Back Soon!


So glad you enjoy what you find here, we’re on a brief hiatus but look forward to a return.

If you haven’t already, try my book, available at Amazon or your local indie bookstore.  You’ll enjoy it.

If you’ve read my book, do send me a picture of it in some cool setting, on your shelf or next to some good coffee or your favorite houseplant.  I’ve been collecting and compiling these photos, they’re a joy.

Riches await in the archives, on such topics as America Since 1945, Wonder Trail, and the California Condition.


see you soon!


Trump at Gettysburg

Pickett's Charge from a position on the Confederate line looking toward the Union lines, Ziegler's Grove on the left, clump of trees on right, painting by Edwin Forbes

Pickett’s Charge from a position on the Confederate line looking toward the Union lines, Ziegler’s Grove on the left, clump of trees on right, painting by Edwin Forbes


Disgusted afresh with this one, from NY Mag: “Final Days: Trump’s advisers are working hard to plan their own futures while riding out the roller-coaster end of the campaign.” by Gabriel Sherman.

I mean, this is what happened at Gettysburg:


An American president should not visit that place without some sober thought about how it came to be that 7,058 people murdered each other there in three days (perhaps our worst ever mass shooting?)

Starting to seem like Trump has never read


Or even Shelby:


Has he not at least had Sam Waterstone read him the Gettysburg Address?:

The whole point of the Gettysburg Address, he might’ve reminded himself, was that we can’t let all this horror have no meaning, we must use it to remind ourselves of how we got here, what is good about us, what values we must work for.

UGH!  I’m with Ken Burns.

Also what about this:


I know everybody deserves a lawyer, but is it not a tad revolting that Ailes lawyer is Dukakis’ former campaign manager?


Maybe there’s more to the story, but this seems, from my distance, like an easy example of a valueless incestuous intertwined gaggle of political and media elites who care about nothing but staying in the game.

I’m sure in defeat Trump will have all the dignity of Lee:


He was engaged in rallying and in encouraging the broken troops, and was riding about a little in front of the wood, quite alone–the whole of his Staff being engaged in a similar manner further to the rear. His face, which is always placid and cheeful, did not show signs of the slightest disappointment, care, or annoyance; a he was addressing to every soldier he met a few words of encouragement, such as, “All this will come right in the end: we’ll talk it over afterwards; but, in the mean time, all good men must rally. We want all good and true men just now,” &c. He spoke to all the wounded men that passed him, and the slightly wounded he exhorted “to bind up their hurts and take up a musket” in this emergency. Very few failed to answer his appeal, and I saw many badly wounded men take off their hats and cheer him. He said to me, “This has been a sad day for us, Colonel–a sad day; but we can’t expect always to gain victories.” He was also kind enough to advise me to get into some more sheltered position, as the shells were bursting round us with considerable frequency.

from the account of Fremantle, who was there, a version less dramatic than this one:


Magnum, Everyman

img_8221 magnum

from Wiki as I prep a Halloween costume.

In real life more going for Robin Masters, “the celebrated-but-never-seen author of several dozen lurid novels.”

A recurrent theme throughout the last two seasons, starting in the episode “Paper War”, involves Magnum’s sneaking suspicion that Higgins is actually Robin Masters since he opens Robin’s mail, calls Robin’s Ferrari “his car”, etc. This suspicion is never proved or disproved, although in at least one episode – “Déjà-Vu” S06E02 – Higgins is shown alone in a room, picking up the ringing phone and talking to Robin Masters, indicating they are two different persons.


Caught a few minutes of the late great Huell Howser, up to Pismo to learn about clams.

found here

found here


People are mad that Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature?  Why?  Because he does music, which is not the same as literature?  What is the difference?  More sounds? Instruments are allowed?  Hmm.

Anyway, have heard no mention in the convo about the time a literal clown won the Nobel Prize.

OK fine Dario Fo was a playwright but what he did was more than just write words down, right?

Mr. Fo attributed the State Department’s change of heart to the intervention of President Ronald Reagan, a former actor. It was, Mr. Fo said dryly, “the gesture of a colleague.”

Was reminded because heard he died.  Dario Fo obituary.

