Thursday, December 28, 2006

Myspace Mania & Self-Portrait Photo

Lee's Myspace! If you get here, please go there and req an add. I need all the friends I can get.

I wanted to take photos yesterday and my daughter was having none of it so I took myself. This actually turned out well as far as the cropping and tone and sharpening goes, i think. It's perhaps a teeny bit oversharpened but to me looks like what I get in the mirror. My eyes are hazel and can change from more brown to more green, as here. Course, you can't do this with photos of other people, of course... no woman would allow you to have this much accuracy in the skin and pores and hairs... and I'm not shaving over vacation, so there.

Happy New Year to all.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


I took this photo a month ago but it's still worth posting now because, well, because it's so damn cool. This is Gringo, my girlfriend's sister's family cat.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hamas -- a Delightful Oddity

Arabs love to say that they aren't anti-Semites, since they, too, are Semites. And perhaps they have a point, because there are certain similarities between Arabs and Jews that bring home our shared ancestry. For example, Chutzpah.

You have to love the PA Prime Minister, Ismael Haniyeh. He now proclaims that while Hamas and the Palestinians remain dedicated to wiping Israel of the face of the map, they are willing to offer an extended 20 year truce if Israel returns to 1967 borders. Such an offer! Allow Hamas to grow unchecked, developing better weapons, perhaps obtain nukes, ensure each family has huge families, all sorts of preparation, so that on the first day of the 21st year, they can overrun Israel and demolish the state. Oh, yeah.

And of course, although no European country would accept such a bizarre and outdated sort of truce, the Europeans will be shoving each other aside for the opportunity to exhort Israel to take the deal.

I have to work on being more positive, but if I pay attention to the news it's just not happening.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Chanukah Shopping Day Off!

Here is out Chanukkiah with its candles anxiously waiting. Burn, baby, burn! It is chanting in its high-pitched metal voice! It's bothering me so much that I am going to have to leave now and run errands. The first thing I'll do is go to the Fairfax district and see if I can get an oil chanukkiah and some gifts, then buying food for Shabbat and the rest.... it's going to be a great weekend.

Last night I had an odd experience. My sister had a wrap party for the movie she just produced and starred in at a karaoke bar in Burbank. It was weird seeing her in her movie-producing mode with all the producers, directors, editors, etc etc, all excited and eager and animatedly sharing info and their ideas and projects in development. These people are mostly still trying to make it big but I could tell they were also happy to be living their dreams. It was a reminder of the wonderful power of Hollywood and the opportunities it gives to millions of people to make their creative mark on the world. It was cool.

I gotta go!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Barak HUSSEIN Obama

I love how Republicans are already desperate enough that they are getting the word out that Hussein is Obama's middle name. Now, some have implied that Obama thinks his middle name is a liability because he doesn't have his middle name written anywhere on his senate stuff and other records, but then again, lots of people have middle names and don't use them. I don't think I've every done anything other than use my middle initial, and that's not because I'm trying to hide my middle name.

I think that if Barak Obama runs, that's it. He wins. And this is the reason why. Historically, people would be racist on skin color alone. Today, I don't think it's so much the skin color as the 'blackness' of one's attitude and bearing about which people who are reactive about such things feel negatively. And Barak Obama is able to pass for white in the demeanor department. Now, people who historically may have been resistant to black folks are itching to prove that they aren't racist. 50 years ago otherwise decent folks would straight-out declare their racism as a matter of common sense. No more. Only extremists are racist in the old way. Most folks who are scared/disgusted by black hip-hop culture long to prove to everyone including themselves that it's not the race. Me, for instance -- I hate hiphop but can quickly wheel out music from blacks or prominently featuring them to prove I'm not racist -- Stew/The Negro Problem, TV on the Radio, Bloc Party, Common, Blackalicious, Hendrix, of course -- and many other white folks are like me, I think. We don't go round thinking of things in race terms but find ourselves not digging current black culture and feel obliged to defend ourselves. What better way to prove that you are jiggy wid it than casting your vote for Obama?

Even the most conservative folks love to have black people they can support -- Colin Powell, Alan Keyes, TD Jakes. And Barak Obama doesn't have to win their votes anyway - he just has to win enough moderate votes to pair with the Democratic base. And he'll get those votes. Put someone like McCain against him and McCain loses the same way Dole did. Nice guy, let's keep him in the Senate, just too old and played, whereas our guy is the Future. Put someone like Guiliani, and he loses -- it's populist speechmaker against populist speechmaker, and Guiliani isn't really good at that stuff -- he's still running off of the fact that he happened to be around at 9-11. Put a real conservative against Obama like Frist and Frist loses -- the country doesn't want a conservative ideologue -- they want someone who will bring the country together. A conservative can try that language but it won't fly. Obama can do it convincingly. Bush won the first time on this sort of positive platform and beat Gore's petulant smug act. Obama can talk to us and not talk at us like Gore was prone to do.

I need to get my Obama 08 bumper sticker. Not to put on my bumper, mind you -- in LA only tacky people have bumper stickers on their bumpers -- but maybe i'll tape it to the inside of my rear window facing out.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The insane things you do for money.

Notice how many people are ill recently? Seems everyone has the cold or the flu. I only had a couple days of fever and I seem now to be getting better but last night and today I've had a KILLER headache. Not a migraine, but sinus-y pressure. So last night I went to bed with a headache, and though I slept fine, this morning I woke up with a headache.

And then I drove 120 miles to a meeting with a headache. And then I presented at the meeting. And then I drove 120 miles back. Since I was driving along the 5 Freeway from San Diego, I spent some of the time driving along the coast. The freeway goes through the Camp Pendleton Marine base, which is mostly hills and scrub the Marines train on. So I often see military aircraft and vehicles when I go by. Today was all helicopters -- little helicopters hovering over the beach, big helicopters making wide circles... like my military knowledge? You then go by the San Onofre nuclear plant, which is always fun, because of the cameo it plays in The Naked Gun.. Did I mention I still had my headache? And now, a couple hours later, still have the headache. Woo hoo. It's a good one. And tomorrow I fly to the Bay Area for a meeting and then back. Sinus problems + plane == Pain. All to make my customers happy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm Sick/Lionel Richie is Huge in the Middle East

When I got up this morning I thought I was feeling much better, and I guess I am. Not much bodyache, no fever, no dripping. But when I am seated here at my desk and trying to work I realize I am still off... my balance is easily messed with and my stuffy head is affecting my sense of balance, and I am coughing a lot more than I was conscious of at home. It must be irritating for those around me.

But enough about me. Lionel Richie. That's big news. There's a guy who is coming out with an article apparently entitled "Lionel of Arabia." I heard about it on the NPR news this morning. As this article from earlier this year says,Lionel Richie is huge in the Middle East... it's very funny. People love him there. He partially attributes it to his looks -- he could pass for any one of the many peoples in the region. The guy told a story about when Lionel Richie was at a resort in Sardinia, I think -- he had one couple come up to him and gush how they got married to "Truly" and as they were doing this, another couple came up to him and noticed the first couple and there was an awkward pause as they looked at each other, and then the second couple started to gush how they got married to "Truly" and then out came the wedding photos, etc... turns out that one couple was Israeli, the other Lebanese, and they were both government officials and had been at that resort for years and years and always stayed on opposite ends to keep away from each other... but what did they have in common to reach across the chasm of apprehension? Lionel Richie, of course. So cool. And when the US bombing of Baghdad started, people started playing "All Night Long" in the streets. Anyway.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


OK, this is something that has to be a sign of nerdiness, but I love Wordie!. very cool idea. just make lists of words. What words, why -- that's all up to you. It's fun to see what words other people have. You get a feel for people and the kinds of words they list. And some lists are really neat -- here is a list of words used in Decemberists songs! Anyway. If you don't think this is interesting, you are definitely not a nerd.

I am feeling better but still sick and now I must sleep.

Friday, December 01, 2006


i took this photo of my Bodum Assam thermal mug. It's hand-blown and has two layers, see? That way the inside is hot and the outside stays cool. Or visa versa. And check out how you can see all the glory of my kind-of-capuccino? Or is this a latte? Well, you can see for yourself!

Home Sick

But that's ok. I've just discovered

So far, I've learned

1. How to build and play a Theramin.
2. How to build a straw bale house.
3. How to tell the differences between wildcat and coyote tracks.

This website kicks ass. I can actually use the tracking information, too, as there are often this sort of tracks after a rain when I hike the local trails.

I'm learning stuff from, but that's not why I feel like I'm in college again. That's because of Rabbi Joe in Jerusalem's NP3 podcast. which is well over an hour a week on each Torah portion. I am learning a lot and also managing to keep up each week and read each portion. Past five years I've always petered out, read for a few weeks, forgotten, so this year I'm keeping up better. Not reading the Haftorah each week, but hey. Small steps. So it's like I'm taking a class because I listen to Rabbi Joe each week, read the material, think about it, and then post my observations and thoughts. Then, because so far, few people are posting, Rabbi Joe responds to what I put. It's cool, but I hope that soon there will be too many people commenting and it's too popular, beacuse people would get a lot out of it.

