Tuesday, February 16, 2010

bill johnson

Who knew Bill Johnson now lives in a trailer park in the shadow of Mt. Hood? I'm not really sure why I like this story. The tone is odd. It may be the simple fact that the writer didn't trash a childhood hero of mine. I was only nine years old when Johnson won gold, but I was already gaga for skiing. Come to think of it, the winter of '83-'84 was sort of a magical season of televised sports viewing, sitting on that beige and blue couch next to my older brother. Johnson's downhill victory came just three months after Flutie's Miracle in Miami.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

brain feasting

Although the writing life can send the mind in 20 directions at once, causing both headache and professional heartache, most of the time it makes me feel lucky. This week is case in point, with a goulash of interesting and varied tips, leads, questions and links arriving in my inbox from readers and friends. For starters, I heard from a journalism student, somewhere out there, who wants to interview me about left-handedness. Anyone who knows me even a little will know that I am happy to ramble on about this topic.

Next up was this piece, about the evolution of the apostrophe, sent by a friend who shares my interest in matters orthographic and grammatical.

Meanwhile, just as I embark on another autism writing project, a crop of related news emerges. First, the autism incidence and geography study. Next was the Lancet retraction. I don't have much to say about that one except that it's about a decade too late. Finally, check out this LA Times piece, forwarded by some friends who share my anxiety about misinformation peddlers: "Industrial chemical OSR#1 used as autism treatment". Wait. It gets better:

An industrial chemical developed to help separate heavy metals from polluted soil and mining drainage is being sold as a dietary supplement by a luminary in the world of alternative autism treatments.

I would laugh if it wasn't so scary. Yet this week has been so filled with curious stuff that I haven't had much time to feel too downtrodden about zealots or whacktivists. Manipulating salience in the tax code, grizzlies in British Columbia, the Nevada Test Site, Hitachi R&D labs in Tokyo, Iceland's economic collapse, Major League Baseball training secrets, Haiti earthquake responders using social networking tools... Am I hopelessly scatterbrained, or do I have the best job on the planet?

Monday, February 1, 2010

george goes to washington

A few more ripples from my story about George Gollin and his battle against bogus university credentials. CNN picked up my article (in a rather regurgitated format), as did University World News. More significantly, Congressman Tim Bishop recently proposed federal legislation to close some of the loopholes that benefit diploma mill operators, and he invited Gollin to Washington last week for a press conference. Way to go, George.