On Saturday, Antonia & I went up to Harbin. If it seems like I'm going to Harbin with increasing frequency, I guess it's because I am. And again, it was perfect. In between taking the waters, we ate great food, she did yoga, and I polished off T.C. Boyle's Drop City. We slept outside on the deck, and were back in the warm pool at daybreak.
To my surprise, Antonia had a hard time with the very hot & very cold pools. Otherwise, a stellar companion. ;-)
As part of my ongoing effort to expand myself, I went with some friends to this on Friday night. It was friendly and playful, and not as foreign as I'd expected. I hooped some, I learned a thing or two about rope, I wore borrowed clothing totally out of character — and I really liked it.
It's been one year since I migrated to jasonunbound, and started using movable type.
With the opening of the new film The Day After Tomorrow, Slate.com ran a little contest: If global climate change really did suddenly kickstart a new ice age, what would Dick Cheney say? How would Cheney, a climate change skeptic, and one with an apparently metabolic inability to admit a mistake, address the nation?
Here are the winners. And my favorite, from Brian W. Robinson, channeling Cheney:
"Previous ice ages have helped create our precious energy resources by crushing, pressurizing, and transforming ancient plant and animal life into the coal, oil, and natural gas we depend on today. The current glaciation we are experiencing is part of an ongoing natural process. Today millions of heroic Americans made the ultimate sacrifice so that they can become the hydrocarbon fuels that generations of future Americans will depend on to light and heat their homes, schools, and churches. We salute the efforts of these valiant energy warriors in moving America closer to the day we finally achieve energy independence."Read 'em all. They're hilarious. And yes, my fellow Americans, Mother Nature hates us because we're free.
A letter from Page. We love you, too.
Jennifer meets the author, and gets her book signed:
"jennifer, your friends don't like you. - sherman alexie."Read all about it.
Hey, it actually rained a little here last night. I'd been led to believe that it wouldn't rain from May to October. Not quite true, but close. Average Berkeley CA precip, by month, in inches:
May 0.61So we're likely to get about two-thirds of an inch of rain over the next four months. In contrast, Boston averages 3.22 inches in June alone, and gets Miami 6.90 inches in June.
So, basically, you can leave stuff lying around outside here in the summer.
Show a little competence, and they let you do all kinds of new things: I created name authority records for NACO today. Four Swedes.
Modern cargo ships have extraordinary cargo capacity, but their mass when fully loaded pretty much guarantees that they can't turn on a dime. In one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, off the coast of Singapore, two ships have collided.
Behemoth #1 was carrying 4,191 automobiles to Europe. Behemoth #2 was carrying 280,000 tons of crude oil to Japan. In the collision, the thousand-foot crude carrier survived, and the car carrier went down. So, no massive oil spill, but there are now four thousand cars at the bottom of the Singapore Straits.
Last night Holly came over & we mourned Phish's decision to call it quits. I met this same Holly, appropriately enough, at a Phish show. We mourned the impending death, and celebrated the glorious life. (Phish is dead. Long live Phish!)
And then this morning, I had that mercifully rare sinking feeling that comes when you wake up from a bad dream...and realize that it wasn't a dream at all. But then again, yesterday's news wouldn't seem like a bad dream if it hadn't been preceded by a many-years-long dream of great power and beauty. And so, here we are, I'm back to feeling grateful — grateful for the music, grateful for the goosebumps, grateful for the sharing, grateful for the magic, grateful for the way these experiences made me feel.
Phish is calling it quits. From Trey:
Last Friday night, I got together with Mike, Page and Fish to talk openly about the strong feelings I've been having that Phish has run its course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note.....I'm stunned.
....We're done. It's been an amazing and incredible journey. We thank you all for the love and support that you've shown us.
Update: I now have tickets to four of the final five shows, including what will be The Final Phish Show, a 2-day outdoor event in northern Vermont, Aug. 14-15. At my first Phish show, 2/14/91, there were probably 400 people in attendance. I wonder how many they'll allow in to 8/15/04?
Update2: Page, Mike, Trey, Fishman — thank you for everything. I love you guys.
19 hours later, Jiwon telephones: She's just arrived at her room at Villa Serbelloni, and she is bursting with enthusiasm. Actually, she's close to tears as she describes the view from her window. Having slept most of the way there, it must be a wonderful shock to find herself on a hillside overlooking manicured gardens, the red roofs of Bellagio, Lago di Como and the Alps beyond.