This week's portion, Va-Yetzei, is chock full of stuff we deal with in modern life and rabbis use it to talk about how we have to deal with the messiness off the world -- people like Laban that are going to cheat and swindle and try to take advantage, and we have to act like Jacob and have dignity and do our best anyway. Jacob has struggled all his life in one way or another and now he must have to struggls to keep up with the demands of starting a people and keeping all these women happy while raising mostly boys and selectively breeding sheep. Chaotic stuff! And I can't get around thinking that Jacob would be seen by the average American guy as the luckiest guy ever. He is married to two women and he's always having sex with them because they are always trying to have kids. And the moment they stop, they are offering up their handmaidens for him to have sex with so they'll have kids. But once you get past the sex, you see that Jacob has to be one tired guy. He's having relationships with four women. Even if it's the most patriarchal of relationships, there's still an awful lot going on, plus all the inevitable jealousies and competition and having to guard against what happened to his grandmother Sarah and her issues with Hagar... anyway. I've read this stuff before but never thought about it enough to get inside their heads a bit.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What if....

...we lived in a Christian nation?

It's funny that right-wingers claim that the US was established as a Christian nation and that we have a lot of "G-d Bless the USA" sentiments and the like, but when it comes to thinking and behavior that Christians would identify as Christian thought and behavior, most people aren't doing it. Just check this story out from CNN ... a woman has a Christmas wreath in the shape of a Peace sign and her Association is telling her to take it down -- a few people see it as bashing the war effort in Iraq, in which their kids are serving.

Of course, the Jesus encountered in the gospels didn't make any statements against war, but the story says angels pronounced "Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Men" when he was born. One of Jesus' names is "The Prince of Peace." While the Peace sign was created by the anti-nuke movement, it's moved into general usage where most users don't attach lefty sentiments to it at all. So it's fitting to use it in order to express how Jesus = Peace on Earth, surely? Apparently not in SW Colorado. This area has one of the highest-concentrations of Evangelicals in the country, and we know we have right-wing Christians involved as there are claims that the Peace sign is Satanic -- who but a Christian believer will label anything Satanic? Anyway. It's weird. Honestly, I think that this nation is Christianist, if that's a word, but not Christian. The US has the trappings but not the soul. Except the Mennonites and Amish and Quakers, perhaps.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Car Issues and Hashem

So. I have had a tire with a slow leak and the leak got faster. I was going to have just that tire fixed, but then I realize, I'm traveling to San Jose for Thansgiving via my car with my daughter and girlfriend in the car -- I need to have my car roadworthy! I need to get this tire fixed but what about the others? What about the oil? Brakes? Nothing terrible but I need maintenance! SO I take the car to a service place near the train station and they are doing all the necessary work. Thank goodness I took it in because they found some other issues that would have been big hassles on the trip if I hadn't fixed things. The guy running the shop is really nice, a lay "Assemblies of God" minister with a son who's also a minister and he's really nice. Anyway. I feel lucky that the slow leak was bad enough I noticed -- otherwise I'd have not thought about this stuff at all and I could have ended up with any number of problems, so that's definitely counts as G-d helping me. Don't get me wrong, this sort of thing happens every second of every day, but most of the time it's too subtle for us to notice the way that G-d is helping us and giving us challenges. Anyway.

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Chemical Romance? Who Knew?

So, my brother the professional musician had mentioned My Chemical Romance before but I wasn't paying attention. So when he did it again in this raving tone that I don't often hear from him about bands that get mTV play, I thought I'd check them out to be polite.

Bizarre. The lead singer witnessed the Eleventh of September attacks in NY where he was a cartoonist. And as a result he decided to do something productive with his life.

So he went and joined the Peace Corp? Uh, no. He volunteered to read to shut-ins? Nope. He started a rock group.

Ok, fine. So the good causes are missing a bright-eyed young volunteer. But the world has a band that's made one kick ass album, The Black Parade. I think as a 41 year-old I may technically be forbidden to listen to this, but until They come to stop me I'll enjoy it.

Matisyahu's "Youth" says "Youth is the Engine of the World" and this is doubtless true. The energy of Youth drives things for good or for ill. Recently I think it's for huge Good, as surveys of the young are showing such compassion and concern for each other and the world that researchers have labeled these kids the "We" generation. But it's very sad that the particular youths in My Chemical Romance have made a great album that, like other great albums is obsessed. But unlike most rock, with Death. And it's sad that post 9-11, it's perfectly understandable.

We have a gorgeously conceived and realized piece of work that captures the anxious place that the world is at the early stages of this War of Terror. Fewer people are dying in wars than ever before, but we are feeling more unsafe, more aware of the transience of this existence, it seems. It's more on the surface. We used to have music that rocked like this obsessed with getting really slutty girls to have sex with you. Perhaps in the 70s many of the people singing about drunken sex were doing so to get away from the anxiouness from death. But now we're not even able to do that as a culture.

Sure, sex is there in hip hop, but honestly, it doesn't even feel real. It's too tied to the business of pornography and strip joints. The guys do it to demonstrate absolute power over the women. But hip-hop's women do it for the money. And the guys don't care as long as the woman is on her knees so that it there's at least the appearance of domination for his friends to see.

Anyway. For a wonderful album that will make you feel sad and worry about how best to live your life as you slide inexorably towards the gaping maw of Death... My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Powells -- Proof of G-d's Existence?

Powell's Books is the most insanely cool bookstore in the world. Portland has many neat things to recommend it as a city to visit but the number one reason for me is Powells. The City of Books. Takes up a whole building. It's in sections and they actually have a fold-out map to the bookstore. Pretty darn cool. All the new books are arranged alongside the used books so often you can choose betweeen new and used of the same book, which is very cool. And they have a coffeeshop in one corner. But you can't get to it directly. You have to discover the entrance by walking through the whole store so it's like a secret.

If I could live anywhere in the United States it would be Portland. You have lots of historical buildings and new shiny scrapers in a manageable city gorgeously laid out right next to a river with drawbridges and all sorts of other neat stuff. People walk all over. People ride bikes all over. Everyone is cooler in Portland. In Portland people are just fucking cool. In Portland everyone's reading and drinking and there are tons of great microbrews. It rains a lot. It's so damn green it's like your RGB balance is off.

And they have the best bookstore in the world. Seriously. I am not sure that there is an afterlife, but Powell's is all the proof I need that there is a G-d. When I am enclosed in its warm, full, and enfolding stacks, I feel like I am in Olam Habba. Seriously.

Gut Shabbos to you.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hartford trip Photos

I'm too lazy to put them here. Go see them here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

There are Limits

Ok. Went to D-Land last Friday. Stuff is decorated for Halloween. Including the Haunted Mansion.


Isn't that like trying to tart up a prostitute? Isn't the Haunted Mansion, by its very nature, more than Halloween-y enough?

Well, of course it is. Perhaps if you think about D-land's mania for beating the crap out of every cross-selling opportunity, it will start to make more sense. And so the Haunted Mansion is being used as a giant 3-dimensional billboard to advertise a movie. Their movie The Haunted Mansion was a flop. So which movie? The Nightmare before Christmas. Very odd. Kind of cute. But it's contrived and fake and such a stretch. It just didn't feel right. The regular Haunted Mansion was spookier and scarier. The folks at D-Land must have immediately been confronted by someone on the planning team raising the simple objection that uh, the Haunted Mansion, the essence of Halloween, does not need to be decorated. It IS Halloween already. And everyone else saw a boundary to be crossed and decided they had to go for it, that some was good, but more would be better.

I think the same sort of unnatural stretching is being used in the new movie The Short Bus. Rather than just have explicit sex in pornographic movies, the makers of this film (including the actors - the movie was kind of a collaborative/collective thing) decided to make a movie that had explicit sex but was a real movie with a real story and themes. It's getting mixed reviews, more good than bad. Of course, many mainstream reviewers are just not going to see the movie. No serious religious reviewers (except pagans, perhaps) will see the movie. And those who DO see the movie and write for papers like the Village Voice, LA Weekly, etc, all the Alternative press, will be under pressure to praise the movie, because we live in a world where a movie like this is, merely because it transgresses all sorts of boundaries, deemed Art.

(And we all know that today, we are too intelligent to think that Art can be Bad. It's all Subjective. And so it's all Good. So the same movie without explicit sex? That can be judged on its merits, but toss in explicit sex? That's Good merely because it makes some people uncomfortable. No effort, of course, can be made into investigating whether the uncomfortable people have a legitimate critique, because their critique is Just Their Opinion. All opinions besides positive ones are Just Their Opinion.)

Anyway. Haven't seen the movie. But sex in movies, real or faked, is problematic --

Most of the time, as appears to be the case in this movie, not really necessary to tell the story, and thus gratuitous. Stories of love and lust have been told for what, a hundred years in film? Hundreds of years in books? And there are thousands of great books dealing with these issues perfectly well without explicit sex.

But sometimes, sex is necessary to tell the story. Unfortunately, that sex is generally transgressive and abusive and so very hard to watch, and probably damaging to whoever sees it. The best example of this is Irreversible, the 2004 French film that had a nine-minute, brutal anal-rape scene, among other terrible things. But the violence and transgression and horror of this protracted, real-time violation is a central part of the movie and not at all gratuitous. The movie, thematically, is all about the permanent damage done by all sorts of terrible things. Similarly, another French film, Baise-moi, that came out a couple years earlier, deals thematically with violence towards and marginalization of women by having its female characters spend the movie having sex and killing men. Similarly, there is nothing gratuitous about the sex or violence in Monster.

Perhaps I am arguing that all happy sex that ends well is gratuitous, and I think that's a perfectly valid argument. For instance, some scenes in movies take place in bathrooms. Do we need to show streams of urine leaping from privates to urinal or bowl? Do we need to hear the shit plopping into the water, the farts echoing from the walls? Course not. We get the idea. We know what a bathroom involves. And there are boundaries that are not violated if one is wise. We are still reeling from the idiocy of the Baby-boomer generation deciding that boundaries were bad because they stopped movement past a point. But sometimes, there need to be boundaries. We do not see a problem with guardrails on curves or staying to one side of the yellow lines when driving. We understand the need for walls and roofs. We don't think it's necessary to poke our heads into a jet engine simply because we're told not to. Often, the boundaries of society are much more important for us, and yet because the consequences of violating the boundaries are not immediately apparent, people think the boundaries archaic, sexist, prudish, reactive.

Well, off to work.

And Good Shabbos to all.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Easiest Mitzvah for Me

.... is Bikkur Cholim, visiting the sick.

My coworker is in hospital and I saw her last night. It's hard for me to do most mitzvahs but for some reason, perhaps because when I was a child, I wasn't allowed in.

I remember going to visit my great-grandmother in a nursing home. They didn't allow children in there so she waved to me from a window. I never saw her other than that that I can remember. And of course when my mom gave birth to my brother and I was eight I couldn't go in and my dad showed my sister and I my mom's window and we waved to the window.

My dad was in the hospital when I was in high school and I visited him, of course. Then my friend Richard got a brain tumor and I visited him in hospital before he died. It's just an easy thing that seems to me like such a no-brainer. I mean, you get credit for just showing up. How hard is that? For me, it's easy, and I like it. I like the fact that by simply showing up I can make someone feel better. I like taking my daughter and teaching her this mitzvah. I can do it better, but I can do it. And for whatever reason, others can't-- it's too hard for them because they HATE hospitals. I like them, even though they are lonely places. But it's easy to make them happy and comfortable, all you need is visitors. Anyway. tons of mitzvahs I can't do, don't do, don't even know about. Visiting the Sick? I'm making good progress on this one. Especially that it's this week. I am not mature enough not to want to make G-d happy. Look! I'm doing a mitzvah!

Speaking of G-d, I feel like the couple in Ushpizin. Right when I was worrying about how I was going to come up with the money to pay for my daughter's 8th grade trip to DC and New York, lo and behold, I get a settlement on this class-action lawsuit I had with an old employer... many times more money than I need.

I remember a year or so ago I was in a gas station and this guy came in and started talking to another guy in line and basically started 'witnessing' not to proselytize but to share. He was just out of jail, newly clean and sober, trying to find a job, struggling, and was talking about the good things that had happened to him. He said something along the lines of "If He's taking care of me like this when I haven't even got all my shit together, can you imagine what my life's gonna be like when I'm really together and walking with Him?" It was the most sincere expression of gratitude to G-d I've ever heard and I think of that now. G-d is showering me with gifts and love and assistance and I'm so weak and wimpy in my attention to G-d and what G-d needs me to do in this world. Can you imagine what my life will be like when I really get going? (Don't tell me about the increased challenges that come along with increased practice and discipline... shhh).

So, anyway, when I got the check I immediately got out my prayerbook and called my girlfriend to have her say a blessing with me, and we said "Baruch ata Hashem, hatov v'hamaytiv" - Blessed is G-d who is Good and who Creates Good. And then she tells me that just when SHE was worrying about how she was going to pay her taxes and other expenses this month, today SHE got an unexpected check in the mail that more than covered things.

Now, on one level I think we are probably the weakest little baby souls because G-d has made our lives so easy, but I'm very glad to have such a doting Father to overlook our failings and help us and shower us with love and help.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Today I am a Data Entry Clerk Idiot

and I hate it and honestly, it's my own damn fault.

I had a spreadsheet with 10,000 lines of addresses. And for reasons too complicated to go into, I was supposed to have 800 rows interspersed throughout with UNKNOWN for street and city. And, well, I had them as UNKNOWN for street but the city wasn't UNKNOWN. If I had caught this when it was still in a spreadsheet, it would have been a minute to correct. But now it's on a mainframe database that's really, really archaic. And honestly, there's probably some really neat way I could program a subroutine in FOCUS to start at the bottommost row of data, count up x spaces and replace the existing text at position 70 with the string "UNKNOWN" and do it again and again until we get to row 1, but to learn how to do this in FOCUS would take longer than it will to just manually go through the dataset and hit CTL-V over and over once my cursor is over the appropriate place. And because our mainframe is so archaic it takes SO long to transfer from the mainframe to your PC, and to re-upload the data requires you to break it into smaller chunks... anyway. And let me tell you, I am at line 2669 of 10024, and boy, am I bored. I hate this junk. though having it done is pretty satisfying. I gotta get back to it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Smoooooooooooooooth Jazz

I'm in a hotel room in Phoenix, just got here. I got a container of Hershey's Kisses from the management (heck, yeah, that's going to make me stay here from now on)... and now I'm typing while the Kisses melt in my mouth and the radio plays the local "Smooth Jazz" format station, 95.5, The Coyote. Along with the a/c, it's helping me to stay as cool as possible. It was jarring getting outside and feeling how hot it was at 8:30pm... 90-something. That's normal Phoenix, I guess, but it's always an adjustment.

The new year is turning out so well. And I had a headache on the plane but I prayed a bunch for help with it and I just realized it's gone. Thanks, G-d. I have spent a couple days in the hospital-- visiting others and helping others, not as a patient... this old guy in his late, late 80s is having heart issues. He was holding court with all of us gathered around, wonderful cogent and clever, making jokes and smiling, and he told us about how a nurse had been rushed in the morning, telling him she couldn't help him, she had other patients to see. They got mad at each other, and after a while, he said he realized that it wasn't going to help either of them to be mad, so next time she came in, he said "Let's start over. I want us to be friends." And she was very touched and now they are indeed friends.

This was on Rosh Hashanah, by the way... I hope he's out of hospital well before Yom Kippur. Anyway. I gotta sleep.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Beautiful Portland, OR

Is so very pretty this evening, with low-clouds everywhere except at the horizon, where the sun is happily sliding rays of light through whatever holes in the clouds in can find. Very Pretty. And, of course, Portland's endless trees and green, and the gorgeously wet and river-y Willamette River are both so unlike Southern California and so like New Zealand, where I spent formative years of my childhood... although I lived in Auckland, which is on an isthmus and not near a river at all, but hey. Close enough.

Unfortunately, I have to leave tomorrow right after the meeting so I can fly back home early enough to make Rosh Hashanah dinner, or I'd stop by what should be Portland's #1 tourist destination -- Powell's Books.

Anyway. I'm off to dinner with my coworkers.

L'Shana Tovah etc etc etc

I'd have said the rest if I knew it and I don't feel like looking it up cuz that would be cheating. Happy New Year, may you be Inscribed for a wonderful 5767 with all sorts of good things.

For me, I am taking the advice of in an email they sent about not trying to do everything all at once. For the New Year, make one resolution that you can keep. They used the acryonym S.M.A.R.T. --


and it obviously involves not just making the right resolution for one area of your life that needs improvement but figuring out the WAY in which you phrase and keep the resolution to ensure that it's doable.

I know that I want to focus on scheduling and that's it for this year. Many of my personal and work issues are all related to ADD and scheduling/procrastinating/etc challenges. But as far as how to attack the issue for the coming year in a way that's specific, measurable, etc etc? No idea.

And of course I have a flight in a few hours and I have to leave for that. And any emphasis on scheduling highlights the importance of my Palm organizer and mine is a couple years old and having issues with the power connector -- the connection is loose so sometimes it doesn't charge. SO I need a new Palm... which I can't adfdford. ARGHH.

What problems to have! Our lives are so easy. :)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dead Yucca

I saw this while hiking and knew it would make a good black-and-white photo. I may not have succeeded in making a good black-and-white photo but I hope you see the potential. :)

Friday, September 15, 2006


Messing around at night in the kitchen.
So anyway. The canisters are a deep psychological symbol of our varying personae and how they hold emotions and paradigms, and... oh, never mind. They are just pretty canisters.

It's almost Rosh Hashanah. Every year I am surprised. How can I be surprised by an event that's every year? Perhaps because I am never in tune with the Hebrew calendar and the High Holy Days move about? Nah. I'm just disorganized.

Monday, September 11, 2006

CNN and the Cruel and Lazy Failure of Professionalism and Decency.

CNN is rehashing the Eleventh of September, 2001 by showing reporting from five years ago minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow, thus proving that CNN has learned nothing from September 11th. This is Evil on many ways. Primary among them --


CNN doesn't have to do any sort of meaningful analysis of the events five years ago and really, really dig into the issues of security, freedom, and loss that are of vital importance, because they can just redo the footage from five years ago. Saves money on reporting, editing, etc. Cost-cutting laziness.


This is much different than CNN offering archived newsfootage to review online or the LA Times offering old issues in its archives. Because it's real time, its only possible effect is to place viewers in the exact same place they were five years ago, stunned and in shock. And to put people in the same place they were five years ago, for a supposedly major news organization, is a major abdication of professionalism. This is not what news organizations are supposed to do. Otherwise CNN can just show us footage of robberies and murders and car crashes all the time and call it news.


Is the most important thing about the attacks of the Eleventh of September the physical way in which they happened? Is this how we think of events that effect us? Do the families of people who have suffered assaults or rapes spend each anniversary going through each second of the assault, the cruelty, the pure evil inflicted upon them? I should hope fucking not. But this is what CNN is perpetrating. Let's re-traumatize everyone. Let's pretend that going into minute detail about the mechanics of the terrorist attacks somehow qualifies as news. Bastards.

The relatives who read the names of their loved ones every year are not doing it so we can remember the particular horrific way in which they died, surely. The legacy of the almost three-thousand people that lost their lives on September the Eleventh is not the way in which they died, and if we make it about the way in which they died, we may as well give up and hand out the burkas. If we are to have the strength as a country to survive and keep the ideals of America then the almost three-thousand souls who perished on September 11th have to be remembered not for the way in which they died but in the way in which they lived, their work and family life, their values. Spend all day each year with in-depth interviews of their widows and parents and orphans remembering their personalities, their characters, their foibles. Honor the people who died. Don't fetishize the way in which they died.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Camera Junk -- 50mm f 1:1.7 lens!

Got my dream lens for only $35 last weekend. It's a manual-focus 50mm lens with 1:1.7 aperture. So I can get really shallow DOF and nice bokeh and other junk that photographers talk about.

First, it can let it lots of light allowing me to get better shots in darker conditions.

But let me tell you, manual focusing can be a pain, especially when the aperture is wide open on the 1.7 side and I have the shallow DOF I crave. A tiny movement of the focusing ring or a tiny movement back by the camera and things go out of the tiny sliver that's in focus. But I'm getting used to it with practice, seeing through the viewfinder enough to sense that the desired area is in focus.

But I can also 'stop down' the lens and get down to F22, at which point the aperture is a tiny hole, a lot less light gets in the camera, and everything ends up in focus and sharp. So it's also good for landscape junk.

Anyway, I gotta go get a subway to a train to my car to the doc, so...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Betty Boop

Last Friday we went to Universal Studios, to which I'd never been. It's no Disneyland, I tell you. For that matter, it's no Knott's Berry Farm. I guess the problem is that those theme parks basically work to take you away from the real world into alternate realities, whereas Universal Studios takes you from the real world into, yes, the alternate reality of TV, but in a way that makes it feel like you are in an endless commercial. Part of Disney's marketing magic is that the average visitor doesn't feel that way, even though every single inch of Disneyland acts to advertise all things Disney... I guess Universal Studios is just not that good at what they try to do? The one great thing about it is that they have the lines all covered with tarps and they have mistmaking machines and fans all over the place so you don't get too hot in line. Very clever as far as that goes.

Anyway, they had lots of Betty Boop merchandise and that made for a good shot.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What's Going On? and Kohelet

Marvin Gaye's What's Going On is one serious album. Listening to it this morning put me in a contemplative mood. The album is reminiscent of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) in that Gaye sings about problems of oppression and inequality but in a way that makes these things universal problems, existential problems. So as the author of Kohelet explores all the things of life that are supposed to give one pleasure and make one happy, Gaye echoes the inevitable frustration in "Flyin' High (in the friendly skies)"

Flying high in the friendly sky
Without ever leaving the ground
And I ain't seen nothing but trouble baby
Nobody really understands, no no
And I go to the place where the good feelin' awaits me
Selfdestruction in my hand
Oh Lord, so stupid minded
Oh and I go crazy when I can't find it
Well I know I'm hooked my friend
To the boy who makes slaves out of men.
And oh beleive me
Flying high in a friendly sky
Oh baby, flyin' high

When Gaye sings this song, it is after "What's Going On" and "What's Happening Brother" and we understand just why he'd be turning to drugs. The fact that he's aware that it's a dead-end that will not bring him the peace he seeks magnifies the sorrow. In the same way, the author of Kohelet's story is all the more powerful by his trying to get happiness from every earthly pleasure imaginable in his time and still ending up with happiness escaping him. But later on, several times during the album Gaye praises G-d, as the author of Kohelet does. Our lives may not make any sense, we are destroying each other and the world, but I still have faith in G-d. There's a meaning to this, even if we can't see it. Our job is, in the end, to praise G-d.

My favorite part of Kohelet is the last chapter (12). It's some of the best poetry of all time. This is the translation from --

1. And remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of evil come, and years arrive, about which you will say, "I have no desire in them."
2. Before the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars darken, and the clouds return after the rain.
3. On the day that the keepers of the house tremble, and the mighty men are seized by cramps, and the grinders cease since they have become few, and those who look out of the windows become darkened.
4. And the doors shall be shut in the street when the sound of the mill is low, and one shall rise at the voice of a bird, and all the songstresses shall be brought low.
5. Also from the high places they will fear, and terrors on the road, and the almond tree will blossom, and the grasshopper will drag itself along, and sexual desire will fail, for man goes to his everlasting home, and the mourners go about in the street.
6. Before the silver cord snaps, and the golden fountain is shattered, and the pitcher breaks at the fountain, and the wheel falls shattered into the pit.
7. And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God, Who gave it.
8. "Vanity of vanities," said Koheleth; "all is vanity."
9. And more [than this], Koheleth was wise, he also taught knowledge to the people; he listened and sought out, he established many proverbs.
10. Koheleth sought to find words of delight and properly recorded words of truth.
11. The words of the wise are like goads, and like well-fastened nails with large heads, given from one shepherd.
12. And more than they, my son, beware; making many books has no end, and studying much is a weariness of the flesh.
13. The end of the matter, everything having been heard, fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the entire man.
14. For every deed God will bring to judgment-for every hidden thing, whether good or bad.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


The human mind/soul/brain/whatever likes puns. Craves them. Orients our lives around puns and goofy metaphors and symbols. G-d is in there, of course. Speaks to us through these things. The most basic review of your life and circumstances would probably reveal a lot. For me, the one currently in play is focus. Previous cameras (except for an SLR I owned in the late 80s and hardly ever used because film/developing was too expensive for me) were either fixed-lens or automatic. I had no control. The camera did it. And my life was the same way. Outside forces seemed to dictate to what I paid attention and how. Now I get a digital SLR camera with the ability to manually focus again. And at the same time, I become aware that I have what Lynn Weiss PhD calls an ADD "brainstyle." And every day is a constant struggle to establish and maintain focus on work and personal stuff. Coincidence? Yeah, right. I gotta focus on work.

But first, Reb Yonassan Gershom is doing Holocaust reincarnation counseling sessions again... he's a Satmar rabbi who has written books about reincarnation and other stuff, very colorful guy, and this is serious stuff. Many Jews don't know that the idea of reincarnation is pretty normative Jewish belief, although the Jewish version doesn't involve starting out as a slug and going up or down species as you get holier/more profane. The idea is that each soul has an objective on earth, something that it is on earth to do and to perfect. If that soul cannot complete its objective, it has to come back again until it does. So something like the Holocaust would stop people from being able to acheive their goals in one lifetime. There are many people who have apparently dreams or other 'residues' that would indicate being in the Holocaust -- little kids not ever exposed to Holocaust stuff who have very specific dreams that are hard to dismiss as anything other than Holocaust images, etc...

Tangential to this but something I have to mention each time I think of it: there's a famous story of the Chazon Ish, a great, great rabbi. who would stand up in respect whenever a child with a mental disability would come into his presence. His students were baffled. He explained that the way that souls acheive their tasks in life, perfect whatever needs perfecting, is through observing G-d's commandments. But these children could not observe all G-d's commandments. Since G-d woulnd't ever send a soul into this world to do a job it couldn't do, these 'retarded' children were thus clearly not here to perfect themselves by observing commandments -- their souls were already perfect, or so close to perfected that they only needed to do one or two things, thus they didn't need all the abilities that most people would need. These perfect holy souls were here in order to help others. Thus the rabbi stood up in deep respect.

Ok. NOW I gotta focus.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Shallow and Deep

It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible. -- Oscar Wilde

This quote has resonated with me for years and I'm not sure why.

Hold Wilde's qwuote in your mind while contemplating the Jewish truth that G-d created the world because G-d wanted to make Himself a Dwelling in the Lower Realms, and it is our job to transform the world into this dwellingplace. "The foundation and root of the entire Torah," as is stated by Rabbi Zalman in the Tanya, "is to raise and exalt the soul over the body." Our job is not to escape the physical. Our job is to sanctify the material world. The way we do this is through mitzvot, and all mitzvot involve material stuff.

