Wednesday, 20 December 2006
“And I encourage you all to go shopping more.” — President George W. Bush in his year-end press conference this morning
“Buy more. Buy more now. Buy. And, be happy.” — OHM, the mechanized prophet of the totalitarian state in THX-1138
Tuesday, 19 December 2006
Here’s a first: PostSecret
is a site I’ve blogged about before
, but somehow I forgot all about it, only to rediscover it recently and fall in love with the concept all over again. New secrets are posted (and all old secrets removed) each Sunday. To contribute, all you need is a postcard, a secret, and a stamp.
. I never got the chance to visit. :(
Tuesday, 12 December 2006
On mahnamahna.net, an RFP is a Request For Prayer.
I got word this morning that a friend of some dear friends — someone I have hung out with several times, have always gotten along with, and have happy memories of — was in a terrible car accident this past Sunday as he traveled from the Bay Area to a new job and a new life in San Diego. He is hospitalized in an intensive care unit in Bakersfield with two broken legs, and unspecified internal and head injuries that my friends are hoping to learn more about soon. For now, if your spiritual tradition allows, please send thoughts, prayers, and hopeful vibes of lovingkindness out into the universe for the sake of Randy, who needs them right now.
Saturday, 09 December 2006
… (among other things) hearing the ‘68 Beetle that you bought with your entire life’s savings when you were not quite sixteen (which you hold onto through the years even as everyone you know insists that you sell it) fire up for the first time in some eighteen months and ROAR in its humble, unique way.
(We all have a roar. It doesn’t matter if others don’t recognize it as such. It is a roar nevertheless. Own your roar.)
Friday, 08 December 2006
Talk about different approaches. Here on the West Coast, we recently had smellerific cookie advertisements removed from San Francisco bus shelters
after complaints from folks in the “environmental illness community.” (How ‘bout we just call ‘em scentsitives?)
Meanwhile, in Manhattan, they’re spraying chemicals into the air
to make city streets smell more like Christmas. Yeeesh.
Wednesday, 06 December 2006
This is just a snippet of today’s wonderful Jon Carroll column
… I was thinking about the masks we all wear when we go to work. The masks correspond to the roles we are asked to play, and also to the ambitions we may have for eventual advancement. For some people, their mask is heavy because there is a chasm between what they do and who they are. They are not actually smiling and subservient, and they do not believe that the customer is always right, and they do not believe that the person above them is by definition more competent than they are, but they pretend. They play the role. If they want a check at the end of the week, they have to play the role.
If you’ve been playing the role for a long time, you are a “professional.” “She’s a real pro,” people will say, meaning: She acts the way I expect her to act, and she knows how to do her job. Being a “real pro” means squelching the urge to scream. Real pros have a lot of revenge fantasies… .
Friday, 01 December 2006
But: At last, I have found my scarf. :)
Thursday, 30 November 2006
I’ve written before
about Pine, the e-mail client I’ve been using for more than a decade. My love for Pine is hard to describe. I cannot think of another software application (of any type) that so perfectly lets me do exactly what I want to do, quickly and efficiently, no more, no less, never crashing, never surprising me in any way even as it has slowly evolved and sprouted new features. Pine is very easy to learn and use for geeks and non-geeks alike. No, it does not look modern. It does not need to. E-mail is a text medium.* A text-based app can handle things just fine. Pine does better than that. Pine kicks ass.
And now even moreso. Earlier tonight, the Free Software
ecosystem grew a bit richer with the first public release
, the successor to Pine. Alpine looks and works just like Pine always has, and runs on Windows, Linux, and the Mac OS just like Pine did, but they’ve cleaned things up under the hood and rebirthed the whole thing under the Apache license
, which is good news for everyone. Pine’s source has long been available, but Pine was never Open Source (or Free Software) because though you were allowed to meddle with Pine’s source code on your own, you were not allowed to share any modified or improved form of Pine. That restriction is gone with Alpine, so if the University of Washington chooses not to accept code contributions from the hacking public, legitimate, supercharged versions of Alpine could still emerge.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Alpine. All I know is, I like the idea that if I just learn enough C, I can make the slight changes I’ve been itching to make all these years and bequeath Mahna Mahpine to the world. I like that this part of my essential software stack is Free at last.
