Monday, June 30, 2008

Hersch Says US Attacking Iran Now as Tensions Escalate

In a report that appears in this week's issue of The New Yorker, political journalist Seymour Hersch [pictured: right] says that the U.S. is already on the ground in Iran - preparing the battlefield for the war to come before Bush leaves office. Read a news report on the story and the ensuing denials, here.

In response, Iran's generals have announced that their troops are digging several hundred thousand graves, to provide respectful burial for enemy soldiers killed in any attack; and, targeting their Shahab's for retaliation. And to up-the-ante even more, Iranian generals are threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz and squeeze the world's already perilous oil supply. Just today an American Vice-Admiral returned fire, saying we wouldn't let that happen. Just great. As Sabre-rattling goes, this is some high-decibel stuff. We are clearly locked in developing hostile situation in the Middle East that could dwarf our already disastrous efforts in Iraq and those of NATO in Afghanistan. Don't forget that Iran is five-times the size of Iraq with several million men under arms and modern weaponry. It is also important to remind our policy makers that Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas can be counted as Iranian front-line supporters - each capable of igniting firestorms in the region. And of course, U.S. policy makers and military strategists have not proved effective or successful in this arena - quite the opposite.

The Author has raved about this issue before, with equal trepidation and disbelief. How can we allow this threatening and unrealistic escalation to continue? How can it possibly serve our interests and not compound an already difficult situation? Is the U.S. returning to brinksmanship as a tool of foreign policy? Or is the Bush administration so clueless and out-of-control that they would dig the hole we're in even deeper? I think we all know the answer.

Congress simply must act now to avert this doomsday scenario. It seems to The Author that Representative Dennis Kucinich's articles of impeachment might be the correct path forward at this point. Would a president facing imminent impeachment commit the country to yet another costly and ill-advised war? He might, but the uproar would be deafening.


Gano Espana!! Spain has defeated Germany 1-0 to win the Euro 2008 Cup. An awesome tournament, an awesome victory by the Red Fury. Fernando, "El Nino" Torres was the man for Spain. His goal at about the 38 minute mark was the decider, ending 44 years of drought for the Spaniards. 69 year-old Spanish coach, Luis Aragones, was credited by his players for securing the victory. In their march to this impressive victory, the Spanish team beat the world champion Italians, the former Euro Cup champion Greeks, the aggressive Russians and the storied Germans. A victory to savor for the ages. They're still partying in most of Iberia.

On an interesting political side-note, the Spanish victory manged to bring Galicians, Catalans, Basques and Castillians - often a contentious bunch at best - together in a fever of sports patriotism. It would, however, be an oversight to ignore the sublime and unexpected performance of the Turkish national team in this year's tournament. 19 late game goals is very impressive. In The Author's humble opinion, the Turks gave viewers some of the best moments in the last two weeks of football.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Life Imitating Doonesbury

Life imitating the comics. Yes, it happens. Take the recent Doonesbury plot line for example. Episodes of the Pulitzer Prize-winning daily comic strip recently have featured young Alex Doonesbury, a student at MIT, doing a blog-watch and rapid response for the Obama campaign. Her job is to search the net for bogus blog posts and suspicious web sites, then intervene to expose them for what they are and spread the word. Awesome job, BTW. So you think that's a little far-fetched? Of course you don't, because you're informed and web-savvy. In reality, scurrilous hate-filled postings are already easy to find. Just check out the local politics discussion forums on Craig's List in your own hometown to confirm that.

Today, I came across a great bit of investigative journalism on the "Undercover Black Man" blog. The author of the post I read had noticed a suspicious-looking web site purporting to be a black-power site for Obama. It was filled with some pretty inflammatory crap, then dressed-up to look as real as the owner could manage - considering he's a long-haired, middle-aged white guy from Laguna Niguel, California. UBM "outed" the dude and his charade, and the site was promptly pulled with a contrite apology. Seems the guy is a bass player and teacher with more than a few vids on YouTube, so he's got his own franchise to protect. Welcome to on-line reputation management. Read about it here. You'll enjoy the bit of investigative journalism, proving once again that the blogosphere is rapidly supplanting the MSM as "the source" of up-to-the-minute news and analysis. Props to UBM. The Author suggests a celebratory victory dance is in order.

