Monday, January 31, 2005

Lifting her skirts...

With the sun brightening the winter sky on Sunday, Spindrift found a nice fresh breeze out the Golden Gate that easily carried us out past Mile Rock and Point Bonita. On the way back in, on a beam reach from the bridge’s north tower to Crissy Field at 7.5 knots, our sailing buddy Rob Bastress put it best: the old girl enjoyed lifting her skirts today. These are the days that make all the working days worthwhile.

rob & deb on a mellow broad reach outside the golden gate

Friday, January 28, 2005

Tactical cleverness...

Jon Carroll's column today in the San Francisco Chronicle ought to wake up a somnambulistic America:

"'In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. ... Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.'

"That was Hannah Arendt, in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951. It seems to me to perfectly describe our current perplex.

"It solves a basic problem that has been bothering me forever: The duplicity of the Bush administration is so transparent, why are more people not bothered by it? Bush's father said, 'Read my lips: no new taxes,' and then raised taxes, and that was apparently enough to get him booted out of office.

"Bush says 'weapons of mass destruction' and pretends they're the reason he's going to war, and there are no WMDs and all of sudden we're 'spreading democracy' using that old democracy spreader the Sword, and no one seems to care. Indeed, many people seem to believe that we did find WMDs. Or maybe they are just admiring the administration's tactical cleverness."

Good for you, Jon Carroll!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

first ever lunch served at monte carlo in mountain view - this will be
a great dining/dance club, with Article 19 playing good jazz.

Monday, January 24, 2005

California on my mind...

A microcosm of the nation, its been said. Where goes California, the nation’s close behind. California’s failing education system, her collapsing infrastructure, her poor governance – seems the nation’s giving my fair state a run for its money, but since everyone’s talking about that already, I’ll talk about California.

In 1978, Californians passed Proposition 13, a property tax limitation initiative sponsored by a thinly veiled group of apartment building and commercial landlords. It completely overturned public school financing in California, and today California’s public schools are almost the very worst in the country. When I was a school kid in the 1950s, my San Jose schools were definitely not the worst. We had music, art, drama, mechanical arts, and a host of other programs that are a rarity today. Today, private music and art schools exist to provide what public schools cut years ago. Why? Quite simply, my parent’s generation was willing to invest, through taxes, in their children.

In 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake knocked out a section of the upper deck of the Bay Bridge that links Oakland and San Francisco. Everybody agreed, the bridge needed more than just repairs to upgrade its safety. In 1994, the Northridge Earthquake collapsed overpasses on two major Los Angeles freeways. Within a year or so, they were repaired. But, now, fifteen years later, the Bay Bridge hangs on with temporary repairs while work is stopped on a new bridge (with unbelievable cost overruns) as our Hollywood governor, echoing the ideological fiscal responsibility of his fellow southern Californians (half of all Californians live south of the Tehachapi Mountains), says the state shouldn’t bear the bridge’s cost. Funny that... and the freeways keep humming in La La Land. What’s the problem? We don’t want to pay the taxes to maintain our infrastructure, to invest in the future of our society.

And, in Salinas the public libraries are shutting down. In San Francisco the senior citizen shuttle service is shut down. Parks, public recreational facilities, and other “non-essential” services are shutting down. It’s a matter of poor governance, yes, but Proposition 13 also turned local government financing topsy-turvy. And, since citizens want to have their cake and eat it, too, the mantra is no more taxes! Ideologues of the right simply repeat, like a recording stuck in the same groove, “we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.”

Frankly, I’m sick of the selfishness of the majority of my fellow Californians.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Good jazz today...

Awakened to a sunny morning on Spindrift this Sunday morning. Sailing seemed the thing to do, but I'd promised Fred Schultz at the South Bay Traditional Jazz Society that I'd play piano. Sailing would probably have been great, but the jazz was hot today! For almost twenty years, I played with a wonderful stand-up bass man: Paul Matulich. The first time we met, he sat in with me at Digger Dan's Restaurant in Gilroy; it was as though we'd played together all our lives, and starting then we played that gig for nine years. When we tired of working every weekend, we formed a quartet to play parties, weddings, barmitzvahs, and funerals, which lasted another decade, fading away as group members moved apart, and closing when Paul died unexpectedly. I've missed him as though he were a brother, and for quite a while didn't play much at all. A good bass man (pardon the pun) is hard to find. There are lots of electric players, but nothing beats a stand-up for jazz, swing, and stride. So, I'd about given up on ever finding another good bass man. Until today and Sam Morocco! I may have missed a sunset (certainly not as pretty as the one at Ala Wai Harbor in Honolulu, below), but I'm not sure it could have been better than the jazz this afternoon.

ala wai harbor, honolulu, january, 2005, by laura wong-rose (thanks to
Latitude 38)

Friday, January 21, 2005

my old friend richard orsi just announced the birth of his book. sunset limited: the southern pacific railroad and the development of the american west, 1850-1930. good on you, dick.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Do the Bushies listen to each other?...

