Archive for the ‘Other Sources’ Category.


McSweeneys is the best


I get up at 4:30 a.m. for some pre-dawn food prep. Today, it’s my turn to bring a snack and read a story for my son Ash’s preschool class. The school does not allow nuts, dairy, eggs, sugar, or any pro-oxidant fruit. My snack will be simultaneously nutritious, allergen-free, and appealing to three-year-olds—something like dinosaur-shaped muffins that taste like rainbows but are made of steamed arugula.

While the muffins are baking, Ash wakes up. He is in a great mood after an uninterrupted twelve-hour slumber, eager for another day of joyful learning. He transitions through every part of the morning routine without complaint or delay, and we arrive at school precisely in the middle of the allotted five-minute drop-off window.

The school day starts at 8:45, but snack and story time is not until 9:20, which is the perfect amount of time to not be able to go anywhere or get anything else done. I twiddle my thumbs in the school parking lot for thirty-five minutes before heading inside to hand out muffins. On my way in, I pass the volunteer sign-up sheet for next week’s book fair and put myself down for every open timeslot.

After five minutes of reading to my son’s class, I’m off to work. I am a freelance neurosurgeon, the only job that is both well-paying enough to afford $30,000 in tuition and flexible enough to deal with all the school holidays. School holidays are the three months of summer, plus a week each on Indigenous People’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Presidents’ Day, and Easter. The school is also closed for all federal and state holidays, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Diwali, Lunar New Year, Eid al-Fitr, and seven staff-learning Wednesdays.

At 9:58 a.m., my phone alarm rings. I abruptly leave in the middle of an exam for a patient with intracerebral hemorrhaging, as I have something much more important to attend to. Registration for the preschool’s summer camp (which takes place eight months from now) opens at 10:00 a.m. sharp. If I do not sign up by 10:02, all the spots will be taken and I will have no childcare that week. Or worse, Ash will be stuck doing the inferior leaf collage crafts instead of the coveted Stegosaurus hand-painting crafts, and I will have ruined the magic of childhood for him.

With the summer camp spot secured, I return to my patient with the bleeding brain, who has been kind enough not to code blue during my absence. As a working parent, I’ve learned to be super-efficient with my time, so I also manage to squeeze in a seven-hour spinal cord surgery during the thirty minutes I have before school pick-up.

Today is a regular Tuesday in the middle of a normal workweek, so of course, it’s early school dismissal. I chat with the room mom while we wait for our kids, and she persuades me to help with the school bake sale this weekend that I didn’t know was happening. (Shame on me for not reading the twelve-page weekly emails more carefully.) Luckily, my schedule is wide open at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday for some baking, so I agree to bring six dozen kale triceratops brownies.

This afternoon, there’s a parent-teacher conference. The students aren’t allowed to come along, but no problem; it’s super easy to find a responsible adult who is free at 2:00 p.m. on a weekday for a babysitting job that lasts half an hour. (That’s how long it takes me to get to and from the school and have a twelve-minute chat with the teacher.)

During the conference, the teacher mentions the school’s upcoming silent auction. Since I have nothing else to do for the next twenty weeks, I volunteer to chair the planning committee. This year, the school is raising money for a toddler makerspace. It will be fancier than the lab at my hospital responsible for testing monkeypox samples.

After the parent-teacher conference, I take Ash to the art store to buy craft supplies for a family tree project that was assigned today and will be due tomorrow. We only need two popsicle sticks, but the smallest quantity the store sells is a bag of five hundred. I put the other 498 popsicle sticks in a storage box that also contains 96 cotton balls, 997 plastic yellow beads, and a pair of Uggs I purchased last week because we didn’t have any empty shoe boxes at home to send to school for a different craft project.

Ash and I sit down at the kitchen table and get to work. I make the family tree project, dinner, and some notes about a craniotomy I’m performing tomorrow. Ash makes velociraptor noises.

After dinner and bedtime stories, I grab the car keys and a large Thermos of Red Bull. Tonight, I’m making the five-hour drive to my aunt’s house in Ohio to pick up an heirloom family album. That way, when I return home at dawn, I can cut up vintage 1930s photos of my grandfather into apple shapes to finish Ash’s family tree homework.

Before I leave the house, I ask my spouse to check on Ash’s baby sister, Willow. Willow’s our second-born and not old enough for school yet, so we don’t care about her as much. Still, it would be nice if someone could make sure our six-month-old has been fed and changed at least once today.

Star Trek Acid Party

Such a lovingly crafted.. umm… acid trip tribute to Star Trek The Next Generation!
The love shows in the details.

(via JWZ)

The Tricky Triangle

Chicken John tells the most real, most vital stories.

