Monday, March 30, 2015


     Those of us with Indiana ties have been busy the last several days following the avalanche.
      Since Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restorations Act (RFRA) we've been watching years of progress unspool.
      From a purely good government point of view, Mike Pence has failed, aided and abetted by politicians who are more interested in personal or political agendas than they are concerned about what is best for the state.
      It's been a media carnival. Companies are to stop to doing business there. Celebrities, politicians, educators, scholars and citizens are embarrassed and decry the event. Charles Barkley has even suggested the NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, pull the Final Four out of there. In the meantime, the NCAA is in emergency mode and distressed by the Governor's signature. Millions of dollars of convention trade and other business may wash out of Indiana. Three thousand people marched to the State House. 
      The stupidity of the Governor in signing the bill is trumped by the idiocy of his not listening to a chorus of people who warned him about it. Intelligent minds, business leaders, mayors, chambers of commerce, ministers, academics and legal scholars tried to wave the ambitious Mr. Pence away from signing. 
      It is a cynical political bill that seeks to take advantage of a loophole in Indiana code that does not specifically protect gay and lesbians from discrimination. Pence and his supporters won't acknowledge that. 
      There is a strong right wing and evangelical current that runs through Indiana and they have been apoplectic about recent advances in human rights that extend marriage, union and freedoms to LGBT people. Despite all of the "defense" that, "gee, we are only doing what the federal government did under Bill Clinton" their argument is instead the product of that California specimen pictured above.
     I've known Mike Pence since before he was a radio talk show star with political aspirations. Mike ran and lost over a a few years but he continued to learn how to play to a base. He was eventually elected to congress and left radio politics behind. Mike has been a clever media student. Though a little "slick" for my tastes he was smart in mastering "messages," but he blew it on ABC.
      5 or 6 times George Stephanopoulos gave the Governor a chance to answer a straight yes or no, "Can an Indiana business refuse to serve a gay or lesbian?"  Each time Governor Mike weaseled out of it, trying to turn the shame of the situation back onto an hysterical media. Again and again he was asked for a straight answer. He could have moved the issue a long way with an answer, but he was defensive, not candid. That in itself speaks volumes about what is wrong in Indiana.
     One of Pence's supporters, a right wing evangelical political power broker, with a long history of worrying about non heterosexual matters, opined as to how the RFRA will now empower people to refuse to serve gays or lesbians, if they feel their religious beliefs would be violated in doing so. He has influence and sway in the Indiana legislature. The legislation is in lock step with an obstinate mindset.
    There has been plenty of legal scholarship and debate on this measure. Many who supported the legislation Bill Clinton signed now say they regret it or that it wasn't necessary. But in Indiana, and probably in Arkansas, Mississippi, Arizona and other places of such "enlightenment" and intellectual vigor, the RFRA is a backdoor defensive block to the extension of human rights to people right wing evangelicals think are "sinful."  
     The Indiana bill creates confusion, lacks focus and will set up conflicts. That may be part of the intended flack. Scholars say it affects the delicate balance between religious liberty and other rights that was already in place after years of federal and state legislation, history, practice and precedence. Religious liberty is not strengthened by this ploy and is probably weakened by placing stresses on the precious balance that has been achieved and respected. Scholars argue that has been the history of RFRA laws.
     Mike Pence must not be as smart as I thought he was, or he is  blinded by political ambition and panders to the extreme religious right. Either way he is now the captain of the ship that may well sink decades of improvement that was inspired by and then presided over by people like Richard Lugar, William Hudnut, Steve Goldsmith, Bart Peterson, Bob Orr, Otis Bowen, Frank Obannon, Mitch Daniels and countless other Republicans and Democratrs who assisted these mayors and governors who worked to create a climate of progress in Indiana. Those bi-partisan and practical combined objectives for Indiana did not aspire to be on the Pence list of cronies-Mississippi, Arizona, Alabama, etc.
    The current Indianapolis Mayor and those of large Indiana cities were among the chorus who warned Governor Mike to toss the bill into the trash.  Instead it is Indiana that is being trashed.
     I've heard from many Indiana friends, including Republicans who are angry, embarrassed and fearful of what happens to a state they have served and for which they have aspirations. The bill was ill conceived and the state was ill served by the Governor's signature. Maybe Pence's presidential ambitions and the state's retrograde image can be halted by an "Indiana Spring."  
     An intellectual, moral, economic and political twilight could halt what has been three of decades of genuine advancement and a heady private-public participation. It is time for the light of decency and intelligence.

