Friday, May 28, 2010

"Mud" in Gulf of Mexico and California

Special "mud" is being injected (or is BP now doing something different) into a blown out undersea well spewing huge quantities of oil and gas in a so far unsuccessful effort to contain that devastating fluid flow. Louisiana marshes, wetlands, dragon flies, other insects, turtles, birds, sea creatures are all under assault by this offshore deep water oil drilling gone awry that is killing the full grown, young and eggs containing future generations. Human families and livelihoods are experiencing life altering havoc and an uncertain future.

Once again individuals in government departments have possibly compromised their supervisory regulatory roll of insuring large corporations meet required measures to safeguard their employees and act in the public interest. The once arrogant slogan “Drill, Baby, drill!” has pundits paraphrasing now with “Spill, Baby, spill!”

Months preceding this environmentally destructive event the news was filled with the drama of West Virginia coal miners dying in underground mines. This large corporate owner operation was revealed in documents to have repeatedly violated safety regulations for which the company was fined. Meaningful inspections and then corrections designed to prevent this disaster may well have been compromised.

I suggest we should all be wary of any candidates for political office who rant against regulations when clearly a need for such has been proven to be necessary as we also consider the financial crisis to which our nation has been subjected. We can partially thank all those political administrative and legislative government leaders responsible for giving us deregulation in our financial system for these crises. Also, those responsible for oversight somehow overlooked or carelessly ignored enforcing existing regulatory stipulations. So we voters are challenged to carefully examine those for whom we choose to vote in our spring Primary elections and later in our General Elections this fall.

A different type of damaging “mud” from that in the Gulf is flowing in California. Currently I am being bombarded with repetitive recorded phone messages from proponents of various candidates and issues. They even fill up my answering machine when I’m not home to accept the calls. My daily postal mail is filled with print mailers and there is an excessive abundance of television ads that are mostly quite negative attacks on some candidate’s opponent. All this advertising has been most successful in influencing my vote – I’m not going to vote for any of them.

I note the California Republican Party has had a litany of candidates but now seems to have boiled them down to two – one a government official, the other from the IT world. They are busy with their anti-opponent statements on TV, phone and in print as the money they spend flows in torrents. The Democratic Party candidates have been much more low key with their field having recently narrowed primarily to one person – a former Governor. Probably the Democrats are reserving their funds for campaigning after our Primary Elections. I shudder to think of all the promotion we voters will be subjected to in the general election campaign if candidates are able to spend so much now within their own parties for the Primaries.

Consider the fact California has the largest economy of any U.S. state, is actually one of the ten largest economies in the world. Keep in mind recent news organizations have stated our state's economy is in worse shape than that resulting in the Greece financial crisis which impacted all of Europe. Certainly California has been building toward this financial condition for many years but we can’t blame the national financial crisis though our sad condition was exacerbated.

When I think of our elections this year I recall a few years ago, despite our raging state debt, the Republican Party promoted spending even more monies we didn't have in a special election recalling our then Democratic governor though only two years were left before a regularly scheduled election. I resented such squandering of resources we didn't have in order to pay for that special election. I thought how naive for anyone to believe replacing our then Governor with the opposite parties macho Republican candidate movie star glamour would somehow resolve our state's money debt issues, but he took over the office. I derived no satisfaction a few years later when that Governor was reduced to proposing the exact same cost saving measure for which he had condemned the Governor he displaced. Meanwhile taxpayers are still out all the money we had to pay for that special election.

I have yet to hear any of California’s current candidates for Governor offer workable concrete ways to correct our state's budget deficit problems. They seem oblivious to the fact that until our state legislators find common ground to present a timely realistic balanced budget each year any governor will be unable to act to resolve our state's financial condition or at least move in that direction.

Despite this state governmental challenge I do look forward to this Primary election because there is one issue about which I'm especially enthusiastic. If this issue passes, we may actually allow all California voters to select a slate of candidates not as limited as now. We'll be able to cross political party lines with our vote in Primary Elections. Legally voting in a California Primary Election will no longer require us to register ourselves with a specific political party thus forcing voters to select candidates from only that parties roster. The later General Election allows us to vote across political party lines for any candidate on the ballot but currently Primary Election voting is much more restrictive. Passing this measure will change that Primary Election voting situation. For those of us who rarely or never vote any one political party ticket in a general election, we'd also like more options when we vote in a Primary election.

If I conclude our government is persistently dangerously lurching too far toward any radical or extreme state I am likely to give serious consideration to a candidate from some other political party than the one in power to try to bring balance to the system. Too many of our electorate from both of the major political parties have fallen far short of acting in the best interest of those of us they've been elected to represent. After this upcoming Primary Election we’ll have to decide what incumbents to re-elect and the new candidates we choose to represent our best interests. I look forward to the June Primary Election results determining who will be candidates as California’s Governor and how they plan to approach our state’s financial problems.