That Rockefeller Foundation sure knows how to host!
Damn, I must really love this woman. How else to explain?
When it comes to deadlines, Jiwon is the rebellious sort. So perhaps it's not surprising that in the runup to any weighty and immoveable deadline — like, in this case, the conference, to which Jiwon will be delivered by a man, who will be standing at Milan's Malpensa Airport holding a sign bearing her name, which she will not see if she doesn't make the KLM flight departing shortly from SFO — Jiwon always seems to push things as far as they can go.
Each time it unfolds differently, but there is always flailing, always the sense that this time she's just not going to make it, and always, in the end, success. This time, she was up all night working, and had to be told to pack this morning. And then there might've been a note of impatience in her voice when I asked if she had her passport, if she hadn't, in fact, forgotten it. So then I drop her at her office, where she has some vital last minute things to do. I go to work, and at lunchtime I return to her office to walk her to the BART station. It's time for her to go, but she's replying to emails, she's submitting grades, she's printing stuff out. She's moving very fast, but not toward the door.
I've figured out that she could not take anything later than the 1:02 train. But at 1:02 we're still in her office. Next train at 1:17. OK Jiwon, I say at 1:05, to make the next train we need to leave here NOW. Three minutes later, we're out, we're running across campus, with bags, in the sunshine, to the Downtown Berkeley BART station, then breathlessly feeding bills into the machine, and here comes the train, HURRY! And she's in, and the doors close, and I can see her, and we pantomime messages of love, and the train pulls away, and my heart soars, and all is good with the world, and she's so awesome, and I'm so lucky. Whew...
Update: Jiwon just called from the gate: She barely made it, but there was both running and pleading involved at the airport. And probably at least one new gray hair on her head.
Hi there. If you've found your way here after reading today's article in the San Francisco Chronicle, you're probably looking for the hoop-making instructions, right? Or perhaps you're just curious about the freaks with the hoops....
I must say, it's pretty cool to wake up and find yourself & your friends in the paper...especially since we didn't do something awful to end up there.
It's not quite the dramatic spread that it is in the print version, but the photos in the Chronicle online today are pretty nice. I'm all the way on the left in this one. And looky who got the photo credit on this shot of Philo! Does that make me a professional? ;-)
I wrote this two years ago:
In memoriam: Stephen Jay Gould
Professor Stephen Jay Gould passed away earlier today. I heard Prof. Gould speak many times, and even sat in on an amazing class he co-taught with Professors Harvey Cox and The Dersh a couple of years ago. Gould's academic work has been groundbreaking and his books for general audiences fascinating (his Bully for Brontosaurus is sitting next to my bed), but the real treat was to watch his mind churn in real time. In that class I sat in on, appropriately called Thinking about Thinking, three brilliant minds from three realms converge on a subject, with Cox (Divinity) ostensibly presenting the spiritual/historical, Dershowitz (Law) the legal/ethical and Gould (Zoology/Paleontology) the scientific/deep historical. The three would each make an opening statement, then they would go at each other's arguments, with brave Harvard undergrads jumping in to disagree or challenge any or all of them. To me, Cox was notable for his ability to eloquently bring ancient texts to bear on the most contemporary of problems. Dersh was stunning in his passion and structure, slaying potential challenges as he wound his way up to another seemingly airtight conclusion. Then Gould would step up to the plate, disheveled and squinting, wandering off onto asides so fascinating that you forgot what his original point was. In those classes he revealed himself to have a breadth far beyond that of the modern mortal super-specialized scientist. He was an amazing man, and though he's gone too soon, I note that his 1,464 page The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, which he has worked on for twenty years, has just gone to print. Nice.
I hooped myself into an interesting trance last night. I was hooping in the living room & listening to 12-31-95, one of the greatest Phish shows ever. When the third set Weekapaug started up, I began rotating myself clockwise, in the same direction as the hoop. My turning widened until I was pattering rapidly in a tight circle, six steps per circle. At a certain speed and angle of attack, this movement itself is enough to keep the hoop going — and going fast. I was staring at the floor, at my continually circling steps, and the hoop kept spinning. I was on the edge of dizziness, but at this speed it was sustainable. I lost track of time, full only of the sensation of the heavy hoop whipping around my midsection. There was no thought of stopping, because there was no thought.
