Wednesday, November 26, 2008


It's official

This is my last post on the Blogspot version. You can now post at the Wordpress version. I will spruce up the format and will get the moderation function in line to minimize impact on the free flow of discussion without requiring too much babysitting from me. It is not just one poster by the way. I will exclude others who are abusive, and I can do that with more ease on Wordpress. And if you manage to slip through the safeguards, I will simply delete abusive posts. All abusive posts, no matter how much you feel the target "deserves it." I want a new tone.

Feel free to make closing arguments here. I will be turning the comments function off at midnight tonight.

It has been a nice run on Blogspot, but it's time to move on. Here's the link:

Sohum Parlance II


Diane Feinstein on the Milk/Moscone killings

Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary. Feinstein was the first to fine Harvey Milk's body after White walked by his office. She had attempted to engage White in conversation, but he ignored her and left. She tells the whole story in the Chronicle today.

I've already made a couple of posts on the subject, but there's plenty more to come. The incident was a huge turning point in California politics in many ways. It was also the last political assassination in our country to my recollection.

Sean Penn is getting great reviews for his portrayal of Milk in a film which I believe will be released this weekend (? I'll check on that). Much of the movie was filmed in the Castro, the district to which he was dubbed the unofficial "mayor." I look forward to watching it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Sohum Parlance II - coming soon to Wordpress

I have a page. Now I have to study up on how to use it.

Addendum: Can any of you Wordpress whizzes tell me how to turn the moderation function off over there?

Second addendum: Until I've worked out the Wordpress system I'll continue to post here. I'll let you know when I'm stopping. Right now, I'm having a hard time importing the comment here, although the posts seem to have transferred themselves fine. I may just leave it at that.


It's too easy

Even I have standards. Our favorite blond hippie's jaw has been wired shut. Literally.

Okay, I'm not taking joy in someone's suffering. It's just that the symbolism is too blatant to ignore. It's like a badly written sitcom.


Gay adoption ban ruled unconstitutional in Florida!

Great news of small favors.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said the 31-year-old law violates equal protection rights for the children and their prospective gay parents, rejecting the state's arguments that there is "a supposed dark cloud hovering over homes of homosexuals and their children."

She noted that gay people are allowed to be foster parents in Florida. "There is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting," she wrote in a 53-page ruling.

Florida is the only state with an outright ban on gay adoption. Arkansas voters last month approved a measure similar to a law in Utah that bans any unmarried straight or gay couples from adopting or fostering children. Mississippi bans gay couples, but not single gays, from adopting.

The ruling means that Martin Gill, 47, and his male partner can adopt two brothers, ages 4 and 8, whom he has cared for as foster children since December 2004.

Does the Mississippi law make any sense whatsoever to anyone?

The Miami Herald also has the story and some photographs, as well as a poll to freep. Key quote from the article:

''These children are thriving; it is uncontroverted,'' the judge added.

Of course, that's totally irrelevant, right?

There will be an appeal.

Addendum: Damn! I posted before I got to the bottom of the article. There's some great stuff in there, and there's a link to the 30 page judgment. Apparently there was a similar ruling in another court.

In August, Monroe Circuit Judge David John Audlin Jr. wrote that Florida's 1977 gay adoption ban arose out of ''unveiled expressions of bigotry'' when the state was experiencing a severe backlash to demands for civil rights by gay people in Miami.

Wasn't Florida Anita Bryant's stomping grounds?

The ruling may hold because it's based upon the rights of the children, not simply the parents.

''Disqualifying every gay Floridian from raising a family, enjoying grandchildren or carrying on the family name, based on nothing more than lawful sexual conduct, while assuring child abusers, terrorists, drug dealers, rapists and murderers at least individualized consideration, `` Audlin wrote, was so ``disproportionately severe'' that it violates the state and U.S. Constitutions.

In her ruling, Lederman said children taken into state care have a ''fundamental'' right to be raised in a permanent adoptive home if they cannot be reunited with birth parents. Children whose foster parents are gay, she said, can be deprived of that right under the current law.

