From a new book published by the Library of America, with a piece by Susan Orleans:
Question: Why don’t more babies work? Excuse me, did I say more? I meant, why don’t any babies work? After all, there are millions of babies around, and most of them appear to be extremely underemployed. There are so many jobs—being commissioner of major-league baseball, say, or running the snack concession at the Olympic synchronized-swimming venue—and yet it seems that babies never fill them. So why aren’t babies working? I’ll tell you. Walk down any street, and within a minute or so you will undoubtedly come across a baby. The baby will be lounging in a stroller, maybe snoozing, maybe tippling a bottle, maybe futzing around with a stuffed Teddy—whatever. After one good look, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that babies are lazy. Or worse. Think of that same baby, same languid posture, same indolent attitude, but now wearing dark sunglasses. You see it all the time. Supposedly, it has to do with UV rays, but the result is that a baby with sunglasses looks not just lazy but lazy and snobby. Sort of like an Italian film producer. You know: “Oh, I’m so sorry, Mr. Baby isn’t available at the moment.
No, Mr. Baby hasn’t had a chance to look at your screenplay yet. Why don’t you just send coverage, and Mr. Baby will get
back to you when he can.”
and this bit:
One recent summery morning, I walked across Central Park on my way to my own place of employment—where,
by the way, I have to be every day whether I want to or not. The Park was filled with babies, all loafing around and look-
ing happy as clams. They love summer. And what’s not to like? While the rest of us, weary cogs of industry, are worry-
ing about an annual report and sweating stains into our suits, the babies in the park are relaxed and carefree and mostly
nude—not for them the nightmare of tan marks, let alone the misery of summer work clothes. And what were they doing
on this warm afternoon? Oh, a lot of really taxing stuff: nap ping, snacking on Cheerios, demanding a visit with various
dogs, hanging out with their friends—everything you might do on a gorgeous July day if you were in a great mood, which
you would be if you didn’t have to work for a living. That morning, I was tempted to suggest a little career counselling
to one of these blithe creatures, but, as I approached, the baby turned his attention ferociously and uninterruptibly
to one of his toes and then, suddenly, to the blade of grass in his fist. I know that look: I do it on buses when I don’t want anyone to sit next to me. It always works for me, and it worked like a charm for this I-seem-to-remember-telling-
you-I’m-in-a-meeting baby. I was out-foxed and I knew it, so I headed for my office. As I crossed the playground,
weaving among the new leisure class, I realized something. The reason babies don’t work? They’re too smart.
Perhaps Mr. Dimon, Mr. Blankfein, and the other little loafers simply need their nappies changed? Or perhaps they should switch to a career like professional baby where their behavior is more accepted, less notable, and far less dangerous to the rest of us. God knows they have more than enough money to change careers.
It is, in fact, true that I briefly flirted with Randian ideas and the possibility of holding Objectivist beliefs.
Then I turned 17.
In case you want to share the experience, create a jigsaw puzzle with your favorite royals:
Can’t get enough royal wedding hoopla? Neither can we! So to celebrate the regal nuptials, we’re rolling out Royal Wedding Jigsaws, featuring this millennium’s favorite fairytale duo, Prince William and Kate Middleton. Watch love blossom as you piece together gorgeous photos of the stately lovebirds. You keep playing and we’ll keep posting puzzles — from royal courtship to the aisle at Westminster Abbey. Fall in love forever when you play Royal Wedding Jigsaws today!
Contemplate their obvious superiority as you put them back together again. I “did” Princess Diana with Baby Wills in 27 minutes (96 pieces), and yes I cheated by using the hint feature. How about you?
This also might be considered an open thread on the Royal Wedding this week (?), Brits, British royalty, aristocracy, and the like. Or you can think of it as a break from more serious matters.
This is the time in the show when we like to mention that we generally run the show in two parts.
There’s the first part and the second part. We like to run the show in that order.
In between the two parts is another part that we like to call “Intermission”.
