Monday, March 31, 2008

Cesar Estrada Chavez

Way back when, in the old school days, I was a college student participating in an organization that brought Cesar E. Chavez to Princeton to talk about the grape boycott. First we had to raise the money to host the talk. It seemed like an insurmountable feat, but, luckily, I was not in charge of that piece of the plan. Then we had to raise the consciousness on campus about the issue, to make sure we had a packed auditorium. As the social chair, I was tasked with this piece. It made sense, but it may have been a greater hurdle than I expected.

We were sent short videos, we put up posters; this was pre-internet, so there were no email blasts. We set up the videos outside of dining halls and tried to get our classmates to be interested in the plight of farm workers in California. I am not sure how much of a dent we made in their consciousness. Unless you were really willing to watch the video, just walking by it wouldn't really do it.

I don't know how it worked out, but it did. I remember the auditorium being pretty packed, the audience being duly moved by the presentation, and feeling a tremendous sense of pride about the event. It felt like all our book learning might be worth something; like maybe we were still part of the wider world, or at least that we could be again. The college tour wasn't just about getting people to know about the grape boycott; it was also about recruiting college students to organizing.

The best, though, came afterwards at the Third World Center, where we held a reception. Cesar Chavez sat on the hearth in the Jose Marti Lounge with all of us students around him as though he were the proud grandfather. He wanted to know about us. He wanted us to know that he was proud of OUR accomplishments, as though we weren't sitting with the man who had co-founded the UFW, among his many accomplishments.

Here is a piece of the kind of speech he delivered:

What is the worth of a man or a woman? What is the worth of a farm worker? How do you measure the value of a life? Ask the parents of Johnnie Rodriguez. Johnnie Rodriguez was not even a man; Johnnie was a five year old boy when he died after a painful two year battle against cancer.

His parents, Juan and Elia, are farm workers. Like all grape workers, they are exposed to pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. Elia worked in the table grapes around Delano, California until she was eight months pregnant with Johnnie. Juan and Elia cannot say for certain if pesticides caused their son's cancer. But neuroblastoma is one of the cancers found in McFarland, a small farm town only a few miles from Delano, where the Rodriguezes live. "Pesticides are always in the fields and around the towns," Johnnie's father told us. "The children get the chemicals when they play outside, drink the water or when they hug you after you come home from working in fields that are sprayed. "Once your son has cancer, it's pretty hard to take," Juan Rodriguez says. "You hope it's a mistake, you pray. He was a real nice boy. He took it strong and lived as long as he could."

I keep a picture of Johnnie Rodriguez. He is sitting on his bed, hugging his Teddy bears. His sad eyes and cherubic face stare out at you. The photo was taken four days before he died. Johnnie Rodriguez was one of 13 McFarland children diagnosed with cancer in recent years; and one of six who have died from the disease. With only 6,000 residents, the rate of cancer in McFarland is 400 percent above normal. In McFarland and in Fowler childhood cancer cases are being reported in excess of expected rates. In Delano and other farming towns, questions are also being raised.

The chief source of carcinogens in these communities are pesticides from the vineyards and fields that encircle them. Health experts believe the high rate of cancer in McFarland is from pesticides and nitrate-containing fertilizers leaching into the water system from surrounding fields.

Find out more about Cesar, remember and do what you can to make our world better for those to come.

Happy Birthday, Cesar. I remember.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

For Fun


Free Dating Online


Last night, I finally got myself to the movie, Under the Same Moon. I knew that it was going to be an emotional roller coaster, but I was sure that there would be a happy ending.

But, this movie really is at least a 5 hankie movie.

You don't get five minutes into the film before your heart strings are being seriously tugged.

I say that to let folks who are feeling overly emotional (and not too good about that fact) right now should be aware of what they would be getting into with this movie.

