Monday, June 23, 2008

We'll miss you, Class Clown

He demanded thought, commanded respect and generated laughter. I will miss George Carlin's insight, logic, command of the language and sense of humor.

"Save the planet? We don't even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven't learnt how to care for one another...we're gonna save the fuckin' planet???".....
...."The planet isn't going anywhere---we are"

Thanks George. Your recordings saw me through, amongst other things, many a long drive including a solo one across most of the country.

Friday, June 20, 2008 see Dem.o.crat.ic Par.ty

They can hear you now. Actually, that's not the correct way to put it---apparently even after the 2006 election they still cannot hear you....but they can listen in on you again.

Verizon (by their own admission in their commercials, millions of pair of eyes and ears following you wherever you go) and AT&T (they tell you they have 'more bars in more places', but did you know that that includes 'up your plebian arse'?) are celebrating as the House passes the FISA bill which, amongst sanctioning other atrocities, confers immunity to these phone companies.

Can't decide which of Old American Century's prints to go with for this one, but these two seem most appropriate:


Commencement Magic at Harvard

J.K.Rowling makes some great points at Harvard in her commencement address titled "The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination" (h/t 3QuarksDaily).

A couple of excerpts:

"On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.....

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.......

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better........"

Check out the entire transcript. It is well worth the few minutes spent.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sheer Willpower

By all accounts Tiger should have lost this US Open. But he didn't.
Birdied the last hole on two consecutive days to stay alive and extend the match. And finally prevailed.

Tiger Woods is now 4 professional major titles away from tying Jack Nicklaus' incredible record (those 4 majors would break the total majors record, if you count Tiger's 3 US Amateur titles and Jack's 2 US Amateur titles).

Anyway, the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach and the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews promise to be more historic than usual.

Also, Jack has 73 PGA tour titles while Tiger now has 65. So, incredibly, it appears that in 13-14 yrs as a pro Tiger could surpass all the records that Jack amassed in about 25.

Tiger's indomitable spirit is beautiful and inspiring to watch. Too bad he endorses Buick and not Lexus, as nobody better epitomizes the phrase "The relentless pursuit of perfection".


Thursday, June 12, 2008

R.I.P., Beth Jones

Sad news for scientists in general and geneticists in particular.......Beth Jones, a pioneer in yeast genetics and trailblazer for women in science, died last night. The world has lost a force of nature.

Among the many awards she received was the inaugural Genetics Society of America Award for Excellence in Education. This article by Robin Wright, written on that occasion, gives a nice summary of Beth's career and her tremendous contributions to research and teaching.

Farewell Beth, and thanks for the great lessons on the Awesome Power of Genetics.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008



Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee.

This day would have been historic regardless of whether Obama or Clinton had been the nominee. But I think it is a great day for the USA, as the Democratic Party has put forward the nominee who most exemplified statesmanship and class. Obama appears to be mature beyond his years. I think he has the ability to reach people who would not otherwise be reached by a Democratic candidate. He appears to bring a promise of integrity with him that none of the other candidates do.

Even though Obama is only the Democratic nominee and there is a long way yet to go, his victory in the primaries has brought, in my view, a certain redemptive quality to the American electorate. Most of all, I have the hope that things will be fundamentally different now in the corridors of power, that things will improve, that this country will once again strive to be the land of opportunity and the great beacon of hope.

For some reason, I am reminded of this scene/narrative---

“I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”

--- Red, in The Shawshank Redemption

I kinda feel like that this morning.