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Since starting this blog, I have developed an unhealthy need to take photographs of my food.  Things have gotten to the point where I will bring an entire dinner party to a halt just so that I can take a few snaps for this blog while my friends slouch in their chairs, exhale pointedly, and roll their eyes.

My favorite meal to photograph is lunch; maybe it’s the simplicity of the meal, or the way the light in our kitchen looks at noon, or the satisfaction of a well-fixed sandwich.  Hopefully, these photos will give you healthy lunch ideas that are easy to fix in 10 minutes with a stock of basic groceries from the fridge in your apartment.  At the very least, my mom, who just started reading this blog, will be able to see that I’m not living off of Hamburger Helper and Mac & Cheese in college.  Hi, Mom.

celery; broccoli; baby carrots; hummus

After school snack: celery; broccoli; baby carrots; hummus

turkey, jack cheese, baby spinach, mayonnaise, dijon mustard; hummus; tortilla chips; sugarplums

Sandwich: turkey, jack cheese, baby spinach, mayonnaise, dijon mustard; hummus; tortilla chips; sugarplums

Baby spinach, roma tomatoes, raisins, sunflower seeds, olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Baby spinach, roma tomatoes, raisins, sunflower seeds, olive oil and balsamic vinegar

salami, jack cheese, sprouts, tomatoes, dijon; vegetable chips; pear

Sandwich: salami, jack cheese, sprouts, tomatoes, dijon; vegetable flax seed chips; pear

PB&J; baby carrots; hummus; tortilla chips; sugarplums

Sandwich: crunchy PB&J; baby carrots; hummus; tortilla chips; sugarplums

As you have doubtless noticed, hummus is a staple part of my diet.  Hummus to me is like corn to the Incas, or rice to the Chinese, or barley to the Mesopotamians.  As I have mentioned multiple times on this blog, it’s all about Trader Joe’s, people.

For this post, I was inspired by Jen’s blog project at simply breakfast, introduced to me by Natalie.  Jen takes amazing photographs each morning of the first meal of the day, and has even published an entire book of them.  Here are a few samples of her work:

I’m not nearly as patient as Jen in selecting backdrops and dishware specifically chosen for the way their colors compliment and accentuate the food-as-art.  Usually I manage to snap a photo just before I wolf down my lunch and dash to swim class.

If I was a snooty art major, though, I would give the alternate explanation “I like to give the natural colors and textures of nature room to express themselves, by juxtaposing them with the simple pastoral feel of our worn wooden table, so that the visual exploration of the food itself is the focal point.”

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Edit: Drat, I just saw that Stuff White People Like posted an entry on hummus two days ago.

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I’ve written a few times before about my marketing internship at TigerLogic, a San Jose-based tech company with a new product called ChunkIt! that’s making waves with its unique approach to finding information on the Internet.

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to verbally explain how ChunkIt! extracts your search terms by previewing links.  I suppose it’s actually one of those things that is easier done than said.  But this month, a few people at the office made this new paper animation video as a tactile explanation of the ChunkIt! process:

The narrator is my friend and fellow intern Brian, while the hands in the video are my boss Jeff, the Marketing VP.  The paper animation method they used is pretty creative; it combines visual, auditory, and tactile learning all in one.  I liked the appealingly cheesy sound effects, and I think Brian and Jeff do a good job of explaining how our product works without being overwhelmingly technical.

As someone who isn’t necessarily as familiar with how ChunkIt! works as our intern team is, what do you think about Brian and Jeff’s video?

A few weeks back, I posted an easy three-step process to become a vote-by-mail voter in the November 4 election, written especially for all you college kids. Have you done it yet? No? Well, you have only seven more days before the October 20th deadline passes and it’s too late.  So get on that.

Here’s the process again in case you’re a lazy dog:

  1. Fill out a short application to receive vote-by-mail status for this election.
  2. Mail the application to your county elections office.
  3. Start reading up on this year’s propositions.

Frequent Reasons For Not Voting Shot Down

pew pew pew

pew pew pew

Vote-by-mail ballots aren’t counted unless there’s a tie.

False.  Vote-by-mail ballots are, in fact, counted first.

I’m cynical and jaded about how my vote won’t affect the presidential election because the electoral college system means that all of California’s votes will go to Obama anyway.

I concede that this is probably true.  Rather than feed you some idealistic fodder about how it’s the principle of exercising your democratic rights that matters, I will give you a more pragmatic reason to vote: the most contentious ground in this election, and the one that your vote will certainly affect, is state propositions.

State propositions are abstruse and don’t affect me because I’m not really a taxpayer.

Do you care about a high speed rail system spanning across the state?  Do you care about the ethics of the treatment of farm animals?  Do you care about abortion for minors?  Do you care about whether same-sex marriages will continue to be recognized?

Yeah, I know you do.  If you are capable of pressing Ctrl+P, you can spell your name, and you can stick a stamp on an envelope, you can vote.

GOOD is having a bumper sticker design contest themed around voting.  Check out some of my favorite submissions, both visually and content-wise, for inspiration:

by Dan Swoboda, for the 2006 election

by Dan Swoboda, for the 2006 election contest

by Steven Blumenthal, for the 2006 election contest

by Steven Blumenthal, for the 2006 election contest

by Amy Chen

by Amy Chen

by Ben Murphy

by Ben Murphy

by Jim Ward

by Jim Ward

To paraphrase the words of one presidential candidate who is not my BFF, “See you at the election, bitches.”

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is a spoken word piece by Gil Scott-Heron, who is widely considered to be the “godfather of rap”, and is probably Scott-Heron’s best known work.  Most of Scott-Heron’s work was centered around the political issues of his day; “Revolution” references Richard Nixon and the Watts Riots in L.A.  I like the references to slogans Scott-Heron employs throughout to make a point about rampant commercialism.  All in all, it’s a great song, as Dan reminded me the other day at dinner.

Screenshots from Apt Studio's video of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" to promote "Now and Then", a collection of Scott-Heron's poems and lyrics.

Screenshots from Apt Studio's video of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", to promote the book "Now and Then", a collection of Scott-Heron's lyrics and poems.

If you like the visual representation of GOOD’s “The Hidden Cost of War”, then you’ll find this music video of “Revolution”, created by Apt Studio, equally appealing.  It’s done in a different artistic style than GOOD, but it’s equal parts eye candy, especially considering it was created in 2001.  You can watch it on YouTube below, but I recommend watching the original on Apt Studio’s website for better quality and faster loading.

While you’re watching, here are the lyrics to “Revolution”, below; I excised the stanzas that this music video cut out, but the full song and lyrics can easily be found online.

You will not be able to stay home, brother.

You will not be able to plug in, turn on, and cop out.

You will not be able to lose yourself on skag

and skip out for beer during commercials,

because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox

in four parts without commercial interruptions.

The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon

blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John

Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat

hog maws confiscated from the Harlem sanctuary.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the

Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie

Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.

The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.

The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.

The revolution will not make you look five pounds

thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May

pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,

or trying to slide that color TV into a stolen ambulance.

NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32

on report from 29 districts.

The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down

brothers on the instant replay.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down

brothers on the instant replay.

The revolution will not be right back after a message

about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.

You will not have to worry about a dove in your

bedroom, the tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.

The revolution will not go better with Coke.

The revolution will not fight germs that may cause bad breath.

The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,

will not be televised, will not be televised.

The revolution will be no re-run, brothers;

The revolution will be live.

Berkeley’s commercial district is mainly comprised of small, independently-owned shops; there’s actually a city law that caps the number of chain stores that can do business here.  I’ve spent many afternoons wandering in and out of shops on Telegraph or Shattuck browsing their curious wares, always looking for that dusty hidden treasure nestled in a corner somewhere.  Some of the best shops in Berkeley to peruse are its bookstores, which buy and sell new and used books of all kinds.

Moes Books makes an appearance in The Graduate when Dustin Hoffmans character travels to Berkeley.