If you take the idea that the mystery in life is in the visible and think about our job being to take the material and sanctify it, well, it kind of goes together. Kind of. Anyhoo. Back to work.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Night Flower Photos

OK. One of the fun things about having a camera that has ISO 1600 and 3200 is that I can take photos at night and they kind of work out. The light ends up weird and it's kind of cool, I think...

I had another trip to Oakland yesterday and tried to catch up today, but didn't make much headway. So many things to say, but I am becoming a Mystic and have to retain the knowledge, make it Secret, so I can charge acolytes to share.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Dog and Flashlight

Poor doggie is very sick but always dignified.

Flashlight fun with a thirty second exposure.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


So I'm at an Embassy Suites hotel this evening after flying up here to do a presentation tomorrow. Tired. Gotta practice before sleep, though. An hour ago I had great things to type. My mind was alive. Then I watched some TV and ate some chips and now I am as brainless as a fire hydrant.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Oh. World Trade Center

We saw this movie. It was good. It's worth seeing. I felt a bit ripped off after reading an article in Slate about how the movie wasn't true to life in a couple respects that are just dumb. There's a guy who was a paramedic until he got sidelined with alcoholism who was part of the rescue in the movie, but in real life, he was an even bigger part. The rescues took a lot longer than the movie made it seem and were much more precarious.

And a pet peeve of mine -- there were two marines in the movie; they both just showed up and ignored that no one was supposed to be on the 'pile' and just searched for people, finding the two cops trapped. In the movie, they are both white. In reality, one was white, one was black. Why mess with that fact? Irritating.

My new Pentax K100D and one sick dog

Well, this is my new camera. I went to the big camera store, Samy's, and talked to the guy behind the Nikon counter, and told him I was considering the Nikon D50 and the Pentax K100D and after hearing what I wanted to do with the camera he said get the K100D -- it's got built-in shake reduction, and that helps with getting low-light photos, which is something I know I'll want to do -- I hate doing photos at gatherings with flash... anyhoo. So that's my birthday present and I got it early and woo hoo! It's a trip to be able to manually focus when I want to. I have to learn a lot but it's great so far.

Unfortunately, it's a mixed thing, because at the same time, my girlfriend's dog is sick with cancer and his health is deteriorating. It becomes hard because at some point we'll have to have him put down but it's hard to know when... sometimes he seems ready to die and then he'll be all excited and chipper for his walk and then he has a terrible time because his prostate is involved and he always thinks he has to go, and then he can't tell when he is actually going, so he's always making messes, etc, etc... so for the past year or so it's been weighing on us and he's getting worse and worse. Poor dog. The rabbis say that animals besides humans don't have souls basically because they are incapable of acting against their nature... it's like the whole soul thing is only necessary to give people the ability to have free will, and so dogs are like Angels and trees and planets -- they are purely of G-d and go back into G-d in totality when it's time. But still, he certainly seems to have a personality and communicates stuff with his big brown eyes. Anyway. I'll miss him.

Work is very busy, but I am doing better at focusing today. I am typing here as an official break and everything. So there.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


So, my girlfriend's birthday was yesterday and we had a surprise party for her Monday night. The party was at the outside patio of The Buffalo Club, a restaurant so exclusive that it's not listed in the phon book, and from the outside it looks like a bar and it's on an otherwise industrial street. Very nice food. Everyone had a great time.

I could post photos of the people there but they'd mean nothing to you, except for the famous people, and I can't post theirphotos because then people will be bugging me to bug them to get them jobs or movie parts or autographs. So here is a nice shot of the lanterns. Now it's my birthday week coming up. Hah.

Monday, August 07, 2006

ADD and Where to Place Attention

ok. Listen. I have ADD. But I didn't really know it till this year. And I am getting treatment, learning tricks to help me deal with the problems I've had my whole life with organization, planning, etc, etc... and now I can see the ADD-ness of the entire world. Like right now, I am sitting here engrossed in typing this instead of doing important work. And we see the same thing in the world. Really important issues are not dealt with. People are distracted from serious problems to endlessly obsess over Mel Gibson's DUI rant. is a good article about this. When we have a guy go into a Seattle Jewish center and shoot lots of people and we have Mel say some rude things, which gets focused on? Of course.

That being said, I can't stop myself from being on the same wrong track here. Why must we continually crumble at the slightest provocation by our evil inclinations? Why do we have to jump on people when they are down? Mel Gibson needs people's prayers and patience. He knows that he will have to deal with this for his whole life. Let him up off the ground. Let him keep his dignity. Engage him in meaningful dialogue. Don't kick him and spit in his face. Because it's one thing to spout a bunch of hate when drunk. It's another to be sober, clear of mind, and be mean and evil and spiteful to the drunk sinner who has already messed their life up.
Who are these people who pretend to have no sin? Who are these people who turn their backs on Jewish and Christian tradition and spread gossip and talk evil about someone when they weren't even there? How do these people expect to escape the harshest judgement possible if they show such harsh judgement to others?

At core, I think it's a problem of people placing attention in the wrong place -- we are distracted by looking at others' failings when we need to be focusing ON OUR OWN. And boy, do I have a lot.

I gotta work.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Nikon D50 w/ 50mm/f1.8 lens?

Oh, it's camera shopping time soon. My girlfriend is buying me a decent dSLR camera, and I'm pretty sure I'm getting a Nikon D50, after reading tons of reviews.

I knew I wanted to go with Nikon or Canon. The two biggest SLR makers with entry-level to professional cameras and tons of lenses, so that I could start now and over time, build up equipment that I can still use. Doesn't appear the same with other SLR makers. And I went with Nikon over Canon because of two things. First, it seems like the cheapest Nikon lenses (all I can afford right now) are better than the cheapest Canon lenses. Second, the cheapest Nikon camera, the D50, has more features than the Rebel XT 350, the cheapest Canon. And it has better lowlight functionality, which is where I'll use a lot.

Course, anyone out there happening to read this who knows otherwise and/or wants to offer advice, please feel free. :) I have a couple weeks before buying, so hurry up.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Whole lot of Shaking Going On

(the photo is from my phone. Sucks, I know, but hey. It's easier to get photos to my work computer from my cellphone than from my regular camera.)

Downtown LA has a lot of construction going on. My building has construction projects on two sides and lots more down the street. There's a lot of really big booms as foundation holes are dug/sunk and steel girders placed into position, that sort of thing. In the downtown of a city that's high on the terrorist list it's rather disconcerting.

The other thing that sometimes happens is that there won't be a bang, just low frequency rumbling. Just like when an earthquake starts. That's fun. We haven't had an earthquake of any importance since 1994, but the whole Katrina thing, and how so many people were unprepared, has me really cautious. I have a pretty extensive earthquake kit at my desk. Everyone is supposed to have this stuff at home and work and in the car but hardly anyone does... I have a couple gallons of water, canned food and snack bars, flashlight, batteries, windup radio, change of clothing, backpack, first aid kit, wipes, etc etc... all I can say is hurry up, earthquake, before all this food expires and I have to buy more.

The good part is that a lot of the construction is in the "new urbanism" vein where businesses are on the ground floor with residences above. Next door later this year/early next we'll have a Ralphs supermarket. This will be a godsend for me, because I am terrible at organizing lunch and there's no markets around, so it's either cheap junk or expensive good food. And if there's an earthquake it'll be easy to get there and loot for supplies.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lucky Trader

I like this photo. It's not clear at all-- it's shot through a sea-spray covered ferry window. But I like The Lucky Trader and how she looks here... mysterious, misty, kind of impressionistic, very Red.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


So, I wanted to reply to Stacey's comment here because Paul as a subject is deserving of more space and exposure.

I don't have a problem with Paul as some have, saying he was a closet homosexual with other issues that he focused on, thus warping the early church and its focus.

My problem is really with Christians, not Paul. He wrote his letters, people saved them. It's not his fault that he's been made into a false god. And he has. Most Christian strains, especially Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist strains, choose to focus on Paul's letters to the exclusion of Jesus and his teachings, and not just Paul, but all the letter-writers. Sure, most Protestant friends of mine have the "Red letter" bibles with the words of Jesus in red to stress how much more important those words are than anything else, but in real life, Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christianity is more about Paul and the other letter writers than about Jesus.

We see this in the whole faith vs works argument. It's plain from a thorough and fair reading of Jesus that he was all about the work. He was a man of action. SELL your stuff, FOLLOW me, you'll have treasure in heaven. When I was hungry, did you FEED me? WHen I was in hospital, did you VISIT me? Whatever you DO to the least of them you DO to me. His parables are all about ACTION. It is clear that he is interested in what you DO. Even John's latecoming gospel, when read in context, can clearly be seen in this context of action. But Christianity splits into Catholic/Protestant over an obsessive debate over what Paul wrote in some letters about faith vs works, and Jesus is left standing there, ignored.

Or the idea of not being "unequally yoked." Jesus hung out with everyone, didn't judge people but loved them, and the only people we know he got MAD at were observant priests. But because Paul wrote in one letter about being unequally yoked, it's a major Christian preoccupation. When one person gets religion, often, ironically, they leave their longtime mate because of the unequally yoked thing (I am now sober, they still drink and dont' believe like I do), ignoring Jesus saying that people marry for life...

