Sunday, December 9, 2012

Race To The Bottom

Abandoned Schoolhouse [Photo by Tony J Case on Flickr]

A "must listen" on the state of the American Education System - there is no difference between Dubya's "No Child Left Behind" and Obama's "Race To The Top" - standardized testing based educational system - with Diane Ravitch, former U.S. Asst. Secretary of Education - 32 minutes...but truly important stuff..."education in Finland, a commitment to the life of the mind..."

Listen or Download Podcast:

And one more link: (cuz sometimes links get broken)

Diane Ravitch's Website

Diane Ravitch's Blog

"Congress doesn't know what to do with 'No Child Left Behind'. It should be thrown out. It's been a failure. We've had it now since 2002. In January of 2002 is when George W. Bush signed it. Congress is just frozen in place, they don't know what to do other than to keep collecting test scores. The Obama administration has not really thrown it out. They created a system of waivers where states can opt out of the November 2014 deadline. There is this crazy idea that by November 2014, 100% of the children in the U.S. will be proficient, and if they're not proficient, then you start getting rid of the schools, close them down, privatize them, give them to the states, all sorts of punishments come into play for not reaching an impossible goal." [Diane Ravitch]

At about the 20:00 minute mark...half a trillion dollars just sitting there...that the profiteers/privateers are just salivating over...much (if not all) of the push for privatization is coming from Wall Street...they are having seminars and workshops to talk about how much money there is to be made by privatizing the education system...then we have U.S. elected representatives in the pockets of the moneyed Wall Street carpet-baggers and their moneyed money's all so clear...yet we do nothing about it...

We are witnessing the beginnings of the privatization of the public education system in the U.S. by the right wing. It is a system that has been set up to be doomed to fail so that the profiteers can step in and begin to plunder yet another area of taxpayer funds/cash flow stream...this is my evidence of is a gut feeling...and I trust my gut...

Thursday, December 6, 2012


This term is Jon Stewart's fine work with regards to the "Fiscal Cliff" that we are hearing about in the news so much right now. Jon, as always, nails it: (careful though, some might be offended by the "Stalin fucking a bald eagle" image...)

Basically, the "Fiscal Cliff" is the climax if you will, of Congress kicking the can down the road back in the summer of 2011. The can is the issue of the Federal Budget/Deficit and the Federal Debt Ceiling. Congress was gridlocked, as usual, and failed to act on the issues before them.

For those of you who want to know more, here are a few links:

Fiscal Cliff Graphic

Here's Matt Miller in an opinion piece in the Washington Post, where he sets forth the "Endless Cliff Hypothesis".

Dana Milbank's "The Bare Truth About The Fiscal Cliff" in the Washington Post.

And if this isn't enough, here's 'The Lesson Plan' from The New York Times - "Understanding the Mathematics of the Fiscal Cliff"

My thoughts on the subject? I had gelled it all down to a lucid crux-esque thought, but then I lost it. I hate it when that happens.

Basically (I use this word WAY too much), this is all a bunch of smoke and mirrors obfuscating the real issue - balancing the Federal Budget. A 'balanced budget'. A novel concept.

Here's my "Deficit Tango" post from August 2011 - Warren Buffet's beautiful simplification/explanation of an UNbalanced budget.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

On Veteran's Day :: Honoring The Military Men In My Family

My dad after WWII...he attended The University of Texas on the GI Bill and became a Geologist for Union Oil Company of California...
Remembering my Dad

Skiing in the Italian Alps at the close of WWII...I'm pretty sure his ship never engaged the enemy...
Remembering my Dad

My dad was in the Navy, a "Signalman". The guy who flashed the bright light in Morse Code to communicate to other ships. That's about all I know. I'm wishing now that I had talked to him more about this time in his life. We were close - we had a good relationship - but I regret not "knowing" him better. I'm sure he was full of stories. He was full of poetry that he could recite from memory. "Gunga Din" by Rudyard Kipling was a favorite, and lots of Robert Service. I still keep the book of Robert Service poetry close by - my mom & dad gave it to me for Christmas or my birthday one year during high school. "The Cremation Of Sam McGee" is one that I almost know by heart. My dad also introduced me to Jack London's novels, and lots of other literature long forgotten, I'm sure.

I remember going to his office as a little kid. Back in those days it was stacks and stacks of maps and well logs. I remember playing with his slide-rule, and triangles and drawing and drafting implements. I still have one of his leather shot filled map weights on my desk. I also still have most of his drafting stuff. In a box. Somewhere.

It's been thirty years since his death from lung cancer - thirty years this past April. I still miss him. I miss knowing him. I miss not knowing him.

He was a good man.

My grandfather, Felix Alex Todd, Jr. was a Lt. Colonel in the Army. I never met him. He died in a military plane crash on June 30, 1943. My mom was 11 or 12 years old at the time. My uncle (her brother) was 6 or 7 I would guess.

All I know is the stories my mom has told me. That he died in a plane crash and that sabotage was suspected. That he had something to do with the establishment of the Officer's Candidate School. That he was stationed in the Phillipines for a time - where my mom was born. And then stationed in Panama - where my uncle was born. Then to Fort Benning in Georgia. Then after that I don't know. They may have lived in the D.C. area up until he died. I'm not sure.

My grandfather in the early 1900's...he was born in 1905...
My maternal grandfather :: Felix Alex Todd, Jr.

Graduation Photograph - Westpoint - July 1923
Felix Graduation

Felix Alex Todd, Jr.

