There is such an abundance this week of “interesting stuff” that I hardly knew where to begin. Here are some of them.
MONOPOLY KILLS THE THIMBLE
Yes, it's true. Last month, four million Monopoly fans voted on which game tokens to keep and which to get rid of:
What's your favorite Monopoly token? I've always liked the top hat.
NEW EARTHLIKE PLANETS DISCOVERED
Astronomers have found a nearby solar system with seven Earth-sized planets, three of which circle their parent star at the right distance for liquid surface water, raising the prospect of life.
This is such exciting news that there are already hundreds of places online to read more about the newly discovered planets. Here is one.
”DEMOCRACY DIES IN DARKNESS”
For half a century or more, my go-to newspaper as been The New York Times and I doubt that will change in whatever lifetime is left to me.
But more frequently in the past year or so, I spend an equal amount of time with the Washington Post and that is attributable to the “new” editor since December 2012, Martin Baron.
If you saw the movie Spotlight, you know who he is and he has so improved the Post journalistically, that it is now about as far a you can get from the dreary little rag it used to be.
This past week, something new turned up on the front page nameplate of the paper. The New York Times has always had its motto: “All the news that's fit to print” and now the Post has added one:
Did you see that slogan just under the paper's name? “Democracy Dies in Darkness” seems to me to be a perfect choice for our times that will carry well into whatever the future brings.
"WELCOME REFUGEES" BANNER ON STATUE OF LIBERTY
A 3-foot by 20-foot banner reading "Refugees Welcome" was hung last week just below the observation deck of the Statue of Liberty. It happened on the day that the Department of Homeland Security announced expanded immigration enforcement policies.
You can read more about it at Talking Points Memo.
A WEEK WITHOUT TRUMP NEWS
One reason the new president is so ubiquitous is that all other news seemed to have stopped and there is nothing to know unless it involves Trump.
For a week, The New York Times technology columnist, Farhad Manjoo, avoided as much Trump news as possible. Here are some of his observations:
”My point: I wanted to see what I could learn about the modern news media by looking at how thoroughly Mr. Trump had subsumed it," Manjoo wrote. "In one way, my experiment failed: I could find almost no Trump-free part of the press...
“President Trump is inescapable...
“I spent more time on international news sites like the BBC, and searched for subject-specific sites covering topics like science and finance. I consulted social news sites like Digg and Reddit, and occasionally checked Twitter and Facebook, but I often had to furiously scroll past all of the Trump posts...
“During my break from Trump news, I found rich coverage veins that aren’t getting social [media] play. ISIS is retreating across Iraq and Syria. Brazil seems on the verge of chaos. A large ice shelf in Antarctica is close to full break. Scientists may have discovered a new continent submerged under the ocean near Australia...
“In previous media eras, the news was able to find a sensible balance even when huge events were preoccupying the world. Newspapers from World War I and II were filled with stories far afield from the war.
“Today’s newspapers are also full of non-Trump articles, but many of us aren’t reading newspapers anymore. We’re reading Facebook and watching cable, and there, Mr. Trump is all anyone talks about, to the exclusion of almost all else...
“There’s no easy way out of this fix. But as big as Mr. Trump is, he’s not everything — and it’d be nice to find a way for the media ecosystem to recognize that.”
If you're not a subscriber to the Times and you haven't used up your monthly story allocation, you can read all of Farhad Manjoo's article here.
JOHN OLIVER ON PUTIN
It's good to have John Oliver back at his weekly perch on the HBO program, Last Week Tonight. Most recently, he took on the man who appears to be President Donald Trump's new best friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
HOW THE TOILET CHANGED HISTORY
This is a fascinating little documentary on the commode, throne, privy, latrine, potty, whatever you want to call it. It is not as new an invention as you might think and no, it was not invented by Thomas Crapper (isn't that too bad.)
NEW YORK'S RESTAURANT SALT RULING
Just about every time I eat in a restaurant – any kind of restaurant – my bathroom scale shows me two pounds heavier the next morning.
It's not that I overeat in restaurants, it is that everything is salted beyond any reasonable amount that a human should consume in one day, let along one meal. So my body bloats with retained water, although the two pounds are gone by the following morning.
For some time, New York City restaurants have been required by the Department of Health to let customers know when menu items exceed recommended limits of sodium. The restaurant industry sued over that requirement and they lost.
Here is what the medical website STAT reported about that:
”The restaurant industry will have to stay salty about a New York City mandate imposed on high-sodium items on menus. An appeals court has affirmed that the city’s mandate — which requires menus to stick a salt-shaker symbol next to dishes that contain more than a day’s worth of sodium — was legal and well within the limits of the health department’s authority.
“The restaurant industry said that the menu symbols violated their right to free speech and could run the risk of confusing customers.
“The recommended daily limit of sodium is 2,300 mg [less that 1,500 for people 50 and older]. The CDC has estimated that around 90 percent of Americans, both adults and children, take in too much sodium.”
I wish restaurants where I live would let me know on the menu what the sodium amount is.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY COMMERCIALS THIS DOG HAS BEEN IN
The Oscars are coming up on Sunday night and as MTV News online told it in a feature story last year, this dog will never win one but he seems to be the smartest dog on television:
”The most talented movie star in America is two and a half feet tall, 7 years old, and 39 pounds. He has brown eyes, a natural black vest and tail, and his pale chest, arms, and legs are dotted with tan freckles. His name is Jumpy.”
Take a look. You'll be amazed at how often you've seen him.
Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.
You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.