June 18, 2013
DHS City Council Interim Report
10:45 PM and Sanchez and Betts show they have still not learned how to count to three. We'll probably be here for a while.
Whale Watching With GoPro Heros
If you want your own submersible, just go to the GoPro website and click on "Other Accessories."
North & East Desert Hot Springs - Police Seek Home Intruder
CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
LOCATION: NORTH EASTERN PORTION OF CITY
SUSPECT DESCRIPTION: Male Black, Early 20's, slender build.
DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:
The City of Desert Hot Springs Police Department is seeking the community's assistance in identifying and locating a suspect, described above, who has committed numerous residential burglaries in the north eastern portion of the city. The individual described above is entering homes, whether occupied or not, during the evening hours. He gains access through unsecured windows and sliding doors. The department is asking residents to take preventative measures to protect themselves from this intruder by securing windows and sliders and if you have to have these open, secure them to allow minimal opening. The department is asking anyone with information related to these incidents to contact the Desert Hot Springs Police Department and if you see any suspicious subjects in your neighborhood, notify the police.
Report On Federal Anti-Medical Marijuana Efforts
Americans For Safe Access runs the numbers and includes patient's stories in this 56-page PDF (6.7 MB). Highlights of the highlights: 34% of the American population lives in a state with legal medical marijuana. There are a million medical marijuana
users patients in the U.S. Over the last 17 years there have been 528 federal raids on medical marijuana; 270 (a little more than half) have taken place under the Obama administration. The Bush administration spent $200 million "on enforcement efforts in medical marijuana states." Notice that this careful phrasing does not say that the $200 million was all used against medical marijuana. The Obama administration has spent $300 million "on enforcement efforts in medical marijuana states." That's 4% of DEA's budget.
Virtual Temple Of Whollyness
Some CGI to give you a better idea of what the Temple Of Whollyness, to be built at Burning Man in August, will look like. They say "This is the largest interlocking wood structure ever built. No glue, nails, or fasteners are used in its creation." And by "fasteners" they mean screws, bolts, rivets, Velcro™, zippers (no longer trademarked), clamps, baling wire, staples, or hemp rope. This will make clean up before and after its burning much easier. Just remove that stone altar and some electric lighting and you're ready to get all pyro.
Here are other photos from LACMA, not in the Kubrick exhibit:
"Penetrable" by Jesús Rafael Soto. The last time I saw this it was a rainy day and they had it cordoned off. On a sunny day kids play in it.
"Metropolis II" by Chris Burden. Not until I was editing my photos did I realize this is the same artist who made "Urban Light," next photo below.
"As He Remembered It" by Stephen Prina. There have been extremely few times in my life when I suspected an artist just churned out some crap because he had grant money. Here's a video with the artist.
Checking in with Facebook: Sam is at Levitated Mass with Timmy. Starbucks next.
June 17, 2013
Tulsa Police Trying To Impress Us
Man found decapitated in Midtown Tulsa garage
Tulsa police say a woman came home to find her husband dead in the garage with his hands and feet bound and decapitated.
Police surrounded the home near 45th & Sheridan looking for answers. They believe the death may have been a suicide.
June 16, 2013
DHS Public Safety Commission - June 13, 2013
Listen to the audio for this meeting of the Desert Hot Springs Public Safety Commission here
or download it here (41.5 MB).
Commissioner Brady was absent from this meeting.
Donna Lozano spoke. Her neighborhood is above Mission Lakes Boulevard. She said there has been gang presence and home intrusions there. "That's not acceptable." Gangs murdered her son, she said. The man who killed her son had killed someone else prior to that, but was not apprehended for that because there were not enough police to deal with it. "You cannot take police out of what they're doing, especially with gang patrol, and do other things." She knows that the police have gotten some money, but not enough, and "you'd better come up with it somehow or another." When her son was murdered it took her several years to finally get to a council member who was completely unaware of the chaos in this city. "This city hides things or keeps things quiet." Desert Hot Springs is known "out there" as an easy city. "Come here, live here because it's cheaper and come here because crime is easy." She said she is not going to stand back and see this city go down any further than it is. She's been here since 1962 and said this a million times. "I want this city safe. I want to hear that 'Come here, we're tough on crime and we mean it!'" She said her son would be alive if everyone had done their job in 1994. "Graffiti is up. I don't see patrol cars around where they should be." "You have to do something, because I'm not gonna sit back."
