One realization does dawn upon the death of the second parent, namely that you’ve now moved into the green room to the River Styx. You’re next. Another thing about parental mortality: No matter how much you’ve prepared for the moment, when it comes, it comes at you hot, hard and unrehearsed.
The summer after Pup died, I got a midnight call with the news that my friend Rust Hills, the editor and writer, had died. Rust was a great admirer of Montaigne. I thumbed through my copy of the “Essays” and found this: “The ceaseless labor of your life is to build the house of death.” It’s probably too downbeat a sentiment by American smiley-face standards to make it onto a refrigerator magnet, but . . . pas mal. You want to be able, when the end comes, to look the Reaper right in the eye and say, “Oh, puh-leeze.” I’m sure that’s how Mum did it. She’d have added, “And what, pray, is that preposterous costume supposed to indicate?”
--Christopher Buckley, Growing up Buckley
"I don't want to be your girlfriend, I'm not trying to get anything from you."
"Right. I can't even do that thing where you're not my girlfriend and I'm just makin' out with you. That's the thing. I can't. Because..."
The green revolution was a complicated blend of altruistic and imperial motives, played out through seeds. The notion that humans now had the power to banish the spectre of starvation and famine, which has haunted our species for millennia, was a potent one. The green revolution is estimated to have fed roughly a billion people who might otherwise have starved....But the development and distribution of the superseeds, which was funded by the World Bank, the United States seed trade, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, was also a clever way of planting American-style agrarian capitalism in developing nations that might otherwise be in danger of succumbing to Communism. In Fowler’s 1993 book “Shattering,” written with Pat Mooney, a Canadian activist, he points out that the new hybrids “produced not just crops, but replicas of the agricultural systems that produced them. They came as a package deal and part of the package was a major change in traditional cultures, values, and power relationships both within villages and between them and the outside world.”
--John Seabrook, Sowing for Apocalypse
Also, on a related note [via Boyland :)].
Behavioral economists, whose work combines the techniques and ideas of economics and psychology, have long focused on what Thomas Schelling, the 2005 Nobel laureate, called the 'intimate contest for self-command'--the all-too-familiar inner conflict between the would-be disciplined self...and the pleasure-seeking self....These two selves, Schelling noted, don't necessarily exist at the same time. The disciplined self imagines future virtues, while the pleasure-seeking self succumbs to present urges. 'If the person could make the final decision about that action at the earlier time, precluding a later change in mind,' Schelling wrote in 1983, 'he would make a different choice from what he knows will be his choice on that later occasion.'
Which is the real you: the present self who wants to stay in bed rather than exercise and who runs errands instead of visiting a museum, or the future you who wants to be fit and have happy memories? The you who avoids temptation by staying out of the mall, or the you who wishes you hadn't been such a hermit?
They are both real, of course. The intimate contest for self-command never ends, and lifetime happiness requires finding the right balance between present impulses and future well-being....
--Virginia Postrel, The Gift-Card Economy
There are three reasons people have instantly become such voracious consumers of Kari Ferrell news (besides "the hard work of talented journalists etc."):
1. She is so much like you or your friends or someone you know. All us young urban cools relate, right? Yes! Just like your neighbor!
2. But yo she was seriously totally psycho. Come on, the frauds and ripoffs or the fake cancer or the fake pregnancies or the other assorted lies would pass for normal one at a time. But all in one place—she was the holy grail of the outwardly cool, inwardly crazy and dangerous person you met at a bar one night.
3. She had the misfortune to perpetrate her fraud in the midst of the most self-absorbed, writing-intensive demographic, and zip code, in all of America. Sucks for her. [via Gawker]
Also, yoga makes me feel like a million bucks.
Also, on the wet grass: my head on your knees, your head on his knees, his head on her knees, her head on my knees.
Also, Scrabble in a backyard with my left half getting crispy by the fire.
Also, emergence almost made me cry (the happy, not sadface kind).
Also, I also.
At Jo-Ann Fabric's he found a label stuck to a shelf (too high for me to see, five foot and some change) that said SULKYB00, which is probably the best embodiment of my character that has ever been expressed.
On a related note, I try to push the Space episode of RadioLab onto everybody I care about. It combines everything I love: Annie and Carl, romance, the Golden Record, Philip Glass, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and, of course, the cosmos and every feeling of wonder and insignificance that is associated with it. Each time I listen to it my heart breaks. Recommended listening environment: warm, dark room, headphones, no distractions.
"Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.
Over the course of the following months, throughout numerous missions, the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers. Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the “right” direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation. One man turned the robot back in the direction from which it had just come, saying out loud to the Tweenbot, "You can’t go that way, it’s toward the road.”"
Western communication has what linguists call a "transmitter orientation"--that is, it is considered the responsibility of the speaker to communicated ideas clearly and unambiguously. Even in the case of the Air Florida crash, where the first officer never does more than hint about the danger posed by the ice, he still hints four times, phrasing his comments four different ways, in an attempt to make his meaning clear. He may have been constrained by the power distance between himself and the captain, but he was still operating within a Western cultural context, which holds that if there is confusion, it is the fault of the speaker.
But Korea, like many Asian countries, is receiver oriented. It is up to the listener to make sense of what is being said.
--Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
Communication has never been my strong point. It's snowing in April.