Category Archives: Uncategorized

Restaurant review: Piperade, San Francisco

Piperade is a comfortable spot at 1015 Battery at Green, between Telegraph Hill and the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Supposedly Basque, but the cuisine is not  really dominated by that influence. The food is very good, price is not bad for the City, and the service is good. Thankfully, the noise level is generally low. Access is easy, good parking nearby, and there a number of interesting spots within easy walking distance.  From the south, follow 280 to King to the Embarcadero, turn left on Broadway and right on Front, to park.  Then walk two blocks. The restaurant is on the location of the American cannon battery of 1846, (hence the name Battery Street) placed there to defend the village of Yerba Buena against the Spanish in the period after California was “conquered” by the U.S.  The battery was given the name Fort Montgomery, though it was probably not much of a fort.

I had the fried manchego, duck comfit, and for dessert the orange blossom beignets…excellent.  Others at the table had the Piperade (sauteed peppers, onions and Serrano ham with poached egg).  This is definitely a place I’d go again.

Afterwards, you can walk a block west on Green to see the place where television was invented, at 200 Green, also the the site of the infamous Gray Brothers rock quarrying operation, that brought down a substantial part of Telegraph Hill before the nefarious owner was shot and killed by a disgruntled worker, much to the delight of San Franciscans, who acquitted him of any crime.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: The King’s Grave by Phillipa Langley and Michael Jones

NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2013.

This is the story of the discovery and exhumation of the remains of Richard III in the floor of a medieval monastery in Leicester, England.  Certainly an interesting read, the book is flawed by the apparent intention of the author (P.L.)to make it about whether Richard was a good person or not. As a result, much of the book is consumed in attempting to read scraps of history or archeology, or indeed anatomy, in a way that would be exculpatory for Richard’s alleged misdeeds, including the killing the two boys in the Tower of London in the summer of 1483. .  Much history is provided, interspersed between episodes of the modern search and discovery.  Who knew there was a Richard III Society, the goal of which is seemingly to cast the Tudors (the family that followed Richard’s on the throne) and Shakespeare (author of Henry VI and Richard III as the bad guys, who invented nasty stories about Richard?  Well, there is, and Langley founded the Scottish Branch.

The high point of the book should have been the uncovering of Richard’s distorted bones, his “crookback’ (scoliosis) that, for all intents, proved the remains were his; instead of being thrilled, Langley writes how disappointed she was that Richard was actually “deformed.” Her thesis was that the idea of a deformity had been invented, Richard was portrayed as being deformed in order to make him seem more evil.  She then proceeds to put up a bit of a strawman of “hunchback”, saying that Richard’s deformity wasn’t actually that bad. Medically speaking, she was making the distinction between scoliosis (a lateral bending of the spine) and kyphoscoliosis (lateral and front-to-back bending).  The former is characterized mainly by a visible difference between the height of the two shoulders, while the latter is manifest by an apparent “hump” in the upper back.  This question is well-discussed here.

In studying the early descriptions of Richard’s disability, however, it is telling to notice the words which are not applied to him. To our knowledge, Richard is not described as “bunch-backed” in print until Shakespeare; the word “boss” (from the French bossu) does not seem to have been used either. Both refer to a swelling or hump. Shakespeare’s Richard is called “crookback” three times in Henry VI, Part 3, and is more specific himself about his appearance when he claims that nature made “an envious mountain on my back, / Where sits deformity to mock my body” (Act 3, scene ii), and later describes his shoulder as “thick” (5.vii). Rather than deliberately inventing the hunchbacked Richard, though, Shakespeare may have interpreted the word “crookback” as referring to this kind of spinal deformity. The OED’s first recorded use of “hunch-backed” is the second quarto of Richard III (1598), 4.iv, when Queen Elizabeth calls him “that foule hunch-backt toade” (“bunch-backt” in the first quarto; Q2’s variation is retained in later quartos). In one sense at least, it is plausible that Shakespeare (or perhaps one of his printers) is the inventor of the hunch-backed Richard, and that this term stems either from a typesetting error or from a misreading. If so, it is indicative of how influential Shakespeare’s version of Richard’s body has been.