Proposed FY 2013/14 Budget
Every year at this time, the City Manager comes to each commission to discuss the proposed city budget in general and as it specifically relates to that commission. City Manager Daniels went into greater budget detail and for a greater length of time with the Public Safety Commission than with Planning or Community & Cultural Affairs. I imagine this is is because public safety takes up the great majority of the city budget, and because public safety is near and dear to his heart. Not to say that he doesn't love planning and culture, too.
City Manager Daniels addressed the commission. He said he thought he should have Mrs. Lozano give the budget message to the City Council on June 18. The adoption of the budget is on the agenda for the City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 18. "Revenues have not kept up with expenditures." The city has a $4.2 million reserve. About half of that reserve will be used in the upcoming fiscal year. This will leave over $2 million in reserve to be used in the following fiscal year. Since 2009 the city has attempted to maintain the level of service, plus we added four police officers. Property taxes eroded away. About $9.8 million in property tax revenue was not received because of the decline, but the demands on city services have remained steady.
The City Manager's first proposed budget would have used all of the reserves this year, but the City Council directed him to revise the budget so it used only half the reserves. Vehicle allowances will be eliminated for council members and department heads and will be replaced with straight reimbursement. City Council training and travel has been eliminated. City Council meals have been eliminated. Memberships in outside organizations have been reduced. Rather than purchasing 5 to 7 cars this year, the city is looking at leasing 13. The police patrol cars are worn out. Some have been in service for 5 or 6 years. Maintenance costs are up. New vehicles will cut maintenance costs. Funding to outside organizations [Chamber of Commerce, Hoteliers, etc.] will be reduced.
The city is counting heavily on attracting development in the upcoming year. In addition, the city anticipates the receipt of $300,000 more from code enforcement fines.
The current utility users tax (half of which is for public safety) and the public safety parcel tax were approved by the voters in 2010. At that time, City Manager Daniels said, it was predicted that we would hit the wall in 2013. The 2010 vote was only to extend the tax, but not increase it.
The city will aggressively seek grants. The city will rigorously enforce and collect fines from those in the city who violate ordinances. There are 400 businesses who pay business taxes to the state who list Desert Hot Springs as their address, but who do not have a city business license. "We're going to visit those people this year." That may produce $80,000 in license fees.
"We've been maintaining landscaping in one particular subdivision, when all the other subdivisions have a landscape maintenance district." Ending this free service would save the city about $100,000. Mr. Daniels did not name the subdivision at this meeting, but he's talking about Rancho Del Oro.
The citywide landscape maintenance district needs to be revised to cover all the commercial properties in town. That would bring in about $100,000.
Fees need to be created for properties that create demands on the city that are above and beyond what a normal household requires. That could generate about $50,000. He's talking about residences that generate frequent, sometimes even daily, visits from the police or fire department.
Public safety, code enforcement and animal control violations need to be more actively enforced.
Rental properties generate more calls for public safety services. Mr. Daniels said that perhaps the city should be looking at something like a $100/unit annual fee for rentals. That could generate $500,000 per year.
The public safety parcel tax vacant land rates need to be revisited.
As a last resort, the city could seek a short term tax dedicated to public safety. He is not recommended a general tax. Any tax considered should go strictly to public safety.
Last year code enforcement and graffiti services were authorized $988,000. This year the figure will be cut by $20,000. Last year the police department budget was $8.8 million. This year it will be $9.1 million. Worker's Comp, PERS and health care premiums are up about 22% and are driving that increase. The ERICA system needs upgrades. The contract with Cathedral City for dispatch will cost about $200,000 more this year.
Another $2 million to $2.5 million is needed to satisfy the needs established in the recent POST study of staffing levels in the police department. That would take us up to 40 officers.
Animal control costs are about the same. There's been a very slight increase in fire service costs. Costs of the fire inspection program should be fully recovered by fees. The emergency preparedness budget is being increased from $5,000 to $17,200. Most of that will be covered by grants.
