October 22, 2014
It's The Great L.A. Walk, Charlie Brown!
Everything (almost) you need to know. Saturday, November 22, meet at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills (5800 Topanga Canyon Boulevard) for the 9 AM departure. Walk at your own pace, relying on your own wits and resourcefulness to get to the Television Academy courtyard (5200 Lankershim Boulevard), a scant 17 miles away.
I hope that the Television Academy is an incredibly beautiful structure, because when the walk ended in Santa Monica (the last three years), getting a sunset view of the Pacific was some good motivation. The intersection of Magnolia and Lankershim in North Hollywood does not seem to have the same draw. But what do I know? I've never been to that intersection, which probably has vistas to rival any national park.
There is no fee to walk. This is not a charity fundraiser. You walk to enjoy walking in an ever-shifting urban environment. No waiver to sign, because who're you gonna sue?
A federal judge who thinks bans on same-sex marriage areconstitutional, that is. Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez has dismissed a case in which the plaintiffs sought to overturn Puerto Rico's ban on same-sex marriage. Puerto Rico is in the 1st Circuit in which all the states (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island) permit same-sex marriage. The reasoning he uses in his decision is so contrary to all of the appeals court decisions, I imagine he has guaranteed himself a lifetime job free of promotions.
October 21, 2014
Returning To The Big Screen!
The Greatest Science Fiction Film Of All Time: 2001: A Space Odyssey has been digitally remastered and will open November 28 in the UK at a British Film Institute film festival. Go back and watch the original 1977 version (or whatever version of the original you can find) of Star Wars. If you were around in 1977, you will recall that its special effects blew us away. Now they look cheezily obvious. Then go watch 2001 which was made before most of you were born:
1969 1968! It still works. It still takes your breath away when it jumps to Jupiter space. And at the end you still don't know WTF was going on*. That's good cinema!
Appropriately enough, they've brought the trailer up to the standards of 2014:
HAL is still so sorry he couldn't open that podbay door.
*it's just a lengthy attempt to direct blame away from the opposable thumb and put it on some "space aliens."
High Desert Art Tours
Somebody was recently asking me about this and I don't remember who, so I'm just putting it here. The Highway 62 Open Studio Art Tours will take place October 25-26 (east) and November 1-2 (west). Get your PDF art tour guide right here.
And there's this:
Closing Party at Furstworld
Join us for the Annual Art Tours Closing Party! Held at the crazy world of Bobby Furst’s Sunday Nov. 2nd; 7pm – 11pm
8528 Desert Shadows Rd., Joshua Tree (see Studio #68 on the catalog map)
$10 cover charge (Free to participating artists and accompanying guest)
Pot Luck Dinner – bring a dish to share
No Host Bar
Enjoy live music brought to you by Radio Free Joshua Tree, our local non-profit online radio station
Dance Floor – Get up and shake your booty!
Make it a Masquerade – Dress up and get crazy, funky, wild!
Best Middle-Of-The-Road Video Of Burning Man 2014
It doesn't sound like the greatest compliment, but it's intended that way. The best middle-of-the-road video should certainly be clear and watchable, but not professional quality; and it ought to show the 67,500 hoi polloi Burners who are not necessarily the richest or most beautiful; and it should have music that at least doesn't repel people; and it ought to look like the real burn as Burners see and experience it. Nothing too flashy, but fun. Keep an eye out for the nice man wearing a pink teddy bear as a sort of codpiece (okay, maybe it's a sort of sporran). No, that is not me, but thanks for asking.
And here it is. Being shot entirely on GoPro is a plus, IMO.
The best bits are two: a brief shot of the guys lounging in the RV on the way in to Burning Man at the beginning, paired with a shot of the guys lounging in the RV on the way out of Burning Man at the end. Can you spot the differences that enlightenment brings?
Late To The Party Again
President Obama now thinks bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, thereby aligning himself with roughly 60% of the American population.
Personally, my opinion as to whether I should send him a thank-you postcard is evolving. Get back to me in another four years or so.
Joshua Tree National Park Fees
The National Park will hold a town hall meeting on November 6, 2014 to discuss possible fee increases in 2015. The town hall meeting will take place at Copper Mountain College, Bell Center, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm on Thursday, November 6, 2014.
The Park Service sent out this press release that overwhelmed the intellectual capacities of a couple of media. It includes an HTML table and some people in the press don't know that you can't just copy a table from your screen and have it magically work without some tinkering.
Instead of spending all morning tinkering, I will share a few highlights and let you go read the full press release.
The regular vehicle entrance fee is proposed to go from $15 to $25.
Motorcycle entrance fee is proposed to go from $5 to $20!
Camping in organized campsites is proposed to go up $5/night.
Backcountry camping is proposed to go from free to $8. It'll be interesting to hear how they plan to collect that.
GoPro Selfie Mounts
Of course, they can be used for more than selfies, but if you're going to spend $55 on an upgraded stick, then you are planning to use it for selfies. I might prefer something cheaper, but these GoPole products have some extras that might make them worthwhile for you.
Remember that guy who went down in the sort of "easy" plane "crash" in shallow waters not far from the beach on a Hawaiian island? Did you marvel (as did I) that he never dropped his GoPro during the crash or while swimming around waiting for a rescue? He was likely using a GoPole product. So, if a selfie of your near death experience is what you want to record, this is where to put your money.
Measures HH and II
I've heard a few opinions offered about Measures HH and II (the proposed marijuana taxes for Desert Hot Springs) that suggest the speakers are blurring the issues around medical marijuana and these taxes. The Desert Sun found an example of that muddled thinking (Desert Sun is good at that one little thing).
Measures HH and II are NOT about a lot of things.
- They are NOT a vote on legalization of recreational marijuana
- They are NOT a vote on whether medical marijuana should be legal (it already is)
- They are NOT a vote on whether people in Desert Hot Springs should be permitted to have and use medical marijuana (they already can and do)
- They are NOT a vote on whether there should be medical marijuana dispensaries in Desert Hot Springs - that issue is being determined by ordinances approved by the City Council, not the voters
- They are NOT a vote on whether cultivation of marijuana should be permitted in Desert Hot Springs - that's also being handled by the City Council
- They are NOT a vote on whether you think medical marijuana is good for you or for anyone else
- They are NOT a vote on whether you thought the process to arrive at this point was fair
The question to ask yourself on Measures HH and II is this (and it's a bit wordy): "As marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities open in our city, who will pay for the public safety services, the street paving, the city planning oversight before they open and the city monitoring after they open? Should it be the patients and providers of medical marijuana, or should it be all of us who are already being taxed to pay for every scrap of grass and chunk of gravel in this city?"
Clear enough? We will have dispensaries and cultivation here. We will have people coming from out of town to avail themselves of the dispensaries. A tax on them is the fairest way to cover our expenses.
Yes on Measures HH and II. Otherwise, you pay the bill (and, yes, there will be a bill).
They are very mild taxes that match that paid in Palm Springs and will be lower than the proposed Cathedral City tax (sorry, Cathedral City!). Good for us.
October 20, 2014
GoPro & Grizzly
October 19, 2014
If you follow Apple announcements then you've heard the brouhaha about the iMac with 5K Retina display (5K, 5K!, which is one more K than 4, starts at $2,500) and the iPad Air 2 (thinner, lighter, more powerful, starts at $500). But there never is any brouhaha about my favorite compromise that will put a real Mac on your desk for as little as $500: the Mac mini. This is what I have, but my model is a year old. It's not as powerful as an iMac.
|iMac||Intel HD Graphics 5000||Intel Iris Pro Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memory||NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memory||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR5 memory||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.||AMD Radeon R9 M295X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory|
|Mac mini||Intel HD Graphics 5000||Intel Iris Graphics|
But I'd guess that if you don't know how much power you need, then an iMac is likely to be more than you need, unless, of course, you are modeling global weather or nuclear warfare.
Yes, the display, keyboard and mouse are extra on the Mac mini, while they are included with the iMac, so you've got to add that cost to the Mac mini. But that's actually another advantage for the Mac mini. You've got a wide range of products and prices to shop from. When you need to upgrade either your display or your CPU, those are separate purchases, but with the iMac the display and CPU are all one unit. If you need to upgrade or replace either, you've got to purchase both.
Small side benefits nobody ever mentions are that the Mac mini is more portable and more easily physically secured - unplug it, lock it in a drawer. Try that with an iMac.
Still, there is that 5K Retina display (with "organic passivation" - a new term to me that I plan to misuse as often as possible). If you're a professional photographer or if you've got the money to spend to impress friends, then get it. Here's a soft video (no real tech, but lots of gee-whiz) that I believe will play only in Safari or on an iOS device. Hey, Apple writes the rules, not me.
The Playa Provides
Back in the late 1980s in Boston I had a good friend Jeff. Nothing romantic, just a real good friend. About 1991 he left New England, moving to Atlanta, hoping to find less racism. He successfully achieved that goal. If any reader suffers under the illusion that you couldn't possibly find rampant racism in New England, suffer no more. After his move, we drifted apart and foolishly completely lost track of each other, not due to any fight or disagreement; we were just younger and stupider. He's ten years younger than me, so the younger was mostly him and the stupider was mostly me.
Time passed (something like 23 years). Wars began and ended, Al Gore built the internet for us, I left New England for a warmer clime (I successfully achieved that goal). Then it was September 2014 and I began to upload my photos from the most recent Burning Man to Flickr. A Flickr user with the user name Jeff.jeffslastname favorited a couple of them. The name leaped out at me. Could it be? I went to look at some of his Flickr photos to try to identify him. Holy moly, it was him, and there were photos of him at Burning Man! A couple of emails exchanged led to hours on the phone and the re-establishment of our friendship.
It turns out he now lives in San Francisco and has been going to Burning Man every year since 2010, and we have done some of the same events at the same time, meaning he and I were probably brushing past each other without knowing. Yesterday I finally sat myself down to start paging through my Burning Man photos from the last five years and I found him on the 2013 Naked Pub Crawl riding right behind me! We both missed that opportunity to reconnect. My excuse is that I don't have eyes in the back of my head, except for GoPro eyes [for those of you who are new here, I sometimes wear my GoPro on my head pointing backwards on these naked bike rides]. Hence the photo. Jeff's excuse, I suppose, is that after 23 years my ass isn't as lovely as it was when he last saw it, so he failed to recognize me. Black Rock City is a big place and we have been camping on opposite sides of the city. Jeff likes the exciting gayborhood while my Burner Buddies prefer the quieter 'burbs across town.
Isn't that a carefully placed drinking cup?! (Looks like a brushed metal wine glass.) He has hardly aged a bit. One or two more facial wrinkles and that patch of gray in his beard are the only aging I can see. We've been able to pick up almost where we left off, except there are all those years to fill in. It's sort of like Christmas, only a lot better. This kind of thing happens only in movies, I thought.
Just in time for the previous GoPro model, Brunton introduces the "All Day" battery to extend the battery life of your GoPro Hero3+. For $50 you get a 4000mAh battery that can be attached to your Hero3+ that's supposed to last up to four times as long as the standard battery. They note: "This model All Day is only compatible with the Hero 3+." Since I'm not sure exactly when they wrote that, I don't know if it means "won't work on the Hero2" or "won't work on the Hero2, Hero4 or Hero." Spend your money and let me know.
October 18, 2014
Some Marijuana News items
- In Anaheim the city provides both water and electricity, so the city is using that power to shut down illegal marijuana dispensaries.
- The City of San Diego has approved its first ever legal medical marijuana dispensary which will open in Otay Mesa before the end of this year. There is one legal dispensary in San Diego County outside of the city, and that is in El Cajon.
- In Oregon 98.6% ($165,000) of the funding for the "No on 91" Campaign (Measure 91 would legalize recreational marijuana) came from the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association and the Oregon Narcotics Enforcement Association. Half of the drug crimes in Oregon that led to forfeiture of assets were related to marijuana. Total asset forfeitures in 2013 were $3.6 million. From that amount, $1,848,833.65 was distributed to law enforcement agencies and district attorney's offices.
