February 11, 2016

The Supremes Step In

The Government's Carbon Emissions Plan has been put on hold by the Supreme Court, catching everyone off guard.

This planet is so fucked.

Ash Wednesday and Ever After

Lenten  Leftover, Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, AZ

The Rude Talk of the Presidential Campaign, Part the Millionth

Back in the day, from Eliabeth Warren's perspective, Hillary Clinton's work on the bankruptcy bill amounted to little more than putting lipstick on a pig, if by pig we mean the voracious capitalist financiers behind the measure, for the bankruptcy bill as a whole gutted the very protections bankruptcy is meant to offer to specific classes of the insolvent, particularly holders of credit card debt and student loans. It was to institutionalize a condition of debt penury on vast numbers of Americans instead of offering them the clean slate bankruptcy had always ostensibly been intended to provide.

“While this amendment may have provided some political cover, it offers virtually no financial help to single mothers, since the overwhelming majority of ex-husbands don’t pay any distributions during bankruptcy,” the endnotes read. “Of far more importance was the fact that the bill would permit credit card companies to compete with women after bankruptcy for their ex-husbands’ limited income, and this provision remained unchanged in the 1998 and 2001 versions of the bill. Senator Clinton claimed that the bill improved circumstances for single mothers, but her view was not shared by any women’s groups or consumer groups,” said Warren.

It would seem Clinton was offering up an attractive yet basically meaningless amendment in exchange for support of a bill no conceivable Democrat before the time of Bill Clinton, the first post-modern Democrat, would have thought of voting for. Ever.

February 01, 2016

January 07, 2016

No Parking On Moby Hedge

471 10th Avenue, Santa Cruz, Aug. 2015

January 06, 2016


1 September. Oliver Sacks dies, my first memory of whom was as an undergraduate in his digs in Keble Road in Oxford when I was with Eric Korn and possibly, over from Cambridge, Michael Frayn. Oliver said that he had fried and eaten a placenta. At that time I don't think I knew what a placenta was, except I knew it didn't come with chips.
— Alan Bennett, What I Did In 2015 (London Review Of Books, vol. 38 Jan. 2016, pg. 6.)
Jokes at the expense of placentas are so beyond the fringe.

January 01, 2016

Catching Up

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2015

A Note on the Calendar Year

The ball dropping in Times Square is meant to signal the moment 2016 officially begins in America, though those of us on the West Coast remain unconvinced. We're partial to a later midnight unqualified by the ghost of Dick Clark. That midnight, the one going on in New York when the ball drops, the one sanctified by Dick Clark's ghost for the benefit of a grateful nation, is a fine midnight, having now passed, and cause for a certain kind of person to celebrate, I warrant, but fundamentally unpersuasive. We have it down as still to come at this point around here.

December 13, 2015

War On Xmas

The Heathen Christmas Penguin Itself, Edging Ever Closer to the Middle of Things

December 10, 2015

Jostling In The Age of Trump

George Will becomes incensed by the characterization of Ronald Reagan in Bill O'Reilly's book, it says here.

Now, George Will has been an odious presence on the American scene for decades longer than Bill O'Reilly, such that as the tarnish of many a long-past episode involving him and ratifying his assholery fades from current memory, as tarnish so often will, we are yet left with him choking out new affronts from behind that bowtie year after year producing his rendition of the most scrupulous wording for it that Republican money can buy.

With regard to the politics of it all, if the premise is addle-pated nonsense, then rational human beings are best suited to advance such nonsense to its full potential, being that crazy people, who are quite capable of entertaining a host of crazy ideas and often enough even creating a marvelously crazy premise or two of their very own, are more often than not at a loss over what to do about it all beyond that, to carry it on. To advance the given premise, you need a platoon of chaps with skills like Will, smart tendentious sorts who can write to deadline on any premise.

[Whether or not O'Reilly is right that Reagan's brain was mush during any portion of his presidency is beside the point. Historically, Reagan's Central American policy was based on savage, deadly, senile nonsense of the sort entertained by George Will, who was there to applaud the politics of it all in real time.]

December 09, 2015

Still Life With Foot-Long Foot

Most of the photographs that surface at the Quotidian these days are shot during Dog Walk, that two hour period immediately after waking devoted exclusively to rambling about with the dog. The photos have what a snapshot can have, immediacy. There it is, Santa Cruz Harbor, at such and such a time on such and such a date, as given through the auspices of the iPhone 6. Very little "post-processing," using any of the clever tools available to fiddle with the look, just the processing inherent in the combination of software and camera required to make a file of what the iPhone's pointed at when the shutter's pressed.

Let's say every snapshot is an instance of discovery. The snapshot discovers a fact about the world, and presents that discovery straightforwardly to the observer. The iPhone is a fine tool for just that.

So, yes, Dog Walk, iPhone 6, sidewalk, foot-long foot:

I've never taken a photo that so cried for a narrative plausibly tying the discovered fact to what went before.

I mean, there it is in all its harvested glory, dried clumps of buds still attached to the eight main stems of the thing, the Hanukka Bush Itself, ready to burn for eight days if started right in on, is what I'm saying.

I do not have the story, and do not want to make up a story or choose from among all the plausible alternatives to attach this bush to its previous condition, however much the usual urges insist.

December 04, 2015


Today, December 4, marks the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of the newly-named Grateful Dead music band. They had been the Warlocks, notionally, for awhile, but, rebranded, went on to a nicely achieved career in music.

Grateful Dead Blues For Allah, Stained Glass, installed in the Grateful Dead Archive exhibit space, McHenry Library, UC Santa Cruz

November 27, 2015


Nearly two decades later, in March of 2015, I sat in a soundproof booth and recorded the audiobook for my first memoir, about the years when I drank and smoked too much. If the play had given me the ability to hide backstage, or behind an actress who was taller and prettier than me, performing the audiobook was the inverse: just me, unadorned, seated on a wooden stool with a microphone in front of me and a bottle of water at my side. The only audience I had in that tiny studio was a bearded engineer named Gary. I tried to pretend he wasn’t on the other side of the glass as I read aloud lines I had certainly written but never intended to perform. The opening scene of the book also takes place in a hotel room, strangely enough, although the episode is not a stylized fiction but an incident that took place in Paris when I was 31, where I came out of a blackout in the middle of having sex with a guy I couldn’t remember meeting. “Who are you, and why are we fucking?” is one of the early lines, and I tried to keep my voice calm and honeyed as I read it, even as I was dying inside. — Sarah Hepola at The Morining News
And yet in the back of her mind, a note in a small, ineradicable voice: herself saying, "Whoah, this shit is memiorable!"

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

Morning 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.