About 65% of the city's budget goes to public safety. "That's not a sustainable model," he said.
"We could cover the needs of public safety if we could just get everybody to shop local." 65% of the purchases made by DHS residents are made out of town. Some of that is due to lack of choices in DHS. "You can't buy a refrigerator in this town." The physical condition of the shopping centers also discourages local shopping. The city will look to code enforcement to crack down on that. Local shopping should be in stores that are as good as the same stores on the other side of the freeway. [I'm looking at Stater Bros.]
Law enforcement is needed to make sure that shopping here is safe.
"Public safety is the brand of this city." As goes public safety, so goes economic development, so goes the tourism business. There has been a 46% drop in crime, but the current crime is still unacceptably high.
The city is providing $250,000 to the Boys & Girls Club as part of public safety. It's our gang intervention strategy at this point. Now, over a thousand kids are being served at the new Boys & Girls Club. The Furbee pool has been opened, giving kids another outlet where they will be under adult supervision.
UCR School of Medicine and Riverside County Mental Health will be the occupants of the new county building on Palm Drive. Mental health counseling and anger management provided to children and adults will bring some improvements in public safety.
The Borrego Community Health Clinic on Pierson Boulevard will open and provide services that will help people break with their addictions.
Some people want to make cuts in the command and management staff of the city and police department. Despite the three multi-hour City Council meetings to go over the budget and the hours devoted by the expanded Finance Committee, some have said "the budget seems inflated for public safety." "Nothing, in my opinion, could be further from the truth," Mr. Daniels said. Nothing can be cut from the proposed public safety budget without sacrificing the advances we've made in the last few years. "We need more money, not less, and we probably need about $2 million."
A number of new budget requests, totaling $2 million were received. Most were in public safety. Grants, donations and other funding sources will be sought to try to get the necessary funding.
Vice Chair Vasquez asked if there is another fund that can be used to replenish the reserve. Mr. Daniels said the city's fiscal policy requires a 10% reserve. The budget is about $18 million, so the reserve has to be about $1.8 million. He said there are three major residential projects that are "at work." One is Highland Falls" with about 3,000 homes[the former Snellenberger property west of Highway 62 and Pierson], Skyborne with potentially 1,700 more homes, and Tuscan Hills which is in escrow. When construction starts at these "we will eliminate unemployment in this city." About 1,500 people in DHS are unemployed - the majority are from the construction industry. We have considerable expectations in the development of commercial property. "A big box retailer will generate" $400,000 to $500,000 and create 180 jobs. The Rio Ranch market will generate 80 new jobs and generate $40,000/year in sales tax revenue for the city.
Commissioner Bowman asked about the difference between the budget in the agenda packet and the budget described by the City Manager. Mr. Daniels said his proposed budget has undergone revisions since the agenda packet was released on the previous Thursday. Mr. Bowman asked the number of rooftops in the town. "About 10,000," the City Manager answered. About half are owner occupied. "And how many people in this town vote?" Mr. Bowman asked. There are 8,000 registered voters, but as we have seen only about 2,000 turn out.
Mr. Bowman asked how much each rooftop would need to be levied to come up with $4 million. If it was all on residential, Mr. Daniels said, the figure would be about $400/year. But Mr. Daniels pointed out that developed commercial properties pay $3,000/acre. The city needs more commercial activity and higher value properties.
Mr. Bowman said he agreed with Mrs. Lozano that we cannot let our town go down. He also agreed with the City Manager that the city staff has brought our city up to a level of safety that we cannot allow to go down. It needs to go to a higher level. He said he could support a temporary rooftop tax. A lot of out of town landlords own properties here and rent to the gangbangers.
Mr. Daniels said the number of felons on parole in DHS has been cut in half. The city has put $15 million into streets and the water district has put a similar amount into sewers in the neighborhoods that are the primary crime areas. Additional law enforcement in those areas is important to make sure they don't revert to what they had been.
$100/unit rental tax is only $8/month, Mr. Daniels said. "Nobody's going to move out over $8/month," he said. "That's two Starbucks."
