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May 31, 2009

Star Trek

At the suggestion of a few friends I went to see the new Star Trek at my local pleasure palace, the Rancho Mirage Regal 16, where I was careful to tell the nice ticket man exactly which showing I wanted to buy a ticket for. He wanted to sell me a ticket to the show that had already started 12 minutes before I got to the window, but thought better of it upon my suggestion.

Pretty impressive effects, and I was even more impressed when the "digital artists" came up in the credits. They had to go to four columns, and it was still more than a screenful. If some nerd out there has counted the number of times the word "digital" appears in the credits, I'd like to know that number. Also pretty impressive way to restart a series. I'm surprised no one has thought of this before, not even in the Terminator series. For anyone who missed it, the young Mr. Spock stands up and explains it, talking almost directly into the camera. It seems unlikely that we shall ever see Kirk and Spock mix it up in an amok time fight scene again...at least not on the planet Vulcan, that is.

It's good to see that John Cho has gotten a respectable acting job. I'm sure his mother is relieved.

I was delighted that Captain Pike finally gets his rightful day in the sun. I've been waiting for decades.

Iowa. First thought to flash through my mind upon sighting Iowa was "Imperial Valley." Almost no where is Iowa THAT flat, and they don't grow that much alfalfa either. But they don't manufacture star ships there either, not yet at least. In the credits they thank Kern County, so I was wrong about Imperial Valley, it was San Joaquin Valley. So I'm a little put-off when I read news articles from the Des Moines Register and Iowa.com that indicate the greatest concerns among Iowans are (1) there ain't no big quarry like that in Io-way; and (2) James Tiberius Kirk was supposed to have been born IN Riverside, Iowa...Gene Roddenberry promised! That's what you get in alternate realities: premature labor. But no Iowa farmer noticed it was really California?!

At first I was pleased that in a couple of scenes the people making the movie showed they understood that "in space no one can hear you scream." But they forgot that pretty fast when they realized people would want to hear a real satisfying bang when a star ship popped into warp speed.

Kirk gets booted off the Enterprise onto the planet Delta Vega which has (as so many planets do in Star Trek) about 1G of gravity, a breathable atmosphere, and weather not too different from the cold parts of Earth. Still, it must come about as close to Vulcan (which has about 1G of gravity, a breathable atmosphere, and comfortable temperatures) as Earth does to its moon, judging from the clear view the Leonard Nimoy Spock has of the destruction of Vulcan. Even so, the ice on Delta Vega is not water ice, judging from the fact that once Spock and Kirk reach the Star Fleet outpost, the snow in Spock's hair never melts, even though the air temperature is high enough the moisture in their breaths is not visible.

What's with the rather noticeable mole/wart/birthmark near Jim Kirk's right ear? William Shatner never had that:

Chris Pine
Chris Pine
William Shatner
William Shatner

With a budget of $20 trillion for special effects, I would think they could either (A) cover up the mole/wart/birthmark; or (B) explain it away as something caused by the circumstances of his birth: "Aye, we often see these moles on babes aborn on escape wessels under Romulan attack - we dinna know the cause!"

Near the end of the movie when the two Spocks meet face-to-face, did anyone else notice that a lot of the close shots of Leonard Nimoy were unclear, like they had used a cheap lens, or had decided after the fact to do a [bad] digital zoom? What was up with that?

And finally, in the climactic sequence, why did no one on the Enterprise anticipate the fact that the very same singularity that was drawing in the Romulan vessel would also be a threat to the Enterprise? Why did they stay around to unnecessarily fire photon torpedos at a vessel that would be crushed in moments by other forces. I was never admitted to Star Fleet Academy myself, but I could see the unnecessary risks they were taking. Where's my medal, huh?

Anyway, 5 stars (out of 5). I gotta get the DVD so I can freeze certain scenes.

Filed under Film/Movies | permalink | May 31, 2009 at 11:05 PM | Comments (1)

Fresno Rally

The L.A. Times reports that the "Meet In The Middle" rally began with a 14½ march from Selma to Fresno! That was a surprise to me, since none of the literature I had seen mentioned that. If I had gone I would not have been prepared for a walk of such a distance in warm weather. The Fresno Bee, however, says only a hundred did that march, while anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 showed up at the rally itself.

