Saturday XXXIV: Gridlock Hero • 8 December 2007

There’s this phenomenon. The December Congestion. Santa Monica gridlock in all directions, starting when darkness edges in at 4 and holding out until 8—every weeknight from about the 5th through the 23rd. You can’t go anywhere. Sidestreets are solid taillights in red. Flying over we must look like a colony of fire ants frozen in time. I just want to go inside and pull the blackout curtains or something.

Or go to SF. Is the holiday lighter up there? I’ll be in Union Square and surrounding from Thursday through Sunday. Any suggestions for the visit? I like a good salad, hipster coffee shops with free wireless, and something intense (I mean activity, not waffles) on Saturday mornings. Business trip that is really pleasure.

After: Portland/Seattle. Pleasure trip that is really business. Hmmmmm. First, maybe some art this weekend. Shepard Fairey is doing his first ever gallery show, which I definitely will be skipping. But this person, Francis Alys, might be amazing.

Also, I keep listening to the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi record while I am sitting around staring into taillights. The lyrics are talking about waiting on a moment, and about surrender, and about battling the evil machines. It’s like the Bhagavad Gita for urban girls. Maybe.

I should probably switch out the CD before I start getting all heroic or something.

● The owl persona got ruffled up about politics this week, here and there. Yeah. I’ll own it. Heartfelt apologies if my directness was at all hurtful. Here is the thing: when some say they are on the left, they mean they disfavor the present regime and want to dis-identify with it. (Boomeritis?) When I say it, I mean I want a practical, everyday politics of social class. I mean an enduring conceptual leftism with egalitarianism in its veins. Not a screw-you politics of opposition. So sometimes we are going to disagree.

● By the way, in case your email is being screened by the feds, here are some emoticons to help you go undetected. Funny.

● Faith healing at Disneyland.

● The Dawkins and friends’ conversation about God continues in Edge. Pretty good. Sciency, though. Jonathan Haidt argues the following and several others respond.

I now think of religions first and foremost as coordination devices that bind people together into moral communities with effects that are mostly good for the members, although sometimees terrible for deviants and for neighboring groups…. [E]very longstanding ideology and way of life contains some wisdom, some insights into ways of suppressing selfishness, enhancing cooperation, and ultimately enhancing human flourishing.