Random Comment on the State of the Nation

I was gone for more than six weeks and in that time did not read or watch any American news, even once. 

As Alejandro the Brazilian Spanish teacher from Los Angeles said to me in El Salvador, “there’s bullshit everywhere, it’s just different bullshit.”

But this place? This place is fucking insane, like rubber-room, straight jacket bonkers.

Ferguson pic of the day

@ryanreilly : ‘Cops telling people to keep moving
outside the restaurant where @aterkel and I are eating’

WaPo liveblogging

We have a race for NY Gov

   Stirling Newberry has a right-on post on the NY Governor race.

   As a NYer, I admit to having voted for Cuomo, mostly on the expectation he would follow in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately, this apple fell far from the tree and Andrew Cuomo has proven to be just another politician more concerned with catering to power and wealth than the welfare of the general citizenry.

When last we spoke, it seemed a quixotic quest to overthrow the sitting elected governor. But since then something happened, the New York State Gov.’s quest for an unplanned exit, backfired, and now he will have to defend his record. This is still not even fight, but the odds are evening, and this is not good for the governor, who wanted to have a clean slate, shown everybody that there was no getting away from him. From D-New York down to the smallest parties that they could vote for, their was no choice at all. It would be Cuomo, wherever you looked to vote. Because the Republican was a non-starter.

      Thank you, Stirling.

Read Stirling’s blog post

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas Is Indicted on Charge of Abuse of Power

New York Times, By Manny Fernandez, August 15

Austin, TX – A grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts on Friday, charging that he abused his power last year when he tried to pressure the district attorney here, a Democrat, to step down by threatening to cut off state financing to her office.

The indictment left Mr. Perry, a Republican, the first Texas governor in nearly 100 years to face criminal charges and presented a major roadblock to his presidential ambitions at the very time that he had been showing signs of making a comeback.
Continue reading Gov. Rick Perry of Texas Is Indicted on Charge of Abuse of Power

Weekend Jukebox : Uncertainty- “Take it or Leave it?” Songs

A big subject – post away! If you are uncertain what to post, give us some song that’s been running through your head this wacko week.

1. Billie  Holiday: Don’t Explain


2. The Clash  – Should I stay or Should I go?

Continue reading Weekend Jukebox : Uncertainty- “Take it or Leave it?” Songs

Friday Catblogging: “A cat may look at a king” (even in Ferguson)

Feline gazes, any kind, welcome here this week…


Continue reading Friday Catblogging: “A cat may look at a king” (even in Ferguson)

Reporters Arrested!!!

How many exclamation points should be added to the headline above? I sure hope three is enough to reflect the shock of the news that reporters from both The Huffington Post and The Washington Post were arrested last night in Ferguson, Missouri. Worse – they were just doing their job, sitting at a McDonald’s, writing copy, when a SWAT patrol entered and ordered everyone in the restaurant to leave immediately. The reporters were arrested because they refused to give the police their names. Worst of all – one of the reporters had his head slammed into a window, entirely gratuitously, and was given no apology by the police!!!!

Continue reading Reporters Arrested!!!

The Most Wanted Man In The World

Wired, By James Bamford, August 2014

The message arrives on my “clean machine,” a MacBook Air loaded only with a sophisticated encryption package. “Change in plans,” my contact says. “Be in the lobby of the Hotel ______ by 1 pm. Bring a book and wait for ES to find you.” ES is Edward Snowden, the most wanted man in the world. For almost nine months, I have been trying to set up an interview with him—traveling to Berlin, Rio de Janeiro twice, and New York multiple times to talk with the handful of his confidants who can arrange a meeting. Among other things, I want to answer a burning question: What drove Snowden to leak hundreds of thousands of top-secret documents, revelations that have laid bare the vast scope of the government’s domestic surveillance programs? In May I received an email from his lawyer, ACLU attorney Ben Wizner, confirming that Snowden would meet me in Moscow and let me hang out and chat with him for what turned out to be three solid days over several weeks. It is the most time that any journalist has been allowed to spend with him since he arrived in Russia in June 2013. But the finer details of the rendezvous remain shrouded in mystery. I landed in Moscow without knowing precisely where or when Snowden and I would actually meet. Now, at last, the details are set.

Continue reading The Most Wanted Man In The World

USAF Drone Pilot proposes robot dogfighter

 U.S. Air Force captain Michael Byrnes says “A tactically autonomous, machine-piloted aircraft … will bring new and unmatched lethality to air-to-air combat,” Byrnes writes in Air and Space Power Journal.

Byrnes focuses on famed fighter pilot John Boyd’s classic observe-orient-decide-act decision cycle — the “OODA loop” — which predicts that victory in combat belongs to the warrior who can assess and respond to conditions fastest.  It’s a battle of wits in which computers are superior, according to Byrnes. “Every step in OODA that we can do, they will do better.”

It’s a bold proposal — one the Air Force as a whole has showed little interest in pursuing. Only the Navy has openly discussed adding air-to-air missiles to jet-powered drones. Considering the bureaucratic resistance, Byrnes worries that the flying branch could eventually have no choice but to borrow dogfighting robot technology from the sea service.

He’s only a captain.  I expect that’s the end of his career!


