a tune… a haiku… an infrared loop


Some good news to start the week! Low oil prices have made oil exploration too expensive ~ Shell Oil Abandons Controversial Drilling Off Alaska’s Shore ~


Citing a lack of enough oil to make the project worthwhile, Royal Dutch Shell Oil is halting its effort to drill for oil off Alaska’s shore “for the foreseeable future.” The company has spent some $7 billion on the exploration project.

Shell announced the move late Sunday, describing what the company called “a clearly disappointing exploration outcome” in the Chukchi Sea, which is part of the Arctic Ocean. The project, which had been halted in 2012 over safety concerns, was resumed this year, after getting federal approval in May.

From Alaska Public Media, Rachel Waldholz reports:

images-1“Shell was able to drill just one exploratory well this summer, about 150 miles off Alaska’s northern coast. And the results were disappointing. In a statement the company reported that it had ‘found indications of oil and gas’ — but not enough to continue exploration at the site.
“The company said the decision to end offshore exploration in Alaska reflected those results and the project’s high costs — but also what it called a ‘challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment.’
“The project had drawn major protests from environmental groups, who worried drilling would impact marine mammals and that an oil spill in the arctic would be impossible to clean up.
“The announcement came the day before a key deadline — Shell had to be out of oil-bearing rocks by Monday, Sept 28. The company must now move its two drilling rigs and dozens of support vessels out of the Arctic before winter sea ice returns.”
In its statement, Shell says that the Burger J well, which had been drilled to a depth of 6,800 feet, will now be sealed and abandoned.

The oil company also said that the Chukchi Sea, where it holds rights to many oil exploration areas, “remains substantially under-explored” and has the potential to be “of strategic importance to Alaska and the U.S.”


Stop Googling. Let’s Talk


Sunday’s Lunar Eclipse


An Oct. 8, 2014, photo shows the blood moon, created by the full moon passing into the shadow of Earth during a total lunar eclipse, as seen from Monterey Park, Calif. Sky watchers will get a chance to see another “blood moon” eclipse on Sunday.


Maybe you’ve become inured of all the superlatives that get attached to sky-watching events. But the one on Sunday really is worth a look — it’s the first total eclipse that’s also a supermoon and a blood moon in more than three decades.

As Space.com explains: “Supermoons occur when the moon reaches its full phase at or near the satellite’s closest approach to Earth, and appears abnormally large and bright as a result. The Sept. 27 event is quite special; the last supermoon eclipse occurred in 1982, and the next won’t take place until 2033.”

The total eclipse will also feature a blood moon, a phenomenon caused by a refraction of moonlight in the Earth’s atmosphere known as Rayleigh scattering.

[Add at 1:55 p.m. ET: A small correction from Sky & Telescope senior editor Kelly Beatty, who sent us an email to explain: “Rayleigh scattering is what makes sunsets red, caused by our atmosphere’s preferential scattering (not refraction) of blue light. That’s where the redness comes from. But refraction (not Rayleigh scattering) is the reason that any light reaches the Moon during totality. So, it’s really both things.” You can also hear Beatty interviewed today on WBUR’s Here & Now]

Sunday’s event is also the culmination of a “tetrad” — the last of four successive lunar eclipses that started with the April 15, 2014, eclipse, followed by one on Oct. 8, 2014, and again on April 4 of this year.

As Sky & Telescope writes: “Observers in the eastern half of North America can watch every stage of the eclipse, from beginning to end of the partial phases (3 1⁄3 hours in all) during convenient hours of late twilight or darkness with the Moon mostly high in the sky. If you’re in the Far West, the first partial stage of the eclipse is already in progress when the Moon rises (due east) around the time of sunset. Those in Europe and Africa see the eclipse on the local morning of the 28th.”

Totality (when the moon is completely in Earth’s shadow) arrives at 10:11 p.m. ET for those in the country’s East, or 9:11 p.m. CT for those in the Midwest.

To get the exact time of the eclipse for your location, the U.S. Naval Observatory’s page has a handy calculator.

final cruise through Umbria

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David Brock’s ‘Killing the Messenger’

51J289auUQL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve always wondered about the details of the reconciliation between Hillary Clinton and David Brock. As an investigative reporter for The American Spectator in the 1990s, Brock published whatever the Arkansas state troopers told him about Bill Clinton and his women and put the rumor about Vince Foster and Hillary into print. His tone and loose reporting ethics arguably unleashed two decades of cheap tabloid right-wing best sellers that still dog Hillary and Bill today. Is that really something the Clintons ever got past?