I will honestly admit that I was afraid that it would be overly sentimental and melodramatic. But after seeing the movie, I feel that though there were some overly done themes, the majority of the movie centers on the real life struggles of immigrants, documented and undocumented, and the lessons people can learn from hardship.

Some crises are settled unrealistically, but most are avoided through the intervention of everyday angels.

If nothing else, this movie is a revelation for highlighting the existence of these everyday angels.

These are regular people, some are the kind we would label "nice" and others are definitively not, who see another in danger or pain, and act, not out of self interest and sometimes without regard to their own self interest.

Life is truly full of these people, but we choose not to see them or their actions. When we are forced by extraordinary circumstances to really see these people, then we spend a lot of time looking for their faults. Those are easy to find because people are not perfect. We revel in the awful, check your local online newspaper for the most viewed and most emailed stories. Of the top ten, at least 7 of them will be stories about murders, crashes, and other horrible events. The stories about triumphs, small or large, are few and far between and tend not to get the same kind of readership.

Seeing this movie, and being pleasantly surprised by the message, was coming full circle for me today because I woke up to Julio Diaz's story on Morning Edition. It is the story about how he deals with being accosted by a teen with a knife; he recorded it at StoryCorps a few days later and they titled it: "A Victim Treats his Mugger Right". I suggest you take a listen or read the page, it gives most of the story.

Here are my two favorite parts:

"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says. As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."
"I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It's as simple as it gets in this complicated world."