Moe's Books on Telegraph makes an appearance in The Graduate (1967) when Dustin Hoffman's character travels to Berkeley.

“Moe’s moved to Telegraph Avenue just in time for the Free Speech Movement.  During the Vietnam protests, Telegraph became the flashpoint for numerous run-ins with the police and national guard. When curfews were called by the authorities, Moe would refuse to close his doors, saying people were free to walk on the streets. An occasional tear gas canister would roll down the street and many protesters took refuge in the store.”

Moe’s Books

I still pass Moes on my way to class every morning.  Next year will be their 50th year of business.

I still pass Moe's on my way to class every morning. Next year will be their 50th year of business.

While Moe’s gets top marks for having four floors of books on virtually any subject you can think of, and is certainly a Telegraph Avenue landmark, Half Price Books on Shattuck is my favorite bookstore in Berkeley to buy books from.  Although HPB is a chain store (I was quite sad when I found out), it is the literature equivalent of Berkeley Bowl, with quality books at shockingly low prices.  HPB is housed in the historical Kress Building on the corner of Shattuck and Addison.

The Kress Building in 1933.

The Kress Building in 1933.

Today, the Kress Building houses Half Price Books, a jazz school, and a theare company.

Today, the Kress Building houses Half Price Books, a jazz school, and a theare company.

Today, the Kress Building houses Half Price Books, a jazz school, and a theatre company.

I always go into HPB with an open mind and come out with a great find or two.  A few buys I’m particularly proud of:

$5.00.

America, The Book. Hardcover. Retail: $24.98. HPB: $5.00.

$7.00.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Hardcover. Retail: $15.99. HPB: $7.00.

The Godfather. Paperback. Retail: $15.00. HPB: $4.00.

$3.50.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Paperback. Retail: $7.99. HPB: $3.50.

HPB’s stock is discounted because it’s usually overstock or very, very gently used books.  Most of the time, you can’t even tell they’ve been read, and adding an inexpensive book is a great way to personalize a gift.  I’m a bookworm, though, so most of the books I buy here are for me.  I go about once a month, and treat myself to any one book I want.  Getting a new book can make a bad day better, and a little literacy never hurt anyone.

Well, almost never.

Well, almost never, according to this Threadless shirt.

Half Price Books

2036 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 526-6080

Hello readers. Sorry I haven’t posted since Friday. It’s midterm season and I’m pretty busy with a marketing campaign. Have a picture.

I recently saw this clever print advertisement for a Monster.com-equivalent called Career Junction Middle East.  It really catches the eye and fits well with the company’s service message, I think.
Found on Digg.  Dugg.

Found on Digg. Dugg.

“Put your skills to better use.”  Well done.

This list is a follow-up to my earlier article on Time’s recommended list of 10 banned books.  If you’re still shaking your head over how books like Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that challenged the status quo and are now considered literary classics were actually banned at some point as being dangerous for young minds, take a look at what books are being challenged today.  (Oh wait, Huck Finn is still on this list and being challenged 120 years later.)

The following list was taken from the American Library Association’s compilation of the 10 most challenged books of 2007.  Challenges are culled from newspapers nationwide and from personal complaints filed with the ALA.  (The ALA estimates that for every 1 challenge recorded, there are 4 to 5 that go unreported.)  Keep in mind that while a challenge is not a ban, it is essentially an endorsement for one.

Without further ado, a countdown of the top 10 books that are allegedly poisoning the minds of young people today:

10.The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Stephen Chbosky

What it’s about: “The story takes place in a suburb of Pittsburgh during the 1991-1992 school year, when Charlie is a high school freshman. Charlie is the wallflower of the novel. He is an unconventional thinker, and as the story begins he is shy and unpopular.

The story explores topics such as introversion, teenage sexuality, abuse, and the awkward times of adolescence. The book also touches strongly on drug use and Charlie’s experiences with this. As the story progresses, various works of literature and film are referenced and their meanings discussed.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group.”

