March 30, 2013
In the category of it's-funny-because-it's-true:
And on that subject, you may have seen the news that free wi-fi is available via smart meters in Santa Clara. Here's the website for the service itself. There is one important fact to note: 1 Mbps. Yes, you can get this free wi-fi at any speed you like, as long it's slow.
But here's the upside: (1) people who are still suffering with dial-up can finally ditch that and get a somewhat faster connection; (2) visitors to town who have a wi-fi device that lacks cellular connectivity will be able to Google for that restaurant or hotel or whatever it is they need.
Art Is Transient
Whatsblem The Pro passes along a rumor that El Pulpo Mecanico, the star of the playa for the past two years, may be headed back to the junk heap. No verification of that yet, but if you didn't catch it live in 2011 or 2012, you may be out of luck.
March 28, 2013
B-2s Over South Korea
Two stealth bombers took off from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, flew to South Korea and dropped munitions on an island today. The U.S. has recently chosen to publicize some of its military maneuvers in the Korea area. Last week there were B-52 training flights and a nuclear attack submarine is taking part in naval drills. "U.S. officials said the flights are not designed to raise tensions, but reduce them by bolstering deterrence in the face of North Korea’s provocations." M-kay. Has saber-rattling ever reduced tensions before?
Yesterday's DOMA Hearing
SCOTUSblog says Justice Roberts and Kennedy found it weird (well, the words they used were "unprecedented" and "troubling") that the Obama administration has said they consider DOMA to be unconstitutional and they refuse to defend it in court, but they continue to enforce the law. General opinion of experienced court watchers is that Section 3 of DOMA is like one of those cartoon characters who suddenly finds himself floating in mid-air and has a moment to ponder before gravity takes over. That is, it is doomed.
The Wall Street Journal live-blogged the hearing (that is, semi-live, to stay within Supreme Court rules).
Chief Justice John Roberts told attrorney Sri Srinivasan, the principal deputy solicitor general, that the government's actions were "unprecedented." To agree with a lower court ruling finding DOMA unconstitutional but yet seeking the Supreme Court to weigh in while it enforces the law is "has never been done before," he said.Even Scalia!
Justice Antonin Scalia cited the longstanding Office of Legal Counsel memorandum that requires the Justice Department to defend laws passed by Congress, except in rare circumstances. He called it a "new world" where Attorney General Eric Holder can decide a law is unconstitutional, but yet not so unconstitutional that the executive branch won't enforce the law.
Justice Sotomayor also took issue with the idea that DOMA provides consistency for federal benefits, saying that Clement’s argue elides the fact that the federal government treats married couples in New York differently from those in Nebraska. Justice Breyer picked up this line of reasoning, asking if Congress could constitutionally limit federal marital benefits on the basis of age or residency. Clement said that it could, which Breyer scoffed at, saying that Clement’s argument was essentially that a desire for uniformity could save otherwise irrational classifications. Why are marriages between same-sex couples different, he asked, and what about them makes the federal government need a uniform national definition for federal benefits?
Justice Kennedy also pointed out a central contradiction in Clement’s argument that DOMA was passed in order to help the states: even if Section 2 of the law protects states from recognizing other states’ same-sex marriage licenses, Section 3 of the law undoubtedly harms states that do decide to extend equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. In essence, Kennedy wryly pointed out, the only states that got the federal government’s help on DOMA were those who did what the government wanted, i.e., retained a limited definition of marriage for opposite-sex couples only.
Opinions of most observers are that it's difficult to predict if the court will overturn DOMA on an equal rights basis or on a states' rights basis; but overturn it they will.
March 27, 2013
A Quick View Of Yesterday's Prop 8 Hearing
The proponents of Prop 8 (AKA, "the bad guys") argue that one cannot discriminate against gay people except in this one narrow little area: marriage. Justice Kagan took out her knife and cut right through all the bullshit:
Well, could you explain that a little bit to me, just because I did not pick this up in your briefs.
What harm you see happening and when and how and — what — what harm to the institution of marriage or to opposite-sex couples, how does this cause and effect work?
There was, of course, no answer to this question.
43:50 At this point, Scalia jumps out of his seat, leaps onto the table, points a righteous finger at Olson, and shouts, "WHEN? When, when, WHEN?":I'm curious, when -when did — when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted? Sometimes — some time after Baker, where we said it didn't even raise a substantial Federal question? When — when — when did the law become this?
