Posted by: twotrees | August 21, 2017

Another bad sign for Africa and us…

It was reported in the LA Times today that Wayne Lotter, a brave anti-poaching advocate, was murdered this week in Tanzania.  His many years of work saved the lives of countless large animals throughout the many years he fought for them.

African elephants, the largest land based animals on earth, have seen their numbers plummet from over 100,000 forty years ago to an estimated 15,000 today.  The sad reality is that an estimated 100 are killed each day.

The world has lots of problems, but this shouldn’t be one of them – like rhino horn (which is mistakenly used as an aphrodisiac), elephant ivory, used as art once carved in Asia ( mainly China) is a grotesque example of how wasteful humans can be.

Posted by: twotrees | June 30, 2017

Not good enough…

A recent survey concludes that one in five students at LA Community College District schools are homeless and 2/3 of the students don’t have enough to eat.   By any measure,  this is a crisis and an embarrassment for the region.

These are mainly young people who are struggling to improve themselves while facing substantial hardship.

If there are 230,000 students in the system, then 46,000 are technically homeless. Here’s one idea: take the salary of an LA Clipper who is likely to receive $175 million for five years and instead spread that  amount of money over the 46,000 students that are homeless.

Seems like a slam dunk –A much better investment in our society…

Posted by: twotrees | June 29, 2017

Eyes wide open

A piece in the LA Times today indicated that 111 adults chose euthanasia for themselves in California during the first six months of the law becoming legal in the state.   During that time, 191 prescriptions for the life ending drugs were written.

While this topic is controversial, now 18% of Americans live in a state  which allows this final outcome as an option. Those who have never lived through terrible pain may not understand how a person could be driven to ending their own life.    As in other states such as  Colorado and Oregon, more prescriptions are written then actually used. This allows a terminally ill patient the option which gives them comfort and peace of mind.

You might remember that Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and early advocate for euthanasia, was jailed  for eight years in 1999 for his assisting terminally ill patients to their final outcome.

Read the story here:



Posted by: twotrees | April 24, 2017

A Wicked Thing To Do

The death penalty is in some ways like religion, you either believe in it or you don’t. The US is the only western country that still practices this, joining 58 other countries in doing so. Almost all are in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Today’s New York Times interviewed five people who have witnessed an execution and like our country as a whole, opinions vary greatly. The last interview is to me the most compelling:

Posted by: twotrees | March 19, 2017

January 13,1976

Chuck Berry performs in 1976

Chuck Berry, one of the rock ‘n’ roll greats of all time, has died. Chuck changed the world in the 1950s with his superb guitarmanship, song writing and active stage presence and kept playing for decades thereafter.

I was lucky to see Chuck play at the Roxy on Sunset January 13, 1977.

It took a little Internet research to find that date but there’s a very specific reason why I looked it up.

Chuck was a great performer but was notoriously late to come onstage. This performance was no exception as he was running almost an hour late. We were sitting at a table towards the back when I saw a man, who looked like the owner of the club walk up to someone at a table in front of us and hand him a couple of $100 bills. That man soon thereafter straight up walked up to the stage and gave us 10 minutes of performance spontaneously.

It turns out that it was the comedienne Freddie Prinze who unfortunately was to leave this earth less than three weeks later. All I remember is that he was pretty damn funny.

This particular show was nine days before Chuck would head back to NYC to play on Saturday Night Live.

Soon after Freddie’s warmup, Chuck came on stage tantalized us with his fingerwork & duck walk and a good night was had by all…

There’s too much to say about Chuck and all the things he did both as a musician and as an ambassador of culture for the United States but I do recommend Richard Cromelin’s piece from the LA Times this morning:

Posted by: twotrees | March 11, 2017

A new kind of calculus

I love science because it is interesting, ever-expanding and based on facts.    This morning there is a piece in the LA Times which describes the analysis of plaque, also known as calculus, on the teeth of Neanderthals. Who knew you could evaluate calcified rock to determine the DNA of plants and bacteria  that these ancient creatures consumed?   Scientist did and through their analysis they describe  how hominids from Belgium ate significantly different foods than those from what is now Spain.

There is also evidence that they consumed tree bark, which contain the ingredients in aspirin, which may have helped pain management close to 50,000 years ago. Cool beans…


Posted by: twotrees | February 28, 2017

Beer today, gone tomorrow

Interesting  story in the New York Times today about the Strohs family, famous for owning what was once the third largest brewery in America. Through a series of missteps and bad investments, the heirs manage to, as so many often do, lose nearly all of the fortune. One shining spot – France’s  Strohs wrote a book about the experience and donates a portion of the proceeds to a good cause in her native Detroit:

Posted by: twotrees | February 26, 2017

Admired from afar

bill-paxtonBill Paxton, the emmy-winning actor, died yesterday a 61 from complications from surgery. Bill was on the first cover of Ventana Monthly back in June, 2006. He lived, at least part-time, in Ojai. Every time we’d go up the hill to Osteria Monte Grapa at its former location on Signal Street with the large outdoor patio, Bill would be there surrounded by a gaggle of kids, which I assume were his. You could tell what kind of man he was simply by observing their dinner party, always lots of laughter and good will.

Life is full of complications, some that can be overcome, some that cannot. I feel sorry for his family and friends…  Read Ivor Davis’ interview with him in Ventana here:


Posted by: twotrees | February 19, 2017

The problem with torture

imageApparently torture is becoming more accepted by Americans, so says Darius Rejali in an LA Times Op-Ed piece today. In 2001, 56% of Americans were opposed to torture. In 2015, 58% considered it justifiable.
And the growth of acceptance is largely based on one’s political beliefs: eight out of 10 Republicans support it while four out of 10 Democrats do.

Professor Rejali and two of his colleagues analyzed 43 surveys released between 2001 and 2015 to arrive at their conclusions.

And when president Trump speaks openly of bringing back torture, it only helps to fuel the acceptance of such tactics, wrong as that might be.

This is not the American way. Our exceptionalism includes rising above what others may do.  Torture is barbarous and beneath us as a civilized society.   It is not how we are going to make America great in the future…

Posted by: twotrees | February 1, 2017

Get on John Lennon’s bus…

lennon-bus lennon-1 lennon-kids













The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus rolled into Ventura today and parked at the Sheridan Way Elementary School off Ventura Avenue. Working with students who participate in the Harmony Project, a handful of students from area schools came together to write, perform and learn about how to make a track and video of the experience.

The bus is a non-profit mobile recording studio dedicated to the providing students of all ages with free hands-on opportunities.

Today was special because Lawrence Juber, former guitarist for Paul McCartney’s band Wings, presided over songwriting, recording and mixing. Because public school music programs are all but extinct, this is a chance for young artists to live the dream for a day.  Now in its 20th year of service, the bus tours the country, driving over 200,000 miles annually around America. Cool beans!

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