mahna mahna .net

Like many personal blogs of its era, this blog is moribund, a casualty of what we might call "the Facebook effect." However, as of late 2015, two things are clear: (1) The Indie Web is a thing, and (2) the re-decentralization of the web is a thing. So who knows? 2016 2017 (!) could be the year this blog rises from its own ashes. Stay tuned!

Saturday, 18 November 2006
sad bear

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]
posted to /news at 11:18pm :: 0 responses
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]
posted to /news at 11:16am :: 0 responses
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.
posted to /news at 2:13pm :: 0 responses
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.)
posted to /news at 1:20pm :: 0 responses
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]
posted to /news at 12:04pm :: 0 responses
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]
posted to /news at 1:28pm :: 0 responses
Friday, 17 February 2006
Ram Bahadur BomjamRam 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.
posted to /news at 1:17pm :: 0 responses
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!
posted to /news at 3:15pm :: 0 responses
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.
posted to /news at 11:05am :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 07 December 2005
I love it when there’s a bear in the news! This time we’ve got a 600 pound black bear up in Pennsylvania who decided he’d hibernate under some poor family’s porch this winter. There’s only one way this can go:
On Sunday, Sainvil sent his two children, ages 8 and 9, outside to play in the snow. “After 15 or 20 minutes, they came back screaming, ‘Dad, Dad! There’s a bear under the house!’” Sainvil said.
Earlier today, the bear was relocated without incident.

[previous editions of Bears in the News]
posted to /news at 1:07pm :: 0 responses
Thursday, 20 October 2005
Kevin PadianWhen I was at Cal, I had to take a damn physical sciences course, so as a freshman, I took Integrative Biology 33, a famed Dinosaurs 101* sort of class usually taught by one Kevin Padian, who turned out to be one of the top five professors I ever had. Padian is Mr. Paleontology at Berkeley, and his classes are absolutely electric. The dude has the kind of passion for his work that is contagious. When you hear him talk about how birds developed from raptorish dinos, you get excited, not just because he pumps the story full of wonder and energy, but because the man knows his stuff like no one else, and he manages to work every last shred of evidence for his case into the folksy talk he’s giving you.

But wait, he gets better. Here’s how big a cross-discipline thinker Padian is: He taught a seminar in the English department, which I had the honor and pleasure of taking. The subject of the course was something like “Darwin’s ideas in literature” — it was basically a survey of how Darwin’s world-shaking theory of natural selection (not “evolution” — remember, that word appears nowhere in The Origin of Species) got into people’s brains and stuck there and started dripping out into art and culture. We read Tess of the D’Urbervilles and The French Lieutenant’s Woman with an eye toward Darwinian ideas emerging in plot and character motivation. It was fantastic stuff. more...
posted to /news at 8:20am :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 28 September 2005
Thanks to conservative know-nothing white schmuck Iowa Representative Steve King — a man who believes that Joe McCarthy was “a hero for America” — and others, Berkeley’s main post office will not be renamed after local hero Maudelle Shirek. The Chronicle has the infuriating story.
posted to /news at 11:28am :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 13 July 2005
The English translation offered at this Russian news site ain’t exactly perfect. Excellent.
Drunk man has tried to scuffle with a bear in a zoo in Ukraine and has been heavily hit… . [The man] decided to show his force, jumped over the gate and started to pretend a trainer. In response, the bear weighing 270 kilograms [595 pounds] seriously hit the man. more…
[Spotted at Fark. Blurry bear photo from PDPhoto.org. Thank you for visiting mahnamahna.net, where we do the wacky measurement conversions for you.]
posted to /news at 11:13pm :: 1 response
Tuesday, 12 July 2005
Animal experts in Croatia say a bear has learned how to trick people to let him in by knocking at the door. They believe the 35-stone [490-pound] brown bear probably learned the trick while nudging a door to get it to open. more…
[spotted at Follow Me Here; previous Bears In the News: here and here]
posted to /news at 10:12am :: 0 responses
Wednesday, 11 May 2005
The United States Senate passed a law yesterday that, for all intents and purposes, mandates a national ID card. If nothing else changes, you’ll have a new driver’s license in three years, and, as noted cryptography and security expert Bruce Schneier explains, this new card will make you less safe. (If you’re not familiar with the issues he raises, his links are helpful.) The new cards will also, of course, cost your cash-strapped state a fortune.

This legislation was rammed through the Senate as an attachment to the latest military spending bill, which Senators just can’t bring themselves to vote against, no matter what is attached. In fact, there wasn’t even any debate held over the national ID card provisions. And the press? So far, they’re turning this into the most underreported story of the year thus far. (And they wonder why people are quitting newspapers and the evening news…)
posted to /news at 11:11am :: 0 responses
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