Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Aretha Recorded this One in 1969

Tracks of My Tears - Linda Ronstadt - 1975 from Chris on Vimeo.

I'm sure that Linda Ronstadt was familiar with Aretha's version of this bittersweet love song by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The similarities between the two interpretations explain some of the inspiration behind Linda's 1975 recording that I have decided to share with you here. This has always been just about my favorite Linda Ronstadt song. It is the reason that she is my favorite vocalist from the time. I don't sob uncontrollably when I listen to this one the way I do with some of her other songs, but I usually get a just a little bit wet around the corneas.

Friday, April 15, 2016

El Hermano Obama

Forgive my tardiness. Perhaps it is not too late to bring up this important chapter in the shared history of the Americas. Now that our common evolution regarding the CoId War, the epic struggle between our two world views and the disparate economic theories that have held court and battle in the punishing and unforgiving light of economic prosperity, can finally be written, I hope that this news is still fresh in your minds. Initially, I was very excited and motivated. However, I soon bogged down in my own inadequate skills at translation. I have no excuse as to why I said nothing even after I had found the English language translation only a day or two later. Interested in the letter that the eighty-nine year-old Castro had addressed to our president, of course the first thing that I did was to googol a Spanish language, complete text of the letter. This was easy enough to find and took me to the website of the official news organ of the Cuban government, as some of you will remember, appropriately named Granma. This kept me busy for several days as I tested my skills at Spanish syntax and wording. Although my language skills were not lacking, even with the help of on-line translators, I was unable to arrive at the true meaning of Castro’s words. Happily, upon returning to the newly discovered website, I noticed that the article was available in five languages. This is what I learned in my attempts to translate it independently from Castro’s words originally written in Spanish: I think that it was easy enough to understand the first sentence. We do not need the empire to give us anything. Where I first ran into trouble was the second sentence. Nuestros esfuerzos serán legales y pacíficos, porque es nuestro compromiso con la paz y la fraternidad de todos los seres humanos que vivimos en este planeta. I understood Castro’s commitment to world peace and accord with the brotherhood of human beings. But I misunderstood the word, esfuerzos, which simply means efforts. When Castro began talking about how the Spaniards, unable to quickly find gold, shamefully destroyed many of the river valleys in a frantic and vain search for the precious metal, I was already in over my head. I did understand the word, bochornosa as shameful or reproachful, and understood that he was talking about the lust for gold that caused the Spaniards to destroy the native habitat. I was unable to come up with a logical syntax for my own translation. What I found out along the way was of some significance. The expression Hatos Circulares eventually brought me to a history of the colonization of Cuba in the Spanish language. While there were land grants given by the crown to Spanish families, these grant were large and were later subdivided. I learned two new words in Spanish, Repartir and Compartir. Repartir means to distribute or divide. Compartir means to share with another person. The large land grants in Cuba were sub-divided and apportioned to the privileged few. The Hatos Circulares refer to circular divisions of land that were exploited for the discovery of gold. The original meaning of Hato is simply a herd of animals, something that might be constrained or limited to a locality or a corral. Thus, the circular corrals that were divided between the landed Spaniards were stripped of their ecosystems in the vain attempt of Spain to reproduce the obscene wealth that they had procured from the Mexican, Central American and South American lands. The search for gold in Cuba proved fruitless. Eventually the island became a plantation economy populated with slave labor. What is significant about the communication between Castro and Obama is that Fidel Castro accuses Obama of only being concerned about the development of events subsequent to the colonization of the Americas; as if the history of the indigenous people were of no import. This is a valid criticism, although low-hanging fruit. I wonder if Obama privately felt any honor by being so named by Castro as a brother. Of course, this is neither flattery nor a compliment to be publicly acknowledged by our president. Castro has harsh judgment for Obama’s “honeyed” words as to leaving behind the past fifty years of the Cold War and looking forward, together to a bright future. Castro mocks Obama. Yet he values him as he never has any president in the past. He takes note of Obama’s natural intelligence. He confesses that he has hoped for wisdom from our president. He has sent a message to every American of intelligence. For me it is entirely refreshing to hear from someone outside of the system of corporate governance. Let me leave you with the two links: The complete text in Spanish and the complete text in English. Please do take the time to read it. This will never happen again in our lifetimes or any other time in the future. http://www.granma.cu/reflexiones-fidel/2016-03-28/el-hermano-obama-28-03-2016-01-03-16 http://en.granma.cu/cuba/2016-03-28/brother-obama Thank you Brothers and Sisters. FJ

