Friday, March 23, 2018

DMTC’s “Wizard of Oz” Continues This Weekend!

Grad School

Video of the Beatles' "Revolution"

Always loved this song!

Clovis Man

Cave Man:
CLOVIS, N.M. (KRQE) - A homeless New Mexico man is living in a tunnel he made himself right near a public park, and the city where he has dug this intricate home in the ground can't do anything about it.

“Dig yourself a house underground and you always have a home. I think it's sweet,” said Rosey Burge, Clovis resident.

Eight feet underground is where Sean Heron lives. He decided to get some peace and quiet by living where the sun doesn't shine.

Heron didn't want to be on camera, but says he's been homeless for a year. It wasn't until recently that his hideout was discovered by someone who posted a tour on Facebook.

The underground tunnel has drawers, closets, a bed and more. All of this is just behind Beacham Field in Clovis, a recreational baseball field.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Just Starting To Catch Up With The Stephon Clark Shooting

In recent years, I've detached myself from the media stream to an unusual degree - media has been so bad in recent years - so sometimes I'm slow to realize when big news occurs. That's the case with the Stephon Clark shooting, which is now national news, of which I knew little, even though it happened just five miles from my house. So, trying to catch up with the available information.

Protesters shut down Interstate 5 this evening. Afterwards, they basically shut down Golden One Arena, and prevented large crowds from watching the NBA basketball game there. I saw brief TV coverage of that. I was looking for people I know among the protesters.

Who knows where this thing is going?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Forget The Oil - Secure The Data!

There's data in them thar hills:
To the service companies specifically, owning the data — enough to fill 20 million file cabinets since 2010 alone — would mean a whole new revenue stream, perhaps as they sell subscriptions to huge data libraries.

“It’s like Netflix for oil and gas,” said John Gibson, an advisor at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. who previously ran the oil-services business for Halliburton Co. “Imagine that all data is like a movie that many different people want to watch, but they want to watch it at different times.”

To the producers, though, owning that data means one less check they’d have to write. And it would ensure competing producers couldn’t see their data while stealthily moving into a new field.

...EOG Resources Inc., dubbed by one of its analysts as the Apple of the oilfield, is widely considered a leader among explorers for bypassing oilfield service companies to generate its own in-house innovations.

“Data is king and one of our most valuable resources,” Sandeep Bhakhri, chief information and technology officer at EOG, said. “You have to own the data. You cannot outsource its collection, analysis or delivery.”

He Explained That He Never Saw Jesus

OK then:
A longtime teacher at an Orlando Christian day school has been taken into custody and charged with child abuse for allegedly stomping on a 5-year-old under her care because he failed to “speak with Jesus” during a time-out for acting up.

...The arrest report notes that another teacher at Kingsway noticed a bruise on the foot of the 5-year-old and asked what happened, only to be told that he had been sent by Williams to go “sit on the bench and talk to Jesus,” in an isolated “private prayer room” for misbehaving. He explained that he never saw Jesus, which infuriated Williams.

“When [Williams] entered the room a few minutes later, the teacher stomped on the student’s foot, leaving a bruise,” the arrest affidavit stated.

Tropical Cyclone Marcus Hits Darwin

I enjoyed this first person coverage of Tropical Cyclone Marcus hitting Darwin, NT, Australia, several days ago as a Category 2 storm.

Marcus has since grown to a Category 5 monster. It's currently offshore, but eventually Marcus will swing around and barrel east, maybe coming close to Western Australian cities like Perth, so its story is not over.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Various Tasks

Upgrading my version of the DMTC Master Cast List. Hope to soon start upgrading the online version of the list soon.

Making incremental changes to my Breaking Bad semiotics book manuscript. Discovering I need to rewatch "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" AGAIN! So, multitasking by upgrading the Master Cast List and watching "Breaking Bad" simultaneously.

Ramping up exercise. Took first post-heart-attack ballet class today. Took Zumba as well.

