Thursday, September 22, 2011

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 2

I own a serviceable vinyl copy of the Pogues' Rum Sodomy & the Lash, with its excellent altered Gericault cover. Like most of my vinyl, it stands idle in the "record cabinet." I always remembered it fondly, and recently stumbled across a CD copy at... where else?... the library book sale. I love sea shanties, and I love Scotch-Irish American folk, and I love 80s punk, and Shane MacGowan makes me think there may not be that much difference between 'em. Pass the Bushmills!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Congratulations to all winners

Once again I was passed up for a genius award, but I try not to be bitter. I'm particularly happy to see grants go to Roland Fryer, a brilliant and fearless* economist who is intent on figuring out how to make things better for America's most disadvantaged children; Jeanne Gang, who designed one of the most beautiful buildings in Chicago (a city with more than its share of beautiful buildings); and Dafnis Prieto, a drummer who kicks butt. As for me, there's always next year!

* By this I mean that he has taken on hot-button topics and let the facts take him where they will; e.g., the racial test-score gap in early childhood, the possibility of "pay for performance" for school kids, etc.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nader again?

Not long ago I would have said that even if he ran for president again, Ralph Nader could not possibly carry enough votes to be a spoiler, but now I'm not so sure. Obama is in real trouble, but so is his opposition, so 2012 may well be pretty close. In swing states, disgruntled leftists and assorted crackpots who might defect to Nader could be numerous enough to play a deciding role. Which is to say that I agree with everything James Fallows says here. If you, like me, are one of those disgruntled leftists or assorted crackpots, take a long hard look around you, then a long hard look deep inside yourself, and tell me you really could vote for Nader again. Really?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Politically correct racism

As usual, Ta-Nehisi Coates nails it. I won't be too hard on Michael Moore, because I am sure I have been guilty of saying something similar, and plenty of good liberals I know occasionally lapse into ethnic generalizations; these are "permissible" if they point to what are considered positive rather than negative cultural attributes, never mind the casual empiricism and questionable sociology. Let's all agree to stop doing it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ringer, cont.

Alas, it kinda sucked. Sorry Sarah, next time make sure your old boss Joss W is the creator...

Monday, September 12, 2011


So, Sarah Michelle Gellar has a new series on the CW, premiere tomorrow. It appears to be based on one of the oldest and often lamest premises in the book: the evil twin or maybe the mysterious doppelganger plot. But I will dutifully watch. After all, Sarah was the star of what was arguably the greatest television series of all time. So I am prepared to cut her some slack.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Twenty Lakes Basin

The scenery in the Hoover Wilderness just east of Yosemite is so spectacular, one could be excused for failing to look down.

From 20 Lakes Basin, Sept. 2011

But look down one should, if only to avoid what our family refers to as "fishy foot"...

From 20 Lakes Basin, Sept. 2011

An even better reason to look down is that this area features a fantastic jumble of old volcanic, metamorphic, and granitic rocks that provide a colorful architecture around the many small lakes that dot the basin.

From 20 Lakes Basin, Sept. 2011

Spring, which came in late August this year, brings a number of interesting flowers that decorate the rock walls and meadows. Like this one, which I believe is (aptly named) rockfringe, Epilobium obcordatum:

From 20 Lakes Basin, Sept. 2011

Do look back up occasionally so as to avoid bumping your head on the ice...

From 20 Lakes Basin, Sept. 2011

... and because you might catch the last patch of blue disappearing above Greenstone Lake and Mt. Conness, if a late-summer squall kicks up.

From 20 Lakes Basin, Sept. 2011

Although it is a designated wilderness area, the Twenty Lakes Basin is easy to get to from Saddlebag Lake, a few miles off Rte. 120 near Tioga Pass. The little fishing resort at Saddlebag will water taxi you to the far (north) end of the lake for $11 round trip, which saves you about 4 miles total of walking, and you can devote the extra time to exploring this remarkable and beautiful area. Or trout fishing, if you are so inclined.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Late summer

I have my google calendar set up to show one week at a time. All summer long, when Sunday arrives, the new week pops into view, and for the most part the calendar has been pure as the driven snow, a field of empty white time slots. But alas the first week of September has brought a nasty checkerboard of blue appointments and meetings.

Still, late summer has its virtues, including the beautiful organic cranberry beans from Full Belly Farm, pulled fresh from the pod.

From September 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011


“All in all, we have a very senior rover that’s showing her age,” said John Callas, the project manager. “She has some arthritis and other issues, but in general, she’s in good health.”

It's easy to forget how amazing "her" journey has been... and she sure takes some nifty snapshots...