Happy Birthday to the inimicable
Happy Birthday to the inimicable
Happy Birthday to the inimicable
Dr. Albert Hofmann died yesterday, April 29, 2008. Why haven’t I gotten one of those “urgent news updates” from CNN or the Atlanta paper? Losing him is certainly more newsworthy than most of the things they do alert me about, like sports scores!
A commenter (and I don’t know where the comment went, unfortunately) let me know that I’ve conflated two people. Abbie Hoffman, whose quote is below, died in 1989.
From his own mouth, the closing words from a speech at Vanderbilt University in April 1989:
We are here to make a better world. No amount of rationalization or blaming can preempt the moment of choice each of us brings to our situation here on this planet. The lesson of the ’60s is that people who cared enough to do right could change history. …in the nineteen-sixties, apartheid was driven out of America. Legal segregation–Jim Crow–ended. We didn’t end racism, but we ended legal segregation. We ended the idea that you can send a million soldiers ten thousand miles away to fight in a war that people do not support. We ended the idea that women are second-class citizens. We made the environment an issue that couldn’t be avoided. Now, it doesn’t matter who sits in the Oval Office. But the big battles that were won in that period of civil war and strife you cannot reverse. We were young, we were reckless, arrogant, silly, headstrong…and we were right! I regret nothing!
Today was the monthly visit to the pain doc, which requires trekking across town to Fascist County. It was somewhat amusing to see “Drought Threat Level 4 Measures in Effect!” right next to CVS watering their little patch of grass.
The doctor doubled my breakthrough pain med, so that I’m allowed to take it more often. Maybe that’ll help.
It’s always nice to have that time with Sam, although I feel bad that he has to take time off to get me there. We try to schedule multiple appointments, but one of Katie’s doctors just totally flaked today, so that one had to be rescheduled. The orthodontist appointment had been rescheduled to allow for that appointment, so now we have that to look forward to, too. Oh joy.
When Katie and I were out on Monday, we found that two places we needed to go to were closed for Confederate Memorial Day. Excuse me? Since when is it a state holiday? I know we didn’t take that day off from school when I was growing up, not even in Alabama. When did this resurgence occur–as backlash for MLK Day, maybe? I find it ridiculous.
I obediently updated to WordPress 2.5.1, and lost my Gravatars. I’ve checked the settings, and they’re still enabled. They’re definitely still in my templates, but nobody gets anything but the default “no gravatar” picture. Buh?
We had a very nice weekend, fairly quiet for me (as usual). Katie went out with her beau Friday night, and Sam and I finally got to see the first season 2 Torchwood episode, “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.” It was worth the wait! I wonder how much BBC America bowdlerized it? Unfortunately, we don’t have the second episode. Pout 🙁
Saturday night was date night. I’ve been craving “breakfast,” as in eggs and bacon and so on, so that’s what Sam fixed for dinner. Yummy! Then we had a very lively game. Sidhe invasions are not fun, especially when they turn your own populace against you with enchantment. There was far too much plot to handle in one session, so we’ll continue the fight in our next game.
Today was dinner with Sam’s mother, and a fellow podcaster interviewing Sam. Katie went to her boyfriend’s mother’s wedding reception, and was received very well by the family. (The ceremony was family-only.) I started my classes. There are only 7 students in the technical communications class!
These are the 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThingâ€™s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.
Continue reading “Books People Don’t Read”
I took my management final and turned in my peer review for the humanities class, so I am finished!
I suppose this is my spring break, then. All the way ’til Sunday, when the next classes start.
From The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell:
We are actually powerfully influenced by our surroundings, our immediate context, and the personalities of those around us. Taking the graffiti off the walls of New York’s subways turned New Yorkers into better citizens. Telling seminarians to hurry turned them into bad citizens. The suicide of a charismatic young Micronesian set off an epidemic of suicides that lasted for a decade. Putting a little gold box in the corner of a Columbia Record Club advertisement suddenly made record buying by mail seem irresistible. To look closely at complex behaviors like smoking or suicide or crime is to appreciate how suggestible we are in the face of what we see and hear, and how acutely sensitive we are to even the smallest details of everyday life. That’s why social change is so volatile and so often inexplicable, because it is the nature of all of us to be volatile and inexplicable.
But if there is difficulty and volatility in the world of the Tipping Point, there is a large measure of hopefulness as well. Merely by manipulating the size of a group, we can dramatically improve its receptivity to new ideas. By tinkering with the presentation of information, we can significantly improve its stickiness. Simply by finding and reaching those few special people who hold so much social power, we can shape the course of social epidemics. In the end, Tipping Points are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action. Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push–in just the right place–it can be tipped.
Generations of high school children gasp when they read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, for they are amazed to discover that Juliet was only thirteen years old. We sometimes forget that, for most of human existence, our lives were short, miserable, and brutish. Sadly, for most of human history, we repeated the same wretched cycle: as soon as we reached puberty, we were expected to toil or hunt with our elders, find a mate and produce children. We would then have a large number of them, with most of them dying at childbirth. As Leonard Hayflick says, “It is astonishing to realize that the human species survived hundreds of thousands of years, more than 99% of its time on this planet, with a life expectancy of only 18 years.” Since the industrial revolution, thanks to increased sanitation, sewage systems, better food supplies, labor-saving machines, the germ theory, and modern medicine, our life expectancy has risen dramatically. At the turn of the century, the average life expectancy in the United States was 49. Now, it is around 76, a 55% increase in a century. As Joshua Lederberg notes, “In the U.S., greater life expectancyâ€¦can be attributed almost entirely to this mastery of infection, this annihilation of the bugs.” And today, the fastest-growing segment of our population is the group that is over a hundred years old.”