from The Book of Goodbyes (2013)


The last time I saw Big Logos he was walking
to the Quantum Physics Store to buy magnets.
He told me his intentions. He was wearing

a jumpsuit with frayed cuffs. I thought the cuffs
got that way from him rubbing them against
his lips but he said they got that way

with age. We had two more blocks to walk.
"Once I do this, what are you going to do?"
he asked. "I wish you wouldn't do it," I said.

Big Logos bought the magnets and a crane
delivered them to his house. After he built
the 900-megahertz superconductor, I couldn't go

to his house anymore because I have all kinds
of metal in my body. I think if you love someone
you shouldn't do that, build something like that,

on purpose, right in front of them.


from The Colony (2010)

Mercedes: Welcome to the Lab Report on the Cold Spring Harbor Channel. This week I'm sitting down with Peter Singer, who is delivering a talk tomorrow night in the auditorium. Mr Singer. Thanks for joining me.

Peter Singer: My pleasure.

Mercedes: So you are . . . a pretty big deal. You are . . . a big-name philanthroper.

Peter Singer: Philosopher.

Mercedes: So what does that mean to your life?

Peter Singer: To my life?

Mercedes: Yeah, like what does a philosopher do? See, I'm a hair stylist. What I do is make people happy with their hair. I introduce them to products--Paul Mitchell's Super Skinny Serum is my favorite. Hi, Paul, if you're watching, love the product. Love it. So does a philosopher have a product or clients and, I guess, if not, what does a philosopher do?

Peter Singer: As a philosopher, I thrive on debate and discussion, that's what the field is about, and of course sometimes that criticism goes a little bit over the top [...] Bioethics is a fascinating field because the biosciences keep moving forward and they keep giving us new possibilities and new choices. For example, as we learn more about genetics, we are going to be able to select our children, and that's going to be a huge ethical issue. We're already seeing at universities like Princeton that the student newspaper carries advertisements offering $20,000 to $30,000 for eggs from students who match a certain criteria.

Mercedes: How much would you pay me?

Peter Singer: You mean for your eggs.

Mercedes: Yeah, like I could totally see myself being a donor if you, like, needed an egg.

Peter Singer: I personally do not need an egg.

Mercedes: Okay. Moving on. So I was Googling you and I found out we're a lot alike. Me and you. Because you like controversy and so do I. I pulled up a letter from Karen Meade in Dublin. Karen writes, "Would you kill a disabled baby?" This is quite a controversial topic, so I'd like us to take a pause before we continue. Pause.

Peter Singer: [Silent]

Mercedes: Okay. Continue.

Peter Singer: Yes, if that was in the best interests of the baby and of the family as a whole. Many people find this shocking, yet they support a woman's right to have an abortion. One point on which I agree with opponents of abortion is that, from the point of view of ethics rather than the law, there is no sharp distinction between the fetus and the newborn baby.

Mercedes: Okay. One last question. Where do you buy your bow ties?