Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Moon landing: through a ten-year-old's eyes on 20 July 1969

News of astronaut Neil Armstrong's death this past weekend inevitably brought to mind the question: where were you on 20 July 1969?

I was at summer camp north and a bit west of Madison, Wisconsin. My family lived in Chicago at the time. It was my second summer at sleepover camp, and there were exactly two working televisions inside camp boundaries. One was installed in the director's cabin; and the second, a portable set, belonged to the assistant kitchen manager. I can't say I understood at age ten the friendships and alliances among our teenage counselors, but somehow or other my counselor was close enough to the assistant kitchen manager to be invited over to watch the moonwalk. Because he was responsible for watching over our cabin, we got to tag along.

Shortly after lights-out, while most of camp stared up into the darkness and wondered whether the momentus event had already begun, my counselor -- I think his name was Ari, but it was a long time ago, really -- Ari violated every rule in the summer camp book by quietly rousing the dozen of us in his charge, swearing us to perfect silence, and sneaking us through the woods to the assistant kitchen manager's quarters on the far side of camp.

The room was not much more than fifteen feet square. I strained with fifty-some others to see the tiny black and white screen set on a milk-crate in the corner. It was hot, crowded, and almost impossible to follow the tinny voices transmitted through NASA headquarters in Houston.  We shifted to ease our cramping legs, and whispered as we tried to make sense of the broadcast.

"Is it real or are they just acting?" my bunkmate asked. I didn't know, but I thought the voices were real but the pictures were simulated.

"Shhh!  It's real guys, now listen up!" Ari hissed.

"At the foot of the ladder the left foot pads are only depressed in the surface about one or two inches," said the TV, "although the surface appears to be very, very fine grained as you get closer to it.  It's almost like a powder..."

"Going to step off the LEM now..."

The world held its collective breath.  An owl hooted somewhere out in the Wisconsin night.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," said the disembodied voice as the astronaut on the screen stepped down to the surface of the moon.

I was sitting cross-legged on the hard wooden floor and the muscles in my legs felt as if someone were wringing them out like a dishtowel. I shifted slowly in the packed space, careful not to knee the surrounding campers, and hugged my legs to my body.

When I glanced over at the assistant kitchen manager, the young woman whose generosity permitted me live witness to this historic and miraculous moment, I saw in the bluish light that tears were coursing down her rounded cheeks.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Silicon Valley job security

When Wayne Goodrich's story crossed my breakfast table yesterday I didn't know what to think. In an article titled (in the print edition of SF Chron of 23 August) Former employee sues over dismissal, Karen Gullo wrote:

Wayne Goodrich says he was a confidant, sounding board and close adviser to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who he says told him he'd always have a place at the company.

Now he's suing Apple, saying he was fired for no legitimate reason despite Jobs' promise of job security.

Goodrich said he was fired in December for what Apple said were "business reasons" not connected to his performance, according to a complaint filed Aug. 17 in California state court in San Jose.

Goodrich, who began working for Jobs in 1998, says in the complaint that in a one-on-one meeting in May 2005, the late chairman of the world's most valuable company pledged that he would always have a job at Apple. The conversation took place after Jobs' return from medical leave to receive treatment for pancreatic cancer, Goodrich said.

Okay, wait.

First of all ... he'd always have a place at the company ... do people still believe in that sort of tooth fairy job security???

This guy has to be putting on an act, right?

Because if it's true that he was Steve Jobs "confidant" he can't possibly be stupid. I haven't read the Walter Isaacson biography, but I've heard stories from colleagues in the world o' IT I inhabit here in the SF Bay Area. If there's one thing anybody knows about Steve Jobs it's that he was highly intolerant of incompetence.

So ...

  • Goodrich worked with Steve Jobs
  • Steve Jobs was afflicted with pancreatic cancer, and took a medical leave from his position at Apple to receive treatment for his illness
  • Pancreatic cancer is a nasty, deadly disease
  • Goodrich had a one-on-one meeting with Steve Jobs, whom he (and everybody else) knew was striken with a nasty, deadly disease
  • In that private meeting, Jobs allegedly assured Goodrich he'd be employed at Apple for the rest of his life
  • Goodrich ... believed him?
Something in this picture is ... odd. Wouldn't you say? Did the CEO of Apple mean for the rest of Steve Jobs' life? Did Goodrich believe Jobs would assure his continued employment from the afterlife?