12 Takes on the Al Smith Dinner




Hearing all these points about The Al Smith Dinner.

There is something grotesque about a white-tie banquet with the wealthy and powerful laughing about how they’re all on the same team.  On the flip side, there’s something great about the wealth and powerful laughing about how they’re all on the same team if the team has some common, positive values.

The Al Smith Foundation raises money for the sick, the poor, and the orphans of New York.  It honors a great, cheerful, positive public figure who rose up from poverty to run for president despite religious prejudice.

The dinner is an old-fashioned truce.  Swallowing the noxious flavor of eating with your opponent is how societies can function and remain peaceful.

History offers many stories about how deeply fucked up things get when someone violates the tradition of a ceremonial truce:


People who jockey for political power should have to sit there and be made to at least pretend to be humble.

IMO this is a great tradition even if only for giving us this wonderful gif of Mitt Romney ironing himself.


Through a friend from my Catholic childhood, I got to go and sit up in the rafters a couple times.  McCain, who must’ve known he was about to lose, gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.

Obama smashed too, of course.

Perhaps the two funniest candidates in American history?

Made it to the Romney/Obama one as well.

I remember a guy younger than me in the crowd was pumped, felt sure Romney was gonna win.

Watched this year’s on C-Span.  Man, it was gnarly.  Here are some takes:

  • The #1 thing holding Donald Trump back is that he’s too sensitive.  If he had a thicker skin, if he could laugh off attacks on himself, believe he could’ve won.  Hillary was right about the “baited with a tweet” thing.  If he had one ounce of Reagan’s ability to laugh something off Trump could’ve pulled it off.
  • Al Smith’s nickname was The Happy Warrior.

Pic found here

Which candidate can be said to be more Happy Warrior?  Thought Hillary did a good job of Happy Warrioring at the second debate, under very tough conditions:


and it worked for her!

  • Much of the preliminary business of the Al Smith Dinner is talking about how much money has been raised for charity.  As you listen to that, it’s hard not to be revolted by Trump’s total scumminess on charity.  My perception was the room grew angrier and angrier at Trump as they heard this, and so were primed against him by the time he got up there. A politician is one thing, but a rich guy who gives nothing to charity?  That sucks.  That’s the complete opposite of the values of this dinner.
  • For someone on the verge of achieving a lifelong dream she’s worked impossibly hard for, Hillary seems miserable.  What is the lesson there?  Is it campaign fatigue and going to bed every night with a knot in the pit of her stomach?  Is it the regular reminders that a lot of people, probably a majority, just kind of don’t like her?  There’s something real devil’s bargainy in the cruel twists that seem to meet Hillary’s ambitions.
Deeply reviled.

Deeply reviled.

(should admit I am 100% in the tank for Hillary.  Even her soldiering on in the face of all this I admire.  Will the rest of the media admit as much?)

  • This event must be as close as possible to a pure nightmare for Donald.  New York’s elites laughing and booing at him. In front of him and behind his back.  Read anything by or about Trump:  his greatest fear/source of rage is being mocked by Manhattan.


This headline would’ve appeared to Trump if he summoned the vision serpent. We are caught in a snobs vs slob death spiral.  A sharp commentator points out there was a real Nelson Muntz aspect to Donald at this dinner:


Is Nelson in his way a sympathetic character?  Trump’s father was a nasty piece of work, has there ever been a bully who wasn’t bullied?

  • Hillary had some great jokes but she is not great at comic delivery.  Then again, who’s the best over-70 year old joke deliverer?  (Gotta thank Medina for asking that one).  My first picks: Mel Brooks or Bill Cosby.
  • Katie Dunn’s parents would only let Al Smith marry their daughter when he promised he would never become a professional actor (per Caro’s The Power Broker, p. 117).  In those days you went into politics because everybody liked you.
Katie and Al

Katie and Al

  • There’s a lot terrible about the Catholic Church, but in my experience growing up around the Catholic church I saw a lot more attention to and help for the sick, the old, the poor, the dying, the disabled, the mentally ill and the homeless than I’ve seen outside of it.

In Al Smith’s day the Catholic Church provided a social welfare system for the poor and the unfortunate and the immigrant.  Other churches did the same thing.  Think how many hospitals are named after saints.  As far as I understand it the Mormon church still does.  The Catholic Church in America is in a managed decline.

What will fill the social welfare vacuum?  Who will take care of the poor, the sick, the immigrant, they dying?  Who should?

Sometimes it seems like the domestic political argument in America is between two answers: “the government” and “nobody/family/somebody’ll handle it/I don’t know but not the government.”

Bill Clinton and George Bush both succeeded at least in pretending to find happy compromises, “the third way,” “compassionate conservatism,” etc.  For awhile I felt like Paul Ryan was doing a decent job of at least pretending, too.  But man when Trump came along he went the sniveling way.  Is he more dangerous and more vile than Trump?


  • “They’re laughing at us” might be Donald’s campaign theme.  From The Washington Post:


It’s a horrible feeling to be laughed at and it takes dignity to rise above it.  Watching him at the Al Smith dinner, in a way I almost felt bad for him.  If I could give Donald Trump advice I would tell him to relax and return to being a clown version of a rich guy.  It was a good job and he was well-compensated.  But he doesn’t listen.

In a way DT feels like a dangerous, bitter, vile version of this guy:


  • Al Smith’s father was an immigrant.  Not from Ireland though, from Italy. (Ferraro = blacksmith = smith).  His mother’s parents were immigrants from Ireland.  A frustrating thing about this election is we couldn’t have a serious talk about immigration. How much should we have?  From where?  Infinite?  If not infinite how do we sort out who can come?
  • img_1061


Weird vote in Colombia

Last month there was a weird and surprising vote in Colombia.  I’ve been learning myself about it, and let me share the story as I understand it:


click for source

Here is messy, mountainous Colombia.

For some fifty-two years, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, fought the government.  FARC’s origins are Communisty, with their main grievance being rich people have all the best stuff in Colombia.  In their war their crimes are many and so are the government’s.

Nasty would be a mild word for this fight.


If you’re new to Colombian history it’s easy to lump this 52 year war in with the period known as La Violencia, but no, La Violencia was a whole separate ten year time, starting in 1948, in which maybe 200,000 people died.

Here’s how we got to the vote.  The last president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe, was what you might call “aggressive” in his tactics towards FARC.


Makes sense: FARC killed his dad.  His efforts severely diminished FARC if not knocked it to the ropes.

Uribe oversaw, for example, Operation Jaque, that freed Ingrid Betancourt from her FARC captors.


Wiki, Justin Hoch

There’s no doubt the USA has been helping the government on this, by the way.  Why shouldn’t we?  The Colombians helped us in our Korean War for some reason.

Colombia entered the Korean War when Laureano Gómez was elected as President. It was the only Latin American country to join the war in a direct military role as an ally of the United States. Particularly important was the resistance of the Colombian troops at Old Baldy.

Camera Operator: SFC. CHARLES M. ROBERTS - DOD ID: HA-SN-98-07069 (old version) Personnel of the Korean service corps unload logs from an M-39 Armored Utility Vehicle at the RHE 2nd US Inf Div supply point on "Old Baldy" near Chorwon, Korea. Logs are for use in the construction of bunkers. A second M-39 is in the background. Korea, 1 Oct 1952.

Camera Operator: SFC. CHARLES M. ROBERTS – DOD ID: HA-SN-98-07069 (old version)
Personnel of the Korean service corps unload logs from an M-39 Armored Utility Vehicle at the RHE 2nd US Inf Div supply point on “Old Baldy” near Chorwon, Korea. Logs are for use in the construction of bunkers. A second M-39 is in the background. Korea, 1 Oct 1952.

By the time Uribe left office, in 2010, FARC was not what it used to be.

Here is Uribe’s successor, Colombia’s current president, Juan Manuel Santos:


First secretly, then publicly, his guys negotiated with FARC in Havana.  The two sides reached an agreement that would end what Santos called the last armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere.

The guy leading FARC is called Timochenko:


from wiki.