Two Problematic Movies

I saw two movies this weekend that I didn't really like all that much. Passed the time well enough, but....

Red Sparrow

This was like a dumb movie pretending like it was a smart movie. Weird, disembodied sexiness from Jennifer Lawrence. It was a nice, sadistic touch to have Charlotte Rampling in the movie, though.

Disney's Wrinkle in Time

This was like a dumb movie pretending like it was a smart movie. Weird, disembodied physics from Oprah.

The Great Martian War 1913 - 1917 (2013)

From imdb:
On the eve of the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of WWI, this mockumentary - employing "archival footage", and interviews with "historians", "researchers" and those directly involved - tells of the Great Martian War (1913-1917), which supplants what looked to have been an imminent great war between Germany and the rest of Europe. The Germans asked their adversaries for help when the Martians invaded Earth via a remote field in southern Germany. The Martians went on the attack first in Germany, then moved west throughout the rest of continental Europe, with the ultimate threat of crossing the channel into Britain. The Martians also took their fight into the waters around Europe. They employed animal-like machines in their battles, the human race which coined the respective machines as "herons", "lice" and "spiders" most closely resembling such animals, each which had their own seeming purpose in the war. The presentation of the ebbs and flows in the human defensive against the Martians discuss what, in hindsight, looked often to be the Martians' luring humans into a longer term goal. Ultimately, the war officially ended when human discovered what was an Achilles heel in the Martian offensive, but ultimately not without great consequence to the human race. Researchers in present day still study the war, with one such researcher, Lawrence Mark, examining the recently found diary of Canadian First Nations soldier Gus Lafonde by his great-granddaughter, Kim Lafonde, most specifically with regard to some Martian code which Mark, in using the code to decipher Martian writing from the time, posits that the Martians had a greater plan than what was initially thought.

St. Pat's

Steve Bannon Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself

It's time to end Facebook:
The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

Christopher Wylie, who worked with a Cambridge University academic to obtain the data, told the Observer: “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”

And it turns out Robert Mercer is from Albuquerque:
A powerful but previously obscure online data mining firm bankrolled by Albuquerque native Robert Mercer has been thrust into the media glare following revelations that it harvested Facebook user information to help propel Donald Trump into the White House in 2016.

Robert Mercer, a Sandia High School and UNM graduate turned New York hedge fund titan, reportedly plowed $15 million into Cambridge Analytica, which helped both the Trump campaign in the U.S. and the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom. The Journal profiled Mercer and his Albuquerque connections in November.

According to Forbes magazine, Mercer donated $24.6 million to the Republican Party in 2016. He has reportedly invested $10 million into Breitbart, the conservative news site. Financial journals place his net worth at from $900 million to more than a $1 billion.

Cambridge Analytica claims to use secret psychological methods to help mine online data that can be used to reach and influence potential voters. But now the firm’s aquisition and use of Facebook data in the 2016 election is drawing scrutiny from Congress, state and federal investigators and the British Parliament.

According to to a bombshell report in the New York Times on Saturday, Facebook initially downplayed knowledge of Cambridge Analytica’s work to influence the election, but on Friday suspended the company from its network.

...Mercer and his politically-connected daughter, Rebekah, initially backed the presidential candidacy of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in 2016. But they eventually supported Trump as the nominee.

If you think it all seems a bit much for a reportedly low-key guy who was once a member of the car club at Sandia High, you’re not alone. Deanna Cooper Koloc, who graduated from high school with Mercer, told the Journal last fall that she enjoyed catching up with her old classmate at their 50th reunion in Albuquerque three years ago.

“I was excited to see him at the reunion because he was one of the students I remembered well as part of a group I identified with, and I found him very pleasant and interesting to talk to,” Cooper Koloc recalled in a Journal interview last year. “We were both interested in hearing about mutual friends, and exchanged the sort of chitchat that always occurs at high school reunions. I’m glad I didn’t find out until later about his political leanings. I admire Bob for his accomplishments but vehemently oppose his politics.”

