When the ancient Polynesians invented surfing, they often used a paddle to help them navigate. Fast-forward a few millennia, and Stand-Up Paddleboarding, or SUP, finds itself trendy again. Part of its increasing popularity is that standing upright allows surfers to spot waves more easily and thus catch more of them, multiplying the fun factor. Paddling back to the wave becomes less of a strain as well. The ability to cruise along on flat inland water, surveying the sights, is another advantage. Finally, its a good core workout. If youre sold on the idea, schedule an intro SUP lesson, free with board and paddle rental, and you may find yourself riding the waves like a Polynesian king.More
In the past 30 years, light artists have reimagined an art form that has always had the ability to turn the night sky, or a simple window, into luminescence. Last fall, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts turned its southern glass wall into a parade of sound-sensing lights, Lightswarm, that changes with the movements of nearby people and things. Future Cities Lab, the San Francisco design company behind Lightswarm, has originated another notable light sculpture. Located by the YBCA's steps at 701 Mission, Murmur Wall will light up in arresting ways as it incorporates local trending search engine results and social media postings. Onlookers can offer their own contributions, which will feed into the Murmur Wall's data stream and light up the sculpture. What's trending in San Francisco? If you're walking by the YBCA, you can see firsthand — at least through light patterns that reflect the city's volatile internet habits.
Murmur Wall debuts Thursday at 6 p.m. and continues through May 31, 2017, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., S.F. Free; 415-978-2700 or ybca.org. More
Consider the potato. Its Irish, right? Or British? Both cultures eat chips with almost anything, and the potato was long a cash crop for Ireland. There was that potato famine in the 19th century that killed some 2 million people across Europe. Yet the potato is native to Peru, and it arrived in France only in 1775 because of a bread shortage. Okay, so what about tobacco? Thats as North American as it comes. But it was high demand for tobacco in China that led to the crops increased production and to European settlers opening the slave trade. What about malaria? That originated in Europe and Africa. Its also what disabled much of British Gen. Cornwallis army in coastal Virginia and led to his eventual surrender to George Washington. Are all these things connected? Sure. Theyre part of what happened when Christopher Columbus left Europe and reconnected continents that had been separate for some 200 million years. Charles C. Mann, who appears tonight, makes sense of it in 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Mann did extensive research for the book, traveling to many of the areas he writes about. The Columbian Exchange, as its known, transferred numerous plant, animal, and microbial passengers around the globe in addition to humans with their own religious, personal, and commercial agendas. Mann links this colossal convulsion to modern-day disputes over immigration policy, trade agreements, and culture wars.
Tue., Sept. 27, 6 p.m., 2011