Pure Southern Gospel Joy: The Radiant Lauren Talley

If I had to put a label on my religion, I’d say Buddhist comes closest to describing it. And yet I’m totally swept away by Southern Gospel music.

It’s the joy.

The joy is so pure that every time I hear Gospel music — as in the YouTube videos below — I feel like I’m at one of my family reunions, because the people in those videos look like my family. As with my family, I suspect we have different politics, but who cares!

This young woman — Lauren Talley — has an extraordinary voice, a voice as powerful as Aretha’s, and Aretha also came out of the Gospel tradition. Lauren and her two parents are the Talley Trio.

In the first of the three videos below —  recorded when she was only 17 years old! —  listen to her powerful voice. It’s like a freight train drivin’ you to Heaven. The second is more of the same.

I threw in the third video — which is really audio only — to show you that her voice is bigger than the Gospel or country genres. She “crosses over” here to sing a song made popular by Celine Dion, and I like her rendition better than Dion’s. (Don’t be confused by Dion’s photo … the voice is that of Lauren Talley).

You’ll be hearing more from this young lady.

“Oh c’mon y’all … dance!”

(Note: Since embedding has been disabled in these first two videos, you’ll need to click on the image to hear the songs in a new YouTube window)

Click to Play

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The Thirteenthers: The GOP’s Latest Adventure in Irrelevance

Jerry Adler in Newsweek is reporting on a plank in the Iowa GOP platform — adopted last month at the state convention in Des Moines — which is aimed at stripping President Obama of his citizenship for accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. This is only the weirdest of 387 planks, which include everything from a definition of manure to support for the gold standard.

Plank 7.19 calls for “the reintroduction and ratification of the original 13th Amendment, not the 13th amendment in today’s Constitution.” Here, according to Adler, is the text of the original 13th amendment (aka TONA, “Titles of Nobility Amendment”):

“If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.”

This amendment passed both houses of Congress in 1812 and was ratified by 12 states when the war intervened. Ratification by 13 states would have been required for passage at that time, but soon more states were added to the Union and so it fell further behind. This, at least, is the view of mainstream historians.

And so it was until the 1980s, when a conspiracy-minded researcher named David Dodge came across an 1825 copy of the Constitution including this provision. Further research led Dodge to conclude that TONA had been ratified by Virginia no later than 1819 and was an accepted, if largely unnoted, part of the Constitution from then until its mysterious disappearance around the time of the Civil War.

According to Adler, the entire impetus for dragging this into the Iowa GOP platform this year is “to embarrass Obama.”

But, as those of us who are not sleepwalking can plainly see, the GOP — as usual — embarrassed itself.

The cause of the Thirteenthers sounds like something the Tea Party Patriots could support.

Read Adler’s full article — which includes an explanation for why restoration of the original 13th would abolish all lawyers and bankers in the U.S. –  here.

Yubanet: Blue Lead Withdraws Appeal

Yubanet today reports that Blue Lead Mine has withdrawn its formal appeal to the Board of Supervisors to overturn the Planning Commission’s denial of vested right to mine.

As you may recall, the Planning Commission decided to deny Blue Lead’s application for vested right to mine after hearing significant testimony from the general public in opposition to that application.

Yubanet quotes Blue Lead’s July 27th letter to the Board:

After meetings with County Counsel and the Planning Director, Blue Lead Gold Mining, LLC wishes to notify the Nevada County Board of Supervisors that it will not pursue the pending appeal, and will instead continue working cooperatively with County Planning Staff to accomplish Blue Lead’s goals for its property. As such, please accept this letter as Blue Lead’s notice to the Board of Supervisors that it is officially withdrawing its appeal, and will instead continue pursuing the permitting process with the County.

Blue Lead will now need to resume its application for regular permits with the Planning Department. Its application — started last fall — was incomplete at the time Blue Lead changed its strategy to seek vested right to mine. Presumably it will now need to complete its application as a first step.

A related footnote: Today I heard an advertisement on KVMR for Downey Brand, the Roseville law firm employing Braiden Chadwick, the attorney who represented Blue Lead in its application for vested right to mine. The ad pitched Downey Brand as serving the local business community.

Possibly Downey Brand is hoping to represent more vested right claims in our county?

PG&E Small-Scale Solar Utility in Nevada County?

Here Chris Johns, President of PG&E, talks about the utility’s new 2-megawatt Vaca-Dixon solar array and how it could fit into a strategy of using smaller arrays, closer to transmission and customers.

