Notes from a Boston-bound DC-9

This morning I flew to Boston for a work project. I usually like to have a new novel reserved for a plane ride. I'm not wild about flying and like to have a mystery or compelling drama I can immerse myself in (ie, distract myself with). I found myself yesterday without such a book and so put a couple of magazines into my bag instead. Actually I had intended to get to the bookstore and buy a book by Lisa Samson. I recently discovered her blog (see my blogroll for the link to Author Intrusion) and have happily become a regular visitor. Admittedly, however, I've not read any of her books. My intention was to change that and make one of her books my plane reading for this trip. Unfortunately, bad weather and car-use conflicts yesterday prevented me from getting to the bookstore as I had planned. Thus, the magazines in my bag instead of her book. It still was a fruitful reading period. I was mostly distracted from the turbulence, little that there was, plus I learned a thing or two. Here are some items of note from my magazine reading:

The New Yorker, October 25, 2004

A new play by Michele Lowe has opened called String of Pearls. The premise of the play is that a woman finds a pearl necklace that she lost thirty years prior. The review says the premise "seems clichéd, but the charm and nuance of the writing make the fable believable and fresh." I think the premise sounds intriguing. What personal item may have been lost thirty years ago that would be fun or exciting or even life changing to now find?

An ad by United Technologies asked, "What makes cities possible?" The ad answers its own question by proposing that air conditioning, jets, and elevators are what make cities possible. I think it's a bit more complex than that.

Malcolm Gladwell is a contributing writer in this issue. A note about him says that he has a book coming out in January called Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Great title!

Tiffany & Co is featuring a gold heart bracelet for a mere $4,700.

Philip Obayda, an architecture student in London, has demonstrated that Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong will) is a legitimate and measurable phenomenon. Factors in the mathematical equation include numerical levels of Urgency, Complexity, Importance, Skill, and Frequency for any given circumstance. I didn't understand how the equation worked out but that means nothing.

Despite the upset over the high price of prescription drugs in the U.S. compared to other countries, economists Patricia Danzon and Michael Furukawa point out that while drugs still under patent protection cost 25% to 40% more in the U.S. than in other countries such as Canada and England, generic drugs and over-the-counter drugs are much cheaper. In other words, we pay a lot at the beginning of a drug's lifespan and less as the drug gets older. In contrast, other countries pay less at the beginning, but they pay much more than we do for generics and over-the-counter drugs.

U. S. News and World Report, November 1, 2004
According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, people who spend "loads of time" (the brief article didn't quantify this term) in traffic triple their odds of suffering a heart attack within an hour of traffic. Potential reasons: stress? polutants?

Coke appears to activate a part of the brain that handles memory and exerts control over thinking. (I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a good thing or not??) This finding was determined by studying the brain activity of people after drinking the beverage. The study published in Neuron pointed out that the competing brand did not activate this part of the brain.