Folks, I’m a nerd. I need rapid fire content delivery in short, clever, punch phrases. Give me Coupland, give me Calvin’n’Hobbes, give me Asimov, give me The Watchmen. I need this type of content because I’m horribly afflicted with NADD.
If you’re still with me, it might mean you know that you already suffer from some type of NADD-related disorder. Let’s find out:
Stop reading right now and take a look at your desktop. How many things are you doing right now in addition to reading this column? Me, I’ve got a terminal session open to a chat room, I’m listening to music, I’ve got Safari open with three tabs open where I’m watching Blogshares, tinkering with a web site, and looking at weekend movie returns. Not done yet. I’ve got iChat open, ESPN.COM is downloading sports new trailers in the background, and I’ve got two notepads open where I’m capturing random thoughts for later integration into various to do lists. Oh yeah, I’m writing this column, as well.
Folks, this isn’t multi-tasking. This is advanced case of Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder. I am unable to function at my desktop unless I’ve got, at least, five things going on at the same time. If your count came close, you’re probably afflicted, as well. Most excellent.
My mother first diagnosed me with NADD. It was the late 80s and she was bringing me dinner in my bedroom (nerd). I was merrily typing away to friends in some primitive chat room on my IBM XT (super nerd), listening to some music (probably Flock of Seagulls — nerd++), and watching Back to the Future with the sound off (neeeeerrrrrrrd). She commented, “How can you focus on anything with all this stuff going on?” I responded, “Mom, I can’t focus without all this noise.”
The presence of NADD in your life is directly related to how you’ve dealt with the media deluge of the new millennium. You’ve likely gone one of three ways:
1) You’ve checked out… you don’t own a TV and it’s unlikely you’re even reading this column.
2) You enjoy your media/content in moderation. When I asked you to count how many windows were open on your desktop you either said, “One, my browser for which to read this article” or you made yourself a note to yourself to check this AFTER completing this column. In a previous age, you were the type of person who kept their pencils very sharpened.
3) You enjoy the content fire hose. Give me tabbed browsing, tabbed instant messaging, music all the time, and TIVO TIVO TIVO. Welcome to NADD.
The presence of NADD in your friends is equally detectable. Here’s a simple test. Ask to sit down at THEIR computer and start mucking with stuff on their desktop. Move an icon here… adjust a window size there. If your friend calmly watches as you tinker away, they’re probably NADD-free, for now. However, if your friend is anxiously rubbing their forehead and/or climbing out of their skin when you move that icon 12 PIXELS TO THE RIGHT, there’s NADD in the house. BACK AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER.
I’m making NADDers sounds like obsessive power freaks and, well, we are. How else would you deal with a world where media is forced on you at every turn? You’d get very good at controlling it. Here’s more good news:
1) Folks not afflicted NADD think those who are can’t focus because, look at us, we’re all over the place. PLEASE STOP CLICKING ON THINGS — YOU ARE GIVING ME A HEADACHE. Wrong. NADDers have an amazingly ability to focus when they choose to. Granted, it’s not their natural state and, granted, it can take longer than some to get in the zone, but when we’re there, BOY HOWDY.
2) Weblogs are designed for those with NADD. The web digested into short little blurbs of information. NADD heaven. My guess would be that the population of regular webloggers is mostly NADD-afflicted. Otherwise, they’d be writing books… not paragraphs… at random times of the day… always.
3) NADD can advance your career… if you’re in the right career. Ever worked at a start-up? Ever shipped software? What are the last few weeks like? We call it the fire drill because everyone is running around like crazy people doing random, unexpected shit. NADD is the perfect disease for managing this situation. It develops the skills to sift through the colossal amount of useless noise and hear what’s relevant.
Here’s a tip: If the building you are currently in is burning to the ground, go find the person with NADD on your floor. Not only will they know where the fire escape is, they’ll probably have some helpful tips about how to avoid smoke inhalation as well likely probabilities regarding the likelihood you’ll survive. How is it this Jr. Software Engineer knows all this? Who knows, maybe he read it on a weblog two years ago. Perhaps a close virtual friend of his in New York is a fire fighter. Does it matter? He may save your life or, better yet, keep you well informed with useless facts before you are burnt to a crisp.
I’m making NADD sound like a rosy affliction. There are several downsides.
First, it’s a lot of work to figure out your personal program of digesting the world and, sorry, you are going to miss things. This will annoy you, but it will also drive you to incessantly look for the NEXTCOOLTHING.
Second, you’re going to sound like a know-it-all. Try not to.
