Wednesday, November 15, 2017


converging forces
     Fault lines and fissures are cracking social and political order with a force that will leave everything changed
     At ground zero are sexual politics, power, international order and reality.
the lunacy of one
    The US was booed, jeered and delegates walked out when trump's representative spoke to the World Climate Change Conference in Bonn.
      This administration was there to tout coal and nuclear energy. Defending fossil fuels earned the scorn of most of the 200 nations attending. The US is the only nation on the planet to exit the Paris Climate Agreement.
      Can anyone with common sense not see as ludicrous the nature of being the only nation not to understand the imperatives of climate change? It is ignominy, but inevitable when a man of such "intellect" occupies the White House.

the webs we weave

an orb spider taking care of business
 a characteristic of the orb spider is to rebuild the web each day...we watched this one over the course of a week
and it always had something on the line

men stuck in webs

the left must square their own sexual abuse excuses
      More men in power are falling in disgrace as the seismic force of #metoo revelations bring a scope of accountability to sexual assault and harassment. 
      Steve Jurvetson is stepping down as partner of a powerful Silicon Valley VC firm. After allegations of harassment, Jurvetson exits Draper, Fisher and Jurvetson which he co founded in 1985. They have been a huge player 
in tech. Jurvetson is also leaving the boards of Tesla and Space X.
      The tech industry is ripe with a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination. The millionaire boys club culture is getting rocked.
     California Democrat Senate leader Kevin de Leon will hire an outside firm to investigate a growing list of allegations of a "culture of sexual harassment" in the legislative branch in the state capitol. 
     Traditionally the Senate Rules Committee investigates such allegations. This disrupts California Senate tradition and many read that as a signal of how serious will be the probe.
      De Leon's move has irritated some. He is an insurgent candidate seeking to replace veteran US Senator Diane Feinstein.
      In fact he is from Arkansas but conscientious Democrats and liberals are actually agreeing with their Republican and conservative counterparts it is time to address Bill Clinton's sexual adventures. One cannot challenge the behavior of a Roy Moore and try to weasel away from Clinton's destructive behavior, even if Clinton's affairs were with consenting adults. 
      Clinton's personal shame and "bimbo eruptions" distracted his administration and many blame it for weakening the party. Al Gore may have had better luck if he didn't have the Clinton shame around his neck. Some will tell you Hillary Clinton may have been a more winning personality if her husband had not been such a sex dog.
     No Bill Clinton is not accused of molesting teens, but his accusers say he was a serial philanderer. Excusing Clinton's behavior may have enabled a culture of harassment where sex, power and manipulation mingled. 
    I wonder how this time of revelation and falls may affect the serial adulterer and self avowed sexual predator who snuck into the White House. trump had threatened to sue the women who accused him of sexual assault. I wonder if those accusations will come back to center stage. Should they?
the idiot and the bomb
    It is appropriate the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tackles the issue of a President's capacity to singularly initiate a nuclear strike. The question and the protocol is fraught with complexity and nuance, but the probe is certainly appropriate given who this president is. I would never have imagined I'd call the President an ignorant buffoon, but I never imagined this president. 

     These are strange times. 

     See you down the trail.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Mother and child and mother to be and their reflections and their shadows

   In the impossible task of absorbing the shock of another mass shooting, many of us default to a worry about our kids and grandkids.
    Though we cannot grasp the agony of the survivors the mere thought escalates our concern about the world next generations will inherit.
       A lifetime as a journalist leaves me looking for something
beyond the loss. This time we hear coverage that draws the connection between spousal abuse and domestic violence and the shooter. In fact it is a damning link in most mass shootings.
       Will we-the collective we-the people and those we elect-finally do something?

california central coast rain season begins

    Heavy skies, morning banks of fog in valleys, cats who detest wet paws and lack of sunshine, signal a season change.
   It is a time when green begins to return.

