Is it unusual that as I get older, I liked the desert more? Last weekend I visited friends in Joshua Tree. We stayed at a dome home, swam in the indoor pool, slept out on the deck and watched the stars, took walks, and listened to quail.
The house sits on the slops of the mountain just north of Joshua Tree park and the neighborhood, although subdivided into 5 acre homesteads the owners have built sensitive houses and left the native catuses and birds alone.
We went on several excursions. Our visit to the Joshua Tree Music festival doesn’t have a photos, but it’s a nice memory.
On Saturday, we had a http://www.integratron.com/6ComeOnIn/ComeOnIn.html#SoundBath at the Integratron.
Before she played the crystal bowls and gave us our sound bath, one of the owners told us a history of the Integratron. George Van Tassel studied Tesla’s work, and had been given instructions by an alien. He was about to turn the dome into the machine it was intended to be–lining the interior with aluminum and connecting the power source to the free energy of the earth, but he was called away from this planet and left by way of heart attack. And then, his papers and building materials were stolen and never found. All that is left is this model, built by one of his colleagues.
The copper wires lining the floor under the dome room are still in place:
Even though George did not intend for people to lay on mexican blankets and listen to crystal bowls played in a scale tuned to their chakras, he did intend for the machine to extend human life. I don’t know if the sound bath extends lifespan, but it sweetens what we do have. (Plenty of cool photos at flikr.)
Our other excursion was into town, to visit Shari Elf’s Art Queen Gallery.
Shari Elf: yes, you can believe the hype. Delightful, creative, generous, well-dressed. Visit her site, become a fan, and buy her record: I’m Forcing Goodness Upon You. We played it everywhere, over and over, as our sound track.
Art Queen gallery had two shows, one by Ann Magnuson called 30 x 30, and the other Many Mansions, both of which inspired a wordsmith like me to think and feel in new ways, which I why I like art, anyway.
Do not miss the Crochet Museum. Just. don’t.
The last night we drove down to Palm Springs and spent the night in a older hotel with a view to the south like this:
All weekend, emails from Santa Cruz had been saying how hot it was. For once, I was glad to be in the desert.
Oh man, this is so good on so many levels.
And I love the little toy cow that’s in his hand as a “safe word.” I found this on Alternet.
Earlier this month, when Garrison Keillor came to town, the event producer (UCSC) arranged an Ode To Santa Cruz Contest. I wasn’t able to finish my stab at it, but what I wrote I posted below.
The winning author is well-known Santa Cruz visual artist Douglas McClelland. There were 136 entries to the contest.
‘Ode to Santa Cruz’
Santa Cruz, to honor you,
I declare a mural –
surfer facing the sea
wearing a full bore tool belt;
rat gray pony tail.
in hand — he balances,
rampant on a green wave.
Tattoo of Gaia that bears
the word “Mom” on his chest.
His board, a riot of earth tones,
bears the proud legend
“En Plein Air.”
On the shore, strong women
will be seen, gathering
with a rainbow of others
in solidarity. Planting, writing,
catching their own waves.
The painting style is bold,
Rivera-like, colors clear,
edges crisp, but the pearly
Pacific light sweetens the diverse parts –
redwoods, tourists in black socks,
screwtop wine bottles,
pale slackers, bronzed shiatsists,
owlish deans, and organic garlic–
into a rare harmony. All gentled
by an avant garde surfbeat,
string band, folk song loop
from an amp behind
a tie-dyed screen.
Here’s what I came up with:
Ode to Santa Cruz
Don’t expect to find the usual
Californian grid of streets penciled by a railroad clerk.
The roads of Santa Cruz
were designed by a Spanish cow.
Expect a psychedelic web of streets traveled by every kind of vagabond:
free love Victorians, farmers of unfamiliar vegetables, opium smokers, fat tantricas, racist refugees, English majors, poet-healer priests, lesbians, lumberjacks, second-husbands, deaf gardeners, water salesmen, bachelor bass players, graffiti eradication artists, code wranglers, painter hermits, varsity singers, electricians of every gauge, weavers.
Each misfit arrives and remains
expecting their own disruption of the chaos here to be the last and lasting.
Yet watches year by year
the astonished face in the mirror as comfort overgrows chaos.
Expect only perfect weather and that
your rent will empty your wallet.
You will be too broke to ever travel again.
Expect the wide world of wanderers will join you here.
Here, at a holy crossroads, with open arms and genuine smiles.