In another bewildering Washington day, Condi Rice defends her memo to strike an elegant paragraph against "torture" from the recently adopted intelligence reform bill, saying it was redundant because the use of "torture" already was prohibited in a defense bill. The same day, in another congressional hearing, Alberto Gonzales says the intelligence community (the CIA) is not bound by the same anti-torture rules as the military. And Rice is wondering why people question her integrity? What the hell, let's get on with Mr. Bush's party...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Mosul on his mind...

As George Bush and his henchpeople secure the capitol against what will surely be thousands of peaceful oppositional Americans and perhaps a handful of illusive terrorists, isn't it reassuring to hear George underscore that inauguration day will highlight “the peaceful transfer of power” from himself to himself? From me to me....

Monday, January 17, 2005

in her Alameda slip.

Good day for sailing...

Took Spindrift on a shakedown cruise today, after six months of projects. Winds from 8-16 knots. Motored out the estuary, set sails with a two turn reef in the jib, and drove a starboard tack across the south bay to San Francisco’s Portrero District shoreline, a bit south of Pacbell Park (can't bear to call it SBC Park). She’s always tracked solidly on a port tack as opposed to starboard, and this was no different. This is not really a complaint. The failure of the wind directional instrument is a complaint. It's acted up ever since our sail broker Sylvain pushed in the instrument lense with his knee last Spring, and today it never broke free to register direction; probably corroded (oh no! more projects). Also, the knot meter didn’t register, which is probably just a clog in the thruhull paddlewheel; something to clear later. Otherwise, all systems performed. Nice to be on the water with her again.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Repeating Britain's mistakes...

"A conservative government sweeps to power for a second term. It views its victory as a mandate to slash the role of the state. In its first term, this policy objective was met by cutting taxes for the wealthy. Its top priority for its second term is tackling what it views as an enduring vestige of socialism: its system of social insurance for the elderly. Declaring the current program unaffordable in 50 years’ time, the administration proposes the privatization of a portion of old-age benefits. In exchange for giving up some future benefits, workers would get a tax rebate to put into an investment account to save for their own retirement.

"George W. Bush’s America in 2005? Think again. The year was 1984, the nation was Britain, the government was that of Margaret Thatcher -- and the results have been a disaster that America is about to emulate."

For the whole story read Norma Cohen,"A Bloody Mess," The American Prospect Online, Jan 11, 2005:

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Crying Wolf again...

Today's Internet Headlines appeared one above the other:

Reuters - Bush Talks of Crisis to Sell U.S. Retirement Plan -- President George W. Bush spoke to students and teachers in the school gymnasium at J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church,Virginia, today. Bush launched his plan to revamp Social Security with a push to convince the public and Congress that it faces a crisis,even though supporters of the government-run retirement program say he is exaggerating its financial problems. (LarryDowning/Reuters)

AP - White House: Iraq Weapons Search has Ended. -- The White House acknowledged Wednesday that its hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction — a two-yearsearch costing millions of dollars — has closed down without finding the stockpiles that President Bush cited as a justification foroverthrowing Saddam Hussein. Bush's spokesman said the president had no regrets about invading Iraq Bush said to Barbara Walters in an interview to be broadcast Friday night:"I felt like we'd find weapons of mass destruction — like many here in the United States, many around the world, .... We need to findout what went wrong in the intelligence gathering."

My friend Mark asked me if it reminded me of a little story? You know, Aesop's Fable? The one parents have been telling kids since, oh, about 500years before Christ was born? Stories to make children learn, you know, right from wrong?

Sure reminded me. How about you? Surely you recall -- it's the one that starts like this: "There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a greatbreath and sang out, "Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!" The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found nowolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces."

You remember how it ends. Today's news make Mark and me think of this story? How about you?