Hairy Nose Wombat Endangered

Australia's large, hairy nose wombat is facing extinction. So the country's treasury chief, the state's CFO, is taking a five-week leave to go care for 115 of the little animal treasures. With an inflation rate approaching a 16-year high and fuel prices on the rise, this has naturally attracted some attention and comment. Not that Aussies have any trouble saying what's on their minds. Read about the brouhaha, here.

For background, there are fewer of these, unusual short-legged Aussie Marsupials than there are Giant Pandas in China. Marsupials are nature's strangest beasts. And Australia has so many; Koalas, Kangaroos, Numbats and Bandicoots, while the rest of the world has so few. In fact, Australia is the only place on Earth where Marsupials dominate the ecosystem over their placental Mammal cousins (source: Wikipedia).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bye Bye Bill

The Author has the dubious distinction of having moved in some of the same, large circles as William Henry Gates III in the early days of the PC revolution. When the industry was mostly pony-tails and Birkenstocks. While he was busy building Microsoft from a down and dirty operating system he purchased from Seattle Micro, I was busy being a cube-rat in the marketing departments of a series of hardware and sofware companies. Bill was very successful and got way rich, as we all know. And though modestly successful in his endeavors, The Author never could amass the fortune that Gates managed (Damn, not even close).

I remember Bill in pink polo's and on occasion in standard-issue geek suits. I generally ran across his eminence at private parties and early Spencer Katt fests around COMDEX. Of course, he often could be seen stalking the halls of Network World, Interop and other niche trade shows during the empire building segment of the cycle.

I also remember Bill holding forth, as was his wont, while rocking slowly back-and-forth from the waist up. He was mesmerizing, really. The man always had vision, and he was always excited to share it. He also benefited from a good deal of blind luck and serendipity. It is what it is, and Pop Impulse readers know that The Author was actually paid for a few years to run around the giant Microsoft's legs constantly kicking at the knees and ankles. It was a job I relished, and excelled at. After all, who among us can't remember cursing the blue screen of death and Microsoft's pension for Beta-testing its product with release 1.0.

Bill's departure from the day-to-day realities of Microsoft deserve note, as an era has certainly passed. Now he can devote himself to a tireless pursuit of philanthropy. An enviable, and honorable role for this giant of industry. And he will be viewed much like a Rockefeller, Carnegie, Mellon or Huntington after all is said and done. Like all of the above-mentioned figures, he wasn't above stamping out all perceived competition with ruthless abandon. I should know, about half of my employers during the 80s and 90s fell prey to operating system creep and the monopolistic practices of Microsoft. I often find myself wondering what computing would look like today if Quarterdeck's fine open, cross-platform windowing system, DESQview/X had won the war.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fine Rides - Fuel Efficient

For the style- and ride-conscious, The Author submits the following totally hot cars that boast well over 30 MPG. Two are European and one is Japanese. No surprises there. My personal fav is the Mini Clubman - which is to die for and gets way good gas mileage (above). But you've gotta love the 1.9 litre turbo diesel which is so popular in Europe. That motor shows up in a lot of vehicles, like several versions of Audi's A-4. The motor also comes standard with the New Beatle (pictured). You want mileage and spunk? Check out that motor, it's an engineering triumph.

I've included the New Toyota Scion on my list, just because it looks so cool. Admitedly, the cars pictured are not stock models - with the exception of the Clubman.

So why are we so focused on BioFuels, when there are turbo-diesels that get between 50-and-60-MPG? Seems kind of counter-intuitive in the middle of a food crisis.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Financial Tsunami Drowns Consumer Confidence

Consumer confidence hit a 16-year low today. Read the Bloomberg report here. With good reason, it seems. Consumers aren't as dumb as business often thinks. They know a disastrous economic downturn when they see one. After all, if your mortgage has not been foreclosed, it is likely that the value of your home has gone down over 15 percent in the last two years. Just peachy. And of course, there's the mountain of credit card debt; the auto loans; the equity lines of credit - the list of liabilities just goes on-and-on. The Author has posted before about the roots of this recession, here and here. Readers have learned consumers are not to blame for the sub-prime crisis, rather it is predatory business practices based in corporate greed and excess. Previous posts have also looked at how the crisis will affect cities and schools (hint: very badly).