Here I present what may be the Web’s first screenshot of Alpine
* Or is it a textual medium? Is there a copyeditor out there to make the call?
Wednesday, 29 November 2006
… but I have somehow hidden my scarf from myself during the warm months. I cannot find it anywhere. :(
Tuesday, 28 November 2006
- ITEM: “10 tangible things each of YOU can do to make traffic better” — preach it, brother!
- ITEM: Most “how to be productive” tips are shite; these are not (a similar approach works for me, anyway, when I’m of a mind to be productive)
- ITEM: Salma Hayek is shameless. And why shouldn’t she be? (technically SFW but perhaps not advised)
It feels good to give.
(It feels good because it does your soul/spirit/whatever good.)
(When was the last time you surprised someone with a simple gift? Do you remember how you felt when their face lit up?)
Monday, 27 November 2006
This is the time of year for rainy Sunday afternoons at matinees, so today I took in The Fountain
. I have been waiting for this film for quite some time. The writer-director is Darren Aronofsky, who previously brought us Pi
and Requiem For a Dream
. The former is completely bizarre and unsettling, the latter about as harsh and brutal and nightmarish a time as I’ve ever had at the movies. But both proved that Aronofsky is the real deal. He can write, and he can shoot. The Fountain
proves that like any artist, Aronofsky can also aim very high, and misfire.
The story we’re told spans a thousand years. Five hundred years ago, Hugh Jackman is Spanish conquistador Tomas, and Rachel Weisz his Queen Isabella. She sends him off to New Spain in search of the Fountain of Youth. After much toil and bloodletting, atop a Mayan pyramid he instead finds … a tree. And dies. more
Saturday, 25 November 2006
Over in the City, at the Buena Vista — the tavern that introduced Irish coffee to these shores — they’ve changed the whiskey
they pour, actually moving away from their own private blend. The owner sez money has nothing to do with it. He just likes Tullamore Dew better, and claims that was the stuff they used when Irish coffee arrived here in 1952. Hmm.
I will not judge the actions of the Buddhist monk in this news story
, but I am very, very glad that I do not experience similar impulses.
On a day like Thanksgiving, if you can’t be with family, you make family. Did you have a happy Thanksgiving? I did.
Tuesday, 21 November 2006
Here we have
American troops teasing Iraqi children who are apparently desperate for a drink of fresh water. Just listen to these asshats laughing it up. A nice reminder that there are plenty of ways to treat people cruelly without resorting to torture. Our forces seem to be exploring all options.
[spotted at Fark]
Monday, 20 November 2006
- ITEM: Souvenirs
- ITEM: How to fix shows (like Lost) that suffer from Twin Peaks syndrome
- ITEM: Now different, not as good: Best Foods mayonnaise
- ITEM: The newest attraction in NYC’s Times Square
- ITEM: Episode 1 (of 8) of David Lynch’s Rabbits (6 minute video)
Sunday, 19 November 2006
The California Golden Bears blew their chance to go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1959, losing 23-9 to USC
.[image taken by yours truly at the San Diego Zoo last December]
Saturday, 18 November 2006
The problem with NaBloPoMo
is, there are some days when I am simply not inspired at all, and posting something lame feels worse than posting nothing at all. Posting becomes a chore
. And I don’t like chores
Thursday, 16 November 2006
Two things are clear. First, tasers are not nonlethal weapons
. They kill people. Further, they bring out the worst in a particular type of bad cop: the sort that is rather too quick to inflict debilitating, nightmarish pain on anyone who doesn’t immediately fall into line.