hiding the green
    More than 90 media organizations around the planet cooperated in the latest iteration of the "Paradise Papers" and have discovered how $Trillions have been sheltered in off shore havens, mostly illegally at worst and sneakily, at best.
    Plenty of embarrassing stories and links have surfaced. We should expect some of the mighty to fall out of favor and perhaps into legal nets. We wonder how long Wilbur Ross and his top adviser will remain out of the fire since both have ties and have been profiting from a company with direct ties to the Kremlin. Ross, who was a king of predatory default practises should never have been appointed Commerce Secretary. This latest revelation is an offense to honest government.
     We wonder if the Mueller probe is looking at the business arrangements of the man child tweeter in chief. Do you think he has seen the orange lout's taxes?

speaking of the kremlin
and non-fake (that would be real) news
    We continue to learn how pervasive was and is the kremlin involvement in Facebook and Twitter. The scale of misinformation and disinformation is massive, and without precedent in modern history.
     Millions of social media users received, read, and perhaps believed lies. It has been part of the effort of Vladimir Putin to undermine US citizens' belief in American institutions and leaders. This is fact, regardless of whether or not the trump organization knew about it and/or willingly participated.
     And, the Russians continue to gnaw away.

and it happens as we euthanize traditional media
    The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University notes that between 45% to 85% of all original reporting is done by newspapers then picked up by other media. Now, factor in this fact-since 2000 20 thousand news jobs have been eliminated and revenues have dropped by some $20 Billion.
     When I retired as a news executive 10 years ago the trend had begun. The good old days are gone. Some of the problem is self inflicted. News by flavor, a horrible contribution of the sexual predator Roger Ailes, has helped to undermine believability. Deregulation of the industry turning news operations into "profit centers" did plenty of long lasting damage. The change in US lifestyle and new technology antiquated some delivery systems-afternoon newspapers-even some morning papers-the tired and frequently silly format of television news and the nature of the content itself. 
     As we look at the new information landscape and understand how many people take their information from social media and learn how contrived that is, it all points to the continuing dumbing down of the population. Poorly informed, mis-informed, and manipulated consumers make terrible choices. Our present political reality is the proof of all of that. 
      Artificial reality, altered reality, are coming in on the heels of this age of "reality" politics and we are wading into deeper trouble.

something wonderful
    Playing at an art theater near you is the extraordinary and brilliant film Loving Vincent.  It is billed as the first fully painted film and it is a marvel to see, a masterpiece in its own right.
    Take a look at the trailer here. Many artists spent thousands of hours creating something unlike anything you've seen. It is a fascinating mystery story as well.