9. It’s Perfectly Normal: Robie Harris

What it’s about: “Frank yet playful, [this book] portrays a reassuring array of body types and ethnic groups…allowing readers to come away with a healthy respect for their bodies and a better understanding of the role that sexuality plays in the human experience.

Birth control, abortion, and homosexuality are given an honest, evenhanded treatment, noting differing views and recommending further discussion with a trusted adult. The dangers of STDs, teen parenthood, and sexual abuse are examined.” (School Library Journal)

Why it’s being challenged: “Sex Education, Sexually Explicit.”

8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Maya Angelou

What it’s about: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a 1969 autobiography about the early years of author Maya Angelou’s life. [It] begins when three-year-old Angelou and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas to live with their grandmother and ends when Angelou becomes a mother at age seventeen years old.

The author uses her coming-of-age story to illustrate the ways in which racism and trauma can be overcome by a strong character and a love of literature.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Sexually Explicit.

7. ttyl: Lauren Myracle

What it’s about: “An epistolary novel [crafted] entirely out of IM transcripts between three high-school girls. Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls.

Myracle’s triumph comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words.(Amazon.com Editorial Review)

Why it’s being challenged: “Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group.”

6. The Color Purple: Alice Walker

What it’s about: “The Color Purple is an acclaimed 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker. It received the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award.

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on female African American life during the 1930s in the Southern United States, addressing the numerous issues in the black female life, including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language.”

5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

What it’s about: “The drifting journey of Huck and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, down the Mississippi River on their raft may be one of the most enduring images of escape and freedom in all of American literature.  By satirizing Southern antebellum society that was already a quarter-century in the past by the time of publication, the book is an often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism. ” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Racism.” (Oh irony.)

4. The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman

What it’s about: “The Golden Compass tells of Lyra Belacqua’s journey north in search of her missing friend, Roger Parslow, and her imprisoned father, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as Dust.  Both the trilogy and the film adaptation have faced controversy, as some critics assert that the story presents a negative portrayal of the Church and religion.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Religious Viewpoint.”

3. Olive’s Ocean: Kevin Henkes

What it’s about: “Twelve-year-old Martha Boyle stands on the brink of discovery: about her family, about first love, and mostly about herself. Martha is given a journal entry from her classmate, Olive, who was killed in an automobile accident. Martha didn’t really know Olive, but the journal entry makes Martha reflect on what might have been if Olive hadn’t died. In her two weeks on Cape Cod, Martha learns to deal with the changing emotional landscape that comes with adolescence.” (AudioFile)

Why it’s being challenged: “Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language.

2. The Chocolate War: Robert Cormier

What it’s about: “Set at the fictional Trinity High School, the story follows protagonist Jerry Renault as he challenges the school’s cruel, brutal, and ugly mob rule. Because of the novel’s language, the concept of a high school’s secret society using intimidation to enforce the cultural norms of the school, and the protagonist’s sexual ponderings, it has been the frequent target of censors.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence.”

1. And Tango Makes Three: Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell

What it’s about: “The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo who for six years formed a couple. Roy and Silo hatched and raised the healthy young chick, a female named “Tango” by keepers, together as a family.

This book aims to send the reader the message that it is okay to be in, or know someone who has, a “non-traditional” family.” (Wikipedia)

Why it’s being challenged: “Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group.”

For those of you counting, “Sexually Explicit” was the biggest reason a book was challenged in 2007, with 7/10 books falling under that category; “Offensive Language” came in second with 5/10 books; and “Homosexuality” and “Unsuited to Age Group” tied for third with 3/10 books.

If you’re wondering who challenges these books, the ALA has compiled the following graph of challenges by initiator from 2000-2005.  Parents lead by nearly four times the challenges as the next group.  Particularly troubling is the inclusion of elected officials and government as active challenging parties.

Click picture for link to original PDF.

Click picture for link to original PDF.

I have a few thoughts of my own about this list from the ALA, such as Since when is “Homosexuality” a reason to ban any book?, Why are my elected officials campaigning for the banning of books?, and Have these challengers of literature checked out what their kids have been watching on TV for the past decade? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Next Saturday, UC Berkeley’s International House will host the “Free Culture Conference 2008,” a gathering to discuss many controversial issues regarding copyright infringement and technology ownership.