Last night, some cops repeatedly tasered
a student at UCLA’s Powell Library. His crime? Refusing to show ID. Does this sound right to you? It sounds scary as hell to me. It’s the sort of story that makes me want to stop using the word “cops” and start using the word “pigs.” I try to reject that urge, because I don’t want to fall into the mindset of thinking all
police officers as enemies. But these officers at UCLA? Pigs.
Another student caught the incident on video
using a cell phone. Hmm. Perhaps the increasing ubiquity of video cameras in people’s pockets will ultimately help curb police brutality?
(One more thought: When I was at Cal, most students I knew made a distinction between the Berkeley city police and the UC police. Berkeley cops were all right. The UC police were pigs, every last one of ‘em. I had a roommate who was beaten by UC cops one night, for trespassing in a construction area on campus after dark. It was his contention that the UC police force was comprised of power-trippy assholes who couldn’t pass the psych exam for a true cop job. I wonder.)
[UPDATE: discussion and interesting additional linkage at MeFi]
“The reason I’m here today, the reason I own a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the reason I have a big log cabin and I got cars and all kinds of stuff is because I’m a writer and writers own everything.” — Dan Aykroyd [emphasis mine]
Tuesday, 14 November 2006
Monday, 13 November 2006
The Star of India
is one of the jewels of my hometown of San Diego. This stately and beautiful ship has been sailing the seas since 1863. It is the oldest active sailing vessel in the world. For most of the year, the Star is docked in San Diego and serves as a fascinating walk-on-board maritime museum. But for one weekend each year, she goes sailing
Would someone please get me this lovely Buddha
that is offered for sale at Costco.com (of all places)? the_lucky_duck (who sent me the link) notes that shipping and handling is included. [link fixed 11/15 22:27]
On day one of NaBloPoMo
, the_lucky_duck got a free bike
. I thought that was pretty amazing. But I had no idea I would be the next winner! Leaving the office on Friday, I espied a laser printer sitting atop a trash can at the northwest corner of 2nd and Bryant. A sheet of paper in the output tray conveyed the handwritten message “Free (works fine).” (Lesson: Blog daily, get free stuff! Who’s next?)
I have wanted a laser printer for some time. Inkjet printers — well, modern
inkjet printers* — suck all kinds of ass, unless you print regularly. If you don’t, the ink doesn’t flow right when you fire it up after three months, and you print eighteen hideous pages before you get a clean one. I have had this problem with Epsons and Canons, and I’ve been told that Lexmarks and HPs are no better. You either print a minimum of a couple times each week, keeping that expensive ink a-flowin’, or you curse whenever you use your printer. I’ve been struggling with an Epson Stylus Color 860 for several years now. I’ve wanted to heave it out the window with nearly every use.
Well, eff all that. I have a laser printer now. more
Friday, 10 November 2006
Longtime readers of this blog know that I think the Chron’s Jon Carroll is the finest newspaper columnist in the land. So I was bummed this morning to read Carroll’s latest
, in which he returns from vacation only to pour cold water all over those of us who feel uplifted by the results of this week’s election. “Nothing has changed,” he writes: “Same president, same policies, same corruption, same continuing embarrassments.”
Well, no. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Sorry. “First, a lot of those losing Republican incumbents will immediately move down K Street and become lobbyists,” Carroll says. “They will make substantially more money, and they will get to do essentially the same job: they will write the laws that govern our nation.” I tell you, they may try, but they’re going to be fighting a hard uphill battle
. Nancy Pelosi has the destruction of the Republicans’ K Street Machine very much in mind. Carroll also suggests global warming will still be treated as “alarmist nonsense.” I don’t think so
, not since Barbara Boxer now gets to define Congress’s agenda in this matter. more
— only after
— you see Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
, go read Salon’s fantastic account of what’s real and what’s staged
in the film.
- ITEM: Mistaken Identity: Innocent 17-year-old girl jailed for a week (don’t-miss pictures!)
