The Topic At Hand:

Seconds

Before the year 1267, there used to be units of time called thirds and fourths. Roger Bacon looked ahead and saw a system of progressively smaller measurements based on the simple progression of natural numbers. Perhaps, he may have thought, if clocks are ever precise enough, they will measure time in fifths, sixths, and sevenths. “Just a seventh,” we might have said, 800 years in Bacon’s future.

But it turned out that people did not want to think of time in terms of thirds and fourths. Maybe that’s because, for over 400 years, no clock could show time passing at that level of granularity. Or maybe someone worried that the word “minutia” was in danger of becoming obsolete.

Or maybe humanity as a whole looked into the distant future, and decided that the journey between birth and death is already complicated enough, that at some point, we need to set a standard for the meaning of “soon” and just stick with it.

Sequels never work, except Aliens, The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part II, and Women In Love. And yet we keep looking for ways to take the next step, the one that will finally bring us closure. Not just movies. Jobs. Careers. Kids. Chances.

Seconds.

August’s content is still here, of course. Have another look at “How do you like your eggs?”

Featured Contributors

   
meaghan.walsh
miette
miles.klee
rebecca.coffey
nporkov
rjurjevics
tara.bognar
julie.fotheringham
tracy.white
gmoskov
michael.maslin
evan.forsch
mick.stevens
susan.sfarra
todd.underwood
randall.cohn
feggo
josh.millard
amy.meckler
huili.raffo
zannah.marsh
miranda.nell
amanda.emerson
sara.nickerson
liza.donnelly
saul.epstein
rachel.hile
ted.graham
julie.dave
below.the.line
brian.beatty
chris.harcum
rachel.balik
eric.eicher

HE: I don’t know. She’s not going to take it very well. I’ve never…I don’t know.

SHE: Do you feel guilty?

HE: Well, yeah. Don’t you?

SHE: I was brought up religious so I don’t trust my feelings on anything. I can’t believe we’ve known each other since we were-

HE: -Could we have picked a worse possible time to do this?

Secondary Education
Cartoon

My parents asked us to dinner maybe a month ago. After we ate, I started telling them–believe it or not, my mother, at least, likes to hear this kind of thing–about an old t.v. show transcript that I’d stumbled onto recently: a Nova program from 1981 called “It’s About Time.” I mentioned a couple things from it that fascinated me–like that the speed of light may be the only really static thing in the universe, since everything else, even space, even time, sometimes jiggles in surprising ways. I also told them how the show ended–with the actor playing St. Augustine, an early western thinker about time, saying, just as the real St. Augustine had written in his Confessions centuries before, that as long as nobody asked him what time was, he knew, but as soon as someone did, he didn’t.

The Growing Season

I am Sam. Sam I am. You can already see where this is going. There will be fox. There will be socks. Ultimately, of course, there will be green eggs and ham. It’s a story of a pushy little fellow named Sam and his obsessive desire to force a more laconic other dude to try some green eggs and ham. Incidentally, the ham seems not to be green. Just the eggs. In any case, Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham has been an almost universally loved classic of children’s literature since it was first published in 1960.

I hate it. In fact, these days I hate almost all Dr. Seuss books. I do not simply hate the silly words or the difficult, repeated rhymes and concepts. I do not merely hate the careful rhythm and the tight integration of pictures and words

My former housemate’s baked chicken was notoriously bad. I still suspect, though I have now moved and it is unlikely I will ever get confirmation, that I was not the only resident of the house who had spent measurable time resenting the chicken’s dryness, its lack of seasoning, its tendency to stick to the baking pan.

He certainly was not the only one of us who, on occasion, might have phoned in his or her responsibility to cook for the house. I once made fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It wasn’t even particularly irksome that the stuff he cooked was always bad. Other housemates, in a large and dynamic house that boasted something like 15 different residents during the

Point Of Purchase
Cartoon
 When The Ordinary Things Stay Ordinary
Art & Poetry

“What are ‘factory seconds’ and ‘irregulars’? Factory seconds and irregulars are not necessarily faulty or even of lessened quality, but rather a piece of merchandise with a minor problem (typically cosmetic and easily reparable) that prevents it from passing the quality checks in the inspection process.”

–from essortment: 5 tips for factory outlet shopping.

I am 38 years old. Facebook knows this about me; so does Yahoo! The online game site I registered for so my nine-year-old son could use it—it cares about

Catafalque
Cartoon

In one retelling, the angel comes too late
and Isaac suffers the blade on the altar.
In another, he descends three days after,
born new in ash. Or was it Ishmael, white
robed and copper skinned, almost to Abraham’s height
when kneeling, true favorite son, who filtered
faith through shame? Sand in his eyes, who watched his father’s
hand midair, unsheathed, then God’s brusque tone, Wait?
See them gather at their father’s tomb, each grieving
son hero in rival histories. One still smells
ram burning in his place; one recalls the bending

When I was a kid, I had trouble reading clocks. This was back when people still used analog clocks pretty often. I don’t even know what percentage of parents bother to teach their children to tell time now, considering how common digital clocks are in the contemporary age. But when I was young, it was still a necessary skill, and one I couldn’t get the hang of.

This inspired my mother to create a story to help me—I’ll admit now it didn’t exactly help me, but that’s not the point—in which the main characters were the hour hand and the minute hand of a clock. The hour hand was short and fat and moved leisurely around the dial while the minute hand was tall and thin because he kept up a speedy pace.

Joshua Pashman, Coworker:

5:28 pm EST; Friday August 3, 2001

It had been a long week. We’d just implemented a brand new online inventory reservation system and it didn’t work for shit. Richard had sort of been in charge of the whole thing and was getting a lot of flack from sales and finance. Word had even spread to the big wigs in corporate. I remember asking him if he had any plans for the weekend and he said he would be drinking. I started to laugh a little but stopped when I saw the look on his face. It wasn’t about unwinding or having a good time. It was about getting to a state of inebriation

Regrets
The Second Chances Of Jean Cocteau
Second Hand
Affording Good Beheadings

A writing teacher once gave this assignment: on seven different index cards, write the seven most important stories of your life. I tried. I took it seriously because I really liked this teacher and really liked the class, but all I could come up with was a fuzzy vision of my grandmother teaching me to baste a turkey and a few gruesome scenes from Oliver Stone war movies. Everyone else in the class was listing and scribbling and misting and I was pretty sure it wasn’t about the time they clipped their big toenail and it shot into their eye. I think I’ve always had a problem with neurons and trying too hard.

Then there is the issue of index-cards. Perfectly 3 x 5 and upright in their box, they promise efficiency and organization but have never paid off for me in any

Welcome to the second month of Revolving Floor! In our first month, we’ve already had quite a journey, launching the site, getting to know each other’s work, and receiving very positive publicity from a number of different areas, culminating in a post to the Metafilter front page (thanks netbros!) and a post on Digital Nomads, written by yours truly (thanks Dell!).

We’ve got some great stuff coming up this month, featuring many of the contributors who participated in August, and a few new ones.

Amanda Emerson brings us a fabulous essay on academic bureaucracy, which we’re launching with. Eric Eicher also returns with “Time Tricks,” Sara