I’m not someone who gives penises much thought, but I know others do, so I wanted to pass on “Secrets of the Phallus” by Dr. Jesse Bering. Please don’t be afraid to read a Scientific American article. I know some of them are only barely comprehensible if you can get by with reading the captions on the illustrations, but this one isn’t like that.
If one were to examine the penis objectively—please don’t do this in a public place or without the other person’s permission—and compare the shape of this organ to the same organ in other species, they’d notice the following uniquely human characteristics. First, despite variation in size between individuals, the erect human penis is especially large compared to that of other primates, measuring on average between five and six inches in length and averaging about five inches in circumference. (Often in this column I’ll relate the science at hand to my own experiences, but perhaps this particular piece is best written without my normally generous use of anecdotes.) Even the most well-endowed chimpanzee, the species that is our closest living relative, doesn’t come anywhere near this. Rather, even after correcting for overall mass and body size, their penises are about half the size of human penises in both length and circumference. I’m afraid that I’m a more reliable source on this than most. Having spent the first five years of my academic life studying great ape social cognition, I’ve seen more simian penises than I care to mention. I once spent a summer with a 450-pound silverback gorilla that was hung like a wasp (great guy, though) and baby-sat a lascivious young orangutan that liked to insert his penis in just about anything with a hole, which unfortunately one day included my ear.
The article describes a research project showing that the human male penis is long in the shaft and fat on the end because it is designed to “aid and abet the displacement of semen left by other males as a means of maximizing the likelihood of paternity.”
(The comments on this story are excellent as well.)
When I read a long article about the penis, naturally I wonder about the clitoris. How do we explain the clitoris and its deep and complex structures?
And also, is there an evolutionary explanation that for many women, deep thrusting is not what they favor, and not what gives orgasm? I know, some women orgasm that way, but not all of them, and even those women orgasm from what most women favor, which is stimulation of the clitoris, either from the outside or the inside. If evolution favored long, fat male penises that sucked out the ejaculate of the men who had come before them, why did natural selection favor women who are rewarded with activity at the entrance of the vagina? Maybe women who experienced pleasure in sex reproduced as successfully as the men with longer and fatter penises? Competing strategies?
And anyway, how did an organ which has no purpose but pleasure evolve? I know Stephen Jay Gould wrote that it’s just a penile analogue without cost, like tits on a man, but I’d love to find a paper about the evolution of the clitoris.
I’ve heard versions of this speech from many gay inspirational speechmakers, but none is as funny as this one.
I’ve long been a student of the school of POCLAD and understand why absolute monarchies feared corporations. But this video makes me want to set one up myself. It just seems foolish not to. Why would a corporation pay taxes at all?
I’ve heard of SQL injection attacks, but I have never seen it. All the anti-virus hoohaa in the world won’t stop it. It’s a coding vulnerabilty.
Take a look at the picture below, then walk across the room and look at it again. To learn what is going on, read Wired
(Wouldn’t it be cool to learn to paint images like this?)
Last week I found a copy of the latest Fishrap, the UCSC humor newspaper. Unfortunately, they had several websites, but they are gone or not updated since 2008, ditto their facebook and myspace page, so I can’t link to the story. (In fairness, you can follow them on twitter, but the timeline is innane.)
Anyway the articles in this issue are hilarious, so pick up a copy if you see it: “4/20 Death Toll Rises at UCSC: You kids get off my lawn your I’m gettin’ the hose!,” “Capitola Resident Just Doesn’t Get It,” “Obituaries: Indian Dies in Cupboard.” Not every university has a humor publication; I’m proud we do.
“What Makes Us Human?” asks the current cover story in Scientific American. I would be attracted to this story anyway, but am particularly interested because much of the research reported was done just up the hill from my office at the Genome Project at UCSC. The author, Katherine Pollard, is using bioinformatics to study those and compare the genome sequences in human and chimps that change the fastest. Of the 1% of DNA that is different between us and our nearest relatives, what does that DNA do? What makes us human? So far, Pollard has found DNA sequences that relate to the folding of the neocortex, speech centers in the brain, digestion of starch, brain size, digestion of milk sugar of domesticated animals, and certain changes in the fetal development of the wrist and thumb.
The Genome Project is currently in the Applied Sciences building, one of the oldest on campus. It is planned to be one of the occupants of the biomedical building
across the street. This is the building that was protested by treesitters for more than a year.
I’m not in favor of Pharma or logging a parking lot. But this research is amazing. Why not do it in a redwood forest?