Filed under California,Gay Issues | permalink | May 31, 2009 at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2009

Muscles

Belgian Blues.

Still photos.

Filed under Food and Drink,Science | permalink | May 30, 2009 at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

Michael Cole to speak on Friday (and Russ Martin will be there too)

They don't make TV opening credits like this anymore! Turn up the volume for this.

Michael ColeMichael Cole today

You should recall Michael Cole (AKA, "the white guy") from The Mod Squad. He's done a lot of other work, too. He will be co-hosting Russ Martin's campaign kick off shindig at the Miracle Springs Resort and Spa on Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs on Friday night (June 5) at 6 PM. "The theme of the evening is public safety which will highlight Russ Martin's 31 years service as a law enforcement professional."

Let's hope this is the start of a series of celebrity events. Next, one of Charlie's Angels perhaps?

Filed under Desert Hot Springs,Television | permalink | May 30, 2009 at 07:23 PM | Comments (1)

Demolition Almost Complete

I see that if the TV cameras aren't watching and Chief Williams isn't standing right there, a house demolition in Desert Hot Springs can take as long as 2 or 3 days. They knocked it all down yesterday and spent most of day shoveling it into trucks. Now there's some concrete rubble left, and that's about it. I think they are going to let the nice palo verde and cactus live.

RDA Demo (2686)

RDA Demo with Mt San Jacinto (2687)

Filed under Desert Hot Springs,Photography | permalink | May 30, 2009 at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)

DHS City Website Glitch

When I went to the city's website looking for the agenda for next Tuesday's city council meeting I saw that the agenda for this past Tuesday's meeting had disappeared again. After banging around on the site, trying to find it again I was successful. Then I saw that the agenda page WITH the May 26 agenda is www.cityofdhs.org/Agendas while the page WITHOUT the May 26 agenda is www.desert-hot-springs.us/Agendas. It's the latter address that I had bookmarked, but I'll update that now.

But I still can't find the June 2 agenda, which should be up on the website now. If anybody has a link for that, please let me know.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 30, 2009 at 08:24 AM | Comments (1)

May 29, 2009

Audio Recordings 20 Years Before Edison's

In 1857 Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville (of Paris, France) devised a mechanism called a phonautograph that recorded sound by scratching lines in soot on paper. He had, however, no playback mechanism. Instead, he hoped that someday somebody would invent something like a laser and something like a computer to handle the playback. Well here we are.

Filed under Technology | permalink | May 29, 2009 at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)

Thank You RDA

A nearby occasional drug-house, home of unrestrained pitbulls and occasional drama was acquired by the RDA not long ago, and is being demolished today:
RDA Demo (0244)

RDA Demo (0245)

RDA Demo (0246)

RDA Demo (0243)

Filed under Desert Hot Springs,Photography | permalink | May 29, 2009 at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2009

Fireworks at Liberty Memorial

Fireworks behind the Liberty Memorial shaft

Photo by chrishuff.

In Kansas City.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | May 28, 2009 at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

Momentum

No need to stop with just a single great victory.

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | May 28, 2009 at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

Ant Killer

I have had great success with Terro Ant Killer II. Generally, I try to get along with the local insects and arachnids, hoping that they will feed a growing lizard population. I reserve death-on-sight for black widows, any kind of roach, and flies. But a couple of times a year the little ubiquitous ants will burst into activity and invade the house, investigating every nook for whatever it is they seek in life. Last year, my friends Bill & Emrys recommended Terro Liquid Ant Bait; i.e., the stuff that comes in little plastic trap-like thingies. I put a couple around inside the house, and a couple outside. They worked faster and more thoroughly than I could have hoped!

