Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Read What I Read

The next day, Eunice and I took the Long Island Rail Road to Westbury, Long Island, to meet the Abramovs. The love I felt for her on that train ride had a capital and provinces, parishes and a Vatican, an orange planet and many sullen moons --- it was systemic and it was complete.
--- Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story

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Since A Hologram for the King was a new release, the library insisted I return it within 2 weeks instead of the normal 4. I hate having such deadlines for reading, but Dave Eggers is always a fast read for me, and I happened to finish it within 2 days, and I returned it to the library this morning since I had a dental appointment. Getting that novel back on the shelf in such a quick turnaround is practically charity work, and when the time comes to remember me at the funeral wake or in the New York Times obituary, this fine deed should be told as an example of my selflessness.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Internet Browsing Club - July 2012

Our pal Adrienne recommends the 2009 New Yorker profile of Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is still in the news from AZ's immigration law.
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Our pal Bobbo recommends this interview with Hemingway from the Paris Review.
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Our pal Nick recommends this profile of hot dog eating outcast Kobayashi.

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Uhh Yeah Dude mentioned this article about why people think they have something they saw on WebMD

The way gamblers say they have a “hot hand,” she says, cyberchondriacs believe they have “hot symptoms”: if they hit the first two in a list, they believe they must have the third one as well.

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After an NPR intern wrote she’s only paid for 15 albums in her life, despite an iTunes library of 11,000 songs, David Lowrey of “Cracker” wrote a lengthy, compelling response discussing why a generation that pays for fair trade coffee won’t pay artists for their work.

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Two articles from CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report are interesting. First, take care when cleaning your grill.
A man aged 50 years arrived at the ED with abdominal pain that had begun after eating steak at a backyard barbeque. Computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen and pelvis revealed a linear object extending through the wall of a loop of small intestine into the omentum (Figure). Laparotomy was performed to remove the foreign body, which appeared to be a wire bristle from a grill-cleaning brush. The patient fully recovered and was discharged the next day.Five more patients visited the ED during August 2011–June 2012 after inadvertent ingestion of a wire bristle that had become dislodged from a grill-cleaning brush and embedded in food. In all of the cases, the bristles were initially identified by radiographs of the neck or CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis, and their origin was confirmed after removal (Table). Patient interviews revealed a common history of recent ingestion of grilled meat. After definitive treatment, all six patients recovered fully.
Second, motorcycle helmets are really good:

In 2010, motorcycle crashes made up 14% of all road traffic deaths, yet motorcycles accounted for <1% of all vehicle miles traveled. Helmet use prevents an estimated 37% of fatalities among motorcycle operators and 41% of fatalities among passengers. Compared with motorcyclists in states with a universal helmet law during 2008–2010, fatally injured motorcyclists in states with a partial helmet law were more than five times as likely not to have been wearing a helmet, and fatally injured motorcyclists in states with no helmet law were more than six times as likely not to have been wearing a helmet. Economic costs saved in states with a universal helmet law were, on average, $725 per registered motorcycle, nearly four times greater than in states without such a law ($198). Although approximately $3 billion in economic costs were saved as a result of helmet use in the United States in 2010, another $1.4 billion could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.

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Reddit’s Ask Me Anything features can be great. A tobacco marketer did one, and a commenter chimed in with some stories about his time working at Marlboro during the beginning of the Marlboro Miles program, where smokers could collect prizes through proofs of purchase:
The first year of the program, Marlboro substantially underestimated customer response. They also didn't expect customers to team up for the bigger stuff. For example, whole bars full of customers would team up to get the pool table for their favorite bar - Marlboro was suddenly on the hook to buy way more pool tables than expected, and they had us calling everyone who had ordered a pool table to see if we could talk them into accepting something cheaper. (Nobody did.) But the worst was the kayaks: Marlboro found that they had enough orders that they basically were committed to giving away the entire world's output of kayaks for the next three years. We advised them to buy a kayak manufacturer, I don't know what ever became of that. Anyway that's why the big ticket items suddenly required massively more proofs of purchase the second year. They also changed the name of the program both in advertising and on the proofs of purchase to ensure no further orders could come in for the original stuff, and this made customers REALLY angry when they found out they couldn't mix old and new proofs of purchase. We had quite a few smokers freak out at us about that on the phone.

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K-State was just the second university in the nation to offer a bachelor of technical science degree with an emphasis in unmanned aircraft systems (AKA “drones”).

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Mark Titus is one of the few Grantland staff I always read. He’s from Indiana, and wrote about the Indy 500 experience:
Yes, I've been to the Kentucky Derby. And while I agree that it's also a kickass time, there's nothing the Derby has that the 500 doesn't except for goofy hats, less than half as many people, and a stupid rule that doesn't allow me to bring my own alcohol into the track.

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Bob Powers continues to write very funny, very short stories. “Your high school got together and named you boyfriend of the year” is my latest favorite.

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Chuck Klosterman attended a Creed/Nickelback doubleheader.

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Joe Posnanski wrote yet another good piece on how bad the KC Royals suck at baseball:

Royals, games behind at All-Star break:

2012: 7.5 games back
2011: 10.5
2010: 10.5
2009: 11.5
2008: 11.5
2007: 15
2006: 27.5
2005: 27.5
2004: 16
2003: UP 7 games!
2002: 15 games back
2001: 21
2000: 15
1999: 21
1998: 12.5
1997: 9
1996: 14.5
1995: 12

Look at that chart. That might be the most depressing thing I’ve seen in a long time. It isn’t just that the Royals have been terrible year after year since the strike. It is that they have been out of contention every single year by the All-Star break -- this in a division that has not always been particularly strong. Not counting that crazy 2003 season, they have trailed by double-digit games every year except 1997 and, perhaps, this year. Perhaps. At this point, if you are a Royals fan you are not even asking for a meaningful September. A meaningful July would do.