November 22, 2015

Sundown Behind Santa Cruz, CA

West, September 2015

John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963)

I suppose somewhere in the depths of today's paper there's a note mentioning that November 22 marks the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. It's been more than fifty years, though. The shockwaves have settled: the anniversary was front page news for decades, but no longer. Those of us who lived through those days are a shrinking minority, our residue of shock and dismay now just a whisper in the roar of current events.

Anyway, it snapped then. Kennedy's death killed the Fifties. The Sixties snapped, and bent toward a new destiny.

Goodby again you shiny man.

November 18, 2015

Au Revior I Guess

Battling to the End: Politics, War, and Apocalypse by Rene Girard, a fellow I just heard about in passing, is said to be his best last book in a long and remarkably distinguished career (qualifying him for election to the self-consciously famous French Académie française of France at that), a book that achieved some level of notoriety there when it was issued in that land's language in 2007 as Achever Clausewitz.

Just from the article's blurbed mention of that book and another earlier one with perhaps even greater notoriety in France called Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde(1978), which would become Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World when published in English in 1987, makes me think I should know about this guy already, who, after all, lived a thirty minute drive from here and thrived on a good French-style argument, which, like many of their cheeses and a few of their wines, are about as good as you're ever going to need, argument about the kind of stuff I'm always at least tangentially interested in, and never once got wind of him while he lived. Sad the best I can do now is feed, zombie-like, on the remains of the brain of Girard.

Toward the End of October

East of Santa Cruz, CA, October  2015

November 10, 2015

Allen Toussaint (January 14, 1938-November 10, 2015)

Alan Toussaint, as central to the music coming out of New Orleans as Willie Dixon was to the music coming out of Chicago in his time, has died. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform a couple of times at Kuumbwa, the jazz club in Santa Cruz. He was a remarkable talent.

October 30, 2015

Gray Day

A Lone Sea Otter in Santa Cruz Harbor. October 2015

October 29, 2015

Morning Moon

Santa Cruz Harbor, October 2015

October 28, 2015

Relatively Riparian View Towards the Southeast

Arana Creek in its Natural Setting, Santa Cruz, CA , August 2014

October 22, 2015

Whittled down to the Needed Figurine, In Effect

People will express their preferences for the Steve Jobs they wish to carry forward into the future: modelled on the Steve Jobs actual, currently living human beings dealt with in person, with all the baggage he and they brought to such occasions, or perhaps reminiscent of the Steve Jobs Aaron Sorkin chooses to give us, a guy in the next universe over with the same name and, well, jobs, relating to his daughter over time.

It's not clear that people need to carry forward into the future the version of Jobs offered up by Sorkin, any more than people need to carry forward into the future an image of William Randolph Hearst inflected by Orson Welles's version of him, though they do. But if that's what Sorkin achieves, then, well, there's art for you, manipulating its materials to serve its own priorities, arbitrarily replacing the knowable record with the desired construct every chance it gets, following the precept known to all that great stories trump history. Whether Citizen Kane is a better story on balance than the reprehensible William Randolph Hearst of actual record is debatable, of course. In any event, Sorkin naming his Steve Jobs Steve Jobs is cheeky.

October 20, 2015

On Yet Dark Morning

The view Northwest along Arana Creek, October 2015

Today In Data

First, we need to ensure across the Atlantic that people’s legal rights move with their data. This is a straightforward proposition that would require, for example, that the U.S. government agree that it will only demand access to personal information that is stored in the United States and belongs to an EU national in a manner that conforms with EU law, and vice versa. —Brad Smith of Microsoft

If in the United States the government feels justified in hoovering up all the data engendered by its citizens, does this "legal" right of the state emigrate along with its citizens' data when that data is lodged in Europe? Enquiring worry warts want to know.

October 18, 2015

Baseball Report 2015

The 2015 baseball season ended for the San Francisco Giants on completion of the club's 162nd regularly scheduled game, ushered out, finalized the season was, by an ignominious 9th inning defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies on October 4.

Relatedly, the 2015 baseball season ended for San Francisco Giants fans with the defeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers by the New York Mets in this year's National League Division Series, closing this season's books on a positive note. Always, for a San Francisco Giants fan, there's consolation to be had in a Dodgers loss, however administered. Sweetest is when the Giants themselves defeat the Dodgers directly, of course, and it should be noted that the Giants did beat the Dodgers 11 out of 19 tries this season. They did their part, at least in that respect, this year. That it took the Mets to extinguish the Dodgers hopes is to their credit, and may cause many Giants fans to wish the New York squad well in their upcoming series against the Cubs for the National League pennant.

2015 Season Evaluation Checklist

☒ A. Beat the Dodgers
☐  1. Every time
☑  2. Most of the time
☐  3. Foil them in their quest for the pennant

☒ B. Win all games at least half the time
☐  1. Half the time
☑  2. More than half the time

☐ C. Win The Pennant

☐ D. Win The World Series

An A2 year for the club, then, by this measure, and a B2 year as well, having won 84 of 162, second in the National League West Division, in spite of a problematic rotation backed by a leaky bullpen and an injury-depleted lineup patched with rookies and bench players. Tomlinson and Duffy performed well beyond what any reasonable analysis would have predicted for either of them, and Gregor Blanco responded with his best year. Marlon Byrd proved a canny add. But still, without Pence and Panik and Crawford and Belt and Lincecum and Cain and Aioki and Pagan, all out for extended periods, the team simply could not muster wins down the stretch, when the schedule saw them pitted against the Pirates, Cubs and Dodgers, and their play showed that they couldn't measure up to those playoff-bound teams this year.

Pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in early February.

October 17, 2015

Too Soon?

The Dead Reap Their Reward, October 2015

Early on the people of Santa Cruz established their Catholic cemetery just outside the city's eastern limit. It's a fair number of acres reserved for that sort of dead people, be they the Iberian Portugese or Mesoamerican Mexican or Hibernian Irish variety of Catholic who, having inhabited the county in life continue to literally inhabit a certain amount of the county's space in theoretical perpetuity there in that ground, just beyond which lies the neighborhood of Live Oak, an amorphous stretch of unincorporated space between Santa Cruz proper and the city of Capitola, such as it is.

Here in Live Oak we appear to be rushing the season a bit, which for technical reasons, as if I need to repeat, is only supposed to last one day, be it Halloween or Day of the Dead or what have you, timed in ancient days to the night of the year the Pleiades rose in the east just as the sun set, a day set aside for wallowing in the sad repetitive downward spiral of the dispiriting existential nullity of it all, heralding the approaching winter of the year as it tends to do, all swept up together into that one fine day for overriding public expressions of dread of it all each year, and that day, the day the Pleiades and the sun stand across from each other in the sky, the sun giving way, the Pleiades ushering in the dour night sky, isn't meant to be spread like marmite over a season of it.

The power of just having the one day of it is vitiated, spread over a season the way it is now, in my view, which admittedly was all about the irrelevant candy of it for quite a long while.

October 10, 2015

Look Homeward, Grammarian

Though bad writing has always been with us, the rules of correct usage are the smallest part of the problem. Any competent copy editor can turn a passage that is turgid, opaque, and filled with grammatical errors into a passage that is turgid, opaque, and free of grammatical errors.

—Steven Pinker The Guardian October 6, 2015

September 28, 2015

Previously In Flowering Plants

Fuchsias in Santa Cruz, 2011

Department of Categorical Announcements

Heidegger is the only world-famous philosopher of the 20th century about whom it can seriously be argued that he was a charlatan

—Bernard Williams, London Review of Books, June 4, 1981

September 27, 2015

Looking Down On The Pinnipeds

A Crowd of Seals, Santa Cruz Wharf, June 2009

Previous Azaleas

Edge of Entryway, Santa Cruz Home, April 2007

September 18, 2015

Passing Thoughts

In my neighborhood to be Irish-American was to be whiter than any Italian-American. Whether there was a hierarchy of whiter whites than Irish whites was really of no concern as long as it was recognized that Irish was essentially whiter than Italian, in this view.

I'm thinking in his time Will Rogers wasn't white at all except by general acclaim, and despite all appearances. But then it's always been defined by general acclaim, white being a slippery notion, the precise white being applied or denied in the instant a matter of exacting public judgements, which fell in favor of Rogers back then.

September 15, 2015

Mooring In Morning

Looking East Across Santa Cruz Harbor, September 2015

Monterey Bay Morning

Santa Cruz Harbor, September 2015

September 14, 2015

September 07, 2015

September 05, 2015