Heiser Christmas Letter 2007
End the war: Obama, Edwards, Kucinich
Dick stumbled onto some amazing videos at ted.com. These talks from annual TED Conferences give you the really big picture. Start with a 3-minute talk by Stewart Brand: "Why squatter cities are a good thing." Then move on to Evelyn Glennie on how to listen, Emily Oster on AIDS and Hans Rosling on poverty and development. You'll be astonished.
U C Berkeley filmed Michael Nagler's brilliant non-violence lectures when he was ready to retire. They're posted at youtube.com; search for "pacs164a". Highest recommendation.
MIT OpenCourseware (ocw.mit.edu) is the generous pioneer in online learning. Professor Gilbert Strang teaches the best linear algebra course (6.0.14) you've ever seen.
Since January, Dick has a prescription for medical marijuana. He was surprised to qualify for it without deception, as a relief from diabetes complications. The day after he got the "recommendation" from a physician, the DEA raided ten local dispensaries; medical marijuana is legal in California, but not in the United States. The raid did not put an end to medical marijuana, however. The number of patients and dispensaries has exploded in the past year; there are now four hundred dispensaries in Southern California. It's like living in Amsterdam. The dispensaries offer dozens of pricey but extremely powerful varieties.
Dick took an online course at UCLA called "The Man in the Moon," about making art based on the psychology of perception. One classmate is in the Philippines, others are located all over the US. Lots of media, lots of software, lots of interaction. The future of education, right? Well, it wasn't as interesting as it sounded, and Dick shocked himself by dropping out of the course.
In Other News
Dick is in a clinical trial of a radically improved treatment for Dupuytren's contracture—the fibrous cords clenching his palms. The doctor injects an enzyme into the cord that simply dissolves it. Minimal trauma! New medical treatments are so promising; they're more specific, less invasive, and sometimes even preventive.
Dick is getting a Kindle electronic book for Christmas. He doesn't really need more information, but it sounds like fun. Kindle has wireless access to two million articles at Wikipedia, so people will soon exclaim, "Dick's a walking encyclopedia!"
Google's Picasa has made it easy to put photographs online. So Dick finally updated his website photos. Art teacher Lila Crespin organized an Art Walk in Downtown LA which you can preview on Dick's Picasa gallery. His other galleries show new sculptures at the Getty Museum, a fourth of July parade, and his portfolio of photos.
We have been unsubscribing from dozens of mail-order catalogs by visiting catalogchoice.org. It's convenient and comprehensive.
Dick drives with his headlights on all the time now. Even though his car is red, people seem to see it better with the lights on. Or maybe they just stand back from strangeness; that's OK too.
Thich Nhat Hanh continues to offer practical advice about how to meditate; we have a nice collection of DVDs to lend.
Our attractive niece Corinna and her husband Joe are reporting on their Peace Corps experience directly from Tonga. It's a digital world; their Peace Corps group has multiple blogs, MySpace and FaceBook pages and Picasa galleries. Their adventures are much more riveting than Survivor. We're proud to have such idealistic relatives.
We are grateful for good health, leisure and friends; We wish you the same, and a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!