You are currently browsing the daily archive for June 16, 2011.

A glass of wine with Dean.

UPDATE: I forgot to add that these remind me of two favorite state “mottos” –

Connecticut – Left Lane Closed Next Thirty Miles

Iowa – Gateway to Nebraska

Feel free to share others!

People grew shorter growing crops:

The dawn of agriculture around the world was accompanied by a surprising trend. From China to South America and everywhere in between, people in farming cultures became shorter and less healthy than their hunter-gathering ancestors.

Amanda Mummert, an anthropology graduate student at Emory University, led a first of its kind review of health and height statistics from the days when agriculture sprouted around the world.

“Many people have this image of the rise of agriculture and the dawn of modern civilization, and they just assume that a more stable food source makes you healthier,” Mummert said in an Emory press release.

“But early agriculturalists experienced nutritional deficiencies and had a harder time adapting to stress, probably because they became dependent on particular food crops, rather than having a more significantly diverse diet,” Mummert said.

Get out of here you hippy vegan health food nuts!  Or I shall tower over you snapping my meat-loving incisors!

Starting around 10,000 years ago, and continuing to relatively recently, no matter where and what crop, the pattern was the same. Agriculture led to shorter, less healthy people.

The spread of disease in concentrated settlements, as well as transmission of diseases from animals may have also played a part.

Now get ready for the punchline:

Gradually the trend reversed, especially after the dawn of mechanized agriculture in the developed world about 75 years ago, noted the authors.

So somebody’s first saying that abandoning our hunter-gatherer ways caused us all kinds of problems and then actually crediting the Industrialized West for making things…..better?

Break out the politically correct tar and feathers – STAT!

Asterix comics contain 799 traumatic brain injuries, say academics.

Academics have carried out a detailed analysis of the 700 head injuries suffered by characters in the Asterix comic books, in a paper published by a respected medical journal.

The German scientists calculated that the “plucky little Gaul” and his sidekick Obelix were responsible for causing more than half of the wounds, “under the influence of a doping agent called ‘the magic potion’”, with Roman soldiers their most common victims.

They found that many of those who were knocked out in the 34 books, more commonly enjoyed by schoolboys than neurosurgeons, were often left with an outstretched tongue or amnesia but none appeared to die.

The researchers, led by Marcel Kamp of the Neurosurgical department at Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf, conclude: “The favourable outcome is astonishing, since outcome of traumatic brain injury in the ancient world is believed to have been worse than today and also since no diagnostic or therapeutic procedures were performed.”

Their paper, published in the official journal of the European Association of Neurosurgical Socities, known as Acta Neurochirurgica, sets out with no apparent irony their aim to “analyse the epidemiology and specific risk factors of traumatic brain injury in the Asterix illustrated comic books”.

Do they just not have comic books in Germany?  Are the laws of Cartoon Nature verboten? Would it help their understanding had the author of Asterix slipped in some improbable scatological illustrations, like a Roman pooping his pants in exaggerated fear, for instance?

And speaking of irony, this is a bunch of Krauts expressing wonderment over French brutality.  At what point did we enter the Bearded-Spock Universe and why wasn’t I informed?

It seems from the article that the “academics” did the study just for the sake of doing the study, which you might think harmless enough in and of itself, if a bit odd.  The problem is that when something like this gets published, it’s only a matter of time before the Nanny McDo-Gooders get their hooks on it as a tool for shaping public policy.  I still remember the upheaval here in the states in the late 70’s when somebody decided the Bugs Bunny/Road-Runner Show had a bad influence on kiddies.  Road-Runner (my personal favorite, btw) was pretty much yanked, perhaps because of the epidemic of toddlers hurling themselves over cliffs that we so well remember.  Elmer Fudd, in turn, had his gun spiked so that no shot was seen fired in anger.  The effect of this kind of heavy handed editing made some of the cartoons, including the classic in which Daffy keeps trying to trick Elmer into believing it’s rabbit season when it’s really duck season, and keeps getting his beak shot off in various humorous ways, practically incomprehensible.  Even in my own yoot, I thought this to be far more detrimental to the eyes, ears and brains of our young people than letting Elmer take the shot.