Commissioner Martin addressed a question to Chief Singer about the staffing level of code enforcement. She said that last year they had 9 positions. This year, Mr. Martin said, their budget is $840,000. Chief Singer explained that $120,000 of that goes just for graffiti. The city has RFPs out for code enforcement services, so we don't have an exact final figure for what code enforcement will cost in FY 2013/14. But $720,000 is the figure being used in the proposed budget. Mr. Daniels pointed out that code enforcement generates $1.3 million in direct revenue.
Mr. Martin asked how many patrol officers we could put on the street with $720,000. "Five and a half," Chief Singer answered. Mr. Martin said that if we put 3 or 4 (or 5) sworn police officers and assigned them code enforcement duties. When needed, they could respond to calls as police officers. He asked Chief Singer if she had looked into that. He said the revenue would still come in, but there would additional police officers available for regular police work. Chief Singer said she had not thought of that. She guaranteed there is enough work to keep any new police officer fully occupied with police work. The existing code enforcement team is just as busy. Splitting duties would not be the best use of resources, the Chief said.
Mr. Martin said," It's been my experience when you have a situation where an officer responds to a code enforcement violation, he writes a ticket, person signs it, it's done. When you've got civilians doing it and they have to write the citation, include an offense report, there's an administrative appeals process that they had to go through when people that are willing to contest it or find out additional information. All of that is eliminated when a sworn person would do it."
[I have a problem following Mr. Martin's reasoning here. I don't think the property owner's due process rights nor the record keeping duties are simply waived when the person issuing the citation is a sworn officer as opposed to a non-sworn code enforcement officer. I think what would happen is that you would be using fewer higher paid city employees to do work that had been done by a lower paid employees that were subcontracted to the city.]
Mr. Martin said he had heard a rumor about laying off police and he hoped that had been laid to rest. He acknowledged that using sworn officers to do code enforcement might mean a decline in revenue from code enforcement, but if you've got to make cuts then code enforcement is an area the Chief might want to look at.
[As the City Manager pointed out earlier, code enforcement is a profit center for the city...and that's when viewed in the short term. In the longer term, code enforcement improves the appearance, safety and livability of the city which one hopes will help to attract new businesses and residents.]
Chief Singer explained that the follow up required on a blighted property is hours and hours of work; more than would be required for a crime report. That's when resources would be drained. Mr. Martin asked for an explanation of "drained." The Chief said she would not want a sworn officer doing all the follow up work that code enforcement staff does, which includes multiple inspections. There's a ton of work they do, the Chief said, that does not require a sworn officer. There is so much paperwork involved in code enforcement that any officer doing that would not be available to respond to police calls.
Mr. Martin cited an example of an armed robbery taking place and code enforcement officers nearby. If code enforcement was sworn officers, they could respond.
Mr. Martin asked about the cost of having our own dispatch center. Chief Singer said the initial cost would be $200,000 to $300,000 less in the first year. Ultimately, the cost would be about the same, but there would be a great advantage to have direct control over dispatch and the residents of the city would be more satisfied with a dispatch that knows the city better.
City Manager Daniels said it would take about $1 million to set up a 911 call center in DHS, then about $1 million/year to operate.
Authorized staffing in the police department is 34. 29 spots are filled, but 2 of those are out on leave. Mr. Daniels pointed out one new officer had recently joined, and two more will be sworn in in July, which will bring us up to 29. Mr. Daniels said he expects to reach a full staff of 34 by the end of 2013.
Mr. Daniels said it would be appropriate for the Public Safety Commission to recommend a budget, whether as-is, or with changes or with questions.
Ms. Vasquez asked about getting grants for fire service improvements. Mr. Daniels said it takes 2 or 3 years to put together a new fire station. The first step is to acquire the land, and the city wants to do that while land prices are still down. After doing that, construction funding can be sought. Then it costs about $1 million to equip plus $1 million/year to staff. The city is looking ahead about 5 years before that could be completed.
Chair Eastman asked about the two-man squads. Mr. Daniels said a 2-person medical crew could respond to 80% of the calls to the fire department. That 2-man crew doesn't have to be located in the fire station. It would cost to add this capability, but it would cost less than adding a 3-person crew and fire engine.