Mercer attended the reunion with Rebekah, who later introduced to Trump to Bannon. The father-daughter duo took an alumni tour of the Albuquerque school, attended the reunion dinner and reminisced with his old friends just like regular folks.

According to the 1964 edition of “The Crest” – the Sandia High yearbook – Mercer was active in extracurricular activities. The yearbook shows the bespectacled student as a member of the school’s chess, auto and Russian clubs.

An Albuquerque Journal article from the same year shows that Mercer – who later went on to become a pioneer in artificial intelligence and computer science – had a promising mathematical mind. He took top honors for New Mexico in the 1964 national high school math contest.Mercer attended the reunion with Rebekah, who later introduced to Trump to Bannon. The father-daughter duo took an alumni tour of the Albuquerque school, attended the reunion dinner and reminisced with his old friends just like regular folks.

According to the 1964 edition of “The Crest” – the Sandia High yearbook – Mercer was active in extracurricular activities. The yearbook shows the bespectacled student as a member of the school’s chess, auto and Russian clubs.

An Albuquerque Journal article from the same year shows that Mercer – who later went on to become a pioneer in artificial intelligence and computer science – had a promising mathematical mind. He took top honors for New Mexico in the 1964 national high school math contest.

Arming The Homeless With Shotguns

And if some of those shotguns get used in convenience store robberies, well that's your free market for you:
A Michigan candidate for US Senate has proposed arming homeless people with pump-action shotguns in an effort to reduce crime.

Brian Ellison, who is running against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow, says homeless people are “constantly victims of violent crime” and providing them with firearms would provide a deterrent.

Ellison, a Libertarian who is expected to be the party’s candidate in the November midterm election, said he had settled on pump-action shotguns for practicality purposes.

“Frankly I think the ideal weapon would be a pistol,” he told the Guardian, “but due to the licensing requirements in the state we’re going to have a hard enough time getting homeless people shotguns as it is.

“Getting them pistols is probably next to impossible. The pistols need to be registered, people have to have addresses.”

Carrying a concealed pistol is illegal without a permit, Ellison said, “whereas open-carrying a long gun is completely legal”.

Matthew points out:
That particular candidate is part of the Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party. (Yeah, I'm just as surprised as you they exist) Apparently they're causing quite the stir in the party, which I'm all for. This shotgun plan sounds like it's coming from a good place, but it will most likely lead to homeless people getting harassed and shot by cops even more.

Ron in Reno sends this:

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Personal Shopper"

Tonight, I watched "Personal Shopper" on DVD, a scary ghost story. The 2016 film is directed by Olivier Assayas and stars Kristen Stewart. It's a wonderful time to be alive and not be a ghost - the Assayas/Stewart partnership is making the world's best films, this decade:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Zumba, Tonight

I recall my cardiologist responding much like the rabbi in “Fiddler on the Roof”: “Dancing? Well, it’s not exactly forbidden.” So, off to try some Zumba!

I moderated the pace for myself. I was starting from a long period of no exercise. No need to push it.

I tolerated the exercise pretty well. Better than expected, and better tonight than a month ago. I recall on February 16th, even with oxygen, I got winded just walking to the end of the hall, and back.

With my instructors Barreto Brothers Zumba. Andres the DJ was kind enough to play my favorite Zumba tune!:

"Black Panther"

There is nothing I find as annoying as a (name any one of them) Marvel Comics movie: opaque, incoherent, and lacking human interest. "Black Panther" is nevertheless mildly-interesting and probably the most-coherent of the Marvel Comics movies. It's a low bar, and so far, none of the others have approached even that modest achievement.

I met Joe the Plumber at the IMAX Theater. I hushed him when he started talking and laughing loudly. I think he's pissed, because he stalked out just before the movie's end, and simply vanished.

Finished Watching "The Wire"

It's funny, I was having a sense of deja vu watching some of Season 5. I think I may heard buzz about "The Wire" back in the 2005 time frame, and may have seen some of the episodes back then. Of course, I didn't know the people, so I didn't retain the story, but at least I was dabbling in it.

I liked the series a lot. A real sense of place - Baltimore. "Breaking Bad" lifted some stuff straight from "The Wire," such as testimony at the addiction group meetings with Bubs. I liked some of the characterizations too: Omar, of course, but other folks too, like Daniels, Freamon, Levy, and especially the cold, cold Snoop.

Fortunately, No One Believes Anything House Republicans Say About Anything

The whitewash commission folds:
Democrats will probably release their own report on the investigation, a reflection of the rancor that has defined the House investigation for months.

At one point, Republicans even discussed putting up a physical wall in one of the committee's secured rooms to divide Democratic and Republican staff members. The plan was abandoned, according to sources with knowledge of the idea, a decision that had more to do with logistical concerns than any cooling of partisan animosity.

Lawmakers repeatedly accused one another of breaching confidentiality rules by leaking bits of closed-door testimony to skew public views of the evidence.

And the committee spent more than a month consumed by controversial allegations, advanced by Republicans and rebutted by Democrats, that federal law enforcement had improperly eavesdropped on a former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, shortly before the election.

Gina Haspel, Trump's Choice to Lead the CIA, is Bush's Chief Torturer

Of course:
The 31-year-old Zubaydah begged for mercy, saying that he knew nothing about the terror group’s future plans. The CIA official in charge, known in agency lingo as the “chief of base,” mocked his complaints, accusing Zubaydah of faking symptoms of psychological breakdown. The torture continued.

That “chief of base” was Haspel.

ICE’s Spokesman Refuses to Endorse Trump Administration Lies, and Resigns

Good for him:
The now-former spokesman, James Schwab, told news outlets late Monday that his resignation stemmed from statements by Homan and Sessions that potentially hundreds of “criminal aliens” evaded ICE during a Northern California raid in February because Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned the immigrant community in advance.

Schwab said he pushed back on that characterization — but said ICE instructed him to “deflect” questions from the news media.

“I quit because I didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle, which broke the story. “I asked them to change the information. I told them that the information was wrong, they asked me to deflect, and I didn’t agree with that. Then I took some time and I quit.”

Times Are Tough Under The W-X Freeway

I'm Kind-Of Like This Guy These Days

Why should I pay attention to the antics of worthless scum in Washington, D.C.? Live your own life, your way:
Donald Trump’s victory shook him. Badly. And so Mr. Hagerman developed his own eccentric experiment, one that was part silent protest, part coping mechanism, part extreme self-care plan.

He swore that he would avoid learning about anything that happened to America after Nov. 8, 2016.

“It was draconian and complete,” he said. “It’s not like I wanted to just steer away from Trump or shift the conversation. It was like I was a vampire and any photon of Trump would turn me to dust.”

It was just going to be for a few days. But he is now more than a year into knowing almost nothing about American politics. He has managed to become shockingly uninformed during one of the most eventful chapters in modern American history. He is as ignorant as a contemporary citizen could ever hope to be.

Them Rocks Is Heavy

Another busy night at all the British henge sites as staff work all night to move the stones forward by an hour.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


Billed as a black comedy, but really almost too bleak to be a comedy. Life among the Ice Princesses of Connecticut.

The Hippo In Southern Mexico

Not where it should be:
Authorities say they're worried about a hippopotamus that is roaming loose in a swampy area of southern Mexico.

Nobody knows where the animal came from, but hippos are not native to the country. The hippo appears to have been living in a pair of ponds near Las Chopas, in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

...The hippo was first spotted by local media near a garbage dump in January. Residents of the town have come to love the animal so much they have nicknamed it "Tyson".

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Current Status

It’s been 24 days since I was hospitalized for a surprise heart attack, apparently caused by a myocardial infection, perhaps from the flu or a common cold virus. Since then, I’ve had to adjust to a new low-sodium, low-cholesterol diet. Farewell the good life. Farewell pizza!