According to the United States Department of State, Timoleon Jimenez has set the FARC’s cocaine policies directing and controlling the production, manufacture, and distribution of hundreds of tons of cocaine to the United States and the world, including the “taxation” of the illegal drug trade in Colombia to raise funds for the FARC and the murder of hundreds of people who violated or interfered with the FARC’s cocaine policies

Santos and Timochenko shook hands at a meeting in Havana in June.

All that had to happen to ratify the accord was that Colombia’s people vote on it.  Guess what happened?:


Don’t know where CNN got this number, The Economist says 13m people voted.  Anyway, low turnout in a country of 47 million, partly because there was a hurricane.

Perhaps many NO voters thought it was bullshit that FARC murderers would get to be in parliament and wouldn’t be punished much for their various cruelties.  Says The Economist:

People who live in areas where the FARC has recently been active mostly backed the deal. “We are the ones who’ve had to live with bullets flying around us,” says Freddy Rendón, a cattle rancher in Uribe, a town in Meta, in central Colombia, where Yes won 93.5% of the vote. Those who live in more peaceful parts, including cities, voted No.

After the votes were counted, everybody was apparently surprised and nobody knew what would happen next.

Then, in a funny twist, Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize.


Maybe to give the whole project a peaceward shove from Norway.  Some cynics suggested Santos was a little too thirsty for the prize.   That’s a little vain perhaps but is it so wrong?  There is something funny about how much humans like prizes.

Santos with a bird from The Guardian, click for link.

Santos with a bird from The Guardian, click for link.

What will happen now is unclear.  FARC doesn’t seem dying to go back to fighting.  Maybe they can’t, in which case Colombian’s voters are, collectively, clever if sneaky negotiators who pulled quite a trick.

Me?  I’m rooting for peace in Colombia, a country I very much enjoyed visiting.

Popayan, Colombia, Helytimes photo.

Popayán, Colombia, in a photo taken by Helytimes.

You can read more about Colombia, what little I know of it, written at about this level, in  my book:


Only if you like tales of fun and adventure.

Amazon or your local indie bookstore.  Pick one up at South Congress Books in Austin, TX for example.


I think you’ll enjoy it.



Who is this?


I’ll give you a hint.  She is running for Vice-President of the United States.

It’s Mindy Finn!  Alert reader Dave sends this our way.  Ms. Finn used to work at Twitter, she’s a former reporter for the Waterbury, CT Republican-American, she’s a mother of two and she’s either 34 or 35.

Here’s a ready for primetime interview with her:

She’s running with former CIA operative Evan McMullin.  I gotta say, I’m won over a bit by the homespun nature of this campaign and I wish them well.


She reports she was shocked for “a couple minutes” when she was asked to join the ticket.

Remember this?

first posted here ten months ago.  What a ride.

Stressful job


Bill Belichick’s IT guy.  Lucky Coach says he is happy with Dan Famosi.

Cool job


This woman’s name is Thuli Madonsela, and she just ended her seven year term in the job of Public Protector in South Africa.

Lady Xoc


from wikicommons, photo by Michel Wai

The ruler, Shield Jaguar, holds a torch while his consort, Lady Xoc, pulls a rope studded with what are now believed to be obsidian shards through her tongue in order to conjure a vision serpent.

says Wiki about Lintel 24 from Yaxchilan, a site in far southern Mexico, along the Usumacinta River, the border to Guatemala.

photo by me, Helytimes

photo by me, Helytimes

Yaxchilan is not easy to get to.  You have to take a boat like this:

Photo © 2004 Jacob Russ from Wiki commons


In the river there are crocodiles, in the towers of the ruins there are bats, everywhere there are spiders.

You won’t find Lintel 24 there though.  It’s at the British Museum in London.  It was cut out and sent there by Alfred Maudslay.



What the hell was up with Lady Xoc?  She appears on another lintel, Lintel 25:



her obsidian tongue piercing rope worked, and now she’s seeing the Vision Serpent as she bleeds into a bowl.


Michel wal again

Read more about Yaxchilan, Bonampak, how we figured out how to read Mayan inscriptions, and the mysteries of what the hell Lady Xoc and her friends were up to in my book:


I believe you’ll enjoy it as much as this baby does.  Amazon or your local indie bookstore, perhaps, for instance, at Spellbinder Books, way up in Bishop, CA.


this one from google maps

There’s a lot to like about Bishop.



Five questions about Westworld



  • How many flies, real and robotic, are there in Westworld?
  • Is “I can’t tell who is human and who is a robot” a fair complaint about the show or the dumbest thing you can say because duh that’s the point?
  • What’s Westworld’s policy on hate speech?
  • Anthony Hopkins made Bernard, right?
  • Does the show owe it to Julian Jaynes to shout him out by name if they’re gonna cite the wild inventive theory he made up?


Def worth reading if you are in your twenties and have tons of time on your hands and love Ancient Aliens type stuff and want to take that to the next level

opening of this fantastic article about Jaynes by Veronique Greenwood:

Julian Jaynes was living out of a couple of suitcases in a Princeton dorm in the early 1970s. He must have been an odd sight there among the undergraduates, some of whom knew him as a lecturer who taught psychology, holding forth in a deep baritone voice. He was in his early 50s, a fairly heavy drinker, untenured, and apparently uninterested in tenure. His position was marginal.

Acknowledge me!

Acknowledge me!

Great point by my brilliant friend:


Amazing bit of mansplaining

I’d heard of it, but I’m not sure I really got how infuriating”mansplaining” might be until I saw this.  JCO wakes up, finds out she didn’t win the Nobel Prize, puts out some interesting thought about it, and:


Congratulations to Mr. Dylan.  Some previous coverage on Helytimes about Chronicles here and a wild Rolling Stone interview here.

Reading about the Nobel Prize leads me to the Wiki page of Harry Martinson, Swedish sailor/poet, who shared the prize in 1974. Apparently it didn’t work out so great:

The joint selection of Eyvind Johnson and Martinson for the Nobel Prize in 1974, was very controversial as both were on the Nobel panel. Graham Greene, Saul Bellow andVladimir Nabokov were the favoured candidates that year. The sensitive Martinson found it hard to cope with the criticism following his award, and committed suicide.

The source appears to be this Aftonbladet article, where Google Translate helps me out:

One of the things that upset him most was the treatment of Harry Martinson and Eyvind Johnson. When they received the Nobel Prize in 1974 started a rancorous debate.The media ran went on the cultural pages where the two Swedish authors was weighed and found to be too light in the Nobel Prize Context. Were driven to mental collapse – It broke down Harry Martinson completely.He became obsessed with the sordid and arrogant criticism. Everyone knew he was fragile, he was dependent on his ability to enchant since childhood.Johnson did better, says Lars Gyllensten.Harry Martinson was driven to a mental breakdown and committed suicide in 1978.- He killed himself, committed harakiri with a pair of scissors on the psyche of the Karolinska Hospital.Reputation flora after his death began immediately.

As good occasion as any to reread Faulkner’s 1950 banquet speech:

Ladies and gentlemen,

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work – a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand here where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.

I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Damn.  You can also have Faulkner read it to you if you have three minutes:

Popular Journalism Writing


I’ve had Hillary’s book staring back at me on my desk for weeks now.  It’s pretty boring, here’s a passage more or less at random:


On the other hand, increasingly convinced that politics should be boring.  The thesis of the book might be that life, especially international relations and politics, is full of hard choices with no good answer.  She seems dedicated to taking on the grim, serious job of making those hard choices, and determined to make those in sober and rational ways.  Recommend reading this NY Times article:


Some excerpts:

“Near existential” is how Tim Kaine recently described this campaign, and it did not come off as complete hyperbole.

Trying to wrap your head around Trump:

the blustering mogul had endured — or rather perpetuated — a series of self-immolations that included a fat-shaming Twitter assault on a Latina beauty queen (one of those things you never thought you’d write during a presidential campaign, and yet it barely registers a blink), a few pages of his 1995 tax return finding its way to The New York Times and the ensuing revelation that Trump had declared a $916 million loss, which could have enabled him to avoid paying 18 years’ worth of federal taxes.

How about this:

“It does feel much different,” she said. “If I were running against another Republican, we’d have our disagreements, don’t get me wrong, and I would be trying to make my case vigorously. But I wouldn’t go to bed at night with a knot in the pit of my stomach.” She enunciated her T’s (“knoT in the piT”) as if she were spitting out the words.

