February 7th, 2008

niki de saint phalle - real

Good Morning!!

The icon is a sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle.  I love her sculptures.  They are so cheery and expansive.   I had another photo here, and have now changed it to this one, one that is real and not a fake.  I thank the person who commented for pointing it out.  

I woke this morning thinking no more politics, but this column is so astute and important that I place it here.  

Andrew Sullivan speaks and gives us a sensible look at Barack Obama.

For proof Obama can manage, look at his campaign

Thursday, February 7th 2008, 4:00 AM

Perhaps the most telling critique leveled by Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign against Sen. Barack Obama, to my mind, is that he lacks executive experience. Clinton considers this a potent contrast. She misses no opportunity to remind us that she is the roll-up-her-sleeves, detail-oriented manager, while he's the academic orator with the messy desk (Of course, as far as executive experience goes, Clinton's record is nearly as slight as Obama's, if you don't count the First Lady period, when she insists her husband was the President.)

I understand how effective the critique can be, particularly if Obama should make it into a general election. Despite all their failures, Republicans miraculously still manage to project some can-do competence to many voters.

And so, last year, I asked Obama directly why a voter should back someone who has never run anything bigger than a legislative office. He responded by pointing to his nascent campaign. He observed that he was up against the full Clinton establishment, all the chits she and her husband had acquired over the years, and the apparatus they had constructed within the party. He had to build a national campaign from scratch, raise money, staff an extremely complex electoral map, and make key decisions on spending and travel. He asked me to judge his executive skills by observing how he was managing a campaign.

By that standard, who isn't impressed? A first-term senator - a black urban liberal - raised more money, and continues to raise much more money, than Sen. Clinton. More to the point, the money he has raised has not come from the well-connected fat cats who do things like donate to the Clinton library. His base is much wider, broader and Internet-based than hers. It has many more small donors.

Now look at the strategy he laid out last year, as he explained it to me and others. Iowa was the key. If he didn't win Iowa, it was over. But if he could win Iowa, he would prove the principle that a black man could transcend the racial issue, helping in New Hampshire, and then also helping him peel off what was then majority black support for the Clintons in South Carolina.

Then his strategy was meticulous organization - and you saw that in Iowa, as well as Tuesday's caucus states. Everything he told me has been followed through. And the attention to detail - from the Alaska caucus to the Nevada cooks - has been striking.

Now consider the psychological and emotional challenges of this campaign. It has been brutal. It has included many highly emotional moments - and occasions when racism and sexism and all sorts of hot-button issues have emerged. Then there was the extraordinary spectacle of a former President and spouse bringing the full weight of the Democratic establishment and the full prestige of two terms in the White House to dismiss some of Obama's arguments as a "fairy tale" and dismiss him as another Jesse Jackson.

How did the candidates deal with this? The vastly more experienced and nerves-of-steel Clinton clearly went through some wild mood swings. Obama gave an appearance at least of preternatural coolness under fire, a steady message that others came to mimic, and a level of oratory that still stuns this longtime debater.

In the middle of this very hot zone, he exhibited, and continues to exhibit, a coolness and steeliness that is a mark of presidential timber. He played tough - but he didn't play nasty. Keeping the high road in a contest like this, without ever playing the race card or the victim card, is an achievement.

Building a movement on top of that is more impressive still. So far, he has combined Mitt Romney's money with Clinton's organizational skills and Ron Paul's grass-roots enthusiasm.

No other campaign has brought so many dimensions into play.

And, lest we forget: He won Missouri.

Sullivan is author of the book "The Conservative Soul." A version of this Op-Ed ran on his blog, andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com.

north pole moon

Gung Hay Fat Choy!!

Happy New Year and Welcome to the Year of the Rat.   It is a year to be industrious, and a time to clean out the old and make way for the new.

The holiday is based on a lunar calendar, so I give you a shot of the North Pole moon.

It makes good sense as a beginning of the new year, as the weather is beginning to warm, and the sun to shine, for those of us who dwell on the West Coast.  

Jon Carroll has a good column today on Berkeley, Code Pink, and the Marines. 


Enjoy, savor, and be awake for this day!
blue jellyfish

Chinese New Year -

I read the rituals associated with the Chinese New Year and take extra care this morning. I go to my yard and bring in fresh greens and Camellia flowers.  I honor my ancestors, and fill my fountain with fresh water.   It is a time to cleanse and so I toss some things and put others away, bring spring into my home.  Yesterday I bought two miniature rose bushes, and I am enjoying their tiny blossoms and buds.   Wild mustard and radish are blooming on the hills.

I think of words this morning and how they seem to be so over-used.   It would be lovely if each political campaign proclaimed a day of silence periodically, and showed beautiful images of flowers, mountains, jellyfish, and coasts.


