Monthly Archives: July 2012

S&P/CASE-SHILLER HOME PRICE INDICES: Average Home Prices Rise 2.2% in May Over April; Home Prices Now At 2003 Levels

By David M. Kinchen

 
Average home prices in the United States increased 2.2 percent in May over April, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Tuesday, July 31, 2012 by S&P Dow Jones.

 As of May 2012, average home prices across the U.S.  are back to the levels where they were in spring 2003 for the 20-City Composite and to summer 2003 levels for the 10-City Composite. Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks through May 2012, the decline for both Composites is approximately 33 percent. The 10-City Composite recently reached its low in the current housing cycle in March 2012 and the 20-City in February 2012; at that time both Composites were down approximately 35 percent from their summer 2006 peaks.

“With May’s data, we saw a continuing trend of rising home prices for the spring,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “On a monthly basis, all 20 cities and both Composites posted positive returns and 17 of those cities saw those rates of change increase compared to what was observed for April. Seventeen of the 20 cities and both Composites also saw improved annual rates of return. We have observed two consecutive months of increasing home prices and overall improvements in monthly and annual returns; however, we need to remember that spring and early summer are seasonally strong buying months so this trend must continue throughout the summer and into the fall.”

Blitzer added: “With May’s data, we found that home prices fell annually by 1 percent for the 10-City Composite and by 0.7% for the 20-City Composite versus May 2011. Both Composites and 17 of the 20 MSAs saw increases in annual returns in May compared to April. Boston, Charlotte and Detroit were the three cities that saw their annual returns worsen in May, with annual rates of -0.1%, +0.9% and +0.6%, respectively. Atlanta continues to be the only city posting a double-digit negative annual return with -14.5%. However, this is an improvement over the -17.0% annual decline recorded in April 2012. All 20 cities and both Composites posted positive monthly returns. No cities posted new lows in May 2012.”

“The 10- and 20-City Composites were each up 2.2 percent for the month and recorded respective annual rates of decline of 1 percent and 0.7 percent, compared to May 2011. While still negative, these annual changes are the best we’ve since in at least 18 months,” Blitzer said.

“Phoenix again posted the best annual return,” Blitzer noted. “Average home prices in that region were up 11.5 percent versus May 2011. It was one of the hardest hit cities in the collapse, and prices are still more than 50 percent below their June 2006 peak, but the past five months have been positive for that market. Miami and Tampa are two other Sunbelt cities that were hard-hit in the downturn, but are now showing positive annual rates of change. Boston, Charlotte and Detroit, on the other hand, saw their annual rates of return deteriorate compared to April, even though prices rose over the month of May. Las Vegas posted both a positive monthly change in May and saw an improvement in its annual return; that said, the market is still more than 60 percent below its August 2006 peak.”

“June data for existing home sales, new home sales, housing starts and mortgage default rates were a bit mixed, but all are better than their year-ago levels,” Blitzer said. “The housing market seems to be stabilizing, but we are definitely in a wait-and-see mode for the next few months.”

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices and Fiserv Data through May 2012

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Fatal Dive’ Recounts How the U.S.S. Grunion Disappeared in the Fog of World War II — And How It Was Found

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'Fatal Dive' Recounts How the U.S.S. Grunion Disappeared in the Fog of World War II -- And How It Was Found

What do you do when Robert Ballard — who headed the team that found the R.M.S.Titanic — turns down your attempt to find a World War II U.S. submarine? If you’re the sons of Commander Mannert L. “Jim” Abele of the U.S.S. Grunion, you go ahead, against all odds in some of the heaviest seas in the world and find the boat and solve the mystery of its disappearance off the Aleutian Islands of Alaska on July 31, 1942.

 

Balllard, a renowned oceanographer and explorer, was not alone: virtually all the experts agreed with him that the waters of the Bering Sea were too rough to use either sonar or with the aid of submersibles like those that were used in the search for the Titanic.

 

Timed to mark the 70th anniversary of the mystery of the Grunion, Peter F. Stevens’s “Fatal Dive: Solving the World War II Mystery of the U.S.S Grunion” (Regnery History, 270 pages, bibliography, biographical appendix, index, $24.95) is the gripping account of the true story of the submarine’s fate and the cover-up by the U.S. Navy of its disappearance. It’s a truly inspiring book recounting the efforts of Abele’s three sons to locate the Grunion and bring closure to the death of their dad, along with the other men who died. For 65 years all that the U.S. Navy would tell Catherine “Kay” Abele, who died in 1975, and her sons Brad, Bruce and John was that Jim Abele (pronounced EY-bool-ee) and his crewmen were “missing and presumed dead.”

 

The 2006 discovery of the Grunion can be attributed to a number of fortuitous circumstances: The fortune amassed by John Abele from his co-founding of Boston Scientific Corp. — which developed medical devices like stents and balloon catheters — and which financed the search; the discovery of a Japanese document in a Denver antique shop; the cooperation of the Japanese Navy; the determination of an exploring protegé of Bob Ballard, and the seamanship skills of Kale Garcia, the skipper of a 165-foot commercial fishing boat called the Aquila that carried the equipment for the search.

 

Peter F. Stevens

Peter F. Stevens

 

Stevens describes the story of the search for and the miraculous discovery of the U.S.S. Grunion — as well as the U.S. Navy’s coverup of the submarine’s disappearance. After the against-all-odds discovery of theGrunion one question remained: what sank the boat? (Submariners — pronounced “submareeners” — call their vessels “boats” while the surface Navy uses the term “ships”. One of the major producers of submarines is the Electric Boat Co. of Groton, CT, founded in 1899 and now part of General Dynamics. Electric Boat Co. built the Grunion, launched Dec.22, 1941).

 

In a telephone conversation from his home in Boston, Stevens told me there is no doubt that the Mark 14 torpedo system used in the Grunion was responsible for the loss of the Grunion. He said the system was the cause of the sinking of other submarines, and was replaced by the Mark 18 torpedo system — even while the Navy continued to deny that the MK 14 one was flawed. In “Fatal Dive,” Stevens names two submarine skippers who questioned the MK 14 system during World War II, to the consternation of their superiors. Whistle-blowers have never been welcomed in military bureaucracies! Before it was replaced by the MK 18, improvements were made in the MK 14 system, but it still was an iffy system. Stevens also told me there never was an official search for the Grunion.

 

In a page-turner of a book, Stevens finally lays to rest one of World War II’s greatest mysteries. Stevens includes brief biographies –accompanied by photographs — of Jim Abele and the Grunion’s crewmen and pays tribute to the efforts of their relatives who kept their memories alive. If you’re interested in military and nautical history — or if you’re looking for an inspiring book, I can’t recommend “Fatal Dive” too highly.

About the Author 

Peter F. Stevens, news and features editor of The Boston Irish Reporter, is a veteran journalist with a specialty in historical writing. His work is syndicated by The New York Times and has been published in dozens of magazines and newspapers. Stevens is also a two-time winner of the International Regional Magazine Association’s Gold Medal for Feature Writing and the award-winning author of “The Voyage of the Catalpa: A Perilous Journey” and “Six Irish Rebels’ Escape to Freedom”. He lives in Boston.

 

Publisher’s website: www.regneryhistory.com

PARALLEL UNIVERSE: ‘AHEDA STOP’: Angeleno Motorists Have to Learn to Read From Bottom Up — And Some Even Know How to Spell

  • By David M. Kinchen 
PARALLEL UNIVERSE: 'AHEDA STOP': Angeleno Motorists Have to Learn to Read From Bottom Up -- And Some Even Know How to Spell

In my more than 16 years living in Los Angeles — from 1976 to 1992 — I never paid much attention to the word order of the warning signs painted on the streets. You know, the signs that read BUS STOP or PED XING. I didn’t realize that L.A.’s street painting department got the word order wrong until I read a recent Steve Harvey column (link:http://www.laobserved.com/intell/2012/03/only_in_la.php) that included the photo accompanying this column.

