Thursday, March 23, 2006

One of these days I am actually going to write a letter I've been meaning to pen for some time. The intended recipient is a man named Nathan Myhrvold. He was one of the architects at Microsoft and he left to start a company called Intellectual Ventures. It's a company devoted to invention and innovation. That's all they do. They are a pack of Felix Hoenikker's.

My letter is going to ask My Myhrvold if I can come and hang out with the inventors for like a year and write about it. Now you might be asking why I would want to do this.

I formed the idea for this letter during my reading of The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, by Rainier Maria Rilke. It's a fabulous novel. Read it and everything else Rilke has written. You will be a better human for it. Anyway, the novel itself was not the inspiration for my unwritten letter, the creation of the novel is. You see, Rilke was contracted in 1910 to write the biography of Rodin, the artist and uber-famous sculptor, and it was during this time that Rilke created Brigge. Naturally you would assume this to be a sensible; two artists spending some amicable and not so amicable time together and both benefiting from the experience.

So why do I, as a writer seeking to follow in the footsteps of an idol, want to hang out with scientists. Actually I think most of you who've found your way here know why. You're pretty bright after all. Scientists in a lot of ways are artists. We follow much the same method in our deliberations on the work we do. We sit, ponder, examine, reassess, rework, yell at, and finally eek our way up the long hill to what we hope is a successful product, something which appeals to and benefits people.

And like artists, and numerous other free-thinking peoples, scientists have taken their share of sh!t from the administration currently running the US government. Everyone from environmental scientists to medical researchers have seen cuts or freezes on funding, with one obvious exception, WAR-scientists, whose budget is now 3/4 of total scientific research spending(according to the May 13th issue of the New Yorker:good for news, bad for poetry). But I want to take a moment to fault scientists.


Because they need to start saying no. The New Yorker article speaks to the controversal stem-cell area of research, and how scientists have to essence severely limit their focus to work on stem-cells, or they can go after everything but stem-cells, but never the twain will meet if Bushy and friends have their way. Now I understand and empathize with the frustration of that kind of situation. But that is exactly why the scientific community needs to grow a pair and say no. Say no to the restrictions. Say no the lesser arguments of weak minds.

And if they try to stop you, fight back. Otherwise, how far is this going to go? How far are we going to let it go? By all accounts, especially on the environmental end, we are running out of time. Can we really wait to see if they are going to keep pushing us all down?

I say, it's Fight Club, idea style.

Hire PR people. Hire someone to yell from the roof when they try to lock you out of the labs. The only reason they are able to get anything done is they have good PR people and they say things simply. You, and the rest of us, the writers and artists, the teachers and the editors, the parts of the country that aren't easy-mannered, need to say things better.

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