Archive for December, 2012


Roundup – Tank Cat

Line O’ the Day:

“God, it hurts my head just looking at [Sippin’ Sizzurp Purple Drank]. Nothing good can come from drinking that. One bottle and you wake up with your bare foot inside a dead wolfhound’s ass. I MUST HAVE IT.”

– Drew Magary, “The NFL Is Still Holding Back Saturday Football Because The NFL Hates You” [Deadspin]

Best of the Best:

Panoramic image shows the damage in Kesennuma, Japan [NBC Photoblog]

Robert Hood says: This is the first of what we hope are several panoramic images we’ll be publishing over the next few days. This image technology is uniquely suited to showing the devastation in Japan.

9 Most Outrageous Outlaw Heroes [Grace Murano on ODEE]

A relative unknown during his own lifetime, he was catapulted into legend the year after his death when his killer, Sheriff Patrick Garrett, along with co-author M.A. “Ash” Upson, published a sensationalistic biography titled The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid. Beginning with Garrett’s account, Billy the Kid grew into a symbolic figure of the American Old West. Historians speculate that his image was created deliberately to distract the public’s attention from the nefarious activities of the Dolan faction and their influential supporters in Santa Fe, notably regional political leader Thomas Benton Catron.

Dylan Muse Graced Famed Album Cover [Stephen Miller on The Wall Street Journal, (3/1/2011)]

Suze Rotolo appeared in one of folk music’s most lasting images, the cover to “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” the 1963 album that made Mr. Dylan a star. Ms. Rotolo, who died Friday at age 67 after a lengthy illness, was Mr. Dylan’s girlfriend at the time, and by his account and hers had an important influence on his music. Such Dylan songs as “Boots of Spanish Leather,” “Tomorrow is a Long Time,” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” grew out of experiences they shared…

She and Mr. Dylan met in 1961 in the context of a bubbling Greenwich Village folk music scene in which Mr. Dylan was a rising talent. Ms. Rotolo was a precocious and cultured 17-year-old from Queens, N.Y., who had grown up with parents who were Communist Party members, though she didn’t like to talk about it. Of their first meeting, at a folk concert at Riverside Church, Mr. Dylan wrote, “Right from the start I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was the most erotic thing I’d ever seen.” She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blood Italian. The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves.”

The Year’s Best Television Episode [Brian Raftery on Gentlemen’s Quarterly]

Dan Weiss (co-creator): I think we asked for $2.5 million. We got $2 million-something. That’s a lot of money in TV. It was a big ask for them, and they understood it was really important. Our point was that the entire season was pointing toward this confrontation. To do what’s normally done on television—the Shakespearean model of talking about battles off-screen—would completely kill the season.

Fifty Shades of Grey Porn Adaptation Gets Sued [Vince Mancini on FilmDrunk]

So, a porn adaptation suing a porn adaptation, basically. This would be meta if it weren’t so asinine.

Darkness at noon in the mind of fearful Damascus [Erika Solomon on Reuters]

These days, Syrians do not only worry about the rebels and the army; they fear each other. Gunmen belonging to local vigilante groups aligned with the security forces now freely roam many neighborhoods close to rebellious areas. Reports of kidnappings and murders come daily. The tension is breeding general anxiety, with rumors of both army and rebel operations now a constant backdrop. Alia, a local housewife who spoke by Skype, said she and her family felt increasingly angry and confused over who to blame for the chaos.

Is It OK For the Girl to Propose? No Way, Study Suggests [Stephanie Pappas on Live Science]

The researchers surveyed 277 heterosexual undergraduate students at UC Santa Cruz on their own attitudes toward proposals and marital name changes. The students also answered questions about their attitudes toward women, such as toward the idea that women should be “put on a pedestal.” Two-thirds of the students, both male and female, said they’d “definitely” want the man to propose marriage in their relationship. Only 2.8 percent of women said they’d “kind of” want to propose, but not a single man indicated he’d prefer that arrangement. Notably, not a single student, male or female, “definitely” wanted the woman to propose.

