Friday, August 31, 2007
NY Times Editorial:
Today, much of the Gulf Coast remains in ruins. Less than half the federal money set aside for rebuilding, as opposed to emergency relief, has actually been spent, in part because the Bush administration refused to waive the requirement that local governments put up matching funds for recovery projects — an impossible burden for communities whose tax bases have literally been washed away.
But why should we be surprised by any of this? The Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina — the mixture of neglect of those in need, obliviousness to their plight, and self-congratulation in the face of abject failure — has become standard operating procedure. These days, it’s Katrina all the time.
Consider the White House reaction to new Census data on income, poverty and health insurance. By any normal standard, this week’s report was a devastating indictment of the administration’s policies. After all, last year the administration insisted that the economy was booming — and whined that it wasn’t getting enough credit. What the data show, however, is that 2006, while a good year for the wealthy, brought only a slight decline in the poverty rate and a modest rise in median income, with most Americans still considerably worse off than they were before President Bush took office.
Yet the White House press release on the report declared that President Bush was “pleased” with the new numbers. Heckuva job, economy!
The question is whether any of this will change when Mr. Bush leaves office.
There’s a powerful political faction in this country that’s determined to draw exactly the wrong lesson from the Katrina debacle — namely, that the government always fails when it attempts to help people in need, so it shouldn’t even try. “I don’t want the people who ran the Katrina cleanup to manage our health care system,” says Mitt Romney, as if the Bush administration’s practice of appointing incompetent cronies to key positions and refusing to hold them accountable no matter how badly they perform — did I mention that Mr. Chertoff still has his job? — were the way government always works.
And I’m not sure that faction is losing the argument. The thing about conservative governance is that it can succeed by failing: when conservative politicians mess up, they foster a cynicism about government that may actually help their cause.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Ok. I am adding a monthly shout out post.
I have a lot of friends that are stupid talented so these shout out posts are an opportunity to introduce you to their work.
Buy their CD's, their artwork, take their class, watch their movie or purchase their books.....
Here is her Bio:
PILAR ALESSANDRA is a script consultant and director of the popular writing program On The Page. She's trained writers and story analysts at Nickelodeon, MTV, and ABC/Disney. She's taught at numerous conferences including The ASA Festival, FTX West Conference, Great American Pitch Fest and is an annual Star Speaker at the Los Angeles Screenwriting Expo.
Pilar was a movie geek selling sandwiches out of a cart when she was hired as a script reader by Amblin Entertainment at the age of twenty-five. With the formation of DreamWorks, she became Senior Story Analyst and a reader liaison between the studio and Robert Zemeckis's company, ImageMovers. Work at Interscope Communications then led her to become Senior Story Analyst for Scott Kroopf's production company, Radar Pictures. SheÕs also read for The Robert Evans Company, Cineville Entertainment, and Saturday Night Live Studios.
Not only can you sign up for her very popular classes here...
Check out her website:
Ashlee Temple and her sister Holly create paintings, paper pieces and shadow boxes that exude femininity, mystery and cryptic beauty. Angels, skulls and faded photographs tell a story in each and every original piece of art. Every Holiday Season I still wait with anticipation for Ashlee's Christmas card to arrive in my mailbox. I've framed each one I've received.
Go to Ashlee and Holly's website and buy something for that blank wall you stare at day after day...
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
A Real American Pie
By Kristen Lee Kelly
Special to the Ledger
VERMONT AVE—It’s 10:30 a.m. I slide on my rubber soled, slip resistant shoes and pull my hair back into a single well coiffed ponytail—as per state regulations. I am prepared for my adventure. What will I encounter and whom shall I serve?
Arriving, I stand before two large oak doors complete with their resplendent golden handles and detailed etched windows. It is the House of Windsor? The House of Wax? The House of Dereon? Oh no—I stand before the palace known as The House of Pies!
Upon entering, I’m greeted by a rotating dream. Pies and cakes of every creed and color spin in glorious harmony. I catch my breath as before me is the master baking oven. I’m a fool. Who was I, in this moment standing before this pristine, stainless steel oven, to think I had the right to wait tables at The House of Pies?
