Category Archives: A blogger’s musings

A fond farewell to Carrie Fisher, friend for a week

Carrie Fisher is gone, and I’m sad.

It’s not because of her Star Wars roles or her books, though we have nejoyed both.

It’s because of five days we spent as guests at John Denver’s ranch in Aspen, Colorado.

The event was a “human potential” seminar run by a fellow named Marshall Thurber, and it happened just after the publication of the first book I’m written under my own name, Fuller’s Earth, a day with Bucky and the Kids.

Buckminster Fuller, that brilliant poet, mathematician, inventor, and designer, was an icon of the 1960’s and ‘70’s, the self-educated scion of a family of Boston Brahmans known for their patronage of the arts [Margaret Fuller, that brilliant writer (she was America’s first woman book critic), women’s rights movement pioneer, and a member of Boston’s famous transcendentalist circle was a great-aunt].

The event was organized by Marshall Thurber, a lawyer and real estate developer who runs a network of movement to teach business skills with a emphasis on developing cooperation skills to better the human condition.

He was also a mentor to Tony Robbins, the infamous self-help huckster who soared to fame by holding seminars culminating with firewalks [that is, until people started to get burned]. He later held seminars in the White House for the Clintons and their staff]. Robbins was also there that week, and did his firewalk thing — pitched as a near miracle, but easily grasped by folks with a knowledge of physics, and yes, I walked the coals that week].

Two other folks with Bucky Fuller connections were also there that week. Allegra Snyder, Fuller’s daughter, and Amy Edmondson, his last student and his chief engineer, and now Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School.

The seminar was, as Fuller’s daughter whispered to me, “just a bit too California woo-woo,” filled with self-affirmation declarations and singing. and I had no specific role other than to serve as a catalyst, so I got to hang out.

Thurber also made the mistake of bring out the staff of Fuller’s World Game, a very socialist endeavor with the aim of devising the fastest way of bring an equitable share of the world’s resources to all of its inhabitants. They made what to Thurber’s mind was a great mistake, “a downer”, by very graphically revealing what would happen to the planet in the event of a nuclear was by tossing plastic disks representing the area nuclear weapons would destroy onto a vast world map. This was when the Cold War was at its peak under Ronald Reagan and the year Soviets very nearly launched their missiles when their early detection system malfunctioned and war was averted because of the reservations of a single Soviet air force officer.

Very quickly Carrie Fisher, Amy Edmondson, and I started hanging out, talking, laughing, joking.

I was the elder of the group, then 37 and ten years older than Fisher and 13 years older than Edmondson, but somehow we clicked,.

I don’t remember the details of our conversations, only that we were uniquely sympatico. What I do recall vividly with the several hours the three of us spent dancing and laughing way into the wee hours under one of he vast tent structures Denver had built on his ranch for gatherings such as Thurbers.

Fisher was wry, witty, profound, silly, exuberant, and able to see the world with a faintly cynical detachment, and very, very human.

That night of dancing was perhaps the happiest time of my life.

I never saw either woman again.

When I returned to California, my spouse of one year was very jealous, but she had nothing to fear. And it was that lack of sexual tension which had, perhaps, enabled the brief, intense, bonding of that week in Colorado, a memory I cherish.

So I bid a fond farewell to a remarkable and singular person, a woman of deep passion and conflicts, exuberant, thoughtful, and compassionate, a woman who gave me one of my fondest memories.

Goodbye Carrie, you are missed.

AT&T Internet, the worst service ever

We haven’t been ale t post today because our Internet service has been down,. We’ve had three different technicians out, and yet this morning we were down for four hours.

We’re up again, but for how long we haven’t the foggiest.

For the last three weeks or so, service has been terrible, and just why they can’t seem to determine.

Meanwhile, we’ll keep posting.

When we can.


Internet went down to most of 10 days

AT& sent one tech out who didn’t fix the problem, and it too four days to get another one out.

Thus, almost no posts except for a couple of windows when it was working.