Third, and lastly, you’re not going to have much patience with those who have not chosen a NADD-like life. Ocassionally, you’ll attempt to impart your fractured wisdom only to throw your hands up four minutes later when it’s clear, “Jesus, they just don’t get it.” Chances are, they might’ve gotten it, you’re just afflicted with a disease where your attention span is that of a second grader. Oh well, embrace your handicap.
DESIGNED by Philippe Starck in 2002 with an eye to the 18th century, the Louis Ghost chair pays homage to French baroque style. The chair has an oval back and twisted angular arms — fancy stuff for a piece of transparent plastic furniture.
But is it a classic? That’s the claim of its producer, Kartell, which recently announced that 1.5 million Louis Ghosts have been sold since the chair’s introduction in October 2002, making it “the most widely sold design chair in the world.” (The company neglected to say exactly what a “design chair” is — presumably not something you unfold on the lawn or buy from Ikea.)
“An icon,” Kartell declared.
When I first received the news of Louis Ghost’s impending 10th anniversary, I was skeptical that a chair could be canonized after only a decade. As far as I could see, it performed no greater miracle than being produced as a single molded injection of molten plastic.
Then I reconsidered. Of all the furniture produced in any given decade, only a few pieces qualify as what we think of as icons of that period, and they’re not always easy to predict. Might Louis Ghost be one of those objects of which a future connoisseur would say, “That is so millennial”? The sort of thing our grandchildren will drag out of our children’s attics and install in their own living rooms?
For a better perspective, I asked a dozen contemporary furniture experts for their opinions on which objects produced in the last decade or so would occupy the design-conscious home of 2050, just as, say, the Eames lounge chair, a mid-20th-century creation, resides in ours. The result is a showroom’s worth of potential design classics, against which I offer my own list of five.
But first, what makes a classic?
That question neatly divided the experts’ picks into two categories: oaks and seeds. The metaphor came from Emilio Ambasz, the celebrated architect and industrial designer. Midcentury notables like the Eames lounge, Mr. Ambasz said, “are like big, strong oaks in the forest. They will last for many years, probably with many little descendants.”
However, Mr. Ambasz went on, “Since 2000, I’ve only seen things that are more like seeds,” that is, design that may not survive in its original guise, but is important because it gives rise to other creations. “The iPhone is a seed of more that’s to come,” he said.
Half the designers, scholars and connoisseurs I polled, in fact, selected an Apple product as an example, if not their sole choice, of canonical early 21st-century design.
Even Murray Moss, the contemporary-design retailer, who is the last person one would imagine championing technology over physical objects, offered the 2007 iPhone as his first choice of a future classic, “because the era is defined by a new means of communication.” He predicted that “at least the next half a century will continue to explore how we communicate.”
Another seed Mr. Moss proposed was Tomas Libertiny’s 2007 honeycomb vase, produced with the assistance of a swarm of bees. He called the vase “a profound, quiet, esoteric kind of object, which was presented as a technology that was right under our nose.” Mr. Libertiny, Mr. Moss suggested, was on to something by harnessing nature to do the work of machines. Referring to the inspirational potential of a lone artifact, he added, “You don’t know how many minds are triggered by that small wave.”
Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, has long been smitten with technology. (Her 2011 exhibition, “Talk to Me,” dealt with the interaction between people and machines.) She proposed the 2001 iPod, clarifying that she was lumping it with the iPhone and iPad, but giving it special mention for coming out first. Much of the 1980s and 1990s was about style, image and form, Ms. Antonelli said. “It’s only with the turn of the millennium that a new sense of ethics and a new sense of experimentation took hold.”
In the same vein, she mentioned Honey-Pop, Tokujin Yoshioka’s 2000 chair made from sheets of recycled paper that unfold like a Chinese lantern. She also suggested Algues, the 2004 room partition by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra, which users assemble from green plastic pieces to create what looks like a wall of seaweed.
Both highly influential products anticipated some of the social preoccupations in the 2000s, she pointed out: sustainability in one instance; customizable, do-it-yourself design in the other.
After the iPhone, the most popular seedling the experts cited was Patrick Jouin’s furniture made with 3-D printing technology — the C1 and C2 chairs in Mr. Jouin’s Solid collection for the MGX by Materialise collection (2004), for instance — which demonstrated the possibility of manufacturing objects on demand anywhere in the world. Ron Labaco, the Marcia Docter Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design, lauded Mr. Jouin for “taking this technology out of the prototype stage and into the domestic realm.”
Similarly, Mr. Moss called Mr. Jouin’s parasol-like One Shot Stool for Materialise (2006) a “game changer.” The stool emerges from its manufacturing process fully jointed and ready to unfold, though it hasn’t been touched by a human hand. “It’s the first object made ever to be born fully articulated with no assembly required,” Mr. Moss said.
The chance that any of these pieces will actually make an appearance in the living room of the future, though, is slight. One Shot sells for $2,500, and at least one curious journalist I know who tried it out found it a little wobbly. Nor would I recommend a box of bees, however constructive, as a housewarming gift.
I had asked for objects that were not just emblematic of their time, but also held the promise of remaining visible and prominent several decades from now. In other words, oaks.
The entry with the most votes in this category (four, which is pretty good considering all the possibilities in a decade) was Chair One by Konstantin Grcic for Magis (2004). “This strangely skeletal, fractal chair embodies the digital age that engendered it, while also obliquely recalling the classic furniture of Harry Bertoia,” the British design curator and writer Gareth Williams wrote in an e-mail.
Charlotte and Peter Fiell, the authors of several books on groundbreaking furniture, endorsed objects with strong silhouettes as well. The design classics of the past, Ms. Fiell said, “apart from having a good level of everyday function and bold aesthetics,” have “a very graphic profile.” As a result, she said, they are easy to pick out of a crowd and identify with an era, and people can connect with them on an emotional level.
Leading the Fiells’ list were Tom Dixon’s Beat lights (2006), a collection of hand-beaten metal pendant lamps with a black finish. The Fiells also proposed Ross Lovegrove’s Supernatural chair for Moroso (2005), a lightweight plastic piece whose oval back is pierced with cheeseholes.
The designer Vicente Wolf took the opposite tack, recommending furnishings that meld effortlessly into a variety of environments and eras. Despite the brief, the two he proposed were introduced decades ago: a 1970s Cedric Hartman marble-top table and a 1940s swing-arm wall lamp for Hinson.
Mr. Wolf did suggest one recent object, Jeffrey Bernett’s 2003 Metropolitan chair for B&B Italia, which he called a “modern slipper chair.” He said, “Wherever I’ve used it, it always looks well, and it travels well with traditional things.”
But will we see it in 50 years?
“Well, honey, you may, but I’ll be dead,” Mr. Wolf said.
In general, chairs dominated the nominations. Whatever else may change in the next four decades, people will probably continue to sit. “Of any object, chairs are the most representative of a time period because they’re also about structure,” said Cara McCarty, curatorial director at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. “They relate to the architecture of the time. When new materials are being worked on, they’re often tested on chairs.”
And of all the chairs that Ms. McCarty has encountered in the last dozen years, the one that made the biggest impression was Mr. Jouin’s 3-D printed C2, but she hesitated to declare it a classic. In her view, no one in this century has matched the accomplishments of Mies, Breuer, Aalto or the Eameses. “We can’t expect every generation to produce an iconic chair,” she said.
As for the Louis Ghost, is it a classic or a flash in the pan? The experts were divided. Mr. Williams, the British design curator, suggested that the chair’s “chameleon-like character” gave it longevity. It “seems to fit it into very many kinds of interior,” he said, “from commercial to domestic, cutting edge to conservative, high-end to economical.”
R. Craig Miller, curator of design arts at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, also saw a glorious future for the chair. “When the postmodernist revival happened in the 2000s, Starck was one of the first to sense this, and he did it with the Louis chair,” Mr. Miller said. “It became an icon.”
Ms. Antonelli, on the other hand, insisted that the chair was a product of the style-conscious ’90s, “no matter when it was designed.” In her view, it lacks the conceptual weight of true millennial products. “It sends the wrong message,” she said.
Even so, I believe it will endure. Evoking the past is one way to guarantee timelessness, because doing so creates a reassuring sense of continuity. And the strong impression made by Louis Ghost early on may well leave its mark with consumers. Not that we need to wallow in nostalgia. Today’s innovators may not have the same opportunities to invent paradigms that earlier masters did, but standards for contemporary design remain high. As Jennifer Hudson, editor of “The International Design Yearbook” (and another iPhone proponent), noted: “It is no longer enough to make something look good and function, but it has to appeal to our emotions and use technologies and materials in ingenious and imaginative ways, as well as having minimum impact on the environment.”
Anything that manages to run that gantlet will be a gift to our descendants.
