Konnikova points out that dilly-dallying “dates back to the very beginnings of civilization”:

As early as 1400 B.C., [psychologist Piers] Steel told me, ancient Egyptians were struggling with basic time management. “Friend, stop putting off work and allow us to go home in good time,” read some hieroglyphs, translated by the University of Toronto Egyptologist Ronald Leprohon. Six hundred years later, in 800 B.C., the early Greek poet Hesiod voiced a similar feeling, warning us not to “put your work off till tomorrow and the day after, for a sluggish worker does not fill his barn, nor one who puts off his work.” In 44 B.C., Cicero deemed “slowness and procrastination” always “hateful.” …

The sentiment survived intact through more recent times. In 1751, Samuel Johnson remarked, “The folly of allowing ourselves to delay what we know cannot be finally escaped is one of the general weaknesses which, in spite of the instruction of moralists, and the remonstrances of reason, prevail to a greater or lesser degree in every mind; even they who most steadily withstand it find it, if not the most violent, the most pertinacious of their passions, always renewing its attacks, and, though often vanquished, never destroyed.” He concluded that it was “natural,” if not praiseworthy or desirable, “to have particular regard to the time present.”

Darger’s Dark Art

Jul 24 2014 @ 6:07pm


Abigail Welhouse viewed the work of outsider artist Henry Darger at New York’s Andrew Edlin Gallery. She considers how his background informed his strange and poignant work:

Henry Darger was locked up in the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children because of “self-abuse,” the preferred early-1900s euphemism for masturbation. He worked as a janitor, and it wasn’t until he died that his landlord discovered yards upon yards of scrolls in his apartment, including often-disturbing artwork and a 15,000-page novel. The images form a fractured fairy tale, familiar and yet completely their own thing. The cheerful colors manage a melancholy. When the children smile, it’s only because they don’t know what horrors may come next. …

I wonder how Darger felt, living as an artist in secret. His remarkable talent was hidden from the people who saw him every day, who looked over at him and made their own assumptions. Meanwhile, his head held gorgeous, gruesome masterpieces.

(Photo of section of Henry Darger’s “The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion” at an outsider art exhibition in Lausanne, Switzerland, via Flickr user cometstarmoon)

Truvada And Women

Jul 24 2014 @ 5:39pm

It’s been a telling facet of the debate so far that the potential for the drug among women has been absent. This is often the case with AIDS drugs – the gay white rich men pioneer the treatments and only then do others get in on the action. But in some ways, it seems to me, the liberating potential of the anti-HIV drug is even greater for many women, especially in the developing world. A huge factor in their risk profile is the fact that their sexual partners often refuse to use condoms, and, in patriarchal societies, women are put at risk. Truvada might help shift that power differential. Two steps that could speed that process:

WHO needs to quickly issue guidance on PrEP for all of the populations that can benefit. The data are strong enough to warrant this move, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently showed with its guidance that recommended that doctors consider oral PrEP for anyone at high risk of HIV infection … Gilead Sciences Inc., the maker of Truvada, needs [also] to move swiftly to secure regulatory approval in countries where PrEP is most needed. This starts with the countries that hosted clinical trials, where, tragically, PrEP is now out of reach. In two of those countries, South Africa and Thailand, Gilead recently filed for approval. This is an important and welcome step but the process needs to happen much faster and in more places. That requires both more aggressive efforts by Gilead and the willingness of national regulatory authorities to quickly review and approve the company’s applications.

The sooner the better.

Sneaker Sustainability

Jul 24 2014 @ 5:15pm

Bonnie Tsui spotlights the footwear industry’s embrace of knitting:

[K]nit technology just might transform the entire traditional shoemaking process. Athletic shoes make up 30 percent of all footwear sales, and Nike and Adidas dominate, with$14.5 billion and $9.5 billion in sales, respectively, in 2013. Widespread use of the knitting technique could boost the industry’s efficiency—cutting down on materials, labor, shipping, and time, as the products can be made start-to-finish in one place. In its latest sustainability report, Nike states that a Flyknit running shoe is made with 80 percent less waste than a typical Nike design. Consider that Americans buy an average of seven pairs of shoes a year—that’s more than two billion new pairs annually—and you begin to see the difference that a change in manufacturing could make. …

With knitting, you start with a single thread, and you only use as much yarn as you need. “Picture a flat pattern in a butterfly shape,” says [James] Carnes [the global creative director of sport performance for Adidas]. “With the knitting process, you only make that. That’s the breakthrough. You can build into the single knitted layer all the functionality you need, by adjusting the density of the knit in different areas”—a tighter weave to give the foot more arch support, say, or a thinner, breathable weave to create more airflow.

Putin Isn’t Backing Down

Jul 24 2014 @ 4:42pm

Janine Davidson is distressed:

[T]he lack of de-escalation and the media war being conducted by Putin are both alarming signals to the international community that this tragedy has not fractured the resolve of the pro-Russian separatists, nor those in the shadows supporting them. Since the downing of MH-17, pro-Russian separatists have used surface-to-air missiles to bring down two more Ukrainian military jets; for now, there seems no interest in dialing down hostilities.