Just how bad is it? Is the U.S. becomming a third-world nation? Well, Bennet Sedacca, president of money manager Atlantic Advisors LLC in Winter Park, Florida wrote the following in a report (source) issued yesterday:

"Whether it is anecdotal or statistical evidence, I see inflation everywhere, and this is where the financial tsunami cometh. `A battered, over-indebted consumer, if forced to retrench, could create even more problems for the banking system as loan delinquencies would begin to rise even further. All sorts of delinquencies are rising. This is now a systemic issue.''

The EU Engages Cuba's New Castro

Going its own way, four days ago the European Union agreed to lift five year-old sanctions on Cuba - defying U.S. pressure to stay the course. Read the Associated Press article here. The Libertarian Party of the United States promptly admonished the Bush administration to take a lesson and follow-suit. Read their arguments for ending the embargo here. The Author has also argued for ending the embargo in this previous post.

Simply put, there's a new Castro in charge of Cuba these days and he's making some tentative international gestures and domestic moves designed to ease the Island's authoritarian socialism. Recent moves, reported in The Independent, include giving citizens access to computers and cell phones; rental cars and previously exclusive tourist hotels.

Raul Castro appears, according to press reports, to be enamored with the Chinese approach to economic change and the new, party-controlled free market that is flourishing in China. This provides the West with opportunities to engage the new leadership and to encourage positive change. That's just what the Europeans recognized and are acting to leverage. The U.S. would be well-advised to pay attention. Again, The Author is anxious to enjoy a fine cigar and some real Rum and Salsa at sunset on the promenade in Havana.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Woman Nominated for Army Four Star

In what is being described as an historic first, president Bush today nominated Lt. General Ann E. Dunwoody to take over as commanding General of the U.S. Army's Material Command. That's the outfit that keeps the Army supplied with anything and everything they need and use. Read the Washington Post's article about the nomination here. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, according to the Post article, "...she would be the first woman in U.S. history to receive such a high military rank. " As a long term feminist (father of two daughters and former RN in a previous life), The Author is delighted. Kudos to Dunwoody, who comes from the deepest military family imaginable.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sharon Shannon *is* The Galway Girl

Sharon Shannon's latest album, The Galway Girl: Best of Sharon Shannon, topped the Irish charts late last month. It was a tumultuous month for the veteran performer who first toured U.S. at 14. Her long-time partner, Leo Healy (MHRIP), died suddenly and unexpectedly in early May, shortly before the new disc's debut.

Featuring the likes of collaborators Steve Earle, Jackson Browne, and Damien Dempsey, The Galway Girl was formally released on June 9th. A video of her performing Galway Girl live with Steve Earle is well over one million views on YouTube, where most of her vids have been rated five-star. With good reason. This woman can really play. Her Irish-style concertina accordion is very well-known in Celtic music circles, where she is something of a legend. Check out her label's blog here.

As regular readers already know, The Author is very fond of traditional Celtic music. Be it in Gaelic, English or Old Scots the music is infectious and captures the rhythms of the land, sea and everyday work in old and magical ways. It makes me want to dance, to work and to occasionally cry in my Guiness. And Shannon is a master musician, a multi-instrumentalist that is happy making music on whatever is close by. The accordion is really her main axe. You know, the kind with buttons instead of keys. Just watch her fingers fly on this first video; then listen to her back up Steve Earle on his version of Galway Girl.

With Steve Earle

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Obama's First Gen. Election Ad

See it on Pop Impulse! Barack Obama's first official, general election ad. Hat-tip to Josh Orton at MyDD for the scoop. According to Josh's post, the ad will run in:

Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

iTunes - 5 Billion Downloads & Growing

Talk about changing the face of an entire industry in a few short years! Apple's iTunes stores today announced its 5 billionth download. That "billion" with a "b". For perspective, that's more music than WallMart sells. Is Steve Jobs a genius, or what? Look for an iSight digital camera from a new harvest of fine Apple fruit due soon. Just give it up to Apple, America's answer to Sony - and more.