Intermission is a time when you can go out to the lobby and smoke (they don’t have to smoke). You don’t have to smoke! You can go out and drink (they don’t have to drink either). You don’t have to drink, you don’t have to smoke. If you don’t want to smoke, you certainly don’t have to smoke. You don’t have to drink either, hardly enough time for anything else, although it has been done.
Intermission: 15 fun-filled minutes without smoking or drinking. Have fun.
I’m still on the Off Topic series.
The context of this diary is primarily cellular. We’ve moved up a level of biological scale from the previous diary, Transition. Some may suggest that the molecular and cellular scales also define the non-living/living divide (if such a thing actually exists). That topic is beyond the scope of this diary. [Besides, I tend to piss off the philosophers when I talk about the meaning of life, so let’s get better acquainted before we tear the lid off that one.]
One of the minor mysteries in biophysical chemistry is how cells manage to elicit sudden changes in various metabolic and physiologic characteristics, traits, or phenotypes. These changes are in response to signals of fuel availability and physiological exigencies pertaining to the multi-cellular individual as implied by homeostasis. The cohort of human beings pondering these mysteries as a matter of career define the word “manage” in terms of macromolecular conformational changes, enzyme catalysis, and a wide range of interactions between macromolecules and with smaller molecules. The shorthand jargon term for this is mechanism. These are not new questions. They have bugged us ever since the first moving cells were observed.
The question becomes: How do cells organize the molecules within them in order to accomplish the functions that these have been observed to fulfill?
This discussion is in context of all the caveats this community can conjure.
A few weeks ago a good friend turned me on to this series by Errol Morris, “The Ashtray”. I’ve collated the 5 parts here: 1) The Ultimatum, 2) Shifting Paradigms, 3) Hippasus of Metapontum, 4) The Author of the “Quixote”, and 5) This Contest of Interpretation. The same Errol Morris who made The Fog of War and Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control.
It’s a good read. Morris approaches the essays with a documentarian’s eye for the drama of the mundane and snippets of dialog with an array of pertinent personages. Morris cuts right to the chase, explaining the obscure title of the series in the first paragraph.
It was April, 1972. The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N. J. The home in the 1950s of Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel. Thomas Kuhn, the author of “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and the father of the paradigm shift, threw an ashtray at my head.
Apparently, Kuhn was a bit peeved that his student (Morris) would dare attend a lecture by Saul Kripke. Morris reworks the incident throughout The Ashtray, weaving it through Pythagorean myth and legend concerning an alleged murder of Hippasus of Metapontum to illuminate his interpretation of why Kuhn became so stuck on his own notion of incommensurable paradigms in science. All the while tempting the reader to consider whether Kuhn really meant what we have come to believe his words mean, or whether Kuhn ended up defending the interpretation of others.
The Off Topic series continues and this time it is chemical. More precisely, the discussion begins with thermodynamics and this Gibb’s Free Energy diagram.
It seems strangely appropriate to mention that the phrase “Free Energy” was the first thing about academic chemistry that resonated with my childlike entrancement with nature. What more could an Anarchist want? But that’s another story.
There are 2 key aspects to the energy diagram, 1) the relative position of the left and right hand states (pun fully intended) and 2) the shape/height of the transition between them. (this video explains in more detail).
Read the rest of this entry »
Meet the future!
From John Vincour:
“In an effort to save Baden-Württemberg while Japan’s nuclear crisis and the Libyan rebellion were making headlines, the national government, in contradiction of its own policies, seemed to light two of Germany’s shortest and most emotional fuses — exceptional anxiety concerning nuclear energy and hesitation to share full military risks even against the most obvious evildoers Instead, it appeared to pander to the electorate’s most hypersensitive instincts: Although tsunamis hit Germany with about the same regularity as sandstorms, the coalition parties fled from their traditional tolerance of civilian nuclear power. Mrs. Merkel ordered that seven nuclear power plants be taken out of service for a period of three months — just after their operating lives had been extended with the chancellor’s assurance that they were the world’s safest.
…Virtually at the same time, the coalition dodged voting with the United States, Britain and France in favor of a U.N. resolution enabling authorization of a no-flight zone over Libya, chose abstention alongside Russia and China and then said it would not participate in an international coalition’s military effort to protect Libyan civilians.