Newspaper clipping
Lt. Col. Felix Alex Todd, Jr.  newspaper clipping

And as it turns out, there is one more military man in my lineage that I should pay respects to. My 5th Great Grandfather (on my mother's side) was John William Smith aka William John Smith, born in 1792 in Virginia. He ended up being one of the messengers at the Battle of the Alamo, and served as the first mayor of San Antonio - two terms I believe. He also became a Senator representing the Bexar District (San Antonio and environs) of The Republic of Texas.

So obviously he wasn't in the United States military - it was the Texas Revolution, The Battle of the Alamo - but still, I want to remember and honor him, as well.

Here's a link if you want to read more him:

On Sunday :: Mother Earth. Worth Dying For?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Get Up Stand Up Don't Give Up The Fight

This is a wonderfully succinct video. Rachel Maddow pretty well sums up how our system of government is supposed to work. But there is a natural expectation that somehow Republicans/Right Leaning Folks will somehow see "the error of their ways", "their 'wrong' policies/beliefs", and magically change their minds/belief systems. Within just a couple of days after the election, I'm getting the drift that really nothing will change on that side of the aisle - that Republicans and Tea Party candidates will continue hell-bent in their Obstructionist Approach to Obama, his policies, and all things "Democratic" and "Socialist". There is a great deal of cognitive impoverishment and cognitive dissonance out there in the ranks of the Right. The hard work has only just begun. Our votes are not the end of our civic duty - our vote is the beginning of our civic duty. Our job now is to become intimately involved in our own governance at the Local, County, State, AND Federal levels. Pick them all, or pick one issue/area near and dear to your heart. Dedicate an hour a day to following the issues - and becoming involved. How many of us have written to our elected representatives? Or called? Or emailed? I, for one, plan to get involved, and personally meet with every single one of my elected representatives. I plan to let them know that they represent me even though I didn't vote for them. I plan to let them know what my expectations are of them as my representative. I plan to let them know I will be keeping tabs on their actions, statements, and votes that effect me, my loved ones, my precinct, my town, my county, my metropolitan area, my state, my country, my ecosystems, my hydrologic systems, and my planet. I wholeheartedly urge my fellow citizens to do the same. It is time to get up, stand up, and start the hard work of making our world a better place to live.

Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight.

Get up, stand up: stand up for your right
Get up, stand up: stand up for your right
Get up, stand up: stand up for your right
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight

Preacher man don't tell me,
Heaven is under the earth
I know you don't know
What life is really worth
It's not all that glitters is gold
Half the story has never been told
So now you see the light, eh!
You stand up for your right
Come on!

Get up, stand up: stand up for your right
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight
Get up, stand up: stand up for your right
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight

Most people think
Great God will come from the sky,
Take away everything
And make-a everybody feel high
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights, jah!

Get up, stand up (Jah, jah)
Stand up for your right (Oh, hoo)
Get up, stand up (Get up, stand up)
Don't give up the fight (Life is your right)
Get up, stand up (So we can't give up the fight)
Stand up for your right (Lord, Lord)
Get up, stand up (Keep us struggling on)
Don't give up the fight, yeah

We sick an' tired of your ism-skism game
Dyin' 'n' goin' to heaven in-a Jesus' name, Lord
We know when we understand
Almighty God is a living man
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can't fool all the people all the time
So now we see the light (What you gonna do?)
We gonna stand up for our rights (Yeah, jah, jah!)

So you better
Get up, stand up (In the morning, get it up)
Stand up for your right (In the night)
Get up, stand up
Don't give up the fight (Don't give it up, don't give it up)
Get up, stand up (Get up, stand up)
Stand up for your right (Get up, stand up)
Get up, stand up (Don't be a nigger in your neighborhood, yeah)
Don't give up the fight (Get up, stand up)
Get up, stand up (I don't think that should be very good, Lord) (Get up, stand up)
Stand up for your right (Get up, stand up)
Get up, stand up (I said, don't be a nigger in your neighborhood, yeah)
Don't give up the fight

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bruder, können sie ersparen 22 Gigawatt solarenergie?

I saw this up on Facebook a bit ago. The math didn't sit well with me after a lil' bit 'o pre-coffee sluggish brain cypherin'.

So y'all who know me know what I had to do. Break out the spreadsheet and get to Google'in. Here's what I came up with in response/commentary:

Solar power to nuclear power is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Posts like this are good – necessary to get the information out there to fuel the global paradigm shift to sustainable energy sources. We need more and more of this in the U.S. where the shift has barely begun. We are way behind other countries who are not under the grips of the petrochemicalmilitaryindustrialcomplex/lobby. Way behind.

But these posts/memes are not good when they mis-inform, even if unintentionally. Inaccurate information/math doesn’t help the sustainable energy cause. Don’t even get me started on the topic of intentional/willful disinformation. But I don’t think that’s what we’re seeing here.

Let’s do the 8th Grade math (don’t get me started on the American educational system – let’s say it’s 8th grade math everywhere else in the world – in the U.S. it’s college level math)…grin…

Taking Germany’s nine (9) nuclear power plants at a combined rated capacity of 12,696MW, extrapolating that to twenty (20) plants, yields a capacity of 28,213MW. That converts to 28.21GigaWatts. With an average capacity factor of 70% for nuclear power, we arrive at 173,000GWh (Gigawatt-Hours).

For a total rated capacity of 22GW “Solar”, using a capacity factor of 15% (which is being really generous with the German sunshine – Arizona is 19% - John Wind is correct at about 9% capacity factor) – the simple math gives us 28,908GWh.

20 Nuclear Plants = 173,000GWh

22GW of Solar = 28,908GWh

In this example, the solar values equal 17% of the nuclear values.
So, every 6.58GW of installed solar replaces the output of one (1) average nuclear power plant.

