A drunk person makes everyone happy.
This morning I took my breakfast at the Press Box, as is my wont. I was talking to my server about her sister’s novel when a drunk man interrupted us, waving a beeper. He was wearing a Carhartt jacket and a human costume one size too large, which turned out to be his skin. He had the outgoing cheer of a person still up from the night before and the repetitive speech patterns of the more serious partier.
“Oh yeah?” he said, in response to the server’s claim that her sister lived in the Bay Area. “What’s this?” He waved the beeper closer. “What is this?”
“A beeper!” I said. “That’s amazing.”
It did not sound convincing to me, but he was fully convinced. He talked to me for a long time. He never felt like what he was doing was inappropriate, and when finally I rose to flee he thanked me for appraising his beeper and shook my hand.
This post has nothing to do with the Gil Scott Heron album. You'll just have to wait until tomorrow, I guess.
Don’t get discouraged by the first paragraph of this John Tierney editorial. When I read the sentence, “suppose Mark and Bill live in a deterministic universe,” I thought I had accidentally clicked on David Brooks and was about to read 750 words about how Mark is a hardworking small business owner, Bill is an Ivy-League professor, and their opinions about NASCAR are going to decide the 2012 election. Fortunately, though, Tierney is not a smug panderer out to steal your last McNugget. Instead, he has written a thoughtful column about the problem of free will that links to actual scientific studies, including this one suggesting that belief in free will correlates with hard work. Tierney concludes that, “The more that researchers investigate free will, the more good reasons there are to believe in it.” This argument is totally unconvincing, of course. You can’t choose to believe in free will just because it might make you more successful, in the same way you can’t choose to believe you’re stunningly attractive just because it will make you more confident on dates. And like that, we arrive at one of the fundamental problems of free will.
You could have done worse, Tony Parker.
Slate runs three kinds of articles: (1) timely analyses of news items that appeared on Gawker four days ago, (2) Would This Statement Attract More Readers As a Question?, and (3) essays on subjects that the author happens to have just published a book about. For my money, category (3) is the most interesting, since if there’s one thing I like more than reading a book, it’s talking about a book I haven’t read. I was therefore thrilled to encounter Daniel Akst’s report/essay/plug about precommitment devices—not because it’s tremendously insightful or fun, but because it draws attention to two important issues facing society: Jean-Paul Sartre’s construction of vertigo and Eva Longoria.