Weekend Reads: The (Non) Inauguration Edition
One of the things I love about Twitter is that I often find myself following a thread that leads to long-forgotten stories, tales I would never have found on my own, treatises on topics outside of my usual areas of interest, or articles from the archives. The 1986 piece “Covering the Cops” by Calvin Trillin is one that falls into the last category.
Over the years, I’ve read my share of stories from The New Yorker, but Trillin’s profile of the Pulitzer Prize-winning former crime reporter Edna Buchanan had somehow escaped my notice. The article begins by describing the ongoing debate in the newsroom of the Miami Herald as to “which of Buchanan’s first paragraphs stands as the classic Edna lead.”
Trillin shares that he is among the die-hards in “the fried-chicken faction.” He explains:
“The fried-chicken story was about a rowdy ex-con named Gary Robinson, who late one Sunday night lurched drunkenly into a Church’s outlet, shoved his way to the front of the line, and ordered a three-piece box of fried chicken. Persuaded to wait his turn, he reached the counter again five or ten minutes later, only to be told that Church’s had run out of fried chicken. The young woman at the counter suggested that he might like chicken nuggets instead. Robinson responded to the suggestion by slugging her in the head. That set off a chain of events that ended with Robinson’s being shot dead by a security guard. Edna Buchanan covered the murder for the Herald — there are policemen in Miami who say that it wouldn’t be a murder without her — and her story began with what the fried-chicken faction still regards as the classic Edna lead: ‘Gary Robinson died hungry.’”
You can’t argue with that.
I’m not sure whether it was the gallows humor that made me chuckle, or the fact that I am suffering from a case of “the morbs” — another Twitter gem — and so am amused by all things droll.
"Have you got the morbs?" Some 1880s slang that is due for a big comeback. pic.twitter.com/27pGpUVtyi
— Jason Kapalka (@jasonkapalka) February 6, 2015
Either way, limiting my intake of political news in the run-up to the United States presidential inauguration in favor of pick-me-up-slash-amusing-and-distracting stories of all genres has been one of my strategies for drowning out much of the rhetoric. The quirkier, the better.
If you are worn out by the political fervor, here are some fun and interesting reads I came across recently:
- Does the use of corporate jargon and lazy clichés make you cringe or want to scream? If so, this article, shared by my colleague and an editor of this blog, Paul McCaffrey, will make you laugh: “A Deep Dive to Remember: A Love Story Between Business Managers, Written by a Business Manager.” (The New Yorker)
- On luck and fairness in video games: “How Designers Engineer Luck into Video Games.” (Nautilus)
- Have you ever listened to a recording of your own voice and thought, “Do I really sound like that?” There’s an explanation: “Why Do Our Recorded Voices Sound Weird to Us?” (The New York Times)
- In 2013, Frontline aired a terrifying documentary on the rise of a deadly type of bacteria that modern antibiotics can’t stop, “Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria.” Recently, Scientific American upped the horror ante with its article on a superbug resistant to every available antibiotic.
- Ben Carlson, CFA, one of the most thoughtful financial bloggers out there, has a good post reminding us about “The Two Types of Knowledge in the World.” (A Wealth of Common Sense)
- Another one of my favorite bloggers, Tom Brakke, CFA, shares an extract from Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut’s landmark 1969 novel, as a lesson about our behavior when it comes to the financial markets. (Research Puzzle)
- Think robots are taking over? Here’s a piece on the limits and possibilities of a robot chef: “The Chef of the Future Makes Only One Dish: Crab bisque à la robot.” (Grub Street)
- Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architect, is the man of the moment. He has delivered two TED Talks, been profiled in The New Yorker, and is now the subject of a feature article in Vogue, “The Most Sought-After Architect in the World Prepares to Make His Mark on New York City’s Skyline.”
- Why do some older people remain mentally nimble while others decline? Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University and author of the forthcoming “How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain,” delves into the science in “How to Become a ‘Superager’.” (The New York Times)
- We hear a lot about “The Plight of the Honeybee,” the little creatures that pollinate many plant species, but we tend to overlook other vital native wildlife — butterflies, bats, and many others— that keep the local ecosystem running. As I discovered in “Tiny Pollinators Need Wildlife Corridors Too,” “some 90 percent of flowering plant species depend at least partly on animal pollinators for reproduction. Pollinators, however, are declining in both diversity and number, facing threats including development, pesticides, invasive species, and climate change.” To help, Sarah Bergmann established a “pollinator pathway” to help pollinators move through an urban landscape.“This isn’t about the future of farming,” Bergmann told the reporter, “It’s about the future of nature.” (The Atlantic)
- Ed Caesar has one of the coolest reporting assignments ever. He is writing about the Breaking2 initiative — Nike’s attempt to break the two-hour mark in a special marathon planned for the spring of 2017 — for WIRED magazine. So far, he’s published two articles: “Inside Nike’s Quest for the Impossible: The Two-Hour Marathon” and “Think Exercise is Hard? Trying Training Like a Nike Super-Athlete.” In the latter, I came across this wonderful haiku from Michael Joyner of the Mayo Clinic, which may just inspire you to lace up this weekend:
Run a lot of miles
Some faster than your race pace
Rest once in a while
- My version of Weekend Reads wouldn’t be complete without at least one reference to photography. As a child of Africa, these stunning images are especially close to my heart:
— My Modern Met (@mymodernmet) January 2, 2017
- And finally, given these African images, here’s a beautiful rendition of Toto’s “Africa,” performed by Angel City Chorale. Enjoy!
If you liked this post, don’t forget to subscribe to the Enterprising Investor.
All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Ellica_S