“In America and Europe, working people are reasserting their right to control their own destinies,” Bannon wrote. “Jeff Sessions has been at the forefront of this movement for years, developing populist nation-state policies that are supported by the vast and overwhelming majority of Americans, but are poorly understood by cosmopolitan elites in the media that live in a handful of our larger cities.”

source: The Washington Post.  Bannon wrote this in an email to The Washington Post, he is trolling the Washington Post.  Maybe best reaction to a troll is ignore it, but the classic schoolyard retort “takes one to know one” might be valid here.

Bannon: a Georgetown and Harvard Business School graduate turned Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood producer.

In the late 1980s, he and some Goldman colleagues broke off and formed their own investment bank, Bannon & Co., housed in an office on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills, California.

Trump: a Wharton graduate television host from New York City





from, a shoddy website

  1. badly made or done
  2. lacking moral principle; sorid









prone to falling apart, disintegrating











The challenge:arabic-1

How to react:

Bloggers = B Players?


Working my noggin on this quote from Justin Peters’ review of Thomas Friedman’s book over at Slate:

A very perceptive barfly once explained it to me like this. In the corporate world, you’ve got A players, B players, and C players stacked top to bottom like a pyramid. There’s this documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about a perfectionist Japanese sushi chef. When an A player sees that movie, the barfly explained, she will come to work the next day determined to work harder and smarter than ever before. A B player will spend the next day raving about the movie to anyone who’ll listen; maybe she’ll write a review for her blog. A C player sees Jiro Dreams of Sushi and comes to work the next day inspired to order Japanese food for lunch.

Tom Friedman is a B player interpreting A players for the benefit of C players, and there are lots of C players, and maybe it’s that simple. But both B players and C players habitually miss the point—and, in the end, so does Thank You for Being Late

Let’s consider this:

  • this sentence occurs in a review on what is essentially a blog, so is Justin Peters self-identifying as a B player?
  • quoting a “very perceptive barfly” is a very Thomas Friedmany kind of thing to do.  Is that the joke/point Justin Peters is making?
  • are we really calling Thomas Friedman a B player?  The dude is the dominant NY Times columnist, consistently crushing it with bestselling books.

The bloggers I enjoy are all A players, I would say.

Sensitive to the fact that the word “blog” has come to connote “loserish.”  Have been struck by the fact that Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, who are today writing the President’s executive orders, are, essentially, bloggers.

Breitbart News Daily Stephen K. Bannon interviews Stephen Miller for SiriusXM Broadcasts' New Hampshire Primary Coverage Live From Iconic Red Arrow Diner on Feb. 8 in Manchester, New Hampshire. | Getty

Breitbart News Daily Stephen K. Bannon interviews Stephen Miller for SiriusXM Broadcasts’ New Hampshire Primary Coverage Live From Iconic Red Arrow Diner on Feb. 8 in Manchester, New Hampshire. | Getty.  Source.

Consider this Politico profile of Stephen Miller by Julia Ioffe.  At Duke:

But mostly he used the column as a lightning rod, a way to court angry reaction and put himself at the center of major campus controversies. He wrote that interacting with the population outside the campus was overrated. “Durham isn’t a petting zoo,” he chided. “The residents won’t get lonely or irritable if we don’t play with them.” He was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq and called Ted Kennedy a “traitor” for criticizing American use of torture.

Miller invited another media figure, David Horowitz, to Duke, and that led him to Jeff Sessions:

The name he made for himself in fighting the university establishment, through his column and in inviting Horowitz to speak, would later reap benefits. It was Horowitz who, in 2009, would recommend Miller to his old friend, Jeff Sessions.

President DT himself would not be president if his Twitter micro-blog were not so stimulating and provocative. The Trump movement comes out of provocative media networks.  How on Earth is the left losing that battle?

Wonder if — hear me out — an effective force for anti-Trumpism and resistance could be mini-networks, newspapers, arguments, alternatives, ideas, forums for strong takes.  Reach people and really change their minds, is the idea.

Write to me, lemme know what you think!


Snapshot of Tim Ferriss’s twitter


If you seem like a parody of yourself, you’re doing something right.

Cool shoutout to Great Debates in Tools Of Titans — we gotta get this dude on the podcast.



Fascinating story over at the LA Times, turns out the answer is it rained a lot.

(Damn, between here and Twitter I am just being a snarky lil bitch lately.  I blame Trump of course.  But I gotta watch myself, work on uplifting rather than degrading discourse)

All this rain in SoCal is a good reminder of what a huge problem flooding is here.  Somewhere in an old book I remember a scholar huffily declaring that LA is not in fact a desert, it’s an “arid floodplain.”  The devastating flood of 1938 killed something like 115 people.


Los Angeles River – flood of 1938 aerial view above Victory Blvd. Los Angeles River. View upstream from above Victory Blvd. showing breaches in paved levees in and below a sharp curve in channel alignment. River mile 32.0. This image is from the Report on Engineering Aspects, Flood of March 1938 by the U.S. Engineer Office in Los Angeles and compiled in August 1938.

Flood prevention is why the LA River is all concretey:

My eyes were opened to a lot of this by Wrenshall’s cousin DJ Waldie:

holy-land-waldie who was Deputy City Manager of Lakewood in addition to being a thoughtful and insightful writer:


I should drive out to Silver Lake and see if there’s water:

source. Photo by Wilson

source. Photo by wiki user Wilson44691 whose contributions are astounding


McConaughey Story

Study of McConaughey is always rewarding.  The best part of the above video is the first few seconds :12-:36


It’s unfortunate that used copies of I Amaze Myself!, McConaughey’s mother’s autobiography, are unreasonably priced.  I’m interested in more stories like this.


“The messenger of this incredible movement”

Muhammad leads Abraham, Moses and Jesus in prayer. from medieval Persian manuscript Source: ''The Middle Ages. An Illustrated History'' by Barbara Hanawalt (Oxford University Press, 1998)

Muhammad leads Abraham, Moses and Jesus in prayer. from medieval Persian manuscript Source: ”The Middle Ages. An Illustrated History” by Barbara Hanawalt (Oxford University Press, 1998). Source

is that

a) how Muhammad is described in the Quran


b) how Sean Spicer describes President Donald Trump?



NYT article about Malia Obama’s secret trip to Bolivia:

The Bolivian media reported that President Obama called President Evo Morales to request his government’s cooperation in ensuring discretion and security for his daughter’s trip. White House officials declined to comment and would not confirm that the two leaders had spoken. Mr. Morales often rails about what he calls American conspiracies to undermine leftist governments, including his own. The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors since 2008.


La Paz photographed by Helytimes

Very cool.  This is not the vibe projected by the new president’s children:

Ms. Obama was afforded no special treatment during the arduous trek, and performed chores, including cooking, along with her fellow travelers, Mr. Mamani said.

I wonder if she picked up a preserved llama fetus?


Helytimes photo

Learn more about Bolivia and Evo Morales in this fine volume:

sent in by reader Woodrow F.

sent in by reader Woodrow F.

Buy this book on Amazon or at your local indie bookstore:

Kevin Starr

Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

A real hero of mine died over the weekend, Kevin Starr, writer of a multivolume history of California.  What a dapper gent!  (Also love when you read an obituary of a guy like this and on top of everything he spent two years as a tank lieutenant in West Germany). Among his books:






What great covers!  On that alone he’s a contributor and deserves his place in the California Hall Of Fame!  In this great interview with Patt Morrison, Starr says that he never got to the ’60s:

Is this the last “Dream” volume?

I don’t know. My God, I’m 68. I’ve got this [other] beautiful book about Catholic culture coming to a Protestant nation, and I’ll get criticized because I’m emphasizing how nice the Protestants were to us! Someone else will have to write the ’60s, although I can give them the title: That would be “Smoking the Dream.”

The only one of these I’ve tucked into is Coast Of Dreams:


A big, deep book, but I love how Starr includes cultural and personal details:


Johanna Boss indeed:


or this about Hmong immigrants:


Starr boiled his multivolumes down into this attractive one volume:


without losing any of the flavor:


Couple more gems from the interview:

How do you keep all your research organized?

They talk about San Francisco sourdough bread, that the yeast in the bread is alive since 1849. I started a bibliography of California that I have kept alive for over 45 years, every time I come across a reference. I’ll read something by you, and that’s a reference.

It seems like you keep most of it in your head too.

The Irish didn’t read and write for a couple of thousand years, and I think we developed good memories and recall. We have a sense of the revelatory detail. I look for them.

It’s a funny thing — when I go “blah, blah, blah” argumentatively, that’s when my editor cuts me the most. One reviewer said, “Oh, he’s got great description, great narrative, but he doesn’t give us the great explanation.” I try to let the reader get his own explanation. That becomes part of the discourse the book engenders. But if you tie yourself up with a big explanation, it’s dated in six months.

On looking at old yearbooks:

Is there a part of this book you especially liked doing?

For the chapter on my own generation, I went through hundreds and hundreds of yearbooks, from the late ’40s until ’63, ’64. It’s not scientific research; it’s very impressionistic. I always thought the women of my age group got short shrift because the women’s liberation movement came slightly after. You look at the yearbooks and you see the future homemakers of America — hurray for that — but you also see them in the engineers club. You see minority kids as student body presidents at a time when everyone was supposed to be terminally racist. Yearbooks are genres; they’re also folk art, folk documentation.