Find out about him and the San Francisco Institute of Possibility at his website

Here’s his Holiday Letter


December 22, 2020:
So I invested some money in a novelty game called The Tricky
Triangle. It was a thing you bought bulk for distribution. I was done with the moving company, living in NYC in my $200 van, and I got a windfall of money selling my phone number to a rival
moving company. I sold a bunch of musical equipment and other stuff in preparation for my move to the West Coast. It was all the money I had, and I borrowed some: $8,500.

I got 10,000 Tricky Triangles. My plan was to get a vinyl sign made and sell them in malls or flea markets. They came 250 to a box. There were 40 boxes. So many, that with all my other stuff I had to sleep in the front seat of the van.

Tricky Triangle Great Stocking Stuffer

You already know how this ends up. It seemed totally reasonable. Totally doable. For $8,500, I got 10,000 of the product I could
easily sell for $3 to $6. At an average of $5 each, I would only need to sell 1,700 to make my investment back. If I could sell 50 to 100 per hour and there were 45 hours of holiday shopping for three weeks, I would sell out.

I ran the math over and over again. “What if I only sell 25 an hour?” Well, then I only make like half my investment back this year, and can try again next year. See, that’s the appeal. To break into a market to see what is what. I needed to make a living and I was very interested in stuff that was winter or Christmas-based, so I could be free in the summer for circus or other stuff…
I thought that if it got tough, I could go door to door. People did that back then. Go door to door in December selling stocking stuffers. People do that, right? I worked the numbers. Thinking of places that would be good to “set up” at. What kind of place would generate what kind of sales. I went over it again and again. I said to myself: “They are gonna stuff those stockings with something, right?”


You already know how this ends up. The feeling of failure and self loathing when I put 15 of the boxes on the curb next to the garbage cans so I could sleep laying down. The dejection. The emasculating horror of 100% rejection. The bitter cold of winter. The bald tires on the van in the ice and snow. Actual hunger but too proud and stubborn to admit to anyone (at the time) that I hadn’t sold a single one.

I thought for sure I was a natural for the flea market. For selling stuff. For 10 years I tried to sell things. On and off. I even had a junk store on 28th street in SF for a year: Shuck and Jive. Anyone ever go to that? Selling at the flea markets and doing sales requires you have certain ruthless traits. I possess not a drop of ruthless.

It was a cataclysmic mistake. I let more and more boxes go over the years. I have one Tricky Triangle left. I’m gonna put it in
Edsel’s stocking someday when he’s old enough to understand what it’s like to make an actual, tangible, shit just went sideways mistake.

I can’t remember 1990. I was a high-functioning drug addict. I have phone message pads that my moving company office took, and I have the job logs. So I can actually look through and see where I was on a day to day. I can’t remember any of it. Addiction is weird like that. It seems so impossible that I would gamble the last of my money with no way out on a stocking stuffer. I was truly out of my fucking mind.

Here it is, The Tricky Triangle for sale on Ebay in England for the equivalent of minimum wage in 1984 ($3.35). THIRTY YEARS LATER.

May 20th, 1992 was the first day to not do heroin on purpose. Some days we were doing other drugs. But when I knew it was the heroin that was the problem, I was shocked to find out that I was addicted. Because we were snorters, we didn’t think we were junkies. It’s kind of amazing that I wrote the date down somewhere. That it followed from one calendar to another. So I have that information now. Miraculous.

I’d like to think that it was the drugs that made me invest in the Tricky Triangle. I pepper any/all decisions I make with it’s spice: “the same mind that is making this choice also invested in the Tricky Triangle…” Ask my wife, she’ll tell you.*

So this is your Christmas Spirit holiday spotlight. Do you have a Tricky Triangle? Of course you do! I wanted to share something about the true meaning of the magic of the holidays, which is what is most important is that we are all here. Together. Laughing at our inabilities and our limitations. I didn’t make any money with the Tricky Triangle, but I learned that I could live in a van, and because I could do that, I did the circus. I didn’t have a wildly successful moving business, but I got good at moving stuff and I use those skills every day. I can’t remember 1990 but I can totally remember 1991, and that was an awesome year… I played with GG in that year and toyed with the idea of monastic training to be a Buddhist cleric: at the same time! It’s all just a big mess.

I hope your life is a mess too. This time of year is a great
opportunity to fuck everything up. If you are ending up with good stories, you’re doing it right.


* Don’t actually ask my wife, thanks…

Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden


We’ve never backed a presidential candidate in our 175-year history–until now

By THE EDITORS | Scientific American October 2020 Issue

Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden
Credit: Ross MacDonald

Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.

The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people–because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.