Marijuana is unique among drugs in that it has a powerful smell and it is commonly used (1 in 9 adult Oregonians aged 21+ use marijuana monthly, 1 in 6.5 use annually). When a cop pulls over a car he suspects is a worthy seizure, he need only claim he smells marijuana to establish the reasonable suspicion he needs to bring in the K-9 drug dog. When the drug dog then alerts — which is a false alert 1 in 5 times around the perimeter of a car, or a 1 in 3 false alert once inside the car, or even a purposeful false alert thanks to cops surreptitiously smearing weed on a suspect vehicle beforehand — the cop has probable cause to instigate a search of the vehicle and seize any thing he finds.
- The remains of a woman buried in Siberia 2,500 years ago reveal that she had breast cancer. Scientists theorize that she used cannabis to relieve her pain as a container of it was found in her burial chamber.
- Athletes whose skills are at or near Olympic level have discovered that marijuana is a performance enhancer!
- Epidiolex, a drug made from purified cannabidiol, one of the constituents of marijuana, is in clinical trials in the U.S. which are showing promising results. The drug is not intoxicating.
Dr Elizabeth Thiele, director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, said she was "very encouraged" by the preliminary results.
"I believe that Epidiolex has the potential to be an important advance in treatment for these treatment-resistant children and will likely have a significant role as a future therapy," she added.
Like I Said
Medical marijuana collectives do, indeed, have attorneys, and they will file a lawsuit against the City of San Bernardino for their apparent violation of the Brown Act when the city council agreed in closed session not to allow dispensaries. And notice of intention has been filed to initiate a petition to allow some dispensaries in the city. The city council has medical marijuana on its open meeting agenda for Monday, October 20.
October 17, 2014
A Wyoming Surprise!
U.S. District Court Judge Skavdahl set 5 PM, Monday, October 20 as the deadline to render his decision on Wyoming's ban on same-sex marriage, but I guess today was a slow day, so he laid it out this afternoon. The plaintiff's motion for an injunction is granted. His order included a stay until October 23, but the state has already said it will not appeal. Marriage at Old Faithful, anyone? The decision is based on the 10th Circuit's decision, but even so the order is 16 pages long.
The preferred forum for addressing the issues presented by Plaintiffs in this case is the arena of public debate and legislative action. However, that ship has sailed. It is not the desire or preference of this Court to, with the stroke of a pen, erase a State's legislative enactments. Nonetheless, the binding precedent of Kitchen and Bishop mandate this result, and this Court will adhere to its Constitutional duties and abide by the rule of law.
The Friday evening same-sex marriage rights map:
It seems that those who design these maps love to select nice colors to represent the different statuses of states, but then they get tired before they put a key on the map, so we are left to try to figure it out. This is what I think they mean:
- Lavender - Kansas is in the Tenth Circuit which has found that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but the state continues its ban. One Kansas judge has ruled the ban is unconstitutional, but that decision has been stayed until the Kansas Supreme Court can hear it.
- Lavender - Montana is in the Ninth Circuit which has found that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but the state continues its ban.
- Lavender - South Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit which has found that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but the state has not been ordered to cease enforcing its ban.
- Pink - In Missouri the ban on same-sex marriage still stands, but the state recognizes same-sex marriages from out of state. Missouri is in the Eighth Circuit which has not issued a decision on same-sex marriage since it upheld Nebraska's ban in 2006.
It's A Series Of Tubes
Travel via pneumatic tube system is documented using a GoPro Hero2. Here's where the fun starts. Go to the start of the video if you want the explanation in Norwegian.
When Life Gives You Frozen Water
If you've lived in an area where bodies of water freeze over in the winter, then you probably already know about this phenomenon, but this guy moved from Los Angeles to Alaska in August 2014. He claims he never saw snow falling before he got to Alaska*. For the benefit and enjoyment of other desert denizens:
* Even in southern California it doesn't take a great effort to go find falling snow, and this guy doesn't seem to be the stay-at-home type, so I have no good guess as to how he avoided seeing a snowfall in all his 33 years.
Today's Marriage Equality Summary
As I review the gay marriage news of the last few days, I see that the facts shift so rapidly that in addition to carefully checking the date of the news report, I also need to check the time of day. Have we ever experienced anything like this before, where significant rights shifted back and forth in matters of hours in different states all across the country? It's like somebody threw a big rock in the pond and we're watching the ripples splashing and re-splashing against the shoreline. Eventually it will calm down.
