Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Just Thinking...

I was just thinking, not that it really matters, but...

Honolulu has is the ideal place for a bike infrastructure. It's a small city. You could bike from anywhere to anywhere in maybe twenty minutes. The weather is nice year round. We're choking on cars. Gasoline prices are higher than just about anywhere in the U.S. And biking is good for your health, assuming you could bike without taking your life in your hands, which is the risk you take now. So why, several years after a referendum vote showed strong support for coming up a master plan for bike paths, is there still nothing going on?

In Disrupting Class, Clayton Christenson and Michael Horn hypothesize that by 2019 half of all the courses taken by high school students in the U.S will be online courses. A lot of the school administrators I've spoken with think that number is highly inflated. I think it's low. And I think it's going to change everything. As Will Richardson pointed out to a group of educators at a terrific presentation at NAIS, "If you're not feeling uncomfortable, you're not paying attention."

I've found a chess site I like better than Instantchess. It's called Chesscube. It's free, it's got a bigger display, and you get to choose who you play, instead of having random matches. It also has a more robust set of statistics archives for the games you've played. If you're a chess player and have trouble finding games in the 'hood, check it out. Thanks to Michael Goeller for the nudge.

Chang-rae Lee's new book is out. I've been reading an advance copy slowly all winter, because I'm not in a hurry to have it end. It's a tremendous book, more ambitious and technically accomplished than any of his three previous books. All of which I liked, but this book is something else again.

Another cool book I've been reading is called All Over Coffee by Paul Madonna. It consists of elegantly drawn pictures of the San Francisco area, matched up short prose meditations and snippets of dialogue and near-poems. Apparently he's been publishing these things in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sundays for a while now. Not living there, I had no idea. But the book, which I picked up when I was there two weeks ago, is way cool.

I'm liking San Francisco. I've been there often enough now (three times) that I'm starting to know my way around the downtown area. Love the galleries, love the architecture, love the scale and the pace of the city. Don't much like the weather, but I can cope.

Haven't been reading or writing any poetry for months now. Have to do something about that. There was a good poem by Hayden Carruth in the Writer's Almanac this week. And today there is a poem by Allison Joseph today which reflects on the disappearance of that most old-fashioned vehicle of communication: the letter.

I'll close with two quotes, both of which I heard at the TED Conference this year.

Robert F. Kennedy:

Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product…if we should judge American by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.


What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner.

Process Reflection: When I was living in Massachusetts in the 70s and 80s, one of my favorite columnists in the Boston Globe was Mike Barnicle, who would write human interest stories that were set in the streets of Boston and often told stories in innovative and highly dramatic ways. On occasion, he would pump out a column of more or less random thoughts and observations, under the generic title of "I was just thinking, not that it really matters, but..." (See a teaser from an archive site here.) I've been doing a lot of labor-intensive posts this week and I had really busy day at work today, so I thought I'd loosen up a little, and so what you see is what I got. The difference between me and Barnicle: he found a way to be funny, and pointed. I'm just flailing about. And ironically, this was a harder post to write than most of the others. Plus for some reason I'm having trouble getting it to post to Blogspot. Sigh.

1 comment:

Chess said...

Chang Rae Lee's personal note on Amazon perhaps explains why the first chapter of this novel is so very compelling, one of the most vivid depictions of the horrors of war from the point of view of refugees, that I've ever read.