When the ants invaded again a couple of weeks ago I had only one Terro bait on hand, so I went to Home Depot (yes, I checked K-Mart first!) to buy more. I spotted the package shown below and grabbed four of them, thinking each held only a few baits ($3.95 each). Not until I got home did I see I had picked up bottled liquid Terro (2 ounces each).
Terro Ant Killer II

The box includes 9 little squares of cardboard. Put one in the ant path and drip a couple of drops of Terro on it. Nine squares is not nearly enough, but you can use anything else on hand. The only active ingredient in Terro is borax.

TERRO® Liquid Ant Bait is a sweet food based product similar to pancake syrup combined with Borax. Borax is a mineral that is mined in the desert in California and is a common active ingredient that is used in soap products such as 20 Mule Team Borax.

The product kills ants but will not harm people or pets. If you spill some on your skin there will be no reaction at all. Simply wash with warm water.

Pets occasionally find the Terro and eat it. Our advice when this happens is to do nothing at all. The product is not toxic enough to cause a problem and the pet will be just fine.

See, it's mined in the desert in California, so it must be good! I had guessed that the remaining 94.6% of Terro was sugar water, but they say it's "similar to pancake syrup," so it's just possible that it's maple syrup ("mined in the forests of Vermont!"), but I'll bet it's the cheap stuff.

IOW, if your ants are marching on a hard, non-porous surface (kitchen counter, bathtub, etc.) that you are going to wash anyway, you could just drip Terro directly onto the surface.

I used it in the kitchen and bathroom and then went outside to put some drops on ant trails that were passing near the house. They say it can take days to weeks to see the benefit, and I was prepared to patiently wait for a decrease in ant activity. So I was astonished when I saw a gigantic drop in activity (maybe 90%) in just 24 hours. In 48 hours I saw almost no ants. When I came back from my weekend camping trip I expected the ants would have returned. The small drops are consumed by the ants, and what they don't consume does evaporate, so while I was away there was no Terro on duty to guard the house. Nonetheless, when I returned quiet death reigned supreme. I couldn't have found an ant in my house even if I had a picnic on the kitchen floor.

I have gone through no more than a quarter of one of the bottles. I have not extended my ant battle out into the yard, and I don't intend to, since the ants out there do me no harm, and actually benefit some of the trees.

If you use it you will probably notice a temporary increase in ant activity. The ants love this stuff. After putting a few drops around my bathtub I found small black mounds of ants trying to get to it. They are drawn to it like teenage boys are to pornography.

Filed under Shopping | permalink | May 28, 2009 at 12:40 PM | Comments (5)

A Safe Sex Lesson

Philippe Padieu of Frisco, Texas, has been convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for having unprotected sex with six women and infecting them with HIV. There were no charges of rape. All of the women consented to have unprotected sex.

In considering whether a condom or a man's word is better protection against STD infection, here are the guidelines I follow:

  • Men lie.

For that small minority of men who tell the truth, there is this rule:

  • Men are often mistaken.

Now, a discussion of STDs and other health issues is an important part of any good relationship, but on a first date you don't need to ask the question, because your behavior is going to be the same regardless of the answer, right? A condom, or a good ol' handjob, or just skip it.

Filed under Health | permalink | May 28, 2009 at 11:12 AM | Comments (1)

The L.A. Response to the Supreme Court Decision

Note the high production values.

Filed under California,Gay Issues | permalink | May 28, 2009 at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

The Federal Case

Box Turtle Bulletin is hosting the video and transcript of the Wednesday press conference in which the attorneys for the American Foundation For Equal Rights [which seems to have been created just for this one case] announce they are filing suit in federal court to overturn Prop 8 on the basis that the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal rights. What, have they been reading Ron's Log?!

Creating a second class of citizens is discrimination, plain and simple. The constitution of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln does not permit it. Our nation was founded on the principle that all Americans are created equal. This case is about ensuring that every American is treated equally under the law.

California has created a separate relationship for same sex couples called Domestic Partnerships. That is separate, and that is not equal. It is unconstitutional. Proposition 8 denies people fundamental constitutional rights.

Okay, I know the press conference is mostly about generating interest and excitement, but citing slaveowners Jefferson and Madison and the original Constitution in an equal rights case looks really thoughtless. The recognition of equal rights in the U.S. really began with the Civil War, Lincoln, the end of slavery and the adoption of the 14th amendment.