''The challenged statute, in precluding otherwise qualified homosexuals from adopting available children, does not promote the interests of children and, in effect, causes harm to the children it is meant to protect,'' Lederman wrote.

The judge added: ``There is no question the blanket exclusion of gay applicants defeats Florida's goal of providing [foster] children a permanent family through adoption.''

This is significant, because the factual finding that children are actually deprived parents by virtue of the ban should beef up the strength of the ruling considerably. The ban runs afoul of the children's due process rights, but also the state policy to put children into stable families.

The Herald slights the ruling in the following passage, but she simply summarized the evidence provided to her. The finding is that the ban hurts children.

In a ruling that, at times, reads more like a social science research paper, Lederman dissected 30 years worth of psychological and sociological research, concluding that studies overwhelmingly have shown that gay people can parent every bit as effectively as straight people and do no harm to their children.

''Based on the evidence presented from experts from all over this country and abroad,'' Lederman wrote, ``it is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent. Sexual orientation no more leads to psychiatric disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, relationship instability, a lower life expectancy or sexual disorders than race, gender, socioeconomic class or any other demographic characteristic.

So shines a good deed in a weary world.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Primary Care Giver needs to give more than marijuana

The KMUD news reported tonight a California Supreme Court ruling which eliminates as a "primary caregiver" the right to distribute marijuana to patients unless the provider renders treatment other than the marijuana itself.

So I got home and tried to find the case. There's a story on the SF Chronicle site, but it sort of misses the point, focusing on a side point - state approved cooperatives yes, your street corner dealer no. The article barely mentions the "primary caregiver" issue, which was the central issue of the case. My first assumption was that Cynthia had misstated the nature of the case, but fortunately the Chronicle article links to the decision itself. It turns out the Chronicle writer just doesn't really understand the case. I offer my profuse apology to Cynthia for doubting her even for a brief moment.

The case arose from events in Santa Cruz. The defendant made a number of large cash deposits at a bank and the teller took notice. When the amount of the deposits exceeded $10,000 over a two month period she notified the sheriff who busted the defendant. The defendant brought to the stand several witnesses to testify that they had designated him their "primary caregiver" which would make it legal for him to sell to them.

The Supreme Court rejected the defendant's status as "primary caregiver" because he did not "consistently assume responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of the patient." And it's not enough to subsequently designate someone, the relationship must exist when the marijuana is being distributed. And as Cynthia reported, you have to offer something more than just the marijuana.

There is also a very interesting concurring opinion by Justice Chin, addressing a point which was not necessary to the decision of the case. It's a fine point, but the majority opinion continually states that the defendant has the "burden of raising a reasonable doubt" as to whether he had the right to possess and distribute the stuff as a primary caregiver. The jury instruction apparently says precisely that, but Chin argues that the defendant merely has the obligation to produce evidence while the burden of proof remains with the prosecution. It may seem a fine point, but it could potentially affect how a jury deliberates on the question and thus impact the result. Unfortunately for the defendant, the jury never even got to consider the question in this case. But Justice Chin pretty much issued a warning to trial courts as to how they're instructing juries.


Franken's Silver Lining

Nate Silver, whose election predictions have bee uncannily accurate so far this year, is projecting an Al Franken win by 27 votes. The recount totals released so far don't look so good with well over half the votes cast and and only a seventh of the first count deficit erased. But Silver argues that these figures probably don't mean a whole lot as the challenged ballots are temporarily removed from the equation and deducted from the count. It's already been demonstrated that some of those challenges are just silly, and Coleman clearly wants to go into the challenged vote count round ahead in order to play the refs who don't necessarily want their decisions to decide the race.

Silver is speculating that the majority of challenged votes are coming from Franken's stack, as Franken is most certainly going to challenge any initial decisions by local elections judges which would deprive him of votes previously counted. I'm inferring from everything I've read that the challenges will not be addressed until after all of the precinct recounts are completed. I don't know what the rationale for that is, but if the state body, whatever it is, which decides on the challenges would address them as soon as they were made, it might prevent the type of gamesmaship Coleman is playing and save themselves some work. I have no idea whether the law even gives them that discretion.

Addendum: Inquiring right wing minds want to know, will Somalia steal the Minnesota Senate election?