The reason for this is that nukes run almost 100% of the time (downtime for maintenance, repairs, changing fuel rods, decreased demand, etc.) and solar only “runs” when the sun is shining.

To replace twenty (20) nuclear power plants, it would take 131.66GW of installed solar capacity.

Germany’s goal is to have 66GW of installed solar capacity by 2030, which is admirable. It is the right thing to do. But it is not enough.

Germany is currently purchasing electricity from nuclear plants located just outside of their borders, and increasing their coal-fired electricity output to replace the electricity from the eight (8) nuclear plants they shut down in 2011 after the Fukushima disaster.

Adding electricity generating capacity from solar, wind and other renewable sources is the right thing to do.

But it is not everything. It is not the end of the game. It does not get us to where we need to be, energy-wise, nor lifestyle-wise.

The one thing that everyone is not figuring into all of this – is that we ALL need to begin changing our lifestyles to BEGIN USING LESS ENERGY. Using less energy tomorrow than we are today. And even less next year than this year. And less, and less and less.

There is a myth prevailing that we can get all of our energy needs from solar, wind, and other renewables. We can, but not at our current rates of energy consumption. The entire planet will have to drastically reduce its energy needs. And “drastically” is an understatement.

And, indeed, Louis Cruz, Jr. is correct. The photo is of the PS10 Concentrating Solar Facility in Andalucia, Spain.

P.S. None of this analysis deals with the fact that solar only supplies power to the grid during the sunshiney daylight hours – unless we start talking battery storage for every PV array – then the math and economics and environmental benefits get much more complicated.

On a very related subject, check out a prior post of mine...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Yo La Tango Mini-Fest in Austin! Nov 29-Dec 03

It's not too late to figger out a way to get yer tail here and dance it off...

Teachers are Murat & Michelle Erdemsel and Felipe Martinez & Maria Elena Ybarra...

6 milongas! 7 cool and funky Austin venues! And a bunch of other cool stuff! You know you've been wanting to come check out Austin - now is your chance.

Come see me! I miss y'all...(grin)

On a serious note...Murat & Michelle were one of my early tango influences - even if only in a virtual sense. Here's why:

I honestly don't know a thing about Felipe & Maria...except that he looks strikingly like GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan...(grin)

Austin Tango

Here's a great little short/news story from KUT (radio) about the Austin Tango community - as it revolves around Monica & Gustavo's wonderful venue aka cultural center "Esquina Tango"...

Just A Mushroom

sin titulo...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Rattlesnake Shake

Hustlin' across the desert, leaving El Ghettoeste, vuelvo al cradle of love, doing the Rattlesnake Shake, Looking For Madge, Then Play On, and long, drawn out Loan Me Dime, ponderin' on all the beauty in the world, as it passes by, obscure in the desert fog, at 130kmh...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tango Libre

"The latest film from Belgian director Frederic Fonteyne ('Une Liaison Pornographique') mirrors the sultry, shifting rhythms of the dance in mapping a complicated web of relationships."

Review by David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter...from The Venice International Film

Review by BOYD VAN HOEIJ of

Mariano "Chicho" Frumboli has a starring role.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Miss Representation

Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection) from Miss Representation on Vimeo.

Find a screening:
Join the movement:
Spread the word:

Miss Representation explores women’s under-representation in positions of power and influence and challenges the limited and often disparaging portrayals of women in media. Writer/Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom brings together some of America’s most influential thought leaders in politics, news, entertainment, and academia, including Condoleezza Rice, Katie Couric, Geena Davis, Lisa Ling, Marissa Mayer, Cory Booker, Jean Kilbourne, and Jackson Katz, to give us an inside look at the media’s messaging. As one of the most persuasive and pervasive forces of communication in our culture, mainstream media is educating yet another generation that a woman’s primary value lies in her youth, beauty and sexuality—not in her capacity as a leader. Miss Representation premieres Saturday January 22 in the documentary competition at Sundance Film Festival and then travels to the Athena Film Festival in New York City February 12.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes, there will be war...

Songwriters: Valentin, Mats / Green, Marti Lynn Dodson

Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And another
Is finally
And permanently
And abandoned -
Everywhere is war -
Me say war.

That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
Me say war.

That until the basic human rights
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to race -
Dis a war.

That until that day
The dream of lasting peace,
World citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
But never attained -
Now everywhere is war - war.

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
That hold our brothers in Angola,
In Mozambique,
South Africa
Sub-human bondage
Have been toppled,
Utterly destroyed -
Well, everywhere is war -
Me say war.

War in the east,
War in the west,
War up north,
War down south -
War - war -
Rumours of war.
And until that day,
The African continent
Will not know peace,
We Africans will fight - we find it necessary -
And we know we shall win
As we are confident
In the victory

Of good over evil -
Good over evil, yeah!
Good over evil -
Good over evil, yeah!
Good over evil -
Good over evil, yeah! /fadeout/

War lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day To My Mom

I truly am blessed to have the greatest Mom in the whole wide world. She naturally exudes unconditional love. I am a lucky, lucky man to have been brought into being, nurtured and raised by such a beautiful human being.

I love you mom. Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Restorative Justice

One of the things I love about Facebook is my exposure to new "stuff". I've heard the term "restorative justice" before, but have never looked into it, and therefore never really understood what it was all about. Facebook is opening my already open mind on a daily basis. It is a portal to my continuing education.

But I'm preaching to the choir. I'm sure y'all feel the same way.

So here's the excerpt from the article in Psychology Today that resonated in my heart:

Restorative Circles provide a way for individuals and communities to handle conflicts compassionately rather than punitively, as well as to heal and learn from these conflicts. These days when I say I want justice, this is the kind of justice system I have in mind -- a system that values everyone's needs and is designed to address those needs without either blame or compromise.

