Friday, August 28, 2009
Researchers put a toddler (usually two) into a room and gave him a toy, warning him to be very careful with it. The toy is engineered to break as soon as the child picks it up, causing the little guy to think he disobediently destroyed the object. Mean. But scientifically invaluable. What would usually follow is "surprise [in the child], a mild discomfort, a sheepish look, and attempts to repair the toy." Breakthrough! The test suggests that in the second year, humans have already developed a basic springboard of morals to prepare themselves for a life of breaking things, discomfort, sheep and trying to fix problems with the effectiveness of chubby, underdeveloped fingers and limited dexterity.
I think the parallels between researcher and cell phone distributors needn't be drawn here. And the sheepish look we all get on our faces when we realize we can't Ctrl+Z a text mis-fire, (no, no, it was about you, not to you.) And cue mild discomfort.
*A 30 second look at NYTimes.com, giving me the pseudo-confidence I need to face the day full of political questions and mini current events quizzes. "Did you see that angry guy with the turban in the news today?" "Yeah, he looked angry."
**Shauna, these asterisks are for you.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
It turns out the single 20-somethings are so competitively average, that desperation drives us to resort to the obvious, extreme, and sometimes dangerous.
Last night a group of us co-ed average 20s crammed into an old elevator after a party. There were mirrors, weight capacity warnings, and it was hot so the air was ripe with typical single-20s humor.
Problems arose, though, when no jokes were really hitting a home run. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe too many 20s were talking at once. Or maybe t
he 1500 weight capacity was just too obvious to make a fat joke about the skinny guy, but someone got desperate and pushed the emergency stop button.
We halted. Waited. It didn’t start again. No one would admit to the execution of the push, but we were all guilty of joking about it. In theory, we all pushed the button that night. We pushed it when it stopped and we kept pushing it when
we continued to make procreation (guilty) and irrational fear jokes about our predicament. Just for a little attention, and maybe to push ahead of our own banality. In fact I probably push that button on a daily basis.
I’m just glad, though, that I got to experience a quasi-disaster and assess the awesome roles** of hero, fixer, and comic relief as we had to work togeth
er to pry the box down to safety and jump to our escape.
So I am convinced, now more than ever, that if I am to die in my twenties it will surely be the punch line to a joke. I just hope it’s a better one than the emergency stop.
**A big thanks to Jane for asking me what the probability was of us dying in that elevator. All of the sudden I was the statistician of the tragedy. I only apologize for being the worst disaster-movie-professor-called-to-the-scene-to-assess-damage ever when I said two percent with reassuring confidence. It actually turns out that's a lot. We have about a two percent chance of dying while skydiving, riding a motorcycle, or hiking Mt. Timp. Not standing still in an elevator for five extra minutes. Sorry Jane. You were the cute girl by the way. So was your doppelganger.