Women Notch Progress: Females Now Constitute One-Third of Nation’s Ranks of Doctors and Lawyers [Josh Mitchell on Wall Street Journal]

Women’s share of jobs in the legal and medical fields climbed during the past decade even as their share of the overall workforce stalled at slightly less than half. Women held 33.4% of legal jobs—including lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial workers—in 2010, up from 29.2% in 2000. The share of female physicians and surgeons increased to 32.4% from 26.8% during that time. In 1970, women were 9.7% of the nation’s doctors and just 4.9% of its lawyers, according to Census data.

Degree Inflation? Jobs That Newly Require B.A.’s [Catherine Rampell on Economix]

In the late 1970s, the median wage was 40 percent higher for college graduates than for people with more than a high school degree; now the wage premium is about 80 percent. Some of that wage premium has to do with the changing nature of American jobs and the skills (and social networks) attained in college. Some of it may have to do with a change in the mix of students who go to college and those who don’t. As college enrollment becomes more expected of high school students — as of October 2011, 68.3 percent of 2011 high school graduates were enrolled in college — the shrinking group of students forgoing college may have other characteristics that are associated with lower wages.

Border Agents’ Power to Search Devices Is Facing Increasing Challenges in Court [Susan Stellin on The New York Times]

In other cases, travelers say they have no idea why they were singled out. A laptop belonging to Lisa M. Wayne, a criminal defense lawyer, was searched after she returned from a trip to Mexico. Ms. Wayne said her main concern was the information about clients’ cases stored on her laptop: she is a past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which is a co-plaintiff in the Abidor suit, along with the National Press Photographers Association. But at the time of the search, she was unaware of her rights and felt pressured to hand over her computer.

Gamblers Take Note: The Odds in a Coin Flip Aren’t Quite 50/50 [Dan Lewis on The Smithsonian]

[M]ore incredibly, as reported by Science News, spinning a penny, in this case one with the Lincoln Memorial on the back, gives even more pronounced odds — the penny will land tails side up roughly 80 percent of the time. The reason: the side with Lincoln’s head on it is a bit heavier than the flip side, causing the coin’s center of mass to lie slightly toward heads. The spinning coin tends to fall toward the heavier side more often, leading to a pronounced number of extra “tails” results when it finally comes to rest. Because the coins typically pick up dirt and oils over time, trying the experiment at home may not yield such a large percentage of “tails” over “heads” — but a relatively new coin should still give you noticeable results.

The Science Behind Gifting [Sumathi Reddy on The Wall Street Journal]

The adage “It’s the thought that counts” was largely debunked by the recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, which concluded that gift givers are better off choosing gifts that receivers actually desire rather than spending a lot of time and energy shopping for what they perceive to be a thoughtful gift. The study found thoughtfulness doesn’t increase a recipient’s appreciation if the gift is a desirable one. In fact, thoughtfulness only seemed to count when a friend gives a gift that is disliked.

Teens Dying From Sunbed Tanning Curb $5 Billion Industry [Jason Gale on Bloomberg]

For the moment, however, the FDA ranks tanning machines as class-I devices– as safe to use, in other words, as elastic bandages. Few other health groups share that position. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2009 added ultraviolet radiation from tanning machines to a danger category of carcinogens that includes radon and plutonium. Indoor tanning before age 35 increases the risk for melanoma by 75%, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report in May.

Who Was Casanova? [Tony Perrottet on The Smithsonian]

Casanova is so surrounded by myth that many people almost believe he was a fictional character. (Perhaps it’s hard to take seriously a man who has been portrayed by Tony Curtis, Donald Sutherland, Heath Ledger and even Vincent Price, in a Bob Hope comedy, Casanova’s Big Night.) In fact, Giacomo Girolamo Casanova lived from 1725 to 1798, and was a far more intellectual figure than the gadabout playboy portrayed on film. He was a true Enlightenment polymath, whose many achievements would put the likes of Hugh Hefner to shame. He hobnobbed with Voltaire, Catherine the Great, Benjamin Franklin and probably Mozart; survived as a gambler, an astrologer and spy; translated The Iliad into his Venetian dialect; and wrote a science fiction novel, a proto-feminist pamphlet and a range of mathematical treatises. He was also one of history’s great travelers, crisscrossing Europe from Madrid to Moscow. And yet he wrote his legendary memoir, the innocuously named Story of My Life, in his penniless old age, while working as a librarian (of all things!) at the obscure Castle Dux, in the mountains of Bohemia in the modern-day Czech Republic.

