black holes and gray matter. in one thousand tangos.

             

The 100 top things you honestly don’t need to do before you die

“‘OMG, you have to watch Breaking Bad! You simply have to. Stop whatever you’re doing and watch it right now… As I understand it, we are now all legally obliged to watch Breaking Bad by the end of 2013. …

These days we are told we simply have to watch, to read or just to do, very many things: 100 Things to Do Before You Die; 100 Films You Have to See, 100 Books You Must Read If You Don’t Want Everyone at Work to Realise Exactly What a Shallow, Self-Obsessed, X Factor Fan You Really Are. …

But, while I can’t stress enough that I don’t wish to be a troublemaker, there is a slight problem with the maths.

The average human being will live for 701,844 hours. You will be asleep for 233,600 of those hours (more if you’re a cricket fan). You will be working for 74,060 hours (fewer if you’re Usain Bolt) and you’ll be waiting for your children to hurry up and get their shoes on for 11,850.

Take off another 200,000 hours for miscellaneous activities such as being on hold for broadband customer service, queuing at Costa Coffee, or looking up pictures of your ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend on Facebook.

You suddenly find yourself with just 182,334 useful hours in your life for reading, watching films and baking your signature Loganberry Pecan Flapjacks. …

Watching every film on the BFI’s list of The Greatest Films of All Time will take you 217 hours (with an extra half-hour if you want to watch the hilarious “blooper reel” at the end of Citizen Kane). You will also have to watch at least one new film a month that Charlotte at work keeps banging on about, and one foreign-language film a month because Peter Bradshaw has called it “a stunning new benchmark for Latvian cinema”. That takes your total for films you simply have to see up to 2,233 hours.

And now an even bigger problem: books. Let’s read the Observer’s 100 Greatest Novels. Add in one new book a month that Charlotte has recommended (I like Charlotte, but I wasn’t absolutely convinced by A Street Cat Named Bob) and one new book a month that the Review section has described as Margaret Atwood meets EL James. Sum total of hours spent on books you simply have to read? 6,360.

Then you also have to find time to swim with dolphins, to watch the sunset over Machu Picchu, to kiteboard in the Andes, and to do any number of other tiresome things you see people doing in their profile pictures on Guardian Soulmates. …

Let’s end this madness shall we? By all means watch Breaking Bad (I’ve heard it’s good – have you heard it’s good?), but the only bit of TV you actually have to see before you die is the episode of Superstars where Kevin Keegan falls off his bike. …

The only films from the BFI’s list that you must watch are Some Like It Hot, The Godfather and Singin’ in the Rain. …

You must never swim with dolphins. If they ever want to swim with you, I’m sure they’ll let you know. Forget Machu Picchu; the sunset on the west coast of Scotland is as beautiful as any you’ll see in the world, and it’s really nearby. And by all means go kiteboarding above the Andes, but that might be the thing you do literally just before you die. …

But before you do that, have you seen Breaking Bad? You must.”

Alejandro Guijarro - Momentum (2010-12)

“The artist travelled to the great quantum mechanics institutions of the world and, using a large-format camera, photographed blackboards as he found them. Momentum displayed the photographs in life-size. 

Before he walked into a lecture hall Guijarro had no idea what he might find. He began by recording the blackboard with the minimum of interference. No detail of the lecture hall was included, the blackboard frame was removed and we are left with a surface charged with abstract equations. Effectively these are documents. Yet once removed from their institutional beginnings the meaning evolves. The viewer begins to appreciate the equations for their line and form. Color comes into play and the waves created by the blackboard eraser suggest a vast landscape or galactic setting. The formulas appear to illustrate the worlds of Quantum Mechanics. What began as a precise lecture, a description of the physicist’s thought process, is transformed into a canvas open to any number of possibilities.”

1. Cambridge (2011)

2. Stanford (2012)

3. Berkeley I (2012)

4. Berkeley II (2012)

5. Oxford (2011)

Via: likeafieldmouse

(via elvira)

On one hand, there is a case to be made that the madness of the right has made America a fundamentally unsound nation. And yes, it is the madness of the right: if not for the extremism of anti-tax Republicans, we would have no trouble reaching an agreement that would ensure long-run solvency.

On the other hand, it’s hard to think of anyone less qualified to pass judgment on America than the rating agencies. The people who rated subprime-backed securities are now declaring that they are the judges of fiscal policy? Really?

Just to make it perfect, it turns out that S&P got the math wrong by $2 trillion, and after much discussion conceded the point — then went ahead with the downgrade.

More than that, everything I’ve heard about S&P’s demands suggests that it’s talking nonsense about the US fiscal situation. The agency has suggested that the downgrade depended on the size of agreed deficit reduction over the next decade, with $4 trillion apparently the magic number. Yet US solvency depends hardly at all on what happens in the near or even medium term: an extra trillion in debt adds only a fraction of a percent of GDP to future interest costs, so a couple of trillion more or less barely signifies in the long term. What matters is the longer-term prospect, which in turn mainly depends on health care costs.

So what was S&P even talking about? Presumably they had some theory that restraint now is an indicator of the future — but there’s no good reason to believe that theory, and for sure S&P has no authority to make that kind of vague political judgment.

In short, S&P is just making stuff up — and after the mortgage debacle, they really don’t have that right.

So this is an outrage — not because America is A-OK, but because these people are in no position to pass judgment.

“The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.”

S&P

Well, yeah. I just wish you had the same “opinion” of the mortgage-backed securities back in 2008. +  + +

©2011 Kateoplis