When you turn twenty-seven you start noticing the number, everywhere. Suddenly everyone else is twenty-seven, too: Every athlete and actor, all of the dead people who ever did anything. Your age is everywhere because you, at twenty-seven, are perfect. Just there. Just where you are right now: educated, but no longer preachy; fuckable, without being whiny; mature, and not yet fat. Never change.
At least, that’s what you feel like America keeps telling you.
Because yes, everything America mythicizes and celebrates and destroys is twenty-seven and has always been twenty-seven: Ingrid Bergman, in Casablanca; Heather Graham, in Boogie Nights; Marilyn Monroe in Gentleman Prefer Blondes; Jemima Kirke, in “Girls”; and every other actress expected to be a sexual prize for the first 89 minutes and believably settled down in the final frame.
The twenty-seven-year-old can accomplish anything: Yuri Gagarin orbited at age 27; Flannery O’Connor published Wise Blood and Hemingway The Sun Also Rises—their debuts. Think of Ryan Lochte v. Michael Phelps just last month when both were 27, or LeBron James, 27. This is the year at which baseball players ripen, like cantaloupes, their desirability on fantasy rosters spiking (think Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder). And it’s not because they’re so good (Delmon Young, 27) but because next season, they settle in; because twenty-seven’s home runs and “Play-it-Again-Sams” wax into twenty-eight’s solid OBPs and loveless marriages.
At least that’s what Julia Roberts’ character thinks in My Best Friend’s Wedding, which is predicated on two friends promising that if they are not engaged to others by twenty-eight, they’ll marry. I watched it while eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (founded by two twenty-seven-year-olds) and wept: twenty-seven is the last year of romance, ego, mania. It’s the last year of Bold Moves. It’s the age of the real man of the hour, Christian Grey, who at twenty-seven jumps out of the playpen and into the arms of boring Anastasia. How mature.
And so of course that’s why at twenty-seven our musicians sign up for the “27 Club”: Winehouse, Cobain, Robert Johnson… Because if you listen to the culture, twenty-seven is where you are most beautiful and where you destroy yourself; it is for Physical Peaks and Physical Destruction, it is for Olympic Lap Lanes and Public Funerals.
“The more you document your own life, the more you check in, you tweet, the more you post photos of what you did last night, the more you do all of this stuff, or even in my case, the more you listen for little lines of dialogue that can make their way into stories, the more you photograph moments, in a way, the more you start to step out of those moments, and if you do that too much, you become a spectator to your own life.”—Jonathan Harris
Q: Do you see a lot of people cheating? A: It goes in waves. There are periods of calm and then the shit hits the fan and lots of things start to happen.
There are organized cheat teams from overseas. Like Hungarian or Ukranian. They’ll play Caribbean Stud, where there is a $100,000 payoff if you get a royal flush.
Q: How do they cheat? A: They’ll put little thumbtacks under their thumbnail to mark the cards. Or they’ll do card-switching.
Q: Card-switching? A: Yeah. Imagine you’re sitting to my left. Then I put a card in my right hand and tuck it under my left arm. You do the same—tuck a card in your left hand and pass it to me under your right arm. It happens so fast it can be hard to catch. These guys do it for a living—they’re polished.
Q: How do you confirm that they cheated? A: Before we pay out there is a process. We’ll watch the past six hands and the dealer will fan the cards out to make sure they’re all there. And we take facial photos of all the patrons at the table. Then they’ll send the cards to the surveillance room for us to look at.
Organized cheat teams are falling by the wayside though.
I’ve caught people on a small scale too. Just the other day someone showed me a guy who had a winning hand and capped his bet.
Q: Capped his bet? A: Yeah, he put extra chips on top of his stack. We reviewed the footage and he’d done it three or four other times. The police arrested him and charged him with cheating at play.
Q: What’s the penalty for that? A: I think it’s a fine.
“I had suicidal thoughts when I was young. I fancied myself as a melancholic, quite a lot of people do, it’s a fashionable thing. Anyway, all these ideas were coming to me when I was going to sleep, ideas of self-destruction. They all promptly vanished the moment I was under real threat. There was a sudden urge to live. I wanted to do more, to write more.”—Clive James
The art of writing can be reduced to a few simple rules. I share them with you now.
Rule No. 1: Show and Tell. Most people say, “Show, don’t tell,” but I stand by Show and Tell, because when writers put their work out into the world, they’re like kids bringing their broken unicorns and chewed-up teddy bears into class in the sad hope that someone else will love them as much as they do. “And what do you have for us today, Marcy?” “A penetrating psychological study of a young med student who receives disturbing news from a former lover.” “How marvelous! Timmy, what are you holding there?” “It’s a Calvinoesque romp through an unnamed metropolis much like New York, narrated by an armadillo.” “Such imagination!” Show and Tell, followed by a good nap.
