Atlantis Alumni

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Progressives To Obama: Don't Move Right

Many alarmed progressives are signing an open letter to Barak Obama in an attempt to get him to stay faithful to the progressive message that they feel got him nominated:

"Since your historic victory in the primary, there have been troubling
signs that you are moving away from the core commitments shared by many who have
supported your campaign, toward a more cautious and centrist stance--including,
most notably, your vote for the FISA legislation granting telecom companies
immunity from prosecution for illegal wiretapping, which angered and dismayed so
many of your supporters. "

You can read the whole letter and sign on at The Nation. Will he listen?

If he selects as his running mate Virginia Governor Keane, who is anti-abortion, that will not be a good sign.


PHOTO: The great South Bay from our roof deck

Animals Have Feelings Too

"...the tide of history is moving toward the protection of animal rights, and the brutal conditions in which they are sometimes now raised will eventually be banned. Someday, vegetarianism may even be the norm." - Nicholas D. Kristof in The New York Times 7/31/08

One of the benefts of my new low cholesterol diet is the almost complete elimination of animal flesh from my diet, except when I eat family meals - my life partner is not on the plan. When I eat by myself I consume vegetable-based substitutes like veggie suasage and soy cheese. I actually like the stuff.

I have been concerned throughout my life with the ethical problem raised in connection with eating animals. I gave up "red" meats years ago and I try to limit my poultry consumption. If I had to kill to live I'd be in trouble. I'm glad I'm now moving closer to my ideal which would be an exclusively vegetarian diet.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gay Businessman Donates $1M To Preserve Ca. Marriage Equality

Word Perfect co-Founder Bruce Bastian has donated $1 Million to the fight to preserve gay marriage in California. Actually, he gave the money to the Human Rights Campaign with 100 percent of the funds supposed to be going to the battle to defeat the anti-gay ballot initiative. I'm glad he made the donation although I wonder why he didn't just give it directly to Equality California, the group that is fighting the initiative. He stated that he trusts HRC's leadership but many other gays and lesbians do not. Let's hope he made the right decision with his money.

PHOTO: mid summer bloomer - is it Bee Balm?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What Prof. Pausch's Talk Was Really About

"It's not about how to achieve your dreams. It's about how to lead your
life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself.
The dreams will come to you."

- Randy Pausch 1960-2008

Is Reading Online Really Reading?

The New York Times has started an interesting series on the topic of reading on the Internet, examining the pros and cons of online reading vs. reading books, etc.:

Clearly, reading in print and on the Internet are different. On paper, text
has a predetermined beginning, middle and end, where readers focus for a
sustained period on one author’s vision. On the Internet, readers skate through
cyberspace at will and, in effect, compose their own beginnings, middles and

I read exclusively online these days. I enjoy the reading I do on the computer. I like the freedom to jump around and edit what I read, which you really can't do with a book. But what about children learning to read and progressing through their education? It will be interesting to see what the Times comes up with.


Dance, Dance, Dance

I'm still processing the shots from last week's supberb dance performance.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Some Things Never Change

"Except for half a dozen in each town, the citizens are proud of that
achievement of ignorance which it is so easy to come by. To be “intellectual” or
“artistic” or, in their own word, to be “highbrow,” is to be priggish and of
dubious virtue….
…Doubtless all small towns, in all countries, in all ages,
Carol admitted, have a tendency to be not only dull but mean, bitter, infested
with curiosity. In France or Tibet quite as much as Wyoming or Indiana these
timidities are inherent in isolation."

- From "Main Street" by Sinclair Lewis (1920)


Friday, July 25, 2008

62 Years Ago Today... Atlantic City, New Jersey, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis performed together for the first time. They went on to become the most popular comic team during the 1950s before splitting up. They are two of my favorite performers, whether teamed up or solo. They don't make them like that anymore.

Here's another photo from the Fire Island Dance Festival. The costumes and routines are colorful and inventive.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dieting: The "Whack-A-Mole" Effect

Do you know what the arcade game "Whack A Mole" is? Well, you get a mallet and hit little moles over the head when they pop up out of holes. Well, once you hit one, another one pops up out of another hole somewhere else. You can't get them all because another one is always popping up somewhere else.

For me, dieting is like that. If I cut down on one thing like carbs, I tend to eat more of something else, like proteins. Cut down on bread, eat more cheese. Cut down on cheese, eat more potatoes. Cut down on deserts, drink more liquor, etc. etc.

No wonder I can't lose any pounds.

