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Art making on a High Plane

photo by Bernie Arndt

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Almost complete.

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How Things Really Work …. G.O.P.’s Moneyed Class Finds Its Place in New Trump World

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CLEVELAND — In his unlikely rise to the Republican nomination Donald J. Trump attacked lobbyists, disparaged big donors and railed against the party’s establishment. But on the shores of Lake Erie this week, beyond the glare of television cameras, the power of the permanent political class seemed virtually undisturbed.

Though Mr. Trump promises to topple Washington’s “rigged system,” the opening rounds of his party’s quadrennial meeting accentuated a more enduring maxim: Money always adapts to power.

At a downtown barbecue joint, lobbyists cheerfully passed out stickers reading “Make Lobbying Great Again” as they schmoozed on Monday with Republican ambassadors, lawmakers and executives. At a windowless bar tucked behind the Ritz-Carlton hotel, whose rooms were set aside for the party’s most generous benefactors, allies of Mr. Trump pitched a clutch of receptive party donors on contributing to a pro-Trump “super PAC.”

And on Tuesday night, as Republican delegates formally made Mr. Trump their presidential nominee, a few dozen lobbyists and their clients instead sipped gin and munched on Brie puffs in an oak-paneled room at the Union Club. They had come to witness a more urgent presentation: Newt Gingrich, a top Trump adviser and Beltway fixture, painting an upbeat picture of the deals they could help sculpt on infrastructure projects and military spending in the first hundred days of a Trump administration.

“It is the business of Washington,” said Michael J. Anderson, a Democratic lobbyist who represents American Indian tribes, after watching Mr. Gingrich speak. “Mr. Trump is talking about changing the paradigm. It’s not changing one bit. The political and influence class is going on as before.”

In Cleveland, even some of those who had worked against Mr. Trump’s candidacy now saw opportunity.

In dozens of private receptions, behind a scrim of barricades and police officers, they inspected their party’s new Trump faction with curiosity and hope. There were spheres of influence to carve out. There was money to raise and money to be made, whether or not Mr. Trump ended up in the White House. There were new friends to make and old relationships to nurture.

“This is an event like no other — there are governors, senators, members of Congress,” said Eric J. Tanenblatt, a longtime ally of the Bush family whose law firm, Dentons, hosted Mr. Gingrich’s remarks on Tuesday. “For people who operate in and around government, you can’t not be here.”

And so, far above the din of protesters and delegates, on the 49th floor of the Key Tower, Squire Patton Boggs, a lobbying and legal powerhouse, held packed receptions honoring Ohio and Florida officials. Not far away, Mike Leavitt, the former Utah governor turned consultant for pharmaceutical companies and health insurers, was slated to lead a panel on policies to spur the development of prescription drugs. As Speaker Paul D. Ryan helped tamp down anti-Trump efforts on the convention floor, his political operation ran a daily series of receptions and hospitality lounges for members of the “Speaker’s Council,” the top donors to House Republicans.

“You have these two worlds colliding a little bit here,” said David Tamasi, a lobbyist at the firm Rasky Baerlein and a top Republican fund-raiser on K Street, who joined Mr. Trump’s team after his preferred candidate, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, went down to defeat. “That’s what’s going to be interesting: How do the establishment guys make those folks feel at home?”

They are doing so, in part, by footing the bill.

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Donald Trump May Break the Mold, but He Fits a Pattern

The New York media mogul approached his party’s convention having already shaken the political system: The power brokers had attacked him as a dangerous rogue, mocked his hairstyle and branded him a “low voluptuary” for his colorful personal life. And yet William Randolph Hearst loomed over the St. Louis gathering as a threat to seize the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Mr. Hearst, a publisher of lurid tabloid newspapers serving his first term in Congress, was crushed in the balloting as the party leaders of 1904 rejected him. His message — a blend of populist economic policies and muscular nationalism, sometimes called “Hearstism” — would await another standard-bearer, at another time.

More than a century later, Donald J. Trump is poised to do what Mr. Hearst could not: claim a major party’s nomination for president of the United States. His candidacy has upended the Republican Party, baffling and then vanquishing opponents who dismissed him as a celebrity sideshow. Even now, many prefer to treat his success as a freak occurrence without precedent in United States history.

