Archive of Posts from September 2001

It was like something out of a difference-between-men-and-women stand-up routine last night at the store. I drug skp out specifically to pick up the Simpsons DVDs which she wasn't thrilled about. But in the store, right next to them, was a box full of Pride and Prejudice DVDs. She freaked. out. I've only seen bits of that show as I'm running out of the room, but it looks like people in elaborate costumes speaking stilted english; going on and on about some Mr. Darcy. It has rubbed off on skp. It's Mr. Darcy this and Mr. Darcy that around here.

Tonight I'll get, "Mr. Darcy would never post something like that to his weblog."

If you don't already own it, stop whatever you're doing and purchase the Simpsons Complete First Season on DVD. (Tip: My local discount store was cheaper than Amazon.) Or better yet, find someone like me who already purchased the DVDs, and invite yourself over for a Simpsons festivus. While the first season isn't as good as later seasons, it's fascinating to hear Matt Groening and other creators dissecting each episode. (At one point they talk about how they standardized pupil size!) They've also included three originial scripts, complete with pen marks. mmmm, pen marks.

Had a great weekend. On Sunday I got out into the sun and hiked up Bald Mountain. It's more a hill than a mountain. It was still a good hike, and my legs are a bit shakey today. Great views of Sonoma County geography from the top:


On top of Bald Mountain


Yellow Pondlilly

"Encryption is a powerful defensive weapon for free people. It offers a technical guarantee of privacy, regardless of who is running the government. It's hard to think of a more powerful, less dangerous tool for liberty."
- Esther Dyson

During these trying times it's important to protect and defend our liberties.

I only caught part of the President's speech at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. earlier today, but the soundbites I saw were great. He said: "Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don't represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior." It's an important message. [link via Metafilter]

Fray Day 5

Fray Day last week was great as usual. It was nice to see friends and hear some great stories. I finally got the pictures developed. Click below to take a look:


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Last time I went out with my 35mm camera (for Fray Day) I decided to try out some Kodak 3200 Black & White Film. I knew I was going to be in low light and didn't want to use a flash. I like the grainy effect. A few of the pictures didn't quite fit in with the Fray Day batch, so they're in their own spot:


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Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, weighs in with Game Over: The End of Video Game Wars.

As I've been reading thoughts around the web, there are a growing number of people advocating a thoughtful response and criticism for blind vengence. AlterNet is a weblog pointing to articles that share this alternative viewpoint. As Spin of the Day eloquently states: "Just when cautious response, political criticism, wise analysis, public education and more just international policies are most needed, diverse voices and opinions may be drowned out or declared un-American." I'm worried about this too, but I think it's very American to voice your opinion. Especially when that opinion is not the majority opinion.

Booknotes has collected a group of pleas for peace from around the web; including a letter to the president from The Dalai Lama. [via rebecca]

The news on TV seems so hateful and angry, and I can understand why. And I appreciate Meg's post as an attempt to cut through the angry rhetoric and understand why people are motivated to take these evil actions. When the world around me seems ready to explode, I read my favorite authors to put things in perspective. Here's a section from Thich Nhat Hanh's book Touching Peace about the Gulf War and war in general:
    When President Bush gave the order to attack Iraq, many of us suffered at the same time. I was at Plum Village giving a lecture on the Avatamsaka Sutra, and in the middle of a sentence, I suddenly said, "I don't think I will go to to America this spring, I really don't want to go there now." We all paused for a long moment to breathe, and then I resumed the lecture. That afternoon during a tea meditation, a number of students from North America told me that because I felt that way, I should go. They reminded me that friends in the U.S. had been working hard to organize retreats there, and they helped me see that many Americans also suffered when the President gave the order to attack. So I decided to go in order to support them and share their suffering.
    I understood that President Bush is a bodhisattva trying in his way to serve his people. Early in the conflict he instituted an embargo, but because we did not encourage him enough, he became impatient and suddenly war was inevitable. When he ordered the ground attack and said, "God bless the United States of America," I knew that bodhisattva needed our help. Any leader needs our help and our understanding. We must use intelligent and loving language so he will listen to us. When we get angry, we cannot do that. I listened to my American friends in Plum Village quietly and serenely, and I accepted their advice to go to the United States.
    If we get angry, countless obstacles will be set up, blocking our way. So, without anger, we have to find a way to tell the president that God cannot bless one country against another. He must learn to pray better than that. But we should not think that simply by electing another president, the situation will be transformed. If we want a better government, we have to begin by changing our own consciousness and our own way of life. Our society is ruled by greed and violence. The way to help our country and our president is by transforming the greed and violence in ourselves and working to transform society.
He goes on to talk about his own experience in Viet Nam and later adds:
Eighty perecent of the American people supported the Gulf War and called it clean and moral. They do not understand the true nature of war. Anyone who has seen a war would not say that...We who have touched war have a duty to bring the truth about war to those who have not had a direct experience of it. We are the light at the tip of the candle. It is very hot, but it has the power of shining and illuminating.
I'm very worried that soon we'll all be touching war. The cycle will continue if people don't voice their oppositions; and many more lives will be tragically lost.