To be sure, there's money at stake here:
Goodrich alleges breach of contract and unfair business practices and seeks damages for lost restricted stock units, wages, benefits and emotional distress.

He's seeking compensation for loss of restricted stock that was worth $97.40 a share when awarded in 2008 and about $635 a share as of Aug. 17. Apple discharged him to avoid paying the restricted stock, Phil Horowitz, Goodrich's lawyer, wrote in the complaint.

And Goodrich, according to the complaint, does claim that Jobs promised him an alternate job even if Jobs wasn't around to run Apple any more:
Goodrich says he was assured by Jobs in 2010 that he would be given another job at Apple if anything happened to his position and Jobs wasn't around.


I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate that -- if Karen Gullo got the facts right -- by the time this story plays itself out, Wayne Goodrich's photo will illustrate definitions of "frivolous lawsuit" in somebody's dictionary.

Monday, August 20, 2012

North Korea, women's rights, and post-truth politics

The DailyNK -- what's up in North Korea from the perspective of its government's opponents -- ran an article last week called Rules on Bicycles Repealed at Last.

The North Korean authorities have formally repealed a 20-year old public order forbidding women from riding bicycles in urban areas, Daily NK has learned.

A source from North Pyongan Province reported the news today, explaining, "This August, approval for women to ride bicycles was handed down by the state."

It is not clear upon whose authority the public order has been withdrawn; nevertheless, according to the source, "People have welcomed it, saying that 'penalties imposed by the father are being lifted by the son.'"
This is not a post about bicycles.

The news reported by DailyNK first came to my attention when a friend translated a Chinese-language article in Huanqiu (Global Times), Kim Jong Un Broke His Father's Rule Again: Women Can Ride Bicycles! Huanqiu, the PRC's Maoist newspaper of record is, I'm told, quoting the DailyNK article while gushing over the wondrous improvement that the new regime of Kim Jong Un is effecting in the nation that would be China's BFF if nations had BFFs.

This led me -- somehow, go figure -- to think about the G.O.P.'s war on women ... a topic for which hundreds of credible references could be linked, but I'll stick to two: Todd Akin, Republican nominee for a Missouri Senate seat, explaining that abortion in cases of rape is not necessary because women don't get pregnant as a result of "legitimate rape": Republican Senate Nominee: Victims Of 'Legitimate Rape' Don't Get Pregnant (if you don't believe a candidate for the U.S. Senate could be that stupid, click the link and watch the 38s video ... and no, I'm afraid the fact that G.O.P. leaders and pundits are calling for Akin to abandon his candidacy does not 'neuter' his remarks ... they are, sadly, in keeping with his party's recent legislative history). Ahem. Now, second, I'll also cite Alison McQuade on the Top 5 Worst Things About Paul Ryan's Record on the Emily's List web site.

Watch it, read it, weep, you've undoubtedly seen the summaries in your friends' Facebook streams by now. Don't do FB? I've also posted UltraViolet.org's nickle's worth in this post; FB is where I saw it first.

As I was saying, oppressive North Korean wackiness led me immediately to think about politics here in the U.S. In the pitiful event that we actually elect the antediluvian Pinocchios running on the G.O.P. ticket to head the U.S. government, will we come to resemble North Korea?

Suppose the G.O.P. is given the electoral go-ahead to eviscerate women's rights and health, as is their clear intention. When the nation wakes from its collective hangover after four or eight or twelve years of mad regression -- as we woke under Bush II when the rest of the country realized, as the then-prez admitted the 'rationale' for war was predicated on lies, that, gee whiz, those progressives were right, the so-called justification for war in Iraq was a fabrication after all -- when that happens, will our own press crow about "advances" back toward the sadly insufficient yet hard-won state of women's rights in place today?


These days it's kind of hard to see how low we, as a nation, are prepared to go.

Andrew Sullivan wrote last month, in The Fact Check Tug of War, paraphrasing Jay Rosen, that the fairness-obsessed press will not be able to handle Romney's "post-truth" campaign. Rosen titled his take on the topic, If Mitt Romney were running a “post-truth” campaign, would the political press report it? No, they would not. This falls under: too big to tell.

Grit your teeth. Check your facts. Get thee to the polls come November.