Here's another pretty photo from last weekend's dance festival.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dinner In Ocean Beach

Last night we walked down to Ocean Beach to have dinner at the Island Mermaid, a nice bayside restaurant. They have sushi and sake available on Tuesdays, and we had a nice time. I ordered edamame and some maki rolls, while Dan ordered Thai shrimp. I really enjoyed the evening but Dan thought it was too expensive. The prices at Fire Island restaurants are high, but that's because this is a resort and prices are high on everything out here. The water taxi boat ride back to Cherry Grove is also more expensive this year due I'm sure to the price of gasoline. All in all, I thought it was a nice evening albeit expensive.

Here's another photo I took at Sunday's Fire Island Dance Festival performance.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cheney's Lawless Assistant

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert's column today is a must read. It details how an aid to Vice President Dick Cheney, a man named Addington, has been the force behind the gutting of the U.S. Constitution under Bush/Cheney:

In the view of Mr. Addington and his acolytes, anything and everything
that the president authorized in the fight against terror — regardless of what
the Constitution or Congress or the Geneva Conventions might say — was all
right. That included torture, rendition, warrantless wiretapping, the suspension of habeas corpus, you name

Note: the American people did not elect this Addington character - he is a political appointee.


PHOTO: I took a lot of pictures over the weekend at the annual Fire Island Dance Festival. It's a spectacular event to shoot.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pickens, Gore, And Bush

The summer is rushing by. We've just had a beautiful week of near perfect beach weather. The surf has been a bit rough, but the water is warm once you get past the breakers. It's been dry with no rain for weeks until last night, when we finally had a thunderstorm.

T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider and oil magnate, has a plan to rid us of our dependency on foreign oil. Al Gore is calling for a 10 year horizon to switch the U.S. to non-fossil fuel for all of our needs. Meanwhile, Mr. Bush is calling for off shore drilling. What's wrong with this picture?


PS: Read Tom Friedman's recent column on Bush and energy: "9-11 and $4.11"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Computer Issues And Great Beach Days

I had to send my notebbok back to HP yesterday. It's a facory recall. Hopefully, it will be returned to me in about a week. IN the meantime it's been great out here at the beach. The weather is warm and the water is warm, which has been great for spending time at the beach and swimming. Today we're attending a film festival in Ocean Beach, about an hour and a half walk to the West. Tomorrow we'll be seeing the annual Dancers Responding To AIDS benefit performance in The Pines. This is one of the highlights of the season. I'll post some pictures as soon as I can.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wanted Dead Or Alive Steve McQueen Beginning

Wanted Dead Or Alive Steve McQueen Beginning

So, how many 1950s westerns and other TV shows can you remember? What were your favorites? What obscure TV shows from the 50s do you remember?

In 1958-9 there was a series called "Rough Riders," a western that featured three veterans of the civil war, two Union and one Confederate, who travelled the West. It came on at 9:30 PM on Thursdays. The sponsor was either Chesterfield or Lucky Strike cigarettes. I can vividly remember watching this show as a nine year old.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Jackass Missing In Action

On Friday last one of the biggest banks in the country, INDYmac went belly up after depositors made a Capraesque run on it seeking their money. Over the weekend the U. S. government announced that it would bail out the two biggest quasi-governmental mortgage banks, Fannie and Freddy - Mae. Where is dear leader-in chief as the country seems to be coming apart at the seams? In the old days a real president would have stepped up to the mike and made a speech to reassure Americans about the country - he would have said something like "All we have to fear is ...fear itself." But we have George junior, a pretender to the White House, liar, and war criminal, so even if he did say something who would believe him anyway? To this we've come, to quote Menotti. Shame.

PHOTO: A lovely Echiveria in bloom

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Favorite Japanese Restaurant On Long Island

Unlike most of our friends who live on Fire Island, Dan and I enjoy visiting restaurants on Long Island. One of our favorites is "Tai-Show," a Japanese restaurant in nearby Oakdale, which is just across the bay from Cherry Grove. Our good friend Ed, who is visiting the Grove this week, took us to dinner to celebrate our anniversary on Wednesday. Tai-Show boasts a lovely indoor dining area with a large salt water aquarium as well as a bank of Tatami rooms for private shoes-off Japanese style dining. We always have a good time, especially while enjoying the tasty food and the premium sake that is served.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Obama's False Bill Of Goods

Interviewed on the Today show this morning, Barak Obama was asked to provide examples of how his recent shift to the right is not really a shift - that he has been saying these things all along. He rattled off the usual list of centrist-right positions that he has articulated in recent days, on gun control, the death penalty, and faith-based initiatives, and reiterated that he has held these views all along.

