Archive for October, 2005

Oct 23 2005

China Boy

Published by under Books

By Gus Lee; Selected for San Francisco’s One City, One Book campaign.

A fictionalized autobiography of a Chinese immigrant kid growing up in a black area of San Francisco at about the time of the Korean War (A trick historical reference for those under 50). It is a brutal coming of age story for a little scrawny boy who starts live in a classically oriented family headed by an ex Chinese Nationalist officer and a formerly rich and scholarly father. They avoid living in Chinatown and instead live in the ‘panhandle” a lower class ghetto. His mother dies when he is five and he is suddenly thrown out on the streets by an ogre; his American stepmother – truly evil in this story. He becomes a punching bag for the local kids and the story concerns how he eventually succeeds in growing up and starts to “get out”. However, the story ends when he is still only about seven.
This one was good. The story sucked me in and I wanted to see how it developed and ultimately ended. I read it rather quickly, but could put it down. My only complaint is that it is told through the eyes of a five to seven year old but obviously written by an adult. So the viewpoint of the child/adult narrator was a little fuzzy. Mostly expressed a little kid would, but mixed with observations and opinions that had to be those of a a grown person looking back on a childhood. Just a small blemish.

No responses yet

Oct 15 2005

Fresca

Published by under Food

A Peruvian restaurant on 24th St. in Noe Valley. Across from Bell Market.
It was recommended to us for its ceviche, but we chose other dishes. Very tasty filleted trout with tomato, onion, rice and beans, and a seafood “stew”. Has a side order of plantains which was too dry for my taste. Very good food and a pleasant place.

One response so far

Oct 15 2005

ExxposeExxon

Published by under General

The Sierra Club (to which I have belonged in the past) is leading an effort to “boycott” Exxon (for which I once worked) because “of all the Big Oil companies, Exxon is the worst”. The Sierra Club lists the following reasons for Exxon being the worst.

1. Exxon is “leading” the lobbying effort to drill for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
2. Exxon has not “fully paid” for the damage caused by the Valdez oil spill.
3. Exxon is making higher profits due to high oil prices (”gouging” per the Sierra Club)

A large boycott of products sold by Exxon would have an effect on their behavior and if it was really really big, it would lower prices. I have no problem with the call for a boycott, if you want to influence ExxonMobil (which is its current name, btw).

However, the reasons given are pretty weak. Lobbying is what the Sierra Club is all about. Should we also boycott them because they lobby for what they think is right? Lobbying seems to be the way most organizations deal with our federal government. “Fully Paid” for the Valdez is subjective. I know they’ve paid a lot, some Billions, and more are being adjudicated in court. In any case, they have not walked away from responsibility for the accident. Higher gasoline prices, sure. If you don’t like the price, don’t buy; or, sell the SUV and get a hybrid, or ride public transportation, or take a bike. Motor gasoline is a product like any other and “cheap gasoline” is not a “right” written into the Constitution. We are much too dependent on automobiles and hence dependent on the production and import of oil and oil products.

The Sierra Club is going after the largest oil company as the cause of the oil related problems. It should spend as much effort convincing people to buy smaller cars, drive less, etc. But, that is harder and doesn’t generate positive publicity for them.

No responses yet

Oct 09 2005

How is it done?

Published by under General

In our garden there is a red maple which is about 10 feet from the back stairs. Earlier today, I noticed a horizontal spider web which connects the tree to the stairs and is about 10 feet above the ground. The working part of the web is a v shape near the maple (where the bugs are, I suppose), but it is held horizontal by a single(?) long strand running from the crotch of the V to a vertical part of the stair structure. How did the spider to it? Shoot a thread the fifteen feet like “spiderman”, carry it across on the ground and then pull it tight?

No responses yet

Oct 06 2005

Lucifer’s Legacy: the meaning of asymmetry

Published by under Books

by Frank Close

I picked this one up on a whim while browsing the stacks looking for another book. The sub-title got me. The book turned out to be a qualitative tour of physics with a focus on particle physics. It is well and clearly written with good explanations of many phenomena and a generally historical development.

Ultimately, I didn’t think it explained the “meaning” of asymmetry but did explicate its importance as a concept in physics and its apparent importance in the structure of the physical world. So I guess that’s the meaning. The ubiquitous role of phase change as a transition from a symmetric state to an asymmetric one was well explained. As was the concept of phase change in the particle realm as the universe cooled and the corresponding undoing of such phase changes in high energy particle experiments.

No responses yet