Primary tensions

It’s the night of the West Virginia primary, May 10, 1960.  Candidate John Kennedy, and Ben Bradlee, then Washington Bureau chief for Newsweek, cut the tension by going to see a porno:

(You can see the trailer here, it does seem like soft stuff by our standards)

Good luck out there voters, I hope your favorite candidate wins!

Joe Biden on Meet The Press

Instead of their opinions and guesses, I wish political commentators would offer simple facts, observations, like: Joe Biden doesn’t complete about 23*% of the sentences his starts.

A typical example of a Biden not completed sentence is like half a statistic or something followed by “I mean look” and a jump to a new thought.

Starting a new sentence whenever you’re lost is probably a great tactic if you find you get confused, lose the thread, or make frequent meanderings into language territory you can’t always get out of.

I’m aware Joe Biden has struggled with a stutter, and respect his struggle with it, you can see that in this Meet The Press appearance, that may partially explain this fact but doesn’t make it not a fact.

As for Mike Pence’s on Meet The Press, the less said the better.  Rare cheers for Chuck Todd for pinning him down on naming names of what specific Democrats are “politicizing” the crisis. Pence came up with “the New York Times” (referencing I believe Gail Collins’ column).

One thought I’ve had about politics is there’s a wide gap in how important people think politics is or should be.  I get a sense that, say, young Bernie voters tend to think “this is life or death!  Politics means people’s lives!” while among a Trump-type voter you often get a sense of “whatever, it’s a stupid puppet show.”

After the 2008 election, when I looked back on how much time I’d spent like refreshing blogs and stuff, I resolved not to get too sucked into like following the events and commentary, but it’s a great temptation.

*actually counted and tried to make a fair estimate, what is wrong with me.

The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975)

Was scanning a list of Oscar winners for best documentary features the other day, and came across this one.  1975’s winner.  Free on Amazon Prime.  Or the whole thing is on YouTube.

A beautiful film in many ways, maybe a little slow-paced for today’s documentary viewer.  Wasn’t sure how I felt about the ethics of this expedition.  It seemed, at its heart, a little pointless compared to the dangers it courted? Not just to the expedition members, but to the 700 paid Sherpas and other porters. But maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to justify why I haven’t skied down Everest.  I’m no Yuchiro Miura, that’s for sure.

A surprising number of readers of Helytimes found their way here looking for lists of mountaineering movies.  A category where even the bad ones are good.



out and about



I was at the bar in Santa Fe, New Mexico watching the national college football championship game, eating nachos and drinking beer.  A small place, the atmosphere was social, and the guy next to me got to talking about skiing.  He mentioned a small mountain called Sipapu.  They’d just had some fresh snow and he made it sound so good.  “It’s real small.”  “Almost a local’s only mountain.”  “They have great blues.”  The only thing I had to do the next day was have lunch at 1pm, so I thought well heck, why don’t I wake up early and drive up there?

So that’s what I did, I woke up and drove up there very early, up past Chimayo and Abiquiu, in the Kit Carson National Forest.  The spot was small and nothing fancy, there’s nowhere to stay up there, renting skis was kind of a rickety procedure.  But once you got going it was beautiful, the sky was clear and blue, warm and the snow was soft.

I tried out the portrait mode on my phone.

Mostly, I had the place to myself.

I didn’t think much about the name, Sipapu, although I liked it.  I said it in my head, alone on the chairlift.  Sipapu.

Later I was home I was looking through this book:

From the glossary:


Fire as visual entertainment

Been blessed to sit by some good fires in the last while.

The warmth and the draw of a campfire, we all know.  A good fire is also a fun thing to watch, a visual entertainment as well.

Cahokia news

Don’t get too excited by the headline over at  What they really seem to have found is that people continued to live in the Cahokia region even after the big population center “collapsed” or sort of dwindled out.

I call your attention to this article because it highlights what I love about archaeology: the extremes of methodology.  You read this and you’re like cool, new light on an ancient city.  How did they find it out?

To collect the evidence, White and colleagues paddled out into Horseshoe Lake, which is adjacent to Cahokia Mounds State Historical Site, and dug up core samples of mud some 10 feet below the lakebed. By measuring concentrations of fecal stanols, they were able to gauge population changes from the Mississippian period through European contact.

These people are paddling out into a lake, dredging up mud, and testing it for human shit.

You know what?  There are worse ways to spend an afternoon.  There’s something so deeply funny and human about thinking that maybe in a thousand years or so some archaeologist will be studying your stool to find out what the hell you were up to.