August 21, 2016

That's A Whole Lot Of Arctic Hydrocarbon

At stake for ExxonMobil is a massive $500 billion deal with Rosneft, a state-owned Russian oil company, to drill for oil in the Russian Arctic.

—Buzzfeed News, Congress, Worried About Trump, Is Trying To Tie The Next President’s Hands On Russia

August 15, 2016

Opo Research

What will people who now support Trump say when they understand that his famous hair is actually the harvested pelt of this endangered species? Huh, Mr. Libertarian, huh?

The Tragically Attractive Tamarind, Seattle, 2008

Bucket of Flowers

Flowers, Disarranged, 2008

August 08, 2016

For When Being Enough Of A Republican Isn't Enough

There are those among Republicans who would counsel Trump to make no more of a fool of himself than he already has, but beyond sending a presidential candidate to his room they sense no sure way to ensure Trump's public probity. The Culpability Index is counting down the hours left for them to plausibly deny association with him.

August 04, 2016


I was opining, as I am wont to do at times, on the state of the current Presidential election campaign. There is no way the Republicans can lift Donald Trump back up, I averred. The party's only saving move now is a whole-hearted attack on Hillary Clinton, dragging her down farther than Tump has fallen by employing the harshest possible criticisms they can offer, however germaine, and soon.

"She slept with Bill Clinton!" said Jesse.

August 02, 2016

We Interrupt This Reported Trump Enormity #12 and 35

Scott Lemieux of the Lawyers, Guns & Money blog lists the 5 worst ruling of the Roberts Court. Citizens United doesn't make the cut. Canny look at the Court's inclinations under Roberts from a lawyer who's apparently been paying attention.

July 22, 2016

Some Bird

The hummingbird arrested but briefly on a twig.

July 14, 2016

The Break

Major League Baseball comes to rest around the All-Star Game, a four-day pause in the year's relatively incessant schedule of games, marking the ceremonial halfway point in the season, though strictly speaking the halfway mark is long past. The San Francisco Giants have played 90 games going into the break, nine more than half a season's worth.

No ballclub has had an easier schedule than the San Francisco Giants had during the first half of 2016.

That will change for the Giants eventually, as is mentioned elsewhere. But for now, the club continues to enjoy the salad days of its schedule, returning from the four-day All Star Break with the MLB's best record, 57-33 (having surpassed the Chicago Cubs in that regard after a couple of weeks of stumbling from the Chicagos to close out their first half), to face the more or less hapless San Diego Padres.

The Giants have yet to lose a game to the Padres this season. They are 9-0. Those nine wins explain a lot about the position of two clubs as the second half begins. Without them the Giants are less bafflingly successful, the Padres not so deflatingly bad.

Granted, good clubs are supposed to win most of the games they play against poor teams. But, winning 6 of 9 games against a poorer club is considered feasting on that team. Winning 9 games in a row against any club, no matter how poor, is way over on the far edge of the probability curve. Baseball doesn't normally operate that way.

Nevertheless, the Giants get to play the Padres 10 more times this year, starting tomorrow night.

Soon the DL will disgorge Matt Duffy, Joe Panik, Hunter Pence, and Matt Cain. Reliever Sergio Romo is already back. Other teams may hope to bolster their lineups by working some magic before the end-of-the-month trading deadline. The Giants look to become considerably stronger simply by welcoming back four of their own.

July 13, 2016

Questionable Times for the New PM

The British Prime Minister apparently has "You're It!" powers when it comes to naming the heads of the offices of government, who set and carry out the policies of the party in power using those offices under the Prime Minister's direction, including the newly created office of Secretary of State For Exiting The European Union (David Davis). No messy formal advise and consent, just, here, you're it.
It is a mark of the equivocal importance of the Foreign Office in what remains of Britain now that it has voted to go to its room, that the new Foreign Secretary will be Boris Johnson.

July 11, 2016

Lemmy And Jolie

Lemmy Caution and Jolie Blon got together and sang this song
And everybody else wants to sing along
Sing along to this real old song.

Lemmy Caution and Jolie Blon met up together and sang this song:
Everbody else wants to sing along
Sing along to this real old song.

Lemmy Caution and Jolie Blon get 'em together and we all sing along
Sing along to this real old song,
Real old song, we all sing along,
Sing along to this real old song.