Hopefully, things are fixed now.

Image of the day: Daughter and granddaughter

Just a simple case of grandfatherly indulgence, featuring daughter Jackie and granddaughter Sadie Rose:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 14 October 2016, ISO 1600, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 14 October 2016, ISO 1600, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

UPDATE: We couldn’t resist adding another image,featuring Sadie Rose and her rocking pig:

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 14 October 2016, ISO 1600, 9 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.4

Panasonic DMC-ZS19, 14 October 2016, ISO 1600, 9 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.4

Politics and the strange silence on financialization

Random musings on a Saturday night. . .

The financialization of active citizens, reconfigured as passive consumers, is the keystone of the game, creating a demand for all that stuff peddled by corporations a peddled as objects of desire both in advertising through placement in media content as symbols of wealth, power, and sexual desirability. Note to that those media, like the the corporations selling the stuff, are owned in large part by investment banksters and massive pension funds, public and private, while a new class of billionaires arises through the flood of cash generated by all that stuff — at least in advanced economies but to an alarming extent in second- and third-tier economies.

In addition to direct profits earned by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, even more wealth is generation by the financialization that makes it all possible. Without a scale of consumer credit unparalleled in modern history, banks generate vast sums through interest payments and fees charged for the borrowed cash that make us seeker out in order to accommodate all that stuff we’ve financed on credit cards.

And then there’s all the money needed to finance two car loans, because a second car is essential for many families with two income earners rather than the one that was the norm back when esnl was growing up in the 1950s.

And then there are those student loans you’ve got to get to land a job that gives you a crack at all that stuff, loans bigger than a lot of home mortgages and taking just as long to pay off.

Our blog flag features some very perceptive words from Aldous, Huxley, even truer today than when written more than sixty years ago:

Armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence — those are the three pillars of Western prosperity.

The U.S., of course, by far the world’s largest arms merchant, and planned obsolescence is the prime directive of the “information economy,” where folks by phones every year chasing the latest gotta-have-it features and computer software that comes in an unceasing parade of enumerated editions, with creations made on an early version oftens unreadable by the latest programs. [For the first decade as a journalist, we wrote our stories on typewriters, many of them newsroom veterans older than we were. In those days, modst folks had one telephone, a heavy black two-piece contraption that never borke and you kept as long as you owned or rented your dwelling.

Similarly, back in those days credit cards were unheard of and when folks wanted to buy something like a television of some living room furniture and they couldn’t pay in full couldn’t pay, stores would put the item on lay away, holding the item until the customer was able to make a series of payments over time to cover the item cost. Or, if you had a good reputation in the community, you might get store credit and have use of them items whilst paying them off.

But when federal law changes allowed banks to operate across state lines, credit cards exploded on the scene and private debt soared.

Issues unspoken during the election

These are the most important issues confronting American society today, along with the recrudescence of racism stirred up by the President-elect.

Yet only Bernie Sanders raised the debt/financialization issue, generating the ire of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, even though they were classic staples of New Deal-era Democrats.

Trump exploited the ire generated by the loss of class position and the hope of advancement that once inspired the American working class, but he focused that anger on the least powerful and most oppressed among us.

We had a race between a candidate who measures her wealth in the hundreds of millions and one who wealth is somewhere in the billions. Neither candidate worries about whether they can pay the rent, and the daughter of the Democrat is married to a Goldman Sachs star, whilst her opponent craps on a gold-plated toilet.

Welcome to Trump’s America, where things can only get worse.

And we’re officially on hiatus for a week. . .

Or maybe more.

We’re moving this weekend, and there’s lots to be done.

From Berkeley to Gardena, what a move.

We’ve made some good friends here in Berkeley, and we’ll miss them, but in Southern California we’ll have a two kids and a granddaughter close by.

Once we’ve got a new Internet connection, we’ll be back up and running, though posting will be slow as we get settled in.

Oh. We may add an occasional posts during the remainder of the week as we pause for a breather, but don’t count on it.

