In Tribute to the Great Leonard Cohen

INDIO, CA - APRIL 17: Musician Leonard Cohen performs during day one of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2009 held at the Empire Polo Club on April 17, 2009 in Indio, California. (Photo by Paul Butterfield/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Leonard Cohen

Last Thursday evening, the human race lost an important member, Leonard Cohen, at age 82. He had a long and tremendously successful career, celebrated and appreciated by every one of his peers. He started out as a young poet, a novelist, then a song writer and a deeply reluctant (jump to the 3:32 mark) musical performer. It was this last talent that ironically became his most successful endeavor, giving the world so much beauty from an honest heart.

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2016 Dem Convention: Not Brought to You by the Letter “Q”

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It’s a curious turn-about in an extremely bizzaro-world presidential election season.

Democrats being scolded by Democrats for being less inclusive than the Republicans.

In his convention speech, Donald Trump proclaimed,

 As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.

There were wild cheers from the floor of Republican hard cores, as there should have been. No one can condone such violence against anyone.

But this story from Buzzfeed’s national LGBT correspondent shows some Democrats are greatly miffed that the DNC couldn’t be as inclusive. They excluded the “Q” from their party’s LGBT platform. David Braun, a DNC platform committee member complained,

It is very unfortunate that queer people have to fight to be identified properly by a party that is supposedly paying lip service to our community.

Qs under the bus. The larger question is why is neither standing up for the rest of  those in the LGBT alphabet soup. Why should the other Q and the IAAP2Ss get thrown under there as well?

Could it be that who can really keep up with it all anymore?

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This is What Police Do

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Dallas Police Chief David Brown reported in a press statement this morning that “…we cornered one suspect and we tried to negotiate for several hours.”

This simple phrase struck me deeply in light of all the terrible things we are hearing about our nation’s police officers lately. Terrible things, and some of them might be true. We should always wait until all the facts are known before condemning our public servants. That’s what a civilized society does. Those who break the law should be punished, even if they are tasked with enforcing the law. But these tragic incidences should be judged in contrast to what Chief David Brown said his officers did.

While more of our nation’s police officers were killed and wounded in Dallas last night than on any day since 9/11, Dallas police officers negotiated for hours with the lone gunman. …Negotiated with him for hours. …As a large number of their fellow officers lay dead and severely wounded in the streets. …As other officers risked their lives, working the scene to move citizens safely from danger. …Even as this man could surely have still murdered other officers and civilians. They didn’t shoot. They negotiated with him for hours. The same happened in Orlando.

This is what police in every city of our nation are trained and commissioned to do.

It’s police standard operating procedure to shoot only as a last resort. Even when faced with murderous suspects. The wrong actions of a few policemen don’t erase the truth that our city’s cops are heroes who put themselves on the line for us every day, even when often abused by those very citizens. How many of us have shown anger at getting a speeding ticket?

Let’s show our appreciation for these men and women.

  1. Thank every cop you see for their selfless service.
  2. Buy their lunch when you see them ordering at the counter on their break.
  3. Ask them to thank their families for their own significant sacrifice.
  4. Correct others when they speak negatively about the work our officers do.

Our officers are what stand between peace and chaos in every one of our own local communities. Let’s all do what we can do to make their jobs easier and safer.

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The Super Fab Four – The Kinks

PM3062314Those who know me know I tend to take the road less traveled. In that spirit, I want to finally declare my allegiance to a provocative and controversial thesis. When it comes to early 60s, pop-rock, British bands with four mop tops lads sporting cool unnies, its not the Beatles who rule, but The Kinks. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to consider seven core points.

First. They rocked harder and earlier.

Two. They didn’t think they were all that.

Three. Two brothers started the band.

Four. They stayed together longer, making influential music longer.

Five: They didn’t do silly movies.

Six: They didn’t have John.

Seven. Frontman Ray Davies chased down two muggers in NOLA, earning him a gsw to the thigh.

Hate me, but that’s my take.

BONUS: Here is a wonderful performance by Ray at the 2010 Glastonbury Fest singing a humble salute and tender remembrance to all those who gave them such a rich history and amazing experience as a band.  Beautiful, soulful, emotional performance.

 

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How Heisenberg’s Mom Saved His Bacon…and Ours

heisenbergAnyone who knows Heisenberg knows he’d gotten himself into some deep dung on account of the work he did. What nearly everyone doesn’t know is how his mom saved his life in the midst of a grand high-stakes drama. I’m not talking about that Heisenberg; but the other one.

Ask most people who Heisenberg is and you will be told the story of best television series ever created: Breaking Bad. As the story of Walter White grows increasingly dark and dicey, he adopted the crisp and curious pseudonym: Heisenberg. Hardcore Breaking Bad fans learned White didn’t just pull the name out of thin air. As a scientist, he took the name one of the most consequential scientists of the 20th Century who craftily operated in the midst of great evil. This is the Heisenberg (and his mom) of our story here.

The Breaking Bad Heisenberg is an Albuquerquean chemist. The real Heisenberg – Werner Heisenberg – was a German physicist, who among many accomplishments, is noted for developing the uncertainty principle, a foundational truth of quantum physics. It holds that at the elementary level, nature likes to play tricks on us, leading us to believe we can measure atomic particles with certainty, but in actuality we cannot because they are mischievous little tricksters. They are inherently uncertain, thus the principle. It was this discovery that brought Einstein to disapprovingly remark, “God does not play dice with the universe.” Werner was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1932 at the age of 30 for the creation of quantum mechanics. He published more than 600 academic articles by the time he died of cancer at age 74.

He was German by birth – a luke-warm Nationalist – but given his academic work he was thick as thieves with the leading Jewish physicists – Bohr, Einstein, Oppenheimer, Max Born, Wolfgang Pauli among many – and his lectures were filled by Jewish students. This earned him the title and suspicion of being a “White Jew”, a Jew by mentality rather than birth. Heisenberg was deeply tarred as such in an infamous 1937 editorial in a major SS newspaper entitled ‘White Jews’ in Science describing him as “this puppet of the Einsteinian ‘spirit’ in the new Germany” and as such “…the puppets of Jewry in German intellectual life…must disappear just as the Jews themselves.” Serious stuff.

But he was politically sophisticated. While he had great love and admiration for his Jewish professional friends and owed the older ones – particularly Neils Bohr – a great debt for his education under them, he also aligned himself as best he could the German Nation without actually having to participate in the Nazi machine. As a German Nobel Laureate, he was pressured to sign a statement of allegiance to the Fuhrer but refused, protesting that even though he could “personally vote ‘yes’’ to such an allegiance, he refused because, in his words, “political declarations by scientists seem to me improper because this was never a normal practice” before the rise of Hitler. Shrewd.

Now, to his mother.

The public call for his death in a concentration camp as a “White Jew” was of course a great concern to his family. His mother Annie knew the power and influence of the motherly heart, so she paid a visit to Heinrich Himmler’s mom for tea with whom she was long acquainted. Annie’s and Himmler’s fathers were friendly as members of the same Bavarian hiking club so she exploited that bridge, such as it was. With the power of one mother’s heart speaking to another, Annie saved the life of her son when Himmler wrote to Heisenberg nearly a year to the day of the “mothers’ summit” explaining,

…I have had your case examined with particular care and scrutiny, since you were recommended to me by my family. I am happy to be able to inform you today that I do not approve of the offensive [editorial that condemned you] and that I have put a stop to any further attack on you…

– With friendly greetings and Heil Hilter!

Yours H. Himmler.”

This favor was influential in his being drafted as a leader of the Third Reich’s effort to build an atomic bomb, as he was the German Robert Oppenheimer. He put himself wholeheartedly into the project, but with a curious spin; the well-being of the rest of world forefront in his mind.

Thomas Powers explains in his masterfully written and deeply researched book, Heisenberg’s War: The Secret History of the German Bomb, that Heisenberg communicated interest in and zeal for the project, but practiced a tactic of deliberate stalling. Germany had a notable head start on the United States in the race for the atomic bomb, but Heisenburg and his team craftily created numerous highly technical “problems” to hobble the pace of the project. Their explanations could hardly be contested – much less understood – by their military whip-crackers. The result was, as Powers explains, that despite the apparent industry around the project “…no serious effort to build a German bomb ever began” because “Heisenberg did not simply withhold himself [or] stand aside… He killed it.” And the Reich had failed to realized it had never really started. And the history of the Western world and its citizen’s was all for the better.

All because one mother thought to appeal to the motherly heart of another over tea one handsome summer morning.

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My Hawaii Trip

Been way too long since I have posted anything here. Been busy writing for other sites.

Few weeks ago, I got to go on a work/speaking trip to Oahu. Don’t hate me! I did get some free time, but my hosts did work me hard. But here are some representative pics from the trip.

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the car loaned to me by a good friend for “gettin’ around”.

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A hidden beach where I swam, a secret gem. Its the beach where the famous kiss scene in “From Here to Eternity” was filmed.

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wonderful rock formations down at that secret beach

TV taping with some local pastors and Os Guinness who was on the island for an apologetics conf I was fortunate to be able to speak at. Os, as a good Brit, was not into the Island vibe.

TV taping with some local pastors and Os Guinness who was on the island for an apologetics conf I was fortunate to be able to speak at. Os, as a good Brit, was not into the Island vibe.

where I had my birthday dinner while there. The food tasted nothing as advertised.

where I had my birthday dinner while there. The food tasted nothing as advertised.

Pastor Bird and Lucy Mahelona. Honored to preach at their church one of the Sunday mornings there. Bird was one of the islands celebrated big wave surfers.

Pastor Bird and Lucy Mahelona. Honored to preach at their church one of the Sunday mornings there. Bird was one of the island’s celebrated big wave surfers and is now an amazing pastor and community leader.

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if they ever ask you if you want pineapple salsa with your chips, the definitive answer is "Heck YA!!" Like nothing you've ever had.

When asked if you want pineapple salsa with your chips, the definitive answer is “Duh!” Like nothing you’ve ever had.

a very authentic - and amazing - Hawaiian lunch with Pastor Waxer Tipton.

Ever wonder where the gluten from “gluten free” goes to? They ship it to Honolulu’s China Town and fry it up!

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very authentic and amazingly delish lunch with Pastor Waxer Tipton

Last day there, got to head up to Waimea Bay and Pipe and see some of the biggest waves there in decades. You could nearly actually feel the thunder of them.

Last day there, got to head up to Waimea Bay and Pipeline to see some of the biggest waves there in decades. You could nearly actually feel the thunder of them. All beaches closed down, even to surfers. No one paddled out. Bummer I couldn’t really get good pictures of them to do justice.

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This waterman evaded the lifeguards though and made it to the break.

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Waikiki and Diamond Head in the distance.

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Natural Talent + 99% Perspiration

There is talent, then there is crazy talent. This post is about crazy talent and where it comes from.

Like most people, I am fascinated by individuals with talent beyond the top folks in their field. Some people have particular talents, not because they work at it but simply because they are different in some way. Think “Rainman” or this gentleman. They just are this way.

But there are others who obviously have crazy natural talent. But they’ve gotten to where they are, three steps or so above their most talented peers, because they also work very hard, practicing 12-14 plus hours a day. They work so hard because they absolutely love what they do, obsessed with it. Here are four young people who have astounded me over the years. Three are athletes, one is an artist. But they are all artists really.

Skater Rodney Mullen

First is my long favorite. Since I grew up as a hard-core skater from youngest age, I have known of this guy for decades. In fact, he’s Florida boy who grew up not far from where I did. He lived out in the country, away from most people. Being very introverted, he avoided team sports, and talked his parents into getting him a skateboard. (What he describes about the personal psychological profile of many skaters in the clip below was so true of me and my little brother Scott who became a stunningly great skater.)

His father resisted, giving him the skate version of the “You’ll shoot your eye out!” talk. Finally they relented and Rodney seized the flat spaces around his house to become the greatest freestyle skater ever, and by far. He is not the “Michael Jordan” of freestyle skating. He was that when he was about 11. His name is Rodney Mullen.

There are so many truly remarkable nuances to what he does here that only skaters would note them and drop their jaws. He does things with such ease that his top peers cannot imagine doing; adding a variation on top of a variation to a particular trick that not many skaters can do. And wicked fast. I still shake my head. Anyway, here is Mutt, the only skater ever to give a TED Talk because he’s smart, the only skater to have ever done well in school.

Free Climber Alex Honnold

Alex is insane, but totally sane and crazy focused. He climbs things few other climbers do but with an insane twist. His unique talent – built by stunning hard work and discipline – needs no commentary. In addition, as you will see, he is the only person in world who “lives in a van down by the river” while being more successful than anyone else in his field. He lives for what he loves.

Guitarist Tina S

Tina, a “nice girl from next door” type is like 14 years old at the time of this performance. It is doubtful that anyone has ever played the guitar with this kind of dexterity, skill, command and discipline at this age. Its not even that she plays amazing “for a girl her age.” The artists who she covers have to feel a bit inadequate as they see her. And she looks slightly bored, as if she could watch tv or read a book as a she plays. Just plain crazy. She might even be a fire hazard.

Also, this cover of Eruption would make Eddie envious.

Street Trials Rider Danny Macaskill

In addition to this clip being a nice piece of film, it is incredible what this guy can do. He continues to advance and is one of the best big mountain bikers in the world. “Big” meaning he must carry his bike up to the top of mountains (not just really big hills) because there are no trails or ski lifts where he goes. Here he is doing urban biking. This guy could make his bike do stand-up comedy or bag groceries at the local Safeway.

Make note of the railroad track move as well as his moves across the top of that roofless railroad car.

Each of these young folks: Natural skill mixed with 99% perspiration.

Be inspired.

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