The reaction at home? Nuclear power became the biggest and most frightening issue for the state’s voters, while national polling on the Libyan intervention produced results suggesting a burst of German exceptionalism: 62 percent said the action was correct, while in parallel 65 percent insisted, with lotsa luck to its alliance pals, Germany must stay out.
With 62 percent ‘yeah’ and 65 percent ‘nay’ I thought I was something special - but I’m working on it and one day I will disagree and agree with myself about the same thing - at the same time – 100 percent!
This is a continuing Off-Topic series explores concepts put forward by people trying to understand biological mechanisms in terms of chemistry and physics. My intent is to relate these biological mechanisms to the events observed in human societies and cultures.
The ongoing actions of human beings and other natural forces are forcing us to reassess definitions of “stability” and the closely associated mechanisms of “change”. The basis of stability implies a temporal standard. That is, how long must we fend off instability in order to be deemed “stable”? But, time is only one of the recognized biological scales.
It seems prudent to consider such from the biological perspective because ultimately, human culture, society and the politics are biological systems. More complex than an ant colony, no doubt about that, but nonetheless, a vast pile of animals crawling all over everything.
Read the rest of this entry »
From Fast Company, a short book excerpt about the Beatles got me thinking about Democrats and the future of the Democratic party:
When the company begins a downward spiral, someone must take control. That person must have the best interests of the company as top priority, and the welfare of the members as a secondary focus. However, there are limits to what that person can accomplish if he attempts to manufacture a return to the good old days, especially from the top down. Esprit de corps must come from shared goals, and new circumstances call for new ways of working–and new ways of leading.
In Liverpool, as Badfinger’s Joey Molland has noted, the band had always been the thing: a unit, inseparable. But by January 1969, Paul could see the Beatles slipping away. John Had Yoko, Ringo his acting career, and George, his devotion to a newfound religion. In an effort to bring the band together, Paul began to float the idea that returning to their roots would revive their flagging spirits and interest, and rekindle the friendship and camaraderie that they had enjoyed before. He tried to persuade them to play live as they had in Hamburg and the Cavern. That failed.
For the past year, perhaps from the sellout of the public option — the White House verbal support that was unmasked as lies, the Democratic party leadership has revealed itself to be as craven and corrupt as the Republicans. We’re the sane corporatists. As opposed to the often insane, even racist, Tea Partiers who plump for the moneyed crowd. Or the garden variety Republicans who think greed is always good and, dammit, give me my gun.
What to do, as Democrats? How do we take our party back? Yeah, this is the 1,364,992nd chapter in this saga, but it might be good and cleansing to discuss what Wisconsin, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Japanese nukes, and other events in the recent past mean for people who care about a fair society that meets the needs of working people. While the world is suddenly a lot messier, it also has revealed a lot of opportunities and a lot of truths. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a test to see if people are noticing diaries and quick hits that don’t appear on the front page. The Wisconsin-red [x new] is supposed to draw you in, but I’m not sure that is happening. Tim recently posted both a diary and a quick hit, but neither got any comments beyond mine.
So please leave a comment to this diary if you got this far. Are the red post [new]s showing up for others, or are they unknowingly custom designed for my computer?
I’m sure someone must have made this point before, but I’ve been thinking about how the attack on national health care is at least in part an effort to de-fang the left.
Unlike the right, the left doesn’t have money lying around to fund all kinds of think tanks and the kind. Historically, organizers of social movements are un- or under-paid. This has been a real challenge for the middle class, especially, which has other options for jobs. The emergence of the “non-profit industrial complex” and the many jobs that come with it has pulled many potential rabble rousers into genteel service jobs.
But even those who can live without money after college when real responsibilities start to build up may not be able to live without health care. Tying health care to jobs, and making it almost impossible to access for the poor traps people in jobs they would love to leave.
In some ways, then, any broad availability of health care is a threat to conservative power.
How much potential action is tamped down by the need to ensure access to care? Is this a part of what drives the conservative attack on health care?
I haven’t really thought this through very much, but I thought it might be interesting to talk about.