Q: …if you fail, does that further codify or solidify marriage discrimination?

[Ted] Olson: The question was asked what would happen if we fail. In the first place, we don’t intend to have that happen. We believe that the courts are ready to grant equality to citizens based upon sexual orientation, and are going to be sensitive to the fact that, as David [Boies] said eloquently, that for too many decades, centuries really, individuals in this country, sadly, have been the brunt of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

On the other hand, we recognize the reality that no one can predict the outcome of any case. We’re confident about this case. But civil rights have been won by individuals, whether they involve race or sex or other issues, by bringing the case to the American people and to the courts. And every time that people do that is a step forward, even if there might be small defeats along the way or even important defeats along the way, because ultimately the American people and the courts of this country come to the right conclusion. And we’re confident that that will happen.

The official press release [PDF].

Filed under California,Gay Issues | permalink | May 28, 2009 at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

A Message For Prop 8 Supporters

Not at all in the spirit of diplomatic dialogue with the goal of changing minds.

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | May 28, 2009 at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2009

If Only The Major Leaguers Were So Talented

During a 5-hour rain delay the baseball teams from UConn and USF engaged in a dance off. It looks like the schools have about equal numbers of dance majors on their baseball teams.

Filed under Sports | permalink | May 27, 2009 at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

Mrs. Hope Turns 100

The L.A. Times reports on the 100th birthday party of Dolores Hope, widow of Bob Hope. The longevity of the two is attributed to laughter...or dry martinis.

| permalink | May 27, 2009 at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

Clinton Doing More For Equal Rights Than Obama

Which is not a hard thing to do, since Obama has done nothing to advance equal rights for gay people since entering office. Secretary of State Clinton, however, "will soon announce" that gay diplomats will be given benefits equivalent to those enjoyed by heterosexual diplomats, including domestic partner benefits and diplomatic passports for domestic partners.

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | May 27, 2009 at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

Prettier Than Warren Beatty

Clyde Barrow 1932
Clyde Barrow in 1932, two years before his death.

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of their deaths, the FBI has released a collection of additional material on Bonnie and Clyde, including some stuff released just last year.

| permalink | May 27, 2009 at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

Fresno Bus

Remember me telling you about the demo in Fresno planned for the Saturday after the California Supreme Court issued its decision on Prop 8? Well, that's this Saturday, folks, May 30. The Coachella Valley Marriage Equality Coalition is organizing a bus from Palm Springs to Fresno and back. Here's the text on their site:

Palm Springs Meet In The Middle Bus Ride To Fresno

Please Fill Out Your Information

The Bus will be leaving On Saturday 5/30/09 at 6:30AM PROMPTLY!!!
Returning To Palm Springs at 5PM
It is a 5 Hour Drive Each Way (Long Day!)

DEPARTURE ADDRESS:
The Desert Pride Center
611 South Canyon RD. PS, CA 92264

Be prepaired with Your Own Food, Bevereges, and Medicines for thoes of you who need.
(It would be nice {Not Requiered} if you bring extra to share)
[presumably that means extra food and beverages, not medicine - Ron]

There is a suggested donation fo $20.00 (Or More) Per Seat. (CASH Plz!)
We need the $$$, but if you truly can't pay don't let that stop your from riding.
We value your support/ participation.

The Tour Bus Seats 40-50 Peeps
Seats are on a first come first serve basis.
Arrive Early! If you want a specific seat

Do NOT make a reservation unless you know for sure you can fill that seat.

Looking Forward!!!!

RJ Taylor rj@desertnoh8.com
760-808-2340

If you're looking to make contacts among the politically active in the Coachella Valley, I think you'll find this a satisfying bus trip. They say the drive is 5 hours and they are leaving at 6:30 AM and returning at 5:00 PM. Do the math and that leaves 30 minutes to be on the street demonstrating in Fresno. I suspect the 5:00 PM return time is actually the Fresno departure time. This will not allow for a visit to the SunMaid raisin store, unfortunately.

Filed under California,Gay Issues | permalink | May 27, 2009 at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)