It’s too much to take in at once. A bit dizzy, I stumble and take a seat at the vast counter where I meet Sylvia Navarro—waitress extraordinaire.
Sylvia has been working at House of Pies for 29 years.
“I filled out an application and the next day they called me to work. I am from Chihuahua, Mexico. I came to America to find a better life and then I started working in a factory but I didn’t like it so then I started looking in the restaurant industry and I found this one. I started as a cashier and then the manager asked me if I wanted to become a waitress so I told him: ‘I don’t know how to wait on tables but if you give me a chance I will.’ And… I’m… still here.”
My first reaction is she stays for the free pies but I’m wrong. It’s about family
Los Feliz vistor, 5-year-old Sarah Hernandez, from Irvine, has her eye on House of Pies delicious chocolate cream pie. Photo by Jacob Hernandez
“You know—usually when you work at a place you have a manager or assistant manager or supervisor (and I don’t know how many others) on your back but here – they let us do our job. They leave us alone. As long as we take care of the customers and everything they don’t bother us. It’s a family here. We all take care of each other. I look forward to seeing my regular customers as well as working with my fellow workers. This is a good place.”
The Customer: Adam Cobb
As Sylvia is about to lead me into the kitchen, one of her regular customers speaks up to tell me if Sylvia were not married he’d be her boyfriend. Sylvia smiles and makes him promise not to tell her husband. I ask this young handsome man, by the name of Adam Cobb: “Is Sylvia the only reason he frequents the House of Pies?”
“I started coming here when I first moved to LA about three years ago,” said Cobb. I’m from Chicago and it really reminded me of a Mid-Western diner. It’s a place without pretense where a bunch of people can sit down and read their newspaper. I sometimes order pies but I usually come for the French toast with bacon and eggs. And I come here for the staff—they are a real hard working bunch. In LA a lot of folks waiting tables are aspiring to do something else whereas these are folks that have been doing this all their lives. They are really dedicated to it.”
Soon, the lunch rush arrives. It’s overwhelming. However, there is no stress here, no manager barking orders or bus boys dropping plates. It’s a well-oiled machine and the staff is remarkable.
Then, I meet him—the baker.
Ramiro Gonzalez, with his kind eyes and humble presence, welcomes me into his kitchen. He’s been working at The House of Pies since 1969 starting as an apprentice and working his way up to head baker.
Nervously I ask a stupid question: “So, Mr. Gonzalez, what is your favorite pie?” He smiles and graciously answers:
“Most definitely the strawberry cheesecake! I bake over 150 pies a day and, although sometimes it can get a little boring, I like the work I do and that it keeps the customers happy. I come in around six o’clock and work until three or four. It’s a long day but I don’t mind. It’s less on the weekends. Oh— and please call me Ramiro.”
I proceed to ask an even dumber question: “OK, Ramiro: How do you stay so thin making pies all day?” I cringe at the sound of my own voice but it’s an honest concern of mine. If I worked here full time I’d be living in stretch jeans and housecoats. Ramiro laughs.
“I’m on my feet all day! And I don’t eat pie everyday although I have to taste it to make sure the flavors are there. Growing up I was always thin. It’s just they way I’m made I guess. I just like it here. I’m sure I’ll be making pies up into my 70s – which isn’t too far away!”
With a wink he heads off into the kitchen.
Customer Fred Dean
By now the lunch rush is in full force. I’m impressed with the customers. They are all different ages and ethnicities. This is not some trendy, retro joint where hipsters gather to be seen and tourists come to celebrity watch—although many a celebrity is known to haunt the outdoor patio. I’ve only been here an hour and I’m beginning to understand why someone like Sylvia or Ramiro would stay for over thirty years. Sylvia introduces me to another regular customer—Fred Dean. He’s been coming here since the 1970s:
“You see the same people here so it’s comfortable and it’s a relaxed atmosphere. I come in a couple of times a week and although the food is good it’s the people that keep bringing me back. There’s a new owner here now and I hear they have some plans – I hope they don’t plan to change the ambiance of it. I think we need a place like this. Los Feliz is getting kind of trendy and it’s not that I don’t like that but it’s nice to have the older, cozy kind of coffee shop. This is one of the few.”