Brock’s new book, “Killing the Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government,” provides the answer, which is yes, and without hesitation. In January 2003 Brock was alone in his Georgetown home when he got a call from Bill Clinton. Brock had recently published “Blinded by the Right,” his extravagant mea culpa claiming that just as Hillary suspected, there had been a “vast right-wing conspiracy” out to destroy the Clintons, and he was sorry to have been a part of it. Bill was very well versed in the book, according to Brock, and had purchased dozens of copies for friends. Bill suggested, nay, “insisted” that Brock see Clinton’s speaker’s agent right away, and start touring the country to expose the lies of the right; Brock countered them with a permanent organization, which eventually turned into Media Matters.

Hillary, meanwhile, “sprang into action,” inviting Brock to pitch her Senate fund-raising council and speak at a dinner for donors in her Chappaqua home. She even followed him down the driveway to list the dinner guests who had already expressed interest. Brock’s book had made him a pariah among his conservative friends. The Clintons gave him a new place to be a hero.

This must be a distinctly Clintonian trajectory of forgiveness: If you are no longer my enemy, then I must immediately weaponize you. (Bill has made up with several of his old Arkansas foes. He even gave a fond eulogy at the memorial service for Richard Mellon Scaife, the chief funder of the vast right-wing conspiracy.) Being savvy and experienced politicians, the Clintons probably intuited what was changing in the political landscape, and what Brock lays out in his latest book: The conservatives had built an extensive and very effective propaganda machine, and the Democrats were going to need all the help they could get.

On this last point, Brock’s book makes a convincing case. When he was part of the enemy team, he and his fellow conspirators were hatching their stories at bars in Little Rock and, if they were lucky, getting a little viral bump from Matt Drudge. Now the enemies have offices on K Street and the full power of Fox News, plus dozens of other conservative media outlets, PACs and opposition research groups. The conspiracy has matured into a formidable conglomerate, amply funded and thoroughly integrated with the Republican establishment. It’s an important historical shift, but I wish someone else were documenting it. So dogged is Brock’s devotion to Hillary that it often gets in the way of his being credible, not to mention interesting.

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A Lisa day in Italy

endless fields of olive trees.



Spello Italy


6 Decades Later, Acquittal Of Emmett Till’s Killers Troubles Town ~ The Zeitgeist of the Civil Rights Movement ~


Mississippi state Sen. David Jordan, who was a college student in 1955, remembers the relaxed atmosphere in the courtroom during the trial. “Even the jury were laughing,” he says. The courtroom in Sumner, Miss., where, in 1955, an all-white jury acquitted two white men in the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year old black boy.


It was 60 years ago this week that an all-white jury acquitted two white men in the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy visiting Mississippi from Chicago.

The case shocked the nation — drawing attention to the brutal treatment of African-Americans in the Deep South, and the failure of the justice system. The men later confessed to killing Till for whistling at a white woman.

Today, about 400 people live in Sumner, Miss., where the trial was held. The town sprouts up amid vast expanses of cotton land in the Mississippi Delta — the fertile northwest corner of the state.

The courthouse in Sumner, Miss., where, in 1955, an all-white jury acquitted two white men in Till’s murder. A debate rages in Mississippi over the state flag, which includes the Confederate flag. But it still flies at the courthouse.i
The courthouse in Sumner, Miss., where, in 1955, an all-white jury acquitted two white men in Till’s murder. A debate rages in Mississippi over the state flag, which includes the Confederate flag. But it still flies at the courthouse.
Langdon Clay
Sumner’s town square looks a lot like it did 60 years ago. A bank on the corner, law offices and small businesses surround the Tallahatchie County courthouse, its clock tower looming above pink crape myrtle blossoms.

Inside the courthouse, a dark wood stairwell leads to the second-floor courtroom, which is newly restored.

“Exactly the way it looked in 1955,” says Patrick Weems, director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center here. He stands by the carved banister rail at the front of the courtroom. Twelve swiveling jury chairs to the left face the witness box.

“Mose Wright would have stood up here and given his testimony,” Weems says. “The famous question was, they said, ‘Do you know the men who murdered Emmett Till?’ And he said, ‘There they are.’ ”

It was a dramatic moment. Never in anyone’s memory had a black man in Mississippi confronted whites in court.

