Friday, April 29, 2011

Ayn's Fanboys Rule!

Calhoun's Can(n)ons for April 29, 2001

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.  Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt had no idea. The Cult of Ayn Rand is now in full flower in Washington in a gaggle of powerful players. And they’re writing and trying to pass laws that don’t just affect your Senior Prom, they’re now writing laws that will affect your life.

A wag once noted, “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: “The Lord of the Rings” and “Atlas Shrugged.” One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

Alas, Representative Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, was one of those 14-year olds, but he didn’t get the joke. Instead, he’s an Ayn Rand Fanboy who requires his staffers to read her massive screed, “Atlas Shrugged,” which is a risky thing to do since it will plunk him into the Bin of the Shameless Hypocrites when they learn that Ryan’s father died when Ryan was 16 and thereafter Ryan received Survivor’s Benefits from that anathema to all Randians: Social Security. Which, ironically, puts Ryan in the class of people Ayn Rand most despised: parasites and moochers. (“Bootstraps, young Ryan. That’s all you need: Bootstraps!”) And may explain why Ryan now wants to “transform” and “privatize” Social Security as we know it right out of existence. (“A bootstrapped safety net for me, zip for you. Ayn wouldn’t approve, you know.”)

Ryan is being touted as the courageous savior du jour with his budget proposal that basically gives more tax cuts for the rich and the shaft to everybody else. Which is quintessential Rand. Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Fed was also a Fanboy of Rand, even wrote her a fan letter, although he couldn’t have read her novels very carefully. On his watch, after the Randian Masters of the Universe on Wall Street blew up the financial world and nearly brought this country down, he expressed surprise and confessed that it never occurred to him that any Master of the Universe would be so irresponsible and reckless as to destroy his own company.

Obviously, Greenspan never bothered to read the ending of “The Fountainhead.” Some fan.

And now the Cult of Rand has churned out Part I of “Atlas Shrugged,” a loving-hands-at-home movie filled with earnest reverence and bad writing, while offering full employment for second-string character actors. It’s now playing at your local Cineplex, though if you want to see it, I’d recommend you hurry since Part II has been canceled and Part I won’t be there long.

A Romantic Rand Renaissance in the era of Facebook (We’re all one big interconnected Tahrir Square, now.) seems strangely anachronistic, like watching Republican Congressmen suddenly morphing into Civil War reenactors on the floor of Congress and yelling about the South Rising Again! But I suppose it’s to be expected.

In hard times, when the world has suddenly turns upside down and flies totally out of control, a good number of people apparently find comfort in turning back into teenagers. And there is nothing more powerfully attractive than RandWorld’s ego-stroking, romantic world view, which is basically the normal 14 year-old’s sociopathically delusional belief that his individual needs alone stand athwart the world -- “ I AM JOHN GALT!”-- while Mom is hollering down the basement stairs that he needs to stop picking at his pimples and get his homework done.

Most of us grow out of that phase. But a few don’t. Safely wrapped up in RandWorld, the Paul Ryans of this world grow up believing that society is made up of Prime Movers (them) and everybody else (moochers). They forget that Dagney Taggart didn’t build her railroad with those soft white manicured hands: Moochers did, one spike at a time; Commie Bums and Socialist Moochers and Union Parasites who knew what the real world is like and demanded whiney Dagney pay a living wage and pony up her fair share of taxes to help build and pay for a safety net because building railroads is hard, dangerous work and those builders needed a safety net for when times got tough.

That’s who built Dagney’s railroad. Without them and their steel-bending hands, Dagney Taggart would just be another rich second-rate dreamer sitting in a bar buying drinks for anybody who would listen to her while she drew her useless plans to build a railroad and make it run, all scribbled out on the back of damp cocktail napkins.

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Prez is an American?

OMG! President Obama was born in Hawaii?  Like, he's an American?  OMG! OMG!

Well, not to worry.  The Donald is on the case, taking credit for being the moving force to get the President to release the "long form" birth certificate to "prove" he was born in Hawaii, not Kenya.  And, right on target, he immediately brought up the idea that this long form birth certificate might not be legitimate, like it could be forged, faked, after all the CIA can create any kind of document you want, documents that look real as can be. Which gave all the looney birthers more talking points to keep the whole silly game afloat for another news cycle.

And La Donald also made sure to also shift the talking point quickly  to Obama's other documents, like Obama's college papers, thereby tossing in the dog-whistle question of whether Obama deserved to get into Harvard or was he just another quota black guy taking unfair advantage, and a crummy student, to boot, because everyone knows blacks couldn't possibly be smart enough to get to Harvard on their own merit.  And La Donald should know, he's already made it clear that he's on great terms with "the blacks."

La Donald, according to recent polls, is leading the pack as a presidential contender among Republicans, the party that gave you Sarah Palin as Veep.  Seriously.  Sarah Palin as Veep, one heartbeat away from the presidency. Those poll numbers on La Donald speaks volumes about what the Republican Party has become, with only questions left:  Was this Republican racist stupidity caused by an infectious agent that spread like wildfire, killing off sane Republicans like some awful Black Plague?  Or was it some kind of degenerative genetic problem inherited from, say inbreeding too closely with John Birchers?

And if it's an infectious agent, spread from infected Republican politicos, Fake News talking heads and K-street lobbyists via corporate media and the internet, how badly has it infected normal Americans?  20%?  30% ? Past a certain tipping point, stupid societies simply can't stand.  They suffer what might be called "colony collapse."

So, there's the question: How far has venal stupidity spread throughout this great land of ours?  From the numbers I'm looking at, it doesn't look good.  Well, thank God we have La Donald on the case.  He'll save the Republic!

How Do You Spell Chutzpah?  

Tribune headline story yesterday:  "Parents file wrongful death suit."  Twenty-one year-old Cal Poly student wandered out on Highway 101 at 1 a.m. near the Santa Rosa St. intersection and gets hit by a car and killed.  It's later found that the kid's system was loaded with marijuana, alcohol and cocaine.  So his parents sue the city and the highway and (more sensibly) the Doctor who "prescribed" the marijuana.

Kid gets stoned, gets killed, parents sue the road.

Here's who should sue somebody or other, including the parents of the kid who wandered out in the highway: The poor man who hit the stoned kid appearing suddenly in the middle of the night in the middle of the highway where no kid should be at any time, night or day.  If anybody was permanently injured, it's that guy.  For the rest of his life.  If somebody's looking for a victim, that's the guy.  

Speaking of Chutzpah

"Hey, Pre-Paid Los Osos Sewer Assessment Folks?  How's THIS taste?" asks Ron Crawford over at  Insult to grave injury to poor Lososians.  A disaster that didn't have to happen, for which they will pay repeatedly and excessively, while the architects of this disaster either walked away scott free, or are once again in charge and are, uh, charging everything twice, while the watchdogs snooze at their post.  Amazing, all those little dots, while those who should be making this right, blandly turn away. Talk to the hand.  It's Chinatown.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The First Mantilija Poppy

A few years ago, I planted a mantilija poppy out in the front of the house.  If you're familiar with this spectacular plant, you'll know that if the mantilija likes where you've planted it, pretty soon you'll have LOTS of little mantilijas arriving via root runners.  Then you're in for a show when the dessert plate-sized papery white blossoms all burst out in bloom.  Beautiful.  And the bees love 'em.  Here's the first flower to show up, so far.  As you can see, there's other buds waiting in the wings.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Your Easter Poem

This subtle, profoundly haunting poem by Carl Dennis is an apt one for a season of resurrrection and rebirth.

New Year's Eve

However busy you are, you should still reserve
One evening a year for thinking about your double,
The man who took the curve on Conway Road
Too fast, given the icy patches that night,
But no faster than you did; the man whose car
When it slid through the shoulder
Happened to strike a girl walking alone
From a neighbor's party to her parents' farm,
While your car struck nothing more notable
Than a snowbank.

One evening for recalling how soon you transformed
Your accident into a comic tale
Told first at a body shop, for comparing
That hour of pleasure with his hour of pain
At the house of the stricken parents, and his many
Long afternoons at the Lutheran graveyard.

If nobody blames you for assuming your luck
Has something to do with your character,
Don't blame him for assuming that his misfortune
Is somehow deserved, that justice would be undone
If his extra grief was balanced later
By a portion of extra joy.

Lucky you, whose personal faith has widened
To include an angel assigned to protect you
From the usual outcome of heedless moments.
But this evening consider the angel he lives with,
The stern enforcer who drives the sinners
Out of the Garden with a flaming sword
And locks the gate.

Friday, April 22, 2011

RWQCB Hearing on Los Osos Sewer Project

The following is information on the upcoming Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing on the Sewer Project. The meeting will be at their Aerovista offices in SLOTOWN.

Central Coast Water Board staff has recently posted its May 5, 2011 Water Board Agenda. The agenda can be found here...

The Proposed Los Osos Water Recycling Facility Waste Discharge Requirements Order No. R3-2011-0001 can be found at Agenda No. 13. The link is active and will direct you to the following documents or select the following link.

1) Staff Report (includes public comments and staff responses)
2) The proposed Water Discharge Requirements as well as the Monitoring and Reporting Program,
3) Central Coast Standard Provisions
4) Modifications and Updates from Waste Discharge Order Nos. Order R3-2003-0007 to Order No. R3-2011-0001
5) San Luis Obispo County Counsel letter responding to The Citizens for a Sustainable Community's request for additional environmental review.
6) Public Comments

Thank you,

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Get Paid For Everything Twice!

Ron Crawford's been looking everywhere -- high, low, up, down -- poring through piles of documents, looking, looking, looking and at last he's found him:  The Author of the SOC for the disasterous Tri-W sewer plant in the middle of town.  Yup.  And, boy, has that guy got some 'splaining to do.  Somebody call Sarah Wan! Somebody call the cops!  I want my money back!  At

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Mud Oven Bear Gets Colorized!

When last we left Oso Happy, the mud oven bear ,which was built by Jordan and Meleah of Ncredible Edibles Sustainable Solutions, plus a whole lot of happy volunteers who gathered at Los Osos Valley Nursery to do the deed, he was, well, mud colored and sitting on a greyish stucco base.  Well, now he's coated and texurized and colorized and ready for spring and a whole year of baking pizzas and bread and all manner of goodies in his tummy oven. 

Friday, April 08, 2011

Where's the Pony?

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for April 8, 2011

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.
Thomas Pynchon

The laughter started in the middle of Los Osos Valley Road, halfway home. I had been driving along while listening to another radio news broadcast so full of crap it took my breath away. Then it hit me: They’re not even trying anymore. The bullsh*t has now gotten so high it’s simply no longer worthwhile to try to spin it, to cover it up or ignore it or pretend it isn’t there. There’s simply too much of it. Piles of it. Mountain ranges of it, filling all the spaces of our daily lives. A person can’t breathe any more without inhaling bullsh*t.

In the bad old days, there was a sense that arrant nonsense should be hedged in with at least some kind of plausibility, that blatant, palpable lies needed to be finessed, that hypocrisy and theft and greed and wrongdoing and bad behavior needed to be justified or hidden because there once was some kind of sense of accountability or shame left in the country. A sense that people were too smart to fall for the feeble con, the misdirect, the political carny tricks that only worked on low-information rubes.

No longer.

We aren’t bombing Lybia, France is. President Obama is a Muslim who was born in Kenya. Tax breaks for the rich and for multinational corporations create jobs. Trickledown economics raises all boats. The budget deficit can be fixed by cuts alone. Taxes are job killers. What’s good for Wall Street is good for America. (Which is why I paid more taxes last year than G.E. did?) Medical reform hurts businesses. A fairer, reformed tax code is socialism. Illegal immigrants are destroying America. Global warming is a myth. Tighter (and enforced) Wall Street rules and regs will kill the economy. Outsourced jobs didn’t kill the American Dream. Skewed tax breaks for the wealthy didn’t kill the American Dream. A de-regulated Wall Street didn’t kill the American Dream. Collective bargaining by Wisconsin’s teachers did!


Here in California, which is sinking under a mountain of debt, the legislature has been held hostage by a minority of Republicans who refused to even let the people vote on extending a modest handful of about-to-expire taxes and instead proposed a cuts-only budget which will result in continued tax breaks for big corporations while it slashes K-12 funding and cuts services for the most vulnerable of our citizens. In short, Grover Norquistian Bullsh*t.

In real life, when your family finds itself in debt, you tighten your belts, cut expenses to the bone and every able bodied family member, including the kids, goes out and gets part-time jobs to raise income. But not in Republican Norquististan. In that country, Daddy first goes out and buys a few Rolls Royces for himself and his buddies, thereby busting the budget. Then he absolutely forbids Mom and the kids from getting jobs to raise more money, and instead takes money out of the house-repair account to buy more cars for himself, and if the leaking roof can’t be repaired and falls down as a consequence, well, too bad. Then he eliminates family medical coverage to ensure his rich friends have extra money for luxuries, and if the kids get sick and die as a result, also too bad. As for taking care of Granny? Sorry, Daddy needs that money to avoid paying taxes on a new yacht, so out into the street she goes while the rest of the family is put on bread and water rations for the duration.