But if Mr. Trump will be the first figure of his kind to claim a presidential nomination, his candidacy falls within an American tradition of insurgent politics that has found expression in other moments of social and economic rupture, often attaching itself to folk heroes from the world of big business or the military.

His hazy political philosophy, often labeled “Trumpism,” draws on themes of American identity and sovereignty — preoccupations that have convulsed one party or the other from time to time, before subsiding.

And consciously or not, Mr. Trump has followed a path trod for more than a century by nationalist outsiders who coveted the presidency, from Hearst to Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Ross Perot. Like them, he has presented himself as an archetype of American ingenuity and grit — a tough, patriotic businessman — and offered himself as a champion against swirling international forces that he describes, in conspiratorial terms, as undermining the United States.

His running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, hailed Mr. Trump in a “60 Minutes” interview as a heroic leader who “embodies American strength.”

Walter F. Mondale, the former vice president and 1984 Democratic presidential nominee, said he saw Mr. Trump as an heir to a tradition of isolationism and cultural paranoia that surfaces from time to time as a “recurrent theme” in American politics. Mr. Trump, he said, had articulated a familiar exhortation “for America to withdraw from the world, that we have only threats coming from abroad.”

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William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper publisher who ran for president in 1904. Credit via The Library of Congress
Mr. Mondale, 88, said Mr. Trump appeared determined to undermine American traditions of internationalism and multiculturalism. He called Mr. Trump a “hate advocate.”

“His attack on Mexicans, on judges, on immigrants of all kinds — it all has this ‘We have to protect ourselves from them’ theme,” Mr. Mondale said.

Historians see in Mr. Trump’s candidacy the winding together of different strains in reactionary politics under a single banner. No reality television star has run for president before, but Mr. Trump, with his grasp of the art of notoriety, has forebears of a kind in General MacArthur and Charles A. Lindbergh, the celebrity aviator whose “America First” slogan Mr. Trump has appropriated, and in Hearst and Henry Ford, a pair of renowned and eccentric tycoons who eyed the presidency.

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San Juan Monsoon Forecast from Joe

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Hi Jerry,

Anyway decent moisture is centered just to your west over southeast Utah. Precipitable water values are over an inch and will remain there through Friday then degrade into next week. Though instability is marginal, a few storms have tapped into this deep moisture. Meeker airport reported 0.32 inches just after noon today and Highway 145 into Telluride has mudslides across the road. It doesn’t take much for that highway though. I think its more a function of rate of fall.

As for the remainder of the monsoon season, here are some thoughts from Kyle Mosely, a forecaster at the Pueblo office:
So starting back in April I mentioned that the monsoon didn’t appear to have any triggers and would like be very late, or non-existent. So far, its been pretty non-existent. I finally got a look at the OLR model I use to predict monsoon onset, by using waves coming off the African coast as a trigger mechanism. The model indicates we may finally see a true monsoon onset in the August 8-13 time frame. The OLR model indicates a rather robust equatorial wave coming off Africa which should help trigger the monsoon moisture tap, finally opening up the desert southwest. The model also indicates that it will likely persist until about Sept 22. The CFSv2 is also hinting at a consistent monsoon pattern developing by early August. Hopefully this will bring an increase of shower and thunderstorm activity to the mountains. The bad news, the hot weather looks to remain in place with no relief for much of southern Colorado. Given how dry its been, we may need to pay particular attention to lightning starts at the monsoon onset, as fuels may take time to moisten.

The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook that comes out tomorrow, Thursday, will show no tilt of odds towards wetter than normal for August or any of the three month “seasons” through the fall and winter. Climate history here says La Ninas (60% probability of occurrence next winter) tend to produce a dry fall and a wet January favoring NW Colorado.

Interesting times!

Happy Birthday to Lisa!

Best,
Joe

Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul

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The electrifying story of the turbulent year when the sixties ended and America teetered on the edge of revolution.

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As the 1960s drew to a close, the United States was coming apart at the seams. From August 1969 to August 1970, the nation witnessed nine thousand protests and eighty-four acts of arson or bombings at schools across the country. It was the year of the My Lai massacre investigation, the Cambodia invasion, Woodstock, and the Moratorium to End the War. The American death toll in Vietnam was approaching fifty thousand, and the ascendant counterculture was challenging nearly every aspect of American society. Witness to the Revolution, Clara Bingham’s unique oral history of that tumultuous time, unveils anew that moment when America careened to the brink of a civil war at home, as it fought a long, futile war abroad.