Mose Wright was Emmett Till’s great-uncle, who lived in the town of Money, 30 miles south of Sumner. Till was staying with him when the teenager made his fateful visit to Bryant’s Grocery and spoke to Carol Bryant, the white woman at the counter.

Her husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, later kidnapped Till from Wright’s home in the middle of the night. The boy was beaten, shot in the head and dumped in the Tallahatchie River, weighted down by a cotton gin fan.

Till’s mother held an open-casket funeral back in Chicago so the world could witness the disturbing images of her son’s disfigured body. The resulting outrage drew unprecedented interest in the murder trial a month later.

“I had never seen anything like it,” says Mississippi state Sen. David Jordan, a college student at the time. “So many people in town. So much news and so much fear.”

Jordan and some classmates went to the trial, barely finding a seat in the sweltering and packed courtroom. They sat in the rear; the front seats were reserved for white people.

Sitting in the back row again as the anniversary approached, Jordan recalls being struck by the relaxed nature of the defendants. During one recess, he says, one of their wives brought the children to play at the defense table, along with bottles of Coca-Cola.

“Just going through a mockery — it was no justice or no seriousness as I could see on their faces,” Jordan says, “because they all were laughing — even the jury were laughing.”


Here’s What Hemingway Mementos Reveal.



Ernest Hemingway was not only a commanding figure in 20th-century literature, but he was also a pack rat. He saved even his old passports and used bullfight tickets, leaving behind one of the longest paper trails of any author.

So how is it possible that “Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars,” which opens on Friday at the Morgan Library & Museum, is the first major museum exhibition devoted to Hemingway and his work? It could be simply that no one thought of it before. Most of Hemingway’s papers are at the John. F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. After Hemingway’s death in 1961, President Kennedy, a fan, helped his widow, Mary, get into Cuba and retrieve many of his belongings there. Partly in gratitude, she later donated Hemingway’s archive to the new presidential library. But the Kennedy Library, where this exhibition will travel in March, is not accustomed, as the Morgan is, to putting on big crowd-pleasing shows.

Even at the Morgan, Hemingway was something of an afterthought. Declan Kiely, the museum’s head of literary and historical manuscripts and the show’s curator, said recently that he and Patrick Milliman, the director of communications, began idly talking about Hemingway in 2010, after concluding that an exhibition about J. D. Salinger, who had just died, was probably not feasible. The Hemingway exhibition, mounted on walls that have been painted tropical blue to suggest his years in Key West and in Cuba, takes him all the way from high school (where one of his classmates described him as “egotistical, dogmatic and somewhat obnoxious”) to roughly 1950, when he turns up as a self-caricature in Lillian Ross’s famous New Yorker profile. But the largest and most interesting section focuses on the ’20s, Hemingway’s Paris years, and reveals a writer we might have been in danger of forgetting: Hemingway before he became Hemingway.

The exhibition does not fail to include pictures of the bearded, macho, Hem, the storied hunter and fisherman. He’s shown posing with some kudu he has just shot in Africa and on the bridge of his beloved fishing yacht, the Pilar, with Carlos Gutiérrez, the fisherman who became the model for “The Old Man and the Sea.”


Hemingway, left, on his yacht, Pilar, with Carlos Gutiérrez.

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Chairman Mao

Mao Zedong exhorted students “to bombard the headquarters” of order.

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Old friends in Italy

Lisa & Aaron Rodriguez meeting somewhere in Italy




Kellie Day ~ Day of the Dead ~ art

Dia de los Muertos wood block mini paintings


A Thomas Hart Benton Mural, used as a Writing Desk ~ No respect ~


Valinda Freed, left, vice chairwoman of the Missouri Republican Party, writes on a business card atop a Thomas Hart Benton painting in the Missouri Statehouse. Credit:  Dave Marner/The Gasconade County Republican, via Associated Press


COLUMBIA, Mo. — A community newspaper photographer’s picture of a Republican official using a Thomas Hart Benton mural as a writing backdrop went viral on Monday.

Dave Marner, the editor of the Gasconade County (Missouri) Republican, took the picture of the Missouri Republican Party’s vice chairwoman, Valinda Freed, and an unidentified man, scribbling on business cards pressed against the mural. Mr. Marner was covering a veto session at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City last Wednesday when he snapped the photo.

