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June 26, 2010
John Wilcock - January 5, 2008

 

The column of lasting insignificance
 
       


also posted:



2011
November 26 2011
November 19, 2011
November 12, 2011
November 5, 2011
October 29, 2011
October 22, 2011
October 15, 2011
October 8, 2011
October 1, 2011
September 24, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 10, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 27, 2011
August 20, 2011
August 13, 2011
August 6, 2011
July 30, 2011
July 23, 2011
July 16, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 11, 2011
June 4, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 21, 2011
May 14, 2011
May 7, 2011
April 30, 2011
April 23, 2011
April 16, 2011
April 9, 2011
April 2, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 19, 2011
March 12, 2011
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011
January 29, 2011
January 22, 2011
January 15, 2011
January 6, 2011

2010
December 25, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 11, 2010
December 4, 2010
November 27, 2010
November 20, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 6, 2010
October 30, 2010
October 23, 2010
October 16, 2010
October 9, 2010
October 2, 2010
September 25, 2010
September 18, 2010
September 11, 2010
September 4, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 21, 2010
August 14, 2010
August 7, 2010
July 31, 2010
July 24, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 10, 2010
July 3, 2010
June 26, 2010
June 19, 2010
June 12, 2010
June 5, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 15, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 1, 2010
April 24, 2010
April 17, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 3, 2010
March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 6, 2010
February 27, 2010
February 20, 2010
February 13, 2010
February 6, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 23, 2010
January 16, 2010
January 9, 2010
January 2, 2010

2009
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 12, 2009
December 5, 2009
November 28, 2009
November 21, 2009
November 14, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 17, 2009
October 10, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 26, 2009
September 19, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 5, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 8, 2009
August 1, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 11, 2009
July 4, 2009
June 27, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 13, 2009
June 6, 2009
May 30, 2009
May 23, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 9, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 25, 2009
April 18, 2009
April 11, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 28, 2009
March 21, 2009
March 14, 2009
March 7, 2009
February 28, 2009
February 21, 2009
February 14, 2009
February 7, 2009
January 31, 2009
January 24, 2009
January 17, 2009
January 3, 2009

2008
December 27, 2008
December 20, 2008
December 13, 2008
December 6, 2008
November 29, 2008
November 22, 2008
November 15, 2008
November 8, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 25, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
September 27, 2008
September 20, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 6, 2008
August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
August 16, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 12, 2008
July 5, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 21, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 7, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 17, 2008
May 10, 2008
May 3, 2008
April 26, 2008
April 19, 2008
April 12, 2008
April 5, 2008
March 29, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 15, 2008
March 8, 2008
March 1, 2008
February 23, 2008
February 16, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 2, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 19, 2008
January 12, 2008
January 5, 2008

2007
December 29, 2007
December 22, 2007
December 15, 2007
December 8, 2007
December 1, 2007
November 24, 2007
November 17, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 3, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 20, 2007
October 13, 2007
October 6, 2007
September 29, 2007
September 22, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 8, 2007
September 1, 2007
August 25, 2007
August 18, 2007
August 11, 2007
August 4, 2007
July 28, 2007
July 21, 2007
July 14, 2007
July 7, 2007
June 30, 2007
June 23, 2007
June 16, 2007
June 9, 2007
June 2, 2007
May 19, 2007
May 12, 2007
May 5, 2007
April 28, 2007
April 21, 2007
April 14, 2007
April 7, 2007
March 31, 2007
March 24, 2007
March 17, 2007
March 10, 2007
March 3, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 17, 2007
February 10, 2007
February 3, 2007
January 20, 2007
January 13, 2007
January 6, 2007

2006
December 30, 2006
December 23, 2006
December 16, 2006
December 9, 2006
December 2, 2006
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 4, 2006
October 28, 2006
October 21, 2006
October 14, 2006
October 7, 2006
September 30, 2006
September 23, 2006
September 16, 2006
September 9, 2006
September 2, 2006
August 26, 2006
August 19, 2006
August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 


June 26, 2010

John Wilcock
the column of lasting insignificance

“There’s nothing quite like putting the whole family into the car and hitting the open road, leaving your worries behind, driving mile after carefree mile, sometimes getting as many as three carefree miles before everybody in the car hates everybody else and gunfire breaks out in the back seat”The Folly of Family Vacations

FRIENDSHIPS JUST DON’T mean much anymore in an era when we name just about everybody we know to be our ‘friend’ says The Chronicle of Higher Education, asking: “If we have 768 ‘friends’, in what sense do we have any? In retrospect, it seems inevitable that once we decided to become friends with everyone, we would forget how to be friends with anyone. We may pride ourselves today on our aptitude for friendship, but it’s not clear that we still even know what it means”.   The references, of course, are to Facebook, Twitter and similar social sites which, claims the Chronicle, have accelerated “the fragmentation of consciousness”.

EAT LESS, LIVE LONGER, a notion that’s been around at least since the 1930s, is an idea back in favor, handily titled “calorie restriction” or CR and this time embracing drugs that can mimic the effects of cutting down on the calories (why not just eat less?) but without the attendant hunger. Research with rhesus monkeys,  suggesting that chemicals such as rapamucin and metformin can reduce age-related diseases and prolong life, are persuading scientists that they can also work on humans. In his book, The Youth Pill, just published, David Stipp predicts that the drugs may “switch on an ancient, enormously complex mechanism embedded in our genomes to postpone, and possibly attenuate, a myriad of ills brought on by aging dementia, heart disease, cancer, as well as wrinkles, arthritis, age-related loss of muscle and bone, and the onset of senior moments”. There is, however, one drawback: the pharmaceutical industry’s lack of enthusiasm for funding the research. Stipp thinks the government should become more involved instead of devoting billions of dollars to “costlier palliatives” which, they charge, are typically applied “when it’s too late to do much good”.


End the Impossible War

AMONG UNLIKELY PROBLEMS that scientists have long worked on is what shape would be most efficient for objects packed into a container. And physicists at Virginia Tech and NYU have come up with the answer: a tetrahedron or pyramid with four triangular sides. Packing different shapes into a box and then pouring water into the unfilled space proved that tetrahedrons filled up 12% more of the space than other shapes.

“We have a leadership style that is too directive and doesn't listen sufficiently well. The top of the organization doesn't listen sufficiently to what the bottom is saying."

SINGULARITY IS WHEN futurist Raymond Kurzweil predicts that machines will be smarter than humans, with all that that might entail. The New York-born inventor, author The Age of Spiritual Machines, says that particular landmark will arrive in 2045, Many of us will be long gone. Kurzweil, 62 this month, could still be around. Of all the milestones in between, 2020 seems notable.  That’s when, he forecasts, our phone calls will contain 3D holographic images of both people. And a new World Government will be running everything. Meanwhile, later this year look for the movie of his 2005 book The Singularity is Near.

A NEW FRENCH LAW mandating that by 2016 the board of listed companies should be comprised of 40% women (at present it’s 11%) has been greeted with cynicism. “Bosses could simply appoint their wives or—more subtly—their girl friends” the director of one multinational told the Economist. To comply with the new law, 170 new female directors would have to be found, the mag concludes, and there aren’t that many women with the 30 years’ experience “that a good director requires”.

 Have you ever felt the need to go into rehab?
“I followed someone into AA once but only because I wanted to have sex with them. I was told the only way it was going to work between us was if I went to AA so I pretended I was in AA, to get laid. It only worked out for about four weeks and then the jig was up.”

Calvin Klein’s perfume, Obsession for Men, has apparently proved irresistible to jaguars and other wild beasts according to The Wall Street Journal which says that the perfume has attracted the big cats both in the wild and in tests at the Bronx Zoo. Picking up the story, the Utne Reader quoted an explanation from Ann Gottlieb, the “nose” who helped create the essence. “It’s a combination of this lickable vanilla heart married to this fresh green top note—it creates tension,” she says. The cologne also has synthetic “animal” notes like civet, a musky substance secreted by the cat of the same name, giving it particular sex appeal, she adds. “It sparks curiosity with humans and, apparently, animals.”

THE WILCOCK WEB: An unscientific mind such as mine couldn’t care less that the clock  that sets the standard for our time is only accurate to within one second every hundred million years. And thus is indifferent to the quest by the National Institute of Standards and Technology for a more precise one….. Scientists in North Carolina revealed that zapping rats’ testicles with ultra-sound waves is the equivalent of Viagra and maybe it will work on humans…. Forget the old, crappy cardboard versions: the 3D glasses that come with the new Panasonic and Samsung 3D television sets both cost $149, the former ones costing $2,500, the other $3,299…….Better is the enemy of good observed Voltaire….. If the government is offering a $25m reward for the capture or killing of Osama Bin Laden, perhaps they’d have more success if they financed a few more freelance adventurers like that Colorado construction worker who just got stopped in Pakistan from doing the job himself….Always famed for its beautiful hostesses, Singapore Airlines tops Fortune’s 2010 list of the World’s Most Admired Companies …. Ham and eggs: A day's work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig. ….A Chinese shopping mall in Guangzhou lined up rows of scantily dressed women and offered free vouchers to any men who could undo eight bras in less than one minute…. With 270 prisoners on death row, India is advertising for hangmen ($4 per execution), the last one of whom retired a few years ago…. “We are charged to tread lightly on the earth” commented Sister Mary David Walgenbach after Wisconsin’s “greenest” Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton received a “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” Award ….Britain’s Pagan Police Association (who knew?) has signed an agreement with the government to allow its members eight religious days off each year including Hallow’en….…”All religions are the same” declares Australian’s Cathy Landman. “Religion is basically guilt with different holidays”…. Sales for coconut water have doubled (to $60 m) in the past year….. Writing in the Toronto magazine Maclean’s, Mark Steyn accuses Canada of being a bigoted country that restricts all the top jobs only to people who are bilingual…. Ever-ready to bring you a new word, here’s “haptic”. It refers to the new technology that enables computer (and other) screens to react with ‘feelings’ when you touch them …“Clever tyrants are never punished”—Voltaire (1694-1778)

                NEXT WEEK:  some 50 year-old columns

6/19/10

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