Olson pushes back, "When did it become unconstitutional to prohibit interracial marriages? When did it become unconstitutional to assign children to separate schools?"
Finally Sotomayor decides she's tired of these two men and brings down the hammer:Mr. Olson, the bottom line that you're being asked — and — and it is one that I'm interested in the answer: If you say that marriage is a fundamental right, what State restrictions could ever exist? Meaning, what State restrictions with respect to the number of people, with respect to — that could get married — the incest laws, the mother and child, assuming that they are the age — I can — I can accept that the State has probably an overbearing interest on — on protecting a child until they're of age to marry, but what's left?
Once again, Olson is worth quoting in full:Well, you've said — you've said in the cases decided by this Court that the polygamy issue, multiple marriages raises questions about exploitation, abuse, patriarchy, issues with respect to taxes, inheritance, child custody, it is an entirely different thing. And if you — if a State prohibits polygamy, it's prohibiting conduct. If it prohibits gay and lesbian citizens from getting married, it is prohibiting their exercise of a right based upon their status. It's selecting them as a class, as you described in the Romer case and as you described in the Lawrence case and in other cases, you're picking out a group of individuals to deny them the freedom that you've said is fundamental, important and vital in this society, and it has status and stature, as you pointed out in the VMI case.
Massachusetts Attorney General Rules On Local Marijuana Dispensary Bans
The Massachusetts Attorney General has ruled that towns and cities may NOT completely ban medical marijuana dispensaries. They can, however, "adopt zoning by-laws and other regulations to preserve 'public health, safety, morals, or general welfare'."
Carjacking Suspects Arrested
CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
INCIDENT: PC 215(a) / Carjacking / Arrest
DATE: 03-17-13 DAY: Sunday / TIME: 7:56 PM
LOCATION: 66400 block of 7th Street
ARRESTEES: Garrett, Jeniva; Black, Female, 19 yoa 5'4" 145 lbs. Brown/Brown, Resident of Indio.
Hernandez, Daniel P.; Hispanic, Male, 33 yoa 6'0" 186 lbs, Brown/Black, Resident of Indio.
DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:
On Sunday, March 17, 2013, Officer Wells from the Desert Hot Springs Police Department was dispatched to a carjacking that had just occurred in the 66400 blk. of 7th Street. Upon Officer Wells arrival, along with assisting units, they located a victim who was injured as a result of the carjacking. Detective Chilner begin his investigation the next morning and located a second victim who had been assaulted as a result of the carjacking. After a thorough investigation the two suspects were identified and arrested on 03/22/13 in the City of Indio by Detective Chilner along with help from The Desert Hot Springs Special Enforcement Team. Both suspects were transported to RCJ Banning for housing.
Daniel P. Hernandez
March 26, 2013
Prop 8 Hearing Today, DOMA Tomorrow
The penultimate steps have been reached. Equality On Trial covers what one might expect.
March 25, 2013
Up Goler Wash To Barker Ranch
DHS Workforce/Economic Development Meeting, Wed. March 27
The City of Desert Hot Springs Economic Development Committee is meeting to focuses on the issue of Workforce Development; the education and job training for employees, and the connections with business. The meeting will occur Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 6PM in the Carl May Community Center, 11711 West Drive, Desert Hot Springs. City residents suffer from a current unemployment rate of approximately 15% and a median household income that lags behind the State of California and Riverside County. To address this problem the City developed and is implementing the City's Economic Development Strategic Plan. Over the last three years the City has worked on:
- Business Retention and Expansion to improve existing business viability and enhancement through the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce,
- Marketing and Attraction to draw new tourists and enterprises to the City through the efforts of Cabot's Museum Foundation, Desert Hot Springs Hotelier's Association, and Visitor Center operated by the Chamber of Commerce, and
- Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development Strategies to grow new companies through the efforts of CVEP; iHub, Business Accelerator, and COD Small Business Success Program.
All of these efforts are aimed at creating new jobs.
The City now turns to the issue of Workforce Development to focus on programs and providers that prepare the local workforce (youth and adults) "skill set" necessary for employment.
The Committee has set a Workforce Development Workshop with local experts to review a comprehensive list of resources and programs that are available to residents of Desert Hot Springs to develop an educated local workforce with relevant and high level job skills for both the youth and adult populations.