Friday, March 9th was doctor day - the first time I had seen my cardiologist since I left the hospital.

Thursday a week ago (May 1st), Karen Mo discussed my EKGs with me, and showed me just how jazzy and irregular my heartbeat had been while I was in the hospital. Nevertheless, she was optimistic about my eventual recovery.

Later that evening, I began suffering chest pain, for which the nitroglycerine seemed ineffective. I was also retaining fluid. Symptoms worsened on Friday. I felt terrorized; afraid even to go outside.

I probably should have sought help, but instead I treated myself with small doses of my previous, diuretic blood pressure medication, which at least helped ease the fluid buildup. By Monday, I began feeling much better and more energetic.

The cardiologist wasn’t pleased I was medicating myself. Oh well. He changed my medication list to include Eliquis, one of these new, absurdly-expensive blood thinners for which there is apparently no generic equivalent. He disagreed with calling my chest pain angina. Instead, maybe it was fluid buildup along the pleural membrane. At least my EKG showed a normal, sinus rhythm.

One good thing about my cardiologist: he’s very particular about terminology. I was grateful how he changed one emergency-room doctor’s assessment that I had had a “major heart attack” to something more technical and far-less-ominous sounding. “Heart attack” apparently are layman words. Doctors have to be clear and get the terms right!

I have hopes of resuming some exercise soon. I found that I had to drop exercise entirely these last few weeks – a full, complete, dead stop. No activity AT ALL. Starting over from scratch will be hard.

I tried checking on my hospital bill. It’s not finalized, but the bill sent to the insurance company apparently totaled $91,000. So, I’m wondering what the final bill will be when it returns?

One thing I did accomplish these last few weeks was to overcome my hesitations and write a working draft of a second "Breaking Bad" book. As I dig deeper on filming locations I'm finding more and more strange stuff - symbolic stuff, messages encoded in the background of the shows, and the like. I've been putting some of this stuff into my Locations book, but the book is getting too big, and there are more locations coming when Season 4 of "Better Call Saul" premieres in September. So, I'm spinning the speculative, interpretive stuff into a new book, and will keep the original Locations book mostly about just locations. I'll release this new book maybe by next November. When life hands you a lemon, time to make (no sodium or cholesterol) lemonade.

RIP, Relinda Anderson

The news is truly shocking. Such a sweet soul. Condolences to her family and friends.

NRG Etiwanda To Close

Ah, the Etiwanda power plant will finally close!. Ormond Beach too:
The NRG Etiwanda Generating Station in Rancho Cucamonga, which began operations in 1962, will be retired as of June 1. The NRG Ormond Beach Generating Station in Oxnard, which started operations in the early 1970s, will close on Oct. 1, and the NRG Ellwood Generating Station in Goleta will close on Jan. 1 after about 45 years of operations.
People familiar with recent California electrical-generation history will recognize Etiwanda. That power plant was a key player in the 2000/2001 electricity crisis. Many plants were shut down for no particular reason, and despite the fact that it was very hard on the equipment, Texas traders ramped the turbines at places like Etiwanda up and down several times an hour in order to rig electricity prices statewide:
"They were basically ramping up as fast as they can, and then slamming the brakes on," said one of the operators. "They were increasing the fatigue on the units."

ISO officials say they changed market operations last fall to crack down on gaming tactics, including instituting a so-called 10-minute market, rather than the hourly market, so that it could be more easily detected when companies were withholding power.

But the ISO says generator outages have now become the primary tactic in driving up energy prices.

A computer analysis by The Chronicle of shutdown data over a recent 39-day period shows Reliant and three other generating companies topped the list of plant shutdowns. Reliant also represented the largest amount of wattage lost among those companies.

Plants owned by Reliant, AES, Mirant Corp. and Duke Energy Inc. accounted for more than half of the state's unplanned shutdowns, even though their generating capacity was no more than 25 percent of the state's total capacity from all sources.