Woven together from one hundred original interviews, Witness to the Revolution provides a firsthand narrative of that period of upheaval in the words of those closest to the action—the activists, organizers, radicals, and resisters who manned the barricades of what Students for a Democratic Society leader Tom Hayden called “the Great Refusal.”

We meet Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn of the Weather Underground; Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department employee who released the Pentagon Papers; feminist theorist Robin Morgan; actor and activist Jane Fonda; and many others whose powerful personal stories capture the essence of an era. We witness how the killing of four students at Kent State turned a straitlaced social worker into a hippie, how the civil rights movement gave birth to the women’s movement, and how opposition to the war in Vietnam turned college students into prisoners, veterans into peace marchers, and intellectuals into bombers.

With lessons that can be applied to our time, Witness to the Revolution is more than just a record of the death throes of the Age of Aquarius. Today, when America is once again enmeshed in racial turmoil, extended wars overseas, and distrust of the government, the insights contained in this book are more relevant than ever.

 

Praise for Witness to the Revolution

“Especially for younger generations who didn’t live through it, Witness to the Revolution is a valuable and entertaining primer on a moment in American history the likes of which we may never see again.”—Bryan Burrough, The Wall Street Journal

“A gripping oral history of the centrifugal social forces tearing America apart at the end of the ’60s . . . This is rousing reportage from the front lines of US history.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“The familiar voices and the unfamiliar ones are woven together with documents to make this a surprisingly powerful and moving book.”—New York Times Book Review

~~~  MORE INFORMATION/REVIEWS/PICS  ~~~

Global Temperatures Are on Course for Another Record This Year

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Chunks of sea ice, melt ponds and open water in a NASA image of the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean last week. Global temperatures so far this year are higher than in the first half of 2015, and the warming was especially strong in the Arctic. Credit Operation IceBridge/NASA

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The world is on pace to set another high temperature benchmark, with 2016 becoming the third year in a row of record heat.

NASA scientists announced on Tuesday that global temperatures so far this year were much higher than in the first half of 2015.

Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said that while the first six months of 2015 made it the hottest half-year ever recorded, “2016 really has blown that out of the water.”

He said calculations showed there was a 99 percent probability that the full year would be hotter than 2015.

Dr. Schmidt said the world was now “dancing” with the temperature targets set last year in the Paris climate treaty for nations to limit climate change.

He attributed part of the rise in temperatures this year to El Niño, in which warming waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean pump a lot of heat into the atmosphere.

El Niño is now ending, and water temperatures in the Pacific are dropping, which should lead in 2017 to lower but still historically high temperatures.

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Alpine Public Hearing tomorrow, Tuesday ~ 7/19/16

The Ouray County Planning Commission has completed a draft proposal for regulations in the High Country, and it now moves to a public hearing on Tuesday July 19 7:00pm at the 4-H Center. This hearing will determine the proposed regulations that will be forwarded to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). The BOCC will then schedule their own public hearing in late August when a final decision will be made.

Should you wish to say something, here are a couple of key points:

  • Any development in the alpine tundra ecosystem is unacceptable both visually and ecologically.
  • Tourism is the cornerstone of our economy and the high country is the unique asset that brings tourists to our county. Marring our alpine vistas with significant development would jeopardize that tourist draw, especially since our neighboring counties have enacted fairly strong regulations.
  • In some areas, the proposed 5 acre minimum parcel size could result in the kind of density present in Log Hill Village but with less tree cover. We should be advocating for a larger minimum, say, 10+ acres.
  • Pay close attention to the square footage allowance and the bonus allowances and decide how you feel about those numbers. (24.3 D2 & D3 in the proposed regs). Development rights retired for greater square footage should be “buildable” parcels.