Eventually, the tempo changed, the song dissolved, and the spell was broken. I realized then what a tricky maneuver I'd been performing, and was really surprised when I checked the CD tracking, and found that I'd been doing it for a solid eighteen minutes, without slowing or faltering.
My inner dervish helps me do amazing things sometimes.
Today is May 19th, the day on which numerous recent emails have exhorted me to not buy gasoline as a ONE-DAY BOYCOTT, in order to express "OUTRAGE" at the recent rise in gas prices and to stick it to the big oil companies.
Such campaigns are frustrating to me for two reasons. First of all, the method of protest is utter macroeconomic nonsense. This "boycott" calls on consumers not to reduce their consumption, but rather to simply shift their date of purchase. Contrary to the unsourced email's passive-voiced claim that "it has been calculated" that this will cause massive losses to the oil companies, there is no logic in this argument. A one-day reduction in demand will do nothing. Nothing at all.
That people are spreading this email, and are joining in this "protest" today brings me to my second point, which is the problematic nature of such empty actions. Why will many people take up the call on this one? Because it's so damn easy! This protest causes virtually no hardship or inconvenience, and requires no time or money. That in itself would be fine, if there were some positive result. But the result in this case, it seems to me, is little more than a false sense of empowerment. And the reinforcement of the delusion that our gas prices are "too high."
If you think that $2, or even $3, for a GALLON of gasoline is expensive, I think you need a little more perspective. Nevermind that, adjusted for inflation, gas prices are just about where they were 20 years ago. Nevermind that significant costs associated with gasoline are externalized (ie tailpipe pollution, oil spills, CO2). Instead, just recall how much you pay for a CUP of coffee, or even bottled water for that matter. But since I think what's really important is that CONSUMPTION of gasoline be reduced, I don't mind if people think it's outrageously expensive — as long as they do something about it that makes sense, like driving less, and choosing a more fuel efficent vehicle.
I'm feeling a bit curmudgeonly. Can you tell?
Great new radio show: Philosophy Talk — "The program that questions everything...except your intelligence."
Tuesdays at Noon, tune in to 91.7 in the Bay Area, or hear it stream on KALW. Or listen to past shows. On today's program, the hosts — Stanford philosophy profs John Perry & Ken Taylor — discussed the Meaning of Life, and took calls from chin-rubbers around the Bay Area. It was so engaging, I forgot to ask the counterperson at Blondie's to put the salad dressing ON THE SIDE. Do people really want a salad in which all you taste is dressing? Yuck. Then again, I suppose I'm a bit of an outlier on this one, since I like just a little oil & vinegar, and am content with no dressing at all, if the vegetables are fresh. Anyway, good stuff. I mean, the radio show. And Blondie's, if you get the dressing on the side.
Oh, goodness. Having my own occasionally absent-minded professor walking around campus, this news, for me, brings fear along with the shock and sadness.
Jiwon, be careful! Everybody, be careful!
On Saturday morning I succeeded in luring my sweetie out of her study and into the sunshine. Up behind our house and into the hills we went. We watched a heron nesting on Lake Anza, took in a gurgling stream in Wildcat Canyon, and sat in fascination as a vulture tore apart a snake. And then it was back to work for Ms. Jiwon.
Saturday night, I joined a thousand freeks and fashionistas at the Cloud Factory's annual fashion show. I have no basis for comparison, but I'm quite sure this was a highly unusual fashion show. For starters, most of the attire was not street legal. Then again, most of this couture was designed with Burning Man in mind. But more wow-inducing than the lack of textile was the show the models put on. It was organized by designer, and each designer's 'stable' of models came out onto the catwalk and either danced around or put on a stylized skit of some kind. Each group was highly original in look and presentation, and the entire show was very sexy and provocative. Some were playful, some were naughty, and others were just out of this world! After seeing at least a hundred of these brazen & beautiful men and women, I had to wonder: Who are these people?! Well, I know who a few of them are, and it was two in particular—Vera and Seth—who I'd come to see. Here's Vera's report. It was a total blast.
Then yesterday morning, Sunday, I slept through Bay to Breakers (oh well), but did make it to brunch with Philo, Marta & MJ, did make it to hooping, and did rope Antonia into coming...with me to the post-B2B party at Kevin & Holly's in the Upper Haight. All in good fun.