Mr. Daniels said there are pros and cons to local dispatch, but if somebody delivered a million dollars to him, he'd go with local dispatch.
He said that the city expects to get the EIR and have hearings at the Planning Commission for "a very large retailer" [that would be Walmart] "by October."
When the alternative high school moves into what is now the location of Wenzlaff Elementary, the space now occupied by the alternative high school (which is in a shopping center) will be taken over by a retailer.
Mr. Daniels expects property values to begin to rise in the next fiscal year, resulting in an additional $400,000 from property taxes in FY 2014/15.
Chief Singer said there would be some resource re-allocations in order to deal with the tight budget. One is that they are looking at a verified alarm response. The police will no longer respond to misdemeanor calls where there are no known suspects and no evidence.
The Chief said Mrs. Lozano is right, that we've had fewer officers on the streets. Patrols will be beefed up by taking officers away from other work. One detective will be put on patrol. The SET team will be moved into patrol. The School Resource Officer will go into patrol. Two sergeants are being moved into patrol.
Violent crime is down, but property crimes are "skyrocketing," the Chief said. The only way to tackle that is to move more police into patrol and put more cars on the street. 19 old patrol cars will be taken out of service and replaced with 13 leased cars. There are vehicles as old as 12 years in the police fleet.
There was some conversation about salary cuts. The number talked about was a 10% pay cut for the commanders. Over the last few years, however, the sergeants have gotten a 30% pay increase. If you take 10% from the commanders, they will be paid less than the sergeants they oversee. Because commanders are not paid overtime, their pay would effectively be $30,000 to $50,000 less than that of a sergeant. This would make it difficult for the Chief to find command staff.
Fire Chief Tomlinson said his position is different because of the contract issues. The city pays a specific amount for a specific level of service. Calls for service increase monthly. Our fire station is now "beyond capacity," he said. People will need to decide what is tolerable. Preservation of life takes a higher priority than preservation of property. When the fire department gets simultaneous calls for medical assistance and a fire, it must choose to go to the request for medical assistance. This situation is arising daily now. Specifically, there were 39 such occurrences in May.
Chief Tomlinson pointed out that future expected development at Desert Dunes would put additional workload on station 37 (West & Pierson), even if Desert Dunes is not annexed into the city. Additional development at Highland Falls or Skyborne would increase the workload at station 36 (Skyborne). Full build-out of those developments would require additional personnel at station 36 at a cost of more than $1 million.
- Commissioner Bowman moved to direct City Council not to reduce salaries in the police department. Kristie Ramos, serving in the city clerk position, said that since this was on the agenda as an administrative item the commission was not allowed to vote. Nevertheless, both the City Manager and the Police Chief had asked for a vote, so the Sire system was considered to be overruled and voice votes were made. The motion was approved 4-0.
- Mr. Bowman then moved to direct the City Council not to force the police to absorb a list of expenses totaling $119,000 that Chief Singer had presented to the commission. Approved 4-0.
- Mr. Bowman moved to direct the City Council and staff to revisit the public safety parcel tax that was put in place very conservatively. Commissioner Martin asked for clarification of "revisit." Mr. Bowman explained that they need to go back and look again at the rates per parcel and per acre and come up with a more reasonable or equitable analysis. Approved 4-0.
- Mr. Bowman moved to direct the City Council to look at another sort of "rooftop tax" that would be applied to all residences, the tax to be geared to public safety. For an amount of $19/month to $36/month the problem of funding public safety would be settled. The tax could be sunsetted. Mr. Martin said there is currently a disparity in the public safety parcel tax. A new tax would have to be equitably applied. Mr. Bowman said the rate he proposed would be about $1/day or less. Approved 4-0.
- Mr. Martin moved to express support for the City Manager's budget as presented. Approved 4-0.
There were 107 dogs and 7 "others" impounded in May. The "others" were all snakes. The 176 cats was a record, and included more than 100 cats from the home of a cat hoarder.
369 calls for service in May. Down just a tad from the record 380 in April 2013. In May 2012 there were 348 calls for service.
