Roundup – Man in a Blizzard

Line O the Day:

“By the way, I swear I did not write the following sentence.

There is this strange custom called a “Keg Stand” that all kids evidently do now.

No way! Keg… stands? WHAAA? That sounds kooky. I bet those kids do it with Ugg boots on. More stuff Peter learned with his two boys from Chugalug House:

A. These college kids belong to things called “frats,” which have strange letters hanging outside. Might be Russian.
B. Did you know they sometimes put alcohol in Jello shots? And I here I thought they were just a nice pick-me-up when you had the flu.

Think there’s a chemistry between Drew Brees and Reggie Bush?

I don’t know. For you see, chemistry is a mystery, not unlike the strange college ritual known as “boat racing,” which I’m told features no boats of any kind.”

– Big Daddy Drew, In Which Peter King Learns Of This Thing Called A “Keg Stand” [KSK]

Best of the Best:

Who is Ron Paul? [National Review]

Ron Paul speaks softly and carries Mises. The eccentric, famous, and infamous Texas congressman has a frail frame and a frailer voice. “I am not powerful, but my ideas are powerful,” he says. Everybody knows his name. Everybody talks about him. But nobody can agree as to who he is.

‘Doubling Up’ in Recession-Strained Quarters [New York Times]

As their money dwindled, Ms. Maggi and Mr. Wilson looked into shelters but discovered they would not be able to stay together as a family. It took Ms. Maggi a week to muster up the courage to ask her parents. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” said Ms. Maggi, who has lived on her own since she was 18, working for most of that time and putting herself through community college. The young couple, however, have come to regret their decision, even as they concede they had no other choice.

What we have here is one of the great comeback stories in the history of competitive punctuation [The National Post]

On Twitter, the home of microbloggers, the octothorpe has a new career, reborn as the “hashtag.” Tweeters use hashtags to catalogue their tweets. Someone writing about Miles Davis, for instance, will tag his name #Miles. Anyone coming after will be able to find all the tweets dealing with Miles.

Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation [The Wall Street Journal]

For seven hours on that Saturday, 20 speakers held forth on a range of seemingly dreary diversions, from “The Intangible Beauty of Car Park Roofs” and “Personal Reflections on the English Breakfast,” to “The Draw in Test Match Cricket” and “My Relationship With Bus Routes.” Meanwhile, some of the 200 audience members—each of whom had paid £15 (about $24) for a ticket—tried not to nod off.

Why the West Rules–For Now [Ian Morris via The Daily Beast]

The main lesson to draw from all this history is that tinkering with exchange rates and legislating against outsourcing will not stop the shift of wealth and power from West to East. The great question for the next generation is not how to stop geography from working: it is how to manage the process.

Predictions Of Today From 80 Years Ago [TechDirt]

And while Abnormal Use disagrees, I actually think physicist and Nobel laureate Arthur Compton’s prediction was pretty dead on: With better communication national boundaries will gradually cease to have their present importance. Because of racial differences a world union cannot be expected within eighty years. The best adjustment that we can hope for to this certain change would seem to be the voluntary union of neighboring nations under a centralized government of continental size.

Philippa Foot, Renowned Philosopher, Dies at 90 [The New York Times]

It was the Trolley Problem, however, that captured the imagination of scholars outside her discipline. In 1967, in the essay “The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect,” she discussed, using a series of provocative examples, the moral distinctions between intended and unintended consequences, between doing and allowing, and between positive and negative duties — the duty not to inflict harm weighed against the duty to render aid.  The most arresting of her examples, offered in just a few sentences, was the ethical dilemma faced by the driver of a runaway trolley hurtling toward five track workers. By diverting the trolley to a spur where just one worker is on the track, the driver can save five lives.  Clearly, the driver should divert the trolley and kill one worker rather than five.  But what about a surgeon who could also save five lives — by killing a patient and distributing the patient’s organs to five other patients who would otherwise die? The math is the same, but here, instead of having to choose between two negative duties — the imperative not to inflict harm — as the driver does, the doctor weighs a negative duty against the positive duty of rendering aid.  By means of such problems, Ms. Foot hoped to clarify thinking about the moral issues surrounding abortion in particular, but she applied a similar approach to matters like euthanasia.

