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World Wide Wednesday

May 1, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

Spencer Hall remembers Blockbuster:

There is literally nothing you should miss about Blockbuster Video. Its employees were wage slaves chained to white particle board fortresses at the front of the store, wearing the same blue polo with the BLOCKBUSTER logo emblazoned on the front that they wore yesterday, and the day before, and let’s not talk about how long it’s been since this Blockbuster polo had been washed, kid. You wanted to rent the lone copy of Cool Hand Luke in the store for the third week in a row, and the Blockbuster zombie wanted to get to six o’clock, their arthritic I-Mark in the parking lot, and the bag of shake weed they’re going to have to settle for until the band takes off or the military becomes the only option to a better life. Besides, the shirt under it is clean, and that’s what counts.

Blockbuster’s selection made sense only in the sense that there was an alphabetical order, and sections, and then the words on those tapes were arranged in something like alphabetical order. Blockbuster would have one copy of Lawrence of Arabia. They would have 500 fucking copies of The Pelican Brief because Blockbuster either had a sweet deal with the studio on the video release, or because someone seriously overestimated your interest in a middling Grisham thriller.

Hunter S. Thompson covered the Kentucky Derby for Scanlon’s Monthly in 1970:

The next day was heavy. With only thirty hours until post time I had no press credentials and–according to the sports editor of the  Louisville Courier-Journal–no hope at all of getting any. Worse, I needed two sets: one for myself and another for Ralph Steadman, the English illustrator who was coming from London to do some Derby drawings. All I knew about him was that this was his first visit to
the United States. And the more I pondered the fact, the more it gave me fear. How would he bear up under the heinous culture shock of being lifted out of London and plunged into the drunken mob scene at the Kentucky Derby? There was no way of knowing. Hopefully, he would arrive at least a day or so ahead, and give himself time to get acclimated. Maybe a few hours of peaceful sightseeing in the Bluegrass country around Lexington. My plan was to pick him up at the airport in the huge Pontiac Ballbuster I’d rented from a used-car salesman named Colonel Quick, then whisk him off to some peaceful setting that might remind him of England.

Colonel Quick had solved the car problem, and money (four times the normal rate) had bought two rooms in a scumbox on the outskirts of town. The only other kink was the task of convincing the moguls at Churchill Downs that Scanlan’s was such a prestigious sporting journal that common sense compelled them to give us two sets of the best press tickets. This was not easily done. My first call to the publicity office resulted in total failure. The press handler was shocked at the idea that anyone would be stupid enough to apply for press credentials two days before the Derby. “Hell, you can’t be serious,” he said. “The deadline was two months ago. The press box is full; there’s no more room…and what the hell is Scanlan’s Monthly anyway?”

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

April 24, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

At Mashable, Kevin Ashton talks about inventing a fake Internet persona with seemingly high influence:

There’s just one thing about Santiago Swallow that you won’t easily find online: I made him up. Everything above is true. He really does have a Twitter feed with tens of thousands of followers, he really does have a Wikipedia biography, and he really does have an official website. But he has never been to TED or South By South West and is not writing a book. I—or rather he—flat out lied about that. (Editor’s note: Santiago Swallow’s Twitter account was suspended after the publication of this piece.)


I gave Santiago his “Twitter verified account” check box by putting it onto his cover image right where his name would appear. It will not fool many people, but might give him a little extra credibility with some. By the time I uploaded these images to Twitter, Santiago had developed a large “following,” even though he did not have a profile and had never tweeted anything.

To get him tweeting, I used a trial copy of TweetAdder, which automatically tweets, follows and retweets on Santiago’s behalf. His breezy platitudes come from half a dozen “mad-lib”-like phrases of the “if this, then that” variety, coupled with a list of nouns from the new age TED/SXSW hipster vocabulary: dolphins, phablets, Steve Jobs, mobile, Tom’s shoes, stevia and so on.

