|Jour de Fête|
Friends, Foolishness & Food
Which table do you prefer?
Hunger for Power|
Computer Privacy Handbook|
Privacy in Google Culture?
Good Morning Curious Visitor,
Greetings from the Jour de Fête café in spruce-scented Aspen, Colorado. If you walk in the front door, I'll push my research aside and invite you to share a table. Do you prefer inside or outside? Please tell me about yourself. We can savor French owner Olivier's cuisine over your favorite beverage.
Aspen is a walkable town of 7,000 residents perched at 8,000 feet (2,438 meters). Founded in 1879 as a mining camp, Aspen (Ute City) became a boom town until the Panic of 1893. Silver's price crashed, and Aspen became an impoverished, ignored town for about 50 years. In 1946 a second boom (skiing) began. Over the next 50 years, this quaint town became a hang-out for the rich & famous— in the footsteps of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and singer John Denver.
A few miles uphill, we can enter a parallel universe. We can hike trails that curve through millions of years of evolution. We can sit quietly alongside a beaver pond crafted around natural hot springs. Black bears, mountain lions and wily coyotes will be nearby. These wild animals are unimpressed by our physical appearances, social titles or bank accounts. If Maroon Creek's moose, marmots and bighorn sheep designed websites, how would they portray our human species?
Yes, we can also mosey around town. Theater is in the air because of Aspen's surreal social spectrum. I've read estimates that the wealthiest 400 Americans have greater combined net assets than the bottom 150,000,000 Americans. This extreme economic inequality is explicit and undeniable here. On the surface.... The stone-broke homeless, the endangered middle-class employee and the silk-stocking Oligarch eye the same dark chocolate at Clark's Market. A few persons commute on rusty bicycles, more in private Gulfstream jets. Meanwhile, stone-blind ideologues and eagle-eyed visionaires stroll past photographer Peter Lik's gallery and the Aspen Center for Physics. If mind-bending stories & sights spark your curiosity, we can share a tour you'll never forget. Beneath the surface.... A novelist or biographer could pen three hundred pages about any Aspenite, you or me.
Happy Hour for All|
Cabernet Grapes for People
Crab Apples for Bears
Aspen's Three Muses?|
Oh, my goodness!
Near Wheeler Opera House
Ashcroft's Post Office|
In 1883, this snail mail center
served 2,000 citizens & 20 saloons
One morning I was walking to Jour de Fête. The temperature was a brisk -16°F (-27°C). Wind was roaring down Aspen Mountain's 11,212 foot (3,418 meter) summit. An elderly fellow—humored by the wind—assured me, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes." I had flashbacks of a muggy walk to a University of Texas @ Austin lecture. The sidewalks were 105°F (41°C) in the shade (What shade?). On the oven-baked street, a patch of asphalt stuck to my shoe like bubble gum. Even the armadillos were hiding. I laughed alongside the Aspenite and added, "You may be right. But Austin in August is brutal, even if you wear no clothes."
Frankly, I'd rather avoid frostbite and heatstroke. A few of my favorite cities (not arranged by climate) are: friendly, musical Austin, Texas; raw, irreverent Berkeley, California; ancient, poetic Paris, France; eye-candy, tolerant San Francisco, California and civil, rainy Vancouver, British Columbia. Add to this mix the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, Colorado and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Pause.... Time for dark chocolate.
Oops, pause even more.... It's a long flight to our next stop, Paris.
Artiste Soul Française
Hear Irene JALENTI|
Blues and Jazz Soul
Paris is special. In the City of Light, creative persons have inspired visitors for centuries. Museums & statues pay homage to heroes and heroines who rejected the Dead End of Incuriosity. Yes, the person sipping espresso beside you might be this generation's scientist Madame CURIE, surrealist André BRETON, singer Édith PIAF or novelist Émile ZOLA.
When the extraordinary is visualized, the ordinary is energized!
For kaleidoscopic views of (curious tourist) Paris, bookmark Laurie PIKE's TheParisBlog.com. For in depth history, read Andrew HUSSEY's Paris: The Secret History and Gregor DALLAS' Métro Stop Paris. If you enjoy mystery novels, I recommend Cara BLACK's well-researched series featuring Parisian detective Aimée Leduc.
When you visit Paris, please treat yourself. Jim HAYNES' Sunday dinner parties have inspired guests since circa 1978. Jim has hosted over 100,000 persons from around the globe! Jim's generosity illustrates the spirit of Don GEORGE's book, Kindness of Strangers.
Pause.... Time for quiche.
The books Computer Privacy Handbook and Hunger for Power are two of my prior works. These books allowed me to experience what artist Andy WARHOL coined back in 1968 our "15 minutes of fame". One morning Playboy telephoned my home near Muir Woods and asked for an interview. "Yes," I said laughing, "I've been waiting for your call since I was a teenager!" [see PLAYBOY Interview] One radio talk-show interviewer was the eclectic G. Gordon LIDDY. Mr. LIDDY organized the Watergate burglary that forced President Richard NIXON to resign. After leaving prison, LIDDY toured America with the equally famous/infamous LSD advocate Timothy LEARY (whom I encountered on several occasions). Other interviewers included right-wing "Babe in the Bunker" Barbara SIMPSON, technology enthusiasts "America's Digital Goddess" Kim KOMANDO and "The Tech Guy" Léo LAPORTE, mainstream National Public Radio, and left-wing KPFA/Berkeley. My great horned owl neighbors neither booed nor applauded my words of wisdom.
One of my favorite topics is heroism.
