Monday, April 25, 2016


     Rules of engagement, laws of war and similar accords protect us while they also betray our failures. 
       It has become cliche' William Tecumseh Sherman's statement to army cadets years after the Civil War, "...war is hell." History, personal stories and journalism continue to validate the Union General's warning. Theologically wise and scholarly Dr. William Enright offered another view. He said "war is a crucifixion event." Innocence, love and peace suffer.
       Drone warfare is an insidious ratchet in our capacity to make war and destroy life. It also raises the complexity and  table stakes of killing schemes. 
      Eye in the Sky written by Guy Hibbert and directed by Gavin Hood is an excellent portrayal of the intricacies and fall out of drone war fare in the fight against terrorists. When tasked with action that includes the likely killing or injury of non combatants there is no good alternative.
      Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman, lead an excellent cast through the emotional drain and hell of a decision played out involving US drone control, English Military command, British and US foreign policy heads, Kenyan ground support and intelligence. The film is a fascinating study of real life. Cutting corners, the pressure of critical decisions under duress, scoping the likely aftermath in human loss and political calculation are vividly portrayed. It is a powerful examination of a terrible human equation and it demonstrates  how those who execute decisions also suffer. It underscores the wisdom in Dr. Enright's characterization of war.
residents of the front flower bed

   See you down the trail.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Like a Scot's Wind
  English, Scots, Irish and a blend of Brit genealogies have  settled in Cambria and on the central coast. 
  Windswept bluffs and plenty of room to ramble are appealing and familiar.

   Legroom with views.
   Expansive heath where land joins sea.

   Wind and surf in chorus.
     This area "speaks" to some of our DNA.

Born To Be Blue
will make you blue
    Chet Baker is one of those great talents who let demons direct his life and Born To Be Blue, currently in release, is an artful film that tells the story very well.  
     Ethan Hawke, who studied the trumpet and who sang, turns in a superb performance capturing the genius and torture of Chet Baker. Baker was a better singer than Hawke but the entire score and musical ambiance of the film is masterful. Cool and blue jazz and the essence of mellow.The film ventures into a little bop, thanks to the Dizzy Gillespie shading in the plot. Then there is Miles Davis and the script's hint that Baker was pained to get Mile's respect, even to the point of destructive behavior.
     Hawke is good throughout, but the scene where he stares into the mirror in the dressing room at Birdland while fighting with himself about whether to take methadone or to fire up a fix of smack is riveting and is the distilled crux of the story. Born To Be Blue is directed by Canadian Robert Budreau who has made award winning shorts. Brit Carmen Ejogo is excellent in her double role as Elaine and Jane.
     It is an art film, playing in limited distribution about a tortured artist who lived to play the trumpet and shoot heroin, so you won't leave with a smile. It's not for everyone, but if you like Baker's music, Jazz, good story telling and excellent acting it's a good 90 some minutes. Hard to beat the music.
Happy Anniversary
   After all these years you are still my beautiful bride
and I'm more in love every day. 
A Sweet Finale
    Giovanni the maestro at Harmony Cafe at the Pewter Plough does many things well including his own take on Zucatto. This was a recent "experiment."  We lab animals were swooning very quickly after this photo. "Heavenly" was a consensus.

     See you down the trail.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Rods and Spice

    Cambrians and tourists mark early spring with a bacchanalia like rite of hot rods and hot chili. Restaurants, service organizations and individuals vie for a championship. $10 gets you a spoon and small cup and points you toward the numbered chili dispensers, each touting their unique zest or magic.

  The South Paw chili, using a particular wine were working for an award for showmanship as well. 

These judges deliberate for a set of prizes while the vox populi would ballot for the people's choice.
  The parking lot was lined with dazzle and color. 

   Spring pleasures on California's Pacific Coast highway.

    See you down the trail.

Friday, April 15, 2016


   Exploits of Hemingway our polydactyl have been documented here in previous posts. But here is something you may not know. He is a rescue cat from HART our local shelter-The Homeless Animal Rescue Team. He was an abandoned "freak," an off spring of feral cats in Paso Robles.
   The woman who brought him to HART had been watching a feral cat as it prepared to birth kittens. After they arrived the mother carefully moved the litter over a fence, except for Hemingway. Instead she dropped him elsewhere and left. Rescuers reason she wanted nothing to with a kitten who had six fingers on each paw. Being dumped by your mom could give you an attitude, right?
     When he arrived in Cambria he was put into a separate holding cage because he was wildly rambunctious and a "biter." They warned us he might be a handful but everyone loved the little scamp. They gave him an apt name.
   Hemingway was even a "poser boy" for a benefit.
  He is the first of his "line" to be domesticated. Nothing in his genes prepared him to be a "pet." Perpetually curious and affectionate he's been a delightful pal. A little slow, I call him a Palooka, he is playful. The trash trucks and mail unit scare him. He shows evidence of hypersensitive hearing. But he is playful, easy going and loves attention. He knows he's family. Good, for a "left for dead" creature.

  Well, as he has grown he's perfected the Garfield Syndrome. When not eating he loves to nap, often in the Jade planter on the front deck. Here he expresses his pique at being disturbed during a nap.
   But it's not about nothing. Of recent he's learned to resemble a corpulent old man dozing in an easy chair. That jade makes a perfect back support.  The good life!