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lessons From the Tahmooressi Case

This post is presented as written by New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, in an opinion piece of the same title printed in the November 20, 2014 issue of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  It is not available on-line except for subscribers to the U-T newspaper.  I have faithfully transcribed every word, including capitalizations,  made by the former governor of New Mexico, presumably to confer honor upon the recipients thereof.

I chanced upon this information only upon buying a day-old newspaper in a grocery store in Oceanside.  I shall dispense with the customary italicization meant to describe quotation.  Hence, the entire op-ed by Governor Richardson as transcribed by Yours Truly, Flying Junior:

Lessons From the Tahmooressi Case
As I reflect on the successful effort to bring former U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi home after 214 days in prison in Mexico, I am pleased that despite the differing border security concerns that loom high in public perception and national policy in both countries, we were able to find the common ground that ultimately resulted in Andrew’s release.
There are two concerns, however, that remain in the American public’s mind that I would like to address; first, what took so long for Andrew’s release and, second, why Mexico deserves credit.  By addressing the underlying foreign policy issues behind Andrew’s case, I hope to answer these questions and provide a better understanding of the complexities that had to be overcome for his release.
In 2008, then president George W. Bush signed into law an agreement with Mexico – with great political and financial support from congress – known as the “Merida Initiative” which the State Department defines as a “partnership between the U.S. and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence while furthering the rule of law.”  Two key objectives of this initiative for Mexico were curbing illicit arms trafficking and judicial reform.
As a former border governor, I am familiar with stories about people making the wrong turn and winding up in Mexico by mistake.  This one, however, was seriously exacerbated by the fact that Andrew had guns and ammunition in his vehicle.  Furthermore, misleading advice from Andrew’s first two legal defense teams had tainted and weakened the “innocent mistake – wrong turn” defense, which made it very difficult to advocate for his release through diplomatic channels.
Mexico was facing a serious dilemma:  It had to decide whether to be consistent with the rule of law as established by the Merida Initiative or undermine the judicial reform’s credibility by what would be perceived by the Mexican public as making an exception, for the very partner that was funding and urging a stronger rule of law.
With that in mind, I started my work on Andrew’s behalf in June by sending letters to officials in the Mexican justice system seeking his release on humanitarian grounds, based on his need to return home to receive treatment for his PTSD.  This was a legal argument – not a political one—that could be used in court as an alternative defense to the wrong turn theory.  A week later I was happy to learn that he had obtained a stellar new legal defense team – and I was subsequently delighted to learn it had adopted the PTSD treatment argument.  It became central in the case’s dismissal and Andrew’s release October 31.
Although it took a long time to accomplish, the most important lesson is that Andrew is free because Mexico’s judicial reforms sought by the Merida Initiative are beginning to work.  Though there were significant flaws in the way the two countries interacted on the case, and though a devoted network of supporters led by Andrew’s mother, Jill Tahmooressi, including myself, U.S. Representatives Ed Royce, Matt Salmon and television personality Montel Williams continued to advocate on behalf of Andrew with the Mexican government and by bringing media attention to his story, it was Mexican legal due process  that freed him, not political expediency spurred by pressure from Mexico’s neighbor to the north.  It should be remembered that the U.S. has a great deal to gain by a firm rule of law taking hold in Mexico – and this case was brought to a successful conclusion in a way that strengthened that concept.
Some have criticized me for praising the Mexican government’s handling of Andrew’s case, but this was an important part of the process.  It built the good will that moved forward his release and even gained me permission to personally deliver him clothing so that he wouldn’t have to go through the humiliation of entering the U.S. in prison garb and allowed me to spare him an additional day in custody by substantially shortening his immigration processing before being handed over at the border.
I recently attended President and Mrs. Obama’s Salute to the Troops event at the White House in advance of Veteran’s Day.  Several Marines in attendance took it upon themselves to thank me for my work on Andrew’s release.  That’s the kind of response that makes it all seem so very worthwhile.
Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was governor of New Mexico from 2003-2010.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Making Political Hay out of the Misfortunes of a Supposed Hero

