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Wednesday, 08 November 2006 00:00

Recommended diversions

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Freakonomics

OK, I’m often late to the game, but this book published a few years is just fascinating. While working Folkmoot this summer one of the guides was reading it, and she explained that it was the freshman summer reading assignment at Appalachian State University.

As an alum of that football school, I looked through her copy and saw that the co-author was old friend and classmate Stephen Dubner. I finally picked up a copy a few weeks ago and have been surprised as how good a read it is. The book is all about the wit of economist Steven Levitt, whom Dubner had interviewed for a New York Times Magazine story that was subsequently turned into the book. For Levitt, the world is not as it seems to most of us. It’s all about asking the right questions and discovering the incentives behind actions. Forget those economics classes you took in college. This is funny and insightful.

 

Holiday music

Perhaps it’s the influence of my mother and her friends, who used to play whatever holiday music suited them that particular year. They played it constantly. It just seemed that as soon as Thanksgiving rolled around, the holiday soundtrack would start playing:, Elvis, Englebert Humperdink, Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers and many, many others. So now it’s stamped on some strand in my DNA, and even the worst holiday tunes unleash warm memories of childhood. And since no one seems to bother waiting for Thanksgiving anymore to start thinking about Christmas, why should I? Anyone for some “Blue Christmas?” “Feliz Navidad?”

 

Running water and plumbers

It’s just there when you turn it on, until it’s not. My “I can fix it” mantra turned disaster a couple of weeks ago when I busted the water main going into my house while replacing a sediment filter. This happened Saturday morning, and trying to get a plumber on the weekend, is, well, damn near impossible. It was Monday mid-day before someone showed up to fix things, and it was two days of unbelievable sacrifice. I’ve always believed that showers, toilets and sinks with running water are what separate us most from those who lived just 75 years ago. Now I know. Bless the plumbers and other tradespeople who make our houses work.

— By Scott McLeod

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