Nationwide: In a Washington Blade article surveying the current situation some experts predict marriage equality will be achieved nationwide within 12 to 18 months, and they talk like that is fast. I'm wondering why this can't be done by 12/31/2014. No, really, why not? Do a lot of judges and court clerks have vacations scheduled over the next two months? I think they should be able to move the paperwork along at a nice clip. If there is never a clear U.S. Supreme Court ruling on this subject, then
Arizona: Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne acknowledged yesterday that the 9th Circuit Appeals Court decision (that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional) does apply to Arizona, but just a small technicality stands in the way. The court needs to re-issue its mandate that it withdrew in order to allow Idaho to appeal. Idaho has since dropped its appeal, but the 9th Circuit has not yet re-issued its mandate (as of Thursday night).
But this morning (Friday, October 17) U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick struck down the Arizona ban based on the 9th Circuit decision. There will be no stay. No need to wait for that mandate. The judge did not feel the need to repeat all the reasoning that we've read repeatedly in all the other decisions. His decision is only four pages long.
UPDATE (2 hours later) - Attorney General Horne says Arizona will not appeal the decision. Maricopa County Clerk tweeted this invitation at 10:36 this morning.
Welcome All to the Clerk's Office. Your marriage license awaits and we are ready to serve you!— Michael K. Jeanes (@MaricopaClerk) October 17, 2014
Alaska: The first marriage in Alaska, between Kristine Hilderbrand and Sarah Ellis, took place on Monday (Oct. 13) in Barrow after the judge waived the 3-day waiting period.
UPDATE: The state had requested the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay, but this afternoon that request was denied.
South Carolina: South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson laments the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court skipped an opportunity to make a clear decision on this subject and says he will continue to defend the South Carolina Constitution. He expects it to be months before he finally loses the case.
Montana: The motion for summary judgement by the plaintiffs in Montana (which is in the 9th Circuit) can be read here. Here's the brief in support of that motion. These were filed on Wednesday, October 15.
UPDATE: As of Friday (Oct. 17) afternoon, Montana is the only state in the 9th Circuit with a standing ban on same-sex marriage.
Wyoming: A decision in a Wyoming case is promised for Monday, October 20. Governor Mead, without waiting for the actual decision, has said the state should not appeal the decision. Level heads may prevail. Wyoming is in the Tenth Circuit.
Political: An article by Justin Snow on the struggles within the national Republican Party regarding the issue of gay rights. House races in California and Massachusetts are discussed, even though it's pretty obvious that the national Republican Party does not look to either state as a vanguard for their core policies. This and other articles I've read on the subject of whether the Republican Party will advance itself remind me of the always predictable articles one would see every time the old Soviet government or Communist party made some little shift. The NY Times especially, but other sources as well, would identify signs that this was finally the beginning of a movement to liberalize the USSR. Yes, they would write, it's really going to happen this time.
Pierson Professional Plaza
I have noticed that the staff report on the October 17, 2014, City Council agenda item in which the recent requests from Tahiti Partners regarding the Pierson Professional Plaza will be considered says that at its October 14 meeting "the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council defer the Development Impact Fees and approve the project to be constructed in phases as requested." That is not accurate. When the Planning Commission got to this item Attorney Quintanilla explained that the phasing and landscaping questions were within the Commission's jurisdiction, not the DIF delay. The Commission discussed only phasing and landscaping (and recommended giving wide latitude to Tahiti Partners). But they never discussed the DIF and made no recommendation on that subject.
BUT I left the meeting after that item, so it's theoretically possible that some time after I left Jeff Payne returned to the meeting to ask them to re-open the item and discuss the DIF matter and the Planning Commission did so and made a recommendation even though the matter is not within their areas of responsibility. IMVSP (In My Very Solid Opinion) interesting drama like that almost never happens in real life and Jeff Payne has better things to do with his time, so despite my complete ignorance of what happened after I left, I'm going to say that scenario did not take place. I'll go listen to the audio recording when/if it becomes available and if I'm totally wrong we'll all have a fun time with it.