Posts from 2007

Another Set of Winter Friday Items

  • ITEM: News so happy, I’m verklempt: New York’s 2nd Avenue Deli finally reopens next week (just off 2nd Ave). Time to book a flight!
  • ITEM: Jon Carroll’s yearly pitch: This holiday season, won’t you volunteer for the Untied Way?
  • ITEM: Fan reviews of Tuesday night’s Tool concert at the Civic Auditorium. It was, of course, an absolutely transcendent experience. We should be erecting statues of Maynard James Keenan in all the major cities. :)
  • ITEM: You know how there’s that stretch of road in our beloved East Bay that is both I-80 East and I-580 West, while the other side of the road is both I-80 West and I-580 East (all this despite the fact that the road runs mostly north-south)? Turns out there’s a cracktastic term for this.
  • ITEM: I worked a fifteen hour shift yesterday to help launch this … the new Macworld.com!

Items Gathered On a Chilly Friday

  • ITEM: I ordered an XO laptop and cannot wait for it to arrive. Are you a geek? Perhaps one with a child in your life? Here’s why you should follow suit (the Give 1 Get 1 program has been extended till 12/31).
  • ITEM: John Carroll wrote two amazing columns this week. First up, his take on the rich fucktards in Seadrift who think they own the beach. (Are you a transplant to California? Then listen the fuck up: In this state, the people own the beach.)
  • ITEM: John Carroll #2: At his funniest, on what can happen come a Tuesday.
  • ITEM: Just another lie: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said “Israel must be wiped off the map.”
  • ITEM: Stanfurd 13-point favorites for tomorrow’s Big Game. “I have a bad feeling about this.” GO BEARS!

We Are These Changes (or, Good News Indeed)

It doesn’t get much better than when one of your favorite musicians gives you a sudden and unexpected dose of the spiritual truths you hold dear:

autumn leaves And she spoke unto me, saying:
‘Fear not the movement of the heavens above
Or the earth below
For change is what we are, my child!
Righteous are those who look up and sway with the wind,
Who look down and dance with the shifting of the soil,
Who swim with the movement of the tides,
Who seek the truth around them and discover,
We are and have always been in paradise —
The reflections of heaven on earth! Amen!’


And she spoke again, saying:
‘Know, my child, that there is no devil
Seeking to cause guilt nor harm to men.
No evil save blind faith, ignorance,
And the desire for the unprepared to blame others
For the devastation left in the wake of …
read full post…

This Blog’s First-Ever Celebrity-Sighting

Spotted brunching together at the table next to me this morning at La Note in Berkeley: Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon. They shared a Sunday New York Times as they waited for Berkeley’s best breakfast to arrive. Reese is a tiny little thing, and even mousier in person than on the screen. (I’ve never understood why some guys find her dreamy.) Jake is a hunk who apparently has to do battle with acne, just like a real person.

This Weekend In College Football

Let’s just forget about what’s happening in Division I football (sez this Cal fan)—direct your attention, please, to Division III! Trinity beats Millsaps 28-24 on the final play of the game. Fifteen laterals. Fifteen. Linkage: story · video (includes announcer calling the play beautifully and then losing his mind)

Money quote from the Chronicle story—the team’s coach, when asked if they had practiced such a play:
“Are you kidding?” he said. “We couldn’t do that against air.”

Everybody Loves Friday Items

  • ITEM: Blade Runner: The Final Cut, now showing in LA and NYC, arrives in San Francisco November 30.
  • ITEM: Douglass Rushkoff on 9/11 “Truthers.” I have just about had it with these people. (Seems Bill Clinton feels similarly.)
  • ITEM: Mark Morford on the danger of progressive extremists. (He’s absolutely right, and, happily, this piece is less shrill than most Morford screeds.)
  • ITEM: Elementary school science: Nearly extinct. This is so depressing. By the time I have a school-aged child, will there be any public schools left worth sending him or her to?
  • ITEM: New Orleans, two years after Katrina, in pictures. Heartbreaking.

You Can See My Hose Right Here, Valiantly Trying To Do Something…”

I last blogged about fires in my hometown of San Diego four years ago. Seems half the area is aflame once again tonight. I’ve got cousins who are under evacuation orders; everyone’s safe and sound.