Second addendum: This Kos blogger references an incident which reminds us of why elections must be transparent.
A small story catching on a bit in the MN blogs is from Dakota County (exurban sprawl, S of St. Paul). Procedure is to of course count the ballots and then stack them in groups of 25. (Since the ballots are 8x10, you then stack them in groups of 25 at right angles to each other.) At the end of the recounting you can visually tally totals by going 25-50-75 etc.

On Saturday a woman working at the recount was found putting 26 Franken ballots into a group (which of course later would be tallied at 25.) Franken observer caught it and called foul...twice. Attorneys from both sides went into a huddle with the election officials, who then recounted several Franken stacks---and caught 6 stacks of 26. No word on consequences for the woman in question.

Kudos to the Franken observer! And, ugly as something like this is, it was caught, dealt with and fixed. (I'll bet the attorneys on both sides might feel pretty good about what they did actually serving justice.) Whew!
There are some other stories through the link, but this one concerns me the most. And the transparency should include a statement from the woman about what happened. 6 "oopses" favoring one candidate demands an explanation, and some punitive action if the explanation is wanting.

Third addendum: It gets even more interesting. Franken's people have uncovered about 6400 absentee ballots which had been rejected. Moreover, it appears that some ballots which were counted initially have disappeared. Franken's campaign has a photograph of one such ballot. What will the courts do with that if they don't find them?


Test your civics knowledge

Take the test. You will probably do better than most elected officials (don't worry, most of them were probably on school boards).

Addendum: Those of you who think the test has a conservative agenda are right.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Cookie conundrum

So I was in the store the other evening and walking down the cookie isle when I saw some of the many varieties of Oreo Cookies of late (it seems the latest marketing annoyance is to have like 10 versions of everything from cookies to candy bars). One type was covered in fudge with mint flavoring. It all of the sudden occurred to me that the brownish the package was describing Mystic Mints, my childhood favorite store-bought cookie, sans the green package and name. I looked around and couldn't find the familiar green box.

So tonight I sat down at the computer and sure enough, Mystic Mints were discontinued. This site even describes it as "food from the seventies," but I bought a package right in Shop Smart in Redway just a few years ago. I think. Certainly not more than ten years ago.

And make no mistake, Mystic Mints were made with Oreos. I removed the chocolate on one occasion to verify the same. Do these new Oreos taste like the MMs?


Is mint actually a flavor? Or is it merely a sensation combined with flavor, like hot spice or MSG (referred to in China as "the fifth flavor")?

And why do we associate mint with green? Sure the plant is green but there are hundreds of green plants with various flavors of which we don't associate with green.


A few years ago Shop Smart also sold Mallomars, my wife's favorite cookie from the east coast, but they appear to have discontinued that line as well. Apparently, for some reason, Mallomars are seasonal. But I haven't seen them, or at least I haven't noticed them, since before my son came home. That's about seven years. And they're supposed to be available by now. According to the Wikipedia entry, about 70 percent of Mallomars are sold in New York City.


The painting of the cookies come from this site where you can purchase this or other cookie paintings.


My Word post-election statements



I can't find Johanna's. Maybe it hasn't been published yet. I'll link to it as soon as it becomes available.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Squaw Rock legend courtesy of two Sohum bloggers

I just wanted to draw your attention to these posts on Squaw Rock, in Mendo by 101, near the Sonoma County border. Both Kym and Ernie have deep family north coast roots and you can find some fascinating local history on both blogs.

Kym's post was first. Ernie has some more.

My reaction the first time I heard the name some 20 years ago was to sneer at the naming as borderline racist as the word "squaw" is Alonquian, a language grouping which is located well east of California, the word actually having been recorded by Plymouth colonists as part of the language of the tribes they encountered. What I didn't know until I just googled the word is that Alonquian is a subset of languages in the "Algic" family. There are two languages in the Algic family which are not Alonquian - Yurok and Wiyot. I realize that neither of the latter extended so far south, but I guess it's not completely unfathomable that the word was used on the north coast. Maybe someone can tell me if either of the local tribes use the word?