You still dress like Harvard, not Hermosa Beach.

When I was a boy, I delivered newspapers to Brooks Brothers. I looked in the windows and saw those things. At Harvard, when my professors came to class, it was showtime. So possibly that was it.


What are the canards about California that you hate most?

That everybody’s just sitting around being sloppy and a slacker.

Seventy percent of the population is between San Diego and Marin County, and 70 miles from the coast. That’s an extraordinarily prized and privileged Riviera of universities, homes, etc. It’s got its problems, and it’s not perfect; there’s lots of poverty too.

It’s highly competitive to be here. People don’t come to California to drop out anymore. It’s a very striving place.

Who should be on California’s money?:

If we had our own currency in California, whose faces should be on it?

Josiah Royce, the great Grass Valley-born philosopher who first formulated what California would be about. Isadora Duncan — her grandparents came here in a covered wagon. The young Native American woman stranded on San Nicolas Island, the “Island of the Blue Dolphins” story. Gov. [Jose] Figueroa, who died trying to redistribute land to the Native Americans. There’s all kinds of wonderful people. If we had living people, I’d put Joan Didion there.

His childhood:

You grew up in an orphanage?

My mother had a nervous breakdown, and my parents separated. Roman Catholic Social Services put us [Starr and his brother] in an orphanage for five years. I loved the place. It was a tremendous education, great nurturing. There was a great pool table, a great library, a camp up in the mountains. My experience was very different from some of these horror stories you hear.

From a 2004 profile by Susan Salter Reynolds in the LAT:

Starr is a man who believes in institutions and speaks about them with a kind of lofty, creative reverence. The office of state librarian, for example, “expressed the dignity of the state.” USC is “an ark that lifts all boats.” He talks about being a citizen and about civility with the same almost innocent, 19th century passion.

He is a self-described centrist, a conservative Democrat of the old school. The current election, because it is so divisive, seems to have already slammed a door in Kevin Starr’s face. “We need liberals to point out where power relationships might be going wrong and conservatives to remind us that there are cycles in history,” he says. “I won’t go to either camp.”

A supporter of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Starr is a firm believer in the importance of business vitality. But he leans toward a liberal social democracy on issues such as day-care for children, healthcare and housing. Democracy depends, Starr warns, on a “de-escalation of the cultural agendas of both parties.”


Ways Of Seeing

Reading NYT obit of 90 year old provocative art critic John Berger:

John Peter Berger was born in London on Nov. 5, 1926, and raised in only moderate comfort, with little high culture, in what he described as a working-class home.


in how much comfort were you raised?

in how much comfort would The New York Times say you were raised?

how much comfort is best for child?

Ended up watching the whole first episode of Ways Of Seeing there on Youtube and thought it was great!





Best photos I took in 2016


Vancouver Island

img_8672Joshua Treeimg_9272Gaililee, RI
daf8272a-51e1-4083-b4c8-a509b10a5a54Death Valleyimg_5124Tofinoimg_5793Cambridge
img_7126-1New Zealandimg_9451Two Harborsimg_3649Los Angeles




some pretty saucy pics on the website for the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace.  Should there be a warning for kids?


source: wiki

Was checking it out because it occurred to me that TR must be the last president before you-know-who who was born in New York City.


Few have ever ventured


having a look at my National Geographic map of the Channel Islands

says the NPS:

The freighter Chickasaw, with its cargo of children’s toys, ran aground on the south side of the island in a heavy storm in 1962. Since the time of this photo, the Chickasaw has further deteriorated leaving very little wreckage visible to visitors.

and from this one, CA Wreck Divers:

The wreck of the Chickasaw remained one of Southern California’s most prominent wrecks as her large hulk stood fast for many years.   However, the exposed site gradually wore down her hull and those that visited her periodically saw her swallowed up the ocean, piece by piece, as her hull disintegrated into the surf line.  Today, nothing remains visible of the ship, except for her smoke stack that lies on the shore.

Given the unprotected location, sharp wreckage and high surf typically found on the site, few have ever ventured to dive the wreck.

Thurgood’s take, and Yoichi Okamoto


From Stephen L. Carter’s 2017 predictions, via Tyler Cowen.  (Helytimes is increasingly becoming a Tyler Cowen processing center).


That photo is by Yoichi Okamoto:


Looking a bit like Fredrik Wikingsson there, and here are more by Yoichi:




found at this NYT slideshow of his work from 2013.