The mentality at her level:

Given that, I asked Clinton if Nov. 8 scared her. “No, not really,” she said slowly. I clarified that I was talking about the prospect of her losing. She knew what I was talking about. “I’m not going to lose,” she said. She shot me a knowing grin.

This is the standard politician’s answer when asked to contemplate defeat — even candidates who are down 30 points — but Clinton seemed to mean it. “I don’t go there,” Clinton said. Trump is such an unnerving figure, partly because in getting this far he has already defied so many predictions, largely on the strength of his ability to command the media fun house. This has been the enduring, defining characteristic of the race. His mania for being seen and heard and mentioned has proved exceptionally well suited, maybe codependent, to the current age.

Interesting point:

Bill Clinton’s campaigns for governor of Arkansas were relatively simple, small-scale and stable productions, conducted via traditional television, news radio and print outlets. But from the moment the Clintons went national in the early 1990s, their ambitions have met head-on with a series of transformative new media adversaries. His presidency was the first to suffer a sustained assault from conservative talk radio, particularly in its first term, when Rush Limbaugh was establishing himself as the most influential radio host of his generation. The Monica Lewinsky scandal and Clinton’s subsequent impeachment were driven heavily by revelations on a new website, the Drudge Report, and covered exhaustively by the emerging force that cable news was becoming.

How about this?:

[Hillary] described a meeting with a group that had developed online mental-health programs. One woman predicted to her that a big challenge in mental health over the coming years would be “how to undo the damage that the internet has caused young people.”

…Trump, of course, both shares and feeds his audience’s addiction to stimuli and entertainment.

I mean this is a shameless, but kind of cool move?:

He can be undeniably fun and, to a point, seductive. My first encounter with Trump, more than a year ago, came in an unsolicited note that said simply, “Mark, It’s Time for a Cover!”

Is this true or a cutesy fiction?:

“My husband and I laugh sometimes about the ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ ” Clinton told me, referring to the PBS show about antique appraisers that she watches devoutly. “Sometimes we feel like we are the antiques on a roadshow when it comes to politics.”

A view of the media:

There are many more women and minorities in the group (as in, there are more than almost none); there is considerably less drinking, and no one smokes; and while reporters 40 years ago paid their dues and scrapped like hell to cover a presidential campaign, many of today’s cast members are in their first journalism jobs. They are competitive but collegial. Their tech savviness is astounding (actually it made me scared). It’s easy to see why a control-freakish enterprise like the Clinton campaign might be terrified of an army of smartphone dynamos who are just dying to tweet out what color cough drops the candidate was popping (Halls, yellow).

This is great:

People inside the Clinton orbit mourn the familiar shirts and skins of going up against a more conventional Republican nominee. They dealt in familiar Republican themes and operated within certain boundaries. You hear a surprising amount of Romney nostalgia: Several Clinton aides I spoke to brought him up in almost wistful terms, as well as John McCain and George W. Bush. They are now fondly recalled as familiar predators in the political habitat, like the characters from that old cartoon “Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog.”Ralph and Sam show up to work, punch the clock and greet each other amiably before starting their daily game — Ralph trying to corral sheep while Sam thwarts him. Each episode ends with the adversaries punching out their timecards and bidding farewell to each other until the next installment.

Popular journalism writing:

Whenever she is asked questions that touch on possible sexism and double standards, Clinton tends to assume a slow, sarcastic and vaguely disdainful voice. She declared the topic “interesting”; she would “leave it to others” to determine. On whether she is being treated differently as a female candidate, Clinton suggested that it would be a great topic, in the future, for “a lot of Ph.D. theses and popular journalism writing.” She then wrapped things up, disappeared behind her curtain and left us to our “popular journalism writing.”

A scene from the plane:

“O.K., so I was back here a few minutes ago, and everyone was laughing and throwing an orange around,” Merrill said, assessing the situation. “And now I come back again, and suddenly everyone is really tense.” Correct. In any case, Merrill clarified that the clementine had not actually reached Clinton, but rather he picked it up first and read the question aloud. To which Clinton remarked that she had once eaten dinner with Putin. Merrill then circled “Putin” and rolled back the clementine.