    See you down the trail.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


   There's a line in a commercial that says "California cows are contented cows." Why not, huh?
    Our "Heinz 57" Joy finds endless contentment in the garden.
    Author Henry Miller, who lived just a few miles north of our home said "I am constantly reminded that I am living in a virtual paradise."
     Amen to that!

   Spring's color wheel is at work on the coast,
  and on the hills and slopes.

Because they should be destroyed
    ISIS, a threat to the world, is a particularly challenging problem for Christians.
      Graeme Wood's What Isis Really Wants, in the March The Atlantic is an excellent examination of the menace and peril they pose and underscores why Christians are particularly challenged.  I've read and watched as much as I can, from a variety of sources and suggest Wood's article, even if you think you know all you need to about Isis.
      Followers of Jesus know that he taught to love your enemies, to forgive them, to pray for them. He admonished one of his closest followers who struck out at an enemy. He said to love your enemy is tantamount to pouring coals on their head. Nations do not live for salvation or redemption and their objectives are survival and not perfection or transcendence.
      One can advocate for a loving response and argue that  a measure beyond human justice will bear out the rightness. Some will disagree, but that is only coincidental. In a hard world of cultural and religious diversity, populated by a pastiche of beliefs, analysis, intellect and skepticism, a purely Christ like principle will not rise to the muscle of national strategic policy. This is a fully human dilemma, the kind of vile business that has been set before us in the former garden. And ISIS is a death cult, working to achieve its own religiously inspired belief they are agents of the Apocalypse.
      By civilized standards they are barbarians, ruthless with no respect for life, convinced of their "holy" mission and certain only they are right. They are a perversion of humanity, have twisted decency and justice and live as an evil strain.
      By idealized measure Christians should love them. Not to do so opens a calculus that becomes an entirely intimate equation and is for no human discussion. For those inclined it is a matter for regions of heart and soul and an accountability.  
      In this challenge, from this evil, in this time, in the practical realm of saving life, preventing destruction, stopping a lunatic movement, and destroying evil, ISIS should be eradicated. Their complete and total demise is the work of humanity, faithful or faithless, observant or atheist, contrite, convicted or contemptuous. All of us can then live with consequence, each according to our own. That is more than ISIS would ever permit.

     See you down the trail.

Monday, March 23, 2015


   Do you think it is possible to reach a place in the progression of human life where we cease to be human? That begs a number of questions, not the least of which is what is a human being?
    Nicholas Wade wrote in the New York Times of a call by eminent biologists to stop the use of genome editing that could change how human DNA is inherited. While it might cure genetic diseases it could also be used to change qualities like intelligence, physical development and more.
The scientists are concerned the technique will be used before the human race understands the ethical challenges such technology presents. Remember the old potboiler The Boys From Brazil? Imagine the bruisers the NFL could breed, for example!
     This exciting new science develops as humans continue to demonstrate a propensity to screw up and to exercise lack of judgement.
     A lawyer in Huntington Beach is a poster child of such.
Matt McLaughlin has proposed a California ballot proposition that would authorize the killing of gays and lesbians. It's a case that tests limits of free speech, but has caused a reaction that questions why can't something that would be illegal be stopped.  In the meantime some are trying to get McLaughlin disbarred. 
     So, back to the rise of amazing and fantastic science and the potential of human idiots and miscreants to get their hands on such. 
    We should never halt the progress of advancing knowledge, but we have probably reached a cross roads where ethics and implications need to be studied and weighed more arduously than ever.
     We are flirting with cyborgs as we implant new knees, shoulders, hips, heart valves and etc. A chip, placed in the brain to limit the effect of a neural and muscular disorder is a wonder, and so too is the potential of similar procedures to halt dementia. But is there a point at which we change what it means to be human?  This question is probably more relevant when considering artificial intelligence, though we are beginning to blur the lines and draw more closely to a change in the evolution of human life. Biology and nanotechnology present us with new horizons.
      There are bright minds and deep thinkers among us and they are pondering what used to be the stuff of science fiction and fantasy.  Do you think the balance of humanity is up for such deep thinking? Or are we populated by larger numbers who would rather prioritize their own desire to live longer, or to birth beautiful children, or create NBA superstars who can fly, or breed warriors who fight wars with unending force, etc?  What do you think? How should we enter this future?

