Doctor Who is doing a holiday special this year – pleasant surprise! – and a favorite character is returning.
Look for a teaser video on YouTube. I don’t want to share the link here because it’ll be a spoiler for some folks.
I am inspired by Minnie’s attitude toward honest work. 📷
The People Whose Minds Are Completely Blank [Ross Pomeroy/RealClearScience]
People with a rare condition called Auto-Activation Deficit (AAD) have minds that are completely blank. Unless prompted to act by an external stimulus, they’ll be still, doing and thinking nothing.
One day, a lively and successful businessman was bitten by a wasp, triggering an unexpected encephalopathy of the brain. Afterwards, he was a changed man, doing almost nothing all day and expressing little interest in anyone else. But this apathy could be swiftly reversed with even the tiniest stimulation from another human being – offering a newspaper or challenging him to a game of bridge, for example. It’s as if the man could react, but not act.
Cases similar to this one have been documented in the medical literature. There was a patient who at one point laid on his bed for thirty minutes with an unlit cigarette in his mouth. When asked what he was doing, he matter-of-factly responded, “I am waiting for a light”. Another person spent 45 minutes standing with his hands on a lawn mower, frozen and unable to move. But when prompted by his son to cut the grass, he immediately sprang into action. A man referred to as Mr. M in a case report required external prodding for all of his daily activities, even eating. On one occasion he almost got burned by staying too long in the shower until he was told to turn the water off.
Billy Joel, “For the Longest Time.” [YouTube] He dances pretty good for a guy who can’t dance.
Indi Samarajiva: I Lived Through A Stupid Coup. America Is Having One Now
Two years ago, I lived through a coup in Sri Lanka. It was stupid. The minority party threw chili powder at everyone in Parliament and took over by farce. Math, however, requires a majority and the courts kicked them out.
Four months later, on Easter Sunday, some assholes attacked multiple churches and hotels, killing 269 of us. My wife and kids were at church, I had to frantically call them back. Our nation was shattered. Mobs began attacking innocent Muslims. It was out of control. The coup broke our government, and four months later, that broke us.
The coup was a farce at the time but how soon it turned to tragedy. …
Frankly, I expected more epaulets and tanks, but this is all you get. A bunch of dumbasses throwing chili powder. Someone at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, next to a dildo shop. What a fucking stupid century.
‘Pandemics Come in Predictable Cycles. If I’m the Smartest Guy in the Room, We’re in Big Trouble’ [Hadley Freeman/The Guardian]
Remarkable profile of Max Brooks, a leading authority on global disasters (such as pandemics), bestselling author of thriller/horror novels such as “World War Z” (which fictionalized real lessons about responding to global disasters, such as pandemics), and the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft.
Brooks is not anyone’s image of a Hollywood brat. Yes, his parents had famous friends: Reiner, Van Dyke, Gene Wilder. But when they would all meet up on Sundays, they tended to talk about whether anyone had found a good dentist in Los Angeles, and who knew of a decent car mechanic. “They were all immigrants to this town – they were trying to figure out how to live,” Brooks says. The family was comfortable, but his father drove him to school in a Honda Accord 1982 (“best car ever”) because, he told his son: “It’s OK to make your fortune. But don’t drive your fortune past people who are starving.” His dad may have written the line, “If you got it, flaunt it”, for The Producers, but that was very much not how he lived. “Both my parents came from poverty and most people who are first-generation wealth always worry they’re going to lose their money, because they’re not really sure where it came from,” says Brooks. His father lives close by in Santa Monica and, until the virus started, he would come to Brooks’s house every evening before heading off for his nightly dinner with his best friend, Carl Reiner. These days, Brooks and his son go to his father’s house and wave at him through the glass door, just as he did in the video.
Brooks has his mother’s dark Italian colouring and his father’s features as well as his wit. (When I ask if he liked the 2013 movie adaptation of World War Z, starring Brad Pitt, he replies: “thought it was a really cool movie that happened to have the same title of a book I once wrote.”) He credits his love of science and research to his mother: “In show business they only ever want one flavour and everyone just wanted her to be sexy Mrs Robinson. Nobody cared that her favourite book was about microbes – but I did. Everything I am comes from her,”he says.
Accidentally Left Wing @leftaccidental is my new favorite Twitter account.
I have just subscribed to all of Merlin Mann’s podcasts. Am I going to regret this?
Terrific article by Cal Newport, at The New Yorker, putting GTD into context of more than a century of American productivity movements.
GTD is an evolution from Peter Drucker’s dictum in the 1950s that American business leadership requires individual autonomy for office workers. We don’t even question this anymore – management sets quantifiable goals and workers decide for themselves how to meet those goals.
Newport argues that individual action to maximize productivity has hit its limit. We’re STILL swamped by email, interruptions – and COVID-19 driving office workers home has only made matters worse, by adding childcare and housework to everything else.
The corporation needs to exert control over how people work.
Sounds great when Newport suggests it, but we’re already seeing businesses installing spyware on workers’ computers, and cameras in their homes.
Interestingly, just this week I was getting into a discussion about how individual action won’t stop big businesses from doing evil. Boycotting products isn’t enough to stop manufacturers of those products from doing evil; we have to think as citizens, not just consumers, and take political action.
The common thread here being individual action is not enough.
Even by the standards of English TV, there’s quite a lot of tea in this episode of Morse.
Linus the Saurian, who can’t figure out how to operate his personal transporter, is my favorite guy on Star Trek: Discovery. He is my role model.
Groups keep people on Facebook, even when they hate Facebook. [Heather Kelly/WaPo]
George Clooney on His Brush with Death, Picking Proper Fights, and Turning into a Wife Guy [Zach Baron/GQ] – I wanted to hate-read this article and instead I quite liked it.
In Giuliani, Trump has finally found an attorney worthy of Trump’s own talents as a businessman and statesman.