7 stories to read this weekend — suggested by Om Malik

It has been a crazy week, one that has been hectic with activity and multiple news events. Of course, we hosted our RoadMap conference earlier this week. And there was the election that preoccupied all us. Nevertheless, I found time to read quite a few stories and here are seven of them that are worth your attention.

Being there: Robert Kaplan of The Atlantic bemoans the fact that we have become multitasking addicts and in order to enjoy travel, we need to get over our small screen addiction. Why? Because if we know everything, how are we supposed to enjoy it all?

Monopoly is theft: The history of one of the most popular board games in the world is a fascinating read. It is one of the best pieces I read this past week.

Inside the Arizona Fall league: Baseball season is over for the big leaguers. But the real business of baseball that includes finding the young and the talented continues. It is not an easy task.

Does sugar kill?: A story about how the sugar industry is working hard to keep us loving the sweet stuff. On a more personal note, I know if I eat sugar, it will kill me. And so it will hundreds of millions of the growing number of diabetics across the planet.

The underground economy: New York has a subway that keeps the city humming. Hurricane Sandy exposed its limitations. The MTA’s heroic efforts brought it back online much faster than anyone thought, including MTA itself, the New York Times reports.

This land is my land: A tragic story about how an old bootlegger and a gun merchant fought over a piece of property. And I thought I left this kind of stuff in the old country.

And finally a tech-centric piece, that talks about how brands will become media.

Om does this to us, every weekend. This batch in particular offers an interesting array of knowledge and reflection.

CBO says a tax hike for the wealthy won’t kill economic growth

Allowing income tax rates to rise for wealthy Americans, and maintaining rates for the less affluent, would not hurt U.S. economic growth much in 2013, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday, stepping into a dispute between Republicans and Democrats over how to resolve the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

The report by the authoritative non-partisan arm of Congress is expected to fuel President Barack Obama’s demand for higher taxes on the rich, part of his proposal to avoid the full impact of the expiring tax cuts and across-the-board spending reductions set to begin in early 2013 unless Congress acts…

Obama has also stuck to his position, with the White House reiterating on Thursday that the president sees his election victory…as an endorsement by voters of his view on higher taxes for the affluent.

“One of the messages that was sent by the American people throughout this campaign is … (they) clearly chose the president’s view of making sure that the wealthiest Americans are asked to do a little bit more in the context of reducing our deficit in a balanced way,” senior White House adviser David Plouffe said.

Confirmed by every exit poll during the election.

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Murder suspect arrested with victim’s penis in his wallet – WTF?

Is that your nephew’s penis in your wallet or are you glad to see me?

South African police have arrested a 42-year-old man found carrying human genitalia in his wallet, four days after his nephew went missing in the south of the country…

Suspecting the man had a hand in the disappearance of his 18-year-old nephew, police…interrogated him until he led them to a spot in the small town of Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape province.

“We found that the hands, the head and legs were cut off from the body and we then recovered the private parts in his wallet,” Mzukisi Fatyela, police spokesman for the Eastern Cape Province, told AFP.

He refused to disclose the wallet size nor the state of the human parts, but said the man will face murder charges.

I was wondering about the size of his wallet, too.

Not-so-light Neanderthal lunch on the outskirts of Paris

French archaeologists have uncovered a rare, near-complete skeleton of a mammoth in the countryside near Paris, alongside tiny fragments of flint tools suggesting the carcass may have been cut into by prehistoric hunters.

The archaeologists say that if that hypothesis is confirmed, their find would be the clearest ever evidence of interaction between mammoths and ancient cavemen in this part of Europe

Archaeologists came across the giant bones by accident while they were excavating ancient Roman remains in a quarry near the town of Changis-sur-Marne, 30 km east of Paris.

The mammoth, which the archaeologists have named “Helmut”, is thought to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old and is only the fourth near-complete specimen to be found in France…

Scientists believe Helmut, a woolly mammoth, may have become stuck in mud or drowned…

Mammoth remains are commonest in the frozen climates of Siberia, where around 140 specimens have been found including some of the world’s best-preserved carcasses.

The prehistoric animal disappeared from Western Europe around 10,000 years ago, most likely due to climate change and hunting.

We evolved as omnivores, folks. If digestible, we ate anything we could kill, find as some other critter’s leftovers, or pluck it out of a bog for lunch.

The quest for scarce goods meant we ate anything that wouldn’t kill us.

Rocking-Knit chair knits hats while you rock


If the idea of knitting your own hat has always appealed in theory, but you don’t know your double pointed needles from your garter stitch, then you may wish to take a look at the Rocking-Knit chair.

The Rocking-Knit is the brainchild of students Damien Ludi and Colin Peillex, based at Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), Switzerland. It allows a person to sit back, relax, and enjoy the gentle rocking motion of the chair, while a woolen hat is automatically knitted and eventually appears overhead, ready to wear…

The Rocking-Knit was exhibited at ECAL’s Low-Tech Factory exposition, as part of the Designers’ Saturday event held at Langenthal, Switzerland.

It should be in a museum. And not in my study.

An egg a day to keep your allergies away?

Avoiding sweet treats like pumpkin bread and cookies this holiday season might not be necessary for children with egg allergies. New studies presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting found 56 percent of allergic children can tolerate baked hen’s egg, while 55 percent outgrow their egg allergy entirely.

“More than half of egg allergic children can tolerate hen’s eggs when they are baked at 350 degrees in products such as cakes and breads,” said allergist Rushani Saltzman, M.D….“Dietary introduction of baked egg by an allergist can broaden a child’s diet, improve quality of life and likely accelerate the development of an egg tolerance…”

In a separate study also presented at the meeting, Ruchi Gupta, M.D….found that out of the eight common food allergens, children most commonly outgrew egg allergy.

“Food tolerance was observed in one in four children, with 55 percent outgrowing their egg allergy by age seven,” said Dr. Gupta. “Developing an egg tolerance is the most common for children, followed by milk. A small proportion outgrew shellfish and tree nut allergies.”

If children have shown a severe reaction to eggs in the past they are less likely to outgrow the allergy, according to researchers. Severe symptoms include rapid swelling of the skin and tissue, difficulty breathing and life-threatening anaphylaxis.

“While these studies show many positive findings for children with egg allergy, parents must practice caution,” said allergist Richard Weber, M.D., ACAAI president-elect. “Introducing an allergen back into a child’s diet can have severe consequences, and only should be done under the care of a board-certified allergist.”

Still, the findings are positive, good news for many.

My wife dealt with a ton of allergies, not uncommon among folks growing up in the American Southwest. She started treatment with an allergist a few years back – and over time the visits [and the cost] diminished as the range of allergies bothering her have been reduced in strength and frequency.