28 February 2008

Flippers Across America

I just love stories like this:

A poor green sea turtle lost three of its flippers and an organization in Texas is trying to outfit it with a prosthetic flipper so that it will have a chance of survival.

Allison (like the turtle in the photograph) was rescued by a family who found her three years ago, injured and bleeding. She will never be able to be released into the wild, but can still lead a productive life in captivity at Sea Turtle, Inc., the organization that helped restore her health, and will help her get a new flipper.

You can read Allison's story here.

You can find out more about Sea Turtle, Inc. here.

26 February 2008

Happy B'day

Happy 89th birthday to the grandest of canyons. The Grand Canyon (illustrated) was made a national park on this date in 1919.

Find out more here.

24 February 2008

(bleep), Lots of (bleep)

Last night, after a rollicking couple hours with the good folks who present the Independent Spirit Awards, we began watching a recent "Great Performances" broadcast on PBS.

This time around it was the recent re-thinking of Steven Sondheim's brilliant-beyond-words "Company," about the inner and outer workings of the minds of a few thirty-somethings in New York.

We love "Company." We love Sondheim.

And now, after watching this broadcast, we hate PBS.

What is the cause of my ire? The blanking out of the second half of the phrase "jesus (blank)" and the reset of the word "bas(blank)."

What the fuck is going on? Why would a company as intellectually driven as PBS cave in to the hysterical crazies who think words can damage minds? Need I mention that this exact same type of thing happened in history with any society in the hands of Nazis and Fascists? In Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy, people were sent to their deaths for the utterances of certain words.

In fact, we just finished watching the really fantastic German film "The Lives of Others" about life in East Germany in the 1980s. There, people disappeared for uttering the wrong words. Is PBS hinting the United States is going that same way? Are they so afraid to allow common utterances to be aired? Does the FCC have that much power?

Let's hope not.

So, first thing this a.m. I went to the PBS "Great Performance" site (link below) and told them what I thought:

"I wish to protest in the strongest
possible terms your censoring
of certain words in your recent
broadcast of "Company" perhaps the
greatest musical to come out of the
20th century. I cannot believe a
venerable institution like PBS
would bow to the outrageous demands
of a few vocal whackos who worry that
the mere utterance of words like
"christ" and "bastard" will forever
corrupt their tiny minds, um, I mean,
corrupt the minds of their tiny children.
How dare you presume to alter something
so wonderful as art of any kind because
of them? I will repeat to you what I
have said to such crazies in the past:
If words offend you, turn the channel.
I can imagine some networks being
cowardly, but never expected to include
PBS in that list. Thank you for your
consideration of the above."

I hope anyone reading this, who is also upset with censorship, will take a moment and do the same. You can contact them here.

Help put an end to such draconian censorship.

21 February 2008

Mural Plural

One of the things I loved about living in San Francisco in the 1980s was the history that was hidden around every corner. Part of that history that I remember very well was the murals that appeared outside so many of the financial institutions around the city.

These were murals of history: huge splashes of color depicting people, places and things that were part of the tapestry of California history.

I used to love turning a corner and seeing a giant mural above the doors of a saving and loan, or adorning the building's sides. I never gave much more thought to them over all these years -- until today, when I learned of the death of the man responsible for constructing many of them.

Denis O'Conner did more than 80 such murals around California (like the one pictured), providing a distinction that is so sadly missing in buildings today.

You can read more about O'Conner's life and work here.

The gentleman who designed many of the murals that O'Conner made is profiled here.

19 February 2008

UPDATE: Inhumane Treatment of Cows

I have been upset ever since my entry of 31 January 2008 about the inhumane treatment of beef cattle. I am so glad to hear not only has the company been closed down, but now the federal government has initiated the largest beef recall in our country's history. Although most of the affected beef has been eaten, and no illnesses have been linked to the beef from the plant, it is so rewarding to see this issue taken seriously.

You can read the latest on the recall, and the plant that processed the beef here.

18 February 2008

Apropos To Nothing

In the big scheme of things, I suppose this no longer matters, but I want to apologize to women of the world for something I didn't even do:

I listen to loads of vintage radio programs. In many of them, when one man is talking to another one about a date he had, the second man says "Was she a blonde, brunette, or redhead?"

When I first heard this kind of line, when I was a kid, I was struck by how odd it seemed. What difference did her hair color make? Of course, later I learned the shallowness of man -- or men -- back then.

We have come a very long way. Now, I hope, the second man would ask about something more intelligent like the kind of job she had, or whether she had a sense of humor -- hopefully something other than the relative size of her, shall we say, assets.

Personally, I hope we all have moved beyond judging people by their looks. I mean, scoping out a cute guy is fine and all, but he has to have a lot more than good looks and, shall we say, sizeable assets, to earn from me anything other than just a passing glance.

10 February 2008

Politics 2008

I have a policy of not discussing politics or religion on this site, but I want to make the following exception:

Back in 1979, I left college and moved (alone) to San Francisco. I had just turned 19. The next year was the first occasion I had to vote in a presidential election. I was young, smart and (apparently) really stupid because I told everyone who would listen that Ronald Reagan would be (gulp!) the greatest president the country had ever known.

I admit, I was wrong.

Okay, the NEXT time I told everyone who would listen what I thought is when I said Bill Clinton would be a good president. (At the time, I would have elected a beagle to get the first Bush out of office -- and we probably would have had a better president.) Clinton was not the best president ever, but he did the country a lot of good and I am glad I voted for him (twice).

Last year, I kept telling people my thoughts: Although a registered Libertarian, I would be happy if our next president were either of Clinton, Obama, Edwards -- or McCain (really) even though I figured McCain never had a chance.

Imagine how surprised I am that my top four choices made it this far.

All the candidates have their flaws: Although smart, Clinton is "old Washington" and we need to get away from that. Obama, while smart, is "young Washington" and may not be experienced enough. Edwards (smart) is the best candidate overall, but I lost respect for him when he paid $400 for a haircut. How out of touch can one be? (Edwards has since dropped out of the running.)

McCain, while not a Democrat or Libertarian, is one of the few intelligent Republicans I have ever interviewed. I have met his wife and had lunch at their home (before they moved to downtown Phoenix). I have a great deal of respect for him, and wish he had won the last time he ran for president. He has his faults, too, but for a Republican, he is a pretty good option.

So, there you have them: my thoughts for this presidential cycle. I fully support the notion that we need to get a woman into the White House. I fully support the notion that we need to elect a person of color to the White House. More important, it is time we elect someone intelligent to the White House.

04 February 2008

Animals Rock!

Okay, the four-hour-block of television with new commercials is over, and we only had to fast forward through a few hours of some boring sports event to get to them. Thank the gods for TiVo. Can you imagine actually sitting through fours hours of a football game just to get to the commercials? Whatever.

I know everyone is talking about their favorite commercials, but here are the two best of the lot, hands down, no kidding. (I also like the Clydesdale one and the "Godfather" spoof.)

The Best:

The Runner Up:

03 February 2008

Harper in the News

The program "CBS News Sunday Morning" did a rather nice look at the work of artist Charles Harper, in a profile of his association with designer Todd Oldham.

If you missed the program, you can read the story here.

You can see more of Harper's work at my little web page

The illustration is by famed naturalist Charles Harper.

02 February 2008