July 06, 2016

Department of O.K. Fine If You Say So

Words that cannot be gainsaid, at least around here:

Indeed, it has been shown that the proposition that every vector space has a basis is equivalent to Zorn's Lemma (and hence also to the axiom of choice)

July 05, 2016

Annals of Privilege

The Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined, according to this Greenwald article at The Intercept.

…Comey also detailed that her key public statements defending her conduct – i.e., she never sent classified information over her personal email account and that she had turned over all “work-related” emails to the State Department – were utterly false; insisted “that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position . . . should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation”; and argued that she endangered national security because of the possibility “that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.” Comey also noted that others who have done what Clinton did “are often subject to security or administrative sanctions” – such as demotion, career harm, or loss of security clearance.

…Despite all of these highly incriminating findings, Comey explained, the FBI is recommending to the Justice Department that Clinton not be charged with any crime. “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information,” he said, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” To justify this claim, Comey cited “the context of a person’s actions” and her “intent.” In other words, there is evidence that she did exactly what the criminal law prohibits, but it was more negligent and careless than malicious and deliberate.

…perhaps Democrats might start demanding the same reasonable leniency and prosecutorial restraint for everyone else who isn’t Hillary Clinton.

That last line pointedly about well-known miscreants Snowdon and Manning.

July 04, 2016

The Winningest Team In Baseball

The 162 game schedule, drawn up before the start of the season, has arbitrarily favored the Giants with a stretch of weeks pitted against teams with losing records. Since taking three of four in Pittsburgh against a presumptive playoff rival, the Giants have so far played 11 games against teams with losing records, winning six.

These pleasant prospects, from games #75 through #101 of the schedule, featuring 24 of 26 games against teams with losing records (PHI, COL, ARI, SD, CIN, NYY), will extend through the All Star break this year, eventually ending in late July.

Alternately, the Giants schedule for early August features seven games against the East-leading Washington Nationals in a ten-game span, followed by 15 games against 5 teams vying with various stages of desperation for playoff slots (MIA, BAL, PIT, NYM, LAD).

The Giants have been rewarded with a soft schedule that will turn brutal in August. If there are a subtle few extra wins that will make the difference this season, these weeks bridging the All Star break look to be the place the Giants need to find them. Because August will be hard.

June 29, 2016

Santa Cruz Harbor Gets A New Dredge

Numerous enormous chunks of the new dredge were borne on oversized tractor-trailers all the way from Louisiana to the temporary yard in the parking lot adjacent to Santa Cruz Harbor's launch ramp this month, there to be reconstituted by the crew that came along with the parts. Moving this caravan of massive things from Louisiana to Santa Cruz took more time than originally planned. The target date of June 13 was missed by ten days. But eventually everything was there, and the crew got to work putting all the pieces of it together, and in a week they were done. Today the dredge was eased on enormous air mattresses down into the waters of the Santa Cruz Harbor, where its career of sucking and spewing will soon commence.

The Now-Rejected Dredge of Santa Cruz Harbor, Seabright, And Its Faithful Companion, Dauntless

June 25, 2016

Along the Relinquished Coast

For no particularly sound reason roadmakers guessed that setting roads meandering on the existing seaside cliffs along the coast between Santa Cruz and San Francisco was an eminently doable task, and set out constructing them with the confidence (emboldened all along the West Coast of America by the example of the Panama Canal) that any conceivable project could be accomplished with the proper application of enough concrete, a belief leading, understandably, to more than a century of collapsed roadways on the coast from Big Sur to the Golden Gate.
These coastal cliffs aren't finalized. Geologically, they are composed of the compressed muck of an earlier seafloor, and, exposed to the unrelenting seasonable rains of a climate literally bordering on a rainforest, they are distinctly impermanent.
East Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz memorializes this untoward confidence. Plates of concrete, stubs of what was once roadway balance on the cliffs above Seacliff State Beach.

Looking Southeast across Monterey Bay, a plate of concrete roadbed balanced on an eroding bluff  in the foreground

Objectifying The Impassible

In the distance, a fence of the same sort as that cutting across the foreground. Beyond that fence Eastcliff Drive resumes

June 17, 2016

Today's 42

What findings can be gleaned from our previously published report are comfortably vague.

The Giants 41st win was achieved in the seasons's 62nd game in 2014, and in the season's 91st game in 2013. 2014 turned into a very good year, culminating in a a World Series victory, and 2013 into a 76-86 failure.

The 2010 season ended with a World Championship, too, but the 41st win of the 2010 campaign came almost a month after that of the 2014 season.

