So one of my best friends is from Britain, and she’s been living here in Berkeley for the past eight months or so. She just found out that the Department of Homeland Security, without any explanation, just rejected her application for a Visa extension, which used to be a routine procedure. This means that she is immediately an illegal alien and must leave the country in 3-4 days. Every day she stays from now on counts against her and could severely impact her chances of coming back to the U.S. So now she has about 72 hours to buy a ticket back to England, and leave her life and boyfriend behind. Naturally, they’re very distraught.

This just makes me furious, because a) it makes no sense at all [1] and b) there’s nothing I can do about it. This impotence is the most frustrating. Can anyone who supports our current immigration policies justify this? Aughghgh.

[1] She’s in love with America, and even majored in American Studies as an undergraduate in England. She is not milking any welfare or public services here. What’s the problem?


The new (and, by now, old) hot item in our office is Geosense, a great little game for improving your geography skills. (Click on “Visit”, then on “Play Alone”; you’re scored by a combination of how close you are and how fast you click.) Can anyone beat my officemate Dave’s record of 6300?


If you had to give up either listening to music or watching movies, which would it be? For me (and most people, I think) it’s a no-brainer: a movie is an immersive medium, in which the watchers essentially participate in the same experience, whereas music is more subjective: it augments whatever else it is you’re doing (or thinking about), and thus is somehow far more expressive and powerful. So movies would have to go.

However, Bill suggested a tougher question: what about music vs. fiction books? Books are still immersive, but somehow more personal (mutable?) than movies. It’s a tough call.


Speaking of books, I’ve been reading a couple on these cross-country flights. I was really looking forward to Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, simply because of his kick-ass articles in the New Yorker. Turns out it’s a bit of a letdown, consisting mostly of an amalgamation of already-published pieces, loosely tied together by a very suspect overall argument. The Mystery of Consciousness (John Searle), which I’m reading now, is far more convincingly argued, and in fact is one of the most lucid books I’ve ever read.

I also finally read His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman, after having it recommended to me by many people. The quality of writing wasn’t always great, and there were some plot holes that drove me absolutely nuts, but on the whole I found it inventive, bold, imaginative, and powerful. For a trilogy of “kids’ books”, it’s astoundingly ambitious. Definitely recommended.


I’ve come to the point where I’m no longer limited by opportunity, or money, or ambition, but simply by time: I just don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do. Does this mean I’ve grown up? Because it sucks.


Once I was in a trinket shop with some friends, and we were looking at a Magic Eight Ball, a toy that randomly answers “Yes”, “No”, “Ask Again Later”, etc. when you ask something. One of my (male) friends — let’s call him Liverpool — asked it the classic snide question “Is AJ gay?”

The Eight Ball’s response? “In Your Dreams”. Haha — talk about a great backfire.


I just came back from Wing and Jen’s wedding in Boston. I can’t believe how many people I knew: from my high school, from college, and from work. Even the new people I met there were awesome. I seriously think that I’ll never attend another wedding — even my own — in which I’ll know as many people.

You might start gagging if I were to heap the appropriate number of superlatives on the bride and groom (they really do deserve it!), so I won’t. But it was an all-around wonderful experience.

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