No less improbable than the man’s life is the miraculous survival of the manuscript itself. Casanova bequeathed it on his deathbed to his nephew, whose descendants sold it 22 years later to a German publisher, Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus of Leipzig. For nearly 140 years, the Brockhaus family kept the original under lock and key, while publishing only bowdlerized editions of the memoir, which were then pirated, mangled and mistranslated. The Brockhaus firm limited scholars’ access to the original document, granting some requests but turning down others, including one from the respected Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig.

The manuscript escaped destruction in World War II in a saga worthy of John le Carré. In 1943, a direct hit by an Allied bomb on the Brockhaus offices left it unscathed, so a family member pedaled it on a bicycle across Leipzig to a bank security vault. When the U.S. Army occupied the city in 1945, even Winston Churchill inquired after its fate. Unearthed intact, the manuscript was transferred by American truck to Wiesbaden to be reunited with the German owners. Only in 1960 was the first uncensored edition published, in French. The English edition arrived in 1966, just in time for the sexual revolution—and interest in Casanova has only grown since.

4 Industries Getting Rich Off the Drug War [Mike Riggs on Reason]

Marijuana legalization advocates like to point out that pot is safer than alcohol, if for no other reason than no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. They also like to point out that the booze industry has been working to subvert drug policy reform for decades, at least going back to the early 90s when the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) FOIA’d the donation records for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and found that it had accepted large donations from Jim Beam and Anheuser Busch.

Graphic: Stopping the Dead – a statistical look back at the Walking Dead series so far [Richard Johnson and Andrew Baar on The National Post]

While AMC lets The Walking Dead gang take a short mid-season break – the Post’s Andrew Barr and Richard Johnson look at a few of the key statistics of two-and-a-half season’s worth of undead mayhem. They find noteworthy – the gradual increase in the body count, the increasingly creative means of Zombie dispatch, and the fact that every character seems to have developed a clear enjoyment for putting the ambulatory cadavers down for good.

The mysteries of rabies [Maggie Koeth-Baker on Boing Boing]

But on the off-chance that I do come down with symptoms—there’ve been cases of rabies incubating for up to a year—is there really no hope? Well, sort of. Maybe. Ish. Researchers have been experimenting with a treatment that they think could save the lives of people with full-blown rabies. Called the Milwaukee Protocol, it involves putting the patient into a coma and also giving them antiviral medication. The idea is that the human immune system—with some help from antivirals—can fight off a rabies infection, while the coma limits damage to the brain that seems to be a common cause of rabies death. In 2004, a teenage girl who received this treatment became the first person—ever—to survive symptomatic rabies without having received the vaccine either before being bitten, or before symptoms appeared.

The problem: We still don’t know whether the Milwaukee Protocol actually works. It’s been tried—and failed—at least 13 times since 2004, according to a 2009 paper published in the journal Current Infectious Disease Reports. There are two reported successes, but in one of those the patient received the vaccine before her she became symptomatic. The other success is very recent and there aren’t many details available yet.

So why did the first girl survive? Again, nobody knows. It’s possible that either she had a particularly hardcore immune system, or the variant of the virus she contracted was particularly weak, or both. When she was diagnosed, she had rabies antibodies in her cerebral spinal fluid—something that would indicate the presence of rabies in her brain—but doctors weren’t able to isolate any actual virus—suggesting that her body was already on its way to winning the fight before the Milwaukee Protocol was used.

Curiously Strong Remains:






The content on this site is provided as general information and entertainment only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial product, or to participate in any particular trading or investment strategy. The ideas expressed on this site are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of firms affiliated with the author. The author may or may not have a position in any security referenced herein and may or may not seek to do business with companies mentioned via this website. Any action that you take as a result of information or analysis on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.