Physicist Alfred SCHILD, who helped design the first atomic clocks, was my first mentor. He had escaped Adolf HITLER's savagery in Europe and re-discovered civility at the University of Toronto in Canada. Years later, as Director of the Center for Relativity at the University of Texas @ Austin, Alfred attracted top quality people and protected their freedom from bureaucrats. One of his recruits was Ilya PRIGOGINE, U.T.'s first Nobel Laureate faculty member. Alfred radiated a rare charm, wit & courage that I shall cherish until my last day. One morning he gifted me practical advice, which changed the course of my life:
Heroes are more valuable than leaders.
Leaders throughout history have tried to destroy us.
Heroes have tried to inspire us.
Woody ALLEN echoes this healthy passion in his full-of-wonder film, Midnight in Paris. Oscar WILDE (1854-1900) fans share this gusto. His grave site at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris has fresh flowers. WILDE's tomb is covered with zestful slogans (for example, "Keep Charming!") and lipstick marks. Jean-Paul SARTRE (1905-1980) and Simone DE BEAUVOIR (1908-1986), one of history's remarkable couples, are buried together in Cimetière du Montparnasse. Their Parisian tombstone is covered with thank-you notes in many languages. Yes, immortals and mortals nourish each other. You might enjoy Utne Reader's book, Visionaries: People and Ideas to Change Your Life, as well as a few of my Heroes, Muses & Visionaries.
Who are your heroes, muses or visionaries? How have these men & women helped you overcome the nay-sayers & fear-mongers? Maybe you hunger to share your experiences, via a Conversational Salon? Perhaps you can benefit from these Affirmist Principles?
Côte d'Azur, France
12, rue Muir Woods|
12 Miles (19 km) north of
San Francisco, California
Wild Burros Country|
Las Vegas, Nevada
Heroism is vital in today's Great Repression. Warren BUFFET, the "folksy" billionaire, was blunt: "Yes, there is class warfare in America, and my class is winning." Oligarchs, bribed legislators and fear-mongers are looting taxpayers' dollars and civil rights.
Charles FERGUSON'S film, Inside Job (2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary), and his book, Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America, provide vivid details.
When is the last time you realized the Propaganda Machines fooled us? How do we sharpen our critical-thinking to avoid being duped again?
[Does black humor help you? If so, I recommend VOLTAIRE's classic satire, Candide. The novel's hero, Dr. PANGLOSS, is the ultimate optimist! An expert on Nigologie (the science of imbecility), the great philosopher argued why we live in the "best of all possible worlds". ]
Two cyberspace heroes helped me overcome Silicon Valley propaganda. Jim WARREN founded the Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conferences and won the Hugh HEFNER First Amendment Award. Mitchell KAPOR designed Lotus 1-2-3, the "killer application" which made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world in the 1980's, and co-founded the San Francisco based Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Starship Gustave Eiffel|
Book Far in Advance
Robert Lee MOORE|
Univ. of Texas @ Austin
Pause.... Time for salad.
People fascinate me. As a rule, the most singular persons are gracious. Here are two examples—a public figure and a private citizen.
Physicist John Archibald WHEELER (who coined the term "black hole") was a kind person. Years after he and his protégé, Nobel Laureate Richard FEYNMAN, had become legends, WHEELER loved to teach eighteen-year-olds at Princeton University and at the University of Texas @ Austin (where he replaced my deceased mentor, Alfred SCHILD). You could knock on Professor WHEELER'S office door and ask him any question. [Try that with top-tier corporate or government "leaders". Good chance you'll be arrested for trespassing!]
"Nadine", the private citizen, was arrested as a child by the Nazis and deported to a German concentration camp. Her parents were incinerated in ovens. After World War II, Nadine and her husband (another Holocaust survivor) moved to Los Angeles, California, where they endured more hardships. Nadine has good reasons to be bitter. Instead, she is an optimistic, big-hearted person.
A student of magic, I love the interface between Appearance & Reality.
Pause.... Time for a glass of wine. On second thought, I'll wait until after I upload this page.
M.I.T.'s Stata Center|
"Party of Drunken Robots"
Photo @ Wikimedia Commons
Univ. of Texas
Arthur C. CLARKE, the science fiction author, was the first person to envision satellites as communications hubs. CLARKE wrote: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
A magical exercise.... Imagine a tiny distance, say, the length a woman's hair grows as she lifts a comb to her head. Modern magicians (scientists in this case) are creating new materials and machines at this mind-boggling scale. The field is called nanotechnology.
Angela BELCHER is one of nanotech's heroines. Professor BELCHER has engineered a biological virus (called M13 bacteriophage) that latches onto bits of inorganic materials such as gold and cobalt oxide. Each strand of virus becomes a minuscule piece of wire. Coax these nanowires to line up and you have a microscopic, viral battery that essentially grows itself in a tiny pool of water!
Another magical experiment....
Try to fuse your senses in the spirit of Leonardo DA VINCI. If you could sculpt your favorite music, would you use wood, metal or marble? If you could bite into this music, would it taste like ginger, vanilla or red pepper? Would it smell like lilac, jasmine or cinnamon? If you could touch your music, would it feel like cashmere, denim or silk? Would your music look like a MIRO, MATISSE or DALI painting? Synthesia, the merging of the senses, is one road to magic.
DA VINCI's "Vitruvian Man"|
The Art of Science &
The Science of Art
"Portrait with Vegetables"
Photo @ Wikimedia Commons
William SHAKESPEARE challenged us to walk in DA VINCI's footsteps. Nick BOTTOM, a character in A Midsummer Night's Dream, awakens from his affair with the Fairy Queen and asserts:
"The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen,
man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive,
nor his heart to report, what my dream was."
-- Quoted from BACARD's Affirmist Manifesto (Stanford, California; 1982)
Active Supporter of|
Electronic Frontier Foundation
A Premier Defender of Digital Citizens
San Francisco, California