Digression: As far back as I can remember, there’s been this dude (yep, a proper dude like you only get down south) named Larry Himmel on San Diego’s CBS affiliate, channel 8. He’s always been the guy who does feel-good pieces about the city, its people, its institutions, et cetera. If you’re the news director and you need ninety seconds on the diner out in Crest where some of the regulars have been regulars since the fifties, Larry’s your man. You need a heartwarming broadcast-closer about kids picking pumpkins up at Bates Nut Farm, you put Larry on it. Larry’s stuff has never been “news” or even “important,” but he’s very, very good … read full post…

I’m Listening

rainbowIt’s a rainy fall night here in Oakland, but it’s morning in the U.K., where Radiohead’s e-mail bot has sprung into action and delivered to me a link to the new album, In Rainbows, which is causing music executives around the world to cut themselves with knives.

For about a year, I’ve been enjoying recordings from the band’s summer 2006 tour (including the Berkeley show I attended), across which most of the material on this new album is performed several times. There’s this lovely collection of songs I only know by their live versions, because that’s all there’s been, and now, I get the studio takes. Luscious, I just betcha.

I’ll know soon enough. But right now, I’m hating my pokey DSL line.

(01:01 10/10 UPDATE: Yes, some luscious stuff. A dreamier sound. Echoes. First impressions include: “Nude” is amazing; not sure I like what they did to … read full post…

Bears In the News

hanging bearI’m a bit late picking this one up, but the pictures alone make it worth circling back to: A black bear recently escaped from oncoming highway traffic near Donner Summit by jumping over the side of a bridge. The poor creature spent the night trapped beneath the roadway, on the bridge’s superstructure, and was hanging on for dear life by the next day. A rescue effort was mounted; a tranq dart was employed; all’s well that ends well.

Some Justice, Perhaps

Contra Costa prosecutors say they know who killed Rex Farrance. The three men involved are already behind bars on other charges; all three are now eligible for the death penalty under California law.

A colleague of mine for eight years, Rex was shot during a home invasion robbery earlier this year. He is and will always be dearly missed. I had begun to doubt that the wheels of justice would ever begin to turn in this case, but now, here they go, doing that slow, deliberate, creaky thing that they do.

Items I’ve Collected Over the Past Couple of Weeks

  • ITEM: “Animals at Play” (short video): I cannot shake the sense that the bear and the dog recognized each other as old friends from a previous existence and were just overjoyed to have encountered each other again.
  • ITEM: “School Cheating Scandal Divides N.H. Town”: We had a similar, far more widespread situation at my own high school during my years there; the kids involved were never punished and happily moved on to schools like Princeton and Stanfurd. Sounds like things work differently in New Hampshire.
  • ITEM: The Solano Drive-In: I had no idea there was an extant drive-in movie theater in the Bay Area! Gotta go!
  • ITEM: H.L. Mencken, writing in 1920: “On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
  • ITEM: Sanity prevails…or does it? Southwest Airlines …
read full post…

A Change of Heart

So the conservative jackass mayor of the conservative jackass town where I grew up turns out not to be quite such a conservative jackass after all. Two years ago, when running for mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders was firmly supportive of civil unions and firmly against gay marriage, which played well with the conservative jackasses who populate the city. Yesterday, in a moving, tearful speech, he explained he has had a “change of heart,” and revealed for the first time that this issue hits home for him:
“I have close family members and friends who are a member of the gay and lesbian community. Those folks include my daughter Lisa, as well as members of my personal staff.

“I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones — for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves …
read full post…

Where You Find the Buddha

I read Jeffrey Zeldman’s blog for the tech, but today there was a happy diversion. On the occasion of his daughter’s first day of preschool, Zeldman noted:
Nothing says Buddhism like raising a child. To cherish what has already changed as you look upon it. To hold most tightly what you must most let go.
How wonderful! I can’t wait for the day I experience it myself. But in the meantime, I note that parenting is practice (“practice” in the Buddhist sense), because everything is practice: waking up is practice, cooking an egg is practice, your morning commute is practice, taking out the trash is practice, sitting is practice, walking is practice, breathing is practice. I had to go to Kaiser this morning to have blood drawn: practice.

Everything you experience, every action you undertake can be a gentle reminder of the Middle Way. Babies have the Buddha’s … read full post…

Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed

the Burning Man It has now been two weeks since I returned from Burning Man 2007 in Black Rock City, Nevada, and the experience is still reverberating within.