Update: Andrew Tahmooressi is now free. Back home in California. For further blogomania, please consult my friend Mike at http://mikeb302000.blogspot.com
Earlier this month, I told my friend Mikeb302000 about a former U.S. Marine from Florida who unfortunately and perhaps accidentally crossed the international border at San Ysidro into Mexico with all of his worldly possessions in his Ford F-150 pickup truck. Unfortunately, these possessions included three legally owned firearms. Understand that guns are illegal in Mexico. I accepted his version of events in his own words. He just got lost looking for a restaurant off of I-5, trying to meet his friends. Even if you do believe his story, the fact that he was driving around with unsecured weapons in the cab of his pickup truck in the city of San Diego makes him a careless scofflaw. Bear in mind that he is a soldier suffering from PTSD, a form of mental illness. I unfairly speculated that he might have been slightly under the influence of alcohol given the fact that he simply continued driving south all of the way to the border without noticing any of the signs about the approaching international border, the last freeway exit into the U.S.A. and even a last ditch U-turn designed to give drivers one last chance to remain upon U.S. soil. Mike was kind enough to create a post from my tip. I was hoping that the regulars would get worked up about the injustice of it all. They did not completely disappoint. Now, three grueling weeks later, FOX has decided to release their take on all of this nonsense just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend. The headline is “Leave No Man Behind.” Obama has abandoned this poor soul, when just one phone call from the DOJ or the American Consul could have released this defender of freedom from the ravages of the Tijuana penitentiary system. The article by a FOX contributor does not seem to agree with the earliest press release from the San Diego Union-Tribune which reported that he attempted an escape and then subsequently attempted suicide while incarcerated. He was reported to have been doing much better in his incarceration when the prison provided him with an English-speaking chaplain. I am sorry, but it is difficult to view the U-T article without a paying subscription. Since there is really no way of confirming or denying any subsequent facts, FOX has chosen to say that originally he was chained by both arms and legs to his bed, and that now he only has to be chained by one leg by the Mexican prison guards. I mean, why not lie, if there is no way to check the facts? Much as the leftist blogosphere thrived under the sadistic presidency of GWB, FOX has no apparent reason to exist other than to spread hatred and lies about our president. This was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. Make hay while the sun shines!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow? Do You Have any Bees?

My original idea was to frame this as a national inquiry into the health of bee populations in suburban and rural areas.  Surely colony collapse disorder must be associated with commercial beekeepers who hire out their hives to farmers in need of their services.  Because American farms use a plethora of dangerous and unhealthy pesticides, even produce that is labelled as organic may contain any one of as many as seventy-three chemical compounds commonly used to control pests and weeds.  I am extremely interested in the bee populations in your neck of the woods.  I am happy to report that the San Diego coastal palisades remain host to European Honeybees, Bumblebees and Carpenter Bees.
Carpenter Bee
But, of course this is just a shameless gardening post.  My pride and joy are my Lipstick Hibiscus purchased from the Mission Hills Nursery founded in 1911 by Kate Sessions, presumably direct descendants of true Hawaiian stock.

Just as close to my heart remains my prized Arctostaphylos Manzanita Dr. Hurd, a northern California native.  It's the only Manzanita I can keep alive.  This is how it blooms in early January.

My wife refuses to believe that peaches won't grow near the coast.  Here is a picture from happier times.  Last night the local canyon racoons feasted on our ripe peaches and washed their dirty faces in our birdbath.

Tomatoes from seed.

Any pepper will turn red if allowed to ripen.  We grew Anaheim, Pasilla, Jalapeno and Serrano.

And of our beloved California natives, including the Holly-leaf Cherry and the prized White Sage, Mrs. Junior's favorite is the Mimulus.  However, she claims that this Hawaiian pink only occurs in cultivars.  The true natives are either golden or Indian paintbrush red.

