Waikiki Beach is a fascinating mish-mosh of types – locals and tourists, homeless and loaded. On Saturday the grassy fringe of the beach was littered with the usual mix of sunburned tourists seeking shade under the palms and homeless guys catching some sleep. At the Duke Kahanamoku statue, a tiny gathering of three added to the variety – this was the Ralph Nader rally. Not a screaming success, but then it was announced just the day before. Ralph did draw a substantial crowd during his Hawaii visit, most of which stayed for nearly four hours to listen to him answer questions. And I mean really answer them, not just work back around to a canned message. Is that so much to ask from our political leaders?
Michael Pollan on why the next President needs to pay attention to food….
It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops corn, soybeans, wheat and rice from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.
Part circus, part athletic contest, part cultural event. Competitors (including the Flying Wallendas) came to South Korea from 14 countries to conquer the three-quarter mile wire. The organizer would like to hold the contest in North Korea. Hmm, would Kim Jong Il win?
If this story is up your alley, check out the documentary Man or Wire, about the Frenchman, Philippe Petit, who walked between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. The logistics of the feat and Petit’s skill on the wire are awe-inspiring. He is a bit of a nut, though, and not very likeable for having celebrated his WTC crossing by cheating on his girlfriend. The movie does not mention the eventual fate of the Twin Towers. There towers are a haunting presence, however, throughout the film.
Chinese wins tightrope contest across Seoul river
A professional tightrope walker from China zipped along a wire strung across the Han River in just under 11 minutes to win Seouls second international high-wire championship, which concluded Saturday.
Yakefujiang Maimitili, competing Friday on the second day of the three-day contest, beat 26 other competitors in traversing the three-quarter-mile-long wire to claim the $20,000 prize.
Colombias Alan Martinez came in second place with a time of 11 minutes, 23 seconds. Last years winner, Abudusataer Wujiabudula of China, finished in 11 minutes, 28 seconds, for third place.
Maimitili, 20, said he has been a tightrope walker since the age of 7, following in his ethnic Uighur familys tradition in his native Xinjiang in northwestern China.
“I was really excited while I was walking on the rope,” Maimitili said Saturday.
Tightrope walking is also a Korean tradition going back centuries, with performers often leaping and turning somersaults in midair — and sometimes even cracking jokes — to entertain onlookers.
This is embarrassing, but the state of Hawaii is only now expanding their “pilot” recycling project at two locations to include more neighborhoods (like mine). The blue cans rolled out today on moving trucks, with a staging area taking up an entire side street. It is about time, given that our state consists of a few tiny islands with very limited space to pile up garbage.
JUNK, a project of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, is a raft now on its way to Hawaii and constructed of 15,000 plastic bottles and a Cessna 310. Its mission is to raise awareness about plastic fouling our oceans. They’ve just hit the halfway point in the voyage. Check out the blog ….
Earlier this week, I went to see the film Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson at the Doris Duke Theater. The film brought three dimensions to a figure more commonly seen as a cartoon. Thompson was a bitter and disappointed romantic idealist who became a caricature of the persona he created. In his early life he really believed that he could make a difference. He believed in the idealism of 1960’s San Francisco, and then, as he himself famously wrote, the wave reached its high water mark, broke and receded. After the Kennedys were killed he was never the same. He got pretty enthused about George McGovern and then McGovern lost. Thompson’s marriage fell apart and he became a miserable jerk. It is kind of hard to watch because as our candidates spout platitudes and we torture and imprison mere children, I found myself wondering if his disappointment in the world was justified. In any event, the film is excellent and the many interviews from both ends of the political spectrum are priceless.
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008) – Plot summary
Peter Lovenheim asked his neighbors if he could sleep over. Sounds kind of outrageous, no? It strikes me as more outrageous that you can live next door to someone for years and not know anything about them. Our sense of community has become progressively weaker, sacrificed on the altar of “privacy” as if privacy is our most precious and valuable possession. This allows some individuals to spend dangerously too much time alone in their own heads (and I include myself among them). Humans have a need to connect with other humans. Here’s Lovenheim’s touching story of getting to know his own neighbors…
THE alarm on my cellphone rang at 5:50 a.m., and I awoke to find myself in a twin bed in a spare room at my neighbor Lou’s house.
Lou was 81. His six children were grown and scattered around the country, and he lived alone, two doors down from me. His wife, Edie, had died five years earlier. “When people learn you’ve lost your wife,” he told me, “they all ask the same question. ‘How long were you married?’ And when you tell them 52 years, they say, ‘Isn’t that wonderful!’ But I tell them no, it isn’t. I was just getting to know her.”
Lou had said he gets up at six, but after 10 more minutes, I heard nothing from his room down the hall. Had he died? He had a heart ailment, but generally was in good health. With a full head of silver-gray hair, bright hazel-blue eyes and a broad chest, he walked with the confident bearing of a man who had enjoyed a long and satisfying career as a surgeon.
The previous evening, as I’d left home, the last words I heard before I shut the door had been, “Dad, you’re crazy!” from my teenage daughter. Sure, the sight of your 50-year-old father leaving with an overnight bag to sleep at a neighbor’s house would embarrass any teenager, but “crazy”? I didn’t think so.
There’s talk today about how as a society we’ve become fragmented by ethnicity, income, city versus suburb, red state versus blue. But we also divide ourselves with invisible dotted lines. I’m talking about the property lines that isolate us from the people we are physically closest to: our neighbors.
TOKYO » A Japanese adventurer aboard a boat powered by ocean waves arrived in his homeland Friday, more than three months after he set sail from Hawaii.
Kenichi Horie said good weather and fish he caught along the way made his long journey enjoyable.
Horie claims the trip was the world’s longest solo voyage in a wave-powered boat. The journey would have taken just 10 days in a regular diesel-powered vessel, but Horie said he opted for the wave-powered boat to raise awareness about the environment.
Sailor finishes trip using wave power | starbulletin.com | News | /2008/07/06/
Then there’s this guy. I’m not sure what he is raising awareness of….
CAMBRIDGE, Idaho (AP) — Using his trusty BB gun to help him return to Earth, a 48-year-old gas station owner flew a lawn chair rigged with helium-filled balloons more than 200 miles across the Oregon desert Saturday, landing in a field in Idaho.
Time has its Person of the Year. People has its Sexiest Man Alive. Not to be outdone, Foreign Policy magazine has just completed its online survey of the world’s top public intellectuals.
No. 1 on the list is Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader from Turkey. In fact, the top 10 of the leading 20 are all Muslim thinkers from countries with dominant Muslim populations.