The EPA has already designated the Idaho-Maryland Mine site as suitable for utility-scale solar. With Emgold’s continuing prospects looking bleaker, the city of Grass Valley should start exploring viable alternatives such as this kind of solar facility.

Great Article About Grass Valley in Today’s SacBee

Today’s Sacramento Bee featured an excellent article about the growing charms of Grass Valley.

Your Guide: You want nice place, nice people? Try Grass Valley

By Rick Kushman
Published: Sunday, Jul. 25, 2010 – 12:00 am

GRASS VALLEY – Everyone is so nice here. Not goober-sweet, insulin-shock nice. Just friendly and open and, you know, nice.

After two days of hitting this amiability everywhere – in the restaurants, the bookstores, the shops, the wine tasting rooms, the saloon at the Holbrooke Hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, even the Safeway at the bottom of the old town – I had to ask about it.

After breakfast at Tofanelli’s, a popular bistro with a killer patio (and 100-plus omelet choices), two of my servers were outside on a break. So I asked, nicely of course: “What is it with this town?”

“Everybody knows each other almost anyplace you go,” said Melenie Teehee. “So we just treat everyone like a neighbor.”

Read full article here.


A Kick Ass Movie, Followed by Our Comfort Restaurant

We had a great date today: A matinee at Sutton Cinemas, where we watched Angelina Jolie kick ass in Salt. A lot of fun so long as you suspend your disbelief. As one of my American literature professors used to say, “fiction depends on the willing suspension of disbelief.”

There was a lot of disbelief  to suspend in Salt, a movie originally offered to Tom Cruise, who turned it down out of concern that it was too much like Mission Impossible. I’d probably be complaining about the lame retro-Soviet plot if it had been Tom Cruise, but it was great fun watching Angelina Jolie kick serious butt.

Afterward we shared a plate of Penne Chicken Dijon and a glass of chilled green tea with mint (two straws) at Cirino’s at Main Street, our favorite restaurant, while listening to Billie Holiday sing “Good Morning Heartache,” and to some vintage Sinatra and Steve Tyrell on their Sirius channel.

An altogether happy day … an adrenaline storm followed by some mellow dining and music.

By the Time I Grabbed the Camera, They’d Stopped Nursing

The fawns bounded down toward the house where the doe was grazing and began nursing immediately, but by the time I was able to grab the camera they’d stopped.

Many Republican Leaders Still Believe in the Tax Cut Fairy

During the 1980 campaign for the Republican nomination, George H.W. Bush called Reagan’s supply-side theories “voodoo economics.” These supply-side theories included the wishful notion that tax cuts are so potently stimulative that they are self-financing. Although the resulting gargantuan deficits of the Reagan and the George W. Bush years have amply demonstrated the calamitous falsity of that notion, the notion itself lives on in the brains of present-day Republicans. All of which goes to show you that — although Cheney famously said that Reagan proved that “deficits don’t matter” — what Reagan actually proved is that facts don’t matter. Facts don’t matter at all.

Carly Fiorina recently showed her belief in the Tax Cut Fairy:

“Let me propose something that may seem crazy to you: you don’t need to pay for tax cuts. They pay for themselves, if they are targeted, because they create jobs.” ((Political Animal, by Steve Benen, Washington Monthly, July 19, 2010. ))

Here Arizona Senator Jon Kyl distinguishes between “spending” (such as extending jobless benefits for the unemployed) and “tax cuts” (such as keeping the Bush tax cuts in place for the wealthy):

You do need to offset the cost of increased spending. And that’s what republicans object to. But you should never have to offset cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.”   ((“Deficit Fraud Jon Kyl: ‘You should never have to offset tax cuts.'”))

Contrary to the analysis of the CBO and most budget experts, Mitch McConnell recently repeated the “potent stimulus meme” to Talking Points Memo:

… there’s no evidence whatsoever that the Bush tax cuts actually diminished revenue. They increased revenue, because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy. So I think what Senator Kyl was expressing was the view of virtually every Republican on that subject.”   ((“Tax Cuts and Mitch McConnell’s ‘Puzzling Evidence’“))

OK, so ideologues are unmoved by facts.

GOP Ethics

But what explains Republican opposition to stimulus measures for small businesses, such as Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley’s Rebuilding Local Business Act?

On the face of it, this bill would seem to be entirely in keeping with the GOP’s professed principles. Could it be that Dean Baker was right when he said that Republicans are trying to make the economy worse in time for the midterm election in November?

Here Rachel Maddow discusses these issues with Senator Jeff Merkley:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Climate change: Check the data yourself

A collaborative online effort allows both skeptics and believers to study and compare the facts.