   Life confronts us with complexity and the news suffers no shortage of inhumanity, but pets, from rescue shelters especially, are memes of caring. In return, we have fascinating entertainment while we abet a job description to pine for.
    Bob Christy, a former colleague and longtime friend, who's blog can be found in the Rich Blogs Column to your right on LightBreezes, posted recently on the difficulties vexing transgender people. 
    We are in a learning curve. Societal understandings are morphing. Prejudice, ignorance-often because of limited or narrow life experience and exposure and a moralistic judgementalism will be overcome. Demographic cohorts of 12-40 year olds get it. You see the fault line? Life is more intricate than old black and white television. 
     The CBS 60 Minutes piece on a swimmer on the Harvard mens team is a case in point. He was born a girl, but didn't fit the gender. She had been a champion in girl's competitions and was offered a scholarship. But a gender change changed more. He now competes on the men's team. He is taking hormone treatments, had a breast removal and is a man with a vagina. 
     Generational perceptions influence how we think and react and that is especially so in this area. But more new challenges are due. Pharmacological advances, regenerative medicine, medical technology and artificial intelligence in particular will have humankind scratching our heads trying to determine what makes a human, human? That is an easier question today.

   More evidence of why I appreciate that Lana likes to play in the dirt.
    One of our favorite Italian chefs is receiving a gift. 

    See you down the trail.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


     They are an elixir, these spring blooms, a tonic for the soul. Begging a closer look they absorb our attention.
    In brief moments wonder, beauty and fascination beguile us.
   Gentle antidotes to the maddening slurry of public affairs.
  It is akin to a default resetting of our psyche. Pristine therapy.
   No, it doesn't matter the box is entirely too small or that they are smashed. By whatever logic or reason that compels them, Joy and Hemingway have taken to a type of yin and yang bunking in a tiny box. This will last for a couple of nights and they will wonder to yet another unpredictable berth. We'd love to know the "logic" to their ways.
    An obscure note from a meeting in Geneva foreshadows an intersection that could alter the fate of humankind. Harvard Law School and Human Rights Watch has issued a call to stop "killer robots."
    At the Convention on Conventional Weapons in Switzerland Human Rights Watch has expanded its case for the concept of "meaningful human control."   Put simply they make the good case that no robot should be programmed to kill nor should a tank or a weapons system be programmed to fire without human involvement. 
     This is not a sci-fi flight of fantasy, rather it is one of the profound ethical issues of our age.Do yourself and future generations a service by linking here for background.

    There is also the study that reports 80% of China's well water across the plains is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. That is a time bomb!

      See you down the trail.

Friday, April 8, 2016


Sun rise sweeping away pockets of fog in Cambria Ca.
    Investigative journalism resembles the good knight leading a charge against the high and mighty and the rich and powerful.
    An historic effort involving some 370 journalists from more than 75 nations is beginning to shape history itself. Already heads of states are stepping aside, powerful men and women are going into hiding, governments are shifting, legal probes have begun and this is just the beginning of the aftermath of the so called Panama Papers.
   Full disclosure here-much of my professional life was spent doing investigative reporting and documentaries. I'm biased but I consider the work one of life's most valuable callings. The recent film Spotlight provides a realistic glimpse into the work of investigative journalists. It requires devoted attention to detail, massive reading and research, hours spent pouring over documents, interviews, often with those who want nothing to do with you, or with victims of any number of crimes, offenses or disasters. I found time with the hurt, abused, cheated, ignored or helpless a continual grounding in the reason we devote so much of our life to pursing information and facts and looking for evidence of justice, help or understanding.
    The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism is unprecedented. The 11 million leaked documents have been organized and attacked by reporters, editors and writers around the world. Tax cheats, thieves, bankers, lawyers, government insiders in many nations are targeted. A team of journalists is laying out information and doing what no government in the world has done. This kind of exposure will bring heat as well as light.
    The Sacramento Bee, one of the McClatchy news group, a participant in the ICIJ, wrote, "The level of venality revealed by what are being called The Panama Papers, is mind-boggling and infuriating. It's the globalization of corruption and even more contemptible are political leaders who loot the public treasuries of their poor nations."
    Before this is over we will see more names and organizations. Russia's Putin, Mexico's Pena Nieto, the Chinese President, Pakistan's Prime Minister, Saudi Royals, Iceland's Prime Minister, athletes, film and entertainment figures, and others of "the rich and famous" are implicated. 
   Documents now come in digital files. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are in awe of the Panama Papers leak. In my era leaked documents were Zerox copies of sensitive information hidden or tucked in file cabinets. Stone age, huh? 370 journalists from many nations working together on a digital platform is exhilarating. Traditionally journalists are considered watch dogs. In this era of legislative nursery schools riven with impotence, gridlock and populated by ideological cry babies and in a time of money driven politics, it's encouraging to know the power of the press still has a bark.
     Some of the best investigative work comes from unlikely messengers-comedians. 
      In the last year HBO's John Oliver has tackled thorny and intricate issues with depth, understanding and ending with a laugh. Last Week Tonight has provided moments when the profane, illegal and corrupt are exposed as absurd and laughable. He is not alone. Seth Meyers of NBC's Late Night achieves humorous elucidation with his segment A Closer Look. Meyers is a brilliant writer. He probes, explores and lampoons leaving you informed and laughing. There is more of the same from Samantha Bee in her weekly TBS Full Frontal. Sam also examines with a lens that can include a contemporary feminist calibration. Her piece on the destruction of rape kits being a case in point.
      Oliver, Meyers and Bee are focused and tough. They are from the Jon Stewart style and school of Journalism. They put before the public critical matters, in an exploratory and examining manner. They are so adroit so they also make us laugh. We pay attention. 
      Whether by an international consortium or clever writing and performance, the matters these communicators bring before us demand our attention despite what power and privilege would prefer. Its good to see innovation in investigative story telling. 
     Driftwood architects had a field day on Moonstone Beach after a few days of active surf. Mindful of something from Castaway.
   See you down the trail.