October 06, 2004
Charm - by Howard Moss
The sea-shake of the heart,
Its flops and opening nights,
But the body's theatre alone
Eludes even its playwrights:
Too soon the script is done,
The curtain down. Applause.
Bravo! Encore! The lights...
And a rush to the doors.
Because the world's police
Have instinct on the books
Innocence is nice
But not for long. Good looks
Turn bad, and time's as famous
For playing dirty tricks
As virtue is, whose price
Is beautifully to skate
On increasingly thin ice.
The beauties of the brain
And body are not charm -
Though charming they can be.
Charm is a sympathy
That sometimes draws a line
Under the unProfound
By an irony of tone,
And it is mostly missed
Once it is heard and gone.
Old bones know charm the best;
They see the trees for the wood,
The shades at their light task,
The magical latitude
That time cannot redress;
Their knowledge is their loss:
Under the worldly mask
They take off at their risk
They feel the pull of childhood.
Life adds up to not much.
Subtracted every day,
Another sparrow falls
Oblivious from its perch.
That truth lacks charm, it's true,
Directly looked at, but
There is that version which
Can sometimes sound the depths
With the lightest touch.
Human power - is it in you?
Every now and then, you read an article about how Nike and Reebok and suchlike companies are working on various types of energy-return shoes and features.
Lately, we've been given glimpses by Adidas of a new shoe (this Christmas, they say)
with battery-powered dynamic computer-controlled microadjustment capability, that adapts to each of your strides to make it as energy-efficient as possible.
Then we see the occasional story about how the energy of walking could be used to power small microcomputers on or in our bodies.
But none of these efforts addresses what to me is so obvious, in terms of using our bodies for power: namely, the unceasing beating of our hearts.
The fact that we can record an EKG
tells us that there is electrical activity in the heart: after all, that's what an EKG is, literally: an ElectroCardioGram (the K instead of C is because it was invented and perfected by a German, thus Kardio).
Each heartbeat produces power, wasted as heat.
Why not figure out a way to absorb and store this power, non-invasively?
That way, you don't have to be walking or running to create energy; all you have to be is alive.
In my opinion, tossing the dice is as good a way as any to make an important decision.
It's mostly luck, how things turn out.
So, if you want to really integrate this point of view into your everyday life, you could do worse than take a close look at the offerings of Bombay Duck.
They're in the UK, so their prices are in pounds sterling, (£5 apiece, which = $9 or €7.3).
All kinds of things can be delegated to "dem bones," as they have dice for Romance, Work, Recreation, Take-Out Food, Clothes Shopping, Dating, Therapy Choice, and many more.
As Terry-Thomas said, "You know you won't win - but you might!"
BehindTheMedspeak: Is autism acquired or inherited?
Recent work published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics suggests it's largely inherited.
These findings are highly controversial, because there are many who believe that environmental causes - such as contaminated vaccines - are to blame.
For every paper blaming vaccines or environmental causes, there's one refuting them.
No matter the cause, autism is definitely on the rise, occurring 10 times more frequently now than in the late 1980s.
One in every 250 children born in the U.S. has some form of autism, which is proving to be a very broad-spectrum diagnosis, rather than the limited, focal constellation of symptoms previously considered diagnostic.
Over 1.5 million Americans are believed to have some form of the syndrome.
The incidence is increasing 10%-17% every year, such that 4 million Americans will suffer from it within a decade.
Scientists have long believed that genetics play a role in the occurrence of autism, because identical twins are more likely to share the diagnosis than fraternal twins.
Scientists led by Yong-hei Jiang at Baylor University College of Medicine suggest many cases of autism can be tracked to two or more principal genes, probably including one known as the Angelman gene.
"We believe that this model is highly likely to apply to some small fraction of autism cases, but more importantly, we propose that it will explain the majority of cases of autism."
[via Victoria Griffith and The Financial Times]
bookofjoe and naming rights
The other day I read an amusing piece by Bridget Johnson in the online version of the Wall Street Journal on selling naming rights to hurricanes to megamillionaires.
Here's the best part of her article:
Here's an idea: Instead of letting hurricane names fall to the despised third-grade teacher of some bitter meteorologist, play to someone's fantasies of world domination and reap the benefits.
Let some egotistical billionaire sponsor and name a hurricane, sort of like those "name that star" registries.
Sponsors would start by evacuating residents to swanky hotels at a safe distance; no more cots in gymnasiums.
