Security versus privacy: A Piece of My Mind

Our local morning newspaper on the 13th anniversary of 9/11 included somber memories, such as the inspiring story of a blind worker whose Seeing Eye dog led him and the workers in his office to safety. The headlines also trumpeted a revelation that Yahoo had been required to turn over user data for “national security interests.” When the company refused to comply, hoping to preserve the privacy rights of its users, it was threatened with fines of $250,000 a day. Security outweighed privacy.

A couple of weeks earlier, I had gone to see an exhibition at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. I was required to open my purse for inspection before I could enter this public building. I went through the inspection with only a minor flash of irritation, though it has been many years since that crazed person slashed at the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. I was hardened by the invasive airport searches of both my purse and my person over the past 13 years of air travel, and I had put up with the searches and screening gates at the local courthouse when I wanted to exercise my citizen’s right to observe a trial. And so on. Security outweighed privacy.


Lost languages: No Shoes, Please

You would think that being raised by parents who spoke very little English would result in an ability to communicate fluidly in two tongues. However, lots of West Coast “Sansei” (third-generation Japanese-Americans) are like me: surrounded by the Japanese language in our upbringing but hardly able to speak a word.

A credible observation has been made that “Issei” and “Nisei” (first- and second-generation Japanese-Americans) – traumatized by unjust incarceration during World War II – became hypervigilant about ensuring that they were perceived as “true” Americans once they were eventually allowed to re-establish their lives and livelihoods outside a barbed-wire camp environment. This in part accounts for the loss of the Japanese language among Sansei.


You may have already won!: A Piece of My Mind

There is something irresistible in the idea of buried treasure brought to light. We love to hear about the dusty picture in the attic that turns out to be a genuine Rembrandt, the stock certificate in the bottom of the neglected safe deposit box that has been accumulating stock splits and dividends for decades, the costume jewelry purchased at a garage sale that turns out to be genuine diamonds. We all want to star on “Antiques Roadshow.”


Thoughts on the 'Mr. Los Altos' bust: Publisher's Perspective

Here are my two cents worth of ideas regarding the future location of the Walter Singer bust.


Adventures in hugging: No Shoes, Please

A couple of months ago, a friend recommended that I go see Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, or, as she’s better known, Amma, the “Hugging Saint” of India. Amma (“Mother”) was on a U.S. tour at the time and had been scheduled for several Bay Area appearances. I was vaguely familiar with Amma’s work, having seen a “60 Minutes” piece on her several years ago. In a nutshell, Amma hugs people: impoverished people, people in the aftermath of a natural disaster, people who need emotional support for any reason, dramatic or mundane.


Prepared for the future: Haugh About That?

With my stubby snout smashed up against my plate, I happily licked off the remains of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Rooting to polish off the last remnants of my sixth birthday party, life was good until my mother walked in. My pigpen dream was disturbed and my joyfully gluttonous moment destroyed.


Whom can you trust?: Haugh About That?

Waving my pink poodle skirt with all the fervor of a matador preparing to tease a raging bull, I blinked my 20-year-old eyes and gave a come-hither look to indicate, “I’m ready!” Little did I know that the blind trust I had in this moment of divine faith would be shattered with one short twirl.

In 1972, I was spreading my theatrical wings in the musical “Mame” at the University of San Francisco. Wildly dancing the jitterbug under intense lighting, the routine was perfectly choreographed, from the flip of my blond curls to the syncopated tap in my toes. We’d practiced the number flawlessly over and over, but as Murphy’s Law would have it, there are exceptions to any given rule.


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