Five at 8 – 4/17/09

  • A study finds 47 percent of high school students are victims of hazing, and 8 percent of the students have been involved in drinking games until they pass out, it says. “It’s not just boys being boys,” the study’s author says. Somewhat related: The Minnesota Senate has given initial approval to another anti-bullying bill that expands the definition of prohibited bullying.
  • Is obesity a disease or a choice? United Airlines is going to require obese people to buy two seats on its planes instead of one, and bump them from overbooked flights. Discover Magazine’s blog asks if it is a disease, then wouldn’t doctors be the only ones qualified to treat it? Which brings us to today’s survey:

  • Can lawyers — or would-be lawyers — be funny? The irreverent blog, Above the Law, is out with its finalists in its first-ever Law Revue Video Contest. There’s a fair amount of “I don’t get it” for us mere mortals. Warning: “Strong” language on one of them.
  • Why not just kick a puppy? That’s my reaction after hearing last night’s All Things Considered throwdown with Geoffrey Pullum, who considers The Elements of Style, comparable to “50 years of stupid grammar advice.”

    Strunk and White continues to update their book, even though both of them are dead. (10) But some of their advice is old-fashioned and, frankly, downright arachnophobic.

    For instance, they say to keep related words together. (11) That’s fine for all intensive purposes, but what if one of your related words empties your bank account and goes to Atlantic City and loses all your money at the blackjack table? Yeah, that word is dead to me. And you know who you are, grandma.

    This being a Public Radio blog and all, we need to talk about this.

  • One of the true tragedies of life is we don’t understand the concept of time very well. For example, I was born in 1954, just 9 years after the end of World War II. But World War II, from my first moments of rational thought, might as well have been 100 years earlier. For you older folks, you’ve probably also spent some time looking at pictures of your parents at the age you are now and you realize — now — how young they were.

    So, stumbling across this post was fascinating to me today. Just How Long Ago Was the Civil War was based on an NPR story about a long-overdue book being returned. The writer considers these things and points out that we are — all — younger and more connected to history than we think.

    Bonus: How great would it be to have the best of winter and the best of spring combined? Real great.


    Midmorning (9-11) – Kerri Miller considers President Obama’s cautious optimism on the economy in the first hour, then lets her inner science nerd out — again — in the second hour with a segment on how our memories are made, and destroyed. My submitted question: Why can’t I find my car keys this morning, but I can remember that Donnie Caravella sat next to me in the third grade?

    Midday (11-1) – Mike Edgerly is hosting today and he’ll have a debate in the first hour on the future of nuclear power. By the way, a Times Online story says it’s too late for nuclear to “plug the power gap.”

    In the second hour, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, speaking to the National Press Club.

    Talk of the Nation (1-3) — It’s Science Friday! Could algae be a source of energy and, if so, would it cost us an arm and a leg to buy it? Also, why do some animals have better night vision than others?

    All Things Considered (3-6:30) — Speaking of alternative forms of energy, are biofuels valuable to the Minnesota economy. Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles is out with a report and MPR’s Mark Steil will have it.

    What is it with cheating? Two stories on ATC tonight focus on it. In one, a winning lamb in a Colorado 4-H competition has been disqualified because of doping. Apparently, cheating in livestock competition is a problem. Another story features Robert Siegel’s interview with Pepper Trail of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who testified in the trial of a man accused of smuggling in an illegal songbird.

    And finally, the Friday bookend. We started the week with Bo Diddley. We end it with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra performance this week at Carnegie Hall. Because we’re classy that way, and we have a soft spot for undiscovered talent.

    • Jim!!!

      Re: understanding time – The Cosmic Calendar. On the Cosmic Calendar scale, the civil war was about a third of a second before midnight on Dec. 31, our ancestors having first walked upright just about the time of the evening news.

      For an awesome sense of our (small) place in the scheme of things, watch Cosmos on Hulu.

    • Pullum may have a point or two to make about Strunk and White. However, I question the grammatical reliability of anyone who says “all intensive purposes.” (It’s “all intents and purposes.” See, that way it makes SENSE.) And how do spiders enter into it? (Arachnophobic?)

    • Oh, shoot, you got me. 🙂 (I read Pullum’s piece before Acito’s commentary.)

      (and yes, I do get that worked up about sloppy writing)

    • bsimon

      “But some of their advice is old-fashioned and, frankly, downright arachnophobic.”

      Their advice is scared of spiders?

      Perhaps the author meant “anachronistic”. Though one can’t help but wonder whether someone who makes such a mistake is an appropriate critic of a style manual.

    • Elizabeth T

      I’m in the midst of (trying to) finish (um, make that to do) a project for grad school. The law review videos made me laugh and laugh and laugh. I would have laughed harder if I wasn’t sitting in a library.

      Thank you for this temporary break from (my) reality.