Boris Becker has a new sports business column at Forbes:

Carrying the torch through Northala Fields in Ealing on a beautiful sunny day, hundreds of people had turned up to be a part of the celebrations, and no doubt to make the most of the glorious sunshine, waving national flags and cheering, the community was gathered together in anticipation of what was to come just 3 days later, to show their support and solidarity, to get behind the games. I was once again reminded just how powerful sport can be in bringing people together and strengthening communities.

Throughout the course of the games I would be reminded of the profound impact that the collective spirit of celebration can have, it is infectious, and when friends of mine that had not visited London for some years came to England for the games, they were completely blown away by the capital’s vibrancy, the energy of the people and their hospitality. London 2012 raised the benchmark for future games, it showed the UK at it’s best, and will be remembered for it’s diversity, and what can be achieved when differences are put aside, when the dedication and sporting endeavor of each and every individual that took part informs the united support of the spectators; as my friend Lord Seb Coe so eloquently put it in his closing speech, they were “a games for everyone”.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

April 17, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

In the Boston Herald, Gerry Callahan reflects on the Marathon bombing:

Now we will stick out our chests and vow to remain strong and vigilant. We will promise to show up next year in full force, but we know the truth. Patriots Day will never been the same. Our Marathon will never be the same. Some sick, evil bastards blew a hole in it. They literally knocked some poor runner off his feet a few steps from the finish line and prevented thousands more from reaching a goal they’ve been working toward for months if not years.

Late yesterday afternoon, a place where we normally celebrate the best of the human spirit was splattered with blood and body parts. Oh, there was still plenty of heart and courage on display, but there was no one crossing the line now. The race was halted, the day destroyed.

We’ll vow not to let the terrorists win, but the truth is, this time they didn’t let us win. They didn’t let anyone win. Damn them, all of them. Straight to hell.

At Grantland, Charlie Pierce does the same:

Nobody loves the Boston Marathon as much as the people who make fun of it year after year. This was the race that previously offered as a prize a not particularly expensive medal, a laurel wreath, and a bowl of beef stew. This was the race that, on one memorable occasion, nobody knew who actually won. I don’t know anyone who loved the race that didn’t mock it for its monumental inconvenience, its occasionally towering self-regard, and the annual attempts by Boston-area television stations to use it to win another shelf full of local Emmys. This includes me, and I’ve been around 25 or 30 of them, more or less, in one way or another, watching from the press truck, from the firehouse in Newton, from somebody’s roof, and very often from just barely inside the front door of the late, lamented Eliot Lounge. The Marathon was the old, drunk uncle of Boston sports, the last of the true festival events. Every other one of our major sporting rodeos is locked down, and tightened up, and Fail-Safed until the Super Bowl now is little more than NORAD with bad rock music and offensive tackles. You can’t do that to the Marathon. There was no way to do it. There was no way to lock down, or tighten up, or Fail-Safe into Security Theater a race that covers 26.2 miles, a race that travels from town to town, a race that travels past people’s houses. There was no way to garrison the Boston Marathon. Now there will be. Someone will find a way to do it. And I do not know what the race will be now. I literally haven’t the vaguest clue.

Quick Reads

- A mesmerizing gif perfect game of snake [Business Insider]

- Will the IRS start taxing the free lunches at Google and Facebook? [Tax Prof]

- Woman got physically stuck to boyfriend’s toilet seat and didn’t move for TWO YEARS [NBC News]

- Sports balls replaced with cats is even better than you think it will be [Tumblr]

- The quintessential guide to fast food/wine pairings [Food Beast]

- Did bankers’ cocaine use play a role in the global financial crisis? [Guardian]

Food Porn

Chicken dip sandwich w/ au jus @ Crosby’s Kitchen

Bacon cheeseburger beef sausage w/ Coca Cola BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, and maple cheddar cheese + Mozzarella and peppers chicken sausage with pesto aioli, slow roasted tomatoes and burrata cheese @ Hot Doug’s

April 10, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

Spencer Hall takes issue with the “religious” sticker in Serena Roberts’ Auburn reporting:

We live in the most religious portion of the country, a place where a lot of people who self-identify as “spiritual” routinely have irresponsible sex with disastrous consequences, shoot each other over absolutely nothing, cheat on their spouses, stump for openly fraudulent businesses, write medieval gibberish into the legal code, and demand it be granted some kind of face value on the basis that someone goes to church. The best people we have ever known go to church. The worst people we have ever known went to church. Pardon us if the term has an ambiguous value at best with a data set showing little correlation between practice and theory.

We’re fine if you’re openly religious, or if you’re not, but for anyone writing accurately about a situation this is a descriptor that contains no demonstrable value. She simply wants you to take it for granted that being religious means something, just as half the sportswriters in the world took Ray Lewis’ religiosity as a given unit of virtue without pointing out that Ray Lewis doesn’t give a dime to charity. It is the same press that hasn’t ever asked a single question about the Tebow family’s work in the Philippines, and instead just assumes missionary work is a net good. (This is far from accurate: there’s great missionary work, and disastrous missionary work, and a lot that falls in between. In Tebow’s case, no one has ever bothered to look, or even ask. It’s just taken prima facie.) This is the same press that bought the greased sainthood of Manti Te’o in some part due to his Mormon faith and Notre Dame’s god-haunted mystique.

Denver Westword medical marijuana critic William Breathes does a Q&A with The Daily Beast:

In that context, what do you feel like the value is of a column like yours is?

Someone asked me that recently and I hate—I mean, I don’t want to sound like some arrogant asshole. To be really honest with you, it’s still really strange and … I’m still like, “It’s really fucking cool that I have this job!” But what I think the biggest role of my job or of anyone who has this position is that having a column that deals with marijuana in it every week normalizes it and puts it out there for everyone. They can go to to get news about the state legislature, or about education, about the prison system—and about marijuana. It’s not the old-school media approach to marijuana, where it’s like, “Let’s see how many pot puns we can cram into the lede and how many jokes we can make at the expense of marijuana smokers.” We definitely make jokes at the expense of marijuana smokers, but we also take news very seriously.

We’ve seen other news outlets come around on that. The Denver Post—and I’m not trying to pick on another news media outlet—but for the longest time, their pot coverage was shit. It just was. Every time it was just them making fun of the pot smokers. But in the last year, they’ve realized that it’s important, and it’s not just 20-something stoners tuning in to figure out what’s going on. People wanna know because it’s a viable, million-dollar industry. In the sense of the media, that’s been an important role for my job.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

April 3, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Jim Ross discusses his personal connection with Ric Flair’s son Reid, who died at the age of 25 this past week:

I was around Reid to see him grow up to a normal kid, with a very famous father, who had big, athletic dreams at a young age especially in amateur wrestling at which he excelled. Ric spared no expense in providing Reid with every opportunity to improve through expert coaching and training. Ric was as committed to making Reid’s dreams come true as Reid was. They were on this particular journey together. Father and son.

A few years ago Reid began having some personal issues that have been documented elsewhere. No family is immune to the temptations of life that exist today and that are challenges that face every family in some way. Either with their own child, a friend of a child, a friend’s or relative’s child, etc. None of us are immune to the ‘demons’ that like to prey upon those that let their guard down if even for only a moment because a moment, at times, is all it takes.

Over the past few years while some of those issues were on going I was, at the bequest of Naitch, engaging Reid in a series of telephone calls to discuss his situation, where he had been and where he wanted to go. At times, these conversations lasted for hours. They were candid, honest and, at times, they seemed to help me address these matters perhaps more than they helped Reid. I loved taking to him and will cherish the opportunities that we had to converse over the years.

For Medium, Felix Salmon talks about the bitcoin bubble:

A few days ago, the value of all the bitcoins in the world blew past $1 billion for the first time ever. That’s an impressive achievement, for a purely virtual currency backed by no central bank or other authority. It’s also temporary: we’re in the middle of a bitcoin bubble right now, and it’s only a matter of time before the bubble bursts.

There are a couple of reasons why the bubble is sure to burst. The first is just that it’s a bubble, and any chart which looks like the one at the top of this post is bound to end in tears at some point. But there’s a deeper reason, too — which is that bitcoins are an uncomfortable combination of commodity and currency. The commodity value of bitcoins is rooted in their currency value, but the more of a commodity they become, the less useful they are as a currency.

At Prospect, Monica Potts writes a long, harrowing story on suburban Denver families who had their homes foreclosed and are now living week-to-week in a Ramada:

The hotel was bought in 2004 by a businessman who goes by the name of Bruce Rahmani. His legal name is Gholemreza Rahmani–Azar, and he now owns 46 properties—mostly hotels—along the Front Range corridor under one corporate name, Colorado Hospitality Services. Its corporate office is in another Ramada in a northern suburb called Northglenn, off a different interstate. On a hill, with a bright view of the snowy mountains, this Ramada is many shades nicer than the one in Wheat Ridge. It has a restaurant and a flora-filled sunken lobby. An office just off the entryway books weddings and other big events. Across the hall is Rahmani’s office. He declined to be interviewed and claimed he had little to do with the property where the weeklies live. He referred me to a property manager named Melissa, who did not respond to requests for comment.

The hotel’s residents know who Bruce is, though. They’ve seen him come by on Sundays to collect money from the washers and dryers, and they know he issues commands that affect their daily lives. From the perspective of the Ramada families, he has one rule that he wants observed above all others: no children in the lobby or hallways. If he drives up and one of the nice clerks is on duty, she’ll yell, “Bruce!” and whoever is in the lobby runs back to their room. Once, he told a clerk that she should tell Andy to shave his scraggly gray beard. Drew is so terrified of him he rarely ventures out. “These people have rooms,” a guest once heard Bruce say.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

March 27, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

For GQ, Iraq veteran Matt Ufford recalls his role in the initial invasion:

War going to plan, though, suggests that there’s some neatness and order to tearing a landscape apart and leaving a trail of death and MRE garbage in your wake. I may not have been deployed for 12 months, but I was in combat long enough to kill innocent civilians; in my case, “long enough” was two days. I slept 10 hours over the course of a week. I gestured apologetically to a farmer as my tank’s treads destroyed his spring planting. My friend, a fellow platoon commander, lost one of his tanks during a nonstop road march; we made jokes comparing it to The Beast, a largely forgotten 1988 film in which a Russian T-55 tank crew gets separated from its company—until we learned that the M1A1 drove off a bridge over the Euphrates in the middle of the night, killing all four crewmen. I cursed the boredom while dreading the action. I pointed my pistol at a cab driver who had the temerity to gesture angrily at my tank for obstructing the road to Basra. One of my best friends got shot in the head. I saw bodies strewn in the streets, and my brain processed them as props of war instead of newly dead people with hobbies and passions and newly devastated loved ones. The oil fires turned spring skies gray. I crossed a partially blown-up bridge that the engineers couldn’t promise would hold a 68-ton tank, and when it did, I ended up in a minefield shooting at T-72 tanks, and calling off artillery that was so close I could feel the concussive heat on my face. I prepared to lose Marines to snipers in a prolonged siege of Baghdad. I went a month without showering. I accepted my own death. I saw beautiful women in the Christian neighborhoods of the capital. I smoked tar-laden Iraqi cigarettes that made me long for nicotine manufactured in America. I parked at the magnificent blue Martyrs Monument at sunset, and smoked a cigarette while the fading light turned the pavement an ethereal roseate hue, awash in joy at the cheers that had met our arrival in Baghdad—at the amazing and profound lack of death that greeted us. That beauty is mine forever, even if it’s gone.

