Hot Air: Tuesday Torrent

Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men most.

— Thucydides

Thucydides

The Kochs’ World

Well, well, well. Those Koch boys have gone out and bought themselves a media empire. The two ultra-Right Wingers have plopped some $650 million into the Meredith Corp.’s purchase deal for Time, Inc.

I’m getting the feeling — what with the end of net neutrality, the relaxation of media ownership regulations, and now this deal, among many, many, many other such developments — that our holy land’s news and communications industry is on an unstoppable course toward the Brave New World/1984 dystopias that Huxley & Orwell foresaw so long ago.

Seers.

Oh, well, the sentient among us will come up with ways to circulate real news and considered opinion among each other but — since the vast majority of the populace has little inclination to be sentient,  only entertained — most “thought” and “knowledge” will soon be controlled by aggressive, testosterone-driven, uber-capitalists like the aforementioned freres, exclusively.

Yuck.

Darwin’s Kids

Smartphone Zombie

I have it on good authority that the people in charge of security at Chicago’s Columbia College, a creative and media arts school just south of the Loop, have issued an advisory to students to “keep alert.”

Now, what peril could a bunch of painters, poets, filmmakers and other such sorts be facing in an area so densely packed with people nearly 24 hours a day?

Why, scads of them are in danger of getting run over by cars. Yep. And not those driven by “terrorists” or other bad guys whose religions or skin colors differ from good Americans’.

The security alert warns: “electronics diminish your awareness.”

Hmm. So, even supposedly savvy, street-smart big city kids apparently are too stupid these days to pull their faces out of their smartphones (and their heads out of their asses, for that matter!)

Get Real

When I was a rotten little kid of, say, seven, this was precisely the type of tree and revolving color-shaded light my parents set up in the living room around two weeks before Christmas:

At the time, they bought into the whole-artificial-is better zeitgeist that’d swept America in the post-war years. There was a gag on an old episode of the Honeymooners where Ed Norton looks at some flowers and says something on the order of, “My, those are beautiful. Almost as good as the artificial kind.”

In the same vein, when the Mob had blown up the restaurant across the street from our house in 1960, the resultant pressure wave shattering every single one of our bungalow’s gorgeous, historic stained glass windows, my parents were happy to be rid of them. The Mob’s insurance man showed up at our crib the next morning and wrote out a check for them to replace their shattered fenestrations with nondescript storm windows. Ma & Dad pocketed the check happily. A decade and a half later, Ma would lament the loss of that stained glass. “What the hell were we thinking?” she’d say, again and again.

I wonder what silly, trendy thoughts of today we’ll be embarrassed about in the year 2032. I mean, besides you-know-who.

All About… Yeast?

Yeah, yeast. One of the most important forms of life on this world and — who knows? — maybe every other life-bearing planet extant. It’ll be the topic of discussion during tomorrow evening’s Science Cafe at Bear’s Place, 1316 E. 3rd St. (around the corner from Soma Coffee’s 3rd & Jordan location).

Single-cell eukaryotes (individual yeast organisms).

W/o yeast there’d be no bread or wine — or, it follows, any reason to go on living.

When making bread, my mother always used this kind…

… called cake yeast — not because you used it in cakes but because it was, well, cake-y. Me? I use powdered bread machine yeast from a jar. When Ma made her pane, the whole house for a few hours smelled like the stuff as she soaked her yeast in water, liquefying the cakes. I don’t get that particular aroma when I make my own bread.

BTW: the first time I ever drove through the city of Milwaukee, the whole damned town smelled like that — ‘course, this is back when M-town was full of breweries.

Anyway, tomorrow’s yeast maven pontificating on the little single-celled eukaryotes will be Matthew Bochman, ass’t prof in Indiana University’s Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. Betcha didn’t know the little critters were such a topic of fascination in the brainy community, did you?

Well, they are. Hell, they’re fascinating even to us lay folks. See you there. Festivities begin at 6:30pm.

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