You can read the entire Planning Commission’s Draft – Clean Version of Section 24 proposal by clicking here. (Scroll through to about page 16 or 17.) Here are some highlights that are included in the Planning Commission’s draft proposal to the BOCC:

  • No residential building in the delicate tundra ecosystem.
  • Minimum parcel size is 5 acres above 9500ft.
  • Maximum height of 25 ft.
  • Maximum residence size is 1000 sq ft with the possibility of increasing the size up to 2500 ft by meeting certain criteria. ie: An additional 500 square feet of floor area may be allowed for each development right retired in perpetuity on a contiguous developable (5 acres or more) parcel(s) in the High Alpine Area.
  • There is no guarantee of public services, emergency services or any county services to these isolated areas.
  • No accessory dwelling units are allowed.
  • Mining is a use by right and will be preserved with this proposal.
  • Restates that access to existing public trails must not be obstructed.
  • The PC proposal is as stringent as San Juan County and San Miguel regulations.

 

Portillo Update ~ Don Frank Coffey

Hey amigo
Four feet of new snow fell last week in a storm that ended Thursday morning. Gale force winds created super-sized cornices on the Ojos de Aqua summit ridge. These cornices sit over 4,000 feet above the base of two surface lifts that access some of Portillo’s best off-piste terrain. See two attached photos of the monster, two story cornice that was perched above the Roca Jack and Primera Quebrada. Flying at an altitude at about 13,600 feet we dropped 12 kilos of explosives out of our helicopter onto the beast. When the cornice dropped onto the slope below it, a size 3 avalanche was triggered (two photos attached). The 20 foot lift towers at the base of the Caracara lift were buried and the avalanche crossed the Juncalillo piste below the base of the lift. Monty Atwater would have been proud. One last photo taken two years ago of “Chico Chillan” Mora and me. “Chico” was my partner last Thursday. The guy is amazing! With helicopter door open at over 13,600 feet, he can light safety fuse with a match. Take care, hermano.
Un abrazo grande
Paco

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Keep OURay Alpine Wild

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Dear Supporter of Keep OURay Alpine Wild,

Thank you for signing onto the Citizen’s Letter in support of smart alpine building regulations in the Alpine Zone in Ouray County. The Ouray County Planning Commission has completed a draft proposal for such regulations and now moves to a public hearing on Tuesday July 19 7:00pm at the 4-H Center. This hearing will determine the proposed regulations that will be forwarded to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). The BOCC will then schedule their own public hearing (probably in August) when a final decision will be made.

It is crucial that supporters of high country protection come to both hearings prepared to testify in support of strong regulations. Your testimony need not be extremely detailed, just heartfelt in opposing high density residential development in our county’s incredible high country. Mining claim owners who want to build residences in the high alpine country will likely show up in numbers and be quite vociferous. We need to match their numbers and energy. Don’t assume that your presence doesn’t matter – it’s ESSENTIAL!.

Here are a couple of key points that you may want to touch upon in your testimony:

  • Any development in the alpine tundra ecosystem is unacceptable both visually and ecologically.
  • Tourism is the cornerstone of our economy and the high country is the unique asset that brings tourists to our county. Marring our alpine vistas with significant development would jeopardize that tourist draw, especially since our neighboring counties have enacted strong regulations.
  • In some areas, the proposed 5 acre minimum parcel size could result in the kind of density present in Log Hill Village but with less tree cover. Perhaps we should be advocating for a larger minimum (maybe 10+ acres).
  • Pay close attention to the square footage allowance and the bonus allowances and decide how you feel about those numbers. (24.3 D2 & D3 in the proposed regs)

You can read the entire Planning Commission’s Draft – Clean Version of Section 24 proposal by clicking here. (Scroll through to about page 16 or 17.) Here are some highlights that are included in the Planning Commission’s draft proposal to the BOCC:

  • No residential building in the delicate tundra ecosystem.
  • Minimum parcel size is 5 acres above 9500ft.
  • Maximum height of 25 ft.
  • Maximum residence size is 1000 sq ft with the possibility of increasing the size up to 2500ft by meeting certain criteria. ie: An additional 500 square feet of floor area may be allowed for each development right retired in perpetuity on a contiguous developable(5 acres or more) parcel(s) in the High Alpine Area.