In The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz enters the stay-at-home mom discussion:

When [Betty] Friedan was writing The Feminine Mystique, the 40-hour-a-week office job was still a norm, even for executives—a norm well on its way to changing, but a norm nonetheless. Today, whether you’re male or female, if you’re taking home an upper-middle-class salary you’re expected to work an average of 50 hours, and probably more, a lot of it after you’ve gone home. As of 1997, the average workweek for a man with graduate education was 50 hours, and for a women 47—that three-hour difference can be accounted for, of course, by all the women who went on mommy tracks. Among American dual-career couples, in the 1990s, 15.2 percent of those with at least college degrees worked a joint 100 hours a week or more, whereas only 9.6 of couples without diplomas did that. Try to imagine what that 100-hour workweek looked like to a child: that’s five 10-hour days, plus commutes, for both parents. And those are just averages—for people at the top of their fields, the numbers were a great deal bigger.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

March 20, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

At The Classical, Jack Moore praises Bo Ryan and his system:

In a way, Wisconsin’s story is the Moneyball of college basketball. Wisconsin hasn’t been good enough for long enough to match up with the truly storied programs in terms of recruiting resource; the program arguably became relevant nationally in 2000, when Dick Bennett helmed the squad to the Final Four two seasons before Ryan took over. For much of his career, Bo Ryan simply wasn’t going to convince the star guard, the muscular center or the hyper-athletic slasher to come play basketball at Wisconsin.

Instead, Ryan had to find talents hidden beneath the scoring-centric and NBA-centric scouting world that defined the national recruiting scene. He had to find big men with jump shots. He had to find small forwards who could defend the post. He had to find guards who could rebound. Even top-tier recruits like Joe Krabbenhoft, a five-star forward out of North Dakota, earned reputations as bangers and scrappers, reputations reserved for the untalented.

For Salon, Patrick Wensink talks about how much he ultimately got paid for writing a novel that became an Amazon bestseller:

I was reminded of a single page in “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”; specifically, the section where Dave Eggers breaks down his $100,000 advance on sales from his publisher. He then lists all his expenses. In the end the author banked a little less than half. It wasn’t bad money — just not the “I bet Dave Eggers totally owns a Jaguar”-type of income I expected. I mean, his name was on the cover of a book! He must be rich.

That honesty was refreshing and voyeuristic. I always said if I ever had a chance, I’d make a similar gesture. As a person learning about writing and publishing, there was something helpful about Eggers’ transparency. So here is my stab at similar honesty: the sugar bowls full of cocaine, bathtubs full of whiskey, semi-nude bookstore employees scattered throughout my bedroom tale of bestseller riches.

This is what it’s like, financially, to have the indie book publicity story of the year and be near the top of the bestseller list.

Drum roll.


Hi-hat crash.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

March 13, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

Spencer Hall writes about depression and the Internet:

And here’s the icky, horrid, and needlessly personal part : I am, and have, for the better part of my life in tidy five year-ish cycles, dealt with depression. Dealing is the right term. You don’t fight it, because if you are the kind of person who suffers from depression, then you know you surrender the minute it shows up, and simply send distress signals to the appropriate people. They send meds, changes of routine, and patience. Then you wait for it to blow over, and just pardon yourself for the crying jags, long walks, and repeated listens of George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” over your headphones.

I’m just one data point, but the internet has never, ever exacerbated any of that for me, particularly regarding depression. If anything, it helped by giving the best data set in the world on the universal crap-to-gold ratio, i.e. that 90% of everything is crap, and that the 10% worth keeping is a matter of editing and careful curation.