- ITEM: Breathtaking pictures of New York City by night. [spotted at planet.gnome.org]
- ITEM: The best Onion article ever written … by a goat. [spotted at reddit]
Thursday, 09 November 2006
“I thought we were going to do fine yesterday. Shows what I know.”
— President George W. Bush, speaking of yesterday’s midterm elections in a press conference earlier today
Tuesday, 07 November 2006
It’s Election Day, and here in Alameda County, the Sequoia e-voting machines are actually not the touch-screen models I’d feared. No, we’re filling out huge-ass paper ballots with ink, and then feeding them directly into chirping electronic readers ourselves. So, we’ve got nice paper trails should we need them, no one is cursing at misaligned screens, and the biggest problem at my polling place was that one of the election workers had misplaced some of the “I Voted!” stickers.
I haven’t been this hopeful on Election Day in a long time. Let’s hope this day is the turning point we’ve been waiting for. Power to the people!
One of the main reasons I am not an iPod owner: I can’t stand the way iPods store their files with scrambled filenames, in a pathetic and half-hearted attempt to curb music piracy. I simply don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of a device that can’t speak to a computer unless that computer is running iTunes (or some Linux-based program that speak iPodese, like Rhythmbox, Amarok, Banshee, or Exaile). A hard-drive based MP3 player should just behave like a damned hard drive.
, which seems cool enough to perhaps make me an iPod owner someday. This app lives on your iPod, and runs under OS X, Windows, and Linux. It seems to let you freely copy music to and from your iPod to any computer. Can one of my iPod-using homies give this a look-see and tell me if it’s as cool as I think it is?
Monday, 06 November 2006
If you haven’t yet been exposed to Sacha Baron Cohen, the comedic dynamo behind Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
, it’s either because you don’t have HBO (where his material airs here in the States), or you don’t know anyone British who foisted upon you years ago (before Cohen was known in the States at all) a third-generation VHS copy of several BBC productions by one Ali G, one of Cohen’s characters. (I’m in that latter category, myself.) Ali G is a wannabe-gangsta who somehow cons “important people” into interviews; he positions himself as a means for Power to speak to Youth, but instead repeatedly serves as a means for Power to display its own ludicrous shortcomings. (I love the clip
of Ali G “interviewing” professional curmudgeon Andy Rooney. In three minutes, Cohen proves Rooney isn’t just a curmudgeon, but a genuine asshole.) “Da Ali G Show” has done quite well on HBO, and has been Cohen’s entry vehicle in this hemisphere, his previous film (Ali G Indahouse
) having been mostly ignored here. more
(Double-post today to make up for a busy, postless Saturday. Have I destroyed my NaBloPoMo mojo?)
The bulldog I met at the laundromat.
Friday, 03 November 2006
My alma mater’s longheld desire to renovate its football stadium has hit yet another unexpected snag: It appears that the current plans would effectively destroy
the longstanding Golden Bears institution known as Tightwad Hill. I’ve never watched a game from up there, but I’ve always liked the idea that it was a possibility. My hunch is that the university will destroy the Tightwad tradition, just as surely as it has quashed decades of tradition at nearby Bowles Hall
Thursday, 02 November 2006
1. The new Sequoia e-voting machines set to debut in my home county of Alameda next week apparently have a rather awful flaw: “Just push the yellow button and you can vote as many times as you want
.” No kidding. And of course, the brain-dead (or are they willfully devious?) public officials who have adopted this horrid technology are still missing the point. They say they’re going to ensure that poll workers watch the machines all day — to make sure there’s no funny business from the voters. Apparently nobody remembers Florida in 2000, which taught us that it’s not the voters you have to worry about, but the election officials themselves
, who now have another tool in their arsenal should they decide to rig an election and leave no evidence behind. This is frightening as all hell. The Help America Vote Act of 2002
has proven to be exactly what you would expect from the current Republican regime — a boondoggle for greedy/evil corporations that want government money (heaps of it) for producing shitty products or providing shitty services. We’re seeing it all over the map. Halliburton in Iraq. Various companies providing expensive, ineffective machines for the “security theater” ridiculousness at our airports. And then companies like Diebold and Sequoia, who really take the cake because they’re not just providing shitty solutions — they’re undermining our very democracy. Three cheers for the American Way.