    See you down the trail.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


another kind of mansplaining
    Sexual politics is shifting and changing the human landscape as undeniably as the Mud Creek landslide has changed the Big Sur coast line.
    It has been healing and cathartic that victims have been able to surface old assaults and unburden themselves. It has also been a time of discussion and soul searching for men.
    A longtime friend and former colleague said it well in a post  that is stacked to the right of this piece. In Bob's You've got a Lot to Learn he offers a candid voice to what should be a growing male chorus. Some of our sex, not all of us, are jerks.
     From what I've read Ratner, Weinstein, Oreskes, Halperin and others are more than jerks, they are losers. Their behavior of assault or unwanted contact, public masturbation and such makes them scum among men. They are the true deplorables.  
     Real men, gentlemen as was once a description, do not force or coerce intimacy nor are they abusers of authority. 
     Full disclosure here; I am a romantic. I have enjoyed the sexual encounters in my life because they have been sensitive, sharing, mutually pleasurable, sensual in the best form of the word, kind, loving, focused and consuming. Sensual intimacy between two people can be as honest and clarifying as any thing we do. 
     My route to such an understanding may not be normal. My father, who was a DI and responsible for turning boys into soldiers also had to teach his charges about the venereal diseases and the sex business that awaited WWII inductees off base or in foreign climes. I got the benefit of that education, including films, as an elementary school lad. It was straightforward. My father also taught me to treat women with respect "especially when things get personal, and they will at your age."
     My hormones switched on like they do when you are a teen, but I knew I probably would not be a good lover (that was an appropriate word in that era) because while I had desire, I had no experience. At the time I was coming of age I worked as a copy boy and stringer for a metropolitan newspaper. The editor made a list of the "play for pay" houses in the city-the red light houses. You may see where this is going.
     My virginity was offered up to a professional who clearly understood my naiveté and innocence. Instead of being an awkward situation she made it a time of understanding, learning and initiation into adulthood. In time I also learned about the path of her life and that of others who found themselves earning a living as they did. That offered another course of learning, helpful to kid who wanted to be a journalist. It was a good course in life 101.
    As my dating years unfolded relationships could develop that hinged on more than sexual ardor. It helped eliminate the objectification of women as dates for sexual conquests. Back in our day, there was a lot of that. Probably still is. When relationships moved to physical intimacy there was mutual respect and sensitivity. 
   We do not all share values and this is indeed a diverse world, but in personal relationships as well as in intimacy, respect is a foundation. 
    I think civilization has done a great disservice to men and women by creating images and expectations, rituals and beliefs, hang ups and games, attitudes and values about sexual relationships. People have been damaged, clearly. And so has that most personal of interactions. People in tender intimacy, physical or emotional, is a beautiful thing. It's a shame it can be messed up. And it seems the biggest jerks are of my sex. Like my friend Bob, I too apologize.

good old times
     If you were around Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach or the LA South Bay area in the mid 70's you may recall Barabas and their lively sound.
     Yes that is David Shelton, Michael David Lassiter and David Root, minus the rhythm section. They were in Cambria for a reunion of old friends that span the decades and the country. Those 3 alone make a wonderful sound. Time has been kind to their talent.

a sign of our times
     Spotted in Morro Bay at the Estero Bay United Methodist Church.
     It is certainly clear the values at work here and that is a transition to King Deplorable.
     For the longest time I have thought donald trump is simply a loud mouth, loutish, ego freak and idiot. I suspect the Russians have him on a hook because he is in debt to them, getting in deeply when American banks cut him off after his many failures-facts that supporters never believed. I've thought it was just about money, which in his world is his idol. However now I'm beginning to wonder if he might not in fact have been in collusion with the Russians.
     trump's comment about American justice being "a joke, a laughing stock" does exactly what the national security and intelligence community have said the Russians want to do and that is undermine American's belief in their systems. Nothing does that more than when the president-illegitimate though he may be, bad mouths our bed rock virtues. It is one thing for citizen Dick or Jane to offer up such invective. It is damned near a crime for the president to say that. stooge, colluder or merely sexual predator who pulled the wool over a lot of eyes, trump is a menace. he belongs on the trash heap of history. If Weinstein, then why not trump?

    See you down the trail. 


Thursday, October 26, 2017


High Sierra range fence on California 245
Delta, framed by nature
So where are the yellow bellied sap suckers?
Remember that line from old cowboy movies and shows?
 Out of business and left in a hurry

      Great memories from kid hood are the summers we spent in the Rockies. Now that I'm in a second edition of kid hood, I can't get enough of the Sierra.
       The timeless architecture and vast expanse of the mountains tend to open my mind similarly. 
        In earlier life I was on the board of the President Benjamin Harrison Home in Indianapolis. I took pride that Harrison was the President who signed Yosemite National Park into existence. I always reflect on that when wandering the through the Sierras. 

