Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bottled Bullsh*t

I'm guilty of paying for the convenience of bottled water, but I'm doing my best to put a stop to it. Charles Fishman (who wrote the excellent The Wal-Mart Effect) goes off on the bottled water industry in Fast Company. And if you want to know where a lot of that plastic ends up, google "North Pacific Gyre."
In San Francisco, the municipal water comes from inside Yosemite National Park. It's so good the EPA doesn't require San Francisco to filter it. If you bought and drank a bottle of Evian, you could refill that bottle once a day for 10 years, 5 months, and 21 days with San Francisco tap water before that water would cost $1.35. Put another way, if the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.

Taste, of course, is highly personal. New Yorkers excepted, Americans love to belittle the quality of their tap water. But in blind taste tests, with waters at equal temperatures, presented in identical glasses, ordinary people can rarely distinguish between tap water, springwater, and luxury waters. At the height of Perrier's popularity, Bruce Nevins was asked on a live network radio show one morning to pick Perrier from a lineup of seven carbonated waters served in paper cups. It took him five tries.

Antonioni R.I.P.

Never have seen an Ingmar Berman film, but I've just in the past year become a Michaelangelo Antonioni fan. NYTimes does a nice write up.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tour's Over, Life Recommences.

It happened last year too. For much of the month of July, I spent hours daily on the couch, slowly drifting from one level of consciousness to another and back again as the original field got whittled down and eventually left with one wearing yellow on the Champs-Elysees.

It's really all I want cable for. I can do without everything else, but watching the Tour De France is my Sunday football. What got all the headlines was dope, and legitimately so. But it didn't kill the tour. Real cycling fans know that drugs have been involved for years, and I personally welcome the hardass approach we saw this year. I wonder what baseball would be like if players were subjected to the same level of testing and the same consequences as riders on this year's tour.

The racing did not suffer from the controversy, and the French countryside from those incredible heli-shots is as breathtaking as can be. Unfortunately, the timing of the ejection of Michael Rasmussen, who held the yellow jersey until the final days when he was fired by his team in a flurry of circumstantial evidence, was less than satisfying. The winner, a young Spaniard named Contador, is a spectacular rider, but he didn't beat Rasmussen. He won by default, if you ask me, and that's just not satisfying.

So, great race, dumpy end. I'll be glued to a TV somewhere next year. Until then, I'll get a run in every once in a while and do a better job keeping up with my laundry.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Police, Sicko, Justice, Hemp

A little catch-all update here.

Saw the Police in Detroit (ok, Auburn Hills) and they rocked it. It would seem that over the first few weeks of the tour, they have worked out the kinks, and any low expectations I had after hearing Sting's voice crack on the NBC telecast of the Live Earth shows were hugely exceeded. For me, the huge ticket price was money well spent. Steward Copeland is a god and Sting is a prophet and poet. Two thumbs way up. They were fantastic.

Currently listening to the Justice album that has no other title than a picture of a cross (is that a Jesus thing?) and it's rocking too.

Just returned from a screening of Sicko, Michael Moore's film. I've had reservations about the guy ever since I felt my intelligence insulted reading "Dude, Where's My Country," but I'm generally sympathetic to his gist, and occasionally want to raise my fist in agreement. While I think it's safe to say that Mike leaves out some critical facts (i.e. R&D is really expensive), I thought his film was a winner. Some of the bits about debt, hopelessness and political action definitely rang true to me.My favorite moment was when my college acquaintance Kareena is interviewed. She's in France now. Nice to see you Kareena!

NYTimes reports on North Dakota farmers who want to grow hemp. Let them grow hemp! It's a crime that it's a crime. link to article

Saturday, July 07, 2007

E.O. Wilson with Moyers

"This is the only planet we're ever going to have. This planet has taken tens, hundreds of millions of years to create this beautiful natural environment we have that's taken care of us so well that is, in fact, our greatest natural heritage. And we're throwing it away in a matter of a few decades."
E.O. Wilson has been sounding the alarm for decades. We are not paying attention. He's one of my heroes (my only hero, if you go by my myspace page). Last night PBS broadcast a typically engrossing E.O. Wilson interview by Bill Moyers. You can watch it here

Friday, July 06, 2007

My Bike

This is my bike. I've started riding it to work this year, and it is a much easier/less messy endeavor than I had imagined. My brother last Christmas gave me some lights which I use on my nighttime rides home, and I used a great bike map that Grand Rapids put out to choose my route for lighter traffic and wider roads. I give myself 30 minutes to do the 6 (hilly) miles and clean myself up before work. I wear bike shorts under my regular pants/shorts and pack a clean pair of boxers, plus a t shirt and polo to change into at work. Before I started, I was concerned about showing up at work a sweaty mess, but the breeze on the bike cuts down on that problem. It does take a little extra time, but my ride never fails to put a smile on my face and improve my attitude all day long. I'm disappointed when the weather forces me to take the car.

I bought the bike 5 years ago from a guy who worked at a bike shop near Lansing. It had been sitting unused in a closet and he gave it to me for a pittance. After riding it more and more each year, I know I got a real deal. He told me that it's a steel frame, which means that it's a little heavier (still a light bike, though), but a little more flexy for a smoother, more comfortable ride. I can't figure out what year it came out, but my best guess would be mid to late 80s. It might be Fuji's top level team issue, as it's called a Fuji Team, but that might also be a marketing tactic. It's in great condition and rides real well. The Suntour gearset works well, but could use a bit of a tune up.

Today I took her out for a lovely 50 mile ride in large part on Rails To Trails subsidized pathways.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Strange Things Start to Happen

Better late. . .

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Countdown to Le Tour

Here's a little something to get your heart going for the greatest race on earth, which begins again this Saturday.

Want More?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Why science isn't so popular.

From a great article Boing Boing blogged, as found in the Guardian.

James Watson, one half of the famous double act who discovered the double helix:
'I recently went to my staircase at Clare College, Cambridge and there were women there!' he said, with an enormous measure of retrospective sexual frustration. 'There have been a lot of convincing studies recently about the loss of productivity in the Western male. It may be that entertainment culture now is so engaging that it keeps people satisfied. We didn't have that. Science was much more fun than listening to the radio. When you are 16 or 17 and in that inherently semi-lonely period when you are deciding whether to be an intellectual, many now don't bother.'

Watson raised an eyebrow, fixed me again with a look. 'What you have instead are characters out of Nick Hornby's very funny books, who channel their intellect in pop culture. The hopeless male.'
This is the humorous quote to end the article, and is not exactly representative of the central thesis, but still an interesting observation (the women in the college, I mean). Could it be possible that science is impeded by the pesky distraction of the other sex in the lab? Does libido trump intellectual curiousity?