Things to Read - Interesting Articles From Around the Web (on the world's hardest race, shady police, the thought process of being late, food allergies, "bitches", and fast food