In the good old days, anyone proposing that line of Bullsh*t would be laughed out of office. But not now. Now, they get elected by the very people who are going to get kicked to the curb – folks who understood too late that the funny piece of paper pinned to their backs was a bull’s eye. And now they’re afraid because they no longer even know how to ask the right questions.

Which is why the corporate pols no longer even bother to lie to them anymore. And why the bullsh*t is so high it’s blotting out the sun. And why I started laughing out loud while driving down Los Osos Valley Road, half-way home.

Donald Trump for President! Too perfect. America? You’re fired!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Tithing on Sunday

      Well, if you head to downtown SLO on Sunday for shopping, lunch and a movie, it'll now cost you;  The city will raise parking rates, and there'll be no more "free" Sundays.  And in the Tribune story, apparently the City Council didn't discuss the possibility of offering "validated" parking for the structures?  As in, merchants, restaraunts, theatres would offer validated parking for X amount of time, with X amount of purchase. Like, buy a theatre ticket and get your parking ticket validated; buy lunch and get another validation.  Would that encourage folks to hang around downtown longer?
     Personally, I'll be rethinking any and all Sunday trips.  I would often to head to a movie, do some shopping, grab a bite to eat.  You know, consolidate a trip to save gas, spend a pleasant few hours downtown gooning around?  And do it on "free parking" Sundays.  But now?  Any shopping will be specifically targeted -- as in run in to one specific store and keep it all under the 1 hour free parking limit, then get out.  Movies?  Hit the Palm weeknights only. So any merchants who might get my attention (and money) while I'm wandering around on a nice Sunday afternoon, will just have to do without my shekels.
      Meantime, wonder if some smart cookie will think about putting in a multi-plex theatre at the new Target center?  Or even back to the Madonna Plaza.  Used to be one there once.  Maybe there will be again, as the shopping center shifts to the new development?  Dalidio, anyone?
     And when the Los Osos sewer gets built, maybe Jim Dee will once again consider opening a theatre out here.  How cool would that be? Of course, that might not work out because there'll be so little discretionary income left in the community after paying the sewer bill that until the economic cleansing is completed, very few people will be going to any movies anywhere.  Let alone paying for a movie and for parking. 

Glen Beck Bites The Dust?  

Just heard on the news that our own batshit crazy version of Father Coughlin has had his run and like all things in this world, is going away -- at least his show in its present form will be. Well, guess his usefulness as a political and financial tool for his handlers ran out. Time for the Next Dog & Pony Show to gin up ratings by whipping up the seriously Low-Information Voters, the folks who so beautifully represent America's "fearsome and feverish credulity," as Thorsten Veblen put it.
     Pity the writers on "The Daily Show."  They're losing one of their biggest Muses.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Hope Merkel Builds A Bear Mud Oven That Makes Pizzas, Part III

But first, OsoHappy, the giant mud oven bear at Los Osos Valley Nursery (201 Los Osos Valley Rd.) and built by mud-oven builders Jordan and Meleah of Ncredible edibles Sustainable Solutions ( had to have a fire in its belly.

And while that was happening, why not build a spiral raised herb bed in one corner.

And prepare pizzas -- goat cheese, fresh basil, veggies, pepperoni and even an applie pie!

When the fire was down to coals, Jordan raked out the coals, gave a quick swipe with a wet towel to clean the firebrick oven floor.

Then into the oven with the pizzas, then out of the oven and it's time to eat. 

OsoHappy At Last 

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Your Sunday Poem

Here’s why you should go out today and buy a least one book of poetry. You need to keep Billy Elliot (and other poets) supplied with pencils. From his book, “Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes.”

Advice to Writers

Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor
of your study before composing a syllable.

Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way.
Spottlessness is the niece of inspiration.

The more you clean, the more brilliant
your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take
to the open fields to scour the undersides
of rocks or swab in the dark forest
upper branches, nests full of eggs.

When you find your way back home
and stow the sponges and brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn
the immaculate altar of your desk,
a clean surface in the middle of a clean world.

From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift
a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet,
and cover pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants
that followed you in from the woods.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A Letter to Sara Wan

Any bets that Ron Crawford, of, who has posted his letter entitled, "Would the Coastal Commission Still Have Approved the Tri-W Disaster in 2004, Had the Los Osos CSD Not Lied To Them?" will get an answer?  Hey, don't look at me.  I'm not taking that bet. I'm still scratching my head over "bait & switchy."