The 2010 team, with its lackadasical 41-39 record after 80 games, on the eve of the Fourth of July, the traditional date on which the actual play of the clubs thus far can be taken seriously as an indication of their viability in that year's pennant race, parlayed a mediocre first half into a Wild Card slot in the playoffs by the end of the season, and from there, luck and talent rode them to the club's first Championship in 56 years, and first ever since arriving in San Francisco 52 years before.

No matter how quickly the club ever reaches 41 wins, they'll do no better than that club, with its 41-39 mark and World Championship, pretty much the minimum a club can do and still eke out a World Series victory, playing barely better than .500 ball as late as the Fourth of July.

This year's club reached 41 wins in it 67th game, the second quickest pace in our record of seven recent seasons. This puts the club in a favorable position to reach this year's playoffs, which, of course is better than the position, genrally agreed to be supine, of the 2013 team by the time of its 41st.

June 16, 2016

Department of Relatively Obvious Tentative Conclusions, Buttressed by Facts

The earlier in June the Giants reach 41 wins the better, and the later in July the worse for them. Mostly.

SeasonWon-LostDate of 41st Win
2010 41-39 July 3
2011 41-34 June 23
2012 41-33 June 25
2013 41-50 July 11
2014 41-21 June 6
2015 41-35 June 27
2016 41-26 June 15

June 13, 2016

Beach House

Houses Along The Bluff at Seabright and East Cliff, Santa Cruz, CA, May 2016

Looking West Past The House On The Corner of Seabright and East Cliff, Santa Cruz, CA, May 2016

June 11, 2016

The Satisfactions of a Well-Won Game

Until the tenth inning of today's game between the Giants and Dodgers, the Giants had three hits, all stroked early in the game against Dodgers starter Scott Kazmir.

The pitchers who replaced him yielded no hits, so the Giants went into the bottom of the tenth inning having produced just those three hits and facing a one-run deficit following Adrian Gonzales's solo home run that led off the top of the tenth inning for the Dodgers.

Then, with one out in their own half, the Giants strung together four straight hits, scored two runs and won the game.

An altogether entertaining game overall, during the course of which the Fox TV announcers noted the presence of Dodger right fielder Trayce Thompson's brother, Klay, the Golden State Warriors player, whose club is now one win away from bringing consecutive NBA championships to the Bay Area. Up there in the stands Klay was wearing a Dodgers cap, and when his image was shown on the scoreboard screen the assembled crowd booed heartily. One analyst wondered if anyone wearing a Dodger cap would go unbooed, proposed the Pope and immediately allowed that the Pope would likely get booed, too. Giants fans. Tough crowd, satisfied tonight.

June 09, 2016


I see that Duf Sundheim captured 8% of the vote in California's Senate Primary this past Tuesday. Sundheim isn't a name familiar to many Californians, though even given an understandable amount of puffery, Sundheim's CV suggests a string of professional accomplishments that would have made him prime Republican material 40 years ago. But this is not your father's Republican party anymore, so even an endorsement from George Schultz himself could do little to collect the fractious shards of the state party together behind him. He led all twelve declared Republican candidates for the office with his 8%, but together they mustered only 27.9% — a fringe party percentage — of the vote.

Only the top two vote-getters in California's June Senate runoff move on to the general election. Both of them are Democrats this year. For the first time ever, no Republican candidate will appear on the ballot for U.S. Senate in California since the passage of the 17th amendment made popular election of senators possible.

June 07, 2016

I Voted And All I Got Was This Lousy Senate Majority Leader

Mitch McConnell gave a very odd interview to Judy Woodruff of the News Hour on PBS tonight, an interview ostensibly about his newly published memoir, the Long Game, but turned instead to his position on the candidacy of Donald Trump, freshly recognized presidential nominee of McConnell's own party. The people who voted for Trump in the Republican Party's primaries really want something different, advised McConnell, allowing as how they seem to have succeeded with their chosen candidate. McConell took the occasion to upbraid Trump for recent remarks that even elected Republicans were inclined to label racist. McConnell is inoculated against charges of racism himself by virtue of being married to an immigrant Asian American, and we can be assured that his refusal to let immigration reform advance in the Senate, for example, is a matter of politics, and nothing personal.

Can he inoculate his party's current Senate majority against the strong tide of revulsion directed at Trump and the party that would nominate him which, for all we know, the general electoral may demonstrate in November? This is what the boys in the back room are wondering.