Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mars, Asia, Zimbabwe, Sydney, and once again, SLO

I saw Sydney Pollack speak at the New School in, I think, late 2006. He wore his signature leather jacket, spoke candidly of his mishmash of a career (he had wanted to be an actor more than anything), and just seemed like a guy who managed, somehow, to deserve more for all he had gone through. None of his projects was easy, particularly The Interpreter, and you got a feeling that he always put more into his work than he ever garnered in praise (or any other sort of emotional, critical or monetary reward). But I admired him for his doggedness, and he was an excellent speaker. I still have a photo of him on my phone--and now it's gonna stay there.

Zimbabwe's a bit out of the news now, but the runoff will occur in a few weeks. Assuming Mugabe and ZANU-PF don't kill/intimidate voters or otherwise throw the election (and that's like assuming a complete stranger will just hand me an ice cream cone today), Tsvangirai should win and Zimbabwe might finally have a president who cares that Zimbabwe's agro has been decimated--and that it doesn't have to be like that.

With recent disasters in south and eastern Asia (yeah, Myanmar and China, it's nice to know our government isn't the only one that doesn't know how to deal with natural disasters), gratis psycho weather and earthquakes (is it just me or have there been more major earthquakes in the last five years than normal?), living a few miles south of Northridge and a few miles east of the coast is not making me feel all that safe. Extreme activity in Asia does not necessarily have anything to do with the American Pacific coast, but it doesn't necessarily NOT have anything to do with the American Pacific coast. When the earth gets a rumbly in its tumbly, there's no telling what it'll do.

If you ever get up to SLO, go to the Avila Valley Barn and buy some of the pumpkin bread. It's nice and gingery. Off the hook.

Anyone check out the color photos of arctic Mars in all its fractally glory? So the red planet is not so much fire engine red as brown-red, but it's still interesting. Imagine if there was actually water up there. That would be amazing. The question is, of course, would it just be amazing, or would it be exploitable? If bottled water from Fiji's expensive, I'm guessing Martian water's gonna be pricier than that sundae with caviar and gold in it at Serendipity.
Of course, the water might not be "Earth" water. And I presume scientists are hoping some microorganism is floating around it because that means life, and life on Mars could teach us all sorts of things about things we haven't even considered there being an "about" about. But after watching Andromeda Strain last night and reading The Black Swan, I am really, really hoping Phoenix doesn't bring back any human race-destroying viruses/superbacteria back. Because if there's anything humans do well, it's spread disease (it's like mosquitoes, rats, humans, and then everything else).

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In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen