Monday, July 20, 2009

You're Wrong
An Irregular Column
for MRR 315, August 2009
by Mykel Board

When the Lilliputians first saw Gulliver's watch, that "wonderful kind of engine...a globe, half silver and half of some transparent metal," they identified it immediately as the god he worshiped. After all, "he seldom did anything without consulting it: he called it his oracle, and said it pointed out the time for every action in his life." To Jonathan Swift in 1726 that was worth a bit of satire. Modernity was under way. We're all Gullivers now. --James Gleick

BBC NEWS reports that garden snails are evolving slower metabolisms. Snails with lower metabolisms are at an advantage because they have more energy to spend on other activities such as growth or reproduction, the researchers say in the journal Evolution.

Scientists measured the size of almost 100 garden snails and gauged their standard metabolic rate. After seven months, they recaptured the animals, collecting the empty shells of those which had died. They found size did not predict which animals survived. But metabolic rate did, with surviving snails having a metabolic rate 20% lower than that of the snails that didn't survive. The lower each snail's metabolic rate, the greater its chance of survival.

The researchers now plan to answer the ultimate question: is having a slow metabolism linked to moving slowly? If it is, that means that snails are not only evolving to use energy more slowly, but are increasingly moving at an even lower snail's pace.


I'm shooting a double streamer, missing on both sides. The twin yellow rivulets splash against the mensroom floor. I try re-aiming. One side finds the target. The other strays so far to the left it soaks the toilet paper against the wall. I try to correct it. But by now, I'm dribbling to a halt. Quickly, I stuff myself back into my pants. An extra, hidden stream leaks out and down the inside of my leg. Fuck, it's my last pair of jeans. I'm gonna smell like piss for a week.

Them's the breaks. I got 15 minutes between classes. If I spend too much time pissing, I'll never get to buy lunch. Shaking my newly wet leg, I run downstairs to the Cuban restaurant for a pair of empenadas. One chicken. One beef. I'll eat 'em on the elevator on the way back to work.

Flashback to this morning: The alarm rings. 7:20AM-- realtime. My clocks read 8. I set 'em 40 minutes fast so I have NO travel time. If I have to be somewhere at nine, I leave at nine, my time. I'm never late. Most people have to subtract transportation from their daily itineraries. Not me. I leave when I have to arrive. I teleport.

Since I don't have to be teaching until 9AM, I have half an hour until I even think about getting ready. With semen still sticking to my pubic strands, I figure I can skip my usual first morning activity. And what else do you do at 7:20-- real time? FACEBOOK, of course.

So I check a discussion about my trip to the South with Sid. I don't remember the details. Something about how I think Southerners are cool. A lot of people join this discussion. A few insults fly. Pretty soon we'll get to the NAZI stage. You know, Godwin's law? Everything gets to the Nazi stage.

Not that all Nazi references are irrelevant here. Sid and I did shake hands with the South Carolina representative of the National Socialist Party. But I don't think I wrote about that, so it won't be on Facebook... yet.

Among the disussionites is a pal from Beloit. A guy I reconnected with after 30 years of no contact. Out of the blue the way things happen on Facebook.

Yo Mykel, remember me? Add me to your friends list.

Flash ahead: I'm on my way back from work. The subway seat next to me empty... on both sides. It must be the smell of piss. I've got stuff to do tonight. Fix the Drink Club/Eat Club website. Finish the blog from the Tennessee trip. Sell the family jewels on eBay. Tons of shit. Not a second of free time. Come right home and... check in with Facebook.

My former college pal has banned me. I didn't jump to his defense. I let him twist in the wind. Now he's mad.

I was gone! Working. 12 hours away from the computer and "I abandon a friend of 30 years." Do I need to stay epoxied to the keyboard to keep my friends? How 'bout some time to respond? Time, huh?

Flash far back: It's 1969, Madison Wisconsin. I come here for the riots, a few weeks every year. I've snorted enough crystal meth, for the ride and the weekend. I'm so wired I can feel each individual nerve. I follow them, one by one from the parietal to the spinal chord, to the tips of my fingers or my penis. They're on. Full volume. My brain and body are racing.

Bus door opens. POW, I'm out of the bus. Fist in air. Power to whoever's asking for it. My army helmet on. Shouting at the cops standing rather innocently on the sidelines.

You're vegetable! I yell at them. Broccoli, potatoes, zucchini! (Zucchini?)

Amazingly enough, they don't give me the head-smashing I deserve. Instead, they stand patiently, teeth gritted, as I abuse them some more.

Methedrine is wonderful. It lets you go more than full tilt. Move at the speed of light. Stand in front of a moving train and stop it with one hand. Fly. Stand in front of a line of armed cops and call them vegetables. Anything. I'm God.

They give speed to U.S. soldiers in Iraq. They too can do anything. Face roadside bombers. Torture them. Kill kids. They're God!

Flashback to April 2009: Sid and I are in Tullahoma Tennessee. It's somewhere in the middle of our Southern tour. Sid is on budget freeze. He's just been canned from his business research job. He's fighting an unemployment claim with this boss. Newly impoverished, he faces his first trip to The South.

Our host here, a smooth-faced boyish young man named Seth, has the day planned out for us. We've just arrived, and after a leisurely Mexican dinner, we go to the creek to look at the beavers.

That's it. Just some chewed down trees and some eyes reflected in our flashlights. We don't do anything else. Just look. Once or twice there's the sound of water. A splash. That's it. Just Sid, Seth, me and the beavers. What a bore! I could be... what? On Facebook? Complaining about Hitler? Losing a friend? No no no. There is NOTHING I could be doing more important that just hanging out here watching beavers.

This is Tullahoma and after watching beavers, we go to sleep and get up the next day... and shoot guns.

Seth takes us to his parents' house. Mom's gonna make dinner for us. Barbecue, cornbread, grits, everything. But we have a whole day. Sid's never shot a gun before. I've done it many times, and love it. Seth also has a shotgun. I've never shot a shotgun before.

Seth and I trudge through the weeds on the other side of the country road he lives on. Together, we lift up an old truckhood to use as the backdrop for our bullets to come. We lug the hood to the front yard of Seth's parents' ramshackle house.

"Dad keeps building," he tells us. "Always a new room, a new porch. It just keeps growing. Takes its time. We got no deadline."

Seth peels some florescent targets from a sticky sheet and pastes them on a piece of wood in front of the truck hood.

Then, he goes through gun safety procedure, like a boy scout leader.

Aside: In my experience, it's gun owners, collectors and good ole' boys who are most careful about guns. Illegal pistol packers in the North are the ones that don't have a clue. I bet if you check accidental gun death stats, you'll find a much higher percentage where guns are tough to get. Where everyone has one-- or two, they know how to handle them. End of Aside.

Sid prefers the single action rifle. Put in a bullet, aim, and fire. Seth takes the semi-automatic. I want the shotgun.

Seth and I stand back as Sid takes his first shot. He loads the bullet and points the front of the gun in the general direction of the target....and the country road.

"Here comes a car," says Sid, taking aim. "Let's get 'em!"

"No!" shouts Seth. "That's my grandfather!"

As directed during the safety instructions, we raise the gun barrels and stand AT EASE. The car passes and Seth waves hello. It really is his grandfather.

Then we watch as Sid again fixes the front of the gun toward the targets. BLAM! There's no sound of a bullet hitting anything. BLAM! Again, nothing. Not even the truck hood. Where did the bullets go?

I worry about depleting the local fauna.

Seth sets a water jug in front of the targets.

"Here's something bigger," he says. "Just take your time, and make the little ball look like it's resting in the little notch on the top of the barrel."

We move back as Sid takes aim.


Somewhere on the other side of the road, a tree rattles a bit.

Sid shakes his head in frustration.

"I'll never get this," he says.

Suddenly, his eyes brighten and he takes a deep breath.

"My old boss," he says, taking aim.

BLAM! The top of the water jug. Shot clean off. A perfect hit. Relieved, we all shoot... for hours.

We kill targets, water jugs, clay pigeons, but not time. We're USING time, not killing it. Enjoying the moments. Sometime, Mom will call us for dinner and we'll go inside. Until then, we shoot.

At dinner. Mom and Dad say a little prayer and we eat. Great hosts, except mom is a little upset. We can see it in her eyes, and her actions. Seth will be leaving. The last of her sons to do so. He's moving to San Francisco, leaving Tullahoma.

"There's nothing to do here," says Seth.

The point: About 10 years ago, James Gleick wrote a book called, Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything. In that book, he talked about how things were going faster. Every day brought a modern "convenience," that sped up the pace of living. What you used to expect in a week, you now expect in a day. In 2009, it's an hour.

Things go so fast that I grease up a dildo and by the time it finds it's way through my rectal arch d'triumph, I'm ten years older. Last millennium is the last decade already. Jee-zuz fuckin' Methuselah.

Speed kills. Yeah, it kills time. Contrary to the image of the multi-tasking, databasing, texting, super-efficient time savers. Speed destroys time. It makes it gone... usually in something as worthless as Facebook.

Watching beavers or spending hours shooting an old truck hood. That saves time. And it saves it in the best possible way. It's probably illegal to say KILL YOUR BOSS, so I won't. But I will say throw away your watch. Don't worry about being late. There is no late. We all end up in the same place. Maybe it's better to take our time getting there.

