Saturday, I took Anne and the boys to JPL for open house, where I picked up a bronze coin that commemorates the Voyager mission.
"Are you going to make it say 'V'ger'?" Anne asked, very proud of herself for throwing out a nerd reference.
"Yes. Yes I am," I said. Normally, I'd lob back some even more obscure reference, but I wasn't going to take a chance. I'm trying to encourage her inner geek, and I didn't think that going Comic Book Guy at JPL was a good way to keep on on The Path.
Speaking of going Comic Book Guy, I saw Matrix on Friday.
Now, I know that I've said several controversial things on this website in the last couple of years, and I've made many friends and enemies with those opinions . . . but I think this may end up being the most deeply devisive thing I've said in quite awhile:
I hated it.
I won't say more than that. The reviews at pvponline, K5, and comments at /. say it better than I could.
It wasn't Episode 1 bad, but still. More cool CRC32 'sploits. Less dancing that doesn't move the plot forward at all, please.
Still with me? Or are you busy firing off your e-mails? ;-)
Yesterday, I planned to go back to JPL to see the stuff I missed on Saturday (there was some sort of ruckus at the security screening area where you drive in -- lots of cops cars, and people laying on the ground. If anyone reading this knows what happened, I'd love to hear from you) before we had to leave.
On the way, I stopped at a local bookstore, so I could pick up some books that I plan to use in the blogging workshop I'm teaching on the Geek Cruise at the end of the month.
When I walked into the store, I saw a big board with the names and dates of authors who are doing signings and readings. For a brief second, I imagined that my name was there . . . and then I saw:
April 14 - 7PM - Jim McManus, author of Positively Fifth Street.
I loved that book, and I can't believe I missed a chance to meet the author. So I looked at the rest of the board, to see if anyone else was going to be there soon.
Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, and Reefer Madness was. In fact, he was going to be lecturing in about 25 minutes.
I totally kept my cool, bought my books, and went upstairs to take a seat and wait. I called my friend Mykal, who came and met me.
Eric Schlosser talked for about an hour, discussing the themes in his new book, and reflecting back on Fast Food Nation. I could have easily listened to him for another hour . . . but here's some of the stuff that really stayed in my head:
In his book he talks about how the government won't get involved in protecting migrant farm workers, many of whom work 10-12 hours a day, are homeless, and have terrible working conditions, because the government wants to let "The Free Market" dictate those conditions, even though an argument could be made that morality dictates they be protected. He pointed out that the government, since Ronald Regan (hiss), has taken a very "hands off" approach to the UFW.
He then compared this to how agressively, (and fanatically) the government has gotten involved in the War on Weed.
*I have to stop here and interject something: I don't use pot. I'm not interested in using pot. I'm not suggesting that you should, either. But I do support decriminalization.*
He pointed out how odd it is that the government fights this War on Marijuana, based almost entirely on moral grounds, and makes criminals out of people who smoke pot in the privacy of their own homes, but won't use a similar moral imperative to protect poor working families.
There was much discussion about Canada's move to decriminalize, and the overwhelming evidence in the rest of the world that shows pot to be less dangerous than alcohol or nicotine.
I asked him why he thought there was this great disconnect between the official policy of the US Government, and the scientific and medical communities -- not to mention most of the rest of the world. I asked him why he thought the government was so willfully ignorant of the scientific and medical facts, and why they were spending so much money and manpower on fighting this war, when it seems (to me, anyway) to be so counterintuitive.
He said that the people who started this War on Pot, (again, this is different from Heroin, Cocaine, or any of the Meth variants, which are truly dangerous and will probably kill you) are "True Believers."
He suggested a book to me, called "The True Believer," that was written in 1951. It's all about extreme political fanaticism . . . and boy is it relevant today -- for more reasons than you'd think.
Eric Schlosser is an amazing guy: he's smart, informed, and, most of all, genuine. Unlike Michael Moore, (who treated all of us like we just represented sales when I met him) Eric Schlosser took time to talk to each person who was there, and engaged in a very thoughtful, enlightening discussion with many of the people there. He seemed to care about our feelings, listened to what we said, and appeared to genuinely appreciate us being there.
If he's coming to a book store near you, do everything you can to hear him speak. It's well worth your time. Until then, go read his books.