ESSAY By Debra Peters and William DeBuys
(From High Country News, http://hcn.org, July 13, 2010. Reprinted with permission)

According to opinion polls, a growing number of Americans think that climate change is hogwash.

They’ve been hearing that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change got the date wrong for the demise of Himalayan glaciers and that researchers at East Anglia University in Great Britain wrote snarky e-mails. It also snowed a lot in Washington, D.C., last winter, which led several right-wing broadcasters and weather forecasters to insist that the planet is not getting warmer. Now that summer is here, somebody will probably report soon that Arctic villagers are seeing more polar bears, not fewer. So what more do you need to know?

Actually, a lot. Skepticism is vital to science, but not when it aspires to discredit overwhelming consensus. The most important feature of the 4,000 pages underlying the Intergovernmental Panel’s report is the 3,999 pages that were error-free.

What is important about Himalayan glaciers is not their predicted end-date but the direction in which they are changing, and the data show that they are melting. As for blizzards in Washington, virtually every climate model forecasts an increase in extreme and anomalous weather. And if more polar bears are lurking around the villages, might that not be because they can’t swim the open sea between land and the shrinking pack ice?

But we shouldn’t be talking about needles when it’s the haystack that needs our attention. The haystack of evidence supporting global climate change has accumulated from millions of observations accumulated over scores of years, or even (in the case of tree-rings and fossil gas in ice cores) centuries or millennia. Although the haystack also contains a lot of analysis and plenty of model building, most of its bulk consists of these long-term data.

In 2004, a group of colleagues led by one of us — Debra Peters — began a project to make long-term environmental observations intelligible across multiple sites and agencies. That turned out to be much harder than expected. Data on air temperature or precipitation chemistry that was collected at a research site in New Mexico by one university or public agency are not necessarily comparable to similar data collected in Key West by a completely different research organization. There were different collection protocols and shifting squads of researchers. It took a long time to translate multiple data sets from 50 sites around the United States into a common language.

The result can be seen in EcoTrends: Using Long-Term Trends to Understand Responses to Global Change, http://www.ecotrends.info. This website, and a soon-to-be published book with the same name, is the perfect place to check the vital signs of our planet.

You can verify, for instance, that sea level has been rising at all of our coastal sites, but not always at the same rate. You can look at graphs that show air temperature to be rising at most sites in the Intermountain West, but declining at a few. You can see that in the Northeast the concentration of nitrates and sulfates in precipitation — the drivers of “acid rain”– has declined in recent decades as a result of successful public policy.

The data are not in their raw form, which is often hard for anyone but the investigator to make sense of, nor are they dominated by conclusions. Much of the data is in tables and graphs so a reader can be the one to derive meaning from all those observations.

It wasn’t necessarily apparent to us when we started out, but there is a larger cause being served by the effort to make these data widely available. Ours is a complex society in a complex world. It is no understatement to say that adapting to environmental change is one of the greatest challenges facing us. Because our capacity to understand these changes depends upon having a long view of what’s been going on with the planet and its ecological systems, making sense of long-term data is no longer just optional; it is imperative. We can’t have too many people who know how to do that.

Debra Peters

William DeBuys

The writers are contributors to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (hcn.org). Debra Peters is a research scientist at the USDA Jornada Experimental Range and principal investigator of the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research Project in Las Cruces, New Mexico; William DeBuys is a writer and conservationist based in Santa Fe.

Nevada City Farmer’s Market Bustling Despite Heat

I expected the turnout to be low at the Nevada City Farmer’s Market this morning because of the excessive heat, but I was wrong. It was bustling as usual.

Some good folks from a local Baptist Church set up a booth for the sole purpose — or perhaps the “soul purpose” — of handing out cups of cold water to passersby, and they had lots of takers.

We brought along our portable cooler on wheels, a trick we hit on recently after the weather turned hot. We purchased the cooler for temporary use the day our refrigerator crapped out back in 2007, and it has been sitting in the garage every since. With the cooler, we are able to get home with all our market produce still crisp and fresh.

Chris Crockett, known to us from a number of Off Broadstreet productions, was in fine mettle this morning in the Market Plaza, singing everything from Rocket Man to Puff the Magic Dragon (by request of a toddler). You can catch him currently in Off Broadstreet’s Summer of Love. By the way, we hear that Sue LeGate does a spectacular send-up of Janis Joplin in that production.

Chris Crockett, Nevada City Farmer's Market, July 17, 2010

Here’s Chris singing the title song from Off Broadstreet‘s “Recession,The Musical.”

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