Towse: views from the hill

July 23, 2012

A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It

Filed under: causes,commentary,writers — Towse @ 3:16 pm

John Scalzi posted today about the people/community/society/world that helped make him the self-made success that he is.

“There is a flip side to this as well. I have helped others too. I am financially successful now; I pay a lot of taxes. I don’t mind because I know how taxes helped me to get to the fortunate position I am in today. I hope the taxes I pay will help some military wife give birth, a mother who needs help feed her child, help another child learn and fall in love with the written word, and help still another get through college. Likewise, I am in a socially advantageous position now, where I can help promote the work of others here and in other places. I do it because I can, because I think I should and because I remember those who helped me. It honors them and it sets the example for those I help to help those who follow them.

I know what I have been given and what I have taken. I know to whom I owe. I know that what work I have done and what I have achieved doesn’t exist in a vacuum or outside of a larger context, or without the work and investment of other people, both within the immediate scope of my life and outside of it. I like the idea that I pay it forward, both with the people I can help personally and with those who will never know that some small portion of their own hopefully good fortune is made possible by me.”

September 18, 2010

A note on libraries from my pal, Karin Slaughter

Filed under: commentary,libraries — Towse @ 3:47 pm

A note on libraries from my pal, Karin Slaughter.

The commentary ends with,

Kids who read become students who do well in school. Students who do well in school go to college. College students graduate to good jobs and pay higher taxes. Libraries don’t service only Democrats or Republicans. They don’t judge by class, race or religion. They service everyone in their community, no matter their circumstances. Rich or poor; no one is denied. Libraries are not simply part of our guarantee to the pursuit of happiness. They are a civil right, the foundation upon which time and time again the American dream has been built. If we lose our libraries, we risk losing our communities, our families and ourselves.

Karin speaks the truth about libraries. They are =not= a frill, people.

June 6, 2009

Naked, Drunk, and Writing – Adair Lara

Filed under: books,commentary,people,writing — Towse @ 5:32 pm

Naked, Drunk, and Writing: writing essays and memoirs for love and money by Adair Lara. [an Amazon click]

Adair Lara was talking about her new book this past Wednesday at Book Passage, Corte Madera. (She also teaches classes there on occasion.)

I mentioned her appearance on Facebook (although I didn’t drive across the bridge to see her) and added

Adair Lara wrote a column for the Chronicle … until she didn’t. I liked the column. Miss her.

A sample of her column work.

Fun thing about Amazon is that you can (often) poke into a book and see how it begins. On the first page of Lara’s new book, I read

If I even think about writing, I find myself in the pantry eating cereal straight from the box. Writing is a scary, vulnerable, and in a way conceited act, one that says the words you set down are worth a stranger’s time to read, and that this is a worthy use of your own time.

I may take Lara’s book to Camp to read, even if I’m not intending to write a memoir any time soon. …

April 30, 2009

Job announcement for the times

Filed under: commentary,news — Towse @ 4:16 pm

Ad running in the righthand sidebar of SFGATE.COM.

United States Courts-Ninth Circuit
Bankruptcy Judgeships

Recruiting for 4 vacancies on the Bankruptcy Court.

(We need more judges because we’re having more bankruptcies?)

April 10, 2009

Latest Morford

Filed under: commentary,news — Towse @ 7:22 pm

Fear the rainbow! / A storm is gathering. Are you afraid, Christian? Are you afraid *enough*?

The best part? It’s only been just over three months. These adorable hyenas can’t possibly sustain such a silly froth; in terms of extreme vitriol, there is nowhere left to go. Really, how do you top calling Obama a Satan Hitler Mussolini Lenin Iran-loving dictator hell-bent on taking away our guns and destroying capitalism as he forces everyone to drive a pink Prius to the Commie Hut to pick up our gay Chinese babies?

March 2, 2009

Obama vs. The Fear

Filed under: commentary,government,news,politics — Towse @ 5:41 pm

Obama vs. The Fear / Grin and be enthralled, or tremble and stuff dollar bills into your mattress?


This seems to be the bottom line, at least for now. We have, for the first time in just about forever, an enormously ambitious, confident, risk-taking president so full of grand and even borderline radical ideas they barely fit into a single generation, much less a single speech, and we have him at a time when we need, well, someone exactly like that.