She did promise her Dad that we would grow some corn, which was fine with me.  You can tell when the ears are pollenated when the silks turn red or brown.  Right now, they almost look big enough to sell.

Of course we didn't want the crows to get them, so I had to hire Screech the Owl to look after them.

And we could never support such a healthy ecosystem featuring lizards, red-headed finches, mockingbirds, morning doves and assorted migratory birds without two Retrievers to keep the cats at bay.

It's easier than you might think to grow chives.
And just as easy to grow your own green onions. 

All under the watchful eyes of my new BFF, Pepito, the San Diego Alligator Lizard.
And my twenty-three year old California Fan Palm.  Washingtonia Filifera.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Victory for Safety and Common Sense

If you follow California politics, you will undoubtedly be aware that the inactive San Onofre nuclear power plant will be permanently closed and hopefully safely decommissioned at a tremendous cost over the course of the next few years. This plant has continuously supplied electric power from its activation in 1968 until January of 2012. There was never a serious accident or threat to workers or neighboring communities during that time. The only real ecological damage done by the facility, other than the enormous whole in the beach and the blight of an enormous structure on the coast was to raise the temperature of the adjacent ocean waters in what was undoubtedly once considered a very innovative approach to cooling the vast byproduct of heat associated with reactor power. The relatively uneventful and small leak of radiation from brand new yet defective steam pipes manufactured by Mitsubishi late in 2011, had it occurred in an earlier time of lesser awareness and a more complacent political climate, very likely might not have caused a permanent closure, but only a short period of repair and renovation. Because this all happened on the heels of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, issues of the safety of San Onofre were first and foremost on the minds of Californians. Concerned Californians at the recent meetings of the California Public Utilities Commission as well as protesters did not forget the Fukushima disaster. I recall after watching the horrifying tsunami and reading about the citywide release of dangerous amounts of radiation, one of the first things I did was to look up earthquake history near San Clemente and Oceanside California. Of course, our local republican congressman, Brian Bilbray advocated bringing the poison fire steam generator back on-line at the earliest possible day.

Here are some of the things that I found. The San Onofre nuclear power plant is located at the northwest corner of the County of San Diego at approximately 33.4⁰ latitude and -117.6⁰ longitude, just south of Nixon’s Western White House in San Clemente on the northern tip of the twenty miles of coastline occupied by the mostly undeveloped Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton maybe about fifty miles NNW of beloved La Jolla and UCSD. We often laughed at the huge “titties” of the radiation containment domes, clearly visible from that desolate stretch of I-5. This is obviously in a very active earthquake corridor. The largest local earthquakes have occurred in the Mojave desert, but several dangerous earthquakes have been centered right on the coast in nearby metropolitan Los Angeles, notably the devastating Northridge Earthquake which miraculously occurred at 4:31 a.m., January 17, 1994 on the federal holiday, MLK Jr. Day, thusly limiting loss of life. Read for yourself about the widespread damage done to parking structures, tall buildings, homes and freeway overpasses. This led to the earthquake retro-fitting of every freeway overpass and bridge in Southern California. These L.A. quakes are easily felt throughout the southland to the Mexican border. I live within bow and arrow distance of the famous San Andreas fault, but have little to fear because there is no subduction of techtonic plates in a north-south running faultline. I was much more threatened by the possibility of nuclear radiation leaking from San Onofre just over fifty miles away from my home in the event of a large offshore earthquake. Here is my evidence.

September 7, 1984 an offshore earthquake with a magnitude of 4.8, the first entry of the table I cited, occurred at 32.94⁰ latitude and -117.81⁰ longitude, approximately 31.7 miles due west of Torrey Pines State Beach, at a distance of about 33.3 miles from the failed San Onofre nuclear reactors. Sure, nothing we know of happened to the facility. Units two and three were on-line for the second of the thirty-eight years they provided electricity in 1984. But no one can say what might have happened anytime in the next one hundred years in the event a major Southern California earthquake anywhere within fifty miles of the facility.