We are inviting educators from K-12 through college and private, non-profit, and public job training providers. Invitations are been extended to the following:
- Palm Springs Unified School District to discuss K-12 achievement in developing basic learning skills, through academic performance, specialized career pathways, career counseling, alternative schools, and graduation rates.
- Riverside County Office of Education, Regional Occupation Program and other offerings,
- College of the Desert, Career Vocational Education and Lifelong Learning programs and transition curriculum for those continuing on to four year education,
- Riverside County Economic Development Agency, Workforce Development Department and Workforce Investment Board,
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Apprentice Programs,
- Mayfield College in Cathedral City, and
- Center for Employment Training in Coachella.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend as they are to all meetings of the Economic Development Committee meetings. Meeting outcomes:
- To better inform the Committee and the community about resources that are available,
- To assist them in their employment and career pursuits and,
- To seek greater local presence of those resources in Desert Hot Springs.
Who Is That Cowboy?
Just judging from that shirt in the photo, I'm expecting some lariat demonstrations or guitar strumming as well!
March 24, 2013
The L.A. Times has an article about the conservative attorney who will present the argument against Prop 8 before the U.S. Supreme Court this coming Tuesday, March 26. It says he has lost friends during this battle.
"Oh, there's some people who are not very happy about it," he said in a recent interview. But the case "has changed my life a lot because I think this is so enormously important to so many people. When I talk about it I get very emotional.... I found out that some people I never guessed were gay. Lawyers came up to me and disclosed that about themselves."
Olson says he doesn't think his politics have changed, though he concedes that he has "learned a lot" about himself from the current case. He believes gay marriage is a conservative cause.
"There are libertarian conservatives, fiscal conservatives and social conservatives," he said. "I feel conservative in terms of limited government, individual responsibility, self-sufficiency — that sort of thing."
"Why would [conservatives] be against individuals who wished to live together and have a stable, loving, long-term relationship?"
The article also tells us (and I had never heard this before!) that Ted Olson's wife, Barbara, was on the highjacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon. She was able to reach him by cellphone while on the flight.
Hiking Out Of Fall Canyon
This video is the entire hike from the waterfall back to the mouth of the canyon (where you get a hazy view of Death Valley) and includes a short side trip into a branching slot canyon. It took about an hour, but I tripled the speed so you can get back to more fun things.
March 23, 2013
Art At Burning Man 2013
Burning Man has announced the awarding of $850,000 for 63 art projects to be created on the playa in August. There will be many more art pieces, of course. These are just the ones getting a subsidy from our ticket money.
This year the Circle of Regional Effigies which surrounds the Man will be made up of 24 art pieces from these locations: New Orleans, Washington DC, Vancouver (British Columbia, we assume), Houston, Czech Republic, Netherlands, East Bay (California), Victoria (British Columbia), Reno, Israel, Indiana, Lithuania, Portland (Oregon, we'll assume until I hear some Maine accents), Idaho, Taiwan, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Maui, South Bay (S.F. Bay area), France, New York (City, probably), San Diego, Austin, and Minnesota. All to be burned simultaneously on Friday night of the event.
Topping the art news was the announcement of the selection of this year's temple builders. The key people are Gregg Fleishman (Artist) and Melissa Barron and Terry Gross (Conceptors) who are associated with Otic Oasis which has built been out in the non-mechanized zone the past two years using joints like these without screws, bolts, nails or glue. The group also built the pistil that was under the Man in 2012.
The Temple of Whollyness:
Also announced were grants from the Black Rock Arts Foundation for art projects out in the "default world." These include a project in Saigon and a $4,000 grant for a project in Boston:
Bartlett Yard is a former MBTA bus storage and repair yard that has been vacant for over a decade. It's the poster child for blight. This project will 'un-blight' it in the summer of 2013.
Bartlett Events is a community-based, non-profit, temporary event series being held at the blighted 8.5 acre Bartlett Bus Yard in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. Bartlett Events offers free or low-cost events of all kinds with a special emphasis on the arts to activate the space before its development into a housing and retail complex in 2014. The series will engage the neighboring community in the development process, and reintroduce Dudley Square as a destination for arts and culture in Boston.
On May 11, Bartlett Events will cover the two huge garage buildings on the site – with about 40 giant garage doors in total and thousands of square feet of wall space – into Boston's biggest piece of street art. Local graffiti artists and muralists will each be given paint and a door to work paint on. As they work, the community will be invited to a party to celebrate while they transform the space. At the party, anyone who wants to paint can paint the remaining doors.