2. Heard this joke last night, am loving it. How many Bush administration officials does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None
, as there is nothing wrong with the lightbulb — as a matter of fact, the situation with the lightbulb is improving every day. And it’s hard work. But any talk of a lack of illumination is liberal, Democrat spin. Besides, you think the Democrats have a plan to replace the lightbulb? They want us to just live in the dark! That’s what you’re voting for if you vote for a Democrat — you’re voting for darkness. Why do you hate our freedom?
Wednesday, 01 November 2006
PROBLEM: You want to play the music on your iPod (or other digital jukebox) in the car, where you have a factory head unit with an AUX that only talks to CD changers — and you live in an urban area where all FM frequencies are taken, so those stupid FM transmitter solutions simply don’t work at all.
SOLUTION: The Aux2Car
from Peripheral Electronics. You purchase this sucker, plus a customized harness that connects it to the head unit in your particular vehicle. As far as your car stereo is concerned, this sucker is a CD changer, but of course, it’s not. It just talks to whatever device you plug into it.
The whole shebang cost me about a hundred bucks (great prices on eBay…), and it took about an hour to install. The installation procedure includes the setting of DIP switches
, which I hadn’t encountered for years; I felt taken back in time in a very happy way. And now, there’s a plug in my car that fits right into the line out of my MP3 player (a 20GB Rockbox
-ed iRiver IHP-120 — soon to be replaced by an 80GB iPod, as soon as Rockbox runs on those), or the headphone jack of my Treo 700P cell phone, which is sporting a 4GB card full of tunes these days. Digital music in the car, at long last! HUZZAH!
Tuesday, 31 October 2006
I am following in the footsteps of HairyAlien
and committing to NaBloPoMo
, which means I’ll be posting to this blog every day in November. The idea is kind of an intentional reboot. (And besides, I’ve always been too chickenshit to try NaNoWriMo
Will you join us? Commit in the comments.
Friday, 20 October 2006
Cory Doctorow hits all the right notes with his scathing critique
of the Boy Scouts’ latest move — the creation of a merit badge for “respecting copyright.” You guessed it, the MPAA is behind this.
(UPDATE: Wow, I didn’t know this, but apparently Penn and Teller did a whole episode of their Bullshit! TV program on how the Scouts have effectively been turned into an arm of the Mormon church over the past few decades. I’m gonna have to watch this. The story is well-known to many who have been involved in Scouting during the time period, but it’s a story the mainstream media won’t touch with a ten foot pole. UPDATE 2: Turns out it’s not a merit badge in the original story; it’s an activity badge. The distinction is important, but I shan’t bore non-Scouters with the details.)
Monday, 16 October 2006
- ITEM: “The wave” that sports event crowds do — a Bay Area creation?
- ITEM: Supreme Court lets stand California ruling that municipalities may respond to the discriminatory ways of the Boy Scouts of America (covered previously)
- ITEM: “Results-Only Work Environment” — corporate speak for compassionate employment? (I need a ROWE job!)
- ITEM: Correlation is not causation, yadda yadda, but: Does TV trigger autism?
- ITEM: Neat! the_lucky_duck compares Scorsese’s The Departed with Infernal Affairs (the Hong Kong flick that inspired it)
Wednesday, 04 October 2006
Colorado Division of Wildlife officers were called to a school near Boulder on Tuesday to deal with a drunk and disorderly, bear. The wobbly bear was spotted in a neighborhood in Lyons, near Boulder, and she was having a hard time walking. Officers said the bear was probably drunk from eating fermented apples.
