It’s Hot Today, and Other Good Sentences

So many good sentences today.

But, first: Why does the astronomer/blogger Phil Plait hate me? The 22nd of June and his excellent Bad Astronomy blog offers up, above, a photo of the sun!? Not to mention two posts (and a slide show) on June 20! Enough!

Thence to this, from Bible History Daily. “Just because a text is old, however, does not mean it is better.” The context is a discussion on the differences between biblical texts, for instance between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Masoretic Text. These are legion, by the way. Some mundane, some profound. Some are in between, as in this example, which asks if Jesus was moved by compassion or by anger when he healed a leper.

But “just because a text is old, however, does not mean it is better” is far more durable.

Attempting to make a lasting statement about commencement addresses is Blake Masters, who I never heard of. Mr. Masters reviewed on his blog the address at Stanford by Cory Booker, the feisty, lovable bald-headed mayor of Newark, and came away unmoved by Booker’s apparently hippy-dippy message about the power of love. Masters displays an unmatched grasp of the famous-black-people-speaking-at-Stanford genre, however, and compares Booker’s speech to one in 2008 by Oprah Winfrey. She apparently said that making money was a good thing and that it would actually help people more than just walking around and loving everybody. As Masters puts it, “Actual productivity is a better terminal metric than love.”

Nothing encourages empathy for an opinion like the phrase “terminal metric.”

Which brings us, turning from empathy to sympathy, to a viral video of an elderly female bus monitor being cruelly mocked by four overindulged schoolboys. This has resulted in a nearly spontaneous outpouring of love that meshes well with Mr. Masters’s desired metric. Namely, the making of money. Nearly half a million dollars has been raised by sympathetic viewers, who were moved initially, I think, to send the monitor on a vacation. But who I guess now are hoping to send her into early retirement.

Lest you hastily take Mr. Booker’s side on these matters, realize that thousands of people have sent critical messages to the school in question, by e-mail and phone, and not all of them diplomatic. Hundreds more have harassed the bullies themselves with threats — presumably, the “terminal” part of the metric in question. As the local police chief put it, “Threats to overcome threats do no good.” (Well, played.)

And, finally, to a metric-obsessed, third-generation Asian-American who is now my new hero. (Sort of.) David R. Chan is his name, and he claims to have eaten in more than 6,000 Chinese restaurants, notes on which he has recorded in a vast spreadsheet. My favorite sentence from the L.A. Weekly report on Mr. Chan? “He doesn’t use chopsticks and doesn’t speak Chinese.” Hey! Neither do I!

I ask for a fork without embarrassment, anyway. But. Some day I want to be offered complimentary lederhosen when I order a brat and a German beer.

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