Monday, March 24, 2008

4000, and counting

I don't want to risk this article leaving its current space in the world wide web. So, I am pasting it here. But should the link work, there are pictures of the families.
I think that this article speaks for itself, so I won't burden you with too many of my editorial comments. I just want to make sure that as we stop to ponder the number, 4000, and be repulsed by it, that we take a minute to remember the people who are represented by each of those numbers (1-4000) and the families they left behind.
These few, only a little over a hundred of the four thousand, gave their lives for a country that was not their own. If we want to talk about patriotism, we might consider this sacrifice. We might consider what we have sacrificed for our country lately; we might consider what those who did not have the luck of our birth would sacrifice given the opportunity.
Families Torn by Citizenship for Fallen
AP, Mar 23, 11:37 PM (ET) By HELEN O'NEILL
A young, ambitious immigrant from Guatemala who dreamed of becoming an architect. A Nigerian medic. A soldier from China who boasted he would one day become an American general. An Indian native whose headstone displays the first Khanda, emblem of the Sikh faith, to appear in Arlington National Cemetery.
These were among more than 100 foreign-born members of the U.S. military who earned American citizenship by dying in Iraq.
Jose Gutierrez was one of the first to fall, killed by friendly fire in the dust of Umm Qasr in the opening hours of the invasion.
In death, the young Marine was showered with honors his family could only have dreamed of in life. His sister was flown in from Guatemala for his memorial service, where a Roman Catholic cardinal presided and top military officials saluted his flag-draped coffin.
And yet, his foster mother agonized as she accompanied his body back for burial in Guatemala City: Why did Jose have to die for America in order to truly belong?
Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who oversaw Gutierrez's service, put it differently. "There is something terribly wrong with our immigration policies if it takes death on the battlefield in order to earn citizenship," Mahony wrote to President Bush in April 2003. He urged the president to grant immediate citizenship to all immigrants who sign up for military service in wartime.
"They should not have to wait until they are brought home in a casket," Mahony said.
But as the war continues, more and more immigrants are becoming citizens in death - and more and more families are grappling with deeply conflicting feelings about exactly what the honor means.
Gutierrez's citizenship certificate - dated to his death on March 21, 2003, - was presented during a memorial service in Lomita, Calif., to Nora Mosquera, who took in the orphaned teen after he had trekked through Central America, hopping freight trains through Mexico before illegally sneaking into the U.S.
"On the one hand I felt that citizenship was too late for him," Mosquera said. "But I also felt grateful and very proud of him. I knew it would open doors for us as a family."
"What use is a piece of paper?" cried Fredelinda Pena after another emotional naturalization ceremony, this one in New York City where her brother's framed citizenship certificate was handed to his distraught mother. Next to her, the infant daughter he had never met dozed in his fiancee's arms.
Cpl. Juan Alcantara, 22, a native of the Dominican Republic, was killed Aug. 6, 2007, by an explosive in Baqouba. He was buried by a cardinal and eulogized by a congressman but to his sister, those tributes seemed as hollow as citizenship.
"He can't take the oath from a coffin," she sobbed.
There are tens of thousands of foreign-born members in the U.S. armed forces. Many have been naturalized, but more than 20,000 are not U.S. citizens.
"Green card soldiers," they are often called, and early in the war, Bush signed an executive order making them eligible to apply for citizenship as soon as they enlist. Previously, legal residents in the military had to wait three years.
Since Bush's order, nearly 37,000 soldiers have been naturalized. And 109 who lost their lives have been granted posthumous citizenship.
They are buried with purple hearts and other decorations, and their names are engraved on tombstones in Arlington as well as in Mexico and India and Guatemala.
Among them:
- Marine Cpl. Armando Ariel Gonzalez, 25, who fled Cuba on a raft with his father and brother in 1995 and dreamed of becoming an American firefighter. He was crushed by a refueling tank in southern Iraq on April 14, 2003.
- Army Spc. Justin Onwordi, a 28-year-old Nigerian medic whose heart seemed as big as his smiling 6-foot-4 frame and who left behind a wife and baby boy. He died when his vehicle was blown up in Baghdad on Aug. 2, 2004.
- Army Pfc. Ming Sun, 20, of China who loved the U.S. military so much he planned to make a career out of it, boasting that he would rise to the rank of general. He was killed in a firefight in Ramadi on Jan. 9, 2007.
- Army Spc. Uday Singh, 21, of India, killed when his patrol was attacked in Habbaniyah on Dec. 1, 2003. Singh was the first Sikh to die in battle as a U.S. soldier, and it is his headstone at Arlington that displays the Khanda.
- Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick O'Day from Scotland, buried in the California rain as bagpipes played and his 19-year-old pregnant wife told mourners how honored her 20-year-old husband had felt to fight for the country he loved.
"He left us in the most honorable way a man could," Shauna O'Day said at the March 2003 Santa Rosa service. "I'm proud to say my husband is a Marine. I'm proud to say my husband fought for our country. I'm proud to say he is a hero, my hero."
Not all surviving family members feel so sure. Some parents blame themselves for bringing their child to the U.S. in the first place. Others face confusion and resentment when they try to bury their child back home.
At Lance Cpl. Juan Lopez's July 4, 2004, funeral in the central Mexican town of San Luis de la Paz, Mexican soldiers demanded that the U.S. Marine honor guard surrender their arms, even though the rifles were ceremonial.
Earlier, the Mexican Defense Department had denied the Marines' request to conduct the traditional 21-gun salute, saying foreign troops were not permitted to bear arms on Mexican soil.
And so mourners, many deeply opposed to the war, witnessed an extraordinary 45-minute standoff that disrupted the funeral even as Lopez's weeping widow was handed his posthumous citizenship by a U.S. embassy official.
The same swirl of conflicting emotions and messages often overshadows the military funerals of posthumous citizens in the U.S. Smuggled across the Mexican border in his mother's arms when he was 2 months old, Jose Garibay was just 21 when he died in Nasiriyah. The Costa Mesa police department made him an honorary police officer, something he had hoped one day to become. America made him a citizen.
But his mother, Simona Garibay, couldn't conceal her bewilderment and pain. It seemed, she said in interviews after the funeral, that more value was being placed on her son's death than on his life.
Immigrant advocates have similar mixed feelings about military service. Non-citizens cannot become officers or serve in high-security jobs, they note, and yet the benefits of citizenship are regularly pitched by recruiters, and some recruitment programs specifically target colleges and high schools with predominantly Latino students.
"Immigrants are lured into service and then used as political pawns or cannon fodder," said Dan Kesselbrenner, executive director of the National Immigration Project, a program of the National Lawyers Guild.
"It is sad thing to see people so desperate to get status in this country that they are prepared to die for it."
Others question whether non-citizens should even be permitted to serve. Mark Krikorian of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, argues that defending America should be the job of Americans, not non-citizens whose loyalty might be suspect. In granting special benefits, including fast-track citizenship, Krikorian says, there is a danger that soldiering will eventually become yet another job that Americans won't do.
And yet, immigrants have always fought - and died - in America's wars. During the Cvil War, the Union army recruited Irish and German immigrants off the boat. Alfred Rascon, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, received the Medal of Honor for acts of bravery during the Vietnam war. In the 1990s, Gen. John Shalikashvili, born in Poland after his family fled the occupied Republic of Georgia, became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
After the Iraq invasion, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico fielded hundreds of requests from Mexicans offering to fight in exchange for citizenship. They mistakenly believed that Bush's order also applied to nonresidents.
The right to become an American is not automatic for those who die in combat. Families must formally apply for citizenship within two years of the soldier's death, and not all choose to do so.
"He's Italian, better to leave it like that," Saveria Romeo says of her 23-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Vincenzo Romeo, who was born in Calabria, died in Iraq and is buried in New Jersey. A miniature Italian flag marks his grave, next to an American one.
"What good would it do?" she says. "It won't bring back my son."
But it would allow her to apply for citizenship for herself, a benefit only recently offered to surviving parents and spouses. Until 2003 posthumous citizenship was granted only through an act of Congress and was purely symbolic. There were no benefits for next of kin.
Romeo says she has no desire to apply. She says she couldn't bear to benefit in any way from her son's death. And besides, she feels Italian, not American.
Fernando Suarez del Solar just feels angry - angry at what he considers the futility of a war that claimed his only son, angry at the military recruiters he says courted young Jesus relentlessly even when the family still lived in Tijuana.
His son was just 13, Suarez del Solar said, when he was first dazzled by Marine recruiters in a California mall. For the next two years Jesus begged the family to emigrate and eventually they did, settling in Escondido, Calif., where the teen signed up for the Marines before he left high school.
Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez Del Solar was 20 when he was killed by a bomb in the first week of the war. He left behind a wife and baby and parents so bitter about his death that they eventually divorced.
Today, his 52-year-old father has become an outspoken peace activist who travels the country organizing anti-war marches, giving speeches and working with counter-recruitment groups to dissuade young Latinos from joining the U.S. military.
"There is nothing in my life now but saving these young people," he says. "It is just something I feel have to do."
But first he had to journey to Iraq. He had to see for himself the dusty stretch of wasteland where his son became an American. In tears, he planted a small wooden cross. And he prayed for his son - and for all the other immigrants who became citizens in death.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Renewal, Spring, or Something