Meanwhile, enjoy the show!

Well make the rest of our signoff graphic:

First, from the Sacramento Bee:

Jack Ohman: Give him a small hand. . .

BLOG B Ohman
Next, from the Arizona Republic:

Steve Benson: Donald Trump’s teapology

BLOG B Benson
We give equal time, first with the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Steve Sack: The Hillary Clinton stash

BLOG B Sacks
And from the Indianapolis Star:

Gary Varvel: Clinton Foundation money

BLOG B VarvelAnd finally, the show must go on, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mike Luckovich: Faux

BLOG B Lucko

Destructive ‘afterslip’ followed Napa earthquake

And free books, too

We’ll begin with the free books.

We were once buried in books.

It was at 0136 hours on 3 September 2000 and we were sitting in our recliner in the livingroom of our apartment in Napa California when the lights went out and we were pummeled repeatedly by invisible assailants.

It was a magnitude 5.2 earthquake, and our assailants were books, an avalanche vomited forth by falling and collapsing bookcases.

We’re moving this weekend, and we again are buried in books, too many to carry south to L.A., so every day this week we’re putting lots of them out on the media between sidewalk and street, free for one and all.

The address is 2032 Prince Street in Berkeley [one house south of Shattuck Avenue between the Starry Plow and the Ashby BART station], and subjects range for brain/mind science to history, science, biography, media, and much more.

Fresh offerings daily through Saturday.

And the afterslips from another Napa quake

A map shows the location of the August 24, 2014 earthquake just south of Napa, California. In a new report, scientists from MIT and elsewhere detail how, even after the earthquake’s main tremors and aftershocks died down, earth beneath the surface was still actively shifting and creeping — albeit much more slowly — for at least four weeks after the main event. Image: Gareth Funning/University of California, Riverside

A map shows the location of the August 24, 2014 earthquake just south of Napa, California. In a new report, scientists from MIT and elsewhere detail how, even after the earthquake’s main tremors and aftershocks died down, earth beneath the surface was still actively shifting and creeping — albeit much more slowly — for at least four weeks after the main event.
Image: Gareth Funning/University of California, Riverside

A fascinating story from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

Nearly two years ago, on August 24, 2014, just south of Napa, California, a fault in the Earth suddenly slipped, violently shifting and splitting huge blocks of solid rock, 6 miles below the surface. The underground upheaval generated severe shaking at the surface, lasting 10 to 20 seconds. When the shaking subsided, the magnitude 6.0 earthquake — the largest in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1989 — left in its wake crumpled building facades, ruptured water mains, and fractured roadways.

But the earthquake wasn’t quite done. In a new report, scientists from MIT and elsewhere detail how, even after the earthquake’s main tremors and aftershocks died down, earth beneath the surface was still actively shifting and creeping — albeit much more slowly — for at least four weeks after the main event. This postquake activity, which is known to geologists as “afterslip,” caused certain sections of the main fault to shift by as much as 40 centimeters in the month following the main earthquake.

This seismic creep, the scientists say, may have posed additional infrastructure hazards to the region and changed the seismic picture of surrounding faults, easing stress along some faults while increasing pressure along others.

The scientists, led by Michael Floyd, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, found that sections of the main West Napa Fault continued to slip after the primary earthquake, depending on the lithology, or rock type, surrounding the fault. The fault tended to only shift during the main earthquake in places where it ran through solid rock, such as mountains and hills; in places with looser sediments, like mud and sand, the fault continued to slowly creep, for at least four weeks, at a rate of a few centimeters per day.

“We found that after the earthquake, there was a lot of slip that happened at the surface,” Floyd says. “One of the most fascinating things about this phenomenon is it shows you how much hazard remains after the shaking has stopped. If you have infrastructure running across these faults — water pipelines, gas lines, roads, underground electric cables — and if there’s this significant afterslip, those kinds of things could be damaged even after the shaking has stopped.”

There’s lots more, after the jump. . .

Continue reading