The fire department has been working with code enforcement on false alarms. There were 19 in May. One former hotel that is now apartments has reduced its number of false alarms. One of the large supermarkets (the Chief didn't say which) had a false alarm about the same time every night. The management of the store wasn't even aware of it(!). With some work, it was determined that the false alarm was being triggered by some sprinklers that had been clogged with sand.
There are still plans to do a controlled burn of an empty spa building on Club Circle Drive. Some issues about asbestos removal have to be worked through.
In May 2013:
- Administrative citations issued: $3,100
- Received: $3,148.12
- Abandoned/Foreclosed property citations and penalties issued: $181,600
- Received: $8,255.36
- Correctable citations issued: 71 with a value of $23,500
- Demand letters: 16 with a value of $50,713.44
Code enforcement completed 487 inspections in May. 212 yard sale signs were removed. 49 abandoned shopping carts were located - ownership markings had been removed, so all were impounded for recycling. Three stop work orders were issued for unpermitted work.
They are working with the property owner to remove the oversized real estate sign at Pierson and Indian. Unfortunately, I think they are referring to a rather ordinary sign on the southeast corner. The sign on the northeast corner - the really big ugly trashy looking thing remains. Code enforcement calls that the "El Corral" property. Escrow has just closed on that and code enforcement expects clean up to begin soon. [Can I bring my chainsaw?]
15 businesses were cited for operating without business permits.
They are working with Time Warner to improve their landscaping. El Matador was cited for erecting a new sign without a permit. Three property owners were cited for illicit discharge pool water into the street.
A church group assisted code enforcement in cleaning up 5 lots and an easement on Cactus and El Cajon.
Commissioner Vasquez pointed out that the "LIGIDATION" sign is gone. She had asked about it at a previous meeting and since it was in the county, code enforcement said all they could do was send a request to county code enforcement [again]. It seems to have worked. Ms. Vasquez said she grew up with that sign and now is missing it.
Rancho Grande is still "working on" shopping cart containment and trash containment behind the property. The store says they hope to be able to comply within 60 days. They allege that the wheel locks for shopping carts cost $250 per cart.
Chief Singer reported that all violent crime, including domestic violence, is down. Property crimes, however, are up. She expects that increased patrol will help to change that, as well as increasing the safety of our police officers.
Chief Singer talked about California Senate Bill 649 that would allow "the unlawful possession of certain controlled substances, including, among others, opiates, opium, opium derivatives, mescaline, peyote, tetrahydrocannabinols, and cocaine base" to be considered a misdemeanor.
[According to this website this is already the status of methamphetamine in California. 13 other states, the District of Columbia and the federal government already permit these drug crimes to be treated as misdemeanors.]
The California Police Chiefs Association opposes this bill.
Commissioner Vasquez asked about a second truancy sweep. The Chief said it went better than the first one.
When The Supreme Court Decides Prop 8
Word has come that on the day the Supreme Court issues its decision on Prop 8, a rally will be held at 6 PM at Forever Marilyn. I am glad to see that the gay politicos in Palm Springs are on board with those who want to promote tourism. It was always nice to see the mid-century modern Palm Springs City Hall in the background of all those previous rallies, but its Marilyn who brings the people downtown to spend their money. Also, it will put a stamp of approval on John Oliver's newly coined term for a collective of gay people: "a Palm Springs traffic jam," as Palm Canyon will undoubtedly slow to a crawl.
Marijuana In Riverside
The last officially known medical marijuana dispensary in the City of Riverside closed on June 7. I don't know how often Weedmaps is updated, but below is what it shows for medical marijuana in the Riverside area today. The little trucks are supposed to be delivery services. The little leaves are supposed to be dispensaries. But you need to open each one to be sure what it represents.
Weedmaps for Riverside, California, on June 15, 2013.
But with the dispensaries closed, the new horror for the citizenry was the news that there are medical marijuana delivery services and they are not affected by the city's ban on dispensaries. The city council approved an emergency ban on marijuana delivery this past Tuesday. The article says the city council was motivated by a fear of "running afoul of federal drug laws." That old boogie man is trotted out any time someone thinks a local entity may not act to ban some aspect of medical marijuana. No local government has been taken down by the feds for failure to act on medical marijuana yet.
