Here’s a blog posting about the recent unveiling of some of my father’s scientific work at the Kansas Underground Salt Museum. My father may be a museum artefact but heÂ is very much alive, and so is the 250 million year old bacteria that he and two biologists uncovered in the layers of salt where Dad does much of his geological work in New Mexico. Enjoy!
A few months ago, I wasÂ listening to the radio (Talk of the Nation, I think) and heard an interview with Stephen Pinker, author of The Stuff of Thought.Â Because it was radio, and he was talking about swear words and racial epithets, his host made the comment that it cost $325,000 per word, per usage if he actually used a swear word on the air, due to FCC violations. Interesting. Anyway, Pinker made some interesting comments about why words have so much power, how racial epithets and swear words alike stimulate the part of the brain that arouses anger and hatred–that there is a literal connection between the words and the effect on the brain.Â Sounded like his book was an interestingÂ one to read.
I’ve been tearing my hair out getting Ken’s book off to press. If anybody knows people who blog about fiddle music, poetry, folksy stuff, or both–especially if people read their blogs!–let me know so I can send a copy of the Advance Reader’s Copy to them.
One of Ken’s acquaintances was apparently appalled the other day to hear my story: young writer with a novel published by Knopf (The Confessional by J.L. Powers–great name, huh? great title, huh? ); rising star in academia (well, I’d like to say I’m a rising star, but perhaps “adequate graduate student at Stanford whose advisors are sincerely sorry to see her go but who understand she had divided loyalties from the start” is more like it); now to forsake grad school in order to begin small literary press that may flop, may succeed, but will probably never bring her fame and fortune but will, instead, cost a whole hella lot of money.
This person wasn’t appalled by the young writer part, especially since there’s no way I’m leaving that behind and I hope to have a voluminous and bright publishing career ahead of me, despite the fact that I frequently despair over my non-Judy-Blume-esque stature. (Hell, I’d settle for a few fan letters every once in a while.) Anyway, I think she was appalled by the fact that I’m leaving my Ph.D. program at Stanford to start a small literary press fer god’s sake.
Okay, I can see that my decision is not the kind of decision one makes if one is seeking job security. And granted, I’m leaving STANFORD’S Ph.D. program. Nobody does that. Read More
..you guessed it, Crossroads Christian Center truly made me mad, with their letter sent to everybody in San Bruno, trying to agitate against plans to turn the Skylawn Mortuary into a Buddhist Temple… They’veÂ arranged a community meeting and invited everybody to come express “the negative impacts we will all feel.” Guess I’ll have to go to that meeting.
270 San Bruno Avenue W
Dear Pastor Daniel Krajicek,
I found it extremely disturbing to receive your thinly disguised bit of propaganda in the mail today.
Your red-baiting is far from appealing. Your attempt to make a new Buddhist Temple in the neighborhood appear disreputable, as though they are the new neighbors that nobody wants, seemed oddly familiarâ€”like racists who make comments like, â€œThere goes the neighborhood,â€ when people of color move in. I found it especially pathetic thatÂ your entire caseÂ rested on 3 assumptions: 1) thatÂ the BuddhistsÂ would create traffic issues, 2) that your church members would suffer for loss of parking space, and 3) that the Buddhist Temple would be open 24 hours a day for people who needed to come pray. As far as #1: Whenever a new business or church comes into the area, there’s always the possibility that there will be traffic issues. That hardly seems like a reason to discriminate against them, or to suggest, in your words, that “it is not in the best interest of our neighborhood.” Forgive me for not getting too overwrought aboutÂ #2, that you will have trouble finding parking space. And as forÂ #3:Â Good for the Buddhist Temple that theyâ€™ll be open to people in need 24 hours a day, something you apparently find appalling since you highlighted it in yellow. You evidently seem to think that spiritual need only occurs during the hours your church office happens to be open.
If I had ever had the slightest inclination to visit your church, I will certainly never consider it again.
On the one hand, we are apparently breeding like rats and many peopleÂ (who make national policy) believe stronglyÂ we should be worried about what the spike in human population is going to do to our planet–but on the other hand, according to an analysis called “Baby Bust” in Reason Magazine, we are apparently also going through severe population decline-at least, the white race is, and that’s worrying our (xenophobic) politicians who, from Australia to Great Britain, are creating cash incentives to encourage white folks to make white babies.