Friday, August 31, 2012

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 20

Randy Travis offers some rationalizations... the art of self-pity at its very best...


I love bugs... and they got some handsome ones in Mozambique...

Containing health care costs...

... north of the border style. As Krugman points out, they do it with a single-payer program that is pretty popular and provides good care. One-and-a-half cheers for socialism!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Your FSA/OWI photo of the day

Guard at company town. Jefferson County, Alabama. Arthur Rothstein, 1937.

Gehry and Facebook

Let's face it, the Bay Area is something of an architectural wasteland, notwithstanding a couple of nice Wright buildings and the Golden Gate Bridge. So I'm delighted that Facebook has recruited Frank Gehry to design their Menlo Park expansion. Being an oldster who kinda likes having his own office, I'm not sure I'd want to work in that warehouse, tasty snacks notwithstanding, and it's unfortunate that their campus is so remote from mass transit. But I look forward to looking at it when I drive out to the Dumbarton Bridge.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Late summer in the front yard

This is when the California buckwheats are at their very best: fading (unevenly) from hot pink and creamy white to rich chocolate brown. Eriogonum grande rubescens on the left, E. fasciculatum on the right.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Some people think...

... that silly hip-hop was "doper" back in the 80s or 90s. Perhaps they are right, perhaps...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gangnam style

You either got it or you don't...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Your FSA/OWI photo of the day

Chopping cotton on rented land near White Plains, Greene County, Ga. Jack Delano, 1941. A photo so stagy, condescension may trump dignity, whatever the artist's intentions...

They ain't Sleater-Kinney...

... but then again, who is? Hoping they get out soon.

Hot cheetos and takis

Gotta get me some takis...

Thursday, August 16, 2012


In Wunderlich County Park, almost all the tanoaks of any size have succumbed to sudden oak death. The brown tree on the left is a case in point. The green tree immediately to its right is another tanoak, about the same size and age, and only three feet away from the dead tree at the base. Seemingly alive and well. Why?

Paul Ryan is pretty conservative...

... in case you didn't know. Click on it to see better. From the voteview blog.
[UPDATE: see below]

The folks at voteview rescaled their chart: the Senate is blown up, probably for clearer comparison with the House distribution. Thanks to alert reader MD.

Your FSA/OWI photo of the day

I love this picture. Mr. Hotchkiss, whoever he was, had a way with lines. Washington, D.C. A demonstration of FSA (Farm Security Administration) trailers. Reginald Hotchkiss, 1941.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Your FSA/OWI photo of the day

Nurse training. After a day of hard work and study, Susan Petty and her fellow student nurses enjoy a swim and frolic in the pool, one of the recreational facilities offered in the School of Nursing Residence. Fritz Henle, 1942.

Olympics wrap-up

1. They did finally show the still rings during prime time... wow! Viva Brasil!
2. NBC seemed to love BMX bike racing... something to do with the demographic, perhaps? I watched, generally bored, and feeling guilty wishing for a major wipe-out every round...
3. The Spice Girls still exist... who knew?

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 19

Which of Gabriel Fauré's Piano Quartets is more lovely, the first or the second? You don't have to choose, just buy yourself a copy of Domus's fantastic recording of both. Here's their version of the Adagio movement 3 in No. 1.


NY Times:
Only two other athletes who competed in the London Games have been publicly identified as having failed a drug test: ...; and the American judo fighter Nick Delpopolo, who tested positive for marijuana. He said his positive test “was caused by my inadvertent consumption of food that I did not realize had been baked with marijuana, before I left for the Olympic Games.”

Saturday, August 11, 2012

This being a nonpartisan blog...

... I decline to endorse either of these nicknames for our next VP...
8-year-old Randroid
Zombie-eyed granny-starver
... besides, better ones may yet come along...

Your FSA/OWI photo of the day: 2-for-1 special!

Two-for-one deal on Russell Lee (scroll down). And two observations:
1. So many great photos are of people just waiting around.
2. Despite the hard times, people dressed much better for spelunking back in the 1930s.

Tourists waiting to go into Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. Russell Lee, 1939.

Tourists waiting to go into Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. Russell Lee, 1939.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Romney on culture

I don't care much one way or the other about Mitt Romney's "gaffs." They don't reveal a whole lot about how he will lead the country. But I'm delighted when they provide a launching pad for Ta-Nehisi Coates:
"Is it worth noting that America, itself, was secured from its aboriginal tribes through centuries of oath-breaking, through a malleable regard for freedom, and through the auctioning of families?

Probably not. When people invoke culture in the Romney manner, what they are really invoking is a scale by which humanity may be ranked from totally dysfunctional to totally awesome. The idea is that culture is a set of irrefutable best practices, when in fact it is more like a toolbox whose efficacy depends upon the job. If you want to create a nation with a dominant entertainment media, perhaps American culture is the way to go. If you’re uninterested in presiding over a nation with 25 percent of the world’s prisoners but only 5 percent of its population, perhaps not."

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 18

The three greatest Frank Sinatra songs of all time? The question came up today, and is unanswerable, absurd. Yes, some overrated old warhorses, like "My Way" and "New York, New York" can be eliminated immediately, but that still leaves scores in the running. Listening to some old faves this evening, I'd also rule out songs like "Mood Indigo," which demonstrated that Frank was not a jazz singer, no matter how jazzy and jazz-informed he was.

Many Sinatra fans seem to agree that "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)" ought to be in the top three. I could live with that. The stars aligned: Arlen and Mercer, and the greatest popular singer of all time sitting at the bar stool next to you... drunk, depressed, but in perfect control of his exquisite, incomparable instrument.

Paging Professor Higgins...

The gender gap in most swing states seems to be running 10-15% for Barack. Mitt, this one's for you!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Melons are in season

One of the laws of fruits and vegetables is that bigger is almost never better, but melons are an exception. Tapley Farms sells melons at the Palo Alto Farmers Market, and their melons are, well, mondo. And they taste the way a great melon ought to taste... just shy of too sweet, with a strong perfume. You walk in the door and you know you bought a melon. Orange flesh honeydew last week, sharlyn this week. Apparently they are not organic, but there are definitely times when principle must make way for pleasure.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

'lympics on NBC

Gymnastics: it's all about balance beam and rings. I watched a good chunk of the men's competition on prime time and never once saw the rings. Apparently Americans are no good at it. Nice work, Gabby.

Swimming: Yawn. Glad it's over.

No track cycling on network TV, or weightlifting, or table tennis, as far as I can tell. Americans must suck at these sports as well. Too bad. Great to watch.

Men's 10,000 meter run: they showed the last lap. Why bother with the preceding 95%?

Beach volleyball: impressive, but boring. Women's team volleyball: excellent.

Tennis: Congrats Serena. You rock.

Medal count: c'mon, totals are meaningless... we need per capita and per $GDP, PPP adjusted of course.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Your FSA/OWI photo of the day

Mexican migrant woman harvesting tomatoes. Santa Clara Valley, California. Dorothea Lange, 1938. [Would this be the middle of a Costco or In-N-Out today...?]

Thursday, August 2, 2012

William...You've Been Selected...

... for the 2012 Worldwide Who's Who Registry.

I must confess that I always read these emails with the Groucho response: I wouldn't want to be in a who's who that would view me as a who. I'm waiting to receive an invitation from the worldwide "Who the F is he?" registry...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I could be wrong...

... but I have this sense that only in America could the culture wars be waged, albeit indirectly, over fried chicken sandwiches. I've never eaten at a Chick-fil-A, but homophobia aside, I must say that their on-line menu is not very encouraging: breakfast looks the same as dinner, and everything is a shade of gray, at least on my computer. The best fried chicken I've ever had is cooked by Thomas Keller at Ad Hoc. The price is probably more in the Mitt Romney range than the typical Chick-fil-A customer would feel comfortable with, but it's good for a splurge, and a bargain by Yountville CA standards. And though Keller may be a snob, I doubt he's a bigot.