There are two problems with this defense. First, this is NOT what he campaigned on during the primary season, when he promised "change you can believe in." It's not change to embrace Bush's plan to give money to religious groups, or to embrace the right wing positions that individuals have a right to gun ownership and favoring the death penalty. Obama tells us he's a progressive, but progressives do not hold these sorts of beliefs.

Second, what about his recent waffling on the Iraq war, and his flip flop on the FISA compromise bill? These are shifts to the right, Mr. Obama.

It would be better if Obama were more honest. I'd prefer that he simply state the truth. Yes, he is taking more centrist positions so that he can win the general election. His progressive supporters would still be angry, but at least they would not feel like he was taking them for fools.


PHOTO: Cherry Grove in miniature

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Obama Takes A Risk With Politics As Usual

Bob Herbert at the New York Times sums up the feeling of many about Obama's "move to the right:"

He seems to believe that his shifts and twists and clever panders — as opposed
to bold, principled leadership on important matters — will entice large numbers
of independent and conservative voters to climb off the fence and run into his
yard. Maybe. But that’s a very dangerous game for a man who first turned
voters on by presenting himself as someone who was different, who wouldn’t
engage in the terminal emptiness of politics as usual.

Of course, Obama claims that he's been consistent all along in his positions. Maybe it's the rest of us that were dreaming when we thought we heard something new and different.


PHOTO: The pink plant is an ice plant, a perennial that will return each year as long as the winter is not too severe

Sunday, July 6, 2008

We'd Do Better With A Simple Political Lottery

New York Times columnist Frank Rich comments on what's going wrong lately with the Obana candidacy:
"Whether he’s reaffirming his long-held belief in faith-based programs or
fudging his core convictions about government snooping, he is drifting away from the leadership he promised and into the focus-group-tested calculation patented by Mark Penn in his disastrous campaign for Hillary Clinton."
How disappointing it must be for all those young idealistic supporters of Obama to now see him morphing into just another run-of-the-mill major party political hack. Many of us who experienced this same sort of phenomenon with Bill Clinton back in the 1990s are not surprised to see what Obama is becoming now. Our corrupt political system does this to everyone who runs for high office, apparently, or at least it does it to those who have a real chance to be elected. Only the fringe candidates with no chance of wining like Dennis Kuchinich and Ron Paul can remain true to their ideals. What kind of a screwed up political system do we have that operates like this? We'd do better with a simple lottery. Let all the candidates state how they REALLY, HONESTLY feel about the issues, then put all their names in a hat and have someone draw out the winner. At least then we'd get the real McCoy, and not some political Frankenstein.
PHOTO: Canna Lily

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Invasion 2008: More Fun Than Usual!

I wasn't sure I'd "do" the annual "Invasion" this year, but at the last moment I figured, "What the hell, go ahead and do it." My goal was to figure out a way to get off the damn boat quickly and without Invasion mistress-in-chief Panzi saying something nasty about me, like she does every year. Well, this year anyone who preferred not to be announced (insulted) was allowed to disembark first, before Miss Panzi started her stream of insults. So a bunch of us ran off as soon as the boat docked and the door opened. What a relief! Panzi got in a shot anyway: "There goes the riff-raff," she bellowed. But at least we didn't have to wait on the hot boat for an hour to be personally insulted. I celebrated my accomplishment with some dancing at Sip-N-Twirl, and a bit too much vodka.

I see in the news that former Senator Jesse Helms died on Friday. May he go straight to the hell he tried to create for so many with his racism and homophobia. Just look around to web to see what a terrible legacy he created for himself. F*** you, Jesse, you rotten bastard.

PHOTO: Silverada, July 04, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Times On Obama's Policy Shifts

The New York Times weighs in on Obama's recent "shift to the right:"

We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general
election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who
proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who
did not play old political games.

There are still vital differences between Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain
on issues like the war in Iraq, taxes, health care and Supreme Court
nominations. We don’t want any “redefining” on these big questions. This country
needs change it can believe in.

Well, what we will get appears to be a "politics as usual" president, no matter who is elected.


PHOTO: Your correspondent invades the Pines on July 4, 2007

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cherry Grove: A Valuable Safe Haven For Gay Youth

Yesterday I saw two high school age boys on the beach here In Cherry Grove. They were lying together on a blanket fully clothed but enjoying each other, doing some necking. One of the boys had a bicycle, the other did not. It's easy to speculate on how this scene came about. Perhaps they met on Facebook or some other online venue, and arranged a rendezvous in Cherry Grove, where they would feel comfortable expressing their affection for each other in public. Maybe the one with the bicycle came to the Grove from one of the communities to the West. He could have pedalled down from Ocean Beach or even (gasp!) Point Of Woods. The other young man could have arrived by ferry from Long Island. It stuck me that the Grove is still serving as an important venue for gays and lesbians to meet and feel comfortable. Perhaps this is not as important as it once was for adult gays, but for young people the Grove is a place where they can meet and feel comfortable away from the disapproval of family and peers. Seeing these two young gays on the beach yesterday really made me appreciate the uniqueness of Cherry Grove, which is easy to take for granted if you have lived here for any length of time.