How is it that a concept like this, which is so close to the fundamental truth, so right, so "just", is so far from our minds (here in the U.S.)?

How is it that something that makes so much sense, seems so obvious, yet seems so far from our collective consciousness and from a new and willfully manifested reality?

I wonder. I do know that it starts here and on Facebook and on Twitter - by sharing and reading and pondering. Planting the seeds of change.

Real change. Real. Change. Of the "fundamental truth" variety. Not the namby-pamby politi-speak mealy-mouthed bullshit we hear so much of today. All talk and no action.

Have a great new day y'all....

Our Justice System Requires Us To Punish Wrongdoers. What If There Were a Better Way?
Is there a better way of "doing justice"? The alternative may surprise you.
Published on August 18, 2010 by Mikhail Lyubansky, Ph.D. in Between the Lines

We think we know what it means -- that we who want justice are willing to fight for it. The words have a deeper meaning, of course. They are intended to remind us that it is not possible to have a peaceful society as long as there is injustice, because inevitably those who are oppressed will rise up.
As slogans go, this one is pretty clever, so clever, in fact, that it's easy to get caught up in the words and forget to think about what they actually mean.

What is it that we really want when we say we want justice?

A year ago I would have easily answered "true equality under the law" -- as opposed to our current criminal (in)justice system, in which race clearly plays a major role. More to the point, I would have said that I wanted the determination of guilt and the administration of punishment to not be correlated to race or any other demographic characteristic.

Today, I'm no longer satisfied with that.

For those of us living in the United States, "doing justice" is mostly synonymous with administering punishment. We may not literally follow the Biblical edict of "an eye for an eye", but most of us still believe that "the punishment must fit the crime". Indeed, many of us would be hard pressed to even come up with an alternative justice system.

Yet alternatives abound in the form of restorative justice.

There are many restorative justice systems. The one I've been studying is Restorative Circles (RC), a system developed by Dominic Barter in the shanty towns of urban Brazil and now spreading across the world as a means of promoting and facilitating social justice, group cohesion, resilient relationships and personal healing.

Restorative Circles provide a way for individuals and communities to handle conflicts, including racial conflicts, compassionately rather than punitively, as well as to heal and learn from these conflicts. These days when I say I want justice, this is the kind of justice system I have in mind -- a system that values everyone's needs and is designed to address those needs without either blame or compromise1.

To the uninitiated, restorative processes may appear idealistic and naive. After all, they reject the two core aspects of the traditional justice system: the assignment of blame and the administration of punishment. Instead, the goal of the Circle is for the parties involved in the conflict to first gain mutual understanding of the others' experiences and needs and then to restore or build a mutually satisfying relationship.

Talking is involved, so is listening. Lots of listening. But it's a decidedly different type of talk than people usually engage in2, and it's not just talk.

The restorative process is designed to lead to voluntary (and they really are voluntary!) acts offered to repair or restore the relationship. The two words are not synonymous. Reparative acts have to do with compensation -- paying for a broken window is a reparative act -- while restorative acts are those whose value is largely symbolic, a heart-felt apology may qualify, or a basket of vegetables from one's garden, or an invitation to dinner. It's certainly not surprising that people prefer to have both, but it turns out, Barter explains, that if they can only have one, there is a strong preference for acts that are restorative.

And yet, Restorative Circles aren't, at the heart of it, about apologies or even about restorative acts more generally. They're about mutual understanding and connection. Too often racial conflict is addressed with (legitimate) accusations. Denial ensues. Feelings are hurt. At the end, no one feels good about what happened.

Restorative processes offer an alternative, one that connects people by allowing them to not just understand each other but experience each other's humanity. That's why restorative acts are offered. That's why they are experienced as restorative. There is nothing like it in our current ways of doing justice.

In his trainings, Barter weaves in multiple examples from a variety of contexts. In one, a masked thief enters a small convenience store and robs the owner at gunpoint. He is apprehended a short while later and agrees to a restorative process. In that process, he explains that he did what he did because he was pressured to do so by a gang in order to demonstrate his commitment. The store owner shares how, weeks later, he still felt traumatized by the incident. It takes more than an hour to work through the nuances of understanding each other. When they finally reach the action phase of the process, the store owner offers the would-be-thief a job in the store.

Skeptical? I was too. And I wasn't about to be be convinced by testimonials and personal anecdotes. I wanted hard data, and I knew how to find it. What I found was one empirical study after another that demonstrated the effectiveness of restorative systems. Indeed, a review of research on restorative justice across multiple continents showed that restorative systems reduce recidivism in both violent and property crime in comparison to traditional justice systems and provide a variety of benefits to the "victims", including improved mental health and greater satisfaction with the justice process (Sherman & Strang, 2007).

Such a profound process should be difficult to facilitate, intimidating to even contemplate. It isn't. Part of the reason is that Barter has whittled the RC process to the bare essentials, which are few and relatively easy to learn, if not master. Another part is that Barter encourages a minimalist approach. "When I facilitate a circle," he says, "I intensely desire everyone's well-being and that's why I try to do nothing to help them." The statement seems paradoxical, but Barter is making an important point: The power of RC rests in the process, and it is the structure of the process that creates change, not the facilitator, whose job is merely to create and hold the space for the process to unfold.

Barter says the facilitators he enjoys observing most are those under the age of 10. Why not? In Dominic Barter's world, schoolchildren spontaneously break out into a restorative circle during recess. It seems downright inconceivable at first, but after a few days with Barter, the message sinks in: Facilitating a circle is child's play. Anyone can do it.

Given the level of conflict and injustice in our world, I wish everyone would.


