Sunday, November 19, 2006

Topics of interest: Week ending Nov. 19

Again, here's a list of stories, culled from various online media, that I found interesting over the past week -- from a character study of the Democratic party's top strategist to an almost neasuating account of what's considered to be the world's most dangerous road. I'm not sure if any of you ever follow any of these links, but I like to have them here for my own reference.

The world's most dangerous road
It seems perverse that one of the main roads out of one of the highest cities on Earth should actually climb as it leaves town.

FROM THE PUBLIC EDITOR: Gender gap, even in death
Chicago Tribune
Could it be that more men die than women? Unlikely, you say.
Then why is it that so far this year about 73 percent of the Tribune's obituaries are about males?

SPECIAL REPORT: The House that Rahm Built
Chicago Tribune
Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's profane, ruthless, savvy operative, remade the Democrats in his image--and helped the party overcome 12 years of humiliation.

How to Be Funny
New York Times
From How to Direct a Comedy Legend to How to Write Your First Hollywood Comedy, industry insiders offer their insights on what it takes to be funny.

Marriage a living history for Luke, Laura
Chicago Sun Times
It's been an eventful 25 years for Laura Spencer since marrying Luke in a fairy-tale wedding seen on television by 30 million people.

Searching for 'our alien origins'
In July 2001, a mysterious red rain started falling over a large area of southern India. ... Not only did Dr Louis discover that there were tiny biological cells present, but because they did not appear to contain DNA, the essential component of all life on Earth, he reasoned they must be alien lifeforms. ... The main reason why Dr Louis's ideas have not been immediately laughed out of court is because they tie in with a theory promoted by two UK scientists ever since the 1960s.

Afghan women seek death by fire
Increasing numbers of Afghan women are committing suicide by setting fire to themselves to escape difficult lives, according to NGOs based in the country. They say women forced into marriage or suffering chronic abuse are killing themselves out of desperation.

Ancient Crash, Epic Wave

New York Times
Most astronomers doubt that any large comets or asteroids have crashed into the Earth in the last 10,000 years. ... Scientists in the working group say the evidence for such impacts during the last 10,000 years, known as the Holocene epoch, is strong enough to overturn current estimates of how often the Earth suffers a violent impact on the order of a 10-megaton explosion. Instead of once in 500,000 to one million years, as astronomers now calculate, catastrophic impacts could happen every few thousand years.

France's choice: Gray suit or swimsuit
Segolene Royal is expected to win her party's nomination for president, and the people don't mind that they've seen her in a bikini

Chicago Tribune
She takes a tough line on Iran's nuclear program and favors military discipline for young offenders at home. ... Many of her countrymen believe she also looks swell in a bikini, as evidenced in a celebrity magazine scandal last summer that started out as an embarrassment and ended up as a plus. A combination of all of the above could be enough to carry Royal, 53, to the French presidency next spring. She would be the first woman to occupy the Elysee Palace.

Reel happiness follows tragedy for some people
Chicago Tribune
What is the difference between comedy and tragedy? Which approach most satisfies a writer? An audience? The critics? Which tells a fuller truth? And should a story, a life, be deemed happy or tragic based solely on its ending?

Art worth millions? An economist offers a theory on creativity and relative value

International Herald Tribune (from the New York Times)
David Galenson ... has developed something approaching a unified theory of art, which hasn't won him many fans in the art world but does a surprisingly good job of explaining the relative value of the world's great paintings.

One Vietnam vet's Iraqi mission
DeWayne Browning is one of a small number of Americans uniquely qualified to compare the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts, having served in both as a helicopter pilot.

`Spooky,' `ugly' -- and `really powerful'
Chicago Tribune
106 headless sculptures in Grant Park could stir reaction not seen since Picasso debut.

In Certain Circles, Two Is a Crowd
New York Times
CHANCES are that in the last week someone has irritated you by standing too close, talking too loud or making eye contact for too long. They have offended you with the high-pitched shrill emanating from the earphones of their iPod or by spreading their legs unnecessarily wide on a packed subway car.

Woolies: 'We're No Mugs'
Sky News
Prince William has not proposed to his girlfriend Kate Middleton - but souvenir-makers are taking no chances. They have already designed commemorative souvenirs featuring the pair, just in case any nuptials are announced.

The real Varsity game
Of all the things that us Old Worlders find strange about New World games and pastimes - draft systems, chewing tobacco, Nascar - none is as weird and wonderful as America's fascination with sporty students. During "fall", our autumn, your average US sports fan has his or her weekends mapped out - Saturdays are college games, Sundays are NFL (some even sneak in a high school game on Fridays, the rest go bowling). College "football" and basketball are, quite simply, massive - massive crowds, massive money, massive players.

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