The pandemic would strain any nation and system, but Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic in the U.S. He was warned many times in January and February about the onrushing disease, yet he did not develop a national strategy to provide protective equipment, coronavirus testing or clear health guidelines. Testing people for the virus, and tracing those they may have infected, is how countries in Europe and Asia have gained control over their outbreaks, saved lives, and successfully reopened businesses and schools. But in the U.S., Trump claimed, falsely, that “anybody that wants a test can get a test.” That was untrue in March and remained untrue through the summer. Trump opposed $25 billion for increased testing and tracing that was in a pandemic relief bill as late as July. These lapses accelerated the spread of disease through the country–particularly in highly vulnerable communities that include people of color, where deaths climbed disproportionately to those in the rest of the population.ADVERTISEMENT

It wasn’t just a testing problem: if almost everyone in the U.S. wore masks in public, it could save about 66,000 lives by the beginning of December, according to projections from the University of Washington School of Medicine. Such a strategy would hurt no one. It would close no business. It would cost next to nothing. But Trump and his vice president flouted local mask rules, making it a point not to wear masks themselves in public appearances. Trump has openly supported people who ignored governors in Michigan and California and elsewhere as they tried to impose social distancing and restrict public activities to control the virus. He encouraged governors in Florida, Arizona and Texas who resisted these public health measures, saying in April–again, falsely–that “the worst days of the pandemic are behind us” and ignoring infectious disease experts who warned at the time of a dangerous rebound if safety measures were loosened.

And of course, the rebound came, with cases across the nation rising by 46 percent and deaths increasing by 21 percent in June. The states that followed Trump’s misguidance posted new daily highs and higher percentages of positive tests than those that did not. By early July several hospitals in Texas were full of COVID-19 patients. States had to close up again, at tremendous economic cost. About 31 percent of workers were laid off a second time, following the giant wave of unemployment–more than 30 million people and countless shuttered businesses–that had already decimated the country. At every stage, Trump has rejected the unmistakable lesson that controlling the disease, not downplaying it, is the path to economic reopening and recovery.

Trump repeatedly lied to the public about the deadly threat of the disease, saying it was not a serious concern and “this is like a flu” when he knew it was more lethal and highly transmissible, according to his taped statements to journalist Bob Woodward. His lies encouraged people to engage in risky behavior, spreading the virus further, and have driven wedges between Americans who take the threat seriously and those who believe Trump’s falsehoods. The White House even produced a memo attacking the expertise of the nation’s leading infectious disease physician, Anthony Fauci, in a despicable attempt to sow further distrust.

Trump’s reaction to America’s worst public health crisis in a century has been to say “I don’t take responsibility at all.” Instead he blamed other countries and his White House predecessor, who left office three years before the pandemic began.

But Trump’s refusal to look at the evidence and act accordingly extends beyond the virus. He has repeatedly tried to get rid of the Affordable Care Act while offering no alternative; comprehensive medical insurance is essential to reduce illness. Trump has proposed billion-dollar cuts to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agencies that increase our scientific knowledge and strengthen us for future challenges. Congress has countermanded his reductions. Yet he keeps trying, slashing programs that would ready us for future pandemics and withdrawing from the World Health Organization. These and other actions increase the risk that new diseases will surprise and devastate us again.ADVERTISEMENT

Trump also keeps pushing to eliminate health rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, putting people at more risk for heart and lung disease caused by pollution. He has replaced scientists on agency advisory boards with industry representatives. In his ongoing denial of reality, Trump has hobbled U.S. preparations for climate change, falsely claiming that it does not exist and pulling out of international agreements to mitigate it. The changing climate is already causing a rise in heat-related deaths and an increase in severe storms, wildfires and extreme flooding.

Joe Biden, in contrast, comes prepared with plans to control COVID-19, improve health care, reduce carbon emissions and restore the role of legitimate science in policy making. He solicits expertise and has turned that knowledge into solid policy proposals.

On COVID-19, he states correctly that “it is wrong to talk about ‘choosing’ between our public health and our economy…. If we don’t beat the virus, we will never get back to full economic strength.” Biden plans to ramp up a national testing board, a body that would have the authority to command both public and private resources to supply more tests and get them to all communities. He also wants to establish a Public Health Job Corps of 100,000 people, many of whom have been laid off during the pandemic crisis, to serve as contact tracers and in other health jobs. He will direct the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to enforce workplace safety standards to avoid the kind of deadly outbreaks that have occurred at meat-processing plants and nursing homes. While Trump threatened to withhold money from school districts that did not reopen, regardless of the danger from the virus, Biden wants to spend $34 billion to help schools conduct safe in-person instruction as well as remote learning.

Biden is getting advice on these public health issues from a group that includes David Kessler, epidemiologist, pediatrician and former U.S. Food and Drug Administration chief; Rebecca Katz, immunologist and global health security specialist at Georgetown University; and Ezekiel Emanuel, bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania. It does not include physicians who believe in aliens and debunked virus therapies, one of whom Trump has called “very respected” and “spectacular.”

Biden has a family and caregiving initiative, recognizing this as key to a sustained public health and economic recovery. His plans include increased salaries for child care workers and construction of new facilities for children because the inability to afford quality care keeps workers out of the economy and places enormous strains on families.ADVERTISEMENT

On the environment and climate change, Biden wants to spend $2 trillion on an emissions-free power sector by 2035, build energy-efficient structures and vehicles, push solar and wind power, establish research agencies to develop safe nuclear power and carbon capture technologies, and more. The investment will produce two million jobs for U.S. workers, his campaign claims, and the climate plan will be partly paid by eliminating Trump’s corporate tax cuts. Historically disadvantaged communities in the U.S. will receive 40 percent of these energy and infrastructure benefits.

It is not certain how many of these and his other ambitions Biden will be able to accomplish; much depends on laws to be written and passed by Congress. But he is acutely aware that we must heed the abundant research showing ways to recover from our present crises and successfully cope with future challenges.

Although Trump and his allies have tried to create obstacles that prevent people from casting ballots safely in November, either by mail or in person, it is crucial that we surmount them and vote. It’s time to move Trump out and elect Biden, who has a record of following the data and being guided by science.

Editor’s Note (9/15/20): This article has been edited after its publication in the October 2020 issue of Scientific American to reflect recent reporting.

This article was originally published with the title “From Fear to Hope” in Scientific American 323, 4, 12-13 (October 2020)



30-Day Time-Lapse Video From A Cargo Ship

I expected to watch a snippet and smile. At the end of the 10 minute video, I feel transformed, reminded of the vastness of our world.

Epic Rap Battles Of History: Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney

Joss Whedon Endorses Mitt Romney (Watch before you Vote)

How to Buy or Rent a Bike for Burning Man

If you’re going to Burning Man, you should bring a bicycle. Many people have asked me the best way to get a bike to Burning Man. Here is a great guide from the Jack Rabbit Speaks


Burning Man Update: The Jack Rabbit Speaks Volume 14, Issue #26: BIKES July 27, 2010

====================TABLE OF CONTENTS======================= {============================================================}



+ Burning Man on your favorite social networks

+ Want to unsubscribe from the JRS? Really? OK, here’s how:



Continue reading ‘How to Buy or Rent a Bike for Burning Man’ »

Burning Man 2010 Resource Guide – Part 2

Here is the second part of  the Burning Man 2010 Resource Guide. Go back and find the first part here.

Continue reading ‘Burning Man 2010 Resource Guide – Part 2’ »

Rule #1: Enjoy Life. Anvil!

Here is a review my friend Marcus wrote of his experience seeing the metal band Anvil in concert in San Francisco. I found it greatly uplifting!

Lance wrote:
> how was it?
I had a lot of fun. Another one down in my quest for unique experiences. :-)

The audience at the Fillmore was really mixed, ranging in age from 13 to 70. Some were young (some parents brought kids), some older (standard SF fare) and some people looked like they could have been to concerts when Anvil started out. (The band has been around for 33 years…)

It definitely was very loud, but I expected that and it was fine with ear plugs. The opening band was Attitude Adjustment, which is pretty much hardcore thrash metal with yelled lyrics, which is not my preferred musical choice for most listening occasions. But, also interesting because it was a new experience for me to see live.

Anvil played music that was good solid 80s heavy metal, some a bit towards speed metal. Overall not bad at all, although a bit hard to hear with the volume. The song titles could all have been taken directly from Spinal Tap: Metal to Metal, Forged in Fire, Thumb Hang, Jackhammer, Mad Dog, Mothra (!) etc. Very entertaining, I loved it. I don’t think they were really #1 hit contenders, although in the 80s everything would have been possible The guitar and drums playing was quite good. But the show made it. The guys just looked like they had a blast, running around, rocking out, and just having fun. At one point the guy actually took out this shiny gold dildo and played guitar with it. Hilarious.
Varying the vibration speed to change the sound on the pickups, which actually worked, and much better than I expected. (Lips, the front guy, later after the show kind of conceded that Spinal Tap is the fake Anvil…)

The guys were great. They gave an energetic show, and had all this fun and optimism. Totally like previous underdogs who valued their newfound movie-driven popularity, tremendously appreciated the audience, and enjoyed every minute of performing. And Lips said “This is what I love doing. You’re giving my the time of my life. I appreciate you guys so much, that after the show, I’m coming out there, and won’t leave until I’ve met each and every one of you.” And he did. Took over an hour to see the over hundred people who stuck around, he signed everything, and he hung around and actually really talked to people for a bit – he’s pretty funny – and he grinned for every single picture they took. (I neglected to take my camera – bummer). Great guy.

I definitely want to see the Anvil movie now. Let me know when it arrives in your queue.

— Marc