A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Friday, August 22, 2003 :::
Yesterday, A Mind That Suits was visited by 14 people who were NOT looking for Joe Don Rooney or Deanna Carter naked, nor were they looking for mermaid tail swimming suits. A lot of people seem to be looking for them, or one person is very persistent. Is this a new fashion trend? In any case, I welcome my 14 readers who are in search of good prose, or strange observations.

A Mind That Suits was chatting with his first ever boss, a prominent scholar and essay writer who taught him how to xerox without going blind. Among other things. And they were talking about the strange distance that you feel out here, and how it affects your perception of current events. Because the West Coast really is the end of the world. Most of the people who live between here and Japan live where they do pretty much to get away from the rest of us, so this is really the last place each day to make news. Everyone else is way ahead. Which inspired the thought today, after seeing the sunset over the Pacific, that God got here and realized He had some splendor left over from creation and nowhere else to put it, so He just threw it everywhere around here.

Except on El Camino, which is still this area's contender for "ugliest road in the world."

And except that God can't use Himself up, and time zones were invented by railroads. It is just human convention that puts California at the end of the world, but it sure is a PUURRRTTTYYY place.

Technology has connected us all, not just California. LOTS of people used to think they lived at the end of the world, most especially if they lived on a mountain top, on the ocean, or at the edge of the desert. No one could go any further than where they lived. But now they can. Technology definitely has an up side.

And weird downsides.

Suppose you have to name a bunch of computer files after numbered boxes of papers. Don't you think SIXTY-THREE is easier to see than 63? A Mind That Suits sure thinks so. But there's a problem: when you hit "arrange by name," the files come out 60, 68, 65, 64, 69, 61, 67, 66, 63, 62. That's the alphabetical order. Really messes up the day.

There is an excellent follow up report by the science columnist at the Journal on the entirely predictible but nonetheless startling discover that what the mother eats during pregancy affects which genes work. That is, everything from hair color to predisposition to cancer can be affected by what Mom scarfs. Or what Dad has done to himself We can make one or another of our genes shut down.

In the famed "nature vs. nurture" debate, one things always bothered A Mind That Suits, and that is that whether you are controlled by nature or by nurture, you are still controlled. It turns out that both are at work, whcih explains the experience of freedom nearly all human beings have, and the freedom we actually possess.

And it often involves freedom to do some really stupid things. A quotidian example.

Stanford started a revolution in housing 25 years ago. A Mind That Suits was here when it happened. Alumni do not like to give money for dorms, which is why schools were always so far behind in dormitory building when student population started to zoom. In 1975, only two student residences on the entire Stanford campus obviously bore the name of donors. Unless there was some poor person out there named "Synergy." But about that time, somebody in the administration said, "Why do apartment owners make money?" So dear old SU financed three small houses right in the heart of campus the way anyone would. The results were so breathtaking that the three houses became the hardest to get into.

Stanford has now built exactly as much housing as their undergraduates want. And two dumpy, prison-like 1960's student warehouses (one of which was donated) are all that's left of the old style, and they have wisely turned those largely into freshman housing. The point being, somebody had to WANT to make ugly dorms. They didn't have to do it.

A Mind That Suits was told that a squirrel once caused a black out from San Francisco to San Jose, an area encompassing what most of you consider the Silicon Valley. That's how fragile our system is.

Well, A Mind That Suits must prepare for his last day of archive sorting. Have a wonderful Friday. One quote from Allen Drury that he stumbled across today has had him thinking, so a serious blog Saturday morning, or Sunday.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 3:08 AM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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