Then they can collect headlines about how they're about to ravage the East Coast and lay waste to every palm tree in their path.
Get a domination rush, then pay for all the damage in return.
That would pretty much ensure there will never be a Hurricane Bridget - but if the fault line running miles below my closet ever breaks loose, I'm digging myself out from underneath the mountain of shoes and petitioning the U.S. Geological Survey.
Now, you do know that at some point, bookofjoe is gonna produce money.
But some day.
In the meantime, I toy with various ideas.
There's Google's AdSense, which has brought significant cash to lots of people.
There's the old PayPal donation button routine, which still seems tacky to me.
There's the subscription model, which might have worked with bookofjoe Version 1.0 - at least, judging by the number of people who emailed me after I folded it to say they'd gladly have paid to read it.
And I'm sure there are myriad others.
But naming rights, now that's an interesting concept.
I mean, I'm not gonna name it bookofphillip or bookofbridget just because you pony up some lucre, of whatever degree of cleanliness.
No, what I'm toying with here is the selling - yes, selling - of a post here for a given fee.
I'd write up your site, or product, or whatever, after the money was deposited to my numbered account.
Of course, I'd have to say up front "This is a paid-for post," or something similar, right?
Newspapers still - for the most part - keep editorial and advertising separate.
When CEO Mark Willes at the LA Times tried to knock down the separation between "church and state," he lost his job.
But probably, if I did carry paid posts, fewer people would read bookofjoe, so I'd gradually end up getting less and less from a would-be paid placement poster.
Well, I was just thinking out loud.
How difficult life would be if we could read each other's mind.
The 15 Characteristics of Eccentrics
•Strongly motivated by curiosity
•Idealistic: wants to make the world a better place and the people in it happier
•Happily obsessed with one or more hobbyhorses (usually five or six)
•Aware from early childhood that he is different
•Opinionated and outspoken, convinced that he is right and that the rest of the world is out of step
•Noncompetitive, not in need of reassurance or reinforcement from society
•Unusual in his eating habits and living arrangements
•Not particularly interested in the opinions or company of other people, except in order to persuade them to his - the correct - point of view
•Possessed of a mischievous sense of humor
•Usually the eldest or an only child
I have 14 of the 15: I am a very good speller.
This list comes from the excellent book "Eccentrics," by David Weeks.
FunFact: women number less than 5% of the eccentric population.
Annette Bening: An operation too far
She's had so much plastic surgery in her attempt to remain forever young, she's now prematurely aged.
And I don't mean just on film,
where she plays an aging 1930s star in her new movie, "Being Julia."
No, I mean in real-life.
I looked on awfulplasticsurgery.com just now, but couldn't find her.
Real soon, wait and see.
Her husband, Warren Beatty,
looks as if he's been placed in some kind of cosmetic surgery version of aspic.
I mean, they're even beginning to look alike, not like the couples who do so naturally, but more likely as a result of sharing the same plastic surgeon.
The Spruce Goose - home for good... in McMinnville, Oregon
Who would've thunk it back in 1942, at the height of World War II?
Howard Hughes and Henry Kaiser of Kaiser Aluminum joined to create three flying boats for the U.S. government.
Adhering to a government mandate not to use materials critical to the war effort such as steel and aluminum, the Hughes team built the Flying Boat out of wood.
It had eight 3,000 horsepower engines, wings 20 feet longer than a football field, and was designed to carry 750 soldiers.
All the research and development of the giant plane delayed it repeatedly, and after the war ended critics of Hughes in the U.S. Senate probed alleged misappropriation of funds.
Hughes, stung by the criticism that it was a failure, ordered the Flying Boat prepared for taxi tests.
On November 2, 1947, with a huge crowd of observers and newsman gathered in Long Beach, California, Hughes took the controls and taxied the plane smoothly across a three-mile stretch of harbor.
From 35 mph, it cruised to 90 during the second taxi test when eager newsmen began filing their stories.
During the third taxi test, Hughes startled everyone as he ordered the wing flaps lowered to 15° and the seaplane lifted off the water.
He flew her for a little over a mile at an altitude of 70 feet for approximately one minute.
Doubters were silenced forever.
The plane never flew again, remaining in hibernation in a custom-built hanger in flight-ready condition for 33 years, at a cost of $1 million per year.
After Hughes' death in 1976, the plane came under the control of various groups, until it was finally moved to the
Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, in 1993,
where it will live as long as its keepers decide it should.