Saturday, May 12, 2007

Living with a Scientist

Ian and I are going to Home Depot to pick up paste and paint rollers to finish the drywall work the contractors did upstairs.

"OK," Ian says, "Do you have a stopwatch?"

"Um, no?"

"OK, we can just use my cell phone."

We get in the truck and he hands me his cell phone. He has a notepad with him and I'm thinking, "Well, that's great! He's actually made a *list* of things we're getting."

"OK," he says, and hands me the cell phone. "When we get going, hit `OK' and it will start the stopwatch. And when I tell you to hit the `OK' button again, and it will stop the stopwatch. Then record the time on this piece of paper." He puts the notepad between us in the truck, and I see it has some cryptic chart-like happenings on it.

"Um, OK," I said.

"I have to do this experiment for class where I run an experiment and include mutiple :;something something somethings:::. So I'm timing myself to and from the university on weekdays, on weekends, taking different routes."

"Sure," I say. Note that at no time during this entire thing have I asked any questions. I completely take all of this for granted.

So we drive along the 20 minutes to the university, and when we come up to the university stopsign he's designated as the end point, he tells me to hit "OK."

I record the time. We go across the street to Home Depot.

On the way back: I record the time.

The surreal realization here was not that I thought this was an odd thing to do, but that I thought it was a perfectly reasonable way for one to spend one's afternoon.

One for the Road

"In this fucked up society we’re living in, many socially progressive poor folks have to sacrifice their ideals in order to keep a roof over their heads, and while it’s tempting to redefine the work you’re doing as progressive in and of itself because it’s keeping you alive, well, it’s not."

Bizarre Statues


Sound Familiar?

The new conservatives wished to impose not only British laws but also western values on India. The country would be not only ruled but redeemed. Local laws which offended Christian sensibilities were abrogated - the burning of widows, for instance, was banned. One of the East India Company directors, Charles Grant, spoke for many when he wrote of how he believed providence had brought the British to India for a higher purpose: "Is it not necessary to conclude that our Asiatic territories were given to us, not merely that we draw a profit from them, but that we might diffuse among their inhabitants, long sunk in darkness, the light of Truth?"

Man, I really wish more presidents and policy makers read history books.

This, though, was my favorite:

"The histories of Islamic fundamentalism and western imperialism have, after all, long been closely and dangerously intertwined. In a curious but very concrete way, the fundamentalists of all three Abrahamic faiths have always needed each other to reinforce each other's prejudices and hatreds. The venom of one provides the lifeblood of the others."

We feed each other.