Check out the sidebar on the right for a list of The Author's most recent iTunes purchases on the iTunes widget. The personal iPod is up to 2,700 songs, and the list is growing. The sidebar also links to posts about music & bands, as well as to great YouTube musical videos.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

OMG! The Iraq War Really IS About Oil

The NY Times reports today that the major oil companies that were run out of Iraq over 30 years ago when Saddam nationalized the industry are now in final negotiations to return to the country, and control massive amounts of Iraq's oil resources. Read it and weep, here. OMG!

The Author is older and jaded after decades of life and learning, but it is still hard to believe that we sacrificed thousands of our finest youth, our economy, our homes, our international reputation and our future hopes for the profits of a few oil companies. What were the Bushies thinking? Are we really that gullible? Evidently. Even when former Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson acknowleged the connection, we didn't believe. Even when Alan Greenspan added his voice to the chorus, proclaiming that though politically incorrect, the war was based on the need for unfettered access to Iraqi oil we balked. Damn. Double damn. Here's a relevant quote from the citied article:

There was suspicion among many in the Arab world and among parts of the American public that the United States had gone to war in Iraq precisely to secure the oil wealth these contracts seek to extract.

Mozilla's FireFox 3.0 Sets Download Record

Browser users everywhere made a statement yesterday, downloading a world record 8 million copies of Mozilla's FireFox 3.0 browser rev. Servers were swamped as the download rate went through the ceiling. The company had set an optimistic 5 million single-day download goal, and burned through that number in short order. The new record is, in fact, a shoe-in for the next Guinness Book of World Records. Read about it on WikiNews here. Props to Mozilla. Bah Humbug to the Ruffians from Redmond.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Floods Raise Stagflation Fears

The current Mid-West flooding, described by some as the 500 year flood, has put millions of acres of prime farmland under water. This after a difficult Spring that left growers with only a few days to plant their crops. Well they got the job done and the crops in the ground only to see them innundated with record floods in short order. According to NPR & PBS, up to 20 percent of Iowa's corn and soybean production may have been lost to the weather. The same is true in Wisconsin and downriver in Illinois. And, it is not over yet.

Concern is rising about the effects of the floods on already inflated food prices. Read about it here. On top of record prices for gasoline, the increase in food costs is unwelcome at best, and a desperate blow to consumers at worst. Further, as the price of corn escalates, the price of corn-based ethanol goes up. That impacts the already crazy price of gas. Speculation in both oil and food has exacerbated the situation, as investors seek to profit from the volatility and turmoil.

What is even more alarming to economists and consumers alike is the prospect of Stagflation. This article in Slate explains the nature of the concern. Like we need this! So let me see if I have this right. Just as the most incompetent administration in the history of the United States has destroyed the economy and the American dream, prices on just about everything go up. Uh-huh. Just as record numbers of Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure and their jobs to recession and outsourcing, prices go up. Surprised? Just as the largest demographic group in history starts to retire, prices go up. One sector that is not at all upset about this sequence of events is "Big Oil." You know, the folks that sponsor George Bush and Dick Cheney. And if you think John McCain is any different, just watch this video.

Monday, June 16, 2008

California Celebrates Marriage Equality

At this very moment in the fair state of California thousands of gay couples are tying the knot. Many have waited almost a lifetime for this moment, and The Author celebrates with them. So lift a glass tonight and make a toast to life, to love, and to marriage equality. The younger generation has it right: it's not the sex, it is the person. Read a post by the plaintiff in the Cali case that ended discrimination, here.

German Paper: Impeach Bush

The German paper Die Tageszeitung called for the impeachment of president Bush a few days ago, according to this report in Der Spiegel.