On these religious holidays that I no longer celebrate in the traditional church-going way and refuse to celebrate in the purely commercial way (though I will buy some sale peeps tomorrow if there are any left), I struggle with how to mark the spiritual richness I still feel.

I was recalling with a co-worker this past week, memories of spending days of my spring break as a small child with my grandmother who was very religious. Good Friday meant being quiet at noon for at least an hour with absolutely no idea why it was necessary or important. It got easier as I got older to understand the rituals and the least to understand why people felt they were important gestures and ways to remember a sacrifice.

As I have moved away from organized religion, the need for spirituality has not decreased. Finding meaning in experiences that cannot be easily categorized as ritual or tradition is not always easy or reconcilable with the desire to experience life in the moment.

So, this evening as I listened to the news, I heard about a group in Chicago that aspires to turn sacrifice into renewal. CeaseFire takes the sacrifice of young life to violence (especially from those toting guns) as an opportunity to foster dialogue and other ways to resolve issues.

It was a revelation, inspiration and affirmation.

With all of the meaningless violence (death and maiming) we have seen in Oakland in these three short months of this new year, I have been thinking about how we as individual citizens can try to bring more peace to our streets. I firmly believe that it is unconscionable to believe that some people deserve safe streets and others just have to live with the mess. Those who can, then, get to move to what they think are their deservedly safe neighborhoods and those of us who can't just have to put up with it.

I admit that I want to live in a safe community. I just don't think that there are only a limited few who deserve the right to go to bed and wake in peace. I think we all should work towards the community we want; we should all sacrifice and prosper in equal measures.

So, I have been walking my usual route and taking my usual buses, and wondering, should I come across another Jake, how would I talk him out of the gun or the request for money? How can I, as a citizen of this city, contribute to the peaceful negotiation and resolution of conflict?

Here's a group that offers an organized way for citizens to be involved in the "change [they] want to see," (paraphrased from Gandhi). No small feat. It's not that I don't support greater and better police presence as a part of the solution. But if the last few weeks, and the shooting of at least three unarmed civilians, are indicative of what more police will mean on our streets, I think we can find more productive ways to spend our tax revenue.

Well, this little news piece, well-placed on this day, gave me an option to pursue. If I can find the clip, I will post a link, for now, check out their site and imagine the possibilities.

For spring and Easter (for those who celebrate) or Purim or New Year or whatever feast you are celebrating, here's to new life... to new hope, to participating in the change we'd like to see in this world.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mister Rogers

Are you wearing your sweater today?

I am...though I usually wear a sweater. Mark that as one of the many reasons Mister Rogers and I are so compatible.

I LOVE Mister Rogers, but I had to watch his show on the sly at my house because my older brother and sister HATED Mister Rogers.

Mister Rogers succeeded at creating a space that was safe and full of love for children. It was the kind of place where all children could feel important and confront the issues, though mundane, small children face on a daily basis: bullying, feeling inadequate, craving praise and struggling to be nice to those around you.

They will tell you that they didn't like him because they thought he was gay. Homophobic tendencies aside, I believe that what I loved about Mister Rogers they hated. Perhaps it was their age (seven and eight years older than me, I was five when I was first watching). I can't help thinking that at the time they just didn't believe that people could be genuinely nice. Maybe they just didn't find nice entertaining.

What I do know is that I would still rather watch an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and watch young minds work out the world than even a piece of an American Idol episode where people who try are belittled.

Guess which kind of show my older sister is still addicted to?

In case you never got the chance to know Mister Rogers, here is a lovely article about him.

Happy Birthday, Mister Rogers. The world still needs you...

Mister Rogers, "you've made this day a special day by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are." [For the uninitiated, these are the words that he left us with every show. Imagine the way this kind of unconditinoal love could change the world.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Long Years, so far...

It is always a struggle to figure out how to best tackle this issue.

I am against the war.

Unreservedly against the war.

I see NO justification that would make this war lawful or even logical. I support the idea that we need to pull our troops out now. I fully understand the ramification of that statement; I respectfully disagree with those who think there is some way to make lemonade out of the lemons we created in Iraq. There is little to no chance that Iraq can or will be stabilized as a result of us being there. As far as I am concerned, we are sending our troops over there to be killed and maimed.

I share with you two links though there are/were many more that I listened to today.

This one is the remembrance of one twenty-year-old we lost to this war by his father.

The other is to the stories of the those who returned from this war, changed forever. KPFA was playing some veterans reading this initiative early this week.

