Posts from 2008

Mad Props: A No-Bullshit Guide to California’s Ballot Measures

It’s election season, which means the people of California once again have the chance to inflict grievous harm upon their beloved state via the initiative process. As I explained in the first edition of Mad Props, as a native Californian and lifelong student of politics, I’ve come to view statewide ballot measures as something of a menace. In several elections, I’ve voted NO on every single proposition; any given measure has a very steep uphill climb to convince me it’s worth a YES.

This time around, there are five propositions worth voting for. Here, then, are my recommendations, and remember, by “recommendations,” I mean, “vote this way or you’re part of the problem”:

  • Proposition 1A: High-Speed Rail. (info @ Ballotpedia)
    You Should Vote: YES
    Why:
    Make no mistake, this proposition represents California’s last chance at building a high-speed rail link between the Bay Area and Southern …
read full post…

Man Stuff

Esquire’s list of The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master is surprisingly good. (Also surprising: They present it all on one Web page.)

It seems I score a 53, or 70%. A few data points:

Things I am proud to be able to do: score a baseball game, recite a poem from memory, build a campfire, iron a shirt, give advice that matters in one sentence, cook meat somewhere other than the grill, dress a wound, caress a woman’s neck, and know my poison, without standing there, pondering like a dope.

Things I have not mastered (or have not tried) and am ambivalent about: play gin with an old guy, deliver a eulogy, throw a punch, and understand quantum physics well enough to accept that a quarter might, at some point, pass straight through the table when dropped.

Things I wish I could do: tell a woman’s dress size, hit … read full post…

Whirlwind

Yesterday: Laid off by my employer.

Tomorrow: My first-ever trip to Hawaii.

In between: Completely reacquainted myself with the unstoppable combined powers of the dharma, meditation, and the deep and abiding love of many wonderful people who care for me so much it’s beyond humbling.

New chapters await. An overdue reshuffling of priorities. Already, this soon, excitement is overtaking fear …

(Ka is a wheel!)

Bears In the News

silly old bearIt seems that in Macedonia, you can sue an animal. So when a bear ransacked a beekeeper’s hives, said beekeeper took the bear to court, suing for damages. And won. You may ask: Uh, who will pay? Don’t you worry, Macedonian courts think of everything:
A court in the city of Bitola found the bear guilty, and since it had no owner and belonged to a protected species, ordered the state to pay the 140,000 denars (1,726 pounds) [roughly US$3500] damage it caused to the hives.

Mad Props: A Voter’s Guide to California’s Ballot Measures

There is a ‘politics’ category on this blog for a simple reason: I am a lifelong student of the subject. This is partly due to circumstance. My father is a professor of political science—meaning, for instance, that back in the 80s, when I was wee, come a Friday night, the household’s singular television would spend half an hour tuned to PBS’s Washington Week in Review before we could move on to the “good stuff” (like Night Flight). But over time, dammit, political and current-events programming became the “good stuff” as far as I was concerned, and so it was, when I got to college, that studying literature wasn’t enough; I had to study literature and political science—thus leading to the unforgettable moment on the phone when dear old dad laughed and noted that I had chosen “not one, but two completely useless majors.” Ahem.

As a lifelong student … read full post…

Lock the Freaking Tray Tables

The “Can a plane on a treadmill take off?” debate returned to BoingBoing yesterday. More than a hundred comments so far. Everybody thinks they’re right; some of them are certainly wrong. Luckily, we get to find out who’s wrong Wednesday night on MythBusters, a show I’ve never seen on some cable network I never watch—but I will, because I want to see happen what I know will happen: The plane will take off. Why? Because Cecil Adams says so.

A Present, Every Day

Dale CooperHarry, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just … let it happen. Could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or … two cups of good, hot, black coffee.”

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper

Item Item Hoozgotta Item

  • ITEM: James Joyce gets namechecked in this lovely report of snow falling in Baghdad for the first time in living memory.
  • ITEM: How to Read The New Yorker in 10 Easy Steps
  • ITEM: Best Blogs of 2007 That You (Maybe) Aren’t Reading (this list introduced me to the wonderful bookforum)
  • ITEM: I wish this Ask MetaFilter thread on cooking for one were longer, but it’s got some nice ideas.
  • ITEM: Answers to the questions Cecil Adams refuses to answer. (Not bad!)
  • ITEM: For the geeks: Richard Stallman gets flamed. From the comments: “On the whole, RMS comes off as the most reasonable participant in the discussion. For all his reputation of extremist dogmatism, he’s not the one slinging ad hominems and resorting to hyperbolic fallacies. Indeed, his patience in the face of such is almost eerie.” I would say “zen-like.”
  • ITEM: For the geeks #2: Mark Pilgrim …
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Turn Turn Turn

me @ 33Last year, I took my birthday off from work. That was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If you can, you should take your birthday off. Period. And do what you want to do. Which, today, I did. And it was wonderful.

Among a great many other things, I returned, for the first time in years, to a place that fills me with great wonder and great emotion, a place that is, in many ways, my own personal Dark Tower. I stood at the gate today and I commanded it to open to me. It opened. And the end of the story is one that I keep to myself, but I tell you this: As with any really good ending, it was really more of a beginning.

Ka is a wheel.”

— Roland Deschain, of Gilead

To all who showered me with gifts and great, great love … read full post…