The New Moon -

Today is the day of the new moon.    Today, we, like the moon, go within and reflect on our own light.

Sit in revelation.  Stroke darkness.   Dwell in deep peace.

Let go of political spin.
Book Cover

Read this and never eat a Twinkie again - Ack!

I am copying this over from Joan's blog because I want to make sure everyone sees it.

The Twinkie: Ingredients Revealed

By: Kate Thorp 

Five ingredients come from rocks.

This got my attention. However, it only got worse when I discovered that the ingredients come from phosphate mines in Idaho, gypsum mines in Oklahoma, and oil fields in China. Okay, so now I was wondering if I was watching a real news story—come to find out, I was.

The Twinkie, which was created during the Depression, contains thirty-nine ingredients. One of those ingredients is a preservative, sorbic acid. Sorbic acid is an ingredient I see on many packages, and I have never thought twice about it. But author Steve Ettlinger did. He found that sorbic acid is actually derived from natural gas.

If that isn’t shocking enough, he goes on to talk about other ingredients like cellulose gum, Polysorbate 60, and calcium sulfate. Apparently, these ingredients are also used in sheet rock, shampoo, and rocket fuel. No wonder Twinkies make kids run around like crazy and have even been used as a defense for murder!

Mr Ettlinger also found that the vitamins, artificial colors, and flavorings in Twinkies come from petroleum.

I started to wonder how this tasty treat made from gas and rocks can be so light and airy. In comes Mr. Ettlinger again. Apparently, it’s limestone that makes Twinkies light. And that tasty cream center—it’s got to be milk, right? No. It’s made of shortening; there is absolutely no cream in the cream.

I have to say I was curious to know what Hostess, the makers of the Twinkie, thought about Mr. Ettlinger’s claims. Well, here’s the quote that ran in my newscast:

Deconstructing the Twinkie is like trying to deconstruct the universe. We think the millions of people … would agree that Twinkies just taste great.—David Leavitt, Vice President Snack Marketing at Hostess.

The news story was inspired by Steve Ettlinger’s new book, Twinkie Deconstructed. Ettlinger uses the Twinkie to demonstrate where our processed food ingredients come from. Since the Twinkie is the product leader—yes, it’s a product and apparently, barely a food—it served as the perfect tool to show consumers what goes into our food.

Another newsworthy note—since so many of the ingredients come from overseas, there are hardly any regulations placed on them. We are all familiar with the recent paint issues from China. As for the Twinkie, many of the vitamins listed on its label come from China and are not regulated. There were a few other ingredients Ettlinger sourced, but he was unable to communicate with the agricultural or chemical manufacturer of those ingredients. They simply do not need to make themselves available.

To read more about the Twinkie and Steve Ettlinger, you can buy his book or see his Web site.

One last word for all of us who fried a Twinkie at some point in our lives … I guess we didn’t make it any less healthy.

Book Cover

Wouldn't it be loverly?

Poem: "I Close My Eyes" by David Ignatow from Against the Evidence: Selected Poems 1934-1994. © Wesleyan University Press, 1994.

I Close My Eyes

I close my eyes like a good little boy at night in bed,
as I was told to do by my mother when she lived,
and before bed I brush my teeth and slip on my pajamas,
as I was told, and look forward to tomorrow.

I do all things required of me to make me a citizen of sterling worth.
I keep a job and come home each evening for dinner. I arrive at the
same time on the same train to give my family a sense of order.

I obey traffic signals. I am cordial to strangers, I answer my
mail promptly. I keep a balanced checking account. Why can't I
live forever?

    - David Ignatow

Book Cover

Poetry -

I just received the gift of a beautiful new poetry book, Quickening by Maureen Eppstein.  

It looks like a treasure trove and I open to this poem.

Swallow Nest

Ridge beam, crossbeam, and ceiling joist
a porch corner geometry, triangular, snug.

Swallows make high speed reconnaissance:
in on the south side, up to the corner, out,

as if checking the work of the carpenters
who sang the house into shape.

Satisfied, the swallows come
with feathers and dry grass.

    - Maureen Eppstein

I am particularly interested in construction right now as the installing of our new front door is taking a great deal of time and ingenuity as opening up the frame has revealed a few problems, and so each day, is a new lesson in how houses are put together, and how ours built so long ago would not meet the standards of today.   Perhaps, two more days will mean a new front door installed, and then, the front deck will be replaced as all this work has also revealed that it has some problems, so, I am very interested in swallows coming "with feathers and dry grass."

I am not feeling well tonight for some reason so am early to bed.  I have fought all this stuff off, and am not taking any chances.  I figure it is best to sleep it away.  Night, night!