With video (!), so you can see for yourself: This bear was wasted!
[previous editions of Bears in the News]
Tuesday, 03 October 2006
As happened last year
, it has taken me an embarassingly long time to get my Burning Man pictures up. But here they are
, at long last.
The word I’ve been using to describe my third Burn is “transcendent.” I am still feeling the playa’s effects; I am still discerning the meaning of all I encountered and experienced; I am still in a state of flux. It is mostly a happy, happy feeling.
Wednesday, 20 September 2006
- ITEM: The neatest photograph you’ll see on the Web today.
- ITEM: “American Buddhism on the rise” sez the Christian Science Monitor.
- ITEM: It made me cry: Brother-sister Holocaust survivors find each other after 65 years. (Thanks, KW!)
- ITEM: A good take on the disgusting torture debate in Washington. “Who would Jesus attack with dogs?”
- ITEM: Heard on the radio this morning: A rockin’, twangy country remake of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” by The Gourds. (Thanks, KALX!)
- ITEM: The Knack is suing Run DMC for sampling “My Sharona” in “It’s Tricky” — 20 years ago.
- ITEM: I don’t remember this at all: The original video for “It’s Tricky” features Penn and Teller!
Tuesday, 05 September 2006
I’ve returned to what Burners call “the default world” and it’s all feeling a little weird. Typical. Over at SFist is a report
I filed from Black Rock City. I’ll have a picture gallery up here soon.
Friday, 04 August 2006
Just a few dozen yards away, the boy was squeaking and giggling and splashing up a storm. The best my camera phone could manage to record is the pathetic pixelated piclet you see here. Surprisingly, it does somehow manage to capture (for me, anyway) a bit of the human joy that was present in that moment.
(Note to self: take a real camera to the beach next time.)
Monday, 31 July 2006
Yep, I’m a Deputy Commish. Licensed to solemnize!
Sunday, 30 July 2006
Thanks in no small part to a wee bit of Perl coding by Majordojo
, I have at long last launched a new comments system here. All old comments have been carried over, and hundreds and hundreds of spam comments have been removed. Let’s see how this goes.
Monday, 10 July 2006
The Telegraph Avenue location of Cody’s Books closes today
. It’s big news
. People are sad
. I was feeling the same way until I read these latest words from owner Andy Ross:
“Students today, they use the Internet. They read their textbooks,” Ross said. “In the ’70s, they had wide-ranging intellect.”
This is not the first time Ross has blamed his clientele (and elsewhere, the city of Berkeley) for the fact that he failed to adequately respond to changes in his own industry and in his business’s immediate environment. Your bookshop is not shutting down today because 21st-century students suck and don’t read books, Mr. Ross. Your bookshop is shutting down in part because your mindset shaped your business, and that mindset has become a lot more friendly to the yuppies who inhabit your store on Fourth Street than it has to the university students of today, plenty of whom have wide-ranging intellects and might have kept your store alive had you not been so dismissive and scornful of them.
[image stolen from telegraphshop.com]
Friday, 16 June 2006
…a man who never lived
had a relatively ordinary day
. Quite extraordinary! Happy Bloomsday
I usually mark the day by wearing black (as Bloom did), having a cheese sandwich and perhaps some Burgundy for lunch (as Bloom did), and getting ripped on Guinnesses in the evening, but as I am currently on day 20 of a 28-day kidney and liver cleanse diet that prescribes no dairy and no alcohol (along with no meat, no bread, no eggs, none of your usual grains, no legumes, no pasta, no sugar, no salt, no processed foods, no foods cooked in oil, etc.), I’m having to settle for just wearing black. On a gorgeous, bright, warm sunny day. Sigh.