If three out of four eligible voters do just that I have little doubt how the 2012 election will turn out: the antediluvian Pinocchios will be thrown out on their ears.

Here's a caveat, though: if Israel attacks Iran in the meantime, any freakin' thing could happen.

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
If a lie sells, shout it loud
Sharrows and stripes: bike lanes for a common good
Fixing flat tires

Thanks to Christian Heilmann for the photo of the Republicans for Voldemort t-shirt, via Flickr.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I'm hankering for a bit of irregularity in a number of my life's avenues ... it's time to let go of the wheel for a bit. One Finger Typing is an avenue in which I'm going to permit myself to drive erratically, at least for a while.

In place of the regular Monday and Thursday schedule I've been maintaining since OFT's Hello World post, I'll blog when the mood strikes ... perhaps more, perhaps less frequently than usual.

Please feel free to subscribe via RSS or e-mail (widgets toward the bottom of the sidebar) if you'd like to have One Finger Typing piped directly to your RSS Reader or e-mailbox.

'Til soon!

Thanks to Jhayne on Flickr for the image in this post.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Deeper thinking on organic agriculture

I'm not a farmer. I can barely keep a cactus plant alive, as I've admitted before. But you don't have to be a master gardener, let alone a farmer, to get why we'd all be better off if more food crops were grown organically and fewer were grown using industrial methods (including application of pesticides and fertilizers, brought into being and to market on the strength of fossil-fuel energy inputs; and genetic modification of plants and other organisms).

One way to see benefit in organic agriculture is to realize that when farmers apply pesticides to food crops, people end up eating pesticides. Eating pesticides is not a good thing (the -cide in pesticide means "kill" -- a pesticide is a poison). I'm going to assume general agreement on that point.

The Environmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce was featured recently in a SF Chronicle article, titled in the print edition of the paper Lists help you decide when to buy organic.
[T]he Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that specializes in agriculture and environmental health, has released the 2012 Dirty Dozen traditionally grown produce with the highest pesticide levels and the Clean 15, the produce with the lowest levels.

Apples, celery and sweet bell peppers top the list of produce shoppers should buy organic. Onions, sweet corn and pineapples contain the lowest pesticide levels when grown traditionally.
The full list of nearly fifty fruits and vegetables that the EWG tested is on their web site, and it's nicely sortable from most-toxic to least; or alphabetically so you can find where the fruits and vegetables in your diet rank on the toxicity scale.

I'm all in favor of summarizing this sort of information in a form people can use to make good decisions at the grocery store, for themselves and the people they feed. I get that not everybody can afford to buy all-organic all-the-time at today's wages and prices, and that in many places it can be hard to find organic produce even if one wants to buy it.

The Environmental Working Group gets this too. Here, from their FAQ page, is an on-point answer to an excellent question:
Shouldn't I try to buy everything organic?

EWG recommends buying organic whenever possible. Not only is it smart to reduce your exposure to pesticides, but buying organic sends a message that you support environmentally friendly farming practices that minimize soil erosion, safeguard workers and protect water quality and wildlife.

However, we know that organics are not accessible or affordable for everyone, so we created the Shopper’s Guide™ to help consumers make the healthiest choices given their circumstances.

EWG always recommends eating fruits and vegetables, even conventionally grown, over processed foods and other less healthy alternatives.
The thing I most appreciate in those concisely and simply expressed sentences is the part about minimizing soil erosion, safeguarding farmworkers, and protecting ecosystems beyond the artificial borders of human skin. The issues and stakes around how we humans feed ourselves are legion and complex. The effects of our choices are not limited to the health of our own bodies.

On the question of soil erosion, deep horticultural thinkers such as Wes Jackson of The Land Institute believe we've been heading in the wrong direction for 10,000 years. Here, from National Geographic in an article called Perennial Solution, dated April 2011, Robert Kunzig writes:
Humans made an unwitting but fateful choice 10,000 years ago as we started cultivating wild plants: We chose annuals. All the grains that feed billions of people today -- wheat, rice, corn, and so on -- come from annual plants, which sprout from seeds, produce new seeds, and die every year. "The whole world is mostly perennials," says USDA geneticist Edward Buckler, who studies corn at Cornell University. [...]

Today an enthusiastic band of scientists has gone back to that fork in the road: They're trying to breed perennial wheat, rice, and other grains. Wes Jackson, co-founder and president of the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, has promoted the idea for decades. [...] the goal is crops that would tap the main advantage of perennials -- the deep, dense root systems that fuel the plants' rebirth each spring and that make them so resilient and resource efficient
-- without sacrificing too much of the grain yield that millennia of selection have bred into annuals.

We pay a steep price for our reliance on high yields and shallow roots, says soil scientist
-- and National Geographic emerging explorer -- Jerry Glover of the Land Institute. Because annual root crops mostly tap into only the top foot or so of soil, that layer gets depleted, forcing farmers to rely on large amounts of fertilizers to maintain high yields. Often less than half the fertilizer in the Midwest gets taken up by crops; much of it washes into the Gulf of Mexico, where it fertilizes algae blooms that cause a vast dead zone around the mouth of the Mississippi. Annuals also promote heavy use of pesticides or tillage because they leave the ground bare much of the year. That allows weeds to invade.
On the question of protecting ecosystems? There's really no question that application of pesticides to food crops damages the earth in which that food is grown. Here's Tom Philpott in Mother Jones, from an article titled USDA Scientist: Monsanto's Roundup Herbicide Damages Soil:
What Roundup is doing aboveground may be a stroll through the meadow compared to its effect below. According to USDA scientist Robert Kremer, who spoke at a conference last week, Roundup may also be damaging soil—a sobering thought, given that it's applied to hundreds of millions of acres of prime farmland in the United States and South America. Here's a Reuters account of Kremer's presentation:

The heavy use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide appears to be causing harmful changes in soil and potentially hindering yields of the genetically modified crops that farmers are cultivating, a US government scientist said on Friday. Repeated use of the chemical glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup herbicide, impacts the root structure of plants, and 15 years of research indicates that the chemical could be causing fungal root disease, said Bob Kremer, a microbiologist with the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.
I'm planning to take the EWG's Shopper's Guide to the grocery store -- they've produced a single-page PDF that's easy to print and carry along in one's reusable grocery bags. Why not? If I'm going to make choices about which produce to buy organic, I'd rather make an informed choice.

But I don't want to lose sight of the fact that there's much more at stake than the poison I might inadvertently cook into my household's meals, or the poison we avoid by eating organically grown produce. There's also the toxic storm that industrial agriculture rains on every other being and place it touches. And that's bad news for all of us, big time and long-term.

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
Monoculture v complexity; agribusiness and deceit
One hundred trillion bacteria: the microbiome within you and without you
Mutant food: agribusiness vs. everybody else
Gardening for apartment-dwellers

Thanks to Kamakshi Sachidanandam for the image of a farmer's market in Madison, Wisconsin, via Flickr. Photo of soil below an annual wheat (left) vs. perennial wheatgrass (right) field is courtesy of The Land Institute.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Losing a digital life by syncing thru 'the cloud'

Monday brought the virtual world a sad and instructive story, from Mat Honan of Wired magazine. Many have reported and blogged and tweeted and commented the tale already, but if you missed all that you can find Honan's (long and full) explanation of how he got hacked on the Wired site: How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking.

Here's Honan's own lede:
In the space of one hour, my entire digital life was destroyed. First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, my AppleID account was broken into, and my hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.

The details are fascinating if you are fascinated by La Vie Virtuel, but if you're only up for the short story it's this:

A bad guy figured out how to play the complimentary security policies of two huge digital media corporations against one another in such a way that customer service workers could be tricked into handing over control of a good guy's accounts. To make it more difficult for the good guy to stop them, they wiped out his (cloud-synchronized) digital devices.

Because everything was linked, the effect of hacking Mat Honan was to wipe out his entire digital life.

Because Honan relied on cloud services to keep his stuff safe and secure -- instead of the 'old fashioned' sort of backup technology (e.g., an external hard disk drive that is NOT remotely controllable over the internet) -- he finds himself cleaned out.

I feel bad for the man. Seriously. Here's how he put it on Monday:
Had I been regularly backing up the data on my MacBook, I wouldn’t have had to worry about losing more than a year’s worth of photos, covering the entire lifespan of my daughter, or documents and e-mails that I had stored in no other location.

Those security lapses are my fault, and I deeply, deeply regret them.
Honan should have known better, he's a technology journalist, a senior writer at Wired. That's got to be a huge component of his regret. Kudos to him for turning his own humiliation into a wake up call for the rest of us.

