The City #22

I got off the subway returning home a little bit ago after having dinner with a friend in Central Park (the trains were slow – took me an hour to get home). It had just stopped raining – the kind of quick downpour that leaves everything soaking wet, but the clouds part and the sun starts to shine as water drips from everything. A cool breeze, and the air smelled good.
As I was walking down the street a few brave souls resumed playing in the park, but instead of the voices of the kids playing catching my attention, I heard someone singing. I figured up ahead there was a car with someone sitting with the window opened listening to the radio, but I passed car after car and no radio playing. So then, I thought perhaps someone had a radio playing loudly in their apartment, window opened.
I started looking up at the brownstones, listening. The singer had a very nice voice – it sounded familiar, kind of a young, pop ballad kind of voice. It was nice. Then on the third floor of an old brownstone in the bay window I saw a girl with a microphone and another girl at an electric piano, barely noticeable. The voice I heard was hers – live.
I looked up and watched them through the window as I walked by. I decided to turn around and go back to listen a little more. I tried to be inconspicuous. I passed by, backtracked, but no where to hind. I just turned around again to continue home. At this point, looking up at the window, she saw me and smiled. I was caught. She was caught, and stopped singing for a New York minute. I don’t know whether she was caught off guard – not expecting anyone to see her or pay attention to her singing. Perhaps she was embarrassed. I don’t know.
The City is full of these little kind of things. So often they are lost in the noise and busyness of the City, but after a quieting rain a voice carries and I just have to pause and listen. I am fortunate when these little moments get through – kind of like stopping and smelling the flowers. I wonder what was going through her mind when she realized that someone heard her, someone was listening, someone discovered her and her friend practicing.
This neighborhood is a little too expensive at this point for struggling artists, but there are still some and the ones that have a little luck in their careers move here. I love this neighborhood and this City in all its dynamic craziness. Perhaps some day, this women will be famous and I will remember back to one rainy day when I heard a voice coming from a third floor walk-up in Brooklyn and think, “I saw her…”
A new Ikea just opened, yesterday. It is a 20 minute walk from my apartment. An Ikea 20 minutes away. Lord. Red Hook will never be the same. The Queen Mary docks, an Ikea opens, what’s next?

What are Libertarian conservatives to do?

From, a video conversation between Joshua Cohen of the Boston Globe and Libertarian Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute about the problems Lindsey (representing many Libertarian conservatives) have with the Republican Party and the current administration’s policies concerning so many things about the three branches of government, civil rights, and freedoms. He comes to the point where he is looking to the Democratic candidate rather than McCain.
I think Andrew Sullivan is right when he writes, “The Bush administration has forced many people who thought of themselves as limited government, libertarian conservatives into the hands of the left.”
I can relate, and recognize this dynamic in myself.

A new kind of oil?

From: The Times Online – Scientists find bugs that eat waste and excrete petrol

“Ten years ago I could never have imagined I’d be doing this,” says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. “I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.”
He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.
Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls “renewable petroleum”. After that, he grins, “it’s a brave new world”.
Mr Pal is a senior director of LS9, one of several companies in or near Silicon Valley that have spurned traditional high-tech activities such as software and networking and embarked instead on an extraordinary race to make $140-a-barrel oil (£70) from Saudi Arabia obsolete. “All of us here – everyone in this company and in this industry, are aware of the urgency,” Mr Pal says.

Read it all here. I wonder whether this will end up like the hype around “cold fusion” that was in all the news a while ago?
Hat tip to: The Topmost Apple