The map of the Algic language (obviously long after its theoretical roots in the Pacific northwest) comes from Wikipedia.


Marina Center EIR to be released on December 1

You'll be able to find it here. Thanks to Heraldo for the heads-up.

Now with all the problems facing Security National and the newspaper going belly up, will there even be any money to move on it assuming it passes muster? Supervisor-election Mark Lovelace has long maintained that there's no way it can make it through all of the numerous obstacles, political, economic, and regulatory. And we've been waiting for over a year now on the release of a proponent-backed study which would rebut the BAE Study of ten years ago which outlined the potential impacts of various additional big box stores on the local economy, including Home Depot. In fact as I'm reviewing my coverage back to my discussion with Morrissey and Gans, I have to wonder why it hasn't been completed and released. They certainly didn't wait around to release their poll results, timed just before a crucial election.

Obviously the proposal hasn't been dropped. But is the money there to pursue the proposal? Wouldn't it be ironic if the Marina Center was ultimately pushed through with the backing of Obama's "build baby build" economic strategy in terms of federal funds? Brian told me that Rob Arkley really wasn't interested in public grants, but I can't imagine at this point that he'd refuse money if private investors aren't available.

The photo comes from Balloon Track Watch, which apparently hasn't been active for well over a year now. The site still contains this classic Jibjab video Big Box Mart.


Moonstone Beach last winter


Mike Thompson - Secretary of the Interior?

I guess it's a possibility.

I do have to say that the argument that the Secretary of the Interior should of necessity be a hunter is lame.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Gasoline $1.99 per gallon at Costco

The lowest it's been in years. My wife reports that every other price she saw in Eureka today was over $2.20 today, some of them as high as $2.39. Usually there's maybe a 10 cent difference between Costco and the others.


Coleman: "All McCain votes should be counted for me"

At least according to campaign representatives on one county, nobody would ever vote for McCain and Al Franken.

Obviously the voters were confused. They should be counted for Obama.


Don's Donuts in Arcata and Regret

Somebody just drew my attention to this little gem.

From the creator:
The best donuts in the country are right here at Don's Donuts in Arcata, California. Krispy Kreme might as well stay the hell home. Don's delivers the goods and then some! They also have great bagels, pizza, sandwiches, and apple fritters. Their friendly service is always outstanding, and they carry a wide variety of tasty beverages.


"Is it okay to be liberal again?"

Michael Lind is an unapologetic liberal as announced in his decade old manifesto "Up from Conservatism." He was a Buckley protege conservative at one time and he puts together some interesting thoughts outside the box of any ideology. Obviously the word doesn't have the negative power it acquired during the 1980s, and it was used by Republicans with minimal success in 2000 and 2004 (one of the few attacks Kerry managed to parry easily by responding to the question of whether he's a liberal with the simple "on some issues, obviously"), and not even really attempted against Obama (McCain tried for a bit of a longer throw with "socialist" but even that didn't take).

The term "progressive" to describe the moderate left actually predates the use of the term "liberal" as Lind somewhat points out. The term "liberal" in the late 1800s and early 1900s actually referred to more of a free market ideology. Progressivism, despite it's elitist shortcomings elaborated upon in Lind's article, represented a mixed economy approach differentiating themselves from the "liberals" of the time as well as the socialists. The term "liberal" to describe social democracy really didn't come until the reallignment under the New Deal.

In any case, Lind argues with justification that liberals should step up and reclaim the mantle.

If the conservative era is over, can liberals come out of their defensive crouch and call themselves liberals again, instead of progressives?

In the last two decades, Democratic politicians, including Barack Obama, have abandoned the term "liberal" for "progressive." The theory was that Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush -- and Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Pat Buchanan -- had succeeded in equating "liberal" in the public mind with weakness on defense, softness on crime, and "redistribution" of Joe the Plumber's hard-earned money to the collective bogey evoked by a former Texas rock band's clever name: Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Dope.

I've always been uncomfortable with this rather soulless and manipulative exercise in rebranding, for a number of reasons.

Then he lists them off and elaborates. Some of those topics deserve a little more treatment and debate, including this passage:

Unlike progressivism and conservatism, liberalism is not a name that implies a view that things are either getting better or getting worse. Liberalism is a theory of a social order based on individual civil liberties, private property, popular sovereignty and democratic republican government. Liberals believe that liberal society is the best kind, but they are not committed to believing in universal progress toward liberalism, much less universal progress in general. Many liberals have been skeptical about the idea of unlimited progress and have believed that a liberal society is difficult to establish and easily changed into a nonliberal society.
And well, actually, most liberals do believe in progress, which comes with the glass-half-full view of human nature which distinguishes it from both conservatism and radicalism. The concern for the easy change into a "nonliberal society" doesn't stem from a lack of belief in progress necessarily, but is termed "regression" or "reaction." But you always here phrases like "two steps forward, one step backward." Lind himself may be retaining some of that Buckleyian cynicism about human nature. Then again, he probably wants to win that fight between some modern liberals and conservatives over the soul of Edmund Burke. Personally, I'm happy to cede that fight and claim Tom Paine as rightful Enlightenment representative of progressivism or liberalism.

Then again, as you'll read in the article, he's also fighting the liberty front with libertarians. Certain concessions about human nature have to be made. Lind's the right one to make them.

Image comes from Photobucket.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Challenging ballots in Minnesota - you be the judge

Minnesota is a "ascertain-the-voter-intent" rather than strict adherence state. MPR has posted jpegs of some of the ballots being challenged by both the Franken and Coleman campaigns, including the one to the left. They are polling for each challenged ballot to see how you would rule on the status of each.

In the ballot to the left, I would give it to Franken. The bubble was marked next to Lizard People in the race above the Senate boxes, and it would seem that more likely than not the voter just included "Lizard People" in the Senate race to be flippant and not to cast a write-in vote.

My judgments on the ballots at the MPR site are as follows:

1. Franken
2. Accept the ballot
3. Reject the ballot
4. Franken
5. Franken
6. Sufficient evidence of intent (though I'd like to know how the rest of the ballot was filled out)
7. Coleman
8. Franken
9. Barkley
10. Barkley
11. Coleman (this was the most difficult one for me - I went back and forth)

So where do you differ from me? Bear in mind that under Minnesota law the intent of the voter is paramount, so even if you aren't completely certain of the intent, you should go with what is most likely the intent. In other states, including California, it may be different, and while we can debate the virtues of differing standards, try to make your judgments based on the liberal standards of Minnesota.

Addendum: Nate Silver is asking whether Franken is being "too nice" about his challenges. If Coleman is ahead after the second round before the disputed ballots are determined, Silver reasons that Coleman will have moral leverage to play the ref in the final determinations.

Personally, I think everybody needs to relax and let the campaigns and officials do their thing. Maybe Franken just doesn't have as many questionable ballots to work with.

Oh, and in response to the poster who says that I have too much time on my hands: how about this guy?!

In particular this proves, uh, something.

Second addendum: There are some ballots challenged on the second day. My take:

1. Accept the ballot. The idea is to keep people from making ballots identifiable to government, business, or union bosses. But if there's only one in the batch, obviously there's no conspiracy of intimidation. If there were a series of ballots like this one, I'd say invalidate them.

2. Accept the ballot.

3. I would have to conclude that the voter intended to nullify the mark, unless all of the offices were similarly marked with an x. But we see bubble filled without one. On the other hand, there's no other selection made and it seems odd that the voter would vote for Coleman by mistake when he/she intended to vote for nobody.

4. I'd have to reject this one. "Lizard men" can be explained away as snark. This one makes no sense.

Third addendum: Al Franken is going to review his campaign's ballot challenges over the weekend to determine if any of them should be withdrawn. He's calling on Coleman to do the same, but don't bet on that.


Independent ironies

For those of you with a copy handy, check out the front page story about the Bootleg robbery. Note the names of the alleged perpetrators. Then go to the second section of the paper and check out the "who's reading the Independent" caption, where you're supposed to guess who face is partially obscured by the paper and they show you the face of last week's mystery reader.

Only in a small town.


I actually find this kind of depressing

He's pissed off a lot of world leaders.

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