Talking with skp last night, I realized that I don't know enough about the Middle East or its culture to make informed opinions. I'm trying to remedy that. After a long search through books about the region, I ordered three with different views: I have no idea if the books are any good. Also, Jason pointed to a Journalist's Guide to Arab Americans that has some good basic information.

Craig sent a link to Thomas L. Friedman's latest column. Titled, no less, World War III.

It has been a horrible and shocking day, even though I'm 3,000 miles away from the tragedy. A couple of quotes I've been thinking about: I heard Elie Wiesel in an interview say, "It's the value of the witness that determines the character and fate of justice in the land." And this poem by Thich Nhat Hanh:

Flarebombs bloom on the dark sky.
A child claps his hands and laughs.
I hear the sound of guns,
and the laughter dies.

But the witness
remains.

I heard somewhere that if every citizen of Japan were to jump up and down at exactly the same time, it would create a tidal wave that would hit the US. For some reason that image always made me laugh, but I didn't think someone would actually organize something similar. Great, now the US needs to build an anti-jumping-caused-earthquake shield of some kind to reduce the threat of rogue jumping caused earthquakes/tidal waves.

psst, we're all jumping tomorrow at noon. pass it on.

mediachannel.org: When Is A Journalist A Journalist? : "Most mainstream journalists don't acknowledge how their own ideologies (or the pressures of their employers) guide their work. Yet they are considered 'real journalists' because of their insider status and where they stand in the pecking order of some media combine." [via sotd]

The cable channel CNN Headline News has officially gone down the crapper. Last month they changed their format to feature "younger faces" and "hipper content" in an attempt to compete with MSNBC. In the process, the channel has become worthless. Please allow me to break it down rant style:

The New Look

Yep, it looks like a web page now. A graphic "slide" related to the current story hovers in the upper lefthand corner. This might be a picture of a shark with the words Shark Attack, bullet points of facts about the story they're showing, or short quotes from the people involved in the story. Below this, the Headline section, comes hypertext complete with different colored, underlined subjects and a brief excerpt from the article. The problem is, we can't click on it to get the whole article. The blurbs often aren't enough to make sense of what we're reading even if we wanted to. Then, the weather takes up the lower right portion of the screen and scrolls through different large graphics with current temperatures. I'm glad I can see a sun icon while I find out the temperature in Texas. And finally they have a tiny, tiny window where the video is shown. On the web, video has to be tiny thanks to bandwidth restrictions. On TV, there is no excuse. If only the commercials were in that tiny box as well.

The Content

The concept behind "Headline News" is that you get the latest news headlines right away. Pre-AOL makeover, the channel used to show the top news stories at the top of the hour. These days if you tune in at the top of the hour, you're likely to see a 5 to 10 minute live-on-location report about stem cell research. Great for CNN, bad as a headline. Which brings me to the Headlines section: This text area is not usually news, but promotions for various CNN shows. "Oprah will be on Larry King" was one I saw recently. That's a headline? Their "news stories" lately aren't much better. They had a "Breaking News" segment a moment ago detailing the dinner menu for a state event at the Whitehouse. To which the anchor replied, "Mmm, good eats at the Whitehouse tonight."

The Sell

We all know news has become entertainment. I enjoy the short attention span media as much as the next person. But AOL Time Warner seems to have taken it past entertainment to a new level of marketing. We aren't getting news on CNN Headline News. We're getting commercials - of course - but now the content passing as news between the commercials is merely more commercials for more AOL Time Warner media products (which may, in fact, be commercials themselves). To come up with this new format, they probably paid some consultant a huge sum to spin yarns about the new visual language of their target demographic (younger viewers like me). Instead of speaking to me, however, the channel has become the confused MTV of news. That's not a good thing.


the coast in fog at Bodega Head

As matt mentioned on his site, I took my new GPS out for some geocaching yesterday. It was fun, and we saw some great scenery as we hiked around Bodega Head. After we found the cache, we logged our visit on a notebook inside. We also took a picture and left some New Zealand money for another visitor.


skp and matt at the cache


matt watching the fog roll in