Harvey, a long-time fellow Los Angeles Times columnist (I worked there from March 1976 to August 1990) who now writes for L.A. Observed, posted the picture to show the misspelling of “AHEAD”, rendered by the painter as “AHEDA.”

 

Like everyone else, I learned to read from the top down, but in L.A., the word order is reversed. Even in Great Britain, where driving is on the wrong side of the road for Yanks, the word order is correct, as I learned from my visit there in 1979 and from watching the London Olympics. In the men’s and women’s cycling road races, I noticed that the warning lettering reads from the top down, so STOP AHEAD or BUS STOP

is rendered:

 

STOP

AHEAD

 

or

 

BUS

STOP

 

 

 

not:

 

AHEAD

STOP

 

or

 

STOP

BUS

 

As it would be rendered on the streets of Los Angeles.

 

It’s a minor quibble — because the mind automatically corrects the wrong word order — but as a purist about the mother tongue, I just had to comment on this  Left Coast peculiarity.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Full Circle’: Troubled White Man’s Soul Melds With Native American Heart

  • Reviewed by Thomas O. Mills
BOOK REVIEW: 'Full Circle': Troubled White Man's Soul Melds With Native American Heart

In “Full Circle” ( Silverbear Graphics trade paperback, available from Amazon.com, 368 pages, $19.95) Michael “Hawk” Spisak speaks from his Native American heart with his troubled White Man’s soul.

Although his characters are fictional, I feel I have known them all:

> Jackson Themal, the 30-year-old half breed searching for his past and traveling, full speed ahead, head first into his full circle.

> David Chases, promoter of the Sundance ceremony who exploits Jackson and the “Tree of Life” for his personal gains. He will do or say anything, at anyones expense, to advance his own material world. A true two face.

> Mary Bloody Heart, an actual spiritual elder. She could hear the words you thought before you spoke them and if you listened, her words rang with truth flying into your inner consciousness. She was forced to sell trinkets to survive.

Michael "Hawk" Spisak

Michael “Hawk” Spisak

> Nate Winter, one of many Native American wannabes who search the reservations for some secret truth to complete his own world.

> Jenny Lynne, the lonely divorced librarian who provides knowledge, love, and shelter for Jackson and the vehicle to complete more than one of his full circles.

This book is not for the faint of heart. Although fictional, many truths are woven into and out of the story. It was a real page burner for me.

Perhaps Michael’s vision of a Sundance ceremony with its “Tree of Life” has a base with the Ancient Hopi of Northern Arizona’s Ladder Dance or the Totonac Indians of Vera Cruz, Mexico’s Flying Pole Dance.

Perhaps it is exactly what these tribes are missing — the ceremony lost when the Lakota, Shawnee, and other Native tribes were destroyed by the White Man.

Michael states that visions are very important to Native Americans and should be acted upon. Did Michael’s Ancestor’s send him the information for this book? Did he react and write this book? I think so. Great job, Michael.

About the author

Michael “Hawk” Spisak is a 49-year-old mix blood, White/First Nations who has been on his own since he was 13. Living his life traveling the world he has seen and done what most never will. After 48 States, almost every Indian Reservation and 13 countries he settled down in Tennessee with his orange dog, S’unka the Superdog.

About the reviewer

Thomas O. Mills lives in Paso Robles, California and is the author of “The Book of Truth, A New Perspective To The Hopi Creation Story” and “Stonehenge, If This Was East”. For David M. Kinchen’s reviews click: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/9165

REALTORS: Pending Home Sales Slip in June, Remain Above a Year Ago

  • By David M. Kinchen
REALTORS: Pending Home Sales Slip in June, Remain Above a Year Ago

Pending home sales declined slightly in June but marked 14 consecutive months of year-over-year gains, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) — a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings — slipped 1.4 percent to 99.3 in June from a downwardly revised 100.7 in May but is 9.5 percent higher than June 2011 when it was 90.7, according to a July 26, 2012 report from the trade association. The data reflect contracts but not closings.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said inventory shortages are a factor. “Buyer interest remains strong but fewer home listings mean fewer contract signing opportunities,” Yun said. “We’ve been seeing a steady decline in the level of housing inventory, which is most pronounced in the lower price ranges popular with first-time buyers and investors.”

