I was answering some personal-narrative questions sent by a friend and got far enough into it (and had enough stuff to link) that it seemed most sensible to do it as a Web page. Take a look, if you're so inclined.
If you have a long drive or other 1.5 hour block of time to listen to a really worthwhile MP3, I suggest Steven Johnson's Long Zoom talk at Long Now Foundation (the link is to Stewart Brand's precis, which offers this aperçu: "The value of a long zoom is in identifying and employing every scale between the very large and very small, noticing how they change each other when held in the mind at the same time"). Johnson's recent book The Ghost Map explores the well-known story of Dr. John Snow's epidemiological detective work (the Broad Street pump, etc.), but from the perspective of why it took so long to overcome the conventional wisdom that cholera was caused by "miasma". The whole MP3 is here for your right-click download, and here are three bits to tempt you:
the Long Zoom perspective [0:29] and its quotidian manifestation [0:19]
[in re: complex questions] "you can't answer [the question] convincingly unless you look at all those different levels": on consilience [1:30]
In the continuing hunt for the self-justificatory, Jerome Dobson's article in the latest ESRI ArcNews (Bring Back Geography!) has lots to munch upon, but I'm particularly taken with Jay Merryweather's graphic representation of the discipline:
All that underwater stuff is what I spent about 40 years agitating about, to mostly deaf ears, in anthropological and library settings. "Told you so" is sort of beside the point, but be it Recorded that I DID.
1973 and 2007, the honey locust tree in the Horton Landing dooryard:
One of those time-shiftable bits from Brideshead Revisited:
"The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. With anyone over fifty you can be fairly confident what's been taught and what's been left out. But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn't know existed.” (pg. 186)
I've enjoyed Brideshead Revisited as novel and film, multiple times. Lately the Penguin version has been reposing in the bathroom, recovering from the latest bout of reading, and recently it was joined by another Penguin edition, The Best of Betjeman, which I picked up as a give-away in a roadside restaurant. I was planning to blog a so-English verse I just happened to read last night:
And Nurse came in with the tea-things...and I thought I should inform myself about the details of Betjeman's life. I knew he'd been Poet Laureate, but I didn't know that Waugh had modeled Sebastian Flyte's bear Aloysius after Betjeman's Archibald Ormsby-Gore, or that C.S. Lewis had been Betjeman's (much-despised) tutor. Don't miss the 1959 BBC interview (1:45, on life at Oxford, hearties and aesthetes, being sent down). And The Times offers a picture of Archie and Jumbo, and more delicious details.
Breast-high 'mid the stands and chairs--
But Nurse was alone with her own little soul,
And the things were alone with theirs.
(from "Death in Leamington", pg. 15)