So the high point of the search becomes, for the author, a disappointment, instead of a victory. Sort of deflates the whole book.

I recommend the book, though of course with a large grain of salt.  The historical discussions are interesting, but it is difficult to know whether the prominent bias of Langley might have introduced serious distortions. I look forward to a more balanced discussion by other researchers in in the future.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

If Our Founding Fathers Were All Christians, Why Did They Say This?

link

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”

- George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia (1789)

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”

- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr (1787)

and many more….

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Government Surveillance of MLK Used to Try to Destroy Him: Who’s Next?

surv

Does anyone believe that the Karl Roves, J. Edgar Hoovers, Dick Cheneys, Chris Christies of the world won’t use surveillance against political enemies? and potential enemies? and opposing political donors? and “anti war” groups? and “protesters” of all sorts? anti pollution groups? and racial groups? and his cronies’ enemies? and on and on, right on down to YOU?  that NSA employees won’t spy on celebrities, girl friends, boy friends, etc, right on down to YOU?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Best French Fries in San Francisco: Chow @ Church and Market

chowGreat fries at this bar/cafe/joint, which also has great ambiance and service.  The fries are thin, just crisp enough, and of course also the correct golden brown color.  Coffee is also good.  That’s all I had, so I can’t say more.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

TIME magazine gives up on independent journalism

time

NY Times:

Time Inc. will abandon the traditional separation between its newsroom and business sides, a move that has caused angst among its journalists. Now, the newsroom staffs at Time Inc.’s magazines will report to the business executives. Such a structure, once verboten at journalistic institutions, is seen as necessary to create revenue opportunities and stem the tide of declining subscription and advertising sales.

The Dish comments:

Now remember this is not some desperate trade magazine; this is Time Fucking Inc. Journalists at Time will report directly to those on the business side (or is that now an anachronism?) seeking advertizing revenues and sponsored content contracts. That’s what the editors now are. And listen to the howls of outrage swirling around every other journalistic institution, read the columns decrying the end of independent journalism, witness the mass exits of outraged editors, observe the talking heads fulminate and readers rebel!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Wrong-Score” Shaw: Stanford football coach loses mind, Rose Bowl game.

"wrong-way" Riegels

“wrong-way” Riegels

Everyone who graduates from Stanford is supposed to be smart, right? So what happened to head football coach David Shaw (a Stanford grad) on Wednesday at the Rose Bowl?

The last five minutes of that game looked more like he thought he was ahead by seven rather than behind. Did he misread the scoreboard? Not since “Wrong Way” Roy Riegels screwed up the 1929 Rose Bowl for California have football fans been left with such a head-scratcher as Stanford’s defeat at the hands of Michigan State.

A partial summary here:

Key offensive situations for Stanford in the second half repeatedly resulted in the Cardinal being stuffed at the line of scrimmage.

The first of these notable no-gains came late in the third quarter, when Stanford went for it on fourth and 3 from the Spartans’ 36 with the scored tied 17-17. With Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan working out of a shotgun, running back Tyler Gaffney took the handoff on a draw and lost three yards.

Based on the first 13 games of Stanford’s season, you could understand Shaw’s logic in wanting to ride an All-American running back who accounted for 1,618 yards. But based on the the second and third quarters Wednesday, during which Gaffney gained just 21 yards on 12 carries, giving him the ball seemed synonymous with giving Michigan State the ball.

Didn’t matter. This would become the motif of Stanford’s second half.

The Cardinal’s next drive went as follows: 2-yard run by Gaffney, negative-5-yard run by Gaffney, 2-yard run by Gaffney, punt.

After the Spartans took a 24-17 lead via a 25-yard touchdown pass from Connor Cook to Tony Lippett, the Cardinal’s next drive went like this: 5-yard run by Gaffney, 2-yard run by Gaffney, Kevin Hogan incomplete pass, punt.

On its next offensive series, Stanford finally showcased some creativity when Hogan flipped the ball to receiver Michael Rector on a reverse that netted 27 yards.