PHOTO: Youthful participants in Cherry Grove's Gay Pride Parade last weekend

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jobs Article in the Times....

So I just read an article in the NY Times about our "creeping" recession. Seems Goldman Sachs doesn't think the job market will appear until late 2009 or thereafter.

I am curious: how many times have the Wall Street analysts actually been right? Jobs coming back for who? Guys that were making $100k plus doing some esoteric service in a financial or internet firm?
See, here's the thing - I am trying to figure out what we still make in the United States. Jobs aren't just about some guy in NYC getting his huge paycheck back to fund the outrageous mortgage he has in New Jersey somewhere. It's about the 8 foreclosures my Aunt has on her block in East Detroit. You know, that place where everyone used to make cars?
I'm not going to lay all of the blame at the government's doorstep. The leaders we elect are voted into office (at least in theory). We the people need to take some personal responsbility for
what we do. I've been looking at myself trying to figure out what I can do to take more responsibility for my own actions in an attempt to keep demand and jobs local to our country. As everything seems to be getting more pricey I have started looking more and more at where the actual money goes. Is it to an American firm or some firm anchored off the coast of Belize or China? Are these grapes grown in California or Ecuador?

These are small decisions to be sure. I constantly wrestle with decisions that are large and small that make my country a better place to live and help my fellow Americans. Almost everything we don't use gets donated and my wife and I both work and sell stuff on eBay just to break even. Our gas and electric bills are so friggin high, I wouldn't actually even care if I knew that an American worker at the gas or electric company was seeing some benefit but they don't. I talk to them when they are on my street or working on my gas or electric. They are faced with the same pink slips we all see and hear about daily.

I must admit some serious confusion though. My wife and I pick up those Real Estate books in the supermarket or whenever we see them precariously placed for maximum effect. There are quite a few homes in them for $1 million plus. There are many homes around my neighborhood that are really pricey. We've done this when we visited Detroit, Houston and Los Angeles over the past few years. Same thing. Who the hell buys these expensive bits of real estate all over the country? Which part of America can afford a home with a $5k per month mortgage? I can't afford what I pay now (and it is way, way less than $5k) and I know most of the people on block can't either.
Ya I know, I'm rambling a bit. All I know is everytime I pick up the phone to call someone in my company for support or call for help with any item I've purchased (even the American made stuff) I get transferred to a call center in South America or Bangalore. Further, I look on the bottom of most of the items I have to purchase and they are made somewhere else. Everything is just so damn expensive and I want to do the right thing for my family and country.

It's getting harder and harder to reconcile our leadership and the have's versus the have nots. How do we inject some reality into our spiraling economic debacle? Justice and Equality for all shouldn't be based on a buck.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Where I come Down on "Faith-Based" Initiaves

From Yahoo:

"This initiative has been a failure on all counts, and it ought to be shut
down, not expanded," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of
Americans United for Separation of Church and State.



Obama: Does He Or Doesn't He?

The New York Times on Obama's embrace of "Faith-Based Initiatives:"

Mr. Obama made clear, however, that he would work to ensure that charitable
groups receiving government funds be carefully monitored to prevent them from
using the money to proselytize and to prevent any religion-based discrimination
against potential recipients or employees...

While Mr. Obama opposes requiring religious tests for recipients of aid or
use of federal money to proselytize, The Associated Press reported that he
supports letting religious institutions -- in the non-federally funded parts of
their activities -- hire and fire based on faith, according to a senior adviser
to the campaign who the news agency said spoke on condition of anonymity.

These two paragraphs appear in the same article. Which is it? Does he or does he not support allowing religious organizations that get federal money to discriminate against people based on faith?


The Obama Deal Breaker For Me

As reported on Yahoo News:

"Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans
that would expand President Bush's program steering federal social service
dollars to religious groups and — in a move sure to cause controversy — support
their ability to hire and fire based on faith."

Translated: Obama will give tax dollars to religious organizations who discriminate against gay people in their employment practices.


There is no way I will vote for Obama if this is his plan.


PHOTO: the Asiatic lillies in bloom