What makes me shudder are the bazillions of digiconsumers less savvy than Mat Honan, who trust the iClouds, Carbonites, Dropboxes, Google Drives, and Sky Drives of the e-world because they're backed by companies that look like (and ought to) know what they're doing.

Think about it. Who's got time to be a digital-security expert if Mat Honan doesn't?

In the hours and days following Honan's report we've heard (this taken from a Jane McEntegart report on Tom's Hardware) that:
Following the high-profile attack, both Amazon and Apple are now working to fix these weaknesses in their systems that leave their users vulnerable to attack. Amazon yesterday said that it had taken care of the exploit in question. [...] Amazon has stopped allowing customers to change account information over the phone and Apple has stopped issuing passwords over the phone. It's not clear if either company has plans to further alter their security systems to protect against attacks such as the one against Mat Honan.
I don't think this is news that ought to make anyone sleep better at night. Apple and Amazon (and Google and Twitter and Facebook and ...) don't coordinate their security procedures.

Jeff Bezos doesn't have a weekly call with Mark Zuckerberg to make sure that Amazon's change of policy won't intersect in some odd, hidden, exploitable way with how Facebook handles user identity.

Other ways to hack cloud-based services will be found and will be exploited. If you find somebody who wants to bet against that inevitability, my advice to you is this: take the bet.

As I've said before: the technologies by which human-created information have been preserved for the longest period of time are cave painting and clay tablets.

Maybe you don't want to rewind quite that far. I don't either, most days.

But if you care about keeping your virtual life, you might consider something less ephemeral than 'the cloud' to secure your digital stuff ... something that isn't wired into the intertubes. Something whose default state when you're not paying close attention to it is unplugged.

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
Pimped by our own devices: electronica, the cloud, and privacy piracy
Moving one's life to the cloud
Safeguarding cloud ephemera Part I: the big picture
Rock, Paper, Digital Preservation

Thanks to John Ott for the cloud image included in this post, via Flickr.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hiroshima Day 2012

On Saturday an elderly woman approached me at the entrance to the downtown Berkeley BART station (BART is our commuter-rail system in the San Francisco Bay Area). Undoubtedly familiar with Berkeley residents' practiced ability to ignore people pressing flyers into their hands, she urgently pressed a flyer into my hands, speaking rapidly. She was inviting me to join a vigil on the West Lawn of the UC Berkeley campus, just a block and a half away, to be held the next day. Extra outreach for Sunday's vigil -- a regular occurrence on the West Lawn -- was being organized because Monday would be -- and I completed the sentence to let the elderly woman know, in shorthand, that we were on the same page -- Hiroshima Day.

Today is Hiroshima Day: the unhappy anniversary of the detonation of an atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, sixty-seven years ago. Thursday is the unhappy anniversary of the detonation of an atomic bomb over the city of Nagasaki, three days later. The bombs had nicknames: Little Boy and Fat Man. Their blasts and resultant firestorms killed 110,000 to 155,000 people in the events and their immediate aftermaths. Tens of thousands more died later from radiation. Still more suffered injury, long-term illness, and disability.

Some historians of World War II have argued that if the U.S. government had chosen not to detonate nuclear weapons over Japan in August 1945, the already-planned invasion of that country would have resulted in casualties far more extensive than those caused by the atomic bombs. Other historians argue that a convergence of factors -- continued conventional bombings, Germany's surrender several months before, Soviet attacks on occupying Japanese forces in Manchuria -- would have ended the war without dropping nuclear weapons on Japanese cities. We'll never know. It seems likely that historians will continue to disagree for decades to come.

I have written about Berkeley's anti-nuclear vigils and the intrepid peace activists -- mostly elders, some of them Friends (a.k.a. Quakers) -- in prior posts: TV Debate on Nuclear Weapons Needed Now and Thinking of Fukushima on Earth Day. I respect the dedication of these activists, but each time I see them holding their banners at the west entrance to UC Berkeley, I am saddened by a futility I can't help but feel attends their focused vigilance.

There are so many ways, in addition to nuclear weapons, that human civilization and all our resilient biosphere are threatened.

There's catastrophic climate change that is coming sure as the three simple measures Bill McKibben wrote about in his article Global Warming's Terrifying New Math published in Rolling Stone last month.

