Annual Report

Now that a year has passed since I started clogging up the Internet with my words and pictures, I’ve been reviewing the work (if you want to call it that) I’ve done so far. For the record, that’s 183 entries (and 147 comments, only about a hundred of them from Cecil).

Some updates and corrections:

• Against all odds, Abe Vigoda remains alive. I know this because I have installed a Firefox status bar that keeps me continually abreast of Abe’s well-being (in the broadest possible sense, i.e. whether he is alive or dead). You can get it for yourself here:

Better Know a Candidate

Ron Oz, like The Man Who Fell to Earth
or Reverend Jim Ignatowski, is capable of
monitoring seven TV broadcasts at the same time.

We are currently having a mayoral election in Oakland, where of course the real election is the primary—the Republican candidate is about as relevant as facts to Fox news. Along with front-runners Congressman Ron Dellums and Ignacio de la Fuente, Jerry Brown’s chosen successor, we also have in the race a genuine eccentric—or is it visionary?—in Ron “Oz” Oznowicz.

I had been aware of Oz’s existence for some time, but he first really got my attention with a full-page ad in last week’s paper headlined “What would a Ron Oz mayor do?” Note the phrasing: not “What would Ron Oz do as mayor?” or even “What would a Mayor Ron Oz do?”, but “”What would a Ron Oz mayor do?” The ad itself was almost all text, crammed full of Ron Oz’s positions and philosophies and favorite quotes, none of which was, in and of itself, nutty; but the page as a whole was suggestive of someone who’s wired up a little strange.

Selvin Watch

Like most of us, I was overjoyed when the Chronicle‘s Joel Selvin “retired” a few years back. And yet he keeps popping up with disturbing regularity. Recently, he wrote a profile of local music mogul Will Bronson where he managed to misspell the subject’s name every time it appeared.

Then yesterday he wrote a piece about T-Bone Burnett. I’m not sure what Selvin is calling himself these days, but “writer” is surely one of them, and yet the following sentence appears in his article, describing the difficulty that Reese Witherspoon had recording the soundtrack for Ring of Fire:

Burnett watched one afternoon as she literally exploded in frustration, pounding her way through doors out of the house.

That’s right: Reese Witherspoon literally exploded at T-Bone Burnett’s house in Brentwood. Selvin doesn’t address any of the questions raised by this revelation, such as: Was anyone showered with gristle when the lovely young actress spontaneously combusted? Why was it not reported in the mainstream press? And who was that collecting Witherspoon’s Oscar?

Verse 53

And now, a few words from Lao Tzu, as transmitted to me postally by Gentleman James Foley. Keep in mind that though the translation is modern, these words were written 2500 years ago.

Tao Te Ching, Verse 53
If I had the least wisdom
I could follow the Tao very well
My only fear would be going my own way
The great path is simple and direct
But people prefer byways
Look how magnificent civilization has become
The women in the finest fashion
The men with the slickest gadgets
Food and drink everywhere
Wealth and finery abound!
Yet in the shadow of this splendor,
The economy slows
Personal debt is very high
Possessions have accumulated in excess
This robber’s extravagance goes against the grain of the universe
It is not Tao

Talkin’ Bout My Speciation

Read a very interesting article in the paper this morning about a study of the evolutionary split between humans and chimps.

“The study gave unexpected results about how we separated from our closest relatives, the chimpanzees,” Reich said in a statement. “We found that the population structure that existed around the time of human-chimpanzee speciation was unlike any modern ape population. Something very unusual happened at the time of speciation.”

The unusual happening was that once the two species began separating from their common ancestors, they might well have been repeatedly interbreeding with each other—at times producing sterile offspring but sometimes producing offspring that remained fertile and, in turn, created a short-lived mixed lineage—a kind of dead-end tribe combining both pre-human and pre-chimp genes.

It’s a somewhat lengthy and complex piece, so let me sum it up for you briefly, in layman’s terms:

“Hey skeeziks, I’ve got some news for you! You think you’re so great, but it was really not that long ago that your ancestors were screwing chimps.”