Final Photos of the Summer

You can find the last batch of photos, about two dozen of old town Queretaro, here.

If you are interested in reading about Mexico you can go here. I’ll be writing up at least one more blog post on Mexico and probably another one on the whole archeology field school experience. Those you can find at www.seanpaulkelley.com.

Here are the links to all of this summer’s travel photos by adventure:


Belize Field School

Silk Road

Peoples of the Silk Road


Album Jukebox

The seventies were when I discovered albums. Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Led Zepplin IV. Fantasia. I have no idea now of what the album was called but another teenage favorite was Woody Guthrie. Youtube has this Best of – 34 of his songs. I also regularly played Holst: The Planets, Peter Frampton comes alive and The Beatles White Album. Steeleye Spans’ Parcel of Rogues and unfortunately I cannot remember the album, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy were also constantly being played in the car!

The album I have listened to the most over the years, and one I will only listen to off a record or a CD, not a compressed audio internet version is Pink Floyds’ Dark Side of the Moon. Maybe I am over the hill, but great albums seem to be yesteryears music novelty. The video hit is all today!

However, the album I still listen to regularly is Graceland. It seems a bit more timeless than other album favourites of yesteryear!

Post your most listened to albums! And are there any great albums released in the past 10 – 15 years?

Friday Cat Blogging: Letting Cats Tell The News

Aging population


Border Control



Diario de Camino

Queretaro was not a place I’d ever thought I’d visit and yet here I am—and that is a story I will get to in a bit. Yesterday, the 5th of August, was one of those days where everything came together—the magnificent drive from Orizaba (Mexico’s big brewing town) up into the Sierra Madre Oriental, the chain of mountains that runs roughly parallel to the Gulf Coast. I’d boarded the bus the afternoon before at 430 in Chetumal, on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico, at the southern end of the Yucutan.

I’d slept most of the night and woke up just outside Orizaba. At this point, my plan was still get to Mexico City and catch the first bus to Nuevo Laredo, walk across the bridge and catch the first Greyhound home. But for the long drive up Sierra Madre Oriental full of blue skies and lush green mountains I would have. The Gulf Coast is terribly hot and humid but once I began the climb it breaks. After a month of inland Belize heat I had no interest lingering. The mountains here are semi-tropical with deciduous trees dominating until half way up and then the conifers show up. The valleys are impossible—filled with switchback after switchback, large 18-wheelers resembling insects thousands of feet below. I’m pretty sure the towering snow clad behemoth I saw was Malinche, named after the Cortes’ famous interpreter and later wife. As I crest the mountains I’ve arrived on a broad upland plateau that’s almost semi-arid, deceptive-like, but not. To me it resembled the Motagua Valley in Guatemala. But then I saw fields of golden flowers, agaves, century plants and maize everywhere.

I speed past restaurants called “Benedicion” and “Esperanza” and “Dolores Milagro,” the Catholicism runs deep here. And then I speed past towns with names like Huixcolotla, Acatzingo and Tlaxcala and the Nauhua runs deep here too, especially with Tlaxcala, the red city, city of treachery, the great unconquered nemesis of the Aztecs and Cortes’ best allies. Had they not allied with Cortes there would have been no Conquest.

And then my mind wandered, lost in random thought. But the fields persisted: perfect rows of maize bordered by prickly pears or agave, sitting between crystal clear streams running down to the Rio Panuco and cypress lined dirt roads that wooden shacks made of tin roofs and some cinder block lead to. Shepherds punctuate a landscape of lumbering volcanoes obscured by clouds, ready to erupt at any moment.

The high plateau ended as it must. I begin climbing downslope to the Great Valley of Mexico, having taken Cortes’ route. I turned a switchback and then the entire valley came into view. Bernal Diaz’s words, one of Cortes’ soldiers, were never more apt, “And when we saw all those cities and villages built in the water, and the other great towns on dry land, and that straight and level causeway leading to Mexico, we were astounded. . . It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen or dreamed of before.”

What a world was lost by the Conquest.

More soon . . . in the meantime, photos can be found here.

The Next America

Pew Research says “America is in the midst of two (demographic transformations) right now. Our population is becoming majority non-white at the same time a record share is going gray. Each of these shifts would by itself be the defining demographic story of its era.”  See the graphs and read more here.  H/T Andrew Tobias.

The next “Cold Fusion”

The next “cold fusion” is here.  There are at least two claims out there of microwave rocket engines which use electricity and do not need any fuel.  I’m not talking about ion engines, which accelerate helium molecules or other fuel to super high speed and exhaust into space.  
These are closed microwave cavities that violate Newton’s third law “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  One is the British EmDrive, and the other is the similar American Cannae Drive. There is no agreement on the theory of how these could possibly work.     
The news reports claim NASA tested them and actually measured thrust, but that isn’t exactly true.  There is no mention of Cannae or EmDrive on the NASA website.  Instead, there is a conference paper  which notes that …
Thrust was observed on both test articles, even though one of the test articles was designed with the expectation that it would not produce thrust. Specifically, one test article contained internal physical modifications that were designed to produce thrust, while the other did not (with the latter being referred to as the “null” test article).
This Lifehacker article sorts it out pretty well.  Sounds like another cold fusion to me.  Note that cold fusion (now renamedclaims are still being made.   As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”