have known.