The reason? Wanton disregard of the law of the land and the fundamental principles of the constitution. The proof? The recent Supreme Court decision extending the right to a fair trial to Guantanamo detainees, the third straight court rebuke of Bush's detainment policies. The paper accurately concludes that three, repeated transgressions of this dimension warrant grounds for Impeachment. One could add to that indictment: knowingly lying about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, as well as authorizing the largest most invasive government snooping program on private citizens in our history.

What really gets The Author worked up is the way that right-wing demagogues now direct their hatred and vitriol at the Court. This is certainly not the Warren Court, rigorously guarding our rights and privacy; however it is the most conservative court in recent memory - populated by Bush appointees as it is. So even when this court says enough, the right-wing of the Republican Party is not satisfied. No, any disagreement with their neo-facist policies is unwelcome. Here's what the left-leaning German paper had to say about Bush:

"Instead of keeping to the law and applying it indiscriminatively to all its people, the Bush administration has behaved like a regime that ignores the rule of law. In fact, the administration for quite some time has mocked -- and with outrageous impertinence -- the highest administer of justice in the US.

"Against any person who breached the law in this manner, the state would have at its disposal mechanisms to punish the individual. But they seem to be missing when it comes to punishing the state. According to the logic of the US Constitution, the judgement of the Supreme Court offers an extremely sound reason for the US Congress to launch impeachment proceedings against the president.

"That will not happen, of course, just half a year before the end of the Bush administration. However, there is still a job to do for Congress. The Democratic majority can at least oppose any new attempt by the government to introduce unconstitutional legal principles."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Garden Gnome Thief Thwarted

French police arrested this weekend a 53 year-old man accused of stealing up to 170 garden gnomes. Der Speigel reports the story here.

Though suspicion had first fallen on the notorious Garden Gnome Liberation Front (website, in French), Der Spiegel reports that the thefts appear to be the work of the single individual arrested. Whew. I'm glad they've settled that dust-up. Gnome lovers everywhere will rest a lot easier tonight.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cloak of Silence Unveiled - Invisibility Next?

A couple of days ago, the BBC World News reported that scientists have unveiled the physics behind auditory cloaking. That is, the science necessary to make objects impervious to sound waves. This story got very little coverage, but is quite important in the world of science. As the article asks: if one can cloak sound waves, can light waves and invisibilty be far behind? Find out the answer; and the potential applications of this new breakthrough, read the article here.

Prostate Drug Reduces Cancer - Perplexes Urologists

The NY Times is reporting today that two new studies now demonstrate the startling effectiveness of the drug finasteride in reducing the incidence of prostate cancer tumors in men.

This is certainly very good news for men, most of whom will have to deal with prostate problems at some point in their lives. Many with the decisions around what to do with a prostate cancer diagnosis. And you can take it from me, that is not an easy process to navigate.

It has been seven years since The Author was diagnosed and treated for this common male cancer. So after my own Urologist tried to rush me into an unnecessary surgery ("Why don't we go ahead and just schedule the procedure for early next week?"), I did the research and opted for brachytherapy - close proximity radiation delivered through surgically implanted seeds (pictured above).

The surgery is just too invasive, fraught with too many profound complications and side-effects, and simply unnecessary in many cases. It is, however, the most profitable procedure that is performed by Urologists who closely guard the franchise - often to the detriment of their patients. That's right. When you leave medicine to the free market, medical specialties start competing with each other for your dollar and the foundation of trust is shattered. For example, brachytherapy is delivered by an oncological radiologist or an interventional radiologist. This crew competes with Urologists for your health-care dollar. This is profit-driven, physician-centric care. It is not patient-driven in any way. The Times article hints at the real problem:

"...most leading specialists say, a major problem is that men are getting screened, discovering they have cancers that may or may not be dangerous, and opting for treatments that can leave them impotent or incontinent...While it might seem convoluted to offer a drug to prevent the consequences of overtreatment, that is the situation in the country today, others say. Preventing the cancer can prevent treatments that can be debilitating, even if the cancers were never lethal to start with...What the drug’s proponents are advocating is taking a drug to somehow compensate for what many believe is the nation’s overzealous diagnosis and treatment of the disease."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Vid Mocks Republican Voters

Thanks to John Enders, former AP correspondent and former executive director of the So. Oregon Historical Society, for sending a link to this video. It's a hoot, unless one plans to vote Republican in the general election. And nobody is planning to do that, right? Right?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Take My Budweiser, Please!