  • There is no guarantee of public services, emergency services or any county services to these isolated areas.
  • No accessory dwelling units are allowed.
  • Mining is a use by right and will be preserved with this proposal.
  • Restates that access to existing public trails must not be obstructed.
  • The PC proposal is as stringent as San Juan County and San Miguel regulations.

Thank you for your support and time,

Roze Evans on behalf of the Keep OURay Alpine Wild campaign

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Jon Stewart Is Returning to Late-Night for the Republican National Convention He’s lending a hand to his protege, Stephen Colbert.

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ESQUIRE

Of all the years for America to be without a nightly dose of Jon Stewart, it had to be this one. This year has sucked. And as the Orange Nightmare continues his crude, shameful march toward the White House, there’s been no Stewart to bring him down or call out the media for all its free coverage.

But, on Monday, Stewart will return to TV to help Stephen Colbert kick off two weeks of The Late Show’s coverage of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, Vulture reports. While it’s still unclear what Stewart’s contribution to the show will be, Colbert’s live convention coverage will also include Elizabeth Warren, Anthony Weiner, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Keegan-Michael Key, and John Oliver.

For the past year, Jon Stewart has spent his time feeding pigs and saving cows, only making a handful of public appearances. May was a particularly busy month for the former Daily Show host. During a speech at a USO event, Stewart made his first attack on Trump in months. Then, a week later, he joined David Axelrod for an interview, which included a sick burn—”[Trump] is a man-baby”—and more importantly, a stinging critique of the media’s malpractice during this election.

HBO is confident that Stewart will return before the general election in November. Until then, let’s hope his time with Colbert during the conventions will be more than a brief cameo.

Previously Unseen Arbus, Unearthed Years After Her Death

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An installation view of “Diane Arbus: In the Beginning,” an exhibition at The Met Breuer. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

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Like many driven artists, Diane Arbus was a pitiless self-editor and a liberal self-documenter. The editor produced exactingly hard-won images, now classics of American 20th-century photography. The documenter saved every shred of preparatory matter that went into making those images: research files, handwritten notes, rejected alternatives and old experiments on which new work was built.

After her suicide at 48 in 1971, Arbus’s family found boxes filled with such material in her Manhattan apartment, including a cache of unpublished photographs from the late 1950s, when she officially began her career as an independent artist. In 2007, her daughters, Doon Arbus and Amy Arbus gave all of this to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is showing a selection of about 100 early pictures, most for the first time, in “Diane Arbus: In the Beginning” at the Met Breuer.

The presentation, conceived by Jeff L. Rosenheim, curator in charge of the Met’s department of photographs, is terrific: taut and moody, with a kind of offbeat format the museum rarely attempts in its Fifth Avenue headquarters. You walk off the Met Breuer’s second-floor elevators and in place of the usual introductory advertising, you face a wall of floor-to-ceiling partition-style columns stretching across the gallery, with further rows, layer on layer, behind it receding into darkness. Each column is hung, front and back, with a single photograph.

The effect is architectural, like a structure composed entirely of doors, and nondirective. The pictures, all made between 1956 and 1962, are arranged neither by date nor by theme. So you start where you want, and any choice is the right one. The first row of panels includes, in nonchronological order, a blurry 1956 image of a newspaper lying on a sidewalk; a 1957 shot of an imperious matron, encased in fur, sitting on a city bus and staring icily at the camera; and a 1959 backstage portrait of a bare-chested drag queen prepping for a show.

And from 1960 come three pictures. One is of an encounter, playful but aggressive, between two city kids who look weirdly adult. In another, a glum bear of a guy wearing undershorts, black socks and a rakish hat stands, as if stripped down for a fight, on a Coney Island beach. In a third, a homeless man in a municipal shelter holds up a dollar bill as if he were trying to shield his face with it.