An oddball assortment of images stuck in the corner file
 Spring fresh
   Palm Springs Patio mellow
  Patience at Lampton Cliff
   Hearst Castle via telephoto
 Barrel Room setting for a Zin Fest Weekend Winemakers Dinner at Le Vigne
  Wow & delicious!  

   See you down the trail.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Moonstone Beach, Cambria
      The rhythm and sound of the Pacific enhances any day.

"I do not like work, even when someone else does it."
Mark Twain

   Tennis champion Rafa Nadal taking a practice break in 93 degree heat at Indian Wells. 
   The BNP Paribas Open offers this blogger a chance to indulge his sports photography fantasy.
   The great Serena Williams during a practice session.

      Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray with a power drink.
   Nadal's eyes laser focused on the ball.
   Exercising his tick of putting his hair behind his ear.
   Eugenie Bourchard and shadow in a post shot single leg stance.
   Bouchard arching on a serve.
 Alize Cornet finishes a backhand.
   Andy Murray ready to deliver on a serve. His is one of the games best.
 Murray and shadow are airborne after a return. Notice the ball at his knee.
 Grigor Dimitrov in two phases of a great backhand during practice

   The fourth ranked Caroline Wozniacki going for a shot in a game and match she would loose.
   Canadian Star Milos Raonic demonstrates the intensity of waiting for a shot.
    When discussing careers my high school guidance counselor missed a couple of options-Tennis and Winemaker. Wonder what Twain would say about those lines of "work?" 

      See you down the trail.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Pulling Back

     Dear Isis,
          We are writing on behalf of Senator Tom Cotton and 46 Republicans in the US Senate. They have your sense of humor and mental agility.  Please adopt them and send them to one of your summer camps. You would do America a great favor by doing so.
Americans for the Constitution


    Spring Scenes from the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve in Cambria and the town square in Paso Robles.

     Dear Vlad-
         We are writing on behalf of Tom Cotton and 46 Republican Senators who we think you should adopt. They are people of action, just like you. They are unhappy in America and don't like our President. Please give them your strongest embrace and if for some reason they upset you, send them out on the streets near the Kremlin. They won't be missed by thinking people.
Americans for the Constitution

See you down the trail.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


                    San Simeon Ca
     To begin, it is not the model of appropriate 21st Century behavior to be, at worst, a hate filled racist bigot or, at  best, so insensitive as to sing about lynching using a racial epithet. 
    To be such and to additionally be so stupid as to do it in the presence of cameras makes you a laughing stock of the planet and puts you in the same league as ISIS. You are not worthy of humanity.
    The SAE Chapter at the University of Oklahoma deserves sanction and the University community has responded strongly, as civilized people must.
    What mystifies this blogger is not so much the twisted reasons someone could enjoy such a song and message but how anyone at a university could participate in this day and age with cameras rolling. Even human swamp slugs know of political correctness or standards of acceptance and decency. College students? Heaven help us! 

       SIESTA  San Simeon, Ca
       SUNNING  San Simeon Ca

      MUNCHING, Highway 1 Hearst Ranch

     Many a man has fallen in love with a girl in a light so dim he would not have chosen a suit in it.
                              Maurice Chevalier

    See you down the trail.