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September 2, 2008

Summary of My Discontent - Killing Time

If you’re killing time waiting for Anne Rice to re-lose her religion, you might want to pick up “The Black Hole War” by Leonard Susskind. 

In that book, subtitled “My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics,” Susskind, a professor of theoretical physics at Stanford, speculates that the expansion of the universe started by the Big Bang could actually be a contraction because time might be moving backwards. This could explain a lot, including why humans, whom Hawking calls “an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star,” have begun texting while driving. It might also explain why Bob Costas appears to be 14 years old when in fact his first sports assignment was “gouge statistician” at the 612 Babylon Olympics. Also: Crocs.

 However, if you’re killing time waiting for meat to be safe again, you might want to get in on the ground floor of the mini-cow craze. According to The Times of London, homeowners in Great Britain are filling their backyards with Dexters, a breed of miniature cattle called “the world’s most efficient, cutest and tastiest cows.” Mini-Herefords and Lowline Angus are other breeds of mini-cattle that are roughly the size of German shepherds but produce 16 pints of milk per day, while mowing the lawn. Be warned: They do require the gallon-size baggie if you’re going to pick up after them in the park. 

 But you might be killing time waiting for news reporting to stop sucking navel. If that’s the case, you might want to check out “crowdfunding,” the latest trend in journalism (motto: All Trends, All of Them Bad). “Spot Us” (http://spot.us) is a San Francisco media startup that asks readers to “vote” for which stories it covers by donating small sums of money. The site assigns the most popular stories to freelance reporters who tackle the assignments and get to eat that day. Spot Us — which apparently ruled out “Will Report For Food” when deciding on a name — hopes “community-funded reporting” will become the new business model for journalism and that readers will pay for hard-hitting stories on the environment, health, politics, consumer affairs and other stories that typically neither bleed nor lead in the mainstream media. 

If you’re killing time waiting for CNN to explain more about Kentucky’s Laura Clay than its convention crawl note that she was the first woman to receive a nomination for president by a major political party, wait no more. Laura Clay was a heroic feminazi suffragist rabble-rouser, daughter of publisher-emancipationist Cassius Clay and cousin of perennial presidential contender (and Steve Beshear look-alike) Henry Clay. Along with her pal Susan B. Anthony, whose profile adorns those dollar coins nobody knows how to spend, Laura Clay arguably did more for women’s rights than anyone else in U.S. history, successfully enacting legislation guaranteeing women the right to divorce, guardianship of children, real-estate ownership, contracts, college enrollment, equal pay at the University of Kentucky and the right to vote. She received a symbolic vote for the nomination for president at the 1920 Democratic National Convention in recognition of her brave dedication to women’s rights. All Kentucky girls and boys should proceed immediately to the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives article at www.kdla.ky.gov/resources/kylauraclay.htm, read more about Laura Clay and be proud they live in a state that produced a reformer who helped make it possible for American women to be full citizens.   

But if you’re killing time waiting for China to take over the world on pogo sticks like it cleverly hinted at during the Beijing Olympics ceremonies, be warned that you may have a lot of time to kill. Here in the Western Hemisphere, where God created the earth in seven days 6,000 years ago, time flies like a bullet. But in the East, time is measured in kalpas and the history of the world is made up of an infinite number of them. How long is a kalpa? The Buddha says to rub a one-mile-square rock with a piece of silk one time each 100 years until the rock is worn away. So it’s not an exact measurement, but it is roughly as long as the United States presidential election cycle. And as our next leader slouches toward November to be elected, just remember what Jesus* said: “Kill time, not people.”


*Jesus Higgens, a struggling sticker salesman in Camden Town, London, U.K.