In geological terms, “accretion” means the gradual addition of material to a tectonic plate or landmass through various means.  (The west coast of the United States, for example is made up of a series of island arcs that came in from the Pacific and piled themselves up against the North American plate.)  I mention this because my thoughts this morning are like unto an archipelago of randomness.  I am hoping that through the process of accretion, I may manage to turn them into a more substantial post worth reading.

•  Yesterday was the end of the school year at both St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method and St. Rita of the Misunderstood Adolescence, and there was much rejoicing among the younger inmates of the Port-Swiller residence.  It’s getting to the point where I have a hard time remembering what summah break meant to me back in the days of my own misspent yoot.  For a time after entering the workforce, I  still felt a kind of residual echo of the pattern of the academic year, but that’s long gone.   Nowadays, it’s all sort of second-hand, in that I get a couple months off from having to nag the gels to get out of bed and also from getting stuck behind school buses on my commute.

• So now I have rising eighth, sixth and fourth graders on my hands.  Yikes.

• The eldest gel was criticizing one of her classmates to me for wearing what I think she called “booty jeans” to school on Tuesday’s dress-down day.  These are apparently what we used to call “short shorts” and are designed to expose as much of the backside to the light of day as possible.  The gel thought them extremely inappropriate and said she’d never dream of wearing clothes like that.  I smiled.  Ol’ Robbo is never going to make a large, strategic impact in the Good Fight, but within his own immediate vicinity he will continue to do everything he possibly can.  Call me one of God’s corporals.

• I mentioned yesterday that the local classickal station seems to play Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto a lot.  Another current hotty seems to be the Overture to “Young Henry’s Hunt” by Etienne-Nicolas Mehul.  Its heavy rotation in the playlist is even less justifiable than that of old Ludwig Van’s piece, in my humble opinion.

•  I’ve had something like three or four people in the past few days describe me as a voice of quiet reason.  I think all of them meant this mostly as a compliment, but I also couldn’t help getting an underlying vibe that people think I’m rayther boring.

•  Last month I posted on the flash popularity of a new “bedtime” book entitled Go The F*ck To Sleep, criticizing both its one-note foul language joke and its extremely poor composition style.  Well, this morning one of my colleagues came in with a copy she just received from her in-laws.  Prior to showing me, she asked in a concerned voice if I was “okay” with vulgarity (boring!). I assured her I could handle it.  As I flipped through the book, I discovered that it was even worse on both points than what I had read in the reviews.  My colleague, on the other hand, thought it was the funniest thing evah.

•  Speaking of the Times, what do we make of Hugh Hefner being ditched at the altar by his 25 y.o. playmate fiance?  I don’t know whether she jilted him because she decided she couldn’t make enough coin out of the deal or whether she decided she just couldn’t go through with such a farce, but either way I’m glad the biznay was dropped.  However, I do hope there was at least a tiny bit of shame and sense of decency involved.

• So here’s a question for you: Fellah is standing in line in front of me for coffee this morning (a very long line, I might add).  A woman he knows comes into the store.  He sees her and offers to get her order for her.  Now, the fellah might have thought he was being nice, even gallant, but this struck me as borderline cutting.  Was I being unduly harsh in my judgment? It’s so hard to tell before I’ve had my fix.

• I also noted that Starbucks is flogging blends of various types of coffee bean.  This seems to me to be at about the same level as blended Scotch, meaning it smacks of heresy.

•  Ol’ Robbo officially begins his Maine Watch today.  I notice that it’s always about six or seven weeks out from the summah hols that I suddenly realize just how ready I am for them.  So let this also be a warning to my fellow port-swillers that for the next month and a half, ol’ Robbo is likely to become both more obsessive about the hols and more fuzzy about everything else.


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June 2011