April 5th, 2004

April 17, 1839

Am I a hypocrite who am disgusted by vanity everywhere & preach self trust every day?
I suppose that depends how much self-doubt underpins your vanity.
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danlmarmot led me to this intense photo essay by "Elena", a woman who likes to ride her motorcycle through the "dead zone" surrounding the Chernobyl disaster site.

It brings back memories, both of the two weeks in 1979 when my parents wouldn't let me drink milk because of Three Mile Island and of the iodine medicine which my second host family in Germany tried to get me to take when I arrived at their place in August, 1986. I'm allergic to iodine, so it's a good thing I declined.

I suspect that we're rapidly approaching another time of nuclear panic, accelerated by the stupidity of the Bush Administration -- who says the nuclear power industry and the petroleum industry can't get along? -- so it's good to be reminded of that particular feeling you get in the stomach when death is an invisible menace.

Elena dissects the hypocrisy and deceit of the late Soviet era with brutal irony. But she also does a nice job of capturing the special power of things abandoned by people:

Things Without People

Elena asks whether the ghost town next to the power plant will one day be regarded as a kind of Pompeii for Soviet Communism. Since it will take hundreds of years for the disaster site to be habitable, the answer is probably "Yes" -- provided, of course, that there are still human beings around with the time and inclination to excavate history.

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Real Time

This just in: Skylar has rediscovered her bike. And she's riding it far more proficiently than last time:

Sky Biker

She even tried to run me over!

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Tarnished Moments?

Tonight's NCAA men's basketball final was an anti-climax after the great semifinal games on Saturday. The better team one. And the best player won Most Outstanding Player. The fact that Emeka Okafor is also graduating after three years with a GPA over 3.7 has been repeatedly noted by sports commentators. Who can blame them? With all the heat the NCAA has been taking for football and men's basketball graduation rates, it's wonderful timing to have the best player on the court turn out to be the best student on the court.

But, as much as I love Okafor's game on and off the court, recent conversations about the shame of college athletics are still casting shadows over my enjoyment. That's good practice, though, because I'm about to live through a baseball season in which the moments those rare longtime Barry Bonds fans have been looking forward to will play out in a place almost entirely blocked from sunlight.

Fitting that the Giants won their first game right as the NCAA Final was just getting started. Will anybody care that Bonds once again rescued his team with a three-run homer?
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