Eugene Rumer advocates talking to Putin:

Read On

Mental Health Break

Jul 24 2014 @ 4:20pm

My alma mater – yes, Oxford University can be pretty gay sometimes – channels Shakira for charity:

Sick Of Not Knowing

Jul 24 2014 @ 3:57pm

Seth Mnookin tells the harrowing story of a couple whose son was the first person ever to be diagnosed with his severe genetic condition:

When Bertrand was a newborn, Matt joked to friends that he would be so relaxed as a parent that he wouldn’t care which technical field his son chose to pursue for his Ph.D. In May of 2009, the Mights closed Bertrand’s college savings accounts so that they could use the money for medical care. That fall, Bertrand was rushed to the emergency room after suffering a series of life-threatening seizures. When the technicians tried to start an I.V., they found Bertrand’s veins so scarred from months of blood draws that they were unable to insert a needle. Later that evening, when Cristina was alone with Matt, she broke down in tears. “What have we done to our child?” she said. “How many things can we put him through?” As one obscure genetic condition after another was ruled out, the Mights began to wonder whether they would ever learn the cause of their son’s agony. What if Bertrand was suffering from a disorder that was not just extremely rare but entirely unknown to science?

But they weren’t alone:

Thirteen months after Bertrand Might became the first NGLY1 patient in the world, the Mights had helped identify nine more cases. “There were more kids—it wasn’t just our son,” Cristina told me one afternoon in her kitchen. “There are parents like us, who have been lost and confused and jerked around.” Matt nodded. “Even if Bertrand dies, there are kids out there that are just like him,” he said.

Dissents Of The Day, Ctd

Jul 24 2014 @ 3:23pm

A reader scratches her head:

Wait, what? Am I missing something? You wrote:

What I’m saying is that it is not self-evident that an abortion has the same moral weight as a root canal. They may be equally legal, but they are not self-evidently equally moral. It is reasonable to treat it differently as a medical procedure for those reasons alone.

As others have repeatedly pointed out to you, no one advancing “admitting privilege” laws claims they’re doing so because of the “moral weight” of abortion. They say it’s about health and safety. Why is it wrong to take action to expose the falseness of this position? If it’s valid to “treat [abortion] differently as a medical procedure” because of its moral weight, then the advocates of these laws should stand on that terra firma.

It’s clearly a way to provide some sort of speed bump before human life is taken. Yes, you can argue that it’s disingenuous in its aims. And I take that point. But the proposed remedy is also a little disingenuous – dentists are not going to be forced to recite the same precautions that an abortionist does. The proposal is primarily a rhetorical point to argue that these delaying procedures for abortions should be removed entirely. What I objected to – and all this sturm and drang comes from two sentences – was the assumption that abortion should never be treated as different from other medical procedures. And although I can full sympathize with my readers’ frustration and anger, I find the easy and glib equation of abortion with a visit to the dentist – which is the rhetorical force of Marcotte’s argument – the kind of absolutist position I’d rather avoid. And look: we didn’t have to air the idea at all. But we did so fully, with a caveat from me so that readers would not infer that I have no moral qualms about abortion, when I very much do. Another reader nods:

How does one read this: “Want to force abortion clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center standards and abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges? Well, dentists will have to meet the same standards before they can drill a tooth,” and come up with a comment like yours without deliberate obtuseness? What does making abortion providers having to meet higher medical requirements have to do with a moral issue regarding abortion?

Then you go on to defend your comment with this:

Read On

The Next Places To Legalize

Jul 24 2014 @ 2:57pm

OR Tax Revenue

The Beaver State is likely to be among them:

New Approach Oregon’s petition to make marijuana legal for adults has qualified for the ballot this coming November, Huffington Post reports. More than 87,000 valid signatures were collected for the petition, which allows adults age 21 and older in Oregon to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana privately and one ounce in public and would have the marijuana market regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Any sales taxes collected would be distributed to schools, law enforcement, and drug prevention programs.

It is very likely that this initiative will pass in November, with a recent poll stating that 57% of Oregon’s likely voters support recreational marijuana use.

Jon Walker passes along the above graphic, which estimates the amount of tax revenue Oregon could collect:

Read On

Egypt’s Stake In A Gaza Truce

Jul 24 2014 @ 2:41pm

Lina Khatib scrutinizes Egyptian leader Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s eagerness to broker a ceasefire in Gaza, which she suspects has as much to do with political strategy as humanitarian concerns:

The Egyptian president needs to demonstrate to his own people that he is indeed a leader with clout. He also wishes to assert himself in the international arena. … For Sisi, in addition to strengthening his position within Egypt and confirming the narrative of a “strong Egypt” externally, the initiative would give him the upper hand vis-à-vis Hamas. Further down the line, this would give Egypt greater control over its border with Gaza as well as increase the legitimacy of its measures against Islamist groups within Egypt, particularly Hamas’ ally the Muslim Brotherhood.

The success of the Gaza initiative would also grant Sisi a platform to engage in brokering other deals in the future, such as in context of the Syria and Iraq crises, that would continue to affirm Egypt’s reclamation of its regional leadership. As such, Sisi is heavily invested in the Hamas-Israel deal and cannot afford to see it fail.

The Economist asserts that “Egypt nowadays is simply not well placed to broker peace”:

Since Egypt’s army, then headed by Mr Sisi, ousted the Muslim Brotherhood in a coup in July 2013, official policy towards Hamas has hardened.

Read On