Having read her way through what sounds like a decent portion of this site, my new friend Antonia asked me this evening if — when deciding what to write about here — I censor out all the negative stuff.
The answer is, no. Truthfully, I very rarely experience negative stuff, broadly defined. I'm not sure what it really means to be charmed, but I think I'm it.
And as for self-censorship, what I censor out is the WEIRD stuff.
I don't think it works this way in Judaism, so I'll say it was as if I were trying to undue the iniquities of the previous two nights when I went to Natalie & Eric's last night for Shabbat services & dinner. It was a lovely gathering of young Bay Area overachievers, and Natalie herself had just turned in her thesis earlier in the day. Taped up in her kitchen hung a hand-drawn sign:
And there, my friends, is your wise nugget of the day.
I know everybody likes free beer, but seriously, why all the whining about the new pricing structure for Moveable Type? (Just look at the tone of the trackbacks - currently at an astounding 488, and climbing.)
MT is great software, and with some well-deserved income, guess what? They'll be able to, you know, make it better. No one's required to upgrade, and for many simple users like myself, it looks like even the upgrade to 3.0 will be free. And if you still take umbrage at the pricing or licensing, I will gently remind you that this isn't the only content management system out there.
I'm feelin' all giddy, yes giddy, after soaking last night away in Joe's hot tub. You see, the tub is very good when it has a dozen happy people in it, but late in the evening, when being watsued by Ali in a now near-empty tub? It was a perfect little universe, and I was seeing nothing but stars.
As a counterweight to my present frothiness, I give you a heaping dose of heaviness: The Unknown Soldier, by Luc Sante.
In dishwashing, as in the shower, I spend more time getting the soap off than putting it on. I think this means I like the squeaky more than the clean.
Hooping was great and glorious in Dolores Park on Sunday. We started with a nice crowd of hoopers, and then a photographer from the Chronicle took photos of us for an upcoming feature, and then some LA hoopers showed up! So at last I got to meet sooper-hoopers Anah, Sass & Dawn. It was all so splendid. Min Jung's got the goods, including one or two of me, and a great MJ shadow pic.
Furthermore, lucky me, I also got to meet Antonia, who later gave me a ride back to Berkeley that was over much too soon.
I went to a party late Saturday, and the Quote of the Night came within a minute of my arrival. Here's how it went: I met T on the sidewalk, as we were both trying to find the right house. So we introduce ourselves, we find the place, and walk in the front door together. There is much sound, there are many people. A woman immediately approaches T:
She: You know what? You look just like T the juggler!It was a precious moment, if not a particularly tender one.
T: I am T the juggler.
She: No way!
T: [pulls driver's license from wallet; shows her]
She: Oh my gosh. I had sex with you once!
T: ...uh, yeah. I remember.
Three cheers for spontaneity! At 4:40pm on Friday I emailed Amy, on a lark, to see if she wanted to to drive up to Harbin hot springs, pronto. She agreed, I picked her up, and we headed north with little more than towels, sleeping bags and sunscreen.
We enjoyed a completely relaxing and refreshing 24 hours soaking and sunning ourselves silly. And sleeping outside under a brilliant star-filled sky.
Sorry, no photos of Amy's sunburned derrière. :-p
Update: Amy has a full trip report.
I'm listening to a live broadcast of the Senate committee probing prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The photographs that have emerged are so damaging to the US effort to 'win' hearts & minds, I don't know if there's any recovering from it. Just when you thought hatred of the US couldn't be any higher, we've now become officially, and perhaps irreparably, radioactive. I don't mean to minimize the unconscionable abuses suffered by these prisoners, but the damage to US credibility is simply enormous. Sadistic buffoons and digital cameras are a dangerous combination.
Tangentially, hearing all of these generals speak reminds me of something else: Why is it that so many of the uniformed officers of the US military seem to have such similar accents? Since I don't think all of these military men really come from the Arkansas-Texas border area, I'm guessing it must be at least somewhat cultural. Isn't that odd?
Following the terrorist attack in Yunbu, Saudi Arabia on May 1, 2004, Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah said in a meeting with dignitaries broadcast on Saudi TV that " Zionism is behind terrorist actions in the Kingdom… I am 95% sure of that."
