2013.10 minutiae

  • I went to the Berkeley Bowl and saw that there were a lot of gingersnap cookies and ginger candy on the shelves.  The reason those items were so conspicuous is that they all came accompanied by signs declaring that they were full of lead.

  • This month I saw a couple of people post a map of trends in female mortality in the U.S. since 1992, but the map they used was the ugly University of Wisconsin version rather than the prettier one MSNBC made, so here's the MSNBC version.  Dark blue is significant improvement, light blue is minimal improvement, and red means mortality has worsened.  Note how well this maps onto blue states vs. red states, and more specifically onto blue counties vs. red counties:

    (Source: Health Affairs and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The corresponding map for male mortality is almost entirely blue.)

  • Basketball player Ryan Anderson, whose girlfriend killed herself in August, is reported by the Orlando Sentinel to be "establishing a foundation to help people battling depression and contemplating suicide."  Said Anderson of his deceased partner: "I know where she's at. She's in heaven right now. She's incredibly happy. She's pain-free. She's not feeling that way anymore. And now it's my mission that God has given me to voice this."  So… his foundation will be recommending suicide, then?

  • Wikipedia: "Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering research in astronomy and astrophysics. Despite the name, the journal is no longer monthly nor does it carry the notices of the Royal Astronomical Society."

  • Signs you haven't cleaned your apartment in a while: when you finally do, you find a bunch of expired checks from various class-action lawsuits.  Whoops.

  • I saw a display of packaged Halloween costumes, divided by sex.  On the female side were several shelves of packages whose covers depicted well-endowed models showing off the costumes inside: Sexy Cheerleader, Sexy Mermaid, Sexy Vampire, Sexy Alice in Wonderland, etc.  Each package also had a label indicating its age group.  The label on each of the packages above: TWEEN.

  • Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) on why Democrats dare not eliminate the filibuster that Republicans are currently using to block President Obama's judicial nominees: "I don't think any of them would like to see a Republican president in 2016 have a 51-vote right to have another Justice Scalia or somebody else on the Supreme Court."  Excellent point, Bob!  Except Scalia was confirmed 98-0.  That's how this used to work: when you lost the election, you acknowledged that it was the other side's turn to govern.  (Also, there can't be a Republican president in 2016 unless both Barack Obama and Joe Biden are simultaneously assassinated. Obama's term ends in 2017.)

  • Is there a map of all the coordinates Stochastic Planet has picked?

    I haven't been maintaining one, but someone made this map of all the spots that had been selected up through late July.

  • What kind of slang did people use when you were in college?

    This question kind of threw me because I don't remember myself or the people I knew in the early '90s regularly using words or phrases that later fell out of fashion.  I remember that when I was in elementary school people used to describe things they liked as "studly," which I haven't heard in thirty years or so… but stuff from twenty years ago?  Nothing springs to mind.  Nor is the Internet much help — it suggests things like "dope" and "phat" that may have been period-specific hip-hop slang but which were never uttered by anyone I knew.  I am pleased to learn from these lists that apparently people no longer say "talk to the hand," though.

  • If you had Dr. Manhattan's powers, what would you do?

    Probably become increasingly isolated and gradually lose touch with the rest of humanity, which I guess isn't substantially different from what I've been doing without Dr. Manhattan's powers.

  • What's an example of an "atrocity" you saw constructed at the build-your-own-pizza place on Shattuck?

    The main issue is that people seem to be under the impression that more toppings = more better.  The atrocities are the ones that end up with a mountain of toppings — seriously, a conical heap of them.  I've seen several that have run something along these lines:

    • dough
    • tomato sauce
    • mozzarella
    • smoked mozzarella
    • mushrooms
    • artichoke hearts
    • caramelized onions
    • chicken
    • pancetta
    • pepperoni
    • salami
    • sausage
    • shrimp

    And it's not like they're maxing out in order to get their money's worth — you pay by the topping.  The pizza above (which, again, is not an exaggeration) would run $20.95 for a ten-inch pie, and taste like nothing in particular.

    That said, I'm told that every pizza in Australia is like this.

  • Have you considered publishing Ready, Okay! as an ebook?

    This was one of my plans for 2013.  I had lots of plans for 2013.  To everyone who's emailed me or sent me a tweet to inquire about the progress of this or that project — first, thank you very much for your continued interest even as I have basically fallen off the map, and second, deepest apologies for taking so long with this stuff.  What I thought was going to be a three-month paid gig that would let me attend to getting some of these projects out the door wound up gobbling up a big chunk of 2012 and the entirety of 2013 to date (and counting).  Those who have wondered why there hasn't been an Evil Creatures update for over a year?  That's why.  Those who have wondered why weeks and months have gone by this year without a Calendar article?  Ditto.  It's just been an endless string of 15-hour days.  But, yes, getting the second edition of R,O! out to your Kindles and whatnot is near the top of my to-do list, and it does appear that where the work-for-hire project is concerned, the finish line is finally in sight.  (Of course, that's what people said at the Boston Marathon.)

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