21 May 2010
Some science-y stuff:
Was there a 'big bang' of life? These Spanish scientists believe they know how to compute when it happened by analyzing evolutionary divergences in protein sequences.
The question of synthesizing life in a laboratory is no longer hypothetical. J. Craig Venter and crew claim to have created a self-replicating bacterium from a synthetic genome. Ethicists sharpen your pencils.
Speaking of bacteria and microbes, does anybody remember reading about these naturally-occurring microbes off the coast of Galicia that supposedly eat crude oil. Seems like they might come in handy right about now. Anybody know where we can get out hands on a few gazillion of them? [Remember: You heard it here first!]
Some non-science-y stuff:
Seems like this guy ought to get some sort of degree in clever. Not only did he get in to Harvard fraudulently, he very nearly got its endorsement for a Fulbright and a Rhodes. Yo, that's impressive. Guy could've been a tremendous captain of industry or a hedge fund manager or a politician. Still might.
Big thanks to Daniel Green for putting me on to Robbe-Grillet's The Erasers. I'd read In the Labyrinth and Jealousy many years ago and periodically refer to R-G's For a New Novel. But I hadn't realized what Erasers was about—even though I had a dusty copy sitting on my shelf. It fits right into my current project involving an immersion in thriller genre fiction. I recently saw the movie "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and read the sequel The Girl Who Played with Fire by the Swede Stieg Larsson. Michiko Kakutani, who doesn't like much, really seems to like the third novel in Larsson's Millennium trilogy: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. The trick here is to develop an appreciation for plot. Not everyone can write prose like, say, an Ishiguro or a Salter. Or create subtle characters like, say, a Roth. Or innovate like, say, a Beckett. And, by the same token, not everyone can plot like, say, a Ludlum or a leCarre.
At the risk of plagiarism—or the blogland equivalent—I'd like to put up this poem that I cadged from BDR's BlckDgRd site. The reason I do so is so I won't forget it; I save my posts to my hard drive, kind of like a writer's notebook or diary. It hit some ideas that have been percolating hereabouts. And it uses my name, too. Thanks, guy!
THE DEFINITION OF GARDENING
Jim just loves to garden, yes he does.
He likes nothing better than to put on
his little overalls and his straw hat.
He says, "Let's go get those tools, Jim."
But then doubt begins to set in.
He says, "What is a garden, anyway?"
And thoughts about a "modernistic" garden
begin to trouble him, eat away at his resolve.
He stands in the driveway a long time.
"Horticulture is a groping in the dark
into the obscure and unfamiliar,
kneeling before a disinterested secret,
slapping it, punching it like a Chinese puzzle,
birdbrained, babbling gibberish, dig and
destroy, pull out and apply salt,
hoe and spray, before it spreads, burn roots,
where not desired, with gloved hands, poisonous,
the self-sacrifice of it, the self-love,
into the interior, thunderclap, excruciating,
through the nose, the earsplitting necrology
of it, the withering, shriveling,
the handy hose holder and Persian insect powder
and smut fungi, the enemies of the iris,
wireworms are worse than their parents,
there is no way out, flowers as big as heads,
pock-marked, disfigured, blinking insolently
at me, the me who so loves to garden
because it prevents the heaving of the ground
and the untimely death of porch furniture,
and dark, murky days in a large city
and the dream home under a permanent storm
is also a factor to keep in mind."
By the way, look for more development of the Corporatist vs. Statist meme. I think I might be onto something there. Let's go get those tools.