A Relaxier Life

It is said that Albert Einstein once asked, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what are we to think of an empty desk?” While not famous for his quips—although E=mc2 is the soul of wit in its brevity—this neatly captures the perspective of a person who kept his desk almost confrontationally cluttered.

The human mind is an organizer, the greatest one we happen to know, the one that all of our tools and machines are built in an attempt to replicate its principles and imagined actions. Nature itself does not organize. Every organizing structure we come up with is an imposition on nature and is thus radically random, at least as far as nature is concerned: No method of organizing is more “correct” than any other.
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Wrong Again

This morning, I became a grown-up: I attempted to remove glasses from my face that were already in my fist.

For those of you who are lifelong glasses-wearers (it is almost 40 years for me), you know that there are several distinct methods of removing eyeglasses and several messages that can be communicated in the manner of their removal. Off the top of my head, there’s “Two-handed and Thoughtful,” “One-handed and from the Right and Peeved” (I usually accidentally fling my glasses to the floor or across my desk with that one), and “One-handed and from the Left and Trying to Get to the Heart of Things.” There are others. Putting them on in front of people usually communicates this: “Enough Fun, Everyone. Back to Work.”

It can be like semaphore, but with glasses.
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Make a Wish, Already

The Wikipedia disambiguation page for the commonplace partial phrase “rule of three” lists nine items. Actually it lists 10, the tenth not being an example of the concept of the rule of three in day-to-day life but the title of a play; it may have been added by an editor simply to amuse himself or herself. (It was not me.)

It would be a perfect example of the rule of three to have three sets of three things make up the possible definitions of the phrase; it is comic to have 10 instead. So, why three wishes? Why do we knock on wood three times for good luck? (Does anyone knock for bad luck? There are a lot of people on our planet and even more have existed and departed; someone must have.)
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The newspaper’s weekly circulation was a closely guarded exaggeration. The circulation manager knew the number, the editorial department knew it, the advertising manager knew it. The newspaper’s circulation was about 2000 copies per week. Now you know.

The pliability of the words “circulation,” “copies,” “newspaper,” and “week” was tested regularly. This is because if the advertisers had been told the 2000-per-week number, they might have asked the newspaper to pay them for the honor of placing their ads; thus, they were given a number 10 times larger. More often than not, they were told that over 20,000 pairs of eyes “saw” any given issue of the newspaper. Actually, in an effort at a specificity that would grant legitimacy, they were given a figure of “21,000 readers.”
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Windows 10: Really Good, Horrible, or Both?

Reviews of Windows 10, which was released this week and made available for free for the next year by Microsoft for those who bought a computer that was pre-loaded with Windows 7 or 8, are in. Most celebrate its unified personality: We have our desktops back and the Start icon has been restored to the bottom-left-corner.
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Windows 10 is 47% Installed

For those who purchased a computer with Windows 8 installed, Microsoft made its new operating system, Windows 10, available for free for all of us who have been living with two competing operating systems occupying the same space. Today is Windows 10 Day, and when it is fully downloaded, I will be getting my passport stamped in Win10World.
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Big Game Internet; RIP Cecil the Lion

Before today, the customer review page for River Bluff Dental (located at 10851 Rhode Island Ave So., Bloomington, MN, 55438) had received 16 comments, most of them complimentary. (At least one review seems to have been written while still under the effects of general anesthetic, but it is a five-star write-up nonetheless.)

Today, the family dentistry practice received about one hundred more reviews (I stopped counting a couple hours ago). Its Yelp page has received more than 1000 reviews today alone, most from writers who will never see the inside of the place nor ever breathe the air of Bloomington, Minnesota. All of the reviews are negative, and many threaten one of its dentists physical harm. Its website,, displays one line: “HTTP Error 503. The service is unavailable.” The website has crashed.

Here’s the thing about threatening harm, on the Internet and in real life: violence and threats of violence are evil, and people really need to stop threatening people with harm and stop doing harm. The problem is, the following story which stars one of the dentists at River Bluff Dental, puts even my idealism to a test.

The Telegraph in England revealed today that one of River Bluff’s dentists, a Dr. Walter James Palmer, is the big game hunter who was responsible for slaying Cecil the lion, a 13-year-old big cat, on July 1.
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Waiting for MacGuffin

Alfred Hitchcock is credited with coining the term “MacGuffin,” but not the thing itself, which has been around since people started telling stories to each other. In spy movies and thrillers, a MacGuffin is the object that sets the plot of the movie in motion; it’s usually a something people desire that the hero and his nemeses pursue, and that pursuit provides the film’s plot. The specific nature and form of the MacGuffin is usually unimportant to the overall plot. In plot terms, but not theological ones, the apple in Genesis is a MacGuffin.

Neither of the two most famous examples of a MacGuffin in film history appear in a Hitchcock film however, even though he used the device quite frequently in his many movies (he directed more than 50 films from the 1920s through the ’70s).
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