ENDNOTES: [email subscribers ( or website viewers ( will get live links and a chance to email comment on the column]

-->Just to let you know dept: My college pal reconsidered and unbanned me. He even apologized for his rash action. Of course, that's not the point. This isn't about him. It's about speed. Everybody's rash actions. There's no time for any other kind.

--> Let's make NOT NICENESS illegal dept: I almost sent $10 to People for the American Way. They're a cool liberal group that wants socialized healthcare and opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, on their homepage is rousing support for HATE CRIMES legislation.
    THOUGHT CRIMES legislation is more like it. If I hit you and keep quiet, I get 90 days in jail. If I hit you and yell Take that whitey! I get years.
    Makes me embarrassed to be a liberal. When are these guys gonna realize you cannot OUTLAW hate?

-->Maybe Sid will remember dept: Sid Yiddish proofreads and edits my columns before I send them off to the MRR tribal chieftains. I don't remember if I wrote this one, sent to me on MySpace. He says I didn't use it yet so:

   Q. How many green anarchists does it take to change a lightbulb?
    A. None-because a lightbulb cannot be changed, it must be smashed!

-->Obama does another thing right dept: The President discontinued an annual Religious Right-focused prayer service held during the previous eight years at the White House.
    Though Obama has indicated that he will sign a proclamation recognizing the National Day of Prayer, no special White House prayer service will be held. This stands in contrast to G. W. Bush. He invited James and Shirley Dobson and other Religious Right leaders to the White House for an annual government-sponsored prayer service.

-->Obama does the wrong thing dept: American bombers killed 95 children in Afghanistan, and when U.S. puppet leader Hamid Karzai demanded an end to the bombing, Obama's National Security Advisor told him: "We can’t fight with one hand tied behind our back."
    I say maybe you should keep the hand tied, and quit fighting.
    Anyway, Obama fired the commanding general in Afghanistan, and replaced him with Lieutenant General Stanley A. McChrystal. A guy the brilliant blogger, Jacob Freeze, called the Richard B. Cheney of the US Army!
    According to Freeze: McChrystal got yanked out of the shadows when 34 of his boys were disciplined for torturing detainees. In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball.
    Obama, pull out. You need to learn a thing or two from history. Very recent history.

-->There ain't nothin' like a Dane dept: According to a report released by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, the world's happiest countries are Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. Outside Europe, New Zealand and Canada land at numbers 8 and 6, respectively. The United States did not crack the top 10. Switzerland placed seventh and Belgium placed tenth.
    The report looked at subjective well-being, defined as life satisfaction. Did people feel like their lives were dominated by positive experiences and feelings, or negative ones?

-->Thanks and a tip of the hat to Rodrigo Cipriano in Corpus Christi, who sent me his low budget murder DVD, VIOLENT STORY. Yeah!
    I haven't watched the whole thing yet. (It takes me a week to watch a DVD.) I'm up to the part with the duct-tape and the funnel. Yeah!
    More DVDs please!! Send them REAL MAIL to me at: Mykel Board, POB 137, Prince St. Station, NYC 10012

-->Also thanks to Superbuick, one of my new favorite bands. They invited me to a great show at Otto's Shrunken Head, where they had to endure waiting through too many 1970s bands doing blues covers. Yuck! And an even more retro band, played the Charleston. How'd you like to follow THAT at 1AM?

-->And a third thanks to NOFX and the guys at FAT WRECKCHORDS for sending me the NO FX PASSPORT video. My experiences exactly! Spinal Tap wasn't weird enough!! The truth is much further out there. (Surrounded by cops in an empty field with barbed wire anyone?) The only thing was that on the Russian tour, I expected to see a cover of How Much Punk Rock Do You Hear in Russia? But it didn't happen.

-->Corrections dept: I just reread the column where I talk about Noah Levine, who advocates Buddhist recovery for punk rockers. I said that his father was a mediator, and he became one too. Sorry. My lysdexia. His father was a meditater. And he became one too. Auuummmmmmmmmmmmm!


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Susan M. said...

Yo, Mykel. Your column is my first exposure to the term "Godwin's law." I've been in the middle of some action that it describes, but I didn't know there was a term for it! Thanks!

Thanks too for your description of your visit with Seth. He and his family sound like good people. And I'm glad Sid got a good hit on that water bottle.

Mykel Board said...

Thanks for the comment Susan. What's ironic is that Seth has since moved to San Francisco. I wonder if he's at peace there.

Glad to spread Godwin's Law. It's useful when any internet discussion hits that point. --Mykel