As Lynne D. Richardson, professor of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine told the NYT:
“...human life is much more important than shelf life,” she said. “I would expect to see fewer people showing up in the emergency room with heart attacks if this policy is enacted.”
...eh, maybe. But is that grounds for such an obnoxious "Big Brother" policy? I mean, if we banned alcohol then fewer people show up in the emergency room, too. Or cars, for that matter. What happened to personal choices?
I understand the smoking-in-restaurants ban; when you blow smoke in someone else's food, or your waitress's face, then you're not just hurting yourself. But if you choose to eat trans fats when you know they'll kill you (and please, everyone must know that by now)--then chow down.
Fair warning: As a large book, it can be a bit awkward trying to hide the cover jacket from nosy (and potentially pious) seat neighbors on the subway…but then again, the book jacket is orange and metallic silver, so the casual observer might just mistake it for Michael Crichton.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes…for the first, I actually laughed out loud.
On the Amish (after explaining why respecting religious “diversity” is a load of crap):
“The rest of us are happy with our cars and computers, our vaccines and antibiotics. But you quaint little people with your bonnets and breeches, your horse buggies*, your archaic dialect and your earth-closet privies, you enrich our lives. Of course you must be allowed to trap your children with you in your seventeenth-century time warp, otherwise something irretrievable would be lost to us: a part of the wonderful diversity of human culture. A small part of me can see something in this. But the larger part is made to feel very queasy indeed.”
(*I had initially planned to write my thesis on the non-electric, and thus “green” agricultural technologies used by the Pennsylvania Amish. However, after spending a few days at the library reading about their faith and seriously deranged customs, I was creeped out enough out to drop the Plain People.)
On religion’s role in the war in Iraq:
“Our Western politicians avoid mentioning the R word (religion), and instead characterize their battle as a war against ‘terror’, as though terror were a kind of spirit or force, with a will and a mind of its own. Or they characterize terrorists as motivated by pure ‘evil’. But they are not motivated by evil...They are not psychotic; they are religious idealists who, by their own lights, are rational. They perceive their acts to be good, not because of some warped personal idiosyncrasy, and not because they have been possessed by Satan, but because they have been brought up, from the cradle, to have total and unquestioning faith.”
|American Cities That Best Fit You::|
|65% New York City|
|60% Washington, DC|
But of all the tidbits I didn’t know Saturday and do know now, here’s the one I was most embarrassed not to know (and thought my faithful blog readers would most enjoy):
When viewed from space, the Earth looks like—to quote Sagan—a “pale blue dot,” not because of our vast oceans. No, the astrobiologts patiently explained, the oceans are actually very dark. We look blue for the same reason the sky looks blue when standing on earth: because the oxygen and nitrogen molecules that make up our atmosphere absorb short wavelengths—blue!—and not longer wavelengths like red. It actually gets a lot more complicated, of course, with details about cloud cover, but I'm pretty sure that was the jist.
The photo here shows the Earth and its moon as seen from cameras on Mars.
Anyway, I found one of the book’s early passages—a quote from Einstein—quite surprising. Dawkins reminds us of Einstein’s most quoted remarks about the existence of God (like “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind"), and then hits us with this rarely-quoted doozie from Al:
“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God any I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
...So much for “God doesn’t play dice with the universe,” right?
“Psychologists have long known that unwritten rules govern our social interactions. Some researchers have found that women stand closer together than men when talking, for example. Men are also less likely to maintain eye contact. And both sexes will reduce eye contact if the person they are talking to gets too close.”
Read the full story, about keeping your “personal space” in virtual reality.
Check out all the gory details about the real news on Culture Dish, the fabulous blog of science writer Rebecca Skloot.
Read my full story here.
UPDATE: a one-sentence review of my article, from Knight Science Journalism Tracker. hehe
#4: List of Big-Bust Models and Performers
#5: JonBenet Ramsey
#6: List of Sex Positions
#11: Irukandji Jellyfish (what the....?)
#14: World Wrestling Entertainment Roster
#98: Criticism of Family Guy
And for Rouvelle, this metered sense of time is worrisome. “My concern,” he says, “is that we—Western culture—have, over the past few hundred years, chosen to develop along a trajectory of reductionism, trying to understand things by breaking them down into individuated, component parts whose behaviors are often described as relating to other unique components sequentially, and verified metrically – and often visualized.”
The visual description of time, at least in Western classical art, is often a sequential one. In many of the great Piero Della Francesca's pieces (like The Queen of Sheba's Visit to Jerusalem, above), for instance, the progression of the action is achieved by the viewer looking from left to right. First, then, finally—story told.
But many contemporary artists and architects are looking to break free of this metered perception of time. Rouvelle encourages this change, as he believes an un-metered temporal perspective can enhance both our aesthetic and social experiences. “There are complementary experiences, non-linear experiences,” he says, “where time, for example, is not moving in a specific direction, yet change is evident. I believe that these non-sequential experiences are equally real, however, and that if I could contemplate them more fully my experience overall would be significantly different.” And artists, he says, have the means to create less metered descriptions of the world, and thus make the world a better place. “I believe that if we could improve our understanding of our experience through better and more accurate models,” he argues, “we would experience greater empathy with others.”
Here are a few examples of recent art and architecture that flaunt a non-linear expression of time, and in this way, force their audiences to experience time un-metered…
On the other side of the world, in
If you look at a map of the park, the names of the featured sites sound like some kind of metaphysical
The park also—like Disney’s rollercoasters—disturbs balance; a warning on their homepage, written in red text, reads: “.” Indeed, since the park opened in 1995, Rouvelle says it has had to set aside funding specifically for medical bills of the dozens of visitors who, just from walking around the disorienting landscape, have fractured or broken bones.
Clearly then, the Site of Reversible Destiny creates an endlessness that we don’t normally experience. Psychologist and art critic Rudolf Arnheim argues that this endlessness, especially when experienced outdoors, grants art and architecture “a high aesthetic value.”
Rouvelle would agree. He says the Site of Reversible Destiny—without flat surfaces, street grids, or 90-degree angles—“forces us to come to terms with physical angles that are becoming less and less common” in Western city life; in other words, it’s exactly the kind of art that can help us break free of a metered sense of time.
“Experiencing Duration” was the theme of the 2005
Echoing the words of James Rouvelle, Bourriaud and Sans explained on the exhibition’s website why time is such a provocative theme to explore in art: “Addressing time was a way for us to draw up an inventory of the 1990s, when art began to function as a sort of editing bay on which artists could reconstruct everyday reality.” These artists, the curators explained, “tweaked the tempo” of their art—displaying videos and sounds that had been paused, looped, or synchronized in unexpected ways. “Time is more a building material than a mere medium,” Bourriaud and Sans argued. More than a static oil painting or stone monument, they wrote, “art is first and foremost an event.”
Both the Site of Reversible Destiny and the exhibits at the Lyon Biennial use art to manipulate the viewer’s experience of time. But other forms of contemporary art—like interactive sound projects—are themselves manipulated by time. One such dynamic project, designed by Rouvelle and Berlin-based artists Innes Yates and Judith Bieseler, is called Research, Instructions, Programs, and Logic for Trans-Robotic Adaptive Networked Environments, or RIPLTRANE. Launched in March 2004 and still going today, RIPLTRANE allows participants in both
Remove Your Watches!
Changing our experience of time—that is, un-metering it—is not an easy task. It may be worth the psychological (and in the case of the Site of Reversible Destiny, physical) effort for an artist who wants to create and appreciate art in new ways. “Artists can definitely contribute to the creation of better models [of time],” Rouvelle says. “The content of our models and their presence in our common spaces is an aspect of our collective development. We must, I think, take the role of objects and their affect seriously as we build our world.”
But even those uninterested in art, Rouvelle continues, should make the attempt. Experiencing un-metered time, he says, will help our interpersonal relationships, help us to better empathize with others. He argues that, “the general public can benefit by having aspects of their lives made more available for their own consideration via aesthetic creations that explore the complementary senses and experiences of non-linearity.”
To Rouvelle, all of human development, in fact, is about the way we choose to perceive and influence time. “If we want to develop along a different trajectory we must take action and do so. We have a responsibility to do so.”