For another example, take the idea prevalent in Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches that the Man is the Head of the Household and that women should be subservient to their husbands. Now, this is a constantly popular and important issue, and to get support for it, people turn to Scripture. But they don't turn to Jesus, because there's nothing Jesus said on the matter to justify the position. So they turn to Peter. To Paul. To Timothy especially (and Timothy is plainly a terrible reader of Bereshit).

Same with many doctrinal issues. The proofs come from the Letters, not from the Gospels. So we have a religion that claims to follow Jesus but follows his disciples much more closely. If Christianity were built on the Beatitudes and the other red-letter stuff of the gospels, Christianity would be a much different religion.

Anyway. It's all so interesting, I could go on and on, showing you tract after tract where pretty much everything referenced is Letters and not redletter Jesus stuff, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

IDF, Gaza... Oh, Never Mind

I can't even talk about it. Went to Israelisms, read this:

"News Flash: Mother, 4 children killed in IDF strike; IDF cuts Gaza in half.

Discuss..... "
posted by one Adrienne.

Well, that got me going.

[I]t's rather funny. I can imagine her on June 6, 1944: "73,000 American troops Invade French Beach. Hundreds of French Civilians Dead and Wounded. Discuss."

Or July 4, 1976: "Israel Violates Uganda Airspace and Sovereignity. 20 Ugandans, several Arabs and Germans killed. Discuss."

If any other country but Israel had this happening, we'd see none of the restraint, none of the care that Israel is exhibiting. We know full well that the United States and Britain show none of the care that Israel does as far as avoiding 'collateral damage.' I doubt Adrienne really cares, though. Dead Arabs are just an opportunity for more Jew-bashing. Despicable.

Civilians in Gaza keep dying because the motherf*cking terrorists purposely hide like the piece of sh*t cowards they are amidst civilians. And from these positions they lob grenades, direct bombings, and hold captive soldiers, those soldiers lucky enough not to be wholesale murdered.

And what happens to the civilians in Gaza that are injured accidentally while Israel tries to rescue it's soldier before he is savagely murdered? They are often treated in Israeli hospitals. You know DAMN well that folks in Gaza are not treating Israelis with such decency and compassion.

Why can't people get it through their thick idiot skulls that while Israel may accidentally kill civilians while trying to go after terrorists, the terrorists main goal is to KILL INNOCENT CIVILIANS? Why the F*CK is this basic fact impossible for people to understand?

Oh, I remember. When the Israeli military is trying to stop terrorists from killing innocent Israelis and rescue its hostages and they accidentally kill civilians, this is an act of MURDEROUS IMPERIALIST APARTHEID NAZI TERROR.

And Israeli deaths? Oh, they are just not worth getting upset about. They _are_ Jews, you know -- aren't they like 3/5 of a person or something? Israeli deaths (JEWS and the Arabs and Christians who collaborate with them) are perfectly fine. When Israeli children and mothers are slaughtered, it's a LEGITIMATE ACT OF RESISTANCE.

Now can we go back to discussing the parade??

And Charley, this is me ON my medication...

And after reading this again, I think I actually UNDERstated things a bit. I wish I was back on Catalina with my woman.

Monday, July 10, 2006

26 Miles Across the Sea...

So, to celebrate my g/f's 50th birthday I took her to Catalina Island. We had loads of fun but I was sick (still am) so didn't have as much fun as we would otherwise have had.) Here's a shot of where we stayed...


here's the private beach. reefs and big orange fish and stuff.

We would have kayaked and swam if not for my cold, but it was still fun. It's an hour by ferry, but the ferry is a highspeed jet catamaran thing that's really smooth and goes around 25 knots. I was almost sick on the way there, but managed to keep everything in. It's a really pretty island that's mostly undeveloped except for the town of Avalon. There are buffalo living on it from when a Western was made there in the 20s. Lots of sea movies of the thirties were filmed there. There are few roads and not much use for cars for most people so most people have golf carts as their transportation. And the condo I rented included a cart. Very cool. :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Right now Israel is going into Gaza to rescue a kidnapped soldier and Hamas is trying to draft something 'implicitly' recognizing Israel's right to exist rather than producing the kidnapped soldier. They are just not bright.

Tony Snow, White House Press Secretary --

"Once again, we can all recite from memory now: recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce terror, and abide by all past agreements. Those are the preconditions."

Not that hard, is it?

I used to be a lot more left-wing about Israel. Then I started paying attention. To both sides. Now I'm getting more and more right-wing on the issue of Israel and the Arabs. See? NOt even calling them Palestinians. And I think the White House press secretary is right on something. Odd.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Cat, Low Light, and Catchlights

My camera allowed me to take this photo as Tasha looked out into the late afternoon light. It works, I think, although it's really not in focus. Perhaps the cornea of her left eye is in focus but that's it. You can do this with a cat and it works ok, but when you take a photo like this of a person -- using macro mode -- you end up with noses way too large-looking and other unflattering things that most models don't like.

I have nothing else to say.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Two Wonderful Iranian movies

Perhaps because there were limitations on the kind of subject matter that Iranians could do in the late 90s, there are a couple wonderful, sweet but never sappy movies centered around children from this time period. There are no bad people in the movies, either. Both of these movies are in my Top Hundred Movies of All Time:

1) Badkonake Sefid (The White Balloon) 1995

This movie is not out on DVD yet. Boo! Find it on VHS and then dig out your VHS player, OK? The story is basically that the family has a goldfish pond and it's Iranian New Years and this apparently involves goldfish, so the girl wants to get a nice new one. So she is given a certain amount of money to buy a goldfish by her mom. She promptly drops it down the gutter and has to somehow get it. A boy with a white balloon somehow gets involved. Not a balloon with helium, like The Red Balloon, if I recall correctly. I think it's just a white balloon on a stick. Anyway. The whole story is the little girl losing her money and people trying her help her get her money and things going wrong and in the end, of course, everything ending up fine, but in a really, really magical way, and it's all taking place on a couple little narrow streets presumably in Tehran.

2)Bacheha-Ye aseman (Children of Heaven) 1997

Goldfish pond in this movie too, I think, but it's shoes at the center of this movie, not goldfish money. Father has trouble making ends meet. Boy is sent to pick up his sister's beat up old shoes from the cobbler who has repaired them. He does so, and then he puts them down for a second at the veggie seller's. A guy picking up trash picks up the bag the shoes are in, and then, a few seconds later, the boy sees the shoes are gone. Can't find them. The father can't buy more shoes. The kids are acutely aware of the pain they'd cause their dad were they to tell him, as he'd be shamed by his inability to afford new ones right away. SO they keep it a secret. The boy and girl share the boy's shoes. Again, there is seriously no simplistic plot crap you'd end up with in American movies. Everyone in the movie is basically good and kind and yet the plot and characters are a lot more realistic and not at all cliched or hackneyed.

Anyway. This is what happens when you go through Netflix looking for movies to add to your Queue.

Monday, June 12, 2006

It was a Movie Weekend

Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth was a great movie. (See the Pledge link on the right side, please). Depressing, as most middle-of-the-road mostly ignorant folks won't see it, the right-wing deniers will just bash it, and folks like me who will see it but were already outraged at the current state of things. Seriously, see the movie. It's really important. The only people arguing against mankind causing global warming are corporate whores. You can't find reputable scientists arguing against it, but the news ends up giving these whores publicity because they want to appear "fair and balanced" and also, of course, because they like the corporate whores.

That's not being fair. I'm sorry, those of you who are Working Women. I don't mean to impugn your character by comparing you to Corporate lobbyists and the elected representatives who sell us out every day.

We also saw Match Point. Brilliant movie. Probably seems even better because you know it's a Woody Allen movie and it's not like most Woody Allen movies. Crimes and Misdemeanors covered similar ground, but was lighter. This is a tight, wonderfully acted, totally devastating movie that ends up putting the viewer in awkward places as far as judgement, honor, guilt, cheating, etc etc but does it in totally honest ways. Just see it.

And lastly, Guess Who. Which was fun and silly.

Oh. I almost forgot. We saw Cars. One of the better Pixar movies. It could have been a trite rehash of an old and tired movie template (know it all, egotistical superstar has his Fall from Grace and ends up in some backwater, miserable, hating life, wanting to get back to the Big City. And of course, ends up learning lessons about Life and what's really Important. But this movie handles it well, I think.

I have such things to say. Such interesting and intelligent things. But I'm working. Who would have thunk?

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Zoo Rabbi and Perek Shirah

So it's Friday. Happy Friday. Shabbat Shalom.

I liked putting what I happened to be listening to in the Title and it worked for years and now I'm irritated by it. So at least for now it's whatever ends up being the main subject for the entry.

But I'll still put the music. Today it's Sigur Ros -- Saegklopur . These guys are from Iceland, I think, and make pretty music that is either in gibberish or Icelandic. Can't tell. When Bjork sings in Icelandic you can hear her annunciate all. These guys mumble in falsetto. Who knew such magic was possible?

You say you want to go on an African Safari, but you can't stomach the idea of eating all that trayfe? I have the solution for you! Rabbi Natan Slifkin, famous Zoo Rabbi of Israel (actually, I think he's the only Zoo Rabbi worldwide) has joined with a tour operator to create Kosher Safaris! Not only do you travel across Africa eating glatt kosher meals (which I wouldn't eat, since I'm vegetarian), but you have the pleasure of being in Rabbi Slifkin's company.

Slifkin is a true, true tzaddik, emphasizing the mitzvah of looking at the world with close attention, seeing the way things work, appreciating the miraculous nature of it all, and appreciating that G-d is the creator and source of it all. In fact, some of his books have gotten him into a huge controversy with more reactionary Orthodox rabbis because he shows how modern scientific discoveries, rather than somehow showing Torah to be wrong, merely help to further show the amazing nature of G-d's creation. The rabbis that think it's science vs Torah and scientific evidence showing the universe wasn't made in 6 days must be wrong and Torah says six literal days. Slifkin quotes long-respected rabbis who have offered 'minority' but respected opinions on the subject, such as rabbis who say that maybe the six days weren't literal(remember, the issue of how old the earth is doesn't impact on the mitzvot or halacha, so it's all opinion) and does it to help young people understand that science isn't the enemy of Torah but an aid to understanding the majesty of Torah. And he's pilloried for it.

Anyhoo. Even ignoring the controversy, he's a really cool young Rabbi.

One of the neat things he does is focus on Perek Shirah in his zoo tours and writing. Perek Shirah is a cool ancient Midrash that is basically a song sung by the planets, weather phenomenae, trees, animals, and birds. Each one is singing a particular verse from the Tanach. There's deep meaning in how each thing, plant, animal, etc gets matched to a particular verse. Some are obvious, like

The Palm is saying, 'The Righteous flourish like the palm tree; they grow like a cedar in Lebanon.'

But some just don't make obvious sense, so you need someone like Rabbi Slifkin to explain the connection. For example, he says that

"the agur, which is the crane, a large bird similar to a stork, sings, “Praise God with the lyre, make music for Him with the ten-stringed harp” (Psalms 33:2). Unlike other birds, cranes have terrible voices. But although they cannot sing musically, they clatter the mandible of their beaks together like maracas. They thereby allude to the theme of the verse, which speaks of praising God with musical instruments rather than song. The message is that we need not all be the same, but rather we all have our own unique talents and abilities which we should develop for serving God.

See how that works? Slifkin shows us that we cannot appreciate the text without studying the natural world! We have to observe these animals and think about them and learn their habits and everything about them to understand the source. After all, the Rabbis say that one who studies Perek Shirah is destined for the World to Come and all sorts of other benefits. And without knowing that this crane has no song, one doesn't understand the verse. One cannot simply study Torah all the time. One has to know Torah AND the natural world. That way you can get deeper insights into Torah. This is real study, the kind of study that can, if you apply its lessons, lead to a place in the World to Come.

Slifkin is also an expert on great complicated kosher slaughterer things like "are giraffes kosher? Where on the neck do you cut?" So check out Kosher Safaris for me. I don't have the money, but you rich people with lots of time, seriously. It'll be so much fun.

Monday, June 05, 2006

No Music -- iPod issues

So, my iPod just decided today to stop playing after an hour and when I did a "warm reset" it decided to not see the music stored on it anymore, so it now is acting like it's empty. No biggie -- I'll just download everything back onto it tonight, but I hope it's not a harbinger of Issues.

Wait a minute. What am I talking about? I got the extended warranty on it for three years, I think. So if it's broken, I take it back to Best Buy and get a new one, minus some sort of depreciation, I think. So perhaps I should root for it to be suffering from major Issues? Although I was hoping to be able to wait till the long-rumored model that will be one big color touchscreen interface.

So the music industry is putting more pressure on Russia to shut down Allofmp3-- The problem is that Russia will eventually shut down Allofmp3, because the government will do whatever the industry wants, but the supposed free market really is being stymied, as usual, by corporations. The fact that is so successful shows that people are willing to pay for their music. The only problem is that people are willing to pay $1 an album if it's in electronic format, but not $1 a song. And as much as the industry suits don't like it, most of what they sell isn't worth much more. If they made albums $4 or $5 an album, I think you'd see music sales soar along with profits. People know that many things they download are disposable songs that aren't worth $1/song. That's why they won't pay $1/song. I belong to and pay $10 a month for 40 songs. That's 25 cents a song. That's reasonable, I think. That's why I've been a member of eMusic for years at that price/song.

Apple's iTunes is a nice format and nice software, but the prices at the iTunes Music Store are just stupid. At $10 an album you can get most of the same music in many times better quality, for the same price, in a real CD. iTunes touts their billion+ songs sold but it's a drop in the bucket. CDs still reign.

And you know what else? Even when you buy CDs you get BURNED. Sony, for instance, a company that was once great and is now quickly destroying itself, at least as far as music goes, has the evil "Dual Disc" format. Now, I saw the new Bruce Springsteen album at Starbucks and bought it. But "Dual Disc" won't play in a Mac because "Dual Disc" is not compliant with CD standards. And it's SOny. You know damn well it's on purpose. Why should I spend $16 to get shafted by Sony selling me a product that a perfectly good computer can't even read?

The bad-faith that Sony is practicing is insane, because it can't be helping them keep customers. I am NEVER going to buy a Dual Disc CD again from ANY label because I have no clue which CD it will play in and which it won't and I'm not willing to spend a day running around experimenting.

What's most bizarre is that by purchasing this CD legally I was subjected to more CRAP than the people who 'bought' it from for a buck or just stole it from BitTorrent. Having a trouble-free listening experience shouldn't be harder for honest consumers than for thieves!

So I fired off angry letters to Starbucks, where I bought it, and Sony, and I complained about the format at Amazon.

And how will I end up hearing this CD? Well, I'll probably download it from allofmp3! I'll be able to listen to what I paid for. Imagine that. So you go, allofmp3! Sell your ten cents a song albums as long as you have breath! At least until I can get to you and download The Seeger Sessions.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

David Bowie -- Neukoeln

So, this weekend was one of the best Bat-Mitzvah celebrations ever. Six of us in a rental minivan, and I drove both ways (I can't be a passenger -- I get carsick too easily unless I am driving) the 6-7 hours there and back. Friday night dinner. Services. Saturday morning services. Nap. Saturday night big party. Live band, which is always appreciated and classy. The dinner was a simple solution to the problem of who-wants-what -- both steak and fish along with potatoes on one plate. I, the vegetarian, ate it all. I was hungry. Then Sunday brunch, then Sunday evening barbeque. Insane amounts of food.

And the batmitvah girl was the best. Of the fifteen or so I've been to bar/bats I've been to in the past five or so years, this girl (my g/f's niece) was definitely the most into it all. Of all the kids, this one is the most likely to keep learning and strongly identifying as Jewish because she's into it.

And now, back at work, trying to get stuff done. It's a wonderful day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Arcade Fire -- Vampire, Forest Fire

So. Julia Butterfly Hill is one hot mama. She's a Sex Symbol for the 21st century. An earthy vegan treehugging sex symbol, of course, but still. She's right up there will Rachel Carson and Al Gore. Well, she's above Al Gore. But she's up there.

Don't know who she is? Piss off. Google her, lazybones.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Departure Lounge -- Music For Pleasure

I am really glad that The DaVinci Code got ripped critically, but I'm really glad it did well.


Well, I am conflicted about Tom Hanks and Ron Howard.

Tom Hanks isn't worth talking about, really. I like his movies ok. Think he did a good job in Castaway, one of the hardest roles in any movie ever. Like most movies he's done. Think he's a good actor. Just don't feel it, I guess. Can't tell why.

Ron Howard I used to like. I liked his feel-good, optimistic pov like in The Paper. But then he ruined How the Grinch Stole Christmas And I turned against him. A Beautiful Mind reinforced my thinking that any script he touched would have been better in someone else's hands. I have grown to hate his sentimental, hackneyed style.

But he has directed some of my favorite movies. The Missing is a recent one I think was really, really good -- both as a movie on its own and also how it redefines the Western and portrays the time and complexities of living in the real West far more realistically than previous efforts. Yes, I'm saying that a movie that treats shamans as really having powers as realistic. What can I say. My opinions, like Bush's, steer clear of objective reality.

Before that, we have Parenthood, Cocoon, Splash, Night Shift. Bam, Bam, Bam. Perhaps it's Ron Howard being Serious that I can't handle. I dunno. Perhaps it's just Clint Howard's ugly mug I can't stand seeing in every frigging movie.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

King Crimson -- We'll Let You Know

Well, after my last post, I wrote the following letter to the President. I've replaced my personal info, which I did include to Bush, here. I don't mind the President or Secret Service spying or arresting me, but you guys are abnormal, guilty types, and I don't trust you ---

“Fourth, the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities. We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.”

Ordinary Americans. Innocent Americans.

