Archive for December, 2016

The Ice Man Cometh

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Baby, it’s cold outside. And that makes us wonder just what is so appealing about being called “Ice Man”? We keep giving the nickname to heroes and villains alike:

Hit man Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski claimed he killed union leader Jimmy Hoffa (missing since 1975) and earned the nickname when he froze one of his alleged 100+ victims.

In Eugene O’Neill’s play, “The Iceman” is a punch line or a symbol of death or a killer of dreams.

George “Iceman” Gervin played basketball for the Spurs and the Bulls and was a legendary shooting guard with an NBA average of 26.2 points per game. His is the father of “Gee” Gervin of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Iceman (the secret identity of Bobby Drake) is a Marvel superhero and a founder of the X-Men.

The Iceman a/k/a “Ötzi” is a murder victim whose body was discovered in the Alps 5,300 years after he was killed. Though the murder weapon (an arrow) was discovered at the scene of the crime, the perp is still at large.

Those are hardly warm thoughts for this cold, cold season.

Time for hot toddies by the fireside.


Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

…The seeds were sown successfully
under grow lights in Siberia, deep in whose permafrost
international high-fiving scientists discovered a fully intact
woolly mammoth carcass.
Hymn to Life by Timothy Donnelly

In these cold, dark days of December (they meet that description in this hemisphere, anyway – your hemisphere may vary), let us pause to consider the miracle of something colder and darker still: killing, life-preserving permafrost.

Despite its name, permafrost isn’t necessarily permanent. Not only does soil qualify as permafrost if it freezes for only a little more than two years in a row, but the Earth’s great store of permafrost is thawing, and quickly.

When the planet heats up, not only does the permafrost melt and release methane into the atmosphere, snow and glaciers melt and leave less white surface to reflect sunlight. Both of these phenomena cause the Earth to heat up even more.

There are still places in the world above the Arctic Circle where permafrost is 1,000 feet deep. However, with temperatures rising (as they do more rapidly there than the rest of the planet), the consequences can be outbreaks of diseases that have lain dormant for 75 years or even 30,000.

Thanks to melting permafrost, we can study the intact specimens of extinct Ice Age species such as mammoths and cave lions. Thanks to climate change, we’ll be studying more of them than ever – more quickly than we thought.

Ugh, what is it about these cold, dark days?

Hey, did you know you can join the United States Permafrost Association?

Don’t wait.

A street in Dawson City, Yukon. The building are listing because the foundations are in the melting permafrost. Photo courtesy of Joan Grossman.

Visit us at Union Square!

Friday, December 9th, 2016

It’s that time again!

Every year, The Unemployed Philosophers Guild brings our wares to the people of Union Square in NYC.

The Guild had its first booth at the Holiday Market in 1993, and it’s always great to meet up with our fans and fellow philosophii.

If you’re in the Union Square area (Union Squarea?), be sure and stop by Booth #A68 to say “hello.” Visit all your old favorites and behold the new notebooks, coffee mugs, and minty mints with your very own eyes. Go ahead, reach out and pet a Freudian Slipper or commune with all the new Little Thinkers and Magnetic Personalities.

And speaking of Magnetic Personalities, feel free to strike up a chat with the smart and helpful Booth Philosopher on duty. Find out what Beth’s reading lately. Let Dia tell you what’s great about Martha Graham. Ask Annie about Commedia dell’arte and mask work (or Shakespeare).

Welcome back to the booth! We’ll be there every day through Christmas Eve.

UPG Picks – Amber

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Although I have many favorite UPG products, I’d say that sticky notes are one of the things I use most often. I leave myself a ton of notes and reminders, daily. I’ve been partial to Document First Aid Notes lately for a few reasons. The simplicity of the design is easy to see my handwriting on (I’m easily distracted – see notes re: leaving myself a ton of notes). I appreciate the irony of document triage coming in the form of sticky notes, which are the bane of librarians and book/paper conservationists worldwide. And they simply enhance the otherwise plain borders of my computer screen and the woodgrain of my desk!