The site will then become a free venue for community organizations of all kinds to host their own weekend events. These events will introduce many ways for the community to interact with the art, including a "gallery of the people" where anyone can hang their own art and "free walls" where any graffiti artist is welcome to practice his or her craft.
After all this summer fun is over the developer is going to tear the buildings down. Art is fleeting! But the impacts will be long-lasting, and we expect to see many elements of this programming make it into the final design of the development.
Here, a group of artists from Vancouver, BC, present 4 videos to document the entire process for their project that was on the playa in 2012. They collected beach wood from Pacific beaches, brought it to the playa and built a wave sculpture, then burned it.
The Raygun Gothic Rocketship that landed on the playa to refuel in 2009 so it could launch itself to San Francisco, has launched again! It no longer rests near the LED-lighted Bay Bridge, but is out exploring our Solar System as we write. Will it return to Earth in our lifetimes? Who knows? (Photo by Rocklifter).
Center Camp is seeking submissions from Burner artists:
Help us enhance this environment and engage your fellow Black Rock Citizens as they sit and mingle in this popular hot spot on the Playa. We are looking for art in all shapes and sizes! If you have a sculpture that would get lost in the great expanse of the open playa, but might be appreciated in a more intimate setting, please let us know! You can also take over one of our "alcove" spaces and create your own environment or vision of the "Cargo Cult" Theme. Sculpture or painting, large or small, please write to us and tell us what you would like to bring! Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The good/bad news (depending on your point of view) about art in Center Camp is that it doesn't get burned, unless the artist picks it up and hauls it out to some burn site on the playa.
Pedestrian Struck By Car On Palm Drive
CITY OF DESERT HOT SPRINGS
INCIDENT: Auto vs. Pedestrian Traffic Collision
DATE: 03-22-13 DAY: Friday / TIME: 9:57 PM
LOCATION: Palm Drive / Buena Vista Avenue
Pedestrian: White Male, 57 years of age, Resident of Desert Hot Springs
DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:
On 03/22/13 Officers were dispatched to the area of Palm Drive / Buena Vista Avenue on a report of a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle. Upon arrival officers found a 57 year old male lying in the roadway. The male was transported to Desert Regional Medical Center for medical attention. The driver of the vehicle remained at the scene. The cause of the collision is under investigation. Anyone with any information regarding this incident should contact the Desert Hot Springs Police Department and ask to speak with Officer Brazeal at 760-329-6411 Ext. 332.
March 22, 2013
Just Artist's Drive
Taken from the earlier Badwater video, this one is strictly Artist's Drive and a bit slower at 12x, compared to 20x in the earlier version.
Slot Canyon in Anza-Borrego
Shot this video today just to show a tight section of a slot canyon in Anza-Borrego.
Furnace Creek to Badwater Timelapse
In this video I start at my campsite in Furnace Creek camp and drive to and a little past Badwater, turn around, and come back to the Chevron at Furnace Creek. On the return trip I deviate into Artist's Drive. All at 20x real speed.
Why with all the slick, amazing electronics we have today, does the system that provides music while I wait on hold on the phone still sound like it's feeding me an AM radio signal that we're getting from the other side of the mountains while somebody who's really fidgety holds onto the antenna to try to get better reception for a radio that has a loose connection somewhere? I'm not complaining (yet) about the musical selections or the fact that telephones have limited audio frequency ranges. It's the crackle-crackle, in and out, "Must be a tornado comin', Ma!" quality. Takes me back to my childhood when FM radio and color TV were the newest things.
How about a law? Phone system administrators will be strapped down, have earplugs inserted (in the ears), and be forced to listen to their own hold music for one hour while TOTALLY SOBER! It's a public health as well as interstate communications issue. I'm sure it's constitutional.
March 21, 2013
The LED light display on the western part (the suspension part) of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge went live on March 5. The NY Times has a good video showing you what it looks like.
On a somewhat related note, the construction of the new eastern part of the bridge (the "self-anchored suspension" part) is almost there. Last November the load of the bridge was transferred from the temporary supports to its mile-long cable making it the world's longest self-anchored suspension bridge. And on March 9, the final deck section of the bridge was poured into place, one year ahead of schedule! Video.