One attorney for some dispensaries says the law is overreaching. California law allows medical marijuana patients to share marijuana and the state vehicle code does not permit local government to interfere in delivery services. City officials provided no information on how the ban will be enforced.
Abandoned Puppy Mill In Jurupa Valley
The Press-Enterprise provides unedited video of about 30 dogs in a small house without commentary. It includes one mother who was in the process of giving birth in a closet.
News story here. The renter had been evicted after living there only 6 months. The previous tenant had also been evicted and the house was completely renovated then. I think someone needs to explain to this landlord the different ways he can screen potential renters.
June 15, 2013
Kubrick at LACMA
I went to the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA. Usually photography is restricted in special exhibits and in exhibits featuring photography, so I was surprised to see no restrictions at all on photography in the Kubrick exhibit (except for the usual restriction on the use of flash). They didn't even stop people from videoing the films being displayed.
Fear and Desire - this is the only one of his feature films that Kubrick withdrew from circulation, so it was not being shown at the museum, and I've never seen it.
Even in 1960 - a letter from Rev. Max F. Stowe pastor of Bible Presbyterian Church in Tampa, Florida, dated December 10, 1960.
Dear Mr. Kubrick:
This is just to let you know that many of us regret sincerely your making the picture based on the novel, "Lolita".
It is so obvious to everyone, although you might dislike to admit it, that it is based upon sex appeal. And that appeal is quite degenerate in its nature. It can accomplish no good.
Max F. Stowe
In addition to all his well known feature films, Fear and Desire, and his short documentary works, the exhibit included information on three projects that Kubrick started but did not complete: Napoleon, The Aryan Papers, and A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
There were several darkened rooms showing film excerpts, still images, or music from Kubrick's films. The sound quality in these rooms was atrocious! I now know what became of the old loudspeakers that the MBTA used to use in its subway stations before they were upgraded in the 1980s.
The entrance to the exhibit is a room with two large screens displaying excerpts from all of Kubrick's feature films (except Fear and Desire). The trouble with this set up was that you walked into it immediately after coming in from Los Angeles sunlight. I (and others) simply couldn't make out whether there were any obstructions (like chairs?) on the floor, so people tended to freeze in the entryway, waiting for their eyes to adjust. I tried scooting sideways to get around the crowd but ran into something solid. I couldn't tell what it was or how large, so I just stopped and waited.
Later, while I was watching these films a woman and man were seated to my right. I would judge them to have been in their thirties. When the excerpts from 2001 began I heard her say to her gentleman friend "Oh, I've never seen this one." I was a bit surprised. If 2001 isn't Kubrick's most popular film, I would guess it's second only to The Shining. But the shocker came a minute later as she was trying to look it up on her smartphone. When the famous "Also Sprach Zarathustra" theme began to play, she turned to her gentleman friend to ask "Star Wars?"
Later I wondered about the spot this put the man in. One presumes that one of those two is a film lover, and I don't think it's the lady. So he brings his girlfriend/wife/sister/whatever to the Kubrick exhibit, only to learn that she can't distinguish Kubrick's films from schlocky space westerns. The man has some weighty issues to consider.
The Kubrick exhibit ends June 30, 2013. Unfortunately, the one prop from A Clockwork Orange that I really wanted to see was not there. Apparently, it's on display at the World Erotic Art Museum in Miami:
For The Smartphone User With Film To Share
- Have a smartphone, and
- Have a bunch of old film images you want to share, and
- You don't already have a scanner; then...
By next year I hope they offer a device that allows you to attach your film camera to your smartphone so the camera can photograph the digital image being displayed on your phone. Then you develop the negative and put it away in a box somewhere so it can age properly. Pull it out in 20 years and amaze your friends!
Android - Empowering Cats Who Have Lazy Humans
Snapcat is an Android app (only Android) that displays a moving red dot on a black screen. When your cat taps at the red dot, the device takes the cat's photo.
When the iOS version arrives, it will not only edit and upload the photos automatically, but create appropriate online accounts for photo sharing.