‘Crash taxes’ are growing in popularity among cash-strapped California cities [Los Angeles Times]

One more good reason to drive safely in California: If you cause an accident, you may be on the hook to pay the police and firefighters who show up to help.  At least 50 cities in the state have adopted so-called crash-tax laws allowing local governments to seek reimbursement from insurance companies for the costs of sending public emergency crews to accident scenes. The fees can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If insurers don’t pay, cities can hire collection agents to seek payment from the motorists involved.

Leading conservatives openly support a Terrorist group [Glenn Greenwald on Salon]

Imagine if a group of leading American liberals met on foreign soil with — and expressed vocal support for — supporters of a terrorist group that had (a) a long history of hateful anti-American rhetoric, (b) an active role in both the takeover of a U.S. embassy and Saddam Hussein’s brutal 1991 repression of Iraqi Shiites, (c) extensive financial and military support from Saddam, (d) multiple acts of violence aimed at civilians, and (e) years of being designated a “Terrorist organization” by the U.S. under Presidents of both parties, a designation which is ongoing? The ensuing uproar and orgies of denunciation would be deafening.  But on December 23, a group of leading conservatives — including Rudy Giuliani and former Bush officials Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, and Fran Townsend — did exactly that.

Stanford Band Performs Before, Not During [MSNBC]

During a game with Notre Dame the Band’s show was entitled “The Irish, Why Must They Fight?” Using a crucifix as a baton got them banned from the campus.

Barry Melrose Needs A Beer, And Other Observations From The Behatted And Be-Styxed Winter Classic [Katie Baker on Deadspin]

The Caps and the Penguins may be the most heated of rivals, but outside the rink there was a hockey-first jolliness to most fans’ behavior. I particularly enjoyed Caps owner Ted Leonsis’s comment: “The highlight for me was two sections filled with Caps fans and Pens fans and they looked at each other and they started chanting ‘Flyers suck.’ It’s like they bonded around something.”

Upcoming NewSouth ‘Huck Finn’ Eliminates the ‘N’ Word [Publisher’s Weekly]

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of “all modern American literature.” Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation’s most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: “nigger.”  Twain himself defined a “classic” as “a book which people praise and don’t read.” Rather than see Twain’s most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the “n” word (as well as the “in” word, “Injun”) by replacing it with the word “slave.”  “This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he’s spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

Dave Barry’s Year in Review: Why 2010 Made Us Sick [Dave Barry via The Washington Post]

In other economic news, the first family, seeking to boost Gulf tourism, vacations in Panama City, where Obama, demonstrating that the water is perfectly safe despite the oil spill, plunges in for swim. Quick action by the Secret Service rescues him from the jaws of a mutant 500-pound shrimp sprouting what appear to be primitive wings. The first family hastily departs for Martha’s Vineyard to demonstrate that the water is also perfectly safe there.

Funny = Money [The New York Times]

As Principato put it, agents were encouraged to take a hands-off approach to their clients. Principato never figured out how to do that. Where other agents went home at night to their families, Principato stayed out with his clients, at comedy clubs, in backrooms, on tour, on the sets of movies and TV shows — even flying cross-country to bail them out of jail. Several of his clients speculated affectionately that they serve as Principato’s surrogate family. Referring to past clients like ex-girlfriends, he often uses the phrase “We were together,” as in, “We were together for X number of years.” When Jonah Hill left him recently to pursue his career without management, Principato told me three or four times how well he was taking it — before admitting that in fact, it had been one of the most painful events in his recent life and that he preferred not to discuss the subject any further.

If you want to live longer, then walk faster [JAMA via io9]

Your walking speed can tell a lot about you – including your life expectancy. Amazingly, your walking speed is just as good an indicator of how long you’ll live as your health history, smoking habits, and blood pressure combined.

Why are thousands of dead birds suddenly falling from the sky? [io9]

Some of the more fanciful interpretations have put these forward as signs of the Apocalypse, undoubtedly as the first act of some macabre play of bizarre death and destruction that will end in December 2012. But there are perfectly rational explanations for all of this. Still, I’ll warn you now – the explanations might be scientific, but they’re not exactly likely, and they sure as hell aren’t elegant or logically pleasing.

Whimsical Remains:





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