[Also of note: very exciting news in the Joyce world this week. More here and from The New Yorker (!) here…]
Tuesday, 02 May 2006
It’s been a while
since this blog last completely stalled, but that’s what’s happened again of late. (There were zero posts in April.) What’s up? Truth be told, I am sick
of mahnamahna.net’s look, which has largely remained the same since the site’s inception in 2002. I am also sick
of comment spam, and defeating it means getting my hands dirty with some serious hacking on the comments system I’ve got in place around here. And lastly, I want to implement modern, whiz-bang templates on my photo galleries, and again, that’s going to be somewhat of an undertaking, as the scripts I use to drive those are not very amenable to different looks and feels. So the upshot is this: Posts are likely to remain infrequent until I get this place whipped into shape. And that could take some time.
I haven’t yet reached the point on my own life path where I can experience what I imagine is the unparalleled joy of parenthood. But I am very, very much enjoying being an honorary uncle (I really need a better word or phrase than that) to two recent arrivals on this planet. Here I am with young Ben, and even younger Harper.
[Thanks to proud fathers Andy and Byrne for the great shots!]
Monday, 20 March 2006
- ITEM: Jon Carroll writes with unusually strong language this morning about those who oppose gay families, and hits it out of the park.
- ITEM: An MP3 recording of what you heard all across the FM dial in NYC the night John Lennon was murdered.
- ITEM: Michael Crichton in the NY Times: “This Essay Breaks the Law”
Friday, 17 March 2006
- ITEM: “Enough is enough. I’ve had it with these snakes.”
- ITEM: “It made me feel phenomenal. It has changed my life… . I didn’t need it. It helped someone who … needed it. “
- ITEM: Slate on Groceries #1: An Insider’s Guide to Trader Joe’s (for curious New Yorkers — who got their first TJ’s today)
- ITEM: Slate on Groceries #2: Is Whole Foods Wholesome?
Tuesday, 14 March 2006
- ITEM: The Buddha Boy has gone missing. Perhaps he needed greater peace. (Or perhaps it was all bogus from the beginning.)
- ITEM: The money connection: Nepal freezes assets collected by local committee handling Buddha Boy crowds.
- ITEM: Slate answers the question “My eyeball just fell out of its socket — what should I do?” (My own answer would be FREAK OUT like you’ve never freaked out before.)
- ITEM: Former host of “Press Your Luck” killed in small plane crash. (I hope the investigation rules out sabotage by the Whammy.)
Tuesday, 07 March 2006
- ITEM: Crime’s up in Oakland
- ITEM: Walter Cronkite’s speech to the Drug Policy Alliance
- ITEM: Classical learning curves for some common text editors (I love the one for vi, but that’s probably because I’ve learned vi!)
- ITEM: Porkchop Sandwiches! (I incapacitated a colleague with this video earlier today — use headphones if you’re at work…)
Tuesday, 28 February 2006
This one reminds me a bit of those 90s-era feel-good Chevron commercials: Do people delay their plans to construct new power lines just so a mama bear and her cubs can sleep peacefully through the bitter Wisconsin winter? People do
[previous editions of Bears in the News]
Friday, 17 February 2006
- ITEM: I’ve always thought that Segways are kinda ridiculous and would only be worthwhile if we actually tore down and rebuilt our cities to take proper advantage of them. Now Segway inventor Dean Kamen is back with a couple of ideas that could very definitely change the world.
- ITEM: Homeland Security cop-thugs are protecting us all from … pornography.
- ITEM: Homeland Security cop-thugs are also interested in the stickers you put on your car.
- ITEM: Here’s a shocker: Wal-Mart’s CEO, H. Lee Scott Jr., is kind of an asshole.
- ITEM: reddit.com is without a doubt the best “what’s new and/or interesting on the Web” resource I’ve yet encountered.
Ram Bahadur Bomjan
, a young man of fifteen, has allegedly been “meditating at the base of a peepal tree in Nepal’s Bara District, without food, water, sleep or the need to use the toilet” — for nine months now. A peepal tree is kind of a big deal in Buddhism — the Bodhi Tree
, under which the Buddha sat until he achieved enlightenment, was a peepal tree.