Under the Microscope with Obama

I have been listening carefully to the comentary on Obama's speech... to see who would be willing to go beyond the insidious sound bite out of context:

Here's some of what I think is acceptable:
Bryant Park Project (not usually my favorite, I have to say -- perhaps this has something to do with the fact that this program is pandering to the same "young professionals/students" that Obama's campaign has targeted.)
News and Notes (this is a mainstay and they have been very sympathetic, to say the least, to Obama, so it is not surprising they would have good commentary.)
Mara Liason's analysis (this was the first thing I heard, even before I had heard the actual speech [it's hard to find now, they now have it linked within the first day's Talk of the Nation coverage -- which I have now listened to/watched several times and I read the text, twice).
All Things Considered -- not really commentary, pretty much straight reporting, but you get to hear what the journalists think is important about the speech. I decided not to watch local news last night, I was afraid to hear what parts they thought were important and news worthy. I hope they proved that they can be real journalists and not just ambulance chasers. ATC actually had three Obama related stories, an actual commentary and a look at the tradition of liberation theology.

Please note that I am NOT linking to Juan William's analysis. He has done nothing, in my opinion, to demonstrate his worth since he beat up on Anita Hill way back when. In fact, I am dreading having to hear him talk about this on Fox News politics show on Sunday; yes, I watch it, you have to listen in to the enemy in order to adequately prepare defenses.

Tell Me More (another one of my regulars) -- this piece is actually a piece on the need for the speech, taped before the speech was given, I am guessing we will have to wait until tomorrow for their analysis of the speech).

I will add more links when appropriate.

Remember, resist the sound bite: read, listen or watch the whole speech (A More Perfect Union)and forward on the message with links to your friends, family and colleagues.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A More Perfect Union

Please, please, please, do not settle for sound bites.

Listen, watch (this is an official, msnbc version, better quality) or read.

Judge for yourself.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


So, I have been cycling through all my favorite blogs and feeling really uptight about the fact that they are not updating EVERY MINUTE.

Several times, I have thought, maybe I will just write a note and say, Update, please!

But, since I am lurker on some blogs and post comments anonymously (totally in keeping with my persona, right?!), I thought that was pretty ratty.

Well, it turns out I am not a mouse or a even a regular rat, I am a super rat (to quote my favorite, Holly Golightly, did I mention that I recently read Breakfast at Tiffany's in ITALIAN?!) -- not only do I want my favorite bloggers to update EVERYDAY, maybe more than once a day... I don't update daily.

In fact, I mostly back fill... what a hack.

Anyway, duly noted. At least I didn't leave any snarky notes anywhere.

And that was the very least I could do.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Art and Flowers Meet in SF

Imagine it, flowers in ode to art. That is some works of art recreated in flowers, veggies, fruits (ala Rose Parade floats). Other works interpreted through the flowers etal. My mind is playing through the possible combinations. Previously held at the Legion of Honor, this year it will be at the De Young.

I have never been, but I have heard it is a sight to see. So, I am making plans to get over there next week. That's right, you only get one week, between March 11-15.

Ummm...meant to post this at least a week ago...haven't made it yet, though there is ONE MORE DAY!

Why Women Are Not Safe

From a San Francisco Chronicle article titled: Judge reduces conviction in brutal killing. The emphasis is mine but desperately needed.

A San Francisco Superior Court judge reduced the first-degree murder conviction of a convicted batterer who slashed his wife's throat to second-degree murder Friday, saying there wasn't enough evidence the husband had weighed what he was doing before killing.
"This was a bloody, brutal, gruesome and savage killing," Judge Jerome Benson said. "But that's not proof of deliberation."
His decision overruled 12 jurors who convicted William Corpuz, 34, of first-degree murder in May 2007 after he confessed to using a fishing knife to slash the throat of his 31-year-old wife, Marisa Corpuz, in September 2004 in their Portola district home.
Corpuz told investigators he began thinking about killing his wife several hours before he did so, first loading a gun and setting it in the hallway, then deciding to use a knife and picking out three of them before deciding on the one he used, prosecutor Scot Clark said.
At the time of the murder, Corpuz was on probation for a September 2003 assault on his wife in which he choked her and shoved her face-first into the headboard of their bed. He had been enrolled in a 52-week domestic abuse program and had attended his 39th weekly session just four days before killing his wife.
Defense attorney Randall Martin noted that Corpuz had quickly turned himself in and confessed to the killing. He argued that Marisa Corpuz had taunted her husband and belittled his masculinity before the attack.
Benson's ruling made a fine legal distinction. The judge said the killing had been premeditated - that Corpuz had decided to kill before doing so - but ruled there was not sufficient proof of deliberation - that Corpuz had carefully weighed his choice and knew the consequences before killing.
Benson sentenced Corpuz to 15 years to life in prison, the maximum for second-degree murder, plus one year for using a knife in the killing. He also recommended that Corpuz not be granted parole once he is eligible.
Corpuz had faced 26 years to life in prison for first-degree murder.