Vicious war waged against civilians in Afghanistan, Syria, and Sudan (north v south) -- not to mention the many elsewheres -- is grim confirmation that humans don't need 'special' weapons to raze vast tracts of the planet, and to traumatize millions with ferocity sufficient to make brutal violence an autonomic ritual for generations to come.

Then there are the coming water wars. The Great Extinction. The planet-killing predations of industrial agriculture.

And so on.

Yet at the national level here in the United States, where we still have the largest national economy and the highest military expenditures -- and hence a disproportionate effect on every other nation on earth -- political conflict and discourse (to the extent we can call irrational populism 'discourse') orbits around squabbling about the rate at which estates ought to be taxed, who ought to be permitted to marry whom, and the validity of birth certificates.

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horrendous, savage, and utterly inhumane -- whether or not they forestalled worse.

I took the elderly woman's flyer outside the BART station on Saturday.

As I descended into the underground station, I wondered whether anybody will be left to consider Hiroshima as the beginning of humankind's seemingly-likely and catastrophic end.

Thanks to Pierre J for his scanned image of a hardcopy print of a photograph of the "Licorne shot" -- a nuclear test conducted by the French government in July 1970, courtesy of Flickr.

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
TV Debate on Nuclear Weapons Needed Now
Thinking of Fukushima on Earth Day
Nuclear meltdown abroad and at home
Water, water everywhere and a lot of murky reasoning
The lemming situation: things we've known for 50 years about environmentalism
Monoculture v complexity; agribusiness and deceit
Mutant food: agribusiness vs. everybody else

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Will Peet's be Starbucked?

It's pretty trivial in the scale of things, but Tuesday's SF Chronicle carried a story I found ... disappointing. In Rival bid for Peet's may be brewing at Starbucks, Bloomberg reporter Alex Barinka wrote:
Peet's Coffee and Tea Inc. has investors wagering rival bidders will attempt to top a $1 billion takeover offer that's already the most expensive U.S. beverage deal.


The most likely candidate for a counteroffer is Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, said Keith Moore, an event-driven strategist at MKM Partners LLC in Stamford, Connecticut.

Peet's is named for Alfred Peet, who founded the company in Berkeley, California, in 1966. Peet mentored Starbucks' co-founder Gerald Baldwin, who later bought Peet's and sold the Starbucks chain. Baldwin was Peet’s chief executive officer for about 23 years and still serves as a board member after more than four decades.

Starbucks, which has a market value of $36 billion, may now be interested in owning Peet’s coffee as a higher-priced option to sell to supermarkets, said Wedbush’s Setyan. Peet’s "is perceived actually as a more premium offering than Starbucks on the grocery shelf, and they have consistently been able to charge $1 more per 12-ounce bag on the grocery shelf," said Setyan. "That is something that Starbucks covets."

The original Peet's is on the corner of Walnut and Vine Streets in Berkeley, around the corner from Chez Panisse. It's a 6 or 8 minute walk from where I work, and I have colleagues who prefer it to the independent coffee shops nearer to our office. I'm not quite sure why. The espresso is far better at Yali's, IMHO. The walk is longer to Peet's, so I suppose there's the stretch-your-legs factor.

Peet's is a point of pride for our fair city. The liturgy goes something like this: Berkeley spawned Peet's spawned Starbucks spawned a remaking of national coffee culture.

Nowadays Starbucks might as well be any other fast food chain. It's ... product. And, in my experience, a lot of the Peet's cafés that aren't the original on Walnut and Vine have a similar, sterile, extruded feel to them. While that may be what some folks want in a coffee shop -- that I know just what I'm going to get experience -- it turns me off. Cafés with character and community, even history, are my cup of ... java.

Yeah, I'll go to a Starbucks when there aren't any decent local cafés to choose from, but if I have any other choice? Nah. Not so interested.

If Starbucks buys Peet's? I suppose even the original Peet's café will sink to that only-if-there's-no-other-choice spot in my rankings.

That'll be a shame.

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
Newsflash! Coffee drinkers pay more better attention!!
Watching food terroir go national
Starbucks' vacuum-packed greenwashing

Thanks to Stanislaw Szydlo via Dziemal and Wikimedia Commons, for the image of coffee berries included in this post; and to Andreas Praefcke, also via Wikimedia Commons, for the image of the interior of Café Central in Vienna, arguably my favorite café (so far) in the whole wide world.