Am not the first to decipher that this is not a comic done by the honorary artist behind ‘Calvin and Hobbes’, monsieur Bill Watterson, as many people have beat me to it in this comments page at Reddit (here be dragons; you’ve been warned) but the hypertext led me to the source at ZenPencils and the root of the quote which is from a speech given to the graduating class at Kenyon College by Watterson on May 20, 1990 which has been beatifully illustrated by Gavin.
For those grappling to transcribe or frantically search for the exact text in the comic, look no further for it has been captured as well -
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive.
Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake.
A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.
Hat-tip to my friend Nandita Ravindran for the rabbit hole who said that I was the first one she thought of sharing this with when she stumbled upon ImgUR.
Finally we have it folks. After millenia of having a crack at the mystery, with thousands of crackpot theories in vogue and spending exponentially more think-time and dollars on the research, theory, practicals and experiments on man, fish, insect and beast, 13 scientists of a melting-pot persuasion representing atleast 5 continents in their origins based in Rochester have some semblance of a partial explanation as to the function that sleep of the night-cap kind serves. Here is “Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain”, Lulu Xie, Hongyi Kang, Qiwu Xu, Michael J. Chen, Yonghong Liao, Meenakshisundaram Thiyagarajan, John O’Donnell, Daniel J. Christensen, Charles Nicholson, Jeffrey J. Iliff, Takahiro Takano, Rashid Deane, and Maiken Nedergaard, Science, 18 October 2013: 342 (6156), 373-377. DOI:10.1126/science.1241224] -
The conservation of sleep across all animal species suggests that sleep serves a vital function. We here report that sleep has a critical function in ensuring metabolic homeostasis. Using real-time assessments of tetramethylammonium diffusion and two-photon imaging in live mice, we show that natural sleep or anesthesia are associated with a 60% increase in the interstitial space, resulting in a striking increase in convective exchange of cerebrospinal fluid with interstitial fluid. In turn, convective fluxes of interstitial fluid increased the rate of β-amyloid clearance during sleep. Thus, the restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of the enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system.
Duh, I say. Is it huh, I hear you say? From a mish-mash of coverage of this seminal development and dissemination in various places (and counting) like NPR, Science Blog, Associated Press, Times of India and Zee News, allow me to plainspeak. Essentially, brains sweep hemselves clean of toxins during sleep. In mice, their brain cells shrink, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to flow easily around them. The fluid can then clear away toxins. The study reveals brain takes out the trash while we sleep in findings that give fresh meaning to the old adage that a good night’s sleep clears the mind for sleep gets rid of gunk that builds up while we’re awake which while explaining the function of sleep, may also provide new clues to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders. These waste products included amyloid beta, a protein that when accumulated is a driver of Alzheimer’s disease. In order to help remove the waste, cerebral spinal fluid is pumped through brain tissue. The process is sped along during sleep because the brain’s cells shrink by about 60 percent, allowing the fluid to move faster and more freely through the brain. The whole operation takes place in what researchers call the glymphatic system, which appears to be nearly 10 times more active during sleep than while awake. The body does this sweeping only during sleep and not continuously during wakefulness for the sake of energy efficiency and performance in day activities.
I would not be much of a self-acclaimed scientist and card-carrying blogger if I did not put my spin on it now, would I? We may not have hundreds of mice lying about to dissect their brains about and 2-photon microscopes in the garage but this study appeals to us because this ‘cleaning trash’ theory is something we all innately have internalized to explain, if only to ourselves, why nature has made sleep mandatory that takes up roughly half of our lives (counting the sleep from when we are young and senile which is a lot). Life is short and then we have to sleep. Doh! Not to drill holes but there is a lot more to be explained about sleep, especially in humans who also sleep recreationally with naps, siestas, kunukus etc. and under stress when we are ill, hit on the head etc. What happens and what is the purpose of sleep in these situations? Seriousness apart, that sleep cleanses our brains of toxins makes one wonder about death which is but indefinite sleep. It seems to me that death is that one last big cleanse. It is nature cleansing the planet of our toxic insignificant existence in this mortal coil. Sweet dreams, bitter visions, sour nightmares et al.
Finally, someone did some true work and dissected the phenomenon of the so-called “Arab Spring”. Here is Hernando de Soto Polar (President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy at Lima in Peru, and author of ‘The Mystery of Capital’) op-ed piece in Deccan Chronicle today by arrangement with the Spectator – The real truth behind the Arab Spring | Deccan Chronicle
Effectively, it boils down to just one thing – the uprising is not for democracy nor liberty nor rights but the fundamental human need to make a decent living without interference of corruption – something that even the developed world with its free-slinging yeehaw free-market and capitalism guns in their holsters and tanks cannot deliver to people without old-money and influence.
I suppose sad sods collectively called humanity could not care less about the type of government or religion or police or any other entity that affects their daily life as long as they can simply go about making a living without getting too much hassled along the way. If a dictator or puppet-president can ensure this, people will welcomingly tolerate it but even when a democratically elected government with fair voting (if there is indeed such a thing) does not deliver on this basic amenity, people will revolt. As simple as clean water – scratch that, clean water apparently is hard to get for billions of people. As simple as clean air – scratch that, clean air apparently is hard to get for billions of people. As simple as clean earth – scratch that… you get the drift. Just about anything is complicated if it is not handed down.
Now it leaves the small question why people in other parts of developing world like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan etc. where they have it much worse than Arabia do not revolt. Elementary my dear websons, these are not people but sheeple who have given up all hope and merely exist and survive. Sorry to digress.
I for one think there are conspiracies galore afoot. It could be a feminist conspiracy to condition men into settling down and make women the bosses of every happy-go-lucky sod. It could be a capitalist conspiracy for bachelordom is like socialism because wealth is distributed rather than hoarded. I wish I could expand but some humanities graduate must be doing a thesis on this very topic and it is best we go in search of it rather than go hyperbole and make anecdotal stand-up statements.
 Married types ask, ‘How SJ can you make do without sex’? Answer: The same as you! Only difference is I cope better knowing that it is purely my choice
To be liberal and critical if only for the sake of it, I think Kiran Bedi has got it right because with old ignorant millions starving for days altogether in this sad poverty stricken uber-corrupt country, India is indeed an ugly representative of Anna Hazare.
When the head of Bell Labs (India speaks), better listen. Am on it and good luck.