T.S. Eliot etched the phrase “unreal city” into my head a long time ago, but ever since my first trip to the playa, I’ve used those words pretty much exclusively to describe Black Rock City. They dance in my head when I daydream of being there; they echo unceasingly as I wander the city during the one magical week it arises each year.

Has there ever been a place more deserving of the tag “unreal”? My yearly slideshow only scratches the very surface, really, but perhaps one or two of these images will convince you that Black Rock City is a place like no other…

The Burning Man 2007 gallery is now open in the museyroom: Visit the index or begin with the first … read full post…

A Few Links I’ve Left Lying Around

  • ITEM: Alphablogger J-Walk goes to Amsterdam, can’t believe all the bikes.
  • ITEM: “How To Be Happier By the End of the Day” — not bad, actually.
  • ITEM: “Chick flicks?” Sure, they exist, admits Gloria Steinem. But then, so do “prick flicks.” Brilliant!
  • ITEM: “Brain Scans Reveal Why Meditation Works” — this is great and all, but I remain convinced that meditation’s power is lessened the moment a scientist starts trying to measure it. (The same goes for the power of prayer.)
  • ITEM: Public elementary school students right here in Oakland are receiving mindfulness training. Right on!

On Missing Dear Friends

This morning, John Carroll said:
I mean, come on, it’s New York. It’s the city that never sleeps because people are up all night thinking and fantasizing and making plans. I know where my home is, but I also know where New York is. Being there was like spending time with an old friend.
I know how he feels. I have not traveled the globe nearly as much as I would have liked by this point in my life, but I have made a few dear friends that I do not get to see nearly often enough. I miss my dear friend New York City very much; my heartache over letting many years pass between visits will perhaps be lessened if the 2nd Avenue Deli is in fact reborn by the time I get back there. I miss my more remote friend Amsterdam terribly and despair at the … read full post…

Welcome to July

Hello, everyone. After a coupla months spent out of gas, I think the engine’s fired up once again here at mahnamahna.net. I’ve been busy with a few things while I’ve been silent. In fact, check this out: I HAS WRITED A SOFTWARE!!1

Devidify iconDevidify is a humble little hack
for extracting audio tracks from DVDs.

Devidify has its own exhibit over in the newly-renovated mahnamahna.net museyroom.

More fun stuff on the way, I think. There’s gas again now.

Bulb to Burn Out?

The Chronicle reports on a plan to “ruin” the Albany Bulb. This is the best (and most affectionate) portrait of the Bulb’s current state that I’ve seen in the mainstream media. I will never forget my first visit to the Bulb (back in 2001, when the Sniff pieces were in much better shape and not, it seems, as well known), and the place has grown quite dear to me since then. I hope that its freewheeling nature—indicative of much that is special and good about the Bay Area—can be preserved.

Free Software Geeks Know What’s Good

I read planet.gnome.org on weekday mornings, mostly to find out what’s happening in Gnome development. But the geeks who build my interface of choice frequently have great posts on non-techy topics, too. Two from this week:
  • Murray visited Amsterdam (for my money, the most beautiful and civilized city on the planet), and has some insightful comments about what makes the place so damned inviting and livable: “I had no idea that such a vast amount of the old city exists and in such a perfect state. There’s a functional found beauty to the rows of high narrow canal houses and repurposed warehouses… . The streets are an obstacle to cars, to the benefit of pedestrians, bicycles, and general well-being.”

  • Jamin sings the praises of sardines. “Sardines are amazing. They are cheap (75-85 cents a can where I shop), have a shelf life of several years, are high in protein, …
read full post…

A Triad of Friday Items (To Prove I’m Not Dead)

  • ITEM: A very selfless bird tried to make the world a better place today, and, sadly, failed.
  • ITEM: Was not aware, am very glad to hear: There is a movement afoot to lower the drinking age in this country to 18. (I’m always shocked when older folks don’t realize that most college drinking these days is illegal because of the stupid age-21 laws.)
  • ITEM: On eHarmony, folks are asked to name the last book they read and enjoyed. I close the match anytime a person responds with an Ayn Rand novel or The Da Vinci Code (which happens more often that you’d expect). I’m three years late finding this, but someone took the time to explain (better than I ever could) why Dan Brown’s book is such a dreadful POS. [spotted at kottke.org]