I just noticed this morning that the New York Times is telling me — in fine print — under titles of stories and features how many minutes it might take me to read them.
How long has this been going on?
What rate of reading is it calibrated to? If I read at 200 words per minute, but the NYT reading times assume someone who reads 300 words a minute, then shouldn’t I multiply all the times by 1.5?
I think it’s a good idea to have such information available. When I go to a restaurant, I would like little notes on the menu telling me how long I should be expected to eat each entrée.
Google Maps has long told us how far apart places are based on how long it would take to drive from one to the other, assuming we keep exactly to all the posted speed limits and follow the most direct highway routes.
Years ago, I had a dream in which I was a superhero. I was Freeway Man. I could run at the posted freeway speed limits only on interstate freeways, but I lost my power once I left the interstate highway system. I used my superpower to fight crime, as long as the crime happened on a U.S. interstate. My power could not help me battle crime on SR-99 or SR-520.
If Freeway Man had a cell phone, he could use his Google Map app to find out how long it would take him to run from Seattle to Portland on Interstate 5. Two hours and 45 minutes.
In today’s frivolous news, people are now annoyed that Elon Musk misquoted “Dune.” He attributed “Fanaticism is always a function of repressed doubt” to Frank Herbert’s book when actually the correct quote should have been “Fanaticism is always a sign of repressed doubt,” as written by the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. So, in fact, Musk annoyed two categories of people: fans of “Dune” and fans of Jung.
Having read all of the “Dune” books (at least those written by Frank Herbert) and all of Jung’s collected works (excluding his “Red Book,” for now), I feel I ought to be doubly incensed. Such insults should not go unpunished. Musk deserves to bleed another $2 billion.
This scandal comes after screams were heard all across the Twitterverse as Musk wrung the neck of the blue bird.
Meanwhile, Musk conducted a poll on Twitter to help decide whether or not to “open up the gates of hell” and reinstate the Twitter accounts that were, prior to his purchase, shut down for practicing hate speech on the site. Thus, he displayed signs of repressed doubt. The poll told him “whether” rather than “not.” He’s going to go down in history as a case study in the pitfalls of ideology carried too far by a non-head of state. More and more, he’s looking like the internet version of Steve Bannon. Except Steve Bannon wouldn’t have wasted time conducting a poll. He’d have gone straight to radical anarchism.
Seattle’s City Council passed a budget the week of Thanksgiving. I have to confess: I’m not very good at figuring out budgets. I’m much better at reading math research papers, the Talmud, the history of Western European royalty, tort law cases and Supreme Court rulings. These are a few of my favorite things. Budgets — not so much. I think it will take me until Christmas to absorb the new budget tangle.
I hate tangles, by the way. I believe I’ve mentioned that in this space before. I’ll never forget the day I agreed to accompany my father as he fished from a rowboat on a lake in Okanogan County. My job, because I wouldn’t fish, was to row the boat and manage the anchor. The anchor was a bucket filled with concrete tied to the boat by a rope. The rope was tangled, so I had to untangle it. I hated the tangle. Rope tangles are math things. I decided right then and there I wanted to study mathematics tangles to get even with them.
After my father caught all the fish he thought he could, I lifted anchor and rowed us to shore, where, since I didn’t do any of the fishing, I had to gut and clean all the fish. For some reason that didn’t make me want to be an ichthyologist.
Read more of the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2022 issue.