The acrobatics in question required a relatively low level of flexibility, but a relatively high level of bravado

Doing your makeup with your eyes closed

I’ve been listening to an audiobook about various ideas in physics. Part of how you talk about ideas in physics is to give a history of ideas in physics. Because of this aspect, they wind up talking about Newton and Einstein and other historical guys quite a bit.

Newton famously poked his own eyeball with a stick to figure out how light and optics and vision work. I didn’t learn that from this book, though - it’s just a thing I know about from other sources (aka other books which were not this one) and now it’s a thing you know too.

A great thing about thing about this particular book that I keep changing my mind on what I think about is that nearly every time they mention a thing Einstein thought of or had an opinion about, they say something like “Einstein, who at the time was working at a patent clerk in Bern Switzerland, believed that…” or “Einstein, from his desk at the patent office in Bern, realized that…” or “Einstein, merely a patent examiner at the time, nonetheless…” or things like that. It’s sort of insane the number of times the author of the book makes the choice to keep re-mentioning this fact about Einstein. I think it makes sense to say it at least once as a matter of what the hell was Einstein historically up to … maybe even twice to drive home the point of “look this is not a guy hanging out in some eminent university department, he’s just doing his job” or whatever. But geez, after like the fifth time it starts to become a bit much.

One theory I’ve got is that someone the author (who is a physicist in a physics department, and not a patent clerk as far as I can tell) is friends with issued him some sort of dare or challenge to see how many times he could fit this into the book. Another idea is maybe there was some sort of copy editing or proofreading mistake and some intern just copied and pasted this text about Bern and the patent office all over the place. Another idea is that one or more parties involved in writing the book have some sort of personal romantic connection to Bern or to patent offices and that repeating that location gives them some sort of broad emotional calm or something.

The first time I read it I was like “ah yes, that’s right, this is a historical fact we all know about Einstein and the author has mentioned it here for any reader who happens to not know this already”. Then the next time I was like “ok cool you’ve conveyed that he’s doing this unprecedented thinking and discovery from a quaint place”. But as the mentions kept racking up beyond that I started to hate it. Every time Einstein would come up part of me was just listening to the actual words in the book but some little subprocess in my brain was building up in anticipation of the moment of fury and indignation I would react with if indeed the author chose to once again mention how Einstein was a patent clerk in Bern Switzerland.

I must confess though that there were some moments where I tried to embrace the idea of describing things like that. Like say you were reading a book about Natalie Portman and the author kept saying something like “Natalie, who at age 10 was spotted in a pizza restaurant by a Revlon agent and asked to become a model, believes that…” over and over again. You’d probably think this was weird at first, then you’d hate, then you’d want it to stop, then you’d eventually embrace it.

Separately, I genuinely do not understand many of the ideas in this audiobook. I get the feeling that you sometimes hit a point where the math makes sense to people who understand the math, but they are collectively unable to bring whatever the hell the math told them back to the everyday language and simple metaphors world. It makes the reading experience sort of frustrating, because my reaction to some attempted metaphor is like “this is too stupid and obviously inaccurate a metaphor for someone so intelligent to have attempted to use”. Basically all of our language and experiences are centered around a slow-moving, basically Newtonian worldview, and trying to move outside of that seems to be a struggle. Alternately, they are utterly brilliant metaphors and I am failing to grasp them.

Separately, I suspect there’s some kid in like 8th grade with a last name of Maxwell and every time they learn about “Maxwell’s equations” or whatever all his buddies are like “haha, Jimmy, they’re talking about your equations!”.

Separately, it must be a big challenge to be an attractive college lady in an anatomy class. I bet every time you try to invite someone over to “study for the anatomy test” they think you’re using some sort of euphemism and are inviting them over for a romantic liaisön. It must be maddening.

Re-calibrating the citrus squeezer should be done while wearing goggles

I bet there was a police department at some point who used police dogs as part of their law enforcement operations and then separately was in the process of coming up with standardized names for everything they do, and so they hired a naming consultant to assist with their re-org.

What I’d love to know is if the naming consultant just sat down right away and on the very first afternoon was just like “Sweet Moses, I’ve got it! — K-9!” and told everyone right away? Or maybe it took weeks to stew on that one while he was naming all the other stuff? Maybe he thought of it on the very first day but decided to keep his cards close to the vest and not say it out loud right away, opting instead to milk the contract for all it was worth and pretend to be working for another or whatever before dropping that cool new name on the chief who hired him.

Some puns are kind of stupid and you’d just sort of groan at the person and not actually use the pun, but I bet for “K-9” they were just like oh man this is utterly perfect and cannot be improved and we are 100% without a doubt going to proceed with using this name because it fits exactly the scenario we have on hand here.