You've got to be kidding. American politicians are lining up to oppose the sale of Budweiser manufacturer, Anheuser Busch, to Belgian brewer InBev. Read the Huffington Post story here. Is there no limit to the pandering of politicians during election cycles?

American beer drinkers should be incensed. InBev makes European standards Stella Artois, Becks Beer and St. Pauli Girl; three of the finest brews available. And the company also owns Labatt's of Canada, Australia's Castlemaine XXXX and Brazil's wildly popular Brahma Beer.

Not only would this acquisition make InBev the largest beer brewer in the world, it would provide American Beer drinkers access to Europe's far superior beer brewing technologies and traditions. A good thing, take it from me. If you can't bring yourself to admit the hopeless inferiority of most American mass-produced beer, conduct your own experiment. Buy a bottle of Stella, a bottle of Becks or St. Pauli Girl; and a bottle of Australia's Castlemaine XXXX. Blind taste any or all of these against an American Bud and decide for yourself which company you'd rather have brewing your beer. I'm guessing there'll be no contest.

That said, The Author remains a big fan of locally produced micro-brews. After all, this blog originates in the great American Pacific Northwest - home of the finest micro-breweries in the US. But if one judges global companies by the quality of their products, InBev certainly ranks right at the top of the beer sector of the beverage industry.

Split Supremes Affirm Rights of Detainees

The Supreme Court got it right, for once. Barely. On a split, 5-4 decision the Court today decided in favor of Gitmo detainees and against the administration of president George W. Bush. Surprised?

I don't know what surprised me the most...that five members of the current court would actually affirm the constitutional right to a fair trial; or, that four conservative members of the court found a way to leave the constitution behind. Read the NY Times coverage of the story here. Then check out the LA Times Q&A on the issue, here.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain has already reassurred the radical right about his intentions to continue to appoint hyper-political, conservative jurists to the high court. Like we need more Scalia clones to tell us all in endless "ninograms" how to live and act. I don't think so.

Of course, the "torture president" immediately disagreed with the ruling. No respect for the separation of power from this crew, unless it results in rulings in their favor. No surprise there. The Author is mindful of the important role the court plays in the success of our democracy. That's why continuing the trend of partisan, radical-rightist appointments established by the Bush administration is not an option if we value our freedom, privacy and rights.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Old, Luddite President? No Way!

There has been a lot of talk about the age of Republican presidential nominee John McCain. If elected, he would be 71 years old when inaugurated.

Is 71 too old to be president? Yes, duh. Come on, the man lives in a different age. He has an older, less adaptive and flexible perspective. How can he hope to keep up in a world that changes as fast as this one? How can we hope to survive and prosper with this aged relic at the helm? Not happening. And who can account for all those flip-flops and slips of the tongue. You can't, for example, believe his statement today that it's not too important when US troops come home from Iraq. Not too important? How clueless is that?

Also today, McCain copped to total PC phobia. That's right. No PC, no Mac for John. He admits to turning to his wife for technology support. Uh huh. OMG. That's worse than George Bush senior wondering what purpose a bar-code scanner served at a grocery check-out line. Can you say "out of touch?" Good grief, I'd expect *my* president to have scanned about two dozen MSM sites and Alt-media blogs by about 6:30 a.m. every day. I'd expect the next president to depend, like we all do, on his (or her at sometime in the near future) gear and his tech savvy to stay ahead of the curve. For heaven's sake, even Bollywood is blogging like mad and the Queen has a YouTube channel. Can we afford a Luddite chief executive officer? I don't think so.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sa Dingding - Chinese Diva

26 year-old Sa Dingding is big. She's the newest musical phenom to come out of China. A real Diva. Half Mongol and half Chinese, the young beauty sings in Mandarin, Tibetan, Sanskrit (that's right) and the almost extinct Lagu language. She's also a multi-instrumentalist, trained by Chinese musical masters.

