Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Celebrating Mystery

Look at it; nothing to see.
Call it colorless.
Listen to it: nothing to hear.
Call it soundless.
Reach for it: nothing to hold.
Call it intangible.

Triply undifferentiated,
it merges into oneness,
not bright above,
not dark below.

Never, oh! never
can it be named.
It reverts, it returns
to unbeing.
Call it the form of the unformed,
the image of no image.

Call it unthinkable thought.
Face it: no face.
Follow it: no end.

Holding fast to the old Way,
we can live in the present.
Mindful of the ancient beginnings,
we hold the threat of the Tao.


I reread this passage every year or so. "Celebrating Mystery" is my favourite chapter in Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching and Ursula K. Le Guin's rendition gives this text a kind of vibrance that captivates me.

The Tao Te Ching is a book that has proven invaluable to me. It is a book that actively resists interpretation. It offers simple lessons from which to fashion a principled life but, simultaneously, offers a literate, accessible, and subsersive commentary on consciousness and history.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Is Roger Federer The Most Dominant Athelete You've Ever Seen?

It's almost 2:00am and I'm watching the world's number 1 tennis player Roger Federer surgically dissect Andy Roddick. Roddick is allegedly at the top of his game since Jimmy Connors started coaching him, but I can hardly tell.

It's not even close. It's 6-4, 6-0 and Federer is already up a game and a break in the 3rd set. That's 11 straight games. He isn't playing Roddick, he's dismissing him effortlessly.

There have been a few dominant athletes I've seen through the years that have really left an imprint on me. I remember staying up late on the East Coast watching Joe Montana on Monday Night Football. I remember watching Jordan rewrite physics time and time again. But to me, Federer's achievements are--somehow--even more amazing.

Federer's achievement is singular because tennis is obviously not a team sport. Statistically his game is off the charts. He can turn defense into offense with ease. He has not only mastered almost every part of the game as traditionally imagined, but also found a way to create a new tennis vocabulary. He isn't just dominating the game, he is altering the trajectory of the game itself.

I'm in awe.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

10 Moments of Clarity Regarding Branded America

  1. Despite what John Mellencamp might say, a Chevy Silverado played no part in Rosa Parks' act of civil disobedience.
  2. That I really do have to put Mercury on my list (because the giant woman from the commercial said so).
  3. Zoom, Zoom, Transmission?
  4. I actually do jazz it up with Zatarran's from time to time.
  5. Skynyrd's original song title was "Sweet Home Kentucky Fried Chicken."
  6. Clinical trials suggest that 94% of patients administered a placebo still claimed they were cuckoo for Coco-Puffs.
  7. Boeing or Airbus should be asking for royalties on Southwest's "[Ding]" campaign.
  8. The first thing that Brown can do for me is leave my goddamn package at the front door and stop re-attempting delivery at 3:15 the next afternoon.
  9. That there are allegedly 23 flavors within Dr. Pepper is non-responsive to the question of why none of them taste like good soda.
  10. "Accelerating" my life is probably not a good idea when suggested by the U.S. Navy.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

That Visa Commercial with the Flying Paperwork

So it's been about three months and VISA continues to play an advertisement called "Paperwork Forest." Every time I see it, my roommate and I try to guess who might be singing the song in the background.

I thought it might actually be Beck, but I've since figured out that it is someone named Chirstopher Faizi. Unfortunately the song was written for the commercial, so it is not available for download or purchase anywhere. Nor does Faizi have any other albums that I can find.

However, Faizi's MySpace profile has some of his other tracks available via a streaming radio. The songs actually sound pretty good. Check them out.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Gimme Some DAP!

My roommmate Willie scored some great tickets to the Golden State Warriors game tonight. They were hosting the Cleveland Cavs.

Two minutes before the game started, I called that it was going to go into overtime.
Two minutes before overtime started, I called Cleveland by two.

Damn straight.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Designing a T-Shirt

In order to use my artistic skills as much as possible (and avoid pure legal work), I've undertaken to offer the Berkeley Technology Law Journal some ideas for their yearly t-shirt. Here's the first one:

I understand full well that this violates my sixth new year's resolution, but I can't help it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Top 10 Careers That Are Not "The Law"

As my "long weekend" comes to a close, I recall that I've been proofreading and editing legal writing for approximately 15 hours a day since Thursday. It is natural to wonder if I'd have been better off being overworked and grizzled in another field altogether.

And as I watch and listen to TV and radio interviews and read the news, I am reminded about our infinite world of opportunity in which individuals flourish. I keep thinking to myself, "Man, I think I'd be great at that job." I've said it to myself enough times that a list has been brewing in my head for quite some time. In fact, some of these things were options I was seriously considering during college.

  1. Film Director
  2. Freelance Journalist (world news and culture)
  3. Movie Critic
  4. Journalist (technology and consumer electronics)
  5. IT Specialist
  6. Literary Critic (fiction and short stories)
  7. Digital Graphics (non-animation)
  8. Industrial Design / Architecture (non-residential)
  9. Homicide Detective / Forensics
  10. Novelist

Friday, January 12, 2007

Another Reason to Hate Berkeley

So I get more than my fair share of parking tickets, but today I caught one of Berkeley's finest trying to screw me over.

The first thing I notice is that Berkeley has these awful parking kiosks where you have to put in money and purchase a label that has the time printed on it. What's awful is that all of these kiosks are five minutes behind, so that if it's really 1:00pm and you pay for an hour of parking, the ticket that comes out will invariably say 1:55pm (because the meter thinks its 12:55pm). And I'm sure that my meter maid's watch will invariably be five minutes too FAST.