1. In regard to the "No Justice. No Peace" banner, in the context of restorative justice, the two concepts are not just interdependent, they are indistinguishable from each other. That is, justice is a way of resolving conflict compassionately by addressing everyone's needs, while peace is a way of living with conflict by engaging it effectively and compassionately.

2. Describing the actual process is beyond the scope of this particular piece, but interested readers should visit the restorative circles website.

Monday, April 16, 2012

When is the last time...

you had a great conversation? One that wasn't just two intersecting monologues. One in which you overheard yourself saying things you didn't know you knew? One where you felt yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you thought you had lost. With a sense of an event that brought the two of you onto a different plane. A conversation that continued to sing in your mind for weeks afterward?

[John O'Donoghue in an interview by Krista Tippett on "On Being" NPR]

Sent from my iPhone...'bout to cross the Pecos River...file under "Posts at 80mph"...


There is so much beauty in the world, yet we seem only able to destroy it...

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Sublime Door

cierra la puerta

I was just searching old emails and bookmarks looking for a link I sent myself many months ago - a special bronze valve that I found that appeared to be a good fit for building prototype shower and possibly lavatory fittings for the remodel. I haven't found it, and am now faced with starting my search over from scratch.

But I did find this. It appears that I wrote it to a friend, probably of the facebook variety, in response to her query about "a door opening when love stands in front it" or something or other. I can't recall who I wrote it for/to.

I had to read and re-read it a few times, where it lay there in my email "sent" box, sent to myself over a year ago, to figure out if it was something I actually wrote or if it was attribute-able to someone else. It was that unfamiliar to me. I was thinking to myself, "Self, did you write this?" It somehow seemed too good for lil' 'ol me to have written. But maybe not. Who knows?

Anyway, I thought it interesting enough to dredge it up and copy and paste it and tack it up here.

Now that I think about it, I think it's actually less about actual doors, and more about men. A well-built door, a well-hung door - as a metaphor of a man. It's starting to come back to me. I think I remember who I wrote this for, and I think there's a new door in her life.

There are closed doors that blow open in a breeze, sliding doors that open with a gesture (if they're not off-track); those stupid bi-fold doors that open easily but never seem to work right; dummy knobs with catches that open with a gentle pull; passage sets with no locking function - just turn the knob; privacy sets with a simple push button lock that you can unlock with a paper clip; entry latchsets that do require a key to open; the single cylinder deadbolt - key outside, simple turn knob inside; and the double cylinder deadbolt requiring a key to unlock both inside and out. We mustn't forget the padlock and hasp, iron bars, and additional security measures folks elect to employ on their doors.

All that said, a door that doesn't open automatically when love stands in front of it (like at Target), is usually broken.

It's nice when a beautiful door works perfectly - plumb, level, square, reveals aligned, no sagging jambs, weatherstripping in order, no cracks or gaps or dings, properly mortised strike for a tight fit, raised panels properly constructed and sound, newly coated with an environmentally sustainable natural oil finish, heavy cast bronze hardware that feels good in your hand, hinges that glide smoothly and don't squeak, and finally, that opens effortlessly, and closes with a solid sounding "klunck".

But it takes a rare and talented carpenter to build and set a perfect door. Those doors are rare in my experience. Most doors are imperfect, selected without due diligence for the intended use, hastily installed so that the foundations for continued trouble-free operation for the lifetime of the door have not been laid, and usually not well maintained over the years. These doors can always be repaired, if the end-user and the carpenter have the desire to do so, and the stamina to stick with it until the task is completed. At which time the door will operate like a charm for many years to come.

Keep in mind that there are very inexpensive, paint-grade, thin-walled, hollow core masonite doors, sometimes with a corrugated cardboard torsion box inside. These are common at Home Depot - for about $50 bucks. These doors usually need to be replaced after a very short time of service.

There are solid core doors with particle board or solid lumber cores and a veneered exterior. Pretty, solid feeling and sounding when you knock, but only a veneer of wood - and if the particle board gets wet, the veneer will begin to peel away and the door will begin to fall apart. Again, nice while it lasted, but these types will need replacing eventually.

The most sublime door is 1-3/4" thick, 3'-0" wide, and 8'-0" tall. It is made by hand of solid wood with no veneers. Alder, cherry, mahogany - ideally locally sourced from a storm-fallen hardwood in someone's backyard. Mesquite is a nice wood species with a local Texas flavor, and is very durable. The individual pieces of wood to make the door should be kiln dried to a proper moisture content - 12-15%. They should be hand/eye selected for soundness and straightness, free from warp, bow, wane, knots, and other defects. Unless you want a door with a rustic character - then knots are desirable. Sound, tight knots that aren't loose and threatening to crumble and fall out and become peep holes. This door is built with impeccable joinery, and the highest quality exterior glue. Mortise & tenon, with a thick raised panel, and a full bolection mould if that is the end user's desire. The door should have 5/4" jambs, and bronze spring weather stripping. The casing should be wide, and thick. 5/4" by 6". A natural pigment stain, and natural oil will suffice - with periodic maintenance. Four hinges, not three. Forged and machined hinges not stamped. Ball bearing hinges - at least 5", perhaps 6". Sand-cast bronze, full-mortise latchset. All hand forged and machined if possible. This hardware will feel like none other when it is in your grasp. Solid. Precise. Peerless. Without fail. Every time.

Hand crafted with loving care is my motto. That love and care is imbued into the wood, the door, the jambs, the casing, the construction, the installation, the glue and nails that bind it all together. And most importantly, the day-to-day operation of the door. These doors return that imbued love with every passing person, every grasp and turn of the handle. Imagine a door that loves back.