At this point, the drive stalled inside the MSU thirty yard line, fourth and four, with five minutes to play, behind by 7, and with his best running back hobbled with a sprained ankle, the running game paralyzed and his best receiver out of the game, Shaw elected to go for a field goal!!!. Thus, even if the field goal was successful, Stanford would have to stop MSU after the ensuing kickoff, and march the length of the field in whatever time remained on the clock, and score a touchdown… with his best running back hobbled with a sprained ankle, the running game paralyzed and his best receiver out of the game. In other words, Shaw had to score a touchdown. What he did by going for the field goal was refuse the opportunity to get one, and to set his already handicapped offensive team clear back at the other end of the field with very little time left, still with the need to score a touchdown.

dumb.

So what happened next? The field goal was, ultimately, successful, Stanford kicked off and forced MSU to punt. Stanford then essentially ran out out the clock, as if they were ahead, with four straight running plays, casually lining up as the time ticked away. The last run was from the jumbo formation on fourth and one, with nine MSU players bunched up to stop what they knew was coming, and they did stop fullback Ryan Hewitt for no gain.

dumb.

But Stanford fans who have watched Shaw over the last three years see this episode as nothing more than pure Shaw. Time management is poor. Decision making is slow and predictable. Personnel groups and formations tip off the plays. The offense goes into a shell after getting ahead, and hopes the other team can’t come from behind; if they do, it’s pretty much game over, because the time management is so poor. Shaw plays not to lose or be criticized. Not to win.

The running game is overrated. Yes, it works against weakling defenses, like Oregon. But this wasn’t Oregon. It was Michigan State. Even Cal did a pretty good job on the Stanford running attack, and MSU led the nation against the run.

this one didn't smell good, Coach.

this one didn’t smell good, Coach.

.dumb.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Best Sandwich in San Francisco

Could even be the best one in the world….
avedanos

at Avedano’s Butcher Shop and Market, in Bernal Heights, at 235 Cortland Avenue.

Smokey Moe, a panini: smoked chicken, swiss, mayo, jalapeno jelly, bacon, pepperoncini

415-285-MEAT

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple

Blood Simple (1984):

John getz

John getz

This is a comedic film noir about people who can’t do anything right and are mostly confused. It’s an early low-budget Coen Brothers flick, set in sweaty, insect-infested Texas, starring a young Frances McDormand (Joel Coen’s wife). Perpetual hateful loser Dan Hedaya plays her cockolded husband, and perpetual country boy John Getz plays the befuddled country boy boyfriend (look for his deviated nasal septum while he’s sleeping, as McDorman joins him in bed about a quarter of the way in to the film). Perpetual fat slob M. Emmet Walsh plays a fat sweaty private eye who plays both ends against the middle. McDorman gets in a good kick to hubby’s balls when he invades the love nest, that prompts hubby to put a contract out on the two, with the sweaty Walsh as the contractor. Oh and there are some dead fish, and shots in the dark. If you think you see a dead person’s chest move, you may be right. Not exactly my cup of tea, but not a bad flick.

The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film festival.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Texas oilsters frack themselves

fracking
Fracking takes your basic livable boring hometown and creates some real interesting water, air and moving earth. More or less permanently. Why would the flipping oil millionaires do that to themselves? oh, wait, it’s the poor part of town:

“Fort Worth has been fracked to capacity,” resident Don Young told DeSmog Blog. “There is no turning back. Some days the air is so bad you can’t see downtown.”

Chesapeake Energy began offering $300 and a pizza party for owners of mineral rights in predominantly poor and working class African American neighborhoods in 2003 and encountered little resistance, DeSmog Blog reported. Now Fort Worth has around 2,000 wells.

Residents have been sickened by vapors from drilling operations, found their neighborhoods suddenly ruined by noise and fumes, and had their water sucked up by drilling operations in the middle of severe drought. Five sites were found in 2011 to be emitting pollution above state limits, according to a study commissioned by the Fort Worth City Council, and most of the 388 sites studied released visible emissions.

Right next door to Fort Worth, the Dallas city council is considering letting fracking start up in town with a vote likely to come next week, capping a three-year fight over the future of fracking in the city. Until recently, Dallas had rejected attempts to frack in town, but that stance seems to be over. Current debate is over the distance required between wells and homes or wells and other wells: 1,500 feet or 1,000.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized