Monday, April 24, 2017


     Sometimes it's all about how you see it.  
about the labels
     A preposterous misunderstanding is roiling through the American body politic, weaponizing words and good intentions. 
     The phrase is political correctness. If you are interested there is a study of the origins and how it has become a cudgel in cultural debate.
      The short course is this; at its origin it was used in the 1940's in debates about "proper" political dogma in communist discussions about Stalin. The point was to divine the "correct" party line. Stalin slaughtered "incorrect" opponents in massive purges. The phrase was a marginal concept known only to those who  studied communism or socialism. 
      Scholars say the phrase gained some usage in the early 1970's when Tony Cade Bambara wrote in The Black Woman:An Anthology "...a man cannot be politically correct and a male chauvinist too..." 
      In the early '70's progressives and feminists began to use the idea of political correctness as a way to avoid offensive speech, phrases and ideas. It was a kind of code to raise sensitivities about things that once had been acceptable but were no longer. It was an age of combating segregation, sexism, and speaking of people as "retarded," "cripples," "spics" "beaners" "Wops" "Jewing down the price" "chicks" and you can supply your own list. Old traditions and ways of speaking, seen in modern light, were as offensive as "colored" drinking fountains, red lining in banking, sexual harassment of women in the work place, sitting in the back of the bus or discrimination of any sort. Offensive and illegal traditions and old ways were considered politically incorrect.
       The phrase went from there to being almost a satire of itself. Sensitive and even insensitive people began to use it as a lighthearted lampoon about all manner of thing. It became a kind of sarcasm and joke, especially among those pushing for change. Still it was not widely used and certainly not part of the daily lexicon. 
       At the same time colleges and universities began to adjust curricula adding courses in feminism and the changing racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. Traditionalists, who did not like the way culture was changing, were unhappy. One of those was Allan Bloom who wrote The Closing of the American Mind in 1987. He railed against liberal philosophy and the changing of American education. In tying together the evolution of education and the change in the face of America he used the phrase political correctness as a pejorative. The phrase began to get more mileage, mostly from conservative or right wing ideologues who were opposed to the changing standards, culture and times.
       In the early 90's the word became weaponized. It became a code word for liberal, or liberal politics, progressives, changes in curriculum, education, or those who pushed against sexism, racism, and discrimination. What had been a word used mostly among academics became a red meat word and a political hammer used by conservatives. It was as if they had a flame thrower to scorch all ideas they opposed. Right wing think tanks dumped a lot of ink and time in using the word as a discrediting tool. Liberal ideas could be destroyed if they were labeled as "political correctness."
       It is only fair to mention there is also a conservative correctness. The most virulent form is book banning, or seeking to censor film, television, video games and other creative enterprise. As a small example, cafeterias in the US House of Representatives changed French Fries and French Toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast when France opposed the US invasion of Iraq. Members of the Freedom Caucus in the House remain some of the most adamant attackers of ideas they oppose by means of condemnation using "politically correct." Trump has taken up the tool twisting it to "fake news" and "enemy of the people."
true words
    By most accepted definitions CONSERVATIVES are those committed to traditional values and ways of doing things and are opposed to change. Conservatives favor free enterprise, private ownership and socially conservative ideas. Conservatives favor as little government as possible, especially at the federal level. Conservatives are somewhat averse to change. They believe government should protect private property. Conservatives believe there are too many regulations and too much government interference in business. They oppose government changing culture.
       LIBERALS are open to new ideas, opinions and intellectual liberty. They favor progress and believe in the essential goodness of people. They favor protection of civil liberties and believe government is responsible for correcting social inequities in race, gender and class. Liberals believe government should protect individual liberty. They favor free trade. Liberals believe government regulations should protect individuals from the abuses of industry and corporations. 
       Now, I'm sure almost everyone, regardless of where you align, will find something you think I got wrong. I'm simplifying. And over the years the manifestations of liberal and conservative philosophy and politics have morphed.  
       free speech
       As an absolutist on the first amendment I understand that right wingers can zing liberals and if they choose liberals can zing back. That is part of the rough and tumble of our system. But as a journalist, I'm a stickler for getting it right and using the right words.  
       Even Bill Maher, a liberal snarkster, got it wrong. Like right wing ideologues he points to recent campus disturbances where a speaker has been barred, cancelled or denied a right to speak because, he said, of "liberals" in academia pushing political correctness.  Bull shit, to use a word understood on both sides of the spectrum. 
       Liberals don't deny free speech, fascists do. Anyone who advocates denial of a right to free speech, no matter how offensive or politically weighted, is not a liberal or an intellectual conservative. 
       Someone at a university who may fancy themselves a progressive or a liberal and who would agitate against the appearance of a speaker, film, production or whatever just lost the right to call themselves a liberal. The function of their behavior is fascism or totalitarianism. They would deny an individual civil liberty. They can gripe and protest, but not deny-that disqualifies them.
      A conservative who would seek to deny the right of someone to speak certainly betrays an adherence to traditional values. What can be a more traditional value than the bill of rights? Conservatives can gripe and protest as well, but not deny.
      The bottom line is simple. Those who seek to deny full access to the rights of the first amendment should be called what they are, fascists. Sorry if this pulls the steam out of a favorite conservative charge. Sorry if this unnerves some professor who fancies herself or himself a "progressive" or liberal. It's time for the media to get it right and to be precise. 
       This is the age of information. Accuracy matters. And besides that, there should be nothing considered off limits in the realm of academia or the church. If you can't consider or study something, controversial, challenging to your ideas, or even an evil, in the halls of academy or a place of faith, then what's the point? What's the value? You might as well turn off the lights, go home and devolve into superstitious, uninformed, science rejecting, close minded barbarians burning those books or dissertations in bonfires.

celebrating mother
    Pulling in an evening blanket...of fog.

     This years crop of fava beans. Frequent readers know of our fondness for this labor intensive crop. You can read Romancing the Fava here. With this fullness of growth it is for the first harvest. 

  Green Space Cambria celebrating mother earth in a beautiful green space. 
O really?pt 2
     Bully mouth Bill O'Reilly may show up someplace else, but his banishment from Fox News was good to see. You have to wonder though when Fox News founder Roger Ailes and his superstar are dumped because of sexual harassment, how much can you trust what comes out of that sort of culture, especially on matters of women's rights, health, income equality and even sexual harassment in the work place? Fair and balanced?
      Then consider right wing radio and web screamer Alex Jones who has launched some of the most absurd theories and "facts" who now says it's only performance art. You wonder if those on the right who feed on Fox, O'Reilly, Jones and Limbaugh are feeling less secure in their "rightness" since their pantheon are dirty old men with feet of clay? 
And we include in that audience the predator in chief. Dirty Donny feeds on Fox and was a frequent guest on Alex Jones. That's no fake news. Just a fake president.

       See you down the trail.

Monday, April 17, 2017


     A smackdown is coming. The overwhelming lack of public support versus the heavy handed nature of the Trump cabal sets a collision course. We'll get to that after visiting a ghost  conjured recently by yet another dust up--the clash of the man child leader of North Korea and his American equal. 
        It happened at the height of the cold war on an afternoon in an old classroom in Garfield Elementary School in Muncie Indiana.
        Third grade teacher Mrs. Rogers signaled yet another "duck and cover" drill. We'd seen film strips, movies, heard a Civil Defense presentation and certainly had our fill of posters. Atomic bomb mushroom clouds. Horrible, ominous dark rising swells of hell in the shape of a mushroom. Mushroom clouds were big in those days. If you had a TV set you'd see Civil Defense warning announcements. You'd see no end to mushroom cloud explosions at the movies and in those incessant films they played in the grade schools. 
      Seeing the test footage clips of houses, dummies, cars and buildings suddenly obliterated in fireballs and fiery wind storms we had a pretty good idea of what the "A" bomb could do. Some of us had mushroom cloud nightmares. That meant the campaign was working of course. The remedy? Duck and cover. 
      We would frequently interrupt the sacred process of a third grade education to learn to "save ourselves" by ducking under our desks-the old wooden variety complete with an inkwell, and covering our head. No random manner of covering allowed. No indeed, there was a proscribed technique of covering the back of your neck and head while essentially kissing your ass-good by. At least that's how I read it, as a third grader.
      It was the first time I was called incorrigible. Mrs. Rogers singled me out, told me I was a bad influence, that I was risking the lives of my Garfield third grade classmates. Why-because I refused to duck and cover.  It wasn't just rebellion. It came with reasoning that I tried to explain. 
      After seeing those army test houses vaporized and blown to smithereens complete with flying glass, furniture and telephone poles, I simply tried to make my case that ducking under our desks would do no good. Instead of miraculously saving our lives, permitting us to climb out of the ashes of a nuclear armageddon so we could go on with a reading lesson, we would just be vaporized or burned to a crisp while cowering under a desk in some unholy body twist.  
      You know, a third grade kid just doesn't get a fair shot in the world of adult logic. Mrs. Rogers was having none of it and I was as insistent about the futile stupidity of thinking we could save our lives in an atomic bomb blast by ducking and covering.  Incorrigible? Yea, maybe. Insistent certainly and an early adapter in reading the bull shit of adults. 
       How about a bouquet to the incorrigibles of Garfield elementary school! Charlotte, Connie, Benny and Tommy seemed to get on board with the logic. It's pretty much a haze now, but I can't remember doing those crazy duck and cover drills when we began to talk to our parents who, like most in those days, thought the PTA or PTO was an organization that had influence. I think they began to back off on some of the A-Bomb mushroom cloud propaganda as well. Too many kids were having bad dreams, or belly aches and the like. 
life below trump tower
      Those days of nuclear worry aren't so distant for those who live on the west coast since a strange little north Korean tin god has been trying to join the nuclear club and since our orange bully has threatened to take care of Kim Jung Un if he tries to threaten the US or makes into the nuke club.
      Intellectual weaklings, emotional children with war clubs-that's what we have. 
      Some, including a few from my decades in journalism have asked why after years of neutrality and trying to be objective have I been so nasty about the president. The answer is simple-I'm a civilian now and while that simply frees me to express an opinion it is in fact the sheer lack of competence and character of the president that compels me. Not in my life has such a jack ass achieved such influence. It is tragic because the majority of Americans rejected the buffoon, his tasteless noveau riche opulence and his despicable character. There should be a law that a minority president cannot reverse majority policy nor take to redefining how Americans conduct diplomacy. 
behaving like a dictator
    More than a handful of groups are going after the lout in chief for his boast he will not release records of who visits the White House. The man who said he was going to drain the swamp is now planning to end transparency. The previous President posted daily logs of visitors. Failure to do so undermines our laws and it shows he does not want to be accountable. Refusing to report to his employers, the American tax payer, who visits our White House is the trick of a dictator as is his broken promise to show his tax returns. What's he trying to hide?
     So to those who have wondered, I never thought I would be disrespectful to a President. Never did I think I would call the commander in chief a fool, idiot, lout, predator, liar, cheat, con man, hustler, sexual molester, narcissist or Russian stooge, but then I never thought America would stoop to such lows either. This president is a disgrace.
     Here's to the day we can climb out of the trump latrine.

important history
     The Zookeeper's Wife is an extraordinary film. It's historical sweep, passionately told and powerful story and superb acting make it a must see. Jessica Chastain is one of the best actresses working. Daniel Bruhl also deserves raves as do the animals and their trainers. And we must never forget this story or that larger event in history.  There was a time I thought such a thing could never happen again. I'm not so sure anymore.

     See you down the trail.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


   San Simeon Cove, CA
   Sometimes we move against great force. It must be part of our nature. Cause, purpose, even folly motivate or drive us.

      Lampton Cliff Cambria CA
   Some have reached a kind of TED talk time of life, a point where you actually know something and have something to offer but the expiration date on who cares is speeding and the audience is onto something new. It seems wisdom and reflection count for less.
the tech addiction
    The intuitive part of the human machine hums a need to integrate, calibrate, make sense instead of a dash, made madly into the next disruption. But that very phone you may be reading this on is rewiring your brain.
     CBS's 60 Minutes explored phone addiction and reports the phone is a "drug of choice" for many. Tristan Harris a former product manager at Google laid out the premise in a report the tech industry found fascinating but, like the tobacco industry with medical reports, has done nothing correctively.
      A fellow who studied neuroscience, Ramsay Brown, a co founder of Dopamine Labs explained how they write code for apps and programs that manipulate your brain to respond in specific ways. More than just a tool, our screens are programming our behavior. 
disruption politics
      The president's short attention span and his penchant for changing the subject is a disturbing though accurate symbol/poster of what can happen, indeed what is happening to the American mind.
      Absorption into celebrity, low information, high emotion, no knowledge or appreciation of history, the inability to reason with complexity combine with quick, mindless responses. That not only nails the lout who sits in the White House but the direction we seem headed as we move more deeply into our technological metamorphosis. 
      Unless it is big, flashy, is "trending" or has an alarm tone or buzz, we are missing things.
     Are you among the surprised and curious about the China Summit. It all seemed to disappear when the order to launch a missile strike against Syria came from firebase Maralago. Breaking news and distraction over substance and detail.
      The administration has no consistent foreign policy and is preciously short on expertise. That's why experienced hands were surprised by a summit so early in what has been a chaotic administration. Another evidence of the change the subject/short attention span syndrome of the orange throne. 
      The Bottom Line? The Chinese President Xi Jinping was offended by the break in protocol when the Syrian missile launch intruded on the summit. The Chinese are big on a protocol, but it's possible no one on the Trump team knew that. (There was no imperative on the time of the missile response, just an impulsive act.)
      In another failure there was no deal on North Korea. But the biggest news is that talk tough trumpster got no where on the trade issue or the currency manipulation. In fact insiders say he will break his oft stated campaign promise to label China a currency manipulator. Real art of the deal success eh? More show and no substance. More lies.
paying attention
       As our intrepid big surf swimmers were watching the wall of water they missed the gull who buzzed them. While we get exorcised about a Jenner in a Pepsi commercial, or missiles to Syria-that achieved nothing btw-we are missing more important questions. 
       The lout on the orange throne who sadly has the title president called David Farenthold a nasty guy. Farenthold is the Washington Post reporter who investigated the fraud of the Trump philanthropy learning that the "millions" trump said he gave to veterans organization was yet another lie. As he dug deeper into the trump-dumpster he also uncovered proof of the lout's sexual predatory behavior. Farenthold won the 2017 Pulitzer for his investigation of Trump's financial lies.

      against the current
     So we've come to a time when those who care need to understand the social currents that are slowly cheapening our values and institutions. AND we need to be mindful of the wonderful technology that can also be abused and even abuse us. Talking, writing, posting in ways to inform. Doing what we can to keep the focus on the aberrant and disgusting nature of the current regime. We do our selves and our children a favor by resisting and not permitting this regime to adopt a place of normalcy. He is a minority president and a man of terrible character and he does not represent the majority nor our better American values.While it may be tedious to say and read this repeatedly, failure to do  so contributes to a "normalizing" and eventually an acceptance of style, substance and technique. We can't go there.

    See you down the trail.

Friday, April 7, 2017


tomorrow is here
    So, how would you like this? A Stockholm work space, Epicenter, is offering to implant workers with free RFID microchips. 
     The Hustle reports the chips are the size of a grain of rice to be implanted between the thumb and index finger. Why? To allow access to doors and photocopiers with the wave of a hand. Epicenter figures keys and wallets could quickly become a thing of the past as a wave of the hand could pay for cafeteria items, open doors and etc. 150 out of their 2000 workers have said yes.
    Downsides? The Hustle says in theory the chips "can collect data on your health, your whereabouts, how often you are working, when you take toilet breaks and things like that." 

     Something to cheer about, progress being made.
      US Soccer has agreed to give the US Women's National team better pay and benefits. The US Women's team filed suit last year because of the huge disparity between them and the US Men's team. 
       Adding power to their request is the undeniable truth, the Women's team are the defending international champions. What they wanted was something closer to parity in pay, benefits and travel arrangements. It seems only fair, but then you know how that goes on the rights front. 
      There's still a distance to go but base pay is being increased by 30% and the bonus clauses are improved though there's still a distance to go before there is pay equity with the men. What if US Soccer simply reversed the pay scale until the men do what the women have achieved, World Champion Status?

  for whatever reason
     Steve Bannon's dismissal from the National Security Principal's group is progress, regardless of reason.
       Experienced observers say this is a sign of his diminishing influence and if so that too bodes well. Trump's paucity of experience and knowledge and Bannon's simplistic right wing, bar room ideology were a dangerous combination.
       It's become obvious to all but "true believers" the President is in way over his orange head and that he had been manipulated by the reich minister.  
       We can only imagine what three star Army general H.R. McMaster thought and said when he faced Bannon as a national security principal. He's out like the trash.
        The Syrian gassing of civilians is another act of evil in what has been a hellish barbarism. The world community must hold Assad accountable. However.....
        Did you find it unnerving to see our ill-equipped and unqualified minority President speaking about his order to bomb Syrian sites? My concern has nothing to do with the separate discussion about policy, proper military response or operations. Seeing that man in the role is just wrong. It doesn't look or feel right. How can we have confidence in such a lout and fool? I wouldn't be surprised if 2 years ago the con man couldn't even find Syria on a map.  
        In the meantime military posters and veterans are merciless in their treatment of Jared Kushner's trip to Iraq. It's not his fault his father in law asked him to go but the designer sun glasses with vest over a sport coat look made him a perfect target. As a retired navy man wrote, "When you elect a clown, expect a circus!"

so what was it?
      Thanks to those of you who answered the quiz either here or in an e-mail. Some of you are very good!
      Here's another image, that once you have seen the answer, will become more clear.
     The frame below is the object. The image is of yours truly taking a photo. It is a mirror fountain, water running over the surface of the glass.
     Bruce The Catalyst was the first to answer and he was right, but others were close.  Now that you see the riddle revealed you will probably more "clearly" see this posters shape holding a camera.

     See you down the trail.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Waiting and Take a Guess

what is this?
   In keeping with the confusion of these times we begin with a game. Can you tell us what is the image pictured above?
   There have been no edit tricks, what you see is an unedited photo.
    As you keen your eye and wrack your brain you will receive a couple of minutes of reprieve from our contemporary absurdity.

    Spring comes to central California with color.

the o'really? factor
     Reigning Fox pompous star Bill O'reilly got some bad news as a couple of blue chip advertisers dropped him. The New York Times discovered that 5 women brought sexual harassment charges against the TV yacking head. 
     Reportedly the women received $13 million to go away. O'Reilly is not the first at the conservative propaganda mill, the founder of Fox News was thrown overboard when his sexual harassment problems became epidemic.

life imitates art?
    More than a few people have seen scruff master and  zealot/ideologue Steve Bannon in the Brett O'Keefe character in season 6 of Homeland.
    The O'Keefe character is an alt-right conspiracy wacko who holds forth in new media. O'Keef is played by character actor Jake Weber. Weber is semi famous because as an 8 year old he smuggled cocaine into Mick and Bianca Jagger's wedding. Weber's father was one of Keith Richard's and Jaggers drug suppliers. Weber does a good job with the Bannonesque slob.
    The real scene stealer this season is Rupert Friend who portrays the damaged CIA agent Peter Quinn. Friend's work as a stroke victim has been masterful and riveting. 

what about the peanut gallery?
    How is it all going to end for this looney tunes administration?
     Heaven only knows where the Russian trail may lead but it's become consuming. The Senate and FBI probes will be revealing. Rep. Devon Nunes has compromised the integrity of the House investigation. It's another sideshow.
     The Trump budget may be its own road to a larger Trump Slump. Some of those "ignored" and disaffected who voted for Trump are wising up. His budget proposal is a slap in their face. Vital programs in low income and rural areas and those hit with large job loss would lose programs and subsidies targeted to help economic recovery. The Trump White House is on the road to joining the Taj Mahal, Trump Airlines, Trump Steaks, Trump University, Trump Vodka and the other failed business ventures. The great deal maker huh?
      Some still hold out hope that Ivanka will be a good influence on daddy, but her security clearance and office in the White House is a flap. Is she part of the business oversight, or is she part of the government? How can she have clearance and an office and not be an employee? These related questions are yet one more distraction.
      The bozos are on the romp. 

down these trails...
faces of big sur
     Big Sur remains cut off and isolated though Cal Trans and state officials are working to repair slides, closures and to replace the Pfeiffer bridge. 
     Periodically we are accessing the archive to present scenes many await seeing in person again. Today, hiking trails.

       Before you click on, take a guess at what is the first frame in today's post and leave it below.  Thanks

       See you down the trail.