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Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Four Things

1. "Finally Getting Somewhere," is the title of Jonathan Lynn's enjoyable and humorous essay about Oliver Sacks, my favorite writer about science. Sacks made the quip that is the title to his psychoanalyst after a half-century of sessions and just before he died.

Here's a sample, about the man behind Awakenings and several other favorite books of mine:
It seems that Oliver always wanted to combine medicine, science and literature and he found a way when he wrote Awakenings (1973), his next book. It was unusual in many ways. It is a selection of twenty case histories but in the first and last chapters Oliver outlined a then revolutionary view of medicine: that it is not enough to repair the parts of the body that go wrong. Illness, he proposed, changes us, whatever the outcome. We are different afterwards, and therefore the whole person must be understood and treated. He was in the vanguard of what became known as holistic medicine, but Awakenings, which Auden proclaimed a masterpiece, was not well received by the medical profession. Maybe it was because, almost uniquely, Oliver was writing about how his idea and his treatment ultimately failed. That wasn't done. It took real humility. Doctors wrote about their successes.

His extraordinary empathy shone out of Awakenings, and became a beacon for others...
There is much more about the man's "shy, eccentric brilliance" within, but in case you're on the fence, know that the biographer co-wrote the comedy series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister.

2. Part of a song on the radio sounded like it could be a sample from something I vaguely remembered a college roommate playing ages ago. So I looked it up at the gas station and discovered a very pun-ny song by comedian Kip Addotta that I'll list here by its alternate title, "Let's Get Tanked."


Similar, but a little catchier, is his "Life in the Slaw Lane."

So if I remember the song, why am I saying I "discovered" it now? It was mainly because that roommate over-played it, and I'd gotten into the habit of mostly ignoring music I'd hear over and over again. (That was one of my keys to sanity in the age of Top 40 radio and songs that were just six words long.) Otherwise, I would have learned sooner of this man who was weird before Weird Al.

3. A common complaint in our modern age is, "Where are the flying cars?"

I don't know either, but I now know that there once were flying Winnebagos:
In addition to the standard landing gear, the Heli-Home could be obtained with optional floats. That meant you could forget the trouble of having to find a narrow clearing in the woods to land. You could just set right down on a lake and drop anchor. I'm not sure how much time I would want to spend with five other people inside a cramped helicopter that's anchored in the middle of a lake, but then again I've never tried it. Perhaps 115 square feet feels bigger when there's no property tax.
The homes were ex-military transport helicopters outfitted with all kinds of amenities. Predictably, they were very expensive -- a million dollars give or take a few hundred thousand in today's currency. Only eight were sold, and none survive.

4. I like hats, and often wear them for walks. But I'm glad they're not regarded as obligatory. Interestingly, one author argues that it was cars and improved hygiene that "killed" the hat, and not JFK, as so many think:
A hat could protect a person from the rain, the wind, or the soot from local smokestacks. Long before SPF 55 was readily available, hats were also the single biggest protector from the sun. The sweatband could catch beads of perspiration before they got into your eyes. And at a time when showering regularly wasn't especially feasible, hats could also keep environmental dirt and grime away from the hair.

The advents of standing showers, shampoo, and an interest in more stylish hairstyles were very much a part of the hat's demise. Every time a man removed his cover, he'd need to recomb his hair, which was often slicked back or parted to the side. As longer, more styled hair became the style in the 1950s -- think Elvis's close cut and James Dean's artful mess -- coifs and covers were at odds. [link in original]
As for cars, their enclosed space meant that commuting involved less exposure to the elements -- and thus need for a hat -- than it had in the past.

-- CAV

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