Friday, December 24, 2004

November 2004 : List of Recommendations

Meant to post this a while back. Anyway, figured I'd post it tonight. It's Christmas Eve and I'm having my family over for dinner tomorrow night. Tonight involved cleaning, preparing the place for tomorrow and,of course, the remaining last-minute shopping items. All done, finally. Now, I'm just listenting to music and relaxing. In other news, I've decided to take up golf and last weekend I purchased my starter set for just $89 (originally priced at $299) at Big 5. Not a bad deal! Went to the driving range yesterday, and even managed to hit a few good shots for my first time. Tomorrow, I'm going to start the day with a relaxing morning at the Montclair Golf Course -- of course, not a round of golf, but a bucket of balls and practice swings at the driving range again. Pretty excited. Then, it's getting ready for Christmas dinner. It's been quite a number of years since I spent Christmas with my family; for the last few years I've been away this time of the year, travelling. Looking forward to this one. Hope some of you will enjoy the recommendations below. Merry Christmas! November 2004 : List of Recommendations Books The Assasination of Julius Ceasar: A People's History of Ancient Rome by Michael Parenti The Motorcycle Diaries: A Latin American Journey by Che Guevara DaVinci Code by Dan Brown Articles: Death of Environmentalism by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resource for A New American Century A Report of The Project for New American Century (PNAC), 2000 Movies: Garden State The Motorcycle Diaries Music: Keane: Hopes and Fears Eats: Unicorn: Pan Asian Cuisine (Berkeley) Banana Leaf Restaurant (Milpitas) Nan Yang (Rockridge)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Adam Werbach's Speech at the Commonwealth Club

Having recently read "Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World" (download pdf version from The Breakthough Institute), a compelling paper on the past, present and future of modern enviromental movement by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, I went to listen to Adam Werbach speak on the subject at the Commonwealth Club in San Francsico last week. It was a powerful talk laying the foundations for the spirit behind not just environmental movement, but progressive movements as a whole, in the present and in the future. Both the paper and the speech reaches out to a broad audience and proposes a well-rounded solution. Whether you consider yourself a hard-core "environmentalist" or just an interested member of the society (like myself) , you should definitely check this out. Both pieces are remarkable in content, structure and delivery. A good review of the Shellenberger & Nordhaus paper on Two Steps Forward blog. Audio archive of his speech can be found at the Commonwealth Club website.

Monday, December 06, 2004

mindFrame PhotoCanvas Series: "Pearl of the Pacific"

mindFrame PhotoCanvas Series: "Pearl of the Pacific" Photographed in Valparaiso, Chile (2003) Modified with Adobe Photoshop "Amo Valparaiso, cuanto encierras, y cuanto irradias, novia del oceano" - Pablo Neruda Last year while we were travelling in South America, we spent quite a lot of time in Valparaíso, one of my favorite cities in the world. Situated about 72 miles northwest of Santiago, Valparaíso is the second biggest city in Chile and the home to the Chilean National Congress. In 2003 Valparaíso was declared a World Heritage Site, due to its historical importance, natural beauty, original architecture and layout. Colorful walls of old homes line the beautiful, winding streets of the hills of Valparaíso as you climb to get a great view of the bay. It reminded me lot of San Francisco architecturally as well as in its spirit. You will also find one of Neruda's homes here, La Sebastiana, perched high up on a hill with spectacular views of Valparaiso. If you haven't been there and are travelling to Chile anytime soon, make sure to stop over there. You will find more photographs from our trip on our old website, South of the Equator.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Werbach's "Theses on the Failure of the Democrats"

My best friend sent me a link today to a website which has initiated a landmark endeavor to bring change to the progressive cause in American politics. When I began this chronicle last month, I referred to the "fulfilling blend of a sense of conclusion and hope" that Friday mornings often brought for me. Well, today isn't Friday, nonetheless, I enjoyed the same feeling as I read about what I am about to share here. It's a small step, but a powerful statement. A pioneering proclamation, a proactive movement, a constructive vision. On November 15, the former president of the Sierra Club, 31-year-old Adam Werbach, posted his "Theses on the Failure of the Democrats" on the door of the Democratic National Committee in Washington D.C. And, a new movement began in America laying the grass-roots foundation for a reform of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement in America. The words of one member from St. Paul, Minnesota, posted on November 3rd Theses website, embodies the spirit behind the movement perfectly: "On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther dealth the symbolic blow that began the Reformation when he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church. Luther's action was not a revolt against the church but a movement for reform from within, inviting debate on matters of practice and doctrine. Luther saw the Reformation as something far more important than a revolt against ecclesiastical abuses. He believed it was a fight for the gospel.Today, November 30th, 2004, We as Democrats are here at 255 E. Plato Blvd., St. Paul, MN, to perform a similar act. By posting these nineteen theses on the door of the DFL Party Headquarters we seek to engage our own fight for the gospel, or truth, of the Democratic Party. Through this act we begin the process to reclaim those core values of what it means to be a Democrat in the United States of America." (source) November 3rd Theses (click on the image for a larger view)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Disenchantment isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind.

Strangest thing happened last night on the way to the market. As I was walking into our neighborhood Safeway, a man selling the Street Scene outside asked for donation. I replied, "Sorry" since I normally don't like giving out money to people on the street. But taking two more, I turned around and asked the man, if he would like something to eat from the store. He replied "Oh, thank you, brother. That would be wonderful. Could you please get me some chicken strips from the Deli." He paused and then added, "But, you know, if they don't have chicken strips, could you please buy me some macaroni salad." I nodded and walked into the market. Along with my grocery, I picked up the man's Pesto Macaroni Salad from the Deli and feeling somewhat proud of my good Samaritan gesture to a stranger on the street, I decided to pick up a bottle of orange juice and a Crunch chocolate bar for a small desert after his dinner. At the check out line, as I watched the check-out girl put each of these items in a plastic bag, I thought about the 1-minute communtity service that awaited me outside the market and imagined the smile on the man's face when I hand him the chocolate bar and say, "And this is a small desert. Might as well enjoy a full meal. Have a wonderful evening." And, how he would be so happy that someone cares and how I would be happy that I made a difference - even if it meant only a night's meal. Well, such was not the outcome. I exited the store and the man was nowhere to be found. Street Scene and all, he was gone. I waited for a few minutes, disappointed, as my good Samaritan heart sunk in the cold, cold night. With no sign of the stranger's reappearance at the scene, I began to walk to my car. At the parking lot, another homeless man stopped me and asked "Spare some change, please?" I replied my usual "Sorry." And then, "But I do have some food I just bought. Would you like some." Somewhat interested, he leaned forward to peer into my grocery bag as I pulled out the Pesto Macaroni Salad and said "Would you like this? It's a Pesto Macaroni Salad." This time, it seemed like his heart sunk as his expression turned from one of hope to one of disappointment, and he said "Nah..." and walked away. I put the salad back into the bag and continued to walk towards my car. I couldn't help but question: What went wrong though the course of the night? Who knows. I'm currently reading Choke by Chuck Palahniuk (link) and as he would say following an experience, "Disenchantment isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind."