Thursday, April 26, 2007
Mary Magdalene a Prostitute?
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I don't want to get into the whole nature/nurture thing. I have ideas, but I just plain don't know enough. But I thought this article on Newsweek.com was really interesting. I know most of you are too lazy to follow the link, so here's the basics: There's a part of our brain that helps us recognize mistakes and learn from them. Apparently, in certain people (those tending toward impulsivity and antisocial behavior, particularly), that part of the brain doesn't work quite as well. So basically, it's not that they're stupid or mean or spontaneous, it's that they (literally) can't learn from their own mistakes. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, my brain malfunctioned.
The physiology of the mind blows my mind. I know at least one of my loyal readers knows a thing or two about psych, so I'm interested in her comments, if any.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
You can't really tell what's going on, but this crater used to be a big ant pile. I think this is equivalent to shooting somebody 18 times.
Monday, April 16, 2007
A good friend of mine, and the best man at my wedding, got married this past weekend. Charlie has been in, I think, at least 10 weddings and was finally part of his own. The ceremony was intimate and beautiful, the reception was fun, and the occasion joyous. This picture was taken during the bride-and-groomsmen picture session. As you can see, I am the only one not paying attention.
Congratulations, Charlie: I hope Sara will be as good a roommate as I was.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
I also had a terrible conversation with my landlord yesterday. We're out of town for a friend's wedding, and I forgot to give our animals extra food. I called up my landlord to see if he could unlock the door for my in-laws so they could feed our animals. Unfortunately, he was unavailable. Then:
Me--"OK, so could Mrs. Roper* possibly unlock the door?"
Mr. Roper--"Mrs. Roper divorced me last summer."
Me--"Oh . . . uh . . . I'm sorry . . . I didn't know . . ."
Mr. Roper--"So are y'all going to renew your lease?"
Thankfully, I'm in law school and I've learned how to trample on people's feelings.
Ed. Note--Names have been changed. Extra points for anyone who can guess where this name came from.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Now I'm sure that most of my readers don't even have to guess who this little kid is, but it has come to my attention that there is a significant lack of familiarity with Calvin and Hobbes at Baylor Law School. I'm not sure what English majors in Lubbock read, but apparently they grow up eating food like Calvin's mom made and don't even know it. In Division III, we wait until college to eat this stuff.
The other day, I was driving home as Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone" was gracing my radio. Afterward, the deejay commented that it was one of the few songs in that station's reportoire in 3/4 time. Since then, I've been thinking about it, and the only other song I could think of is the Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" (which may actually be in 6/8). Until this morning that is. I was belting out Billy Joel's "Piano Man" on the way to school this morning when Paul (the real estate novelist) told me it was in 3/4.
These are all three classic songs that have a special place in American culture and music history (at least "House" and "Piano Man"). Some psychologists and musicologists believe that there is a physiological basis behind why we like the music we do. I don't know about that, but I do know that most classic hymns (such as Amazing Grace) are in 3/4 and that most pop music is in 4/4. Could it be that the waltzy 3/4 rhythm catches our interest long after the 4/4 has faded into the background of life? Just wondering.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Just wanted to stick in a fun cartoon on a Monday morning.
Let me tell you about Marshall Goldberg's The Karamanov Equations. Surprisingly deep, the central conflict in the story is protaganist-surgeon Nick Sten's struggle between the Hippocratic Oath and the Pledge of Allegiance, even though you probably already know how that will turn out. The story takes place in the early 1970s, switching between Moscow (presumably), Wisconsin, and Paris. The Russians are about six months away from developing an impenetrable shield against any kind of guided missile (rendering all arms reduction negotiations pointless), but they've put all their eggs in one basket: Nikolai Pavlevitch Karamanov. The Central Committee freaks out when they learn that Karamanov has a clot in his carotid arteries--yes, both. To make matters worse, the clot is located just high enough on the neck that conventional clot removal would only kill him.
Enter Nick Sten. Dr. Sten has developed gas endarterectomy, which basically functions like a power wash. It can reach clots in arteries that no other method can, but the record is something like 8 survivors of 20 procedures. The Russians, desperate for their defense system, give Dr. Sten a call and ask him, through a ruse, to save Karamanov. The CIA catches wind of it and reminds him of his patriotic duty: to kill Karamanov on the operating table. Adding to the emotional mix is the fact that Sten's wife thinks he's leaving her for an old Parisian love from the Korean War.
As a political science major, I am always wary when novels enter the fray of politics, but this story was plausible. Goldberg reinforces the humanity of all sides (except, hehe, the French) and didn't get too carried away with the not-too-subtle message that doctors are more humane than Cold War government agents. The relationships between the various actors worked out decently and relatively unpredictably. The book closed well, with most of the important strings tied up.
In sum--I recommend it as reading to give you pause.
Friday, April 06, 2007
At some point, Señor Patel sharpens his pencil. He and I, closest confidants and co-Subway-employees, sat near each other. On his way to his seat, he stops at my desk and says "Don't you hate it how your butt shakes?"
Very odd pause. "What?"
"You know--when you sharpen your pencil? You get up there, everybody's watching you. You put the pencil in the sharpener, turn the crank, and [shakes his booty] shake, shake, shake?"
Right-handers (including me) throughout Krazy K's zero-hour precal class collectively pause. Once more with emphasis: "What?"
At this point, left-handed star-wide-receiver Shep turns around and points vigorously: "Yes! I hate that!!"
Now it's lefty-star-running-back B.J. Head*: "Agh!! The bain of my existence!"
In that moment, two star football players, a future Major League pitcher, and the king of the choir found friendship and solidarity in an unexpected place: the left-hand-pencil-sharpening-booty-boogie. And those of us who are majoritarian, middle-of-the-alphabet right-handers . . . well, we survived somehow.
Can I get a witness?
*--Ed.--Names have NOT been changed to protect anybody. Mr. Head's name really was "B.J. Head."
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Sunday, April 01, 2007
I read Sphere a while back, and the more I think about it, the closer it comes into breaking into my best-books-ever stratosphere. In fact, I was so impressed with that book and Crichton's general way of thinking/writing, that I thought I'd look into some other doctors. For my birthday, my lovely wife got me four books, all by doctors:
- Keith Ablow's Compulsion
- Robin Cook's Acceptable Risk and Fatal Cure
- Marshall Goldberg, M.D.'s The Karamanov Equations.
I've read Compulsion and Acceptable Risk, and let me tell you something: they're just OK.
Compulsion was a very entertaining, fast-reading thriller with a psychiatrist-detective at the forefront. Some of the characters were thrown in for no reason, and the author was clearly biased toward a certain character for whom I had no sympathy. While it didn't break any new ground literarily, it was entertaining enough that I'd recommend borrowing it from the library or buying it from a used book store.
As for Acceptable Risk . . . let's just say that some books are written to be movies. The book begins with a foray into the Salem witchraft trials in 1692. Then we hop three hundred years into the future and spend the rest of the book getting to know one of the witch's descendants. The descendant's boyfriend discovers that the witchcraft hysteria was caused by a just-now-newly discovered mold in the rye bread eaten by the Salemites in 1692. The boyfriend develops a drug from the mold, and we spend most of the book watching the descendant vascillate about what she should do. Finally, in clicheish fashion, the house burns down during Salem's worst storm since 1692, and the world is set aright again. It felt very much like reading a slow-developing "thriller" movie, complete with the five minutes of break-neck thrills that suddenly end with explosions and massacre. I couldn't wait to finish the book, but not in the good way. I don't really recommend this.
I started The Karamanov Equations yesterday. Published in 1972, this book has all the indications of a classic, golden-age-of-science-fiction novel full of fun and science puzzles. If it sucks, I won't write anything else about it