In Vanity Fair, Rich Cohen talks about attempting to ghostwrite billionaire Theodore Fortsmann’s autobiography:

He asked why I wanted to work on the project, or, as he put it, “What do you see of value in my story?” I got a chill from this question. It suggested pathos: he needed me to tell him that his own life had significance, was worth recording. I once dated a girl who made me tell her why I liked her. It reminded me a little of that. I said I was interested in his story because it was a great one, as grand as a scenario by Trollope, the ingenious way he made all that cash and helped create the private-equity industry, how he broke up Dr Pepper and turned around Gulfstream, but it was the family story too, his grandfather, a man who made a fortune in woolens, his father, who battled the bottle, his older brother, Tony, who stands for big brothers everywhere. Written the right way, I said, it could be the story of America itself, epic, unique, and gloriously grand. In other words, I behaved like a whore, mouthing pretty words while my real motivation was self-evident. Hey, you want me to say you’re the biggest and the best and the most amazing and that I’m in this joint because I find you irresistible? Fine, as long as it ends with me getting paid.

At SB Nation, Andrew Sharp covers the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference skeptically:

There usually isn’t a clear answer to these debates anyway, and even when there is, there’s a good chance it all changes when the games happen. Randomness, variance, anomalies, etc. A growing faction of the media uses advanced stats to write mythbusting articles to make the sports conversation smarter, but it actually just makes things more pedantic. We are not scouts. Rather than couch all of our 2013 sports arguments in data that’s not as conclusive as it seems, it’s more fun to just have an argument.

It makes you appreciate the millions of people who don’t care about any of this, because maybe they have the right idea. Look around the Sloan Analytics Conference and you see a group of thousands of over-educated smart people, most of whom are white males, congratulating each other on expertise and hitting on all the same themes, forging this echo chamber that’s supposedly rendering everyone else extinct. “This conference is the Internet,” I write on Saturday afternoon.

There’s a much bigger world out there, and thank God for that.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

March 6, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

Deep Routes

For ESPN the Magazine, Wright Thompson gets unbelievable access to Michael Jordan:

THE OPPOSITE OF this creeping nostalgia is the way Jordan has always collected slights, inventing them — nurturing them. He can be a breathtaking asshole: self-centered, bullying and cruel. That’s the ugly side of greatness. He’s a killer, in the Darwinian sense of the word, immediately sensing and attacking someone’s weakest spot. He’d moo like a cow when the overweight general manager of the Bulls, Jerry Krause, would get onto the team bus. When the Bulls traded for the injury-prone Bill Cartwright, Jordan teased him as Medical Bill, and he once punched Will Perdue during practice. He punched Steve Kerr too, and who knows how many other people.

This started at an early age. Jordan genuinely believed his father liked his older brother, Larry, more than he liked him, and he used that insecurity as motivation. He burned, and thought if he succeeded, he would demand an equal share of affection. His whole life has been about proving things, to the people around him, to strangers, to himself. This has been successful and spectacularly unhealthy. If the boy in those letters from Chapel Hill is gone, it is this appetite to prove — to attack and to dominate and to win — that killed him. In the many biographies written about Jordan, most notably in David Halberstam’s “Playing for Keeps,” a common word used to describe Jordan is “rage.” Jordan might have stopped playing basketball, but the rage is still there. The fire remains, which is why he searches for release, on the golf course or at a blackjack table, why he spends so much time and energy on his basketball team and why he dreams of returning to play.

At SB Nation, Paul Flannery talks about the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and drafts a strategy for effectively communicating the message:

For every analytically inclined member of a team’s front office there are several more who aren’t interested. For every Hoopdata loving basketball writer (please come back, Hoopdata) there are crusty beat writers who don’t care nothing about fancy-boy stats. And for every enlightened fan there are hundreds more who count the ringzzzz first, last and forever.

And that’s where this whole thing breaks down in a self-congratulatory echo chamber of smugness and mistrust. The cultural divide is still strong, but it doesn’t have to be. As Kirk Goldsberry mentioned in his presentation, we need to get better at communicating what the metrics mean and that’s where the media comes into play. With a little more patience and whole lot less hubris, we can start talking with people instead of at them.

Also on SB Nation, Matt Ufford analyzes Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea:

1. Rodman is right: he DID make history, though he makes that boast to Stephanopoulos with more flair and import than it warrants. A garishly-dressed pawn with facial piercings is still a pawn, and Rodman will be lucky if his role in the history of American-North Korean relations falls somewhere between Mrs. O’Leary’s cow and Paul Tibbets. (Humanity will be lucky if it doesn’t.)

2. I’m less troubled by Rodman’s lack of circumspection than by his utter failure to make a simple comparison. If you’re going to compare your friend Kim Jong Un to an American president (not a recommended stance in a debate, by the way), modern American history offers no shortage of presidents with blood on their hands, from Bush’s invasion of Iraq to Obama’s use of drone attacks to the succession of Democrats and Republicans who waged war in Vietnam for two decades. Saying “Bill Clinton had sex with his secretary,” aside from being factually suspect, is not a strong comeback when you’re being asked about Kim’s prison camps.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

February 6, 2013

World Wide Wednesday

On Grantland, Chuck Klosterman profiles Royce White, the Houston Rockets rookie who has had a very public battle with mental illness this season:

Part of what makes White so baffling (and, to his detractors, so infuriating) is the degree to which he seems totally normal. He concedes this is part of the problem, perception-wise; he says he’s thought about his condition so much that he can now control it, most of the time. But that control makes it difficult for him to illustrate how he’s different from any normal person who tends to get more nervous than necessary. For instance, it’s not that White cannot bear to step on an airplane; he’s taken dozens and dozens of flights throughout his short career, including one to Italy to play an exhibition for Iowa State. He just deeply hates the experience of flying (and says that he’s racked with anxiety for several hours before takeoff, which is worse than the flight itself). White also hates driving and constantly scans the road for “threats,” but that doesn’t mean he can’t drive (in the Real Sports segment, we see him calmly operating a vehicle with only one hand on the wheel). When I speak with him at the Cheesecake Factory, he seems more composed than many other celebrities and athletes I’ve interviewed in the past. But this, he insists, proves nothing except the complexity of his dilemma. “Everything is tied to my mental illness,” he tells me. “It’s like when you have arthritis: Even when you’re not hurting, you’re worried about when you will hurt next. It’s always related.”

In The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz talks about how older parenthood will upend society:

We have been conditioned to think of reproductive age as a female-only concern, but it isn’t. For decades, neonatologists have known about birth defects linked to older fathers: dwarfism, Apert syndrome (a bone disorder that may result in an elongated head), Marfan syndrome (a disorder of the connective tissue that results in weirdly tall, skinny bodies), and cleft palates. But the associations between parental age and birth defects were largely speculative until this year, when researchers in Iceland, using radically more powerful ways of looking at genomes, established that men pass on more de novo—that is, non-inherited and spontaneously occurring—genetic mutations to their children as they get older. In the scientists’ study, published inNature, they concluded that the number of genetic mutations that can be acquired from a father increases by two every year of his life, and doubles every 16, so that a 36-year-old man is twice as likely as a 20-year-old to bequeath de novo mutations to his children.

The Nature study ended by saying that the greater number of older dads could help to explain the 78 percent rise in autism cases over the past decade. Researchers have suspected links between autism and parental age for years. One much-cited study from 2006 argued that the risk of bearing an autistic child jumps from six in 10,000 before a man reaches 30 to 32 in 10,000 when he’s 40—a more than fivefold increase. When he reaches 50, it goes up to 52 in 10,000. It should be noted that there are many skeptics when it comes to explaining the increase of autism; one school of thought holds that it’s the result of more doctors making diagnoses, better equipment and information for the doctors to make them with, and a vocal parent lobby that encourages them. But it increasingly looks as if autism cases have risen more than overdiagnosis can account for and that parental age, particularly paternal age, has something to do with that fact.

Continue reading World Wide Wednesday

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