Anyway, I took all of this into account this afternoon when I parked near campus and I even chose to get back to my car an extra ten minutes early. And what do you know, as I'm walking to my car, I see an Urkel-like parking enforcement rickshaw whiz by and stop next to my car. The cop looked out of his window and then looked at his watch, turned on his hazard lights, and started writing the ticket.

I got next to my car and looked at the ticket, which said 1:24pm. I looked at my watch and then at my cellphone, which both said 1:16pm! I looked at the clock on the kiosk, which was next to my car, and that said 1:11pm. I went up to the meter maid and said, "Hey, I still have time left on this meter. Why are you writing a ticket?" The guy didn't even look over and ignored me.

"Hello, I still have time on this meter. I still have about ten minutes left." He kept his head down, looked at his watch and shook his head. He kept puching numbers into his handheld ticket meter.

I just turned around and got into my car and turned on the engine. He suddenly looked over out of his window as if he didn't recognize me there at all. I looked him straight in the eye and then I saw him crumple up the ticket in his hand and drive off. He didn't even say a word.

Fuck Berkeley.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Clint Eastwood: An American Master

Even ignoring his stellar film acting career, Clint Eastwood is hands down my favorite film director. He's been directing films since the early 1970's, but I personally got acquainted with his directing work when I saw "Unforgiven" (1992) and the vastly underrated "A Perfect World" (1993), both of which he starred in.

As if "Mystic River" and "Million Dollar Baby" weren't good enough, the release of "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima" have, in my mind at least, brought Eastwood to Kurosowa-like status. Eastwood is a true American master.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

iPhone: "Apple reinvents the phone" . . . but recycles the name

While CES is going on full steam in Las Vegas, practically everyone in the Bay-Area, as usual, is going ga-ga over anything that Steve Jobs releases. Apart from the completely lame and three-year too late AppleTV, Apple's new ridiculously expensive "iPhone" has created some news, both good and bad.

As I listen to the masses prostrate to Jobs, I've learned a very good lesson: Apple doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt under any circumstances.

It turns out that Apple doesn't even own the trademark "iPhone," in the United States, but chose to release the product anyway. Linksys actually created a line of VoiP-based phones called the "iPhone" a little while back. And this comes as no surprise to Apple, either. In fact, Apple has been negotiating with Linksys (owned by Cisco) to license its "iPhone" trademark and these negotiations have been going on for TWO YEARS. They had been negotiating, a Cisco spokesman said, as late as last Monday night.

So, what did Apple do? It broke off all negotiations, didn't send Cisco a signed agreement, and decided to use the mark anyway. In response to a lawsuit filed in federal court by Cisco, Apple now says that it doesn't need permission to use the mark.

Now let's be clear. There is a legal issue here (whether Apple is legally allowed to use the "iPhone" mark without permission for its smartphone without infringing Cisco's rights), the answer to which is basically irrelevant. Regardless of whether Apple wins on this pure legal issue in Federal Court, Apple has proven itself as a company not worthy of my respect.

Nor does it really matter how clean Cisco's hands are. Many speculated that Linksys released its own line of iPhones a year ago because it heard a lot of talk about Apple releasing its own phone product. Thus, releasing its own product in anticipation of Apple's release gave Linksys an instant seat at the bargaining table for license money or--more specifically--a piece of the Apple iPhone revenue.

Apple might win this case, but it has and will continue to lose a whole lot of credibility and business goodwill. It is too high of a price to pay. The problem here is that Apple can't effectively paint Cisco as an opportunistic rentseeker, especially not when Apple itself was asking Linksys for permission (seemingly not in good faith) to use the mark for the last two years, only to turn around at the last minute and launch its product.

A circumstantial musing: if Apple is really so intent on keeping the 'i' in front of its product offerings (like iLife, iMac, and iPod), then why didn't it name its new lame TV product "iTV" instead of AppleTV? Or, why didn't it call its phone the ApplePhone?

Monday, January 08, 2007

15 Resolutions for 2007

  1. Master low-light photography
  2. Purchase more buttoned-down shirts at Target
  3. Figure out whether I need a Roth IRA
  4. Dare to buy frozen Mahi-Mahi at Trader Joes
  5. Curb appetite for consumer electronics
  6. Wear fewer t-shirts with clever sayings
  7. More Kafka
  8. Implement sorbet-only diet
  9. Take a roadtrip through California
  10. Stop being angry that I don't use my gym membership and instead be content that $10.00 per semester is a bargain
  11. Once again become Iron Chef America
  12. Be more skeptical about Google
  13. Go to the movies more than once a semester
  14. More traveling to India and Pakistan // Less Campylobacter and Giardia
  15. Eventually stop watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond

I'm Sorry to Ruin It For You, But It's a Fucking Crocodile

So I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud during a movie preview in the theatre. Opening January 12, the movie Primeval is being advertised as a movie "INSPIRED BY THE TRUE STORY OF THE MOST PROLIFIC SERIAL KILLER IN HISTORY."

Orlando Jones, a cast member, was recently on Conan O'Brian and talked about how amazed he was to learn about this serial killer while filming in South Africa: "What intrigued me the most was that the story was true. I didn't really believe that there was some serial killer on the loose that no one had caught. I kind of thought, 'Are you serious?'" But then he went on to talk about how, during filming, he met townspeople who had "lost uncles and aunts to the killer."

Sounds compelling, huh?

Oh there's just one thing. IT'S A GODDAMNED CROCODILE, not a serial killer. This is the worst gimmick ever. At least Snakes on a Plane was up front about how stupid it was.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Winter Break 2006-07

Robert Moses State Park, NY

Museum of Natural History, NYC

Times Square, NYC

Muir Woods (Golden Gate National Park), CA