Rule No. 2: Don’t go searching for a subject, let your subject find you. You can’t rush inspiration. How do you think Capote came to “In Cold Blood”? It was just an ordinary day when he picked up the paper to read his horoscope, and there it was — fate. Whether it’s a harrowing account of a multiple homicide, a botched Everest expedition or a colorful family of singers trying to escape from Austria when the Nazis invade, you can’t force it. Once your subject finds you, it’s like falling in love. It will be your constant companion. Shadowing you, peeping in your windows, calling you at all hours to leave messages like, “Only you understand me.” Your ideal subject should be like a stalker with limitless resources, living off the inheritance he received after the suspiciously sudden death of his father. He’s in your apartment pawing your stuff when you’re not around, using your toothbrush and cutting out all the really good synonyms from the thesaurus. Don’t be afraid: you have a best seller on your hands.
Rule No. 3: Write what you know. Bellow once said, “Fiction is the higher autobiography.” In other words, fiction is payback for those who have wronged you. When people read my books “My Gym Teacher Was an Abusive Bully” and “She Called Them Brussels Sprouts: A Survivor’s Tale,” they’re often surprised when I tell them they contain an autobiographical element. Therein lies the art, I say. How do you make that which is your everyday into the stuff of literature? Listen to your heart. Ask your heart, Is it true? And if it is, let it be. Once the lawyers sign off, you’re good to go.
Rule No. 4: Never use three words when one will do. Be concise. Don’t fall in love with the gentle trilling of your mellifluous sentences. Learn how to “kill your darlings,” as they say. I’m reminded of the famous editor-author interaction between Gordon Lish and Ray Carver when they were working on Carver’s celebrated short story “Those Life Preservers Are Just for Show,” often considered the high-water mark of so-called dirty realism. You’ll recall the climax, when two drunken fishermen try to calm each other after their dinghy springs a leak. In the original last lines of the story, Nat, the salty old part-time insurance agent, reassures his young charge as they cling to the beer cooler: “We’ll get help when we hit land. I’m sure of it. No more big waves, no more sharks. We’ll be safe once again. We’ll be home.” If you examine the Lish papers in the Lilly Library at Indiana University, you’ll see how, with but a few deft strokes, Lish pared that down to create the now legendary ending: “Help — land shark!” It wasn’t what Carver intended, but few could argue that it was not shorter. Learn to kill your darlings, and don’t be shy about softening them up in the hostage pit for a few days before you do.
Rule No. 5: Keep a dream diary.
Rule No. 6: What isn’t said is as important as what is said. In many classic short stories, the real action occurs in the silences. Try to keep all the good stuff off the page. Some “real world” practice might help. The next time your partner comes home, ignore his or her existence for 30 minutes, and then blurt out “That’s it!” and drive the car onto the neighbor’s lawn. When your children approach at bedtime, squeeze their shoulders meaningfully and, if you’re a woman, smear your lipstick across your face with the back of your wrist, or, if you’re a man, weep violently until they say, “It’s O.K., Dad.” Drink out of a chipped mug, a souvenir from a family vacation or weekend getaway in better times, one that can trigger a two-paragraph compare/contrast description later on. It’s a bit like Method acting. Simply let this thought guide your every word and gesture: “Something is wrong — can you guess what it is?” If you’re going for something a little more postmodern, repeat the above, but with fish.
Rule No. 7: Writer’s block is a tool — use it. When asked why you haven’t produced anything lately, just say, “I’m blocked.” Since most people think that writing is some mystical process where characters “talk to you” and you can hear their voices in your head, being blocked is the perfect cover for when you just don’t feel like working. The gods of creativity bless you, they forsake you, it’s out of your hands and whatnot. Writer’s block is like “We couldn’t get a baby sitter” or “I ate some bad shrimp,” an excuse that always gets you a pass. The electric company nagging you for money, your cell provider harassing you, whatever — just say, “I’m blocked,” and you’re off the hook. But don’t overdo it. In the same way the baby-sitter bit loses credibility when your kids are in grad school, there’s an expiration date. After 20 years, you might want to mix it up. Throw in an Ellisonian “My house caught fire and burned up my opus.” The specifics don’t matter — the important thing is to figure out what works for you.
Rule No. 8: Is secret.
Rule No. 9: Have adventures. The Hemingway mode was in ascendancy for decades before it was eclipsed by trendy fabulist “exercises.” The pendulum is swinging back, though, and it’s going to knock these effete eggheads right out of their Aeron chairs. Keep ahead of the curve. Get out and see the world. It’s not going to kill you to butch it up a tad. Book passage on a tramp steamer. Rustle up some dysentery; it’s worth it for the fever dreams alone. Lose a kidney in a knife fight. You’ll be glad you did.
Rule No. 10: Revise, revise, revise. I cannot stress this enough. Revision is when you do what you should have done the first time, but didn’t. It’s like washing the dishes two days later instead of right after you finish eating. Get that draft counter going. Remove a comma and then print out another copy — that’s another draft right there. Do this enough times and you can really get those numbers up, which will come in handy if someone challenges you to a draft-off. When the ref blows the whistle and your opponent goes, “26 drafts!,” you’ll bust out with “216!” and send ’em to the mat.
Rule No. 11: There are no rules. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too? No. There are no rules except the ones you learned during your Show and Tell days. Have fun. If they don’t want to be friends with you, they’re not worth being friends with. Most of all, just be yourself.
“Startups are not magic. They don’t change the laws of wealth creation. They just represent a point at the far end of the curve. There is a conservation law at work here: if you want to make a million dollars, you have to endure a million dollars’ worth of pain. For example, one way to make a million dollars would be to work for the Post Office your whole life, and save every penny of your salary. Imagine the stress of working for the Post Office for fifty years. In a startup you compress all this stress into three or four years. You do tend to get a certain bulk discount if you buy the economy-size pain, but you can’t evade the fundamental conservation law. If starting a startup were easy, everyone would do it.”—Paul Graham on "How to Make Wealth"
LAST week, anti-Japanese protests swept nearly a dozen Chinese cities. Angry demonstrators overturned Toyotas while Japanese restaurants and businesses were vandalized. In the central Chinese city of Chengdu, where thousands protested, some banners declared, “Even if China is covered with graves, we must kill all Japanese!”
The immediate cause for the demonstrations was a flare-up over a few disputed, uninhabited islands controlled by Japan. (China calls them the Diaoyus; Japan calls them the Senkakus). On Aug. 15, Chinese nationalists landed and planted flags on the islands before being deported. Japanese nationalists retaliated by swimming ashore from nearby boats, further inflaming Chinese passions.
The rage of China’s crowds is genuine, and its roots lie in China’s nationalist ideology. The Chinese Communist Party uses its educational and propaganda systems to socialize citizens into a particular understanding of history. Maoist triumphalism has been eclipsed since the mid-1990s by a new “victim narrative” about Chinese suffering.
To most Chinese, the Japanese are “devils,” and the hatred reaches far into the past — from China’s humiliating loss in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5 to World War II-era atrocities like the Rape of Nanking. Anti-Japanese anger has both ethical and visceral dimensions, sustaining it unlike other more fleeting forms of nationalism.
And although Chinese nationalist rage is primarily aimed at Japan, it is also directed toward the United States. As Chinese nationalists see it, America is the cause of China’s continuing problems with both Taiwan and Japan. If it were not for the “American imperialists” inserting the United States Seventh Fleet in the Taiwan Strait during the Korean War, they say, Taiwan would long ago have been reunified with mainland China, erasing that “national humiliation.” And Japan’s continuing impertinence is also America’s fault: the United States’ alliance with Japan gives Japanese nationalists the gumption to defy a rising China.
The statements of American politicians further stoke Chinese anger at the United States. Speaking in Ohio late last week, the presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee, Paul D. Ryan, accused China of stealing intellectual property, blocking access to its markets and manipulating the exchange rate. “President Obama promised he would stop these practices,” Mr. Ryan declared. “He said he’d go to the mat with China. Instead, they’re treating him like a doormat. We’re not going to let that happen.”
Mr. Ryan’s views echo those of Mitt Romney, who has promised if elected to declare China a “currency manipulator.” This could lead to punitive tariffs on Chinese imports and a possible trade war.
There is a long history of challengers using China to attack incumbents during presidential elections. Most famously, in 1992, Bill Clinton accused President George Bush of coddling the “butchers of Beijing” following the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.
While there is some antipathy toward China in the Democratic Party, particularly among labor unions and human rights activists, anti-Chinese sentiment these days comes mostly from the right. Economic conservatives don’t like the income redistribution and government regulation they associate with socialism; the Christian right fears the atheism of “Godless” Communism; and libertarians don’t like any government at all, let alone the authoritarian government of China.