~~~  MORE  ~~~

Monsoonal Surge to Return??

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email from NWS forecaster Joe Ramey

Hi Jerry,

You may find the current state of ENSO interesting.

Also the next unimpressive monsoonal surge looks to start on Sunday. I will send you a separate email.

El Nino is officially dead with the ONI this last week in negative territory. The latest update is for a later onset of La Nina if it does occur this fall. Probability of La Nina was 75% for the Nov-Dec-Jan season, now degraded to 61%.

An upcoming La Nina was never a slam dunk. Of the 21 previous El Ninos since 1950, 11 of them evolved to La Nina in the next cold season, 6 of them remained El Nino, 5 of them changed to ENSO Neutral conditions.

Meanwhile the Pacific Decadal Oscillation index continues at record warmth.
http://research.jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest
When ENSO and PDO are at odds, such as La Nina and warm PDO, the climate signals get muddled lowering confidence for seasonal outlooks.

Mojo “in the longer wavelengths” Ramey

~~~
Climate Interested Folks,

Barbara Mayes has sent out some ENSO talking points.

Hi all,

The talking points for this month’s ENSO Diagnostic Discussion (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/ensodisc.html) (released today) are attached.

You’ll notice that the probability for La Niña, as well as the possible intensity, have decreased somewhat since last month. Note that CPC still indicates that a La Niña is more likely than not to occur, meaning that a La Niña Watch remains in effect. It’s a bit like when we are forecasting, say, near-advisory-threshold snow. Because the event is likely to be weak, our confidence is low on whether it’ll truly cross that threshold or skirt just under it.

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TODAY’S NWS FORECAST DISCUSSION FOR WESTERN COLORADO

A trough of low pressure moving onto the west coast will cause the
high pressure ridge to shift eastward beginning Sunday, allowing
sub-tropical moisture to increase across the area. Precipitable
water (PW) values increase to values above 0.75 inches to near an
inch across mainly areas, which is higher and earlier than
previous model runs indicated. Models have been very consistent in
showing this moisture surge beginning sometime on Sunday. Storms
will be high-based initially with greater potential for dry
lightning. This has potential to be the first significant
thunderstorm outbreak after an extended dry and hot period, so
decided to issue a Fire Weather Watch for mainly areas along and
south of I-70 for this dry thunderstorm potential where fuels are
critical.

Moisture continues to increase and spread northward on Monday and
Tuesday across the entire CWA with PW values above an inch near
the Four Corners and above 0.75 across the entire region. This
favorable monsoonal southwest flow will remain in place through
much of next week resulting in a better chance of wetting rain as
the low levels saturate. Widespread thunderstorms will be common
each day next week. Temperatures will be closer to normal due to
increased clouds and showers but still warm.

The New Yorker DAILY CARTOON

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“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was just plain wrong trying to influence the Presidential election. That’d be just like if the Senate tried to influence the Supreme Court by refusing to vote on a President’s nominee.”

Worse than Trump?

Never heard of Governor Mike Pence–Donald Trump’s new running mate? Neither have most people. But his record is downright horrifying for women–and we need to get the word out. He has made a career out of destroying Planned Parenthood, Roe v Wade, and every single protection for LGBT people.1 He cut over $1 million from Indiana’s domestic violence programs.2 And he even tried to pass a law to mandate that only some forms of rape are illegal.

Together they form one of the most anti-woman presidential tickets in history. Can you share this graphic to let everyone know how extremist Mike Pence is?

SHARE ON FACE BOOK

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Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875) | Three tea bowls

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Rusticity, austerity and simplicity
Chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, which originated in fifteenth-century Kyoto, began as a pastime of the elites – high-ranking warrions, Buddhist monks and aristocrats. By the late sixteenth century, wealthy well-educated urban merchants also participated, one of whom, Sen no Rikyu, codified the now familiar Zen-influenced aesthetic identity for Chanoyu that celebrates rusticity, austerity and simplicity. By Rengetsu’s time, the diverse participants in Chanoyu obtained utensils from othodox potter lineages such as Raku, used vessels they made themselves as self-taught amateurs, of obtained them from new sources that included porvinicial kilns and workshops of independent potters, among them nuns such as Rengetsu.

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John Prine To Release New Duets Album, ‘For Better, Or Worse’

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For much of the post-Dylan age, and particularly in such self-consciously cerebral genres as indie rock, contemporary folk and Americana, artists have been more likely to command critical respect for cultivating their songwriting voices than for interpreting songs from others’ pens. But John Prine, who was once pegged as a new Dylan, seems to be having a fine time toying with that modern musical hierarchy. The profoundly human characters, lived-in wisdom and wry turns of phrase in his songs have earned his spot in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame many times over, but most of his releases over the past decade and a half have spotlighted what he can do with his congenially craggy, latter-day singing voice when he applies it to the compositions of his younger self, or places it next to a genteel southern crooner like Mac Wiseman or some of the finest women singers the country and roots scenes have to offer.

