I’ve been a Bob Dylan fan since roughly 1972. I had inherited a copy of Blonde on Blonde from one or other of my older brothers, along with a record player, and I spun all four sides incessantly. I laughed (“Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”), I cheered (“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”), I cried (“Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”), I sang along (every word). Three years later, Blood on the Tracks joined the rotation, followed by Desire in 1976. Those were great years to be a young Dylan fan.
Somewhere between 500 and 1,000 different kinds of minuscule organisms—bacteria, fungi, viruses—live in your mouth, taking up residence on your tongue, between your teeth and under your gums. Another 400-odd species may be nestled in the crease of your inner arm. A few thousand types live in your digestive system, and your stools are between 25 and 50 percent bacterial matter by mass. A “microbial cloud” that is unique to you alone surrounds and travels with you, like the dust haze that accompanies the Peanuts character Pigpen. Even your eyeball has its own microbe community.
If a woman can be president of the United States, does that mean a man can be first lady? With just a swipe of Wite-Out, the White House stationery could be made to read “first lad”—or even, with a mere letter’s insertion, “first laddy.”
Last week in this space, we raised and investigated the specter of a female U.S. president—a welcome change to some and apparently a simple impossibility to others. This week, let’s have some law.
Everybody knows women are weak, shallow, hormonally charged maniacs (womaniacs?) emotionally unsuited to be leader of the free world. They cry, they make rash decisions, they’re irrational, they take too long in the bathroom, no other world leaders could possibly respect them, and they will discriminate against men. Furthermore, as several tiny kids interviewed by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel allege, they’re too girlie, they’re scaredy-cats, and they’ll probably paint the White House pink.
According to fourth-century B.C. Greek philosopher Democritus, “Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is just opinion.” But our universe turns out to be slightly more complicated than that, and Democritus’s theory of atomism—the proposal that “atoms” and “void” are the only two components of existence—does not fully account for what we can now observe.
August 18 is an important date for the Roanoke Colony, England’s first settlement in North America. On that day in 1587, less than a month after the settlers made landfall on the Outer Banks of what is now North Carolina, Virginia Dare became the first English child born in the New World. Shortly after his granddaughter’s birth, the expedition’s leader, John White, headed back to England on a resupply mission. He returned to Roanoke Island on August 18, 1590—on what would have been Dare’s third birthday—to find the settlement abandoned. What happened to White’s daughter, granddaughter and the other 113 colonists he left behind is unknown. Today marks the 425th anniversary of the day the colony was discovered to be lost to history—its undiscovery.