China-bashing will therefore be good election year politics for the Romney-Ryan ticket. But it will be bad for America’s relations with China and could undermine our national security. Many Chinese are already suspicious of American intentions, and ideologically driven rhetoric from across the Pacific will only confirm their worst fears.
Worse, the Communist Party is currently undergoing its own leadership transition, and it is happening at a time when popular nationalism is bringing people into the streets. Because the party bases its legitimacy in large part on its nationalist credentials, no party leader is likely to quiet the nationalists until the new leadership is finalized.
Lacking a secure foundation of mutual trust, American-Chinese relations today remain susceptible to the random accidents of history that have plagued them in the past. In 1999, the mistaken NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, killed three and led to huge anti-American protests across China. And in 2001, the collision between a Chinese jet and an American surveillance plane led to a Chinese pilot’s death and an American crew’s being detained for two weeks.
If comparable accidents occur during this fall’s leadership transitions in both countries, popular pressure for more confrontational policies in both China and the United States will be more difficult to contain — and will increase the likelihood of conflict in Asia.
South Koreans want the world to know about Dokdo, aka Takeshima, aka Liancourt Rocks. Korean soccer player, Park Jong Woo scored the biggest audience so far for the Dokdo debate when Korea beat Japan for the Olympic bronze, but lost his chance to be a part of the medal ceremony. He may not get the medal awarded at all, but he does get out of having to do compulsory military service. Before Park held up his handmade sign on the world stage, Koreans in London were handing out flyers about Dokdo to the international tourists around the city. Korea really wants us to know what’s going on, because so far, no one seems to care, no matter how hard they flash mob for the cause.
Dokdo is found in Korea’s written records as early as 512, during the Shilla Dynasty. The islands show up in Japanese written records in 1693, and are eventually known in the Japanese record as Takeshima. Korea promptly sent an emissary to Japan to let them know back then that the islands were Korean territory, and Japan backed off. In 1849 a French whaling ship charted the island, and in typical European fashion, made up their own name for it, Liancourt Rocks. Japan came back again in 1876, and once more Korea protested. Japan apologized, again, and left it alone until the peninsula and all its territories were under Japanese control during 35 years of occupation. The Japanese were stoked on the prime sea lion hunting location.
After liberation in 1945, Dokdo was Korean territory again. The US used the islands as a bombing range in 1952 and stationed US troops there for a short time. The islands have been more than just a pile of rocks for a very long time. They are home to good fishing grounds, untapped gas deposits, and did I mention the sea lions?
So, now what’s to be done? Takeshima has become a platform for Japanese conservatives to stand their ground against outside agencies telling Japan what to do, and it’s also been a talking point for holding on to dwindling natural resources close to home. Dokdo has long been a focal point of Korean efforts to right the wrongs of a traumatic past. Dokdo was the starting point for the annexation of the Korean peninsula in 1910, and represents much more. No one is actively campaigning for the recognition of “Liancourt Rocks”, but who really cares about “rocks” anyhow? How can all parties move forward?
Japan doesn’t like to apologize for war crimes, and it doesn’t like to concede. Takeshima gives steady fodderto the conservatives who influence government, education, and foreign policy. Currently airing Korean television dramas about freedom fighters during the occupation are popular and get consistently high ratings. Dokdo makes regular appearances in Korean media and has become a focal point of national pride. If the closure Koreans need hasn’t been granted (if Han allows for any closure at all) then this, and other issues will be ongoing, straining both sides of the argument for future generations to wrestle with.
We’ll be hearing about Dokdo/Takeshima for a long time, until some agreement can be made about how to create a future with less tension, more understanding, and efforts are made to heal from a difficult past.
Parrondo’s paradox, a paradox in game theory, has been described as: A combination of losing strategies becomes a winning strategy. It is named after its creator, SpanishphysicistJuan Parrondo, who discovered the paradox in 1996. A more explanatory description is:
There exist pairs of games, each with a higher probability of losing than winning, for which it is possible to construct a winning strategy by playing the games alternately.
Parrondo devised the paradox in connection with his analysis of the Brownian ratchet, a thought experiment about a machine that can purportedly extract energy from random heat motions popularized by physicist Richard Feynman. However, the paradox disappears when rigorously analyzed.