Mr President, who decides who is “normal?” You? The NSA? What do Americans have to do to suddenly be declared “abnormal?” Is it something simple, like wearing a hijab or frequenting mosques or the like? I’d like to know, so I can stay within your definition of “normal.” I am, however, not a Christian, I don’t like Country or Nascar, and I don’t watch American Idol or 24. Perhaps I already fall outside your definition of “normal.” Perhaps my writing this letter to you and speaking against your repeated and crass violations of our civil rights puts me outside the pale of “normal.” If so, my cell phone number is ***-***-****. You may want to pass that along to the appropriate parties so that they can add my phone records to the millions already collected, or perhaps listen to my conversations, in which I frequently exercise my free speech rights and say all sorts of things that would probably land me in jail if I were Muslim and Arab. I’m not authorizing you do do this, but you already know that as President, you are Authorized to do anything you want anytime you want it.

As to Innocent, it’s almost as if you have never heard the phrase “innocent until proven guilty.” Aren’t ALL Americans thus innocent until proven otherwise? If not, again, please let me know what the boundaries are so I know if I am “innocent” or “guilty.” My home address is 570 S *********** , ********, CA 9****. This is in case you decide that this letter and my previous letters to you, most of which have been critical, put me outside your “innocent” box, and I need to be arrested or rendered to some willing country for “questioning.”

I am on fire, I tell you.

Oh. Hope your Lag B'Omer is fun. I am doing absolutely nothing for it except telling everyone it's Lag B'Omer. Then everyone, Jew and Goy alike, says

"Oh! Cool. What's Lag B'Omer?"

"Well, it's a holiday that marks a certain number of days since the start of counting the Omer. 33 I think."

"What's the Omer?"

"G-d told the Jews to count a certain # of days, 49 I think. It's from Egypt to Sinai, basically, Pesach to Shavout."

"What's Shavout?"

"Oh, never mind."

Someone shoot an arrow for me, OK? I always wanted to do archery.

Machine Head -- LA Gothic

So. Bush says the government doesn't listen to the phone conversations of "ordinary Americans." Funny. I don't think the White House even understands how the very idea of "ordinary Americans" violates the letter and spirit of the Bill of Rights. Of course, the idea that they get to decide who is "normal" doesn't send chills down the spine of most Americans, because they blithely assume they are "normal."

It's an overused quote, but the poem attributed to Martin Niemöller is apropos now. This is the original German, but you don't have to speak German to get it. (I got it from Wickipedia.)

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Als sie die Juden holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Jude.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.

In the US the poem got screwed up because the victims in the original are Communists, Social Democrats, Trade Unionists, then lastly, Jews. Well, in the US in the 50s, you couldn't stand up and say that Communists and Trade Unionists shouldn't be rounded up, or you'd get blacklisted or something, so they got rid of the unsavory groups, stuck Jews at the top, added Catholics, that sort of thing.

Right now, they're coming for the Muslims and Arabs. Are we going to raise our voices? Are we going to protest? Or are we going to go about our business, assume that we're "normal," and be shocked and surprised when our door is battered down and we're led away at gunpoint?

"Oh, silly Lee," you say. "So dramatic. America is Different. That would never happen Here." But every coup, every civil war, every genocide has before it someone saying the same words about that particular country, that particular leader. Every genocide has many victims who die because they trusted that things wouldn't get that bad. There's no way to know how bad things will get, but we know that what's happening now in the US has led to terrible things other places in the past, places supposedly as civilized and tolerant.

And even if it never gets past abusing the rights and bodies of Arabs and Muslims, what value does America really have if we tolerate violations of civil rights to those deemed "abnormal?"

Friday, May 12, 2006

Sunset Rubdown -- Shut Up I am Dreaming Of Places Where Lovers Have Wings

I love long song titles. People can take it too far, like Sufjan Stevens does on Illinois with this one:

The Black Hawk War, Or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself In the Morning, Or, We Apologize For the Inconvenience But You're Going to Have to Leave Now, Or, 'I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!

So in comparison to that, something like "Shut Up I am Dreaming Of Places Where Lovers Have Wings" is concise, right?


I think Bush is collecting information on who I call and who calls me. After all, I often talk about Revolution and other Socialist ideas. I rail against the Rich almost every day. I long to see Capitalism Smashed. Wait a minute... What am I saying? Of course I'm not being monitored. I'm not Arab or Muslim. If I were, I'd be convicted already of some terrorism charge. But because I'm not Arab or Muslim, I can spout off about anything I want and not get in trouble or have my phone calls monitored. At least I'm pretty sure about that after reading Milton Viorst's sobering article "The Education of Ali Al-Timimi" in the new Atlantic.


You know how Woody Guthrie had "THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS" on his guitar? I'm sure if he was alive today he'd be visited by the Secret Service for supposedly making a threat against the President. Anyway, The "illegal alien" thing has been going on for generations, and here's a song Guthrie wrote about it:

Plane Wreck At Los Gatos

The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They're flying 'em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees"

My father's own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life;
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract's out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, "They are just deportees"

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except "deportees"?

The thing is that Dylan now was so obviously a pallid pretender to the Guthrie mantle. Today it's clear that Springsteen comes closer to anyone to really taking on the role Guthrie once played in music. Here's a Springsteen song from 2005's Devils and Dust:

"Matamoras Banks"

For two days the river keeps you down
Then you rise to the light without a sound
Past the playgrounds and empty switching yards
The turtles eat the skin from your eyes,
so they lay open to the stars

Your clothes give way to the current and river stone
'Till every trace of who you ever were is gone
And the things of the earth they make their claim
That the things of heaven may do the same

Goodbye, my darling, for your love I give God thanks,
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks

Over rivers of stone and ancient ocean beds
I walk on sandals of twine and tire tread
My pockets full of dust, my mouth filled with cool stone
The pale moon opens the earth to its bones
I long, my darling, for your kiss,
for your sweet love I give God thanks
The touch of your loving fingertips
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks

Your sweet memory comes on the evenin' wind
I sleep and dream of holding you in my arms again
The lights of Brownsville, across the river shine
A shout rings out and into the silty red river I dive
I long, my darling, for your kiss,
for your sweet love I give God thanks
A touch of your loving fingertips
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks

Kind of motivates me to try to write a poem at the same time it keeps me from bothering because he's so good.

It's Friday. Let's have a Shabbat where we can grab onto a glimmer of the kind of world we want to have, so we can work on that next week. Or not. Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Patti Smith -- Break It Up

So. The Pentagon is trying to turn the War on Terror into America's Funniest Home Videos. It's an amazingly inane and immature move by the Pentagon. "Oh, lookie! Zarqawi doesn't know how to fire a gun! Oh, how rich, his deputy doesn't have the sense not to grab a hot gunbarrel! Hah! What rubes we fight!"

Meanwhile, Zarqawi's troops have no problem blowing themselves and others up at will in Iraq. They may be following the orders of a guy who doesn't know how to get a machine gun to fire in automatic mode. They may be pitched against American soldiers who know everything about weaponry and tactics, who'd never make the silly mistakes the Al Queda terrorists did. But the knowhow of the American troops makes them no more able to stop the roadside IEDs or the suicide bombers. And while the Pentagon tries to mock Zarqawi by pointing out his lack of firearms skill, his folks killed more Iraqis and American soldiers today.

Perhaps the Pentagon should spend less time showing Al Queda blooper reels and more time, um, well, pursuing Bin Laden and Zarqawi? But we seem to be much better at capturing blooper reels than we are at capturing terrorists, so never mind.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Kinks -- Afternoon Tea

So, I've been delinquent. I feel bad. I haven't been posting here.

I've been busy. Terribly so. Oh, well.

On Monday we had the immigrant marches nearby, but I was lazy and didn't march with them. On immigration I have two main planks for my presidential platform --

1) Change immigration laws as far as who we want to allow in: Currently we are biased towards folks with money and skills. I say, "Screw that." Folks with money and skills can make a go of it in their own country. I want America to actually live up to the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty. I want us to really go after the poor, tired, huddled masses. We should be landing cargo planes in Darfur, scooping up the victims and bringing them over to America and getting them medical care and English lessons. If you are poor, diseased, and doomed to die poor, I want you for our country, because our country can change your life and destiny.

2) Make borders more porous, not less porous. Currently, we have tons of people having families in the US and living here who don't want to, but they have no choice. They'd rather have their family stay in Mexico and live here and go back home every month or two, but the border crossing is too dangerous. If we made our borders more open and allowed people to flow freely in and out, we'd have fewer people moving to live in the US, more people going to Mexico for medical care, clothing, food, etc. Better for everyone. Why should capital move over borders so freely when people can't?

3) Adopt Mexico's sensible new drug laws and decriminalize personal possession. We are wasting billions as a country persecuting drug users, putting them in jails, making them go to rehab, making a whole industry around treating illicit drugs as different than cigarettes and alchohol, punishing victimless activity among consensual adults. I don't associate with drug dealers, but they are getting a raw deal. The billions we'd save could be spent on social services, security on the borders, etc etc...

4) Annex Mexico. This is the longterm solution to our issue. Once the population of the US becomes majority brown in this century, we may as well just make it official and take over the country. Then we have a lot less border to worry about. We have the Canadian border, sure, and that's massive and porous and much more easily crossed than Mexico's, but Mexico's southern border with Belize and Guatemala has to be more easily controlled. If not, we can just annex Latin America down to the Panama Canal. It's just the way things will be... it may not be "annexation," perhaps more like the way the European Union is going, but it will come.

Back to work. Si Se Puede!