Free Culture should be a pretty interesting talk; speakers include professors from UC Berkeley and Stanford in the departments of law, information, and medicine; representatives from the Stanford Fair Use Project and Google; and John Lilly, the CEO of Mozilla.  Throughout the day, there will be local DJs and games, and the night will end, I believe, with a party at Blake’s on Telegraph.

“[Free Culture 2008 is] a conference for, and about, free culture, technology, copyright, remixing, and free software.”

Free Culture 2008

Here are the details of the conference content, as posted on Free Culture Conference 2008’s website:

WHAT: A conference with keynotes, talks, workshops, activism, and parties.

WHEN: Oct. 11th 2008, with a smaller and more focused student workshop day on Oct. 12th

WHERE: International House at Berkeley, University of California

WHY: It’s time for our community to spend time and learn from each other.

WHO: You, other free culture activists, professors, students, artists, musicians, coders, organizations like EFF and Creative Commons, and anyone interested in our community.

Students from all over the country as well as free culture enthusiasts will be flying in from all over the country, so if you’re in the Berkeley area, you should check it out.  Details:

October 11th, 2008
10 AM—7 PM
Chevron Auditorium, International House
2299 Piedmont Ave
Berkeley, CA 94720

The conference is co-organized by Students for Free Culture and Free Culture Berkeley.  One of my organizations, Students for Responsible Business, will be volunteering at the event.  See you there.

Earlier this month, I blogged about wondrously cheap and fresh produce at Berkeley Bowl off Shattuck.  The Los Angeles Times wrote an article on Sept. 22 about the very same Berkeley Bowl, but painted a rather darker picture of the store as a realm of violent and ruthless shoppers bent on getting their produce, and of soup-Nazi-esque strictness that punishes sampling with a lifetime ban from the premises.

Juvenile delinquents at Berkeley Bowl just seconds before being forcibly ejected from the premises by an armed enforcement officer for sampling fruit.

Juvenile delinquents at Berkeley Bowl just moments before being forcibly ejected from the premises by an armed enforcement officer for sampling nectarines.

I had to laugh at their title, though: “At Berkeley Bowl, the nuts are off the shelf”.

L.A. traffic.  Who are the real nuts?

L.A. traffic. Who are the real nuts?

Attention: What you are about to watch could quite possibly rock your world.

GOOD’s new video, “The Hidden Cost of War,” is without a doubt the best educational video I have seen since Professor Wesch’s video on Web 2.0, “The Machine Is Us/ing Us“.

Why you should watch “The Hidden Cost of War”:

In just under 3 minutes, it gives a comprehensive overview of how some experts have concluded that U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq will cost 3 trillion dollars, when both current debts and long-term costs are accounted for.

the hidden cost of war

Screenshots of "The Hidden Cost of War" from itsnicethat.com.

Plus, it has cool pictures.

The figures featured in the video are taken from the 2008 book The Three Trillion Dollar War by American economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes.  Stiglitz has won a little-known award called the Nobel Prize, and Bilmes teaches at a small university called Harvard.  So they know a thing or two about economics.  Even if you don’t agree with the political implications of or mathematics behind Stiglitz’s and Bilmes’s estimation, I think everyone can agree that it’s something to think about and discuss.

As you can tell from the capital letters and the middle initials, this is serious business. This ain't no "Goodnight Moon" or "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".

Here’s a YouTube version of the video, but I encourage you to watch it on GOOD’s website for higher quality:

GOOD is a Los Angeles-based magazine focused on social issues, politics, and sustainable living.  They use videos and other visual mediums to create what they call “media that matters” for “people who give a damn”.  100% of their print magazine subscription fees go to a charity of your choosing, from Kiva to Teach for America to Slow Food USA; they’ve raised over $850,000 so far.  Membership to the website alone is free, and the website itself is worth a browse to see GOOD’s other work.