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Stateside With Rosalea: Gettin’ You Some Learnin'

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Gettin’ You Some Learnin'

::Bouncy, bouncy::

At the risk of sending you off to cyberspace never to return let me say that, if have access to Google Video and want to learn what makes the universe tick, then you should try out the series of lectures called "Physics for Future Presidents" taught earlier this year at the University of California, Berkeley, by Prof. Richard A. Muller.

In the first five minutes, you learn--via a TV ad for a Toyota ute--that modern scientific theory conceives of gravity as a spring. (No, it's not the ad where the tree stump hits the outhouse door.) For kids like I once was, sitting down at the bottom of the world devouring every avenue of learning they can find, this website is pure gold.

Find it at:

::Warning! Warning!::

Midweek, PBS aired Sydney Pollack's documentary about the architect Frank Gehry. It should absolutely be required viewing for everyone attending teachers college and must never, never be shown to high school students.

That's because it would be wonderful for would-be teachers to see how effective a little bit of encouragement can be for a child, but every teen and their muddy dog will want to be an architect after seeing it. Or, they'll want to be an artist or a documentary maker. It is an amazing, inspiring piece of work about creativity.

Gehry is the architect who created the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. He constructs his buildings to deliver a distinctive experience of space and light (and sound, obviously, for the concert hall). That is, rather than the external structure being more important than the occupants' internal experience of it, he works the other way around.

Straight after Pollack's Sketches of Frank Gehry, PBS aired a documentary about Frank Lloyd Wright that was soooo dry, it was like having the spoon from which you had supped the rich, creamy Gehry fare shoved down your throat.

::What do you get when you cross a lapdog with a fraidy-cat?::

I don't know, but after this weekend's conference on First Amendment issues at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism we will no doubt find out.

“IN CONTEMPT,” the California First Amendment Coalition’s 2006 Free Speech and Open Government Assembly, featured big-name attractions such as Arianna Huffington and Judith Miller--both of whose egos should not just be left in the dressing room, a la Lawless, but enclosed in a lead case within several tons of concrete and dropped in the Mariana Trench.

Although it's not there yet, the panel discussions from the conference might turn up at GSJ's webcast page here:

::Life lessons::

For the past week, I've been taking a different bus home and it's one that goes on a small loop, so the driver passes by the same intersections every day and is familiar enough with the regular passengers for there to be quite a bit of conversation from which I've been learning the local lore.

Perhaps in an effort to stave off the ignominy of having the Caliph--oops! the Governor--call in the National Guard, Oakland now has quite a contingent of motorcycle cops lurking up side streets in an area known for violent street crime. When the cops see a driver coming that they want to speak with, a plain clothes policewoman steps out on the crosswalk and if the car doesn't stop, they pull it over.

Further up the street is an area where all the young pimps and their "hoes" operate. "They think they're so cool," opined one passenger, an older male, "What's so cool about it?" I guess he doesn't watch much cable TV. (Not that I do either, but a workmate recently loaned me the DVD entire first season of HBO's The Wire.)

On Friday, a passenger shared that his sister had been interviewed for the local TV news because she lives in a nearby area where an armoured truck had been robbed at gunpoint and one of the guards shot and killed. "She said the police might want to talk to my son in case he'd seen anything," said the passenger. "I told him: You tell them nothing." Other passengers concurred; it's just not worth getting shot yourself by giving information to the police, who have no means of protecting you.

On a lighter note, some wit charged with adhering the bus wrap-around ads for a new TV series called Heroes, somehow managed to leave out the part with the "er" in it, and the bus now advertises a series called Hoes.

::Hyphen usage::

Not that I think the pimp/hoe/bling-bling/rap lifestyle is a healthy one. The East Bay is particularly famous for a type of music called "hyphy" and I had to laugh when I asked a coworker what "hyphy music" meant. "Hyphen usage?" he said, "What do you want to know about hyphen usage?"

Although hyphy music has gotten a bit of a bad rap, there are some groups working to rescue it from its association with drugs and violence. No less a venue than the venerable Fillmore Auditorium over in San Francisco recently hosted a good-vibe hyphy event, but a locally organised free concert with a similar aim that was supposed to have taken place outside Oakland City Hall on Saturday was cancelled.

Reason given? Not enough police available to be there. Maybe they were all off trying to find the robbers of the armoured car. After all, money is much more important to protect than kids trying to make something better of their lives.



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