I’ve been following this story as best I can for a few months now (here’s an earlier story
from which I cribbed the image of Ram), but still can’t make up my mind whether this is an elaborate hoax or something of a miracle. I do not buy into the speculation that Ram is the new Buddha — as I understand it, the next Buddha (the tenth Buddha, the Maitreya Buddha
) will not arrive until the Shakyamuni Buddha
(the ninth Buddha, born Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha we refer to when we just say “the Buddha”) is completely forgotten, along with his dharma. But I do know this: I feel sorry for the cynics and the hard-core scientist types who immediately respond
that there is no freaking way this is on the level, that what is purported to be happening here is simply not possible, period. I think the world would be a more peaceful place if every human mind were open enough to consider the possibility of miraculous events and undertakings. As I have pointed out before
, “There are things your science cannot explain, doctor.” And even if this is
a hoax, even if Ram is
secretly chowing down and taking dumps each night, that this young man can meditate all day long, day in, day out, for months on end — that is something in and of itself, and I freely admit, there is a part of me that envies that ability. And that stillness.
Six years ago today, Chronicle
columnist Jon Carroll published what I still feel is the finest single newspaper column ever
. I’ve kept a copy tacked to the wall of my cubicle at work ever since, and when I am feeling down, I often read it for a nice little shot of pronoia
. I mean, my socks are dry. What more is there?
Wednesday, 15 February 2006
Here we have a story from Hartland, Maine. Seems a distraught man tried to do himself in … via self-crucifixion. He didn’t get too far
“When he realized that he was unable to nail his other hand to the board, he called 911,” Boucher said.
The poor guy. He never read one of my all-time favorite poems, Love Song: I and Thou
by Alan Dugan. I was going to quote from the oh-so-delicious ending here, but then realized that doing so would spoil the effect of the work for those who’ve never read it. So just go read it!
Ten years ago (!) yesterday, my day started off as usual: I rose from my twin-sized bed in a large house on MLK in Berkeley; I donned my bathrobe, walked downstairs, and grabbed my copy of the Chronicle
, which I subscribed to back then, the Web having not really taken off yet as a primary means of gathering one’s news. It’s weird, now, thinking back to days when the dead-trees version of the paper was something I not only paid for but looked forward to each morning. How alien!
Anyway, in 1996 local legend Herb Caen
was still alive, still writing the best three-dot column anywhere. His need for more “items” was insatiable, and one time, I happened upon something that seemed item-worthy, so I sent it in. And on that splendid Tuesday morning ten years ago, I damn near had a heart attack when I saw my name down there at the very end of the column
. My item had made the cut!
I’ve been thinking about making some changes to mahnamahna.net, and recalling this happy little episode has given me an idea. Coming soon to the mahna mahblog: ITEMS. Stay tuned!
Monday, 23 January 2006
Molly Ivins’s latest piece
— a barnstormer about why she won’t support Hillary in ‘08 — actually has me feeling better about our country than anything I’ve read in a good long while:
… The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush’s tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes. The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do “whatever it takes” to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax.
Monday, 09 January 2006
I have now completed thirty-one journeys around the sun. Saturday night, I celebrated karaoke-style with a few friends:
Thursday, 05 January 2006
I guess I should have gone Christmas shopping in New York after all: Gothamist reports that the finest Jewish deli on the planet, the 2nd Avenue Deli, has closed
and may not reopen, due to raised rent. My brother gave me the shop’s cookbook
for Christmas, and I was disappointed to find that their method for making pastrami was not revealed, and now it seems I may never again enjoy their luscious sandwiches. A corned beef and pastrami combo (with just a bit of brown mustard) and a Heineken (the best beer they offered) — that was Lower East Side nirvana for me. I last enjoyed such a meal almost two years ago. Sniff.