Archive for June 2011

Happy Pride 2011!

June 27, 2011

We capped off the end of a fun Pride Week by marching in the big parade this year. If you caught Donna Sachet’s coverage on Channel 5 (CBS), you might have wondered about a particularly adorable dancer on the SF LGBT Community Center’s float.

looking fierce!

As one of the Center’s Volunteers of the Month, Dan was invited to ride on their float. I got to walk behind in a matching t-shirt while we all danced to the techno-samba beats being laid down by the DJ in the back of the pickup truck. Dan appreciated the help of the nieces in selecting some accessories to wear in line with the float’s Mardi Gras theme.

We were excited to pick out some people we knew in the crowd of thousands –the girls at their first Pride Parade with parents in tow. After dancing for over a mile, we wandered over to the Civic Center with Kuma for some bubbly, people-watching and sun. I will not share a pic of the awful sunburn that I have today …

Troy, Dan and Kuma

In good standings

June 14, 2011

Troy really wanted to write this post, but he’s taken a colleague’s call shift and so I’m in in relief (as they say).

As of Tuesday, June 14, the National League West Division standings are as follows:

WEST W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA DIFF STRK L10
San Francisco 38 29 .567 19-12 19-17 236 238 -2 Won 2 6-4
Arizona 37 31 .544 1.5 20-14 17-17 321 299 +22 Lost 1 5-5
Colorado 32 35 .478 6 16-18 16-17 293 286 +7 Won 1 5-5
LA Dodgers 31 38 .449 8 15-18 16-20 269 294 -25 Lost 2 4-6
San Diego 30 39 .435 9 14-26 16-13 230 253 -23 Lost 1 4-6

Notice anything peculiar? That’s right … the first place team has scored two fewer runs than it’s given up. Troy asked me in an e-mail if any team has won its division in arrears, so to speak, and I guessed not. Sabermetrics has a clever formula, called the Pythagorean expectation, that predicts how many games a team “should” have won given its runs scored vs. runs allowed. Clearly, the 2011 Giants are getting the most out of difficult circumstances.

Maybe it’s good karma for having filmed MLB’s first “It Gets Better” video.

2 Miles!

June 6, 2011

That’s the distance, as the eagle flies, from the Lehi Barbers abode to the center of Utah’s 2010 population, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Although the Big G tells me it would be a 6 mile drive from their house. The lucky spot appears to be the driveway of the last house on Rye Drive, before its intersection with Sweet Corn Way.

I know y’all were hoping for the big win, but that’s close enough for government work. As they say.

Congratulations!

crafters taking over the castro

June 4, 2011

as seen on etsy?

Book review: The Dispossessed (Ursula K. Le Guin)

June 2, 2011

Why I read it: I wasn’t in the mood for “non-fiction.” (Troy gasps). Of course, Ursula Le Guin’s science-fiction is often sociological; she creates inspired new worlds/societies based on intriguing thought experiments (cf. The Left Hand of Darkness, etc.). For hard-core fact-based readers like myself, she’s an easy sell.

What it’s about: The Dispossessed is an allegory of anarchism. Written in 1974, it concerns a physicist (Shevek) who leaves his home world, the moon, in search of new understandings. The planet he’s left is in essence a giant hippie commune –there are no possessions and no laws, and all work is done voluntarily. The planet his ancestors left, 200 years ago, is currently splintered into many nation-states, some of whom are at war with each other. The state that hosts him is opulently wealthy, with pockets of extreme poverty (that he’s not supposed to see). It desires his “theory of simultaneity” in order to build faster-than-light spaceships, and thereby to steal a jump on it’s socialist/authoritarian rival state.

Good/Very Good/or Excellent: Very Good.

Details: The writing is above average for Le Guin and the characters are well-rounded and interesting. She doesn’t bite off more than she can chew, and   much of what we learn about both worlds (“our” capitalist society and “their” anarchist commune) is indirect, or reflected in the characters themselves. The plot isn’t overly complex, which worked for me, as it didn’t detract from the contemplative nature of the story itself.

Portraying Shevek’s astonishment at the capitalist, hierarchical, rigorously-gendered world he encounters is trivially easy for Le Guin, and the least interesting thing about the book, to me. Far more interesting are his difficulties with his own society, which provide his motivation for leaving –he’s the first person to leave Anarres since it was settled. Most people associate anarchism with chaos, but Le Guin does a good job of showing (not telling) how an anarchist society could (would?) likely work. Just as you can’t imagine a democracy without (small “d”) democrats, Shevek’s world consists of anarchists. Each of them learns from childhood to share, to avoid “egoizing” and acquisitiveness, and in return, to rely on each other for their own survival. Anarres is a harsh, desert world, and although there is a lot of hard, dirty, dangerous work to be done, people do it eagerly, in weekly or monthly shifts and in solidarity (echoes of the Israeli kibbutz movement come through strongly here). As a result, the primary individuality of each person is recognized; if you want to do something (“work” and “play” are the same word in their invented language) you are allowed to do it. There are no laws, remember.

But society is its own law. Le Guin does a fantastic job of creating characters who, at the same time they cannot be anything other than anarchists or imagine anything other than anarchism, chafe at the “soft,” but ultimately oppressive restrictions created by the need for conformity. Interpersonal rivalries fester even in a world where food is free, and freely available, and tragically, it’s the very attempt to restrain power that seems to create oppression.

This is not an indictment of anarchism by any means. Le Guin is smart to locate Shevek’s society on a moon, cut off from contact with the mother planet; egalitarian, non-hierarchical settlements on Earth tend to be conquered by authoritarian regimes, or crumble in the face of capitalism. Like Shevek, when you’re finished with The Dispossessed, you can’t imagine how you can live in a society like ours, that locks down our humanity and distributes privileges on manifestly unjust grounds. In some ways, it’s a thrill to see petty, status-seeking behavior in an anarchist context; it highlights the ways in which human nature, for better or worse, is entirely compatible with a non-hierarchical social structure. After all, we evolved that way, right?

I expect that, like a cafeteria on Anarres, readers will take from The Dispossessed what they want. Le Guin does not let anarchist sympathizers off easy; the capitalist world Shevek encounters on the mother world is given its due; it gives Shevek things (of real value) that he can’t get on Anarres. Anarchism emerges from her fictional account much like Augustine’s famous prayer for chastity, “Oh lord, give us a world without power, but do not give it yet.”