Oy. Unfortunately, this disconnect from reality is nothing new, as MEMRI's executive director lays out in this recent piece. Following this, perhaps because Stalinsky's article calls her by name, Saudi Princess Fahda bint Saud has published a response to the article, in today's Arab News. Her defense is pretty empty, and her final attempt to deflect the charge of anti-semitism is simply contemptible:
Saudi kings can hardly be accused of being anti-Semites. They can’t be against themselves and their people.
This is an etymological fallacy so tired it is almost laughable. Since this straw man apparently needs slaying again, i'll be clear: The term anti-semitism is used to denote ideologically motivated hostility toward Jews. It is not used to mean a hatred of all Semites, however that is defined anthropologically or linguistically. I agree that the term is potentially confusing, but I suspect that the Princess is just seeking to throw up a smokescreen. Perhaps paranoid judeophobe would be better?
Picasso's 1905 "Boy with a Pipe" has just sold at auction for $104 million. Sotheby's gets $11 mil in commission. But what has the anonymous buyer really bought?
Spreading fast. From my local systems office: "There are over 900 workstations that have been attacked and shut down here on campus."
Have I mentioned that the great John Perry Barlow has a weblog? Without meaning to, he and I have sort of followed one another around a bit: First I started going to Dead shows when I came of age, and of course he'd been there since before I was born. Then while I was toiling at Harvard Law School library, he showed up as a Berkman fellow. Then he gets turned on to the String Cheese Incident, and not only do I start seeing him at shows, he starts writing songs with the band. (Funny thing: at Hornings Hideout last August, Barlow & Mountain Girl gave a talk on entheogens, and afterward Jiwon cornered him & they got into a discussion about the US Constitution. I watched them go at it, fascinated. She had no idea who he was.)
Anyway, in the midst of a recent (and, as always, exquisitely written) Barlow missive is this little nugget:
[I had] a Watsu water massage that was as psychedelic as any drug I've taken (with the exception of DMT).And this is a man who has experimented (in white labcoat & goggles, of course) with pretty much all of them. So that's quite an endorsement. I've played around doing faux watsu in the warm pool at Harbin, but now I think I'll have to try the real thing next time I go up there.
NASA: "Io's volcanoes are so active that they are effectively turning the whole moon inside out."
[from NASA's Picture of the Day]
I get to gaze upon the Golden Gate Bridge every day, from my living room. Tonight, you can look, too:
At 9pm in most of the US, the PBS program American Experience will air a documentary on this engineering and aesthetic marvel. The program web site is overflowing with information about my favorite bridge.
After nine months of having anytime access to a view of the bridge (except when it's enveloped in fog, which is also cool in its own way), I am still compelled, every day, to take at least a moment to stare at it in wonder. Is there any more inspiring union of form and function?
This fellow Ron has some nice GGB photos on his site as well.
As usual, it's Sunday night and I am fried and satisfied. I didn't follow my own plans, but isn't that part of the pleasure of unstructured time?
For Friday eve, I thought it'd be nice to segue from the spiritual to the profane, by starting with a groovy Shabbat service and moving on to a hot tub party. Instead, I went straight to the profane — and it was so good, I swear it was downright spiritual. Or maybe it was just all the light-headedness.
Though I soaked 'til three, I was still able to get up & out & over to Marin for a Saturday morning rendezvous with Kevin & Holly. We had breakfast in San Rafael, and then took a winding hike in the Marin Headlands. The weather was perfect, the hills were resplendent in wildflowers, and my companions were a joy. We ate wild strawberries, admired the geology, felt the crashing waves and watched the wet-suited surfers. There were only a few wisps coastal fog, they burned off almost as soon as they appeared. Before we knew it, the afternoon had slipped away. Evening came, and I found myself at Jennifer's May Day party, where I had the pleasure of meeting some of Jen's friends, including quite a few Cornellians. (And why *do* so many of us end up out here?)
And then this Sunday morning began magically — with us lying in bed, watching a deer graze in our little back yard. I opened the french doors, and it ran back behind the persimmon tree. Big, silly deer trying to hide themselves behind thin trees: it's always good for a laugh. We watched each other for a while, it went back to eating, and eventually sat down to rest, about twenty feet away from us, in a patch of ivy and calla lilies. So beautiful.
After brunch, Jiwon resumed her work, and I went in to San Francisco to hula hoop the afternoon away. And what can I say about hooping? I love playing with my hooping friends. You should join us some time.