According to the Realtors Confidence Index, the buyer traffic index stood at 60 in June while the seller index was 41, which shows a large imbalance between buyer and seller interest. A value of 50 implies neutral market conditions; the disparity between buyers and sellers began to grow in early spring and has been in a particularly large imbalance for the past two months.

“Any bank-owned properties that have been held back in markets with inventory shortages should be released expeditiously to help meet market demand,” Yun said. “Housing starts will likely need to double over the next two years to satisfy the pent-up demand for both rentals and ownership.”

The PHSI in the Northeast fell 7.6 percent to 76.6 in June but is 12.2 percent higher than a year ago. In the Midwest the index slipped 0.4 percent to 94.4 in June but is 17.3 percent above June 2011. Pending home sales in the South declined 2.0 percent to an index of 106.2 in June but are 8.8 percent above a year earlier. In the West the index rose 2.6 percent in June to 111.5 and is 3.0 percent higher than June 2011.

Yun said there also have been delays in the closing process. “With record low mortgage interest rates, there has been a surge of refinancing on top of a higher level of home purchases, which has been creating delays recently in the closing process,” he said.

“In addition, there have been some delays with recent foreclosure sales as banks take steps to ensure there are no paperwork problems. This is causing an uneven performance in sales closings, which is likely to continue, but we also see notably higher levels of sales activity compared with a relatively flat performance in the preceding four years,” Yun said. 

* * *

Methodology: The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales; it coincides with a level that is historically healthy.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Fever Moon’: Graphic Novel by Karen Marie Moning Offers Great Introduction to Fever World

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'Fever Moon': Graphic Novel by Karen Marie Moning Offers Great Introduction to Fever World

Those familiar with the work of Karen Marie Moning will have no difficulty recognizing some of her most popular characters in action in her first graphic novel, “Fever Moon” (Del Rey, an imprint of the Random Housing Publishing Group, 192 pages, $25.00). For those who aren’t familiar with Moning’s Fever series: Expect an outstanding introduction to her work.

The beautifully printed (in the U.S., unusual in an era of outsourced-to-China books) full-color book features MacKayla “Mac” Lane and Jericho Barrons — two of the most dangerously attractive characters in their genre — prowling the streets of Dublin in a Lamborghini and a Dodge Viper in search of demons, but particularly the most ancient and deadly Unseelie ever created, the Fear Dorcha. For eons, he’s traveled worlds with the Unseelie king, leaving behind him a path of mutilation. Now, to the horror of Mac and Barrons, he’s roaming Dublin, stealing parts of the faces of his victims. No one Mac loves is safe from the Fear Dorcha.

Based on Moning’s Fever series, “Fever Moon” is a remarkable Mac and Barrons story, the result of a collaboration by New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning, marvelously adapted into a full-color graphic novel by writer David Lawrence and illustrator Al Rio. The book is dedicated to Brazil-based Rio, who died shortly after finishing the artwork for “Fever Moon.”

<br />
Karen Marie Moning

Karen Marie Moning

Dublin — and I don’t mean Dublin, Texas, home of the original Dr Pepper, or Dublin, Ohio, home of the Memorial golf championship — is a war zone. The walls between humans and Fae in the Irish capital are down. A third of the world’s population is dead and chaos reigns. Imprisoned over half a million years ago, the Unseelie are free and each one Mac meets is worse than the last. Human weapons don’t stand a chance against them.

With a blood moon hanging low over the city, something dark and sinister begins to hunt the streets of Temple Bar, choosing its victims by targeting those closest to Mac. Armed only with the Spear of Destiny and accompanied by the always difficult Jericho Barrons, she must face her most terrifying enemy yet.

If you aren’t familiar with the work of Moning, “Fever Moon” is a good introduction, as well as being a great stand-alone graphic novel. I’m predicting that readers interested in this genre will seek out her other books. I’m also predicting that this won’t be her one and only graphic novel, if only she can find a talented artist like the late Art Rio.

About the Author — and the team that created the book

Karen Marie Moning is the New York Times bestselling author of the Fever series, featuring MacKayla Lane, and the award-winning Highlander series. She has a bachelor’s degree in society and law from Purdue University and is currently working on a new series set in the Fever world. Her website:www.karenmoning.com

Illustrator Al Rio, Brazil-based, world-renowned as a “good-girl artist” with a classic style, has drawn such popular series as X-Men, Spider-Man, Star Wars, DV8, and his own sexy supernatural project Exposure. “Fever Moon” was his last graphic novel before he died.

Also from Brazil, illustrator Cliff Richards has loved comic books since a young age and has worked for DC Comics, Dark Horse, and Marvel, among others. He also illustrated “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” for Del Rey.

New York Times bestselling adaptor David Lawrence has written professionally since the ’80s, most recently with Patricia Briggs on the graphic novels “Mercy Thompson: Homecoming”, “Moon Called”, and “Cry Wolf: An Alpha & Omega Novel”. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Colorists Katrina Mae Hao and Rainier Beredo both live in the Philippines—Mae Hao in the City of San Fernando; Beredo in Batangas. Between them they have colored thousands of pages of graphic novels. Mae Hao also colored Kim Harrison’s “Blood Work” for Del Rey.

Inkers: Al Rio, Julia Pinto, Joe Pimentel, and Dan Borgones. Pinto trained under Rio, while Pimentel and Borgones are considered top inkers in Brazil and the Philippines.

Letterer Zachary R. Matheny has lettered, colored, and designed hundreds of books for a variety of publishers—Del Rey’s “Blood Work” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” among them. Matheny lives in Los Angeles, California.
Note: For my 2011 review of Kim Harrison’s “Blood Work”, also from Del Rey, click: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/5958
Publisher’s website: www.delreybooks.com

BOOK NOTES: Two Shelly Reuben Books Now Available as Kindle eBooks

  • By David M. Kinchen 

One of my all-time favorite writers, Chicago native and Brooklyn resident Shelly Reuben, has just notified me that two of her books — “Come Home.

Love, Dad”, a memoir, and “Julian Solo,” her first crime novel — are available from Amazon.com in $2.99 Kindle editions. That’s great news for readers — and more great news is on the horizon as more of her out-of-print novels will soon be available in eBook form. Next up for Kindle will be “Spent Matches.” In addition to being an award-winning novelist, Shelly is also a licensed arson investigator and private investigator. She added that that within a few weeks the two books below will also be available on Nook, iBooks, Sony, Kobo, etc.

Here are the links:

Click here: Come Home. Love, Dad: Shelly Reuben: Amazon.com: Books

Click here: Julian Solo: Shelly Reuben: Amazon.com: Books

BOOK NOTES: Two Shelly Reuben Books Now Available as Kindle eBooks

Come Home. Love, Dad warmly introduces us to magical mirrors of every color and shape, giant balls of string, brothers wearing Davy Crockett T-shirts, and stalwart lions who guard the entrance to the Art Institute. Shelly Reuben’s description of her father’s escapades in the kitchen, “if flour footprints aren’t on the floors and carpets (it) doesn’t taste as good,” make you wish that you too, had been there to inhale the smell of his koochen baking in the oven. And intersperesed throughout these recollections are the enchanting letters that Sam Reuben wrote to his daughter. Wonderful epistles imparting proverbs, reciting poetry, conveying wit, wisdom, whimsy … and always … always letting her know that he loved her, and that he wanted her to Come Home. Love, Dad

Product Details

 

Book Description

BOOK NOTES: Two Shelly Reuben Books Now Available as Kindle eBooks

Publication Date: June 1, 1998

Julian Solo is a research psychobiologist pushing the limits of scientific knowledge by delving into the “forbidden” area of life after death. Unlike Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein, who created a living being from inanimate body parts, Julian seeks to discover a way for humans to enter and leave the death state at will.

At first, his motivation is knowledge for knowledge’s sake. How wonderful it would be, he reflects, to discover a mechanism to fool the body into thinking that all bodily functions had ceased. Rather than go to sleep at night, we would “die.” When we wake up the next morning, instead of being eight hours older, we would not have aged a bit.

But when his wife is diagnosed with an incurable degenerative disease, Julian Solo’s research takes on a personal urgency. He begins to experiment upon himself, and discovers the secret of biological life after death.

Has he made a great scientific breakthrough? Or is he balancing on the edge of a morality he can neither control nor understand?

Product Details

  •   File Size: 872 KB
  •   Print Length: 249 pages
  •   Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  •   Publisher: Bernard Street Books; 1 edition   (June 1, 1998)
  •   Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  •   Language: English
  •   ASIN: B008O6JY68
  •   Text-to-Speech: Enabled        
  •   X-Ray: Not Enabled        
  •   Lending: Enabled

OP-ED: Steve Goodman: Facing the Music

  • By Clay Eals, author of the definitive book about singer-songwriter Steve Goodman, “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music”
OP-ED: Steve Goodman: Facing the Music

Before we get to updates, please take a moment to revel in gratitude for the birth of Steve Goodman, 64 years ago on Wed. July 25. Would that he had had the opportunity to enjoy this occasion. That we are talking about his life and music nearly 28 years after his untimely death is a tribute to his broad and deep effect on the world. How to sum it up? “Volcanic,” “unbearably cute,” “the big bang in the little shape,” “a shaman, a mystic” — these are just a few of the phrases others have used to characterize his impact. How would you describe it?

Magic at the 52nd Mariposa Folk Festival

How fortunate my wife, Meg, and I were to experience the July 6-8, 2012, installment of the venerable Mariposa Folk Festival. Held in Orillia, Ontario, 90 minutes north of Toronto, this gathering at enchanting Tudhope Park, a peninsula nestled in Lake Couchaching, was an ocean of warmth. An amazingly eclectic and talented lineup of musicians made for an entertaining and compelling weekend.

Orillia was the original home of the festival upon its founding in 1961, but by 1973, 1974 and 1978, when Steve Goodman played the festival, it was taking place on Olympic Island in the Toronto Islands, a quick ferry ride from the Toronto waterfront. The eventual return of the festival to Orillia was a brilliant turn of events, for the intimacy and ownership to be discovered in such a community undertaking is truly inspiring. Not that the festival lacked for big moments, including the surprise appearance on Saturday evening of Gordon Lightfoot to sing two songs on the main stage. In an event such as Mariposa, however, the juice and sustenance lie in a myriad of small moments — real-time, in-person connections that generate laughter, warmth and bonding. It is that element that I will forever carry in my heart.

OP-ED: Steve Goodman: Facing the Music

Mariposa kindly gave me two showcases for my updated third printing of “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music”: a literary interview and a “Songs of Steve Goodman” workshop. The latter drew an audience of 120 and is depicted in the following photo. Big thanks to Paul Court, Steph Dunn, Mike Hill, James Keelaghan and Rob Lutes for providing stellar music for the workshop. Click here to see five more workshop images on the schedule page of my website.

Big thanks to Mike Hill and the many other organizers and volunteers who made it possible for Meg and I to be a part of 2012 Mariposa. I highly recommend the festival to all of you.
Last notes from our Canadian trip: In Toronto, we were grateful to finally visit and meet in person the great staff at ECW Press, my publisher for the Goodman biography. Please visit the ECW Press website to see its imaginative and invigorating catalog that presents a wide array of books tailored to the acronym of its name: Entertainment Culture Writing. And as a bonus during our trip, WGN-AM radio of Chicago had me on for a 40-minute interview that you can hear by visiting the reviews page of my website.

Next Goodman-bio event: Sunday, Aug. 5, in the beautiful outdoors of North Bend, Washington
Two Sundays from now is my next reading/music event, at The Nursery at Mount Si in North Bend, just 31 miles east of Seattle. The date is Aug. 5, 2012. (In my previous message, I made an unfortunate typo, indicating the incorrect date of Aug. 15.) This is a genuinely spectacular setting for a concert. Nothing can compare to enjoying music on a warm summer evening while watching the sun set on the backdrop of Mount Si. Nels Melgaard, who owns The Nursery at Mount Si, has hosted concerts there for years and has finely honed the experience to perfection. And if inclement weather shows up, Nels has an indoor stage with room for 50 onlookers as an excellent Plan B.

