The Making of the Counterculture

Kenneth Rexroth’s late ’60’s essay was written at the height of the counterculture and, looking back at its sources and development, unearths the truly radical elements that were lost with the drama, conspicuousness, superficiality and co-optation.

“Although all the literary editors and the academicians were busy telling the world in the early fifties that the age of experiment and revolt was over, a very few critics, myself amongst them, had begun to point out that this slogan alone showed how complete was the breakdown of communications between the generations. Under the very eyes of the pre-war generation a new age of experiment and revolt far more drastic in its departures, far more absolute in its rejections, was already coming into being….”


Race-Based Medicine

The New England Journal of Medicine has argued that “race is biologically meaningless” and that doctors should be taught about “the dangers inherent in practising race-based medicine.” Others disagree. The psychiatrist, Sally Satel, believes that in medicine “stereotyping often works”. In her Washington drug clinic, Satel prescribes different amounts of Prozac to black and white patients because, she says, the two groups seem to meta bolise antidepressants at different rates.” So who is right? (Times of London opinion via walker)

The simple answer is that they both are. The apparent discrepancy arises from our difficulty seeing that racial differences are points on a continuum rather than categorical distinctions. Recalling Gregory Bateson‘s famous comment about information being a difference that makes a difference, it seems clear that there may be greater drug metabolism variations within classes than between them, in fact, and I doubt Sally Satel is basing her dosing decisions for Prozac or anything else as strictly on a racial profiling basis as the example would tend to suggest.

Annals of the Invasion of Privacy

“The addition of finger scanning technology at the entrances of Walt Disney World theme parks for all visitors has caused concern among privacy advocates, according to a Local 6 News report.

Tourists visiting Disney theme parks in Central Florida must now provide their index and middle fingers to be scanned before entering the front gates. The scans were formerly for season pass holders but now everyone must provide their fingers, Local 6 News reported. They have reportedly been phased in for all ticket holders during the past six months, according to a report.

Disney officials said the scans help keep track of who is using legitimate tickets, Local 6 News reported. …Disney officials said the finger scans do not take an actual fingerprint. The scan recognizes certain points and outlines visitor’s fingers, officials said. Critics of the new scanning technology do not agree with Disney and said the scans border on a violation of privacy.

I think it’s a step in the wrong direction,’ Civil Liberties Union spokesman George Crossley said. ‘I think it is a step toward collection of personal information on people regardless of what Disney says.’ Crossley said they will be looking into the scans.”

If you should care to write to Disney World’s management and say, oh, for instance, that you will never take your family to a Disney attraction as long as the finger scanning requirement is in place, you would click here, by the way.

Waiter Rant

“A lot of people are idiots when it comes to the simple act of paying for services rendered so I’ve compiled a little tutorial to make the whole currency exchange a little smoother.” (Waiter Rant via walker)

This is a set of 23 rules a waiter says the customers should always live by around settling up for the great meal they have just had. This waiter begins to sound a little like a dominatrix as you read, but as one commenter said if you want to eat anywhere a second time, don’t ignore the rules. As a frequent diner out and (in a past life, and only briefly) a waiter, many of these are common sense, but there are some surprises. For example,

“2. Ask for the check. Sounds simple right? It’s considered rude for a waiter to drop a check without the customer asking first. Some people are unaware of that convention so they sit around pissed off wondering why the waiter hasn’t produced the checkbook. We’re not psychic!”

I have often become impatient waiting for the check, feeling both cynically that the investment in rapid pleasing service ends once you’ve had your meal and somehow feeling it is impolite to show my impatience by summoning them over. If I do, I am often apologetic about being in a rush. I guess I can jettison the guilt!