Prine put out his first beguiling batch of coed country duets, In Spite of Ourselves, in 1999, and part two, For Better, Or Worse (out Sept. 30 on Oh Boy Records), is now on the way. He jokes that he was “kinda tricked” into recording it. “My wife is my manager now, and my son runs the record company,” he explains on the phone. “They told me they were putting out a vinyl version of In Spite of Ourselves, and they’d have to use two records to get all of the songs on, so there’d be an empty fourth side. So if I could go record five or six new duet songs for the bonus tracks, that would be perfect. So I went and did five and said, ‘Here you go.’ They said, ‘Why don’t you do another eight or nine? You’d have a new record.’ So I got tricked into it, but I’m glad.” Soon he’s reaching for even more potent words to describe his enjoyment of the process: “When you’re singing somebody else’s songs, it’s just pure joy to me.”

Prine’s singing partners this time around include the likes of Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Lee Ann Womack and Kathy Mattea. The only holdovers from the first go-round are his wife Fiona and his old friend Iris DeMent. He and DeMent were so well-matched as a bantering, grudgingly tender couple in “In Spite of Ourselves” that it’s a real pleasure to hear them inhabit similar roles in the classic country two-step “Who’s Gonna Take The Garbage Out,” her needling, scrappy wife and his fumbling, stubborn husband conjuring profoundly frayed patience. Prine filled NPR in on what he gets out of taking on projects that revolve around singing, and how his songwriting fits into the picture.

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An Outlaw by Any Name: Billy the Kid ~ NYT

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This undated photograph shows who is thought to be the famed gunslinger Billy the Kid near the age of 18. Credit Associated Press

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William Henry McCarty Jr. was said to have been born in Manhattan in 1859 before birth certificates were routinely issued. He died in 1881 in New Mexico, which was still only a territory and did not yet furnish official death certificates. And, by the time he was dubbed Billy the Kid, just a few months before his death, he had already reached his majority and barely qualified for the moniker anymore.

But the nickname stuck.

The Kid, a son of Irish immigrants who had fled the potato famine and then took Horace Greeley’s advice and went west, entered the pantheon of frontier folklore.

The first mention of the slim, beardless, blue-eyed desperado’s death in The Times was a one-paragraph article on July 19, 1881, under the headline “A Notorious Outlaw Killed”: A fugitive “terror of New Mexico cattlemen,” identified only by his nickname, had been shot dead by Sheriff Pat Garrett of Lincoln County in a cabin at Fort Sumner five days earlier.

Also known as William H. Bonney and Henry Antrim, he had escaped from the county jail on April 28 while awaiting his hanging for murdering Garrett’s predecessor.

According to one version, his mother had moved with her two sons to the Midwest, then to New Mexico to recover from tuberculosis. A Times article on July 31 said The Kid had been abused by his stepfather, Bill Antrim, and left home in Silver City at 15.

He became a hotel waiter, then a helper to a blacksmith, who “undertook to impose upon Billy,” and finally insinuated himself into the violent rivalry over beef contracts between Lincoln County cattlemen.

He killed at least a half-dozen people, but claimed to have murdered 21 during what The Times described as “his worse than worthless life.”

Still, as recently as six years ago, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico considered a posthumous pardon — to redeem a promise by Lew Wallace, the 19th-century territorial governor (and later the author of “Ben-Hur” ) of amnesty if The Kid would testify about a murder he had witnessed. He testified, but Wallace reneged, and Governor Richardson ultimately decided against a pardon.

“Best to leave history alone,” said Susannah Garrett, a granddaughter of the sheriff.

Drought Risk Low For Most Of Colorado

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Conditions are abnormally dry for parts of Colorado, but the risk of significant drought affecting the state is minimal.

New data out Thursday from the National Drought Mitigation Center shows abnormally dry conditions for most of Boulder and Larimer counties, and parts of southwest Colorado.

Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the drought center, said the state as a whole is looking good. Just a few months ago, 30 percent of the state was abnormally dry, compared to just 7 percent now, thanks to a wet winter.

“Some of the dryness and drought that we did see earlier has diminished and went away,” Fuchs said. “And right now for mid-July, Colorado is in fairly good shape.”

Fuchs said the drought map is similar to this time a year ago. He does not think dryness in parts of the state has caused any spike in wildfire activity beyond the typical wildfire season. But he said hot and dry conditions could carry a greater fire risk.