Resolution of the Gulf of Mexico worst-ever-in-our-nation oil disaster remains unknown at this writing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lena Horne Remembered

Lena Horne died May 9, 2010 at age 92. I've always greatly admired her as a jazz singer, movie actress and performer. One of her most appealing qualities to me was her fierce independence. I never saw her perform in person but would have welcomed such an opportunity. She was outspoken becoming very active in the sixties civil rights movement.

The very first theater movie I can remember seeing when I was eight or nine years old, alone at an afternoon matinee without adult accompaniment, was Cabin In The Sky in which Lena Horne appeared. I thought she was beautiful, sensual, with a unique singing style and vocal quality that resonated with me. I didn't know anybody whose looks, gestures, could communicate so much sensuous feeling with such rhythmic graceful body movement. She continued to do so on those rare occasions in succeeding years when I would see her in other feature films as well. A later movie "Stormy Weather" with a title song of the same name became her signature song.

I recall reading some years ago of the friendship she had with the actress Ava Gardner; how they both were auditioning at the MGM movie studio for the lead in "Showboat." Studio heads reportedly thought the viewing public wouldn't accept this 'negro' or 'colored person' (as her race was referred to then.) Consequently Ava was given the roll, then frustratingly said she was constantly admonished by producers that somehow she was supposed to "sing like Lena." I knew nothing of that movie casting dynamic then, or of racial casting inequities bandied about in the entertainment world. Here's Lena singing in 1967 "You'd Better Love Me While You May."

A CBS tribute to newsman Ed Bradley following his death several years ago included his favorite interview which was with Lena Horne when she was in her mid-sixties.

In later years I relished viewing Lena Horne: A Lady and Her Music a recording of her 1980's one-woman hit Broadway Show. She was in her seventies but, as ever, had class, style, conveying confidence and pride, sensuality while demonstrating a physical agility in such a way that could make very woman envious.

Newsman Ed Bradley's interview with her, a segment of which was replayed in the CBS Television tribute to him upon his death elicited just the right tone I would have expected in her response to him. This YouTube Bradley/Horne interview is about 2 minutes in length 5.44 minutes into the recording.

PBS News Hour showcased interviews with Ms Horne when she was 80. Included is Margaret Warner's with jazz singer Nancy Wilson in 1997 mostly about Horne's civil rights and racial significance.

Lena Horne was a 1984 recipient of Kennedy Center Honors and their website features her biography:

Visit "Here In The Hills" blog Monday May 10th which features a lovely tribute along with a link to a fascinating piece written a few years ago by another musical talent.

Here's Lena Horne singing "Moon River":

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day & Saying

Four months have passed since ending my blog as the year 2009 concluded. Hardly a day since then has gone by that my mind hasn't been prompted by a multitude of sources with thoughts of topics tempting me to write. I enjoyed the time away, especially the first two months of 2010, then was doubly glad to have the succeeding months away when unexpectedly a succession of possible health issues crimped my style. Subsequently figuring my own Income tax again this year kept me busy as did continuing my part time work. I have now formed a much better idea of how much time I want to expend here and to what degree I want to impose expectations for myself. So it is that I resume blogging having been most recently stimulated by thoughts of my mother on this special day.

My mother enjoyed language, words, and the double-play of meanings. The author, Dorothy Parker, prominent in my mother's time was quite adept with word humor as a later quote will attest.

Best wishes to mothers the world over.

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms

Lying in bed one recent night thoughts of the world's financial precariousness caused me to wonder why so many corporate, financial and government leaders fail to accept and implement problem solving solutions provided them in ways to benefit their country's population multitudes. Somehow I evolved into thinking about how we receive information for ourselves or that we provide others and yet do not apply what is in their or our own best self-interest. What came to mind was typical of what I've often experienced since my mothers death years ago. One of her sayings will pop into my mind as did this one:

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink."

My curiosity led me to this information from Interestingly that Old English Homilie was recorded as early as 1175, the oldest English proverb that is still in regular use today.

"The proverb 'lead a horse to water' has been in continuous use since the 12th century. John Heywood listed it in the influential glossary A Dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of all the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue:

'A man maie well bring a horse to the water, But he can not make him drinke without he will.'

It also appeared in literature over the centuries in a variety of forms. For example, in the play Narcissus, which was published in 1602, of unknown authorship, subtitled as A Twelfe Night merriment, played by youths of the parish at the College of Saint John the Baptist in Oxford:

Your parents have done what they coode,
They can but bringe horse to the water brinke,
But horse may choose whether that horse will drinke.

It wasn't until the 20th century that 'lead a horse to water...' got a substantial rewrite, when Dorothy Parker reworked it from its proverbial form into the epigram 'you can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think'."

I don't mean to offend the sensibilities of any mothers reading this but Parker was quite a wit.