Saturday, March 12, 2005

When Congressmen Pray For Hershey Heaven

Ira Herskowitz was the guy who explained to me that Theodosius Dobzhansky had found "Hershey Heaven."

Al Hershey, who got a Nobel Prize by using a Waring blender to prove that genes were DNA, once told a reporter his idea of heaven was "having an experiment that works, and getting to do it over and over again."

Dobzhansky used to publish papers with titles like "Genetics of Natural Populations XLIII." He had a good story, and he was sticking with it.

For the rest of us, life's different. All the time. Like the Red Queen, we have to run as fast as we can to stay in place.

Politicians are no exception. The road to elected office is a tough slog, but every elected official has figured out how to make it. All arrive carrying valuable maps for how to get there over and over again, which they acquired on their journey.

But a map is only good if the ground stays put.

It must be tempting to pass laws to slow change ... at least for long enough to run for re-election.

It's easy to fantasize about passing laws to make the world stand still. It's harder to pass those laws fast enough to even keep up with the changes you're trying to regulate. Every congressman should remember King Canute, and should post Hotspur's reply to Owen Glendower on his bathroom mirror:
Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;

But will they come when you do call for them?

-- Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1
The recent threats to regulate blogging come from politicians who are trying, one more time, to legislate themselves into Hershey Heaven.

My prediction? They won't get there.

Addendum: Someone from Romania wrote, asking for more background info than Chris Muir's Day-by-Day cartoon provides. See Scott Johnson's "Dream Palace of the Goo-Goos" for an overview, and this earlier post for one thing bloggers are doing about it.

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