Archive for December, 2007

Banksy

December 29, 2007

Lately I have gotten interested in this renegade artist, “Banksy.” He is a graffiti artist from England who understands the sickness of our culture and uses very intelligent images to visualize this sickness. He has managed to remain completely anonymous even though he has become famous. He is now selling his work for big money. However, I don’t think he has “sold out” and forgotten what he is all about. He has done some great pranks that are up on his website. Here is a taste of his stuff.

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Killer Tiger

December 26, 2007

This story about the SF zoo tiger getting out and killing a guy is worth blogging about because it is so sensational. I am sure thousands of others are blogging about it right now and throwing in their 2 cents on the tragic, humorous natural phenomenon!

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GPS Brilliance

December 26, 2007

There was a story on NPR this morning discussing the high sales of GPS units over the holidays. The story stated that GPS units have become an everyday consumer item. I have owned a Garmin GPS for five years and have had a lot of fun with it and often find it very useful when I am out exploring and adventuring. I find them particularly useful for finding hot springs.

The story on the radio this morning mentioned this company called Intellitours. What they do is have audio visual commentary programed into the GPS that will play as you are driving past certain places. For example, it will tell you the history of San Francisco as you drive into the city. I believe there is tremendous potential with this idea. As a geographer, I would love to discuss interesting natural history and geographic features throughout the country that could be programed into the GPS. Maybe I will do this in my next career!

Great American Poets

December 23, 2007

We have been having a conversation regarding great american poets.  My father believes Allen Ginsberg’s poetry is not very good, but Walt Whitman is one of the greatest poets ever.  Meanwhile, my brother says Ginsberg was heavily influenced by Whitman and their work is very similar.

My father believes Robinson Jeffers is one of the greatest american poets and he showed us a big book with beautiful pictures of the central californian coast and lines from Jeffers’ poems.  Jeffers lived nearBig Sur.  One of his most well known poems is called The Anwer and goes as follows:

Then what is the answer?- Not to be deluded by dreams.
To know that great civilizations have broken down into violence,
and their tyrants come, many times before.
When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose
the least ugly faction; these evils are essential.
To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted
and not wish for evil; and not be duped
By dreams of universal justice or happiness. These dreams will
not be fulfilled.
To know this, and know that however ugly the parts appear
the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand
Is an ugly thing and man dissevered from the earth and stars
and his history… for contemplation or in fact…
Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness,
the greatest beauty is
Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty
of the universe. Love that, not man
Apart from that, or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions,
or drown in despair when his days darken.

Book Suggestions for Cultural Geography Class

December 18, 2007

I think I am going to be teaching a cultural geography class next fall at Mendocino Junior College. I am going to start putting together a reading list of good books which discuss aspects of cultural geography. According to wikipedia, cultural geography is:

the study of spatial variations among cultural groups and the spatial functioning of society. It focuses on describing and analyzing the ways language, religion, economy, government,and other cultural phenomena vary or remain constant from one place to another and on explaining how humans function spatially

I would like to assign some kind of case study book report. Any suggestions for additions to this reading list?

Drug Ball & Drugfree Ball

December 16, 2007


Just been reading a little about the Mitchell Report, which came out last week. In this report it was divulged that there has been widespread steroid use in Major League Baseball for a long time. I just read an article on Slate asking why this steroid use wasn’t mention in the book, Moneyball. The article also discussed the abundance of steroid use among the Oakland A’s and referred to the Oakland locker room as, “an open air drug market.” I have been a supporter of the A’s for a long time and I find it sad and funny that there has been so much enhancement drug use, not just on the A’s, but in all of baseball.

Hannah says that there should be two leagues, one that allows steroid use, and one that doesn’t. I said well players would probably be using drugs in the anti-drug league. Then we decided there should be three leagues, one for steroid users, one for absolutely no steroid use, and one where the fans guess and bet weather a player is using or not! See ya at the ballgame!

Bala Hanuman Temple

December 13, 2007

The recent post on Gujarat reminded me of some of the places I visited on my travels through the state. One place which still blows me away when I recall it is the Bala Hanuman Temple. Inside this temple people have been chanting continuously (24-7-365) the same chant since August 1, 1964! The chant is the “Ram Dhun” and the invocation is ‘Shri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram’. My friend Noah, and I, chanted with them for an hour or so and then took prasad (fruit and nuts offered to the deities). It was quite extraordinary. This level of devotion is incomprehensible in the West. They are still chanting, right now, as I type these words. Sri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram.

Local Economy Rant

December 13, 2007


I encourage people who plan on buying Christmas crap to buy as much local products as they can this holiday season. I am already guilty of buying some stuff made in foreign lands, but I am trying to buy local wines, and use local stores to do my purchasing in. Localization is the way!

What I find both comforting and aggravating is that so much of the local economy is underground. It is good the community has the money coming in, but if those profiting off this underground economy do not try to keep their earnings local, the community is supporting them, but they are not giving back. For those of you who are not sure about what I am talking about, this area of California grows a huge amount of marijuana and it is definitely the largest economy in the area. Logging and wine are the two largest legal economies and marijuana production is way ahead of them in terms of money made.

My sister is trying to figure out ways to encourage and entice the marijuana producers to donate more money to the community. She works for Healthy Kids Mendocino, an organization trying to provide health insurance for all the children in Mendocino County. If more marijuana producers donated money we might be able to achieve this goal.

Gujarati Elections

December 11, 2007

NPR and the BBC both covered this story this morning. The two major political parties in India are the BJP (Hindu Nationalists) and Congress (the old powerhouse that dominated indian politics from independence to 1998 when the BJP took the coalition. They recaptured the control in 2004.) The BJP still has a stronghold in the state of Gujarat, located on India’s western coast. In 2002 major religious riots erupted all over Gujarat resulting in the death of over 1000 people, the majority of them Muslims. Narendra Modi was the chief minister at the time and he has been widley criticized for the way he handled the riots and his partial behavior towards the Hindus. I traveled extensively in Gujarat in 2005 and noticed that the state is widely segregated between Muslim and Hindu populations (however many other areas of India have similar populations distributions.) Gujarat is one of the only dry states in India and the BJP has quite strict enforcement.

It will be interesting to see if Modi holds his power and what the reactions will be if he does. I also find it interesting that NPR and the BBC have chosen to give this story attention. It is a major election in a country with much tension around religious differences, but does it really effect the west? I am happy they are covering it, becauae I probably wouldn’t know it was going on otherwise. We will see how well they report the results.

Wiki has more on the 2002 violence. The Hindu has a good article on the voter turnout, but does not mention any of the violence in 2002. The article just states that the elecetions were peaceful. Oh, and by the way, The Hindu is not a Hindu Nationalist paper and is actually one of the best newspapers in India.

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A Birthday Thought

December 8, 2007

There was never a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor any of these kings. Nor is there any future in which we will cease to be.

Bhaghava-Gita, chapter 2.

Thought this would be an appropriate quote on my birthday. Our true nature is eternal and this birthday concept only confuses the issue.