Everyone tweeted out Merrill’s clarification. The tension lifted; Merrill headed back to the front cabin and, as he passed my seat, said, “I can’t wait to read four paragraphs of this stupidity in your magazine story.”

I thought this was a rare slip:

After Bill Clinton was elected, his wife vowed that every letter sent to the White House, especially from a child, would receive a response. I have no idea how well they actually executed on this, but Clinton was making a bigger point here, about the importance of connection and the sharing of stories in a political world overrun by snapshots, caricatures, fragmentation and reality distortion.

Well I mean aren’t you a reporter?  Find out!

Earlier [Hillary] had mentioned the 1985 book “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” by Neal Postman, about how television has oriented politics more and more toward entertainment.

Interesting!  I no longer have my copy, but I remember Postman predicted exactly The Daily Show: a parody news show would arise that would show how ridiculous TV news was, but that the stars of the parody show would inevitably become famous themselves and continue the cycle of amusement without confrontation?  something like that.


The secret key to Hillary?:

In college in the late 1960s, she resisted revolutionary change in favor of grinding out incremental progress inside the system. She has no patience for messianic rhetoric and hyperbolic slogans and grandiose speeches.

Is that really what conservative conspiracy theory subject Saul Alinsky taught Hillary and Barry O?:


Not great optics


as they say.  Not into this vibe AT ALL.

Solid takedown


I don’t usually read Christianity Today magazine but was alerted to this by one John Delury who apparently I follow on Twitter.

And therefore it is completely consistent that Trump is an idolater in many other ways. He has given no evidence of humility or dependence on others, let alone on God his Maker and Judge. He wantonly celebrates strongmen and takes every opportunity to humiliate and demean the vulnerable. He shows no curiosity or capacity to learn. He is, in short, the very embodiment of what the Bible calls a fool.


Santa Paula, CA Chumash mural

Santa Paula, CA Chumash mural

Petition this Columbus Day to return LA back to its original name of Yang-Na:



What do these buildings have in common?

One Beacon Street, Boston


425 Market Street, San Francisco:


11 Times Square, New York:


Along with a lot of other buildings in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Paris, London and elsewhere, they’re all 47% or so owned by the Norwegian people, in the form of their nation’s sovereign wealth fund.

They own a lot of other stuff, too.  $21 mill worth of Buffalo Wild Wings, for instance.


And 1.5% of Whole Foods:



In a tiny way, every Norwegian helps Marc Maron, because they own about a million bucks worth of


A Description Of Distant Roads


Another incredible title for a travel book.  This one from the missionary Juan Crespí, who in 1769 took a walk from Baja California to San Francisco and back.

Really appreciate the translation with careful annotations by Alan K. Brown.  Here’s Crespí on the origin of the name Carpinteria.




I wonder if he stopped to get a burger at The Spot.


My favorite part of the book so far though is this poem.



I found it a soothing pastime late one evening to make a map of Crepsí’s trip.


He must’ve seen some interesting stuff.

Much boring stuff as well.

Much boring stuff as well:


That photo from the collection of Harry Crosby, who photo’g’d much of Crespí’s trail in Baja California.

Not to be confused with the other Harry Crosby:

But he yearned to escape the rigidity of everyday life in Boston. His experience in France made it unbearable to live among what he called “dreary, drearier, dreariest Boston” and to put up with “Boston virgins who are brought up among sexless surroundings, who wear canvas drawers and flat-heeled shoes.” He wanted to escape “the horrors of Boston and particularly of Boston virgins.” Any sense of propriety was wiped out by a lust for living in the moment, forgetting all risks and possible consequences.


The Fire Princess

On July 9, 1928, Crosby met 20-year-old Josephine Noyes Rotch, the daughter of Arthur and Helen Ludington Rotch in Boston. Ten years his junior, they met while she was shopping inVenice at the Lido for her wedding trousseau… “She was dark and intense… since the season of her coming out in 1926-7, she had been known around Boston as fast, a ‘bad egg’…with a good deal of sex appeal.”

They met for sex as often as her eight days in Venice would allow.