Ah, corporate criminality! How we will miss thee!

Ice Seven!

Naturally-formed Ice Seven finally observed on the Earth!:
Scientists believe that ice-VII may be found in great abundance in the solar system, perhaps in the interior of ice moons like Enceladus and Europa, or as part of the ocean floor of Titan. But they did not think it could naturally occur on Earth.

The pressures ice-VII requires to form can be found on our planet, but they exist only deep in the mantle where the temperature is too warm for this form of ice to be stable.

...What's special about inclusions in diamonds is that the material entrapped within them remains under the same pressure as it was during the time it was encapsulated.

"The diamond lattice doesn't relax much, so the volume of the inclusion remains almost constant whether it's in the Earth's mantle or in your hand," Tschauner said.

...However, as the authors discovered, diamonds can trap small bubbles of extremely dense pressurized water when they form. Then, as the diamond moves up through the mantle, the water inclusion is subjected to cooler temperatures while remaining under the same pressurized conditions. In that very specific case, ice-VII can occur.

Friday, March 09, 2018

‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli Gets Seven Years In Prison For Securities Fraud

A bit of justice:
Shkreli, his cocky persona nowhere to be found, cried as he told U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto he made many mistakes and apologized to investors.

“I want the people who came here today to support me to understand one thing, the only person to blame for me being here today is me,” he said. “I took down Martin Shkreli.”

He said that he hopes to make amends and learn from his mistakes and apologized to his investors.

“I am terribly sorry I lost your trust,” he said. “You deserve far better.”

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Ayşecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde

Since DMTC's YPT is opening "The Wizard of Oz" Saturday afternoon, I decided to watch the Turkish version of the story.

"Ayşecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde (Little Ayşe and the Magic Dwarfs in the Land of Dreams) is a 1971 film by Turkish film director Tunç Başaran. One of the late films of a cycle of nearly forty films featuring Zeynep Değirmencioğlu (b. 1954; ret. 1974) as Ayşecik (Little Ayşe)."

I particularly like the China Dolls, the Hammerheads, and how the Cowardly Lion looks like Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Here's the plot summary:

"A little girl named Ayşa lives with her parents on a farm, where they often feed the chickens or harvest crops. One day, however, there is a terrible tornado. Her dog is locked inside, so she rushes back to the house. But at that moment, strong winds blow the cottage off its foundation and into the sky. When the house lands, she opens the front door and peeks outside. Given a protective kiss and a pair of silver shoes by the Northern Sorceress and promised aid by seven munchkins, she sets out to find the Great Wizard. Through the grasslands and forests, she encounters Korkuluk (the Scarecrow) and in the forest she meets Teneke Koruadam (the Tin Woodman), and Korkak Aslan (the Cowardly Lion). Keşkin Zeka demands that they kill the Wicked Witch (Kötü Cadı) of the South (Suna Selen) in order to receive their wishes. But Ayşecik and Korkak Aslan are imprisoned in the witch's jail-house after their friends are destroyed by her army of soldiers. Aysecik comes into the jail-house, carrying a heavy, tin bucket but the sets it down as the wicked witch orders her to wash the floor. The girl trips over a string and her left shoe lands on the floor, the wicked witch picks up the shoe and teases Ayşecik. Ayşecik picks up her bucket of water and throws it at her, the witch screams as her servants run away but then she begins to tremble, then she finally evaporates into thin air. The witch's former subjects willingly restore Korkuluk and Teneke Koruadam. Back at the Emerald City, Keşkin Zeka admits to being a fraud, delivers trinkets to Ayşecik's friends, and accidentally leaves her behind in his balloon escape, so they set off on their journey again, meeting again the china dolls, the hammer-wielding cavemen (loosely based on Baum's Hammerheads) and then start to dance, then, after the Good Sorceress tells her how to use her shoes, Aysecik bids farewell to her friends, clicks her heels, and ends up home."