So, let me get this straight... if you kill your WIFE, the one you are on parole for beating, you have not deliberated sufficiently to make it premeditated. However, any 17 year old (or 14 or 15 or 16 or even 11 year old) who uses a GUN to kill someone, should be prosecuted as an adult.

Why is that I get the feeling that a female judge would not have overruled the 12 jurors?

Thursday, March 06, 2008


This is the post that gets the most hits. It in fact brings more people to my blog than any other topic.

I hesitate to mention any of its contents here as I do not want to encourage any more misguided hits. This is not an attempt to get you to read it. I don't care. I just fear that so many people enter in certain text and hope for the best, maybe even hit that I am feeling lucky button and then get junk.

Maybe they get what they want, but I doubt it. Many, many people use as we can see from their stock price, however, I don't find it useful. There are times, especially when I am just entering text into the little box in the google tool bar, that I find exactly what I want. There are too many times when I am actually at that I get nonsense. Sponsored website? or maybe just a logarithm gone awry.

I prefer and I prefer to put in all the words I think might show up... unless, I am feeling lucky; in that case, I just check the exact phrase option and up comes what I want. I like to dig through all the pages of found treasure. To me, it is like looking through the stacks at the library. It's as close as I can get to that feeling, anyway. I would much rather use my intuition about what is going to be useful on a topic than to let any computer, no matter how smart, decide for me.

I challenge you to do the test, enter the text in both and see what comes up first and what you have to dig for.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


There are tons of stuff about the outing of the latest FAKE. But this one is an analysis of the faking of memoirs.

Of course, since I love a novel, I can't understand why people feel they need to make something "real" in order to be powerful or interesting or entertaining.

Oh, and since my thesis was on the intersection between autobiography and fiction, I can't help but being fascinated about this kind of story.

They talk about not just the latest but many of the other faking cases and especially the historical "why" for faking memoirs.

Truly interesting. You have to listen to this one if you are interested in any of these issues.

Here's the Tell Me More Interview that didn't get aired because the book was outed it before the scheduled airing. There's more on Day to Day and All Things Considered and NY Times Review and the LA Times story on the outing, and on and on....


I don't really have time to write about this right now, but I found this story fascinating on so many levels.

Here is what NPR had to say about this piece, decide for yourself. But let me know what you think if you listen to it.

All Things Considered, March 4, 2008. The corner of 7th Street in West Oakland, California is bleak and deserted, with a windowless liquor store and a job counseling service on one side of the street. But it wasn't always so rundown; in the 1940s and 50s, the street was home to a thriving music scene, with scores of big blues artists such as Lowel Fulson, Ivory Joe Herner and T-Bone Walker passing through.

Now, with the creation of a historical video game, a group of journalism and architecture students at the University of California, Berkeley, is hoping to revive some of 7th Street's faded glory — at least in the virtual world.

Initially conceived as a computer recreation of 7th Street, the students decided that a game — complete with missions and tasks — might be more engaging for young people.

In the game, the user is a musician who comes to 7th Street to play music in the clubs and to seek out a record deal. Along the way, there are a series of tasks to complete.

