Archive - 2014

October 23rd

Berlin's ill-used power

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A not-so-easy fix for the economy

    The story is told of three professors - a chemist, a physicist and an economist - who find themselves shipwrecked with a large supply of canned food but no way to open the cans. The chemist proposes a solvent made from native plant oils. The physicist suggests climbing a tree to just the right height, then dropping the cans on some rocks below.

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Walk Softly and Carry a Big Beer

    OK, that’s it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. The avarice of corporate power is getting personal.

    I’m talking about beer, the nourishing nectar of a civilized society. Since my teen years, I’ve done extensive consumer research on the brewer’s art, from the full array of ales to the most substantial of stouts.

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The worry you can conquer

    If you are worried about contracting Ebola, I have two suggestions. First, stop. Second, get a flu shot.

    On the first: If you live in the United States, your chances of getting Ebola are vanishingly small -- even if you are a health care worker, or a journalist who travels to Africa to report on the epidemic.

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Romney stands tall amid weak Republican field for 2016

    An early indication of the paucity of prospective Republican presidential candidates for 2016 is the recent boomlet for Mitt Romney, the loser in 2012. His reputation for defending big business while being tone-deaf to the needs of the middle class undid him two years ago.

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Potlatch For Politicians

    An editor with multiple graduate degrees once called me up with a story idea hatched among fellow trend-sniffers in Manhattan.

    "Indians," he said, with practiced urgency. "Something's going on with American Indians. Look into it and tell me what you think."

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News media reacted slowly to Ebola crisis

    On June 3, the international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders issued a news release with a stark headline: "Resurgence of Epidemic Ebola in West Africa." A day later, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak one of the deadliest ever, with 223 victims in three countries.

    Neither announcement caused much of a stir in newsrooms across the United States.

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Isis, Ebola Hysteria Driven Purely By Ratings

    "First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror ..."

    -- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933 Inaugural Address

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Here Come the Rain and Drought

    What is it about natural disasters and irony?

    Just as local authorities in Detroit were denying thousands of people access to running water, the bankrupt city experienced an epic downpour. More than 4.5 inches of rain pounded Motown in mid-August, causing $1.2 billion in damage. Three people died, including a 100-year-old woman who apparently drowned in her flooded basement.

Detroit Flood

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Fear of new 'collard' people

    Collard greens are "the new kale?" So say some chic eaters, even as some concerned cultural guardians fear a new socio-economic menace: "food gentrification."

    Gentrification, simply defined, is when something that you used to buy because it was cheap suddenly turns so fashionable that it is too expensive for its original consumers to afford.

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