        Cultural norms were vastly different from 1889 to 1893 when Harrison was President, which only underscores the historic and contemporary importance of what he said. 
         This point alone demonstrates how far Republican Presidential values have plummeted under the current occupant.
         Millions of US citizens await the fall of this president who seems to become more atrocious by the hour. The majority of voters did not want him, but there is still the almost unbelievable support of those who voted for him. It is as if there is nothing that will dissuade them.
        I share here a letter I penned to the editor of the local paper. As noted, it seems to encapsulate this matter of trumpistas.
       The Letter to the Editor section on Thursday, October 26 (Opera SLO-an accusation and a response) is a perfect capture, in microcosm, of the "roots" of the divide and rancor threatening America today.
       Elise Cassel and Juan Hovey of Santa Maria talked about being "...stunned-appalled" to see a character in Madame Butterfly drag an American flag across the stage floor. 
       The writers then castigated Opera San Luis for a willingness to "exploit" and "make gratuitous and contemporary political statement." That's venomous enough but they said they would end financial support.
         What followed was an eloquent response from Brian Asher Alhadeff of Opera San Luis explaining the scene was part of the story and script dating to 1898 and was how Giacomo Puccini staged it beginning in 1904. 
         It is American to express points of view, but it is intelligent to speak with a sense of knowledge, history, context and understanding. Sadly this is an age when people are full of self righteous indignation and opinions which are not grounded in fact or truth. Still they spew. They even vote motivated by anger and ignorance.
         I hope Mr. Alhadeff's detailed analysis and kind and sympathetic response to those who feel aggrieved may assuage their bitterness and hair trigger response. His letter is an example of how to respond to those who are  judgmental, without knowing of what they speak. 
         Taken in a larger context, that is to include the White House and those who support the present occupant, it is a lesson of how to relate to the self righteous, narrow minded and bigoted who are bereft of intelligence, reasoning, knowledge of history or logic. 
         While the accusations of the writers are symbolic of what is epidemic in the US, being as intolerant in response will not dissuade "true believers." The way out of the deadlock just might be a demonstration of kindness laced with genuine knowledge. 
          I hope the writers will reconsider their support for Opera SLO.

       Well, we can hope, right?

      See you down the trail.

Monday, October 23, 2017


under autumn skies

   A first trip to a pumpkin patch many choices...
    ...and look where it ends up

the trump dump stumps even chumps
   The most important thing about the president's conversation with a widow is that she felt "hurt" and worse after the call.
    That is no surprise given the man's lack of couth and compassion, but it is not acceptable in a chief executive and commander in chief.
    All US citizens, especially those who voted for the jerk owe 
the family an apology.
   The inept senate and congressional republicans got a kick in the teeth from their president. His tax plan shuts down their  silly and likely to fail plan. Another case of the dumber leading the dumb.
   The junk yard rat man, formerly the reich minister, aka steve bannon certainly knows how to wins friends eh? Did you see where he wants to purge the republican party and has targeted most members of his nominal party in the senate? Sorry folks, this kind of arrogance and venom looks and smells like reconstituted nazi politics from the early 30's in Germany. Bannon is a dangerous kook. 

    It has been an amazing and cathartic process to watch the bodies continue to fall. More sexual predators are being brought low by the current wave of revelation and justice.
      We should remember donald trump has also been accused of sexual assault. What are the odds of seeing the work of justice in this case?

all treat, no tricks
time flies so an annual splurge is a joy
harvest season is a time of gratitude 

    Cheers!  See you down the trail.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


   The Sierras are their domain and they roam as they wish.
    This is a young bear and not fully grown. He or she was rooting for a mid morning snack about 10 foot off the trail.

   We encroach into their wilderness with our cleverness.
   Still nature is the dominant component of the equation.