"We constructed a series of... quests, little things people could do to find out information about 7th Street," explains journalism professor Paul Grabowicz.

Quests include going to the pawn shop to get money, buying fancy clothes or meeting people who tell you how to get ahead in the music business. Another mission is to jump on stage in a club and jam with a guitar and a saxophone.

Journalism students have been interviewing neighborhood elders for the past two years to get a sense of what the street was like during its heyday, while architecture students have been tasked with producing the audio and designing the game.

Architecture professor Yehuda Kalay says that architects increasingly see the virtual world as an extension of the real one. His class has worked on other projects recreating cities in ancient Egypt and Thailand.

"This is really the same thing [that] architects have been doing for the last ten thousand years or so, using brick and mortar. Now we can make environments that are not made of brick and mortar and yet function in similar ways," Kalay explains.

As with any historical recreation, accuracy can be difficult. If the students can't find pictures of a section of 7th Street, the designers may have to make an educated guess based on research about the buildings of the era. And, says Grabowicz, people's memories often vary.

"There's a famous character on 7th Street named Raincoat Jones who was basically a loan shark, but also a patron of the clubs," says Grabowicz. "But one of the questions was, 'Well, where did he get the name Raincoat?' And, God, there were four or five different stories about that."

Bob Geddins Jr., whose father recorded many of the artists who played on 7th Street, says that he's all for this game, even if it can't be 100 percent accurate. His hope is that the game will tell people about how the music scene fell apart and help them learn how to keep their own communities alive.

As for Raincoat Jones, users might just be able to find out the true origin of his name this summer, when the first version of the game is made available online.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


So, this week I begin week 8 of my training for the Shiprock Half Marathon.
I have said many times, I don't like running. The other night, my sister questioned me about why I run if I don't get the runner's high. My answer is twofold, at least, I like the all body workout you get just from running, and maybe even more importantly, the arthritis in my neck behaves better when I am running regularly. Go figure. I never would have believed it if anyone had ever told me that was true.

I realized running a 3 miler tonight that running two miles is just not enough any more. When I am good, as I have been this time around, and making all the miles, the run gets easier at about 1 mile. At about 1.5 my heart feels it's pumping the way it was built to pump.

Onward.... I am signing up for a 10K at Lake Merritt on March 22nd... not exactly the long run I need that week, but close enough. See you there?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sweater Day

Cardigan sweater, zip up front

just in case the link above doesn't work, here is the text of the article:

A tribute to children's public television pioneer Fred Rogers will include an effort to get people everywhere to wear a sweater on what would have been his 80th birthday.

March 20th is being promoted as "Sweater Day" to honor Rogers, who died of cancer five years ago. A sweater was his trademark garb on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
David Newell, who played speedy deliveryman Mr. McFeely on the show, appears in a YouTube video that touts the event.

"Sweater Day" is the capstone to a six-day celebration planned by Family Communications Inc. of Pittsburgh. Rogers created the company to produce his show.
On the Net: Family
Communications Inc.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Story of the Day

Truth be told, today's NY Times brought a mini-gold mine of stories, but this one, short and sweet takes the award. Read it in good health.

A tid bit:
The battle between the city and the church appears to come down to two essential
issues: is the message of eternity a commercial one, and is the roof sign a nuisance so grand that the government must intervene?
Mr. Nimmons’s view is that his message is not commercial, and therefore not subject to the city ordinance. All he is selling, he argues, is faith.
“I just want people to go to God,” he said. “I don’t care where.”

Other stories I read today in no particular order without my editorial comment. Probably says more about what attracts my eye than what is going on in the world and certainly more about how my mind works than what is important:
Obama Walks a Difficult Course as He Courts the Jewish Voters
Free Lunch Isn't Cool, so Some Students Go Hungry
Preserving a Forest and a Philosophy
Commander Testifies He Felt 'Under Fire' Outside Nightclub
Drivers Says Man Could not Care for Baby Girl
Gun Crazy