Ah, Science!

Here’s an article on an odd experiment that suggests that chimps can differentiate between the volume of liquid poured into a cup and, for the most part, accurately select the cup that holds more tasty fruit juice than the other cup does.  Fine, but . . . where do they come up with these experiments, anyway?

I think chimps are probably much smarter than most people realize.  Indeed, the chimps in this experiment probably were wondering what generalized weirdness the guy in the white lab coat was up to this time.

Chimp No. 1:  “He’s at it again.”

Chimp No. 2:  What is it now?  Another test involving banana-flavored pellets?”

Chimp No. 1:  “No, it appears to be an experiment designed to determine if we can distinguish between the volume of liquid contained in opaque containers.”

Chimp No. 2:  “Do we get fruit juice out of it?”

Chimp No. 1:  “Apparently, yes.”

Chimp No. 2:  “Who cares, then?  Let’s humor the guy.”

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The Premier of the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador came to the U.S. for a special form of heart surgery.  In Canada, his only choices given his condition were procedures that would have required breaking his ribs.  In America, he underwent an advanced procedure that allowed his heart condition to be surgically fixed through an incision that did not require breaking bones and allowed him to return to work more quickly.

This decision is not an indictment of the Canadian national health system, but rather a positive reflection of the tremendous American system.  The Premier’s statement about his decision also has the sound of a rallying cry.  “This was my heart, my choice, and my health,” he said.  We should all be happy that the United States offers such health care choices, and leery of proposals that might eliminate those choices.

Dialogue Clinkers

One other point about A Single Man.  The movie is set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the movie does a tremendous job, for the most part, in setting the mood and appearance of the early ’60s in terms of cars, clothing, music, locations, rotary telephones, stereo cabinets, and characters who seem to smoke all the time and drink like crazy.

The movie also demonstrated, however, that if you are going to evoke a period you can’t just focus on physical surroundings and character activity; you also have to pay attention to language.  In one scene the college professor talks earnestly to a student, and the student says that a particular concept “freaks me out.”  It may be that “freaks me out” was a common expression on California college campuses in 1962, but the phrase seemed very jarring to me.   That kind of apparent clinker can destroy all of the carefully constructed atmospherics.