This door is your opening to the world, and the portal to your inner being. This door is your protector. It protects you from the elements and the cold winds, wild bears, small mice and the occasional interloper or intruder. It is built soundly, and will last a lifetime, albeit with proper maintenance and care. It opens freely, gliding smoothly, yet closes with a thunk and locks solidly when needed. The warm tone of the wood is welcoming all who stand before it. Those who do can't help but touch. The smooth wood, possibly with natural distressing gained by many years of use, begs to be caressed. A door should say "come in", "you are welcome in my house", "mi casa es su casa". The world that these doors exist in remain unlocked - almost always.

These doors are rare, but they do exist out there in the world.

[ carried away with a little creative writing very early in the morning...but you get my drift...I hope...for future doors in your life...not that you needed any of my carpenter/door wisdom...hope you're okay...beso...a]

Globular Cluster M53 :: For the Directionally Challenged

Thanks go to Stephen for the find. This clarifies something I've been wondering about since 1968 - "Where would you end up in space if you take off in a spaceship from the north pole and go straight "up" out into space?"

I feel much better now, knowing how I'm oriented within the Milky Way Galaxy.

James Brown Boogaloo Tango

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Fable of the Century, by Robert Reich

By Robert Reich, Thursday, April 5, 2012...

Imagine a country in which the very richest people get all the economic gains. They eventually accumulate so much of the nation’s total income and wealth that the middle class no longer has the purchasing power to keep the economy going full speed. Most of the middle class’s wages keep falling and their major asset – their home – keeps shrinking in value.

Imagine that the richest people in this country use some of their vast wealth to routinely bribe politicians. They get the politicians to cut their taxes so low there’s no money to finance important public investments that the middle class depends on – such as schools and roads, or safety nets such as health care for the elderly and poor.

Imagine further that among the richest of these rich are financiers. These financiers have so much power over the rest of the economy they get average taxpayers to bail them out when their bets in the casino called the stock market go bad. They have so much power they even shred regulations intended to limit their power.

These financiers have so much power they force businesses to lay off millions of workers and to reduce the wages and benefits of millions of others, in order to maximize profits and raise share prices – all of which make the financiers even richer, because they own so many of shares of stock and run the casino.

Now, imagine that among the richest of these financiers are people called private-equity managers who buy up companies in order to squeeze even more money out of them by loading them up with debt and firing even more of their employees, and then selling the companies for a fat profit.

Although these private-equity managers don’t even risk their own money – they round up investors to buy the target companies – they nonetheless pocket 20 percent of those fat profits.

And because of a loophole in the tax laws, which they created with their political bribes, these private equity managers are allowed to treat their whopping earnings as capital gains, taxed at only 15 percent – even though they themselves made no investment and didn’t risk a dime.

Finally, imagine there is a presidential election. One party, called the Republican Party, nominates as its candidate a private-equity manager who has raked in more than $20 million a year and paid only 13.9 percent in taxes – a lower tax rate than many in the middle class.

Yes, I know it sounds far-fetched. But bear with me because the fable gets even wilder. Imagine this candidate and his party come up with a plan to cut the taxes of the rich even more – so millionaires save another $150,000 a year. And their plan cuts everything else the middle class and the poor depend on – Medicare, Medicaid, education, job-training, food stamps, Pell grants, child nutrition, even law enforcement.

What happens next?

There are two endings to this fable. You have to decide which it’s to be.

In one ending the private-equity manager candidate gets all his friends and everyone in the Wall Street casino and everyone in every executive suite of big corporations to contribute the largest wad of campaign money ever assembled – beyond your imagination.

The candidate uses the money to run continuous advertisements telling the same big lies over and over, such as “don’t tax the wealthy because they create the jobs” and “don’t tax corporations or they’ll go abroad” and “government is your enemy” and “the other party wants to turn America into a socialist state.”

And because big lies told repeatedly start sounding like the truth, the citizens of the country begin to believe them, and they elect the private equity manager president. Then he and his friends turn the country into a plutocracy (which it was starting to become anyway).

But there’s another ending. In this one, the candidacy of the private equity manager (and all the money he and his friends use to try to sell their lies) has the opposite effect. It awakens the citizens of the country to what is happening to their economy and their democracy. It ignites a movement among the citizens to take it all back.

The citizens repudiate the private equity manager and everything he stands for, and the party that nominated him. And they begin to recreate an economy that works for everyone and a democracy that’s responsive to everyone.

Just a fable, of course. But the ending is up to you.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My letter to the Texas Water Development Board

La Familia swimming Jacobs Well
Mi familia swimming in Jacob's Well on the occasion of my 50th birthday shindig a couple of years ago...

My letter re: this, to these gentlemen...asking them to repeal the recent decision by the Groundwater Management Area No. 09 [GMA-9] to establish a Desired Future Condition [DFC] wherein the Hays-Trinity Aquifer can be drawn down by thirty (30) feet over the next 50 years.

This action will likely dry up our beloved Jacob's Well, which feeds Cypress Creek, thence into the Blanco River. We're in an "Alarm" Stage drought condition here in the Texas Hill Country - and the economic interests of the few seem to be held higher than the water supply interests of the many...

I have also read recently that given current growth trends, we are on track to actually dry up Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin and the Colorado River over the next 50 years...

2012 02 29 Alex Long Letter to the Texas Water Development Board

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cortometraggio "Milonga" di Marco Calvise

This just excellent (Italian) short film... a find by my tango field operative Rigoberto Ruiszhik...uploaded just the other day...

Enjoy. It's a good'un. Thanks go out to Rigoberto.

Uploaded by carcasstube on Feb 13, 2012
*Capalbio Cinema International 2011 -- Capalbio(GR)
"Best Director Award"

*Settimo Senso 2011 -- Festival del cinema di Scafa -- Scafa(PE)
"Premio come miglior Corto"

*III Movieclub Film Festival 2011 -- Palestrina(RM)
"Premio come miglior regia"

*Fiati Corti 12 -- Istrana(TV)
"Premio miglior interprete"

*5° Festival Internazionale del Cinema dell'Aquila - L'Aquila
"Miglior Cortometraggio"(cat.Abruzzo)

*6° Festival Cinematografico Cinema & Ciociaria premio "Nino Manfredi" - Frosinone(FR)
"2° Classificato miglior cortometraggio"

Festival di cinema.
Selezione ufficiale:
*TFF - Torino Film Festival 2010 -- Torino
*Bif&st -- Bari International Film & Tv Festival 2011 - Bari
*Cortinametraggio 2011 -- Cortina d'Ampezzo(BL)(fuori concorso)
*A Corto D'Idee 2011 -- Ravello(SA)
*Figari Film Fest 2011 -- Golfo Aranci(OT)
*Trani Film Festival 2011 - Trani(BA)(fuori concorso)
*XIII VideoLab Film Festival 2011 -- Vittoria(RG)
*Premio cinematografico Palena 2011 -- Palena(CH)

Festival Di Tango:
*I Montalbano Tango Festival 2011 - Montalbano Elicona(ME)
*I Bari International Tango Congress -- Bari
*IX Tano Tango Festival -- Napoli
*VI Choco Tango Festival - Perugia

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My letter to the President this morning...

White House
Thanks to Nello Latini for sharing his photo of the White House on flickr!

Dear Mr. President,

Over the past week or so, there has been a great deal of chatter on Facebook about Monsanto, GMO's and Whole Foods.

The entire issue is very confusing and complex, and it's difficult to get at what's actually going on with regard to government regulation of GMO's and biotech companies like Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Syngenta, et al.

My concern is that unregulated and unsupervised, these companies are potentially harming the environment, the balance of ecosystems, our food supply, and ultimately the health of humans, domestic animals and wildlife. Because of the unknown implications/ramifications of this research and technology (much of which is apparently already being implemented into widespread use) - I feel that a danger exists to all flora and fauna and the ecosystems of the entire planet.

We have many, many very grave issues before us, and I appreciate the monumental job you have before you. When everything on the to-do list is of the highest priority - well, I do feel for the huge responsibilities you face.

If you could point me to an agency website, or if a staffer could fill me in on this (very broad) topic as far as your administration is concerned - your specific policy towards GMO's - and your specific regulatory approvals and other actions within the USDA and possibly other departments (such as the EPA), I would appreciate it.

I'm also concerned about Tom Vilsack's close ties to Monsanto and the biotech industry.

It also appears that several former Monsanto executives/employees have been appointed/hired to key positions within the USDA. Not to question your judgement in this matter, but this smacks of, well, the old "inside the beltway" of doing things.

I would like a specific response to your reasoning behind appointing industry insiders to key positions within your administration - where these individuals may be inclined to steer policy in favor of their former employer/industry, in lieu of steering policy/regulations in a direction that provides the maximum benefit for "We The People" and the (hopefully) wholesome ecosystems we all depend on for healthy life and sustenance.

For reference, here are the two articles that I read on Facebook this morning that prompted this letter to you.

A story that appears to get at the heart of the Whole Foods/Monstato/GMO/USDA matter:

and from a year ago, an ABC news story about the deregulation of GMO alfalfa:

Thank you for your time, and keep up the good work. But, and there always is a but, you can do better.

Sincerely yours,

Alex T. Fuego
Driftwood, Texas

(I'll let y'all know when I receive a response...)

Follow up...

Here are two more really good articles from mi amigo Colby:

"Did Whole Foods Sell Out to Monsanto? The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: Now What?"


"19 Studies Link GMO Foods to Organ Disruption"

And lastly, the link to write to the President, your Senators, and Representatives...and State Governors and State Legislators as well...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Islands at Risk - Genetic Engineering in Hawai'i :: Monsanto Playing God?

Taro Fields
Photo by Peter Adams on Flickr...

I would offer that it's not just Hawai'i that's at's the entire planet, and us along with it.

"We cannot ignore the moral and ethical ramifications of combining species at the molecular level..."

"...(genetic engineering is) crossing sacred seems unholy...."

Bio-piracy: Multinational corporations (Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Syngenta) bought up virtually all seed companies in the 1990's, and with the assistance of the Federal and State governments, and aligning Public Universities to help with additional research (some might say "converting them into their own private laboratories), and conducting genetic engineering research, that is eventually patented and thereby becomes private (corporate) property owned by a few individuals.

"...the end of bio-diversity?..."

"...the vast majority of industrialized nations have banned GMO's (genetically modified organisms) completely...the small papaya farming industry in Hawai'i is dying because Japan, their major market, does not allow the import of GMO's...but not the United States...we are leading the research and development of GMO's..."

Hawaii has more experimental field trials of genetic engineering than any other state in the nation. Just a few of the many examples of permits granted for field trials include:

Corn engineered with human genes (Dow)
Sugarcane engineered with human genes (Hawai‘i Agriculture Research Center)
Corn engineered with jellyfish genes (Stanford University)
Tobacco engineered with lettuce genes (University of Hawai‘i)
Rice engineered with human genes (Applied Phytologics)
Corn engineered with hepatitis virus genes (Prodigene)

I have a bad feeling about all this.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Related Info:

The Global Spread of GMO Crops
Inherit the Wind


Hawaii Seed :: GMO Info

Union of Concerned Scientists :: Food & Agriculture

NPR's "On Being" :: Joanna Macy "A Wild Love for the World"

Joanna Macy - The Great Turning: The Great Turning is a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.

Here is an interesting graphic showing ex-Monsanto employees who are now employed by WeThePeople in positions that in theory they can guide Federal policy to the benefit of Monsanto - or worse - basically corporate spies reporting back to Monsanto. Note that Flickr is blocking me from sharing the image...basically lobbying from within...

Our system is broken...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address - Full Text

My sound card is busted on my laptop and I don't get TV way out here on the eastern fringe of the Chihuahua Desert. So, I couldn't watch President Obama's State of the Union Address. I searched around for the full text - in pdf format so I could download it and print it out and read it in bed - but it was nowhere to be found.

So I created it myself to share with y'all and the world. I expect millions and millions of hits from people wanting to do the same - download/print/read/keep/reflect/ponder/comprehend/actively bear witness to effect change in the world versus passively listen/and begin to act with regard to their own governance...

Yeah right. Anyway, here ya go. Have at it. Nighty night.

The White House President Obama State of the Union Address 2012 Full Text PDF

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sand Cornice

Earlier today I went out to Monahans Sandhills State Park for a quickie look-see. Here's what I saw.

Sand Cornice

And some video to go along with...

My ears and my asscrack were filled up with 98% pure, 40,000 year old quartz sand.

But it was worth it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Internet is Lost :: On SOPA and PIPA

If there ever were a time for us, as citizens of these United States, to engage actively in our own governance, the time is now. Like right now. Before the upcoming Senate vote on PIPA [Protect IP Act] on January 24. That gives us three days to write, or even better, to call our Senators.

The House bill, SOPA [Stop Online Piracy Act], has been tabled for now, but is scheduled to rear its ugly head again in February. So it's important to call (or write) your Congressperson too.

If you're not sure what all the fuss is about, here's a good, balanced explanation from Forbes Magazine titled "What Are SOPA and PIPA And Why All the Fuss?"

Wiki also has a good informational page:

In the C|Net article "How SOPA would affect you: FAQ", the author points out that The Honorable Lamar Smith [R], the right-in-my-backyard House Representative for Texas Congressional District 21, and sponsor of the bill, has an interesting slate of major campaign donors.

Quoting the article, "As CNET reported in December, Smith, a self-described former ranch manager whose congressional district encompasses the cropland and grazing land stretching between Austin and San Antonio, Texas, has become Hollywood's favorite Republican. The TV, movie, and music industries are the top donors to his 2012 campaign committee, and he's been feted by music and movie industry lobbyists at dinners and concerts."

As I like to say with regard to pretty much any bill authored by pretty much any Senator or Congressperson, "FOLLOW THE MONEY".



It is a sad state of the Republic, that it's the special interests (money) driving most of the legislation in both Houses of Congress. It's the interests of the special interests, that our elected representatives are paying attention to, and not the interests of "We The People".

And as I also like to say, "IF YOU'RE NOT ABSOLUTELY FUCKING LIVID (about your perverted/impotent system of governance), YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION".

So the time is now to call or write - to help them start paying attention to we the people, and to help them start paying attention to what is in the best interests of we the people.

Personally, I plan to start dedicating an hour or two a week to communicating with my elected officials - both on the Federal and State levels. They are all now in my contacts in Outlook. We dedicate time to ourselves, our partners/spouses, time to family/friends, time to exercise, time to read/listen to music, time to meditate/go to church/bird watch, time for artistic endeavors like photography or dancing Argentine Tango, time to watch sports or other drivel on the boob tube, time to go hunting, play golf, bowl, macrame'/knit (male emphasis here), play video games, shopping at Cabela's or Home Depot and generally if not specifically time for jacking off and reading on the toilet.

Why not time to actively engage in one's own governance? Dedicated, committed time, especially, ESPECIALLY, in these troubled times.

Dedicated, committed, open/mindful, aware, loving time to read and study and write (or call) about the issues we each hold dear. Too many issues? Pick one.

Sorry to get preachy y'all. I'm not preaching to you, kind reader. I'm preaching to everyone. Pleading with the Universe to get with the program, wake up, and take an interest in this world we've created through our profound apathy and inattention.

So here are the links to make it find your reps and their contact info...

And lastly, here is the seed for the title of this post. It's the scene from the film "Downfall" (excellent film by the way) - the scene where Hitler gets pissed off when his generals are telling him they are being overwhelmed/overrun/losing the war. The scene that has been hackneyed on YouTube with folks dubbing in new subtitles to make their point.

The subtitles on this one are gone in a flash, so it's a challenge to follow everything. Some of it is silly, but most of it (the subtitle text) is profoundly true. Not that the Internet could ever actually be "lost" over PIPA or SOPA, but the Internet as we know it, could be.

Bear with it to the end - 4:00 minutes - that's the best part...

Thanks for reading, and make that commitment to call (or write) your peeps in the next couple of days. I thank you, and the citizens of the world thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

P.S. Plus I'm really pissed that Congress is spending our precious money and time on an issue that really doesn't need to be addressed. The existing laws are possibly just fine, perhaps with some tweakage. I'll share a reply letter I recieved from my representative, Lloyd Doggett in the comments below, that talks about this. My point is that in these troubled times with very grave issues before us - our Congress deigns to squander precious time on needless bullshit. Especially when they are all clamoring for less regulation and less spending and more job creation. These fuckers need to get with the program. And we the people are the only ones who can help them do that.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

RIP Andrea Misse'

RIP Andrea Misse'

Sad, very sad news....

From El Tangauta 02/01/2012:

'With deep sadness we communicate that Andrea Misse died today in a car accident in La Pampa. Javier Rodriguez also reported that her husband and her baby are in critical condition.'