“I was befuddled,” he said. “Who exchanges numbers on a Thomas Hart Benton mural?”

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Kinky Friedman Talks Music, Texas and a Trump/Sanders Ticket



“I’m just concerned that we’re both going to hell,” Kinky Friedman says, answering the phone on the morning of Rosh Hashanah. “I guess if we’re practicing Jews, we need to practice a little more.”

At 70, Kinky Friedman has lived several lifetimes – as the playful, provocative country songwriter and leader of Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys in the Seventies; as the reclusive author of mystery novels and non-fiction musings like Texas Hold ‘Em: How I Was Born in a Manger, Died in a Saddle, and Came Back as a Horny Toad; as the founder of an animal shelter in his hometown of Medina, Texas; and, finally, as the screwball politician who finished fourth in the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race. “It’s the curse of being multi-talented, and it is a curse,” he tells Rolling Stone.

Now, Friedman is returning to his first love – music – with a collection of songs largely written by his heroes and contemporaries: Warren Zevon, Tom Waits, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan. The Loneliest Man I Ever Met, out October 2nd, is Friedman’s first studio album in over three decades, and the Kinkster hopes his latest record brings about a late-life change in spirit. “I’ve been miserable for 68 years, and things are starting to look up,” he says.

Rolling Stone caught up with Friedman on the Jewish New Year to discuss his new album, life lessons from Willie Nelson and why he’s rooting for a Trump/Sanders ticket in 2016.

Most people assume you’re a lifelong Texas, but you were born in Chicago, right?
Where you’re born has a lot to do with who you are. You can check this – I can’t check it because I don’t have a computer, and I don’t have the Internet – but I think that Shel Silverstein, Steve Goodman, Warren Zevon and I were all born in Chicago – Jewboys born in Chicago at the Michael Reese hospital. [They were all born in Chicago, but Zevon and Silverstein were born at different hospitals. –Ed.]

Do you feel kinship with them?
Warren, definitely. Shel and I were friends in New York. He said, “Let’s write some songs together.” The next morning I overslept so I didn’t make it. I was kind of fucked up and Shel wasn’t. Shel was writing great songs in those days, and he was furious. He called me and said, “That’s why you are where you are.” Handling failure is very easy. But, like Willie [Nelson] told me: If you fail at something long enough, you become a legend. It’s just getting out of your own way that’s important. Success is difficult to handle. The first half of Willie’s life he was struggling, scraping by, and the second half was very successful. And I think the second half is the toughest one.

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Meaning of El Niño for SW Colorado Mts ~ Joe Ramey


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Joe Ramey ~ NWS Forecaster, Grand Junction office
August 14 

What does El Nino mean for the mountains of western Colorado?

Short answer: El Nino does not have a strong impact here.

Longer answer: El Ninos tend to produce an especially wet fall and somewhat wet spring, but a dry winter. In other words, El Ninos tend to enhance our bi-modal precipitation pattern. Most often, SW Colorado has above normal precipitation while NW

Colorado is drier than normal. The delineator is roughly the I-70 corridor. I conclude the enhanced fall and spring precipitation typically does not produce large snowpack amounts, with early and late season high-elevation snow levels producing low snow ratios (wet snow).

It is important to note though that climate signals, like El Nino, only explain an estimated 15-25% of Colorado winter weather behavior. That is, 75-85% of winter weather falls in the randomness that is typical weather in Colorado.

My winter outlook method is to look at snow records for seven Colorado mountain towns: Winter Park, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Aspen, Crested Butte, Telluride, Silverton. There have been 23 El Nino seasons since 1950. The strongest El Nino seasons were 1982-83, 1997-98, and more recently 2009-10 was pretty strong too. (For climate geeks out there, the ONI winter values were 2.2, 2.3, 1.9 respectively. Also all three winters were in warm PDO phase, just like this season.) These were not extreme snow winters neither extremely snowy or dry. One exception, Aspen during the 1982-83 event had the 4th snowiest winter on record.

Locally Grand Junction was wetter than normal for 82-83 and 97-98, drier than normal for 09-10.

Montone Italy

view from hotel room (Tiber valley)



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Next monsoon impulse heading for Colorado

The next few days may see some moisture move into the San Juans, but earlier indications of very wet conditions through Wednesday morning are pared down to moderate amount of moisture favoring the south San Juans then moving east according to latest radar and Infrared satellite views.