Unintended consequences


Remove femur, it said, and send it for examination by the laboratory. No problem, I thought to myself.

via My First Mistake by Simon Winchester – Roundtable | Lapham’s Quarterly.



Watch your step.


From Afghanistan and Angola to Cuba and Yemen, to say nothing of North Korea, hawkish Soviet foreign policy often resembled a very determined stomp on a rake. Thwack. Something similar, on a smaller scale, could be said of Irans foreign policy.

via Rouhanis Gorbachev Moment | Foreign Affairs.




…That’s why the bird you’re going to eat is named for a country on the Black Sea.

via The Turkey’s Turkey Connection – NYTimes.com.

Thanksgiving prompts the question that expatriates everywhere face: Shouldn’t I be going home?

via An American Neurotic in Paris – NYTimes.com.


The Sunday obituary No. 11


Dr. Sanger won his first Nobel Prize, in chemistry, in 1958 for showing how amino acids link together to form insulin. The discovery gave scientists the tools to analyze any protein in the body. In 1980 he received his second Nobel, also in chemistry, for inventing a method of “reading” the molecular letters that make up the genetic code. This discovery was crucial to the development of biotechnology drugs and provided the basic tool kit for decoding the entire human genome two decades later.

via Frederick Sanger, Two-Time Nobel-Winning Scientist, Dies at 95 – NYTimes.com.


Way back when


…the ancestors of Native Americans had already separated from the East Asian population when they interbred with the people of the Mal’ta culture, and that this admixed population then crossed over the Beringian land bridge that then lay between Siberia and Alaska to become a founding population of Native Americans.

via 24,000-Year-Old Body Is Kin to Both Europeans and American Indians – NYTimes.com.


Bright idea of the day


Officials said the byproducts would be harmless salts and other solids.

via Options Narrowed, U.S. Is Said to Weigh Destroying Syrian Chemicals at Sea – NYTimes.com.


‘Outland,’ or When Science Fiction Becomes Sordid Reality


Representaive blecch, from “Outland.”

Representaive blecch, from “Outland.”

I came across, again, the film “Outland” the other day. I remembered this as an average piece of science fiction that tried to ride the coattails of “Star Wars” in the early 1980s. And I wanted to remember its having compelling qualities, like “Blade Runner,” which came out a year later. Certainly the movie’s star, Sean Connery, is worth watching.

Sadly, I’m not sure the movie holds up after 30 years. What struck me was how the criminal conspiracy at the heart of the plot seemed so commonplace. Perhaps it was less so at the time? It is hard to remember what we were all thinking back in 1981.

Sean Connery holding his spot in line for the toilet.

Sean Connery holding his spot in line for the toilet.

The story goes like this. Sean Connery is a space cop, or something. Really, he is dressed like a modern-day retiree: cheap hat with garish patch on the front, bright white tennis shoes, etc. The first time you see him head to toe, you expect to next see several blue-haired women push past him in a rush toward a restroom.

But let’s call him a space cop. His post is a mining complex on one of Jupiter’s moons that is owned by a big, I guess, multigalactical corporation or whatever. And after a while, Mr. Connery’s character grows suspicious about a series of mysterious deaths.

Really, the deaths are more spectacular than mysterious: they’re suicides by explosive decompression. Indeed, this is less a space-bound police procedural than the indulging of a gruesome science-fiction fetish.

When Mr. Connery’s character takes a closer look (spoiler!)… Continue reading

When the good economic news is the same as the bad.


We have, he suggested, an economy whose normal condition is one of inadequate demand — of at least mild depression — and which only gets anywhere close to full employment when it is being buoyed by bubbles.

via A Permanent Slump? – NYTimes.com.


There’s something wrong with the turkeys!


“We experienced a decline in weight gains on some of our farms causing a limited availability of large, fresh turkeys,”

via There’s a shortage of large, fresh Butterball turkeys – Quartz.


The Sunday obituary No. 10


“A lot of people know who Jonas Salk is, but they should know William Pollack’s name, too. This disease was a major, major problem, and it’s been virtually eradicated.”

via William Pollack Dies at 87 – His Vaccine Saved Infants – NYTimes.com.