So here are the details: The show starts at 7 p.m., preceded by a hot-dog dinner, if you like, provided by the Valley Grange starting at 6 p.m. The event is, as Nels likes to call it, BYOBBC — in other words, bring your own beverages, blankets and chairs. The music will be provided by the trio that has anchored my Seattle events for the past five years: Tom Colwell, Bruce Hanson and Mark Myers. We will be doing some old favorites, but we are adding a few Goodman songs that are new to the repertoire, and we have at least one surprise musical guest in store, so it should be a great evening. The event is free, but donations for the nursery will be accepted. Of course, I will have books on hand for purchase and will be happy to personally inscribe them.

This event is particularly meaningful for me because North Bend is the home of Encompass, the children’s services nonprofit for which I have worked as communication officer for the past four years. It will be a great chance for my co-workers and their family and friends to see what all the fuss has been about without having to travel to “da big city.” And, of course, it’s an opportunity for Seattleites to sample the sublime natural beauty of rural North Bend. For more information, click here.

Mark your calendar for “Tribute Times Two / Anthems of Activism: Pete Seeger and Steve Goodman”

This is a double-bill that you won’t want to miss if you are anywhere near Seattle on Sunday evening, Oct. 14, 2012. Only a little more than two weeks before the November general election, this double tribute at the Admiral Theater in West Seattle will feature the songs of Pete Seeger and Steve Goodman, with an emphasis on those that address social issues that are vital to all of us.

At 4 in the afternoon, Seattle banjoist (and leader of the folk group Clallam County) Peter McKee will present a one-man multimedia show “PETE! The Songs and Times of Pete Seeger.” And at 7 p.m., I will lead a Goodman event that will feature Tom Colwell, Bruce Hanson, Mark Myers and special musical guests to be announced. Admission to either event is $12, and a combo ticket for both events is just $20.

I’m thrilled to be part of “Tribute Times Two,” in part because it will take place at the 1942 Historic Admiral Theater, a city landmark that is four blocks from my home. Also making these two shows special is that they will constitute the fall kickoff of “Nights for Folklife,” a series of concerts that will raise funds for Northwest Folklife, which puts on the largest free folk festival on the continent. A portion of the Oct. 14 proceeds will go to Folklife, whose annual festival is held on the four days of Memorial Day weekend. Tickets will be available at Brown Paper Tickets. For more information on the event, click here.

And for something completely bizarre

… and for whatever reason, it’s based in my home region. You may be aware that the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie would have been earlier this month, on July 14, 2012. Visit this link to find out about how someone apparently has been masquerading as Woody’s son, Arlo, who, of course, memorably popularized Steve Goodman’s classic “City of New Orleans.” The link is well worth a visit to see Arlo’s classically self-deprecating humor. As Arlo would say, you can’t make this stuff up!

Thanks again to all of you!
Click here to go to my website to order the updated third printing of “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music” (including a discounted price and signed postcard) and for other details, including updated lists of changes, acknowledgments and reviews, along with new bonus photos.
As always, please contact me if you have any questions or information to share. Big thanks to everyone — including my wife, Meg, and ECW Press — for making it possible for “Steve Goodman: Facing the Music” to have new life.

Congress in the Dark, Fed Must Be Accountable

 By Dennis Kucinich, from Reader Supported News, Thursday, July 26, 2012 – 17:30

    ongressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today (July 26, 2012)  rallied support for H.R. 459, Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2012 on the House Floor. Today marks a historic milestone after years of bipartisan efforts by Congressman Kucinich and Rep.Ron Paul (R-TX) to secure a thorough investigation of the Federal Reserve. The House is expected to vote on H.R. 459 later today.

     

    The text of Congressman Kucinich’s remarks follow.

    On a day Congress will decide whether to audit the Fed, the Washington Post reports that the New York Fed “did not communicate in key meetings with top regulators that British bank Barclays had admitted to Fed staffers that it was rigging LIBOR,” the index which sets interest rates world wide.

    The Fed wants to be spared a full audit. They want monetary deliberations private. They then use that privacy shield to keep irregularities from regulators and from congressional view, exposing investors and consumers to massive losses.

    Of course the Fed wants to continue a system where there is no transparency, no accountability where they can cover up manipulations of markets and interest rates. But should we endorse this system? When things fall apart, who do the banks come to clean up the mess? Congress!

    The Fed creates trillions of dollars out of nothing and gives it to banks. Congress is in the dark. The Fed sets the stage for the subprime meltdown. Congress is in the dark. The Fed takes a dive on LIBOR. Congress is in the dark. The Fed doesn’t tell regulators what is going on. Congress is in the dark.

    It is time for us to bring the Fed into the sunshine of accountability. Vote for the Audit.

    Editor’s Note: For David M. Kinchen’s review of Ron Paul’s “End the Fed,” click:www.huntingtonnews.net/…/090916-kinchen-columnsbookreview.ht..

    NASA: Greenland Ice Sheet Melting Increases Dramatically

    • From a NASA news release 
    Greenland Ice Sheet Melting Increases Dramatically

    Extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8 (left) and July 12 (right). Measurements from three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12. In the image, the areas classified as “probable melt” (light pink) correspond to those sites where at least one satellite detected surface melting. The areas classified as “melt” (dark pink) correspond to sites where two or three satellites detected surface melting. The satellites are measuring different physical properties at different scales and are passing over Greenland at different times. As a whole, they provide a picture of an extreme melt event about which scientists are very confident. Credit: Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, SSAI/NASA GSFC, and Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory


    › Hi-res of left image
    › Hi-res of right image

    For several days this month, Greenland’s surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its two-mile-thick center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.

    On average in the summer, about half of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet naturally melts. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July.

    Researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise.

    “The Greenland ice sheet is a vast area with a varied history of change. This event, combined with other natural but uncommon phenomena, such as the large calving event last week on Petermann Glacier, are part of a complex story,” said Tom Wagner, NASA’s cryosphere program manager in Washington. “Satellite observations are helping us understand how events like these may relate to one another as well as to the broader climate system.”

    Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was analyzing radar data from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite last week when he noticed that most of Greenland appeared to have undergone surface melting on July 12. Nghiem said, “This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?”

    Nghiem consulted with Dorothy Hall at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Hall studies the surface temperature of Greenland using the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. She confirmed that MODIS showed unusually high temperatures and that melt was extensive over the ice sheet surface.

    Thomas Mote, a climatologist at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga; and Marco Tedesco of City University of New York also confirmed the melt seen by Oceansat-2 and MODIS with passive-microwave satellite data from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder on a U.S. Air Force meteorological satellite.

    The melting spread quickly. Melt maps derived from the three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet’s surface had melted. By July 12, 97 percent had melted.

    This extreme melt event coincided with an unusually strong ridge of warm air, or a heat dome, over Greenland. The ridge was one of a series that has dominated Greenland’s weather since the end of May. “Each successive ridge has been stronger than the previous one,” said Mote. This latest heat dome started to move over Greenland on July 8, and then parked itself over the ice sheet about three days later. By July 16, it had begun to dissipate.

    Even the area around Summit Station in central Greenland, which at 2 miles above sea level is near the highest point of the ice sheet, showed signs of melting. Such pronounced melting at Summit and across the ice sheet has not occurred since 1889, according to ice cores analyzed by Kaitlin Keegan at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather station at Summit confirmed air temperatures hovered above or within a degree of freezing for several hours July 11-12.

    “Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. “But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome.”

    Nghiem’s finding while analyzing Oceansat-2 data was the kind of benefit that NASA and ISRO had hoped to stimulate when they signed an agreement in March 2012 to cooperate on Oceansat-2 by sharing data. 

    Maria-José Viñas
    NASA’s Earth Science News Team
    Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.