That he just so happens to be tremendously intelligent, progressive, serene as an oak tree and utterly magnetizing? I guess you just call that a bonus.

What he (“he” being Mark Morford) said.

February 28, 2009

To the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: Buffett’s letter

Filed under: commentary,economy — Towse @ 11:02 pm

That’s the good news. But there’s another less pleasant reality: During 2008 I did some dumb things in investments. I made at least one major mistake of commission and several lesser ones that also hurt. I will tell you more about these later. Furthermore, I made some errors of omission, sucking my thumb when new facts came in that should have caused me to re-examine my thinking and promptly take action.

Additionally, the market value of the bonds and stocks that we continue to hold suffered a significant decline along with the general market. This does not bother Charlie and me. Indeed, we enjoy such price declines if we have funds available to increase our positions. Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.

Read the entire Buffett letter to BRK stockholders here [PDF]

December 23, 2008

Melissa Etheridge: The Choice Is Ours Now

Filed under: causes,commentary,culture,election2008,life — Towse @ 2:55 am

Melissa Etheridge: The Choice Is Ours Now

Melissa Etheridge on the Rev. Rick Warren.


On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn’t sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection.


She tells everyone to chill.


Maybe if they get to know us, they wont fear us.

I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.

I will be attending the inauguration with my family, and with hope in my heart. I know we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families.

Happy Holidays my friends and a Happy New Year to you.

Peace on earth, goodwill toward all men and women… and everyone in-between.

November 11, 2008

The court will overturn Prop. 8

Filed under: commentary,culture,election2008,life,politics — Towse @ 7:29 pm

The court will overturn Prop. 8 by LaDoris H. Cordell. (op-ed in today’s San Francisco Chronicle)

I was reading this commentary in the Chron this morning — a commentary I agree with totally, btw.

LaDoris Cordell was a Superior Court judge in the south bay back when I lived in the south bay, so I was surprised when she mentioned she was lesbian.

That’s odd, I thought. I knew she was a woman judge, not all that common, and a black woman judge at that, even more uncommon, but I hadn’t realized she was a lesbian black woman judge. Huh. What do you know? Had I just not been paying attention? Was it just not important? Had I forgotten? (I’ve forgotten a lot of things.)

But then, I went to college, then to law school, opened a law practice in a black community, became a law school administrator, and then went on to a successful career on the bench. Along the way, I got married and had two wonderful daughters. I was perfect. And then one fine day, as these black voters would have it, I chose to simply throw it all away – to become an Untouchable? Ridiculous. I did not choose to be gay anymore than I chose to be black.

Ah. Penny drops. Cordell was married with a family when I knew of her, so I knew of the black woman judge aspect of her life but at that time, the lesbian side wasn’t front and center. I didn’t know and, frankly, had I known, wouldn’t have cared.

Good commentary.

I also liked Keith Olbermann’s commentary on Proposition 8 but for Pete’s sake, he can sure over-emote, can’t he? Easier to read his commentary than to watch it.

November 7, 2008

Maureen Dowd – Bring on the Puppy and the Rookie

Filed under: commentary,election2008 — Towse @ 2:03 am

Bring on the Puppy and the Rookie

Worth the signing on for.


The Obama girls, with their oodles of charm, will soon be moving in with their goldendoodle or some other fetching puppy, and they seem like the kind of kids who could have fun there, prowling around with their history-loving father.

I had been amazed during the campaign — not by the covert racism about Barack Obama and not by Hillary Clinton’s subtext when she insisted to superdelegates: “He can’t win.”

But I had been astonished by the overt willingness of some people who didn’t mind being quoted by name in The New York Times saying vile stuff, that a President Obama would turn the Rose Garden into a watermelon patch, that he’d have barbeques on the front lawn, that he’d make the White House the Black House.

Actually, the elegant and disciplined Obama, who is not descended from the central African-American experience but who has nonetheless embraced it and been embraced by it, has the chance to make the White House pristine again.

I grew up here, and I love all the monuments filled with the capital’s ghosts. I hate the thought that terrorists might target them again.

But the monuments have lost their luminescence in recent years.


Well said, Maureen Dowd. Well said.
Read the whole thing.

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