Spock vs. Spock
According to this ad for Audi, the greatest disadvantage to owning a Mercedes is you can't put golf clubs in its trunk, I guess.
"Metropolis II" by Chris Burden
And this is video of the same piece in slow motion, with very low resolution.
Iroquois Dance Group At Cabot's - June 21
No, Kodak Is NOT Discontinuing All Film (yet)
There may be a bit of over-reaction to the word that Kodak will no longer manufacture acetate film base. Kodak says they have an ample supply of film base and when that runs out they will consider buying it from someone else (if they still want to make film).
June 13, 2013
City Attorney Quintanilla Writes On Civility
Steven Quintanilla, attorney for the City of Desert Hot Springs (and at least one other city) writes about civil discussion.
Resorting to uncivil behavior, particularly in a public setting, whether on the dais or from the floor by a member of the public is counterproductive in the context of the democratic decision-making process. Uncivil behavior gets in the way of learning the truth, learning about good and workable ideas, learning about the needs of others and learning how to contribute in "alternative" positive ways to making our communities better places to live, work and play.
Animal Control Sets A Record
Tonight's meeting of the Public Safety Commission dealt mostly with the budget, and I will try to get a report on that to you before Tuesday's City Council meeting. But with no effort at all I can give you a couple of interesting items from Animal Control that we heard tonight.
One was that in May 176 cats were taken by Animal Control in Desert Hot Springs. That's a record. Most of that was due to a single cat hoarder who moved away, leaving her cats behind. All 9 animal control officers from throughout the Coachella Valley came to assist in capturing the animals. After emptying the residence, humane traps were left to capture any cats that had been away from home while the officers were there. An additional dozen or so cats were caught that way.
In total, about 106 cats were taken from this 2-bedroom, 800 square foot residence on Santa Cruz. They were almost all sick, almost all unsocialized. All but eleven had to be euthanized.
The second item was that today a large, unaltered pitbull went over a 6-foot fence into the neighbor's yard and killed the shih tzu there. Animal Control was on the scene almost instantly. The pitbull's owner was out of town, but Animal Control was able to contact him by phone and get his agreement to have the pitbull euthanized today.
A discussion ensued about a proposed county ordinance that will bring additional regulations to bear on pitbulls. Once the county approves that, the city might consider adopting a similar ordinance.
June 12, 2013
Google's Response To The NSA Story
First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a "back door" to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.
Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don't follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users' data are false, period. Until this week's reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users' call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users' Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.
Yesterday they published another post that is a copy of a letter to Attorney General Holder asking him and FBI Director Mueller to "help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures."
On this page Google publishes aggregate data on the number of requests they receive from governments and courts for user data. Here is the data for only American requests. In 2012 they began to break them out by source of request: search warrant, subpoena and "other." Subpoenas make up the great majority of requests. "Other" is the smallest. These data reports cannot show even aggregate numbers of requests that Google is not allowed to make public at all, so there's some invisible dark matter there that we have no way of measuring.
Photos Of The L.A. World Naked Bike Ride
Photo by John00879, or someone holding John's camera, because that's John in the pumpkin suit. His high quality photos of the Los Angeles World Naked Bike Ride are available here. One is required to observe the usual Flickr procedures in order to see photos depicting nudity. Those are...
- Be registered at Flickr. It costs nothing in terms of dollars. They use your Yahoo ID for this. If you don't have one, you will create one for yourself as you register.
- Be actually signed in at Flickr. You know, log in.
- Have your Flickr SafeSearch set to "off." To do that, go to this page - http://www.flickr.com/account/prefs/safesearch/, click the "SafeSearch off" item and click "Save Changes." You should be all set.
- Sometimes a 4th step is necessary. If steps 1 through 3 didn't seem to work for you, here is Step 4: Repeat Steps 1 through 3.
I met John at the spot where we got onto the L.A. River bike path when he asked "Hey, aren't you Ron's Log?" I was in uniform, so how could he miss me.
UPDATE: The Huffington Post has an article and some photos, too. I don't seem to be in any of them. They've cropped and pixelated some of the images.