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Winchester (the first video) is my home town - loved it. However, I would die if I lived there now. Too many people wear Izod shirts, go to church every Sunday while they are cheating on their spouses and vote for politicians by the name of Bush. I think if I had stayed there I'd now be addicted to Crystal Meth.
I love living in Los Feliz, CA. I'm happy to be surrounded by palm trees, sunny days, Griffith Park and a lot of cute Beck wanna-be's but...
I know I will most likely end up living in Ogunquit, Maine - as exemplified by the beautiful (if you disregard the bombastic, CHEEZY soundtrack) second video.
If you really want to experience calm, lack of bullshit and no joke/existential "nature in action" - you must visit Ogunquit, Maine. I always end up back there in some way. In the winters you literally freeze but, even with that drawback, it is awesome. The ocean never lies, the people who live there could care less about Paris Hilton, Box Office grosses or the latest techniques in hair extensions. These people care about caging the best lobster, drinking a cold brew and beating your ass at a mean game of miniature golf.
Even if I don't end up there in this life I've given instructions to those I love. After I croak and my organs (at least those that still functioning in some capacity) are given up - those ashes, now residing in some fabulous and very expensive urn, will be spread along the scenic walk in Ogunquit known as The Marginal Way. There is no place on earth more beautiful. Truly.
Wow - Origins and Destinations. Life is everything in between so you just gotta enjoy it.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
What would you do if you could be invisable? Think about it!
Scientists step closer to realising invisible technology
Liverpool, UK - 3 May 2007: A unique computer model designed by a mathematician at the University of Liverpool has shown that it is possible to make objects, such as aeroplanes and submarines, appear invisible at close range.
Scientists have already created an ‘invisibility cloak’ made out of ‘metamaterial’ which can bend electromagnetic radiation – such as visible light, radar or microwaves – around a spherical space, making an object within this region appear invisible.
Until now, scientists could only make objects appear invisible from far away. Liverpool mathematician Dr Sébastien Guenneau, together with Dr Frédéric Zolla and Professors André Nicolet from the University of Marseille, have proven - using a specially designed computer model called GETDP - that objects can also be made to appear invisible from close range when light travels in waves rather than beams.
Scientists predict that metamaterials could be of use in military technology, such as in the construction of fighter jets and submarines, but it will be some years before invisibility cloaks can be developed for human beings.
Dr Guenneau, at the University’s Department of Mathematical Science, explains:
“The shape and structure of aeroplanes make them ideal objects for cloaking, as they have a fixed structure and movement pattern. Human beings and animals are more difficult as their movement is very flexible, so the cloak - as it is designed at the moment - would easily be seen when the person or animal made any sudden movement.
“A cloak, such as the one worn by the Harry Potter character for example, is not yet possible but it is a good example of what we are trying to move towards. Using this new computer model we can prove that light can bend around an object under a cloak and is not diffracted by the object. This happens because the metamaterial that makes up the cloak stretches the metrics of space, in a similar way to what heavy planets and stars do for the metrics of space-time in Einstein’s general relativity theory.
“In order for the cloaking device to work in the first place light has to separate into two or more waves resulting in a new wave pattern. Within this pattern we get light and dark regions which are needed in order for an object to appear invisible.
“Until now, however, it was not clear whether photons – particles that make up all forms of light – can split and form new waves when the light source is close to the object. If we use ray optic techniques – where light travels in beams - photons break down at close range and the object does not appear invisible. If we study light as it travels in waves however, invisibility is maintained.”
Scientists predict that invisibility will be possible for objects of any shape and size within the next decade.
The research findings are published in Optic Letters.
Notes to editors
1. Research into cloaking devices is led by Professor Sir John Pendry and includes researchers at Imperial College London and Duke University (USA), Marseille University and the French Centre National Recherche Scientifique
2. The University of Liverpool is one of the UK's leading research institutions. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations valued at more than £100 million annually.
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