Parrondo’s paradox is used extensively in game theory, and its application in engineering, population dynamics, financial risk, etc., are also being looked into. Parrondo’s games are of little practical use such as for investing in stock markets as the original games require the payoff from at least one of the interacting games to depend on the player’s capital. However, the games need not be restricted to their original form and work continues in generalizing the phenomenon. Similarities to volatility pumping and the two-envelope problem have been pointed out. Simple finance textbook models of security returns have been used to prove that individual investments with negative median long-term returns may be easily combined into diversified portfolios with positive median long-term returns. Similarly, a model that is often used to illustrate optimal betting rules has been used to prove that splitting bets between multiple games can turn a negative median long-term return into a positive one.
What do you get when you take buckyballs, soak them in a particular solvent and crush them under the pressure of more than 300,000 atmospheres?
The obvious answer is a bunch of crushed buckyballs. But a team of scientists that included University of Nebraska-Lincoln chemist Xiao Cheng Zeng has found that by using the right solvent at the right pressure, they created a new form of matter that they termed an “ordered amorphous carbon cluster.” It’s so hard it can dent diamonds, the hardest known substance.
Like diamonds, buckyballs (technically buckminsterfullerenes) are made of carbon. They’re a well-ordered, cage-like structures of 60 carbon atoms that look remarkably like soccer balls. When the scientists smashed them, they lost their cage-like structure, as expected. What wasn’t expected was what they turned into.
"It’s a new form of matter not seen before," said Zeng, Ameritas University Professor of Chemistry at UNL. "The buckyballs originally are ordered, but if we crush them, it’s an ordered amorphous carbon cluster. They become a mess, but they are still in a long-range order.
"And it turns out this new form of matter is super hard. It can indent diamonds."
The discovery was announced in a paper published in the Aug. 16 issue of the international journal Science.
The scientists infused the buckyballs with a solvent with the chemical formula of C8H10 (eight carbon atoms and 10 hydrogen atoms), an aromatic hydrocarbon based on benzene (“aromatic” meaning the atoms can share electrons).
Using a device called a diamond anvil cell, lead author Lin Wang of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Argonne, Ill., subjected the buckyballs to steadily increasing pressures. Below approximately 30 gigapascals (nearly 300,000 atmospheres), the buckyballs bounced back to their normal shape after decompression. Above 32 gigapascals, however, the cages completely collapsed and transformed into amorphous clusters, but remarkably maintained their long-range order after decompression.
Subsequent X-ray tests by Wang, using the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne, and by Bingbin Liu, using the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., measured and confirmed the structure.
The new material’s hardness was confirmed when the experimental team found indentations on the diamond anvils used in their experiments.
"The unique aspect of this experiment is the solvent the team used with the buckyballs before they crushed them, it was the crucial trick in making this new form of matter," Zeng said. "When they added the high pressure, the solvent molecules were still intact and separated the buckyballs, preventing them from forming polymers. The balls were highly damaged, but the entire system was still in ordered structure."
Zeng also said the specific solvent used was crucial. He said a team of scientists in Sweden tried a similar experiment several years ago, but used C8H8 as the solvent and didn’t get the super-hard ordered amorphous carbon cluster.
The laboratory experiments and tests were further confirmed after Zeng and his postdoctoral researcher, Hui Li, the lead author in the computational study, used some 1.4 million computer hours performing large-scale quantum molecular dynamics simulations — 900,000 hours at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and another 500,000 hours at UNL’s Holland Computing Center. As a point of comparison, that’s the rough equivalent of one top-of-the-line desktop computer running calculations continuously 24 hours a day for 160 years.
"The simulation gave us some important insight to this material, atomic insight, because in the experiment, it’s very hard to see how the matter collapses," Zeng said. "With the super computers, we can monitor the pressure and then monitor the matter under high pressure at atomic scale under different pressures."
Zeng said there were several scientific motivations for the work, especially the never-ending search by materials scientists for new forms of matter. A second factor is the search for technologically useful matter. The fact that the new, super-hard form of matter preserves its high-pressure structure in ambient condition is very important for possible future practical applications.
The research was supported by the Office of Science, National Nuclear Security Administration, the Office of Basic Energy Sciences in the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. Zeng and Li’s portion of the research was also funded in part by the Nebraska Research Initiative.
The Suite bergamasque (French pronunciation: [bɛʁɡamask]) is one of the most famous piano suites by Claude Debussy. Debussy commenced the suite in 1890 at age 28, but he did not finish or publish it until 1905. (Source: Spotify)
Clair de Lune is the third movement, aka "that song they play at the end of Ocean’s Eleven when they pull off the casino heist". Not to put Debussy on a pedestal or anything but it was also in Bloodsport 3.