    Normally good spirited and cheerful, Californians have been understandably heavy hearted the last two weeks.
     The horror and fiery devastation has been cut into our psyche. We all have friends in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and points north or south. We've read the heartbreaking accounts of loss of life and destruction of homes, businesses and life dreams. The loss seems incalculable and personal.
     I was particularly taken by what Thomas Fuller, the San Francisco Bureau chief of the New York Times wrote. 
Thomas Fuller, the San Francisco bureau chief for The New York Times, describes his experience covering the fires in Northern California.
I keep a satellite phone in the trunk of my car, the same one I used to cover disasters and insurgencies in places like Myanmar and Nepal. But I never thought I would need it in Napa Valley, not for a wildfire anyway. 
During a week spent covering the fires in Northern California, I fell back on my training as a foreign correspondent: finding the satellite on the smoky horizon, locking in the phone’s antenna and dictating paragraphs to patient editors. 
But this was not a foreign land. It was my own country, and the conveniences that we take for granted had collapsed. Traffic lights went black and commerce shut down. 
Streets that were normally filled with tourists in the charming towns of wine country were deserted except for crews of exhausted firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and a few reporters. In the evacuation zones, rows of destroyed houses made it feel like a country at war, emptied of its civilian population. 
Small fires seemed to pop up everywhere. As I raced down narrow country roads to meet deadlines, I caught glimpses of smoldering embers on tree stumps a few feet away. I felt vulnerable while driving through tunnels of vegetation — it would be easy to be surrounded by fire and trapped. 
Everything smelled of smoke: my clothes, my car, my bag, my fingers. 
I feel enormously grateful to the dozens of people who took the time to articulate their grieving, some while standing in the rubble of their homes. The fires stripped away their privacy. Their kitchens, their exercise equipment, their hobbies — their lives — were in cinders at our feet. 
I think back to meeting Lisa Layman, her azure eyes staring at the ashes of her home at Coffey Park in Santa Rosa. She was recovering from cancer and recently had a kidney removed. The night before, she had escaped with her Bible and a scrapbook of her son’s early years. That is all she had
It is a reporter’s job to bring empathy to disasters like this. But I wondered how I could ever comprehend the magnitude of her loss.
  There were all too many times when my assignments 
put me at locations of devastation-tornados, floods, fires, explosions, hazardous waste derailing or leaks when I asked myself the same question. This week millions of Californians are mulling such.

   I'm not a fan of "piling on" when someone is down, but the #metoo response in the wake of Harvey Weinstein being taken down is healthy. 
    Though sadly delayed, by years, the news finally exposed Weinstein's loutish behavior. His fall from power and influence is stunning and appropriate. We are still waiting for justice for those women who donald trump sexually assaulted. We can hope another fall is in order.

    See you down the trail

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


twilight for the elders?
    They are the largest and among the oldest living things on  planet earth and after thousands of years they are in peril.
     A recent retreat to Sequoia National Park and the Sequoia National Forest produced a shocking bit of information.
     The keepers of these ancients say that because of global climate change they can no longer guarantee the health and well being of the giants.

    I am among those who are awed, inspired and spiritually moved by the magnificence of these ancients. They have stood silent witness to the history of this globe for millennia. 
     Now we are told that, for whatever reason(s) you may chose to ascribe as the cause(s), the climate change is doing what nothing else has, threatening these giant elders of life  on this blue marble.

     It seems we are of an age where we must endure and brave incalculable loss and violence to our own species and to our elders.

straight news
    All news organizations have spent more time dealing with Donald Trump's character than with his policies according to new data from the Pew Research organization.
     This is true for news operations with right or left leaning audiences and for those with a mixed audience.
      However the research on over 3000 stories found a wide variance in the "sources" used by the 24 news platforms that were studied. The important take away is that right leaning news organizations used fewer sources, fewer types of sources and less comparison in their reporting.
      Right leaning news organizations offered more positive and fewer negative evaluations of trump and the reporters "were less likely to challenge something the president said than those with audiences that were more balanced or were left leaning."

     It is telling that the lowest use of Trump or his administration as a source for reporting came from the right leaning administration. That combined with the fact right leaning news groups used fewer sources in reporting a story should be a warning to those who rely on them.

    Californians are shell shocked and deeply saddened by the fires in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino. The devastation and loss of life is horrendous. To our friends in that part of the state, the best we can do for you now is send prayers and thoughts. Rebuilding efforts will prompt more response later.

      See you down the trail.