05 June 2009


My partner earned his Ph.D yesterday, and a billion (approximately) of his family members descended upon Boston to celebrate. (Thank goodness I like them because there sure were a LOT of them.) Commencement day was full of food and babies and laughter and hugs and generally beautiful weather, in spite of rain predictions.

And it was a day of great speeches.

I was pleasantly surprised by Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu's commencement speech, and I was blown away by President Obama's Cairo speech. With people like this in charge, we really may be on our way to a better world. Can't wait.

Of course, a "better world" means different things to different people. An impassioned New York Times op-ed expresses concern over animals learning to communicate:
Already, the swap of mouse FOXP2 for human FOXP2 has altered the way the mice communicate with one another (their ultrasonic whistles have become slightly lower-pitched).

To me, it’s obvious that the Age of the Garrulous Rodent is at hand. Bear in mind that we’re not talking about sign language or the proverbial monkeys-at-the-keyboard here. We’re talking about a rat that’ll be able to sit down, look you in the eye and talk about the Sotomayor nomination or the Lakers-Magic series....

If you think I’m just being cynical and churlish about all this, imagine that you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and a dog looks up and says: “You didn’t intern at Cleary Gottlieb, did you? Summer of ’97? You look so familiar.” Do you really want to have to have a conversation with every puggle you encounter? Isn’t it hard enough already to avoid meaningless conversations with people you don’t know?

In other "better world" news, a little boy hears back from "heaven":

When Bailey Pinto tied a letter to God to a helium balloon and sent it flying into the sky, he hoped but never dreamed the Almighty would write him back.

Bailey, 11, of Brantford, Ont., asked God in the letter what it was like in heaven and whether miracles happen. Bailey's father, Paul, has served in Kosovo and Bosnia with the Canadian Forces and the boy is worried because his father is expected to join a unit in Afghanistan next March.

While God never replied, a Brampton criminal lawyer did, and their unlikely paths have created an experience neither will forget.

And in recent travel news, here's a Food Lovers' itinerary through India. (When starting your trip planning, it's often helpful to check popular itineraries to get ideas and then tailor it according to your own preferences.) If you're heading to Europe, here are some of the best scenic drives. And travelers discuss the benefits of traveling with parents.

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