A recent recipient of the prestigious BBC World Music Award, Sa Dingding combines Chinese folk music and Tibetan chants with Western electronica over a strong rhythmic beat. Her clear and pure voice is innocent AND intense. Asian vocalists can sound a little nasal to the Western ear, but the purity and tonal qualities of Sa Dingding's well-trained voice are very pleasing.

I first heard Sa Dingding on IPR's radio program, The World. Here is the story that caught my attention. Check her out in the video below.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Obama Clinches Nomination

It is over, for the time-being. Let the healing and the unifying begin in earnest. Tonight, in an historic moment for the United States of America, Barak Obama claimed the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States. It is truly an awesome moment. Real change is within our grasp. I'll be posting a video of his speech, once delivered. It has already leaked to the Daily Kos and you can read it now, here. But it should be watched, as the inspirational quality of this unique leader is best appreciated live with audio. Props to the Obama team and the strategists who masterminded this immense victory. And props to Hillary and her team for their sustained efforts, which have impressed and elevated many including The Author.

Ersi Arvisu - Chicano Rock Classic

Ersi Arvisu has a new album, released in early May. This is the first solo album ever for the East L.A. diva, and the first time we've heard her voice in almost 30 years.

The album is wonderful, highly recommended. This is the first complete album I've bought on iTunes. My previous 2,750 songs were all individually picked.

Ersi Arvisu sang for a while in the 60s with her sisters. To hear it told, they were the Supremes of East L.A. Then she joined El Chicano for a couple of their seminal albums.

Arvisu is one of the reigning queens of Chicano Rock. This album, produced by Ry Cooder, showcases all of her many talents - in English and in Spanish. The woman is a treasure, a reminder of the days when one could still get the largest burrito in the world at El Tepayac (Manuel's Place). When mothers still watched their children in public in case someone would give them "the evil eye." When young men made pilgrimages to the Saturday market to buy Damiana from the Curanderas in hopes of finally scoring big.

The Album, Friend for Life, features a very hot back-up band - as is natural for a Ry Cooder production - and the voices of Arvisu's sisters, as well as a host of other collaborators. She sings about stuff that matters, and the people who populate her world. This disc's got it all. Lush arrangements, tight horns, weeping guitar and an Cali/Mex R&B soul. Arvisu changes pace seamlessly while moving from throaty jazz to driving rock-and-roll. One of my favorite tunes is Window of Dreams about her father's boxing gym, her own time as a female boxer, and respect. It's the last song on the album, and a fitting conclusion to a masterful effort.

Monday, June 2, 2008

DEBKAfile: Bush Close to Attacking Iran

A couple of days ago, Israeli MilStrat site DEBKAfile reported that their Washington inside sources indicate that George Bush is leaning much closer to launching some kind of air attack on Iran.

Now that's just what we need. Uh-huh. Ignite the Middle East, set off Shiites around the world, and prove once and for all that the US is only capable of "cowboy diplomacy." A nightmare scenario from this writer's point of view. Given how badly we've misunderstood the Middle East to date, and how badly Bush has managed the unnecessary conflict he got us in to in Iraq, this is not happy news. Iran is very large, and very well prepared. Their proxies are also many and motivated. This is not the time, and this is not the manner in which to respond to percieved (but never documented) Iranian threats. The Author decects the hand of the evil Dick Cheney on this file. First of all, we can't afford it. In so many ways. Second, a limited air-strike is based on a bunch of suspect premises and virtually no evidence on the ground is ill-advised and imprudent. Third, our military is already stretched beyond reasonable limits and this could open up a brand new theater of conflict. Fourth, a president should never presume to start a war and involve our country when his personal approval ratings are the lowest in history. The people, in case you haven't noticed, are no long "with" George Bush. And finally, a new administration will take office in January that should be allowed to formulate its own approach to Middle East diplomacy and peace.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Yves Saint-Laurent did today at the age of 71. Obviously a fashion icon, YSL will be remembered for many things.

Some say his fashions "empower" the women that wear them. One thing is for certain, the man who invented the pants-suit and made the first tuxedo for women had no problem at all with powerful females. Bubba, take a lesson.