Goodbye Dr. Hoffman

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!

Pain Doc Day

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.

Weekend Update

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!

Books People Don’t Read

Tak­en from 

These are the 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’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.

TotD: Tipping Points

From The Tip­ping Point by Mal­colm Gladwell:
The Tipping Point

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.

TotD: How Science Will Change the 21st Century

From Visions: How Sci­ence Will Rev­o­lu­tion­ize The 21st Cen­tu­ry by Michio Kaku:

Gen­er­a­tions of high school chil­dren gasp when they read VisionsShake­speare’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 expectancy…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.”