Sunday, January 07, 2007

Topics of interest: Week ending Jan. 7

I'm merging two weeks here. Since I was on vacation and away from a computer for much of the last week in December, any stories of interest I read from that week are included here.

Chevy Chase as the Klutz in Chief, and a President Who Was in on the Joke
New York Times
While the events leading to Gerald Ford’s ascent to the White House tarred him as an accidental president, he will also be remembered as an accident-prone president. And for this he could thank the comedian Chevy Chase, or blame him, or (as he would eventually choose) laugh along.

Amazon mystery: pricing of books
Chicago Tribune from the L.A. Times
A reporter finds fluctuating costs for his obscure chosen titles at the Internet retailer.

From Father to Son, Last Words to Live By
New York Times
For months before my fiancé, First Sgt. Charles Monroe King, kissed my swollen stomach and said goodbye, he had been preparing for the beginning of the life we had created and for the end of his own.

Some good news, and some bad news
Chicago Tribune
Developments that might affect your drinkin' in Land of Lincoln.

A Surprising Secret to a Long Life: Stay in School
New York Times
The one social factor that researchers agree is consistently linked to longer lives in every country where it has been studied is education. It is more important than race; it obliterates any effects of income.

Ancient Messages, Hidden in a Dusty Bottle From Long Ago
New York Times
THE lineup of wines to be served with dinner was extraordinary, including a Montrachet from 1939 and a Volnay Caillerets from 1929. Still, the wine I couldn’t wait to try was the ’46 Meursault Charmes. That would be the 1846.

Trying to Clear Absinthe’s Reputation
New York Times
READERS of Ernest Hemingway know “Death in the Afternoon” as a book about bullfighting. But to drinkers with a taste for obscure booze, it is also a cocktail that Hemingway contributed to a 1935 collection of celebrity recipes. His directions: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”

How Women Pick Mates vs. Flings via Yahoo!
Science might be able to explain our fascination with Brad Pitt's chiseled jaw and George Clooney's smoldering eyes. Women seem to judge potential mates by how masculine their features are, new research shows. Men with square jaws and well-defined brow ridges are seen as good short-term partners, while those with more feminine traits such as a rounder face and fuller lips are perceived as better long-term mates.

Lost lakes of Titan are found at last
AFP via Yahoo!
Lakes of methane have been spotted on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, boosting the theory that this strange, distant world bears beguiling similarities to Earth, according to a new study.

The daughter also rises
Chicago Tribune
Ivanka Trump stands tall in her father's world of skyscrapers and billion-dollar deals.

You thought irony was dead? What a joke.
Chicago Tribune
The reports of its death were greatly exaggerated. Pundits declared irony dead after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but five years later, not only is it alive -- it ruled 2006. ... Irony, the grand dame of the zeitgeist, is pop culture's weapon against hopelessness, experts say. It's a tool that transfers power to the powerless. And in a time of a continuing war, citizens jailed without charges, and a government that knows what we're checking out at the library and searching for on the Internet, it's a key to understanding what's happening to the world -- with a little humor too.

Beyond recycling: A year of not buying anything new
Washington Post via Chicago Tribune
In the living room, the group gathers to share inspirational stories about the joy of finding just the right previously owned shower curtain. To the uninitiated, these people appear almost normal, at least in a San Francisco kind of way. But upon closer inspection, you see it: Nothing in this house, nothing on their bodies, none of their products -- nothing is new. Everything is used. For these people, recycling wasn't enough. Composting wasn't a challenge anymore. No, they wanted much more of much less.

Alaska natives left out in the cold

While the rest of the world argues about the best way to curb future climate change, ... native communities within the Arctic Circle are having to draw on their own ancestral strengths to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

Remain Silent? Some in Custody Spell It All Out
New York Times
For many people, the urge to explain, if not to confess, is as urgent as it was for Raskolnikov in “Crime and Punishment.” ... “Everybody talks,” said Daniel J. Castleman, chief of investigations for the Manhattan district attorney. “Almost nobody doesn’t talk. And the reason for that is that people think they can either talk their way out of it or mitigate the crime. It’s human nature.”

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