Open Thread – Crazy, mixed up echidna

How many eggs does a mammal have to lay to get some attention around here?

Those damn platypodes always hog the puggle limelight. As commenter jl notes, someone needs to speak up for the echidna, the forgotten monotreme.



Early Morning Open Thread: Sleep on This

It’s either too late or too early to post this, but as a result of Kathryn Schulz’s NYMag review, I may have to buy a copy of Till Roenneberg’s book Internal Time:Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired

Among species, we humans are to time what Polish villagers have long been to place: unhappy subjects of multiple competing regimes. The first regime is internal time: the schedule established by our bodies. The second is sun time: the schedule established by light and darkness. These two we share with houseplants and virtually every other living being. But we are also governed by a third regime: social time. That sounds benign enough, like afternoon tea with a friend. But don’t be fooled. Social time is the villain in this drama, out to turn you against health, happiness, nature, sanity, even your own inner self…

Ultimately, though, Roenneberg is more interested in what he calls “social jet lag”: the exhaustion produced by the gap between internal and social time. You can, should you choose, quantify your social jet lag. Simply calculate the difference between the midpoint of your average night’s sleep on a workday and a day off. Say on workdays you fall asleep at eleven and wake up at six: Your midpoint is 2:30 a.m. On weekends, you fall asleep at one and wake up at nine: Your midpoint is 4:30—and you’ve got two hours of social jet lag. You might as well fly from New York to Utah.

Social jet lag, unlike real jet lag, is chronic. Its chief symptom is sleep deprivation, and sleep deprivation is—surely I do not need to tell you this—ghastly. It leaves you with the equilibrium of a despot, the attention span of a toddler, and the working memory of a fire hydrant. It’s one of the few human conditions that can make the characteristics of the tomb—dark, quiet, horizontal—seem unbelievably desirable. Not for nothing are torturers so fond of it…

Adults, too, rapidly lose their equilibrium in the face of even short-term sleep loss. Long-term, it’s associated with depression, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems, and cancer. Your odds of being a smoker rise significantly for every hour of social jet lag you suffer. The World Health Organization recently classified “shift work that involves circadian disruption” as a potential carcinogen. The physiological, in other words, bears out the phenomenological. Sleep deprivation makes us sick, sad, and dumb….

Read the whole review, it’s as amusing as it is depressing. For the last few years, I’ve been unemployed (thank goddess and the Spousal Unit it’s been possible for me to survive without working for a paycheck), so I’ve mostly been able to keep my body’s preferred schedule of sleeping from approximately 6am to 2pm. It’s been my impression that us Non-Standard Circadians are overrepresented among bloggers (as among geeks of all persuasions), but maybe that’s just the fatigue poisons talking…

***********

Apart from me making everyone who didn’t get enough rest (even more) cranky, what’s on the agenda for the start of another week?



Man, I Wish I’d Written Something This Nasty (Sunday-ish Open Thread)

They just don’t make invective like they used to.

I am something of an insomniac, and one of my tricks to get back to sleep when those 4 a.m. broadcasts from KFKD* just won’t let go is to pull out at random a volume from my copy of the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.  That’s the last pre-World War I version, and it contains some truly brilliant Edwardian (and Victorian) prose.  (See, for example, Swinburne’s entry on Mary, Queen of Scots.)

So on last Wednesday or Thursday night — or rather, on Thursday or Friday a.m., 0-dark-hundred — I found myself nose-deep in Volume V, Camorra to Cape Colony and came across this in the entry on Campbell, John Campbell, Baron, who in 1841 gained the post of Lord Chancellor of Ireland for a grand total of 16 days.  The controversy that arose over that appointment cast him into mostly self-imposed political exile for most of the 1840s.  As the Britannica entry put it, that was when “the unlucky dream of literary fame troubled Lord Campbell’s leisure.”

Now, y’all may know I enjoy the odd bit of invective.  I may even have been called a bit harsh in some of my commentary on a few of our scribbling friends of the rightish persuasion.  But I can only dream of scorching earth with the zeal, brio and sheer music of this, on Campbell’s project:

The conception of this work is magnificent; its execution wretched.  Intended to evolve a history of jurisprudence from the truthful portraits of England’s greatest lawyers, it merely exhibits the ill-digested results of desultory learning, without a trace of scientific symmetry or literary taste, without a spark of that divine imaginative sympathy which alone can give flesh and spirit to the dead bones of the past, and without which the present becomes an unintelligable maze of mean and selfish ideas.  A charming style, a vivid fancy, exhaustive research were not to be expected from a hard-worked barrister; but he must certainly be held responsible for the frequent plagiarisms, the still more frequent inaccuracies of detail, the colossal vanity which obtrudes on almost every page, the hasty insinuations against the memory of the great departed who were to him as giants, and the petty sneers which he condescends to print against his own contemporaries, with whom he was living from day to day on terms of apparently sincere friendship.

Smokin’.  Just an orotund symphony of Victorian disdain.  I love it.

And strangely, I just can’t place who amongst us this demolition of Campbell calls to mind….

(Don’t tase me, bro!)

*Ann Lamott’s name for the radio station in your head

Image:  English School, Mary, Queen of Scots, in Captivity, 1575

I believe you may consider this an open thread.



I’m So Tired, I Haven’t Slept a Wink

Here’s an open thread for everyone who went to bed early and simply can not fall asleep.

I feel you. I’d like a hockey-puck sized valium right about now.

Amazing album.