A clock that counts off the years of your (expected) lifespan. Ray Avery might like one:

New Zealand’s Sir Ray Avery has a simple method for getting the most out of his life. The 65-year old Kiwi scientist and inventor accomplishes what he does by keeping tabs on the days he has left to live, and by setting and tracking daily goals to best take advantage of them.

“I’ve got about 5,625 days to live,” Avery told a group of American entrepreneurs, investors, and journalists … When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.”

“For me, I can reverse engineer my life to achieve much more than you guys. Every day I do a chart on what I’ve achieved and where I want to be. And it makes you scary-as-shit clever,” Avery said. “So think about that. You’ve got 30,000 days and the clock is ticking.”

Looking at the life expectancy curve on Wolfram Alpha made me realize that if all my FB friends were all American males born in the same year as me, on average over 20 of them would die before the end of the decade.

Our time is always limited, I guess the numbers and clock just try to remind us of that fact.

Happy New Year, everybody. 

Joke in a Box

When his father, Kalman, was stationed in the Pacific during World War II, he’d transcribe jokes he heard and store them in a box for safekeeping. “In the army, that’s kind of how you got through it,” Seinfeld says. “People would tell jokes by the score, because what else are you going to do to maintain sanity? The recognizing of jokes as precious material: that’s where it starts. If you’ve got the gene, a joke is an amazing thing. It’s something you save in a box in a war.” [cite]

CSI: Real Life

The FBI’s crime lab was at one point reputed to be one of the most elite, well-run labs in the world. Not so much anymore. For the last year, the agency has been embroiled in a huge and growing scandal in which its crime lab technicians have been found to have vastly overstated the value and conclusiveness of forensic evidence in criminal cases. The breadth and seriousness of the problem have only come to light in the last year or so, although there have been warning signs going back to the 1990s. The number of convictions affected is in the thousands, possibly the tens of thousands. But … that may only be the beginning. [cite]

Zadie on pleasure

All day long I can look forward to a popsicle. The persistent anxiety that fills the rest of my life is calmed for as long as I have the flavor of something good in my mouth. And though it’s true that when the flavor is finished the anxiety returns, we do not have so many reliable sources of pleasure in this life as to turn our nose up at one that is so readily available, especially here in America. A pineapple popsicle. Even the great anxiety of writing can be stilled for the eight minutes it takes to eat a pineapple popsicle. [NYBooks]

Zadie on joy vs pleasure

The thing no one ever tells you about joy is that it has very little real pleasure in it. And yet if it hadn’t happened at all, at least once, how would we live?

Surely if we were sane and reasonable we would every time choose a pleasure over a joy, as animals themselves sensibly do. The end of a pleasure brings no great harm to anyone, after all, and can always be replaced with another of more or less equal worth. [NYBooks]

Kindergarten Secret Service

As the mother of a twelve-year-old who might be described as husky, or at least big for his age, I do teach him that he has an extra responsibility to, for example, stand up for littler kids who are bullied—to never be a bystander. But I greatly resent the idea that he should throw himself in front of a bullet because a grown congressman isn’t brave enough to throw an N.R.A. lobbyist out of his office. [NewYorker]

Solitary, Nasty, Poor, Brutish and Short

Isolation, mistrust, resentment, greed, and fear are all bad for us, not primarily because they render us more likely to develop cancer or suffer a heart attack or stroke, but because they undermine our capacity to live. The interests of the body are best served not by designated drivers and rigidly enforced diet plans, but by organizing our days so that each of us brings more humanity into the world. Health is not the most important thing in life. It is primarily a byproduct of the pursuit of the most important things life has to offer. [cite]


What a concept! Pants that actually fit. I said in a commencement address once that it was vitally important that the graduates promise never to wear pants that hurt, in an effort to look thinner–that doing so for any length of time begins to argue a wasted life. The world has way too many hostile positions and opinions, without your pants getting in on the act. [Anne Lamott]

my second favorite xmas song

Once upon a time a band set out to make a Christmas song. Not about snow or sleigh rides or mistletoe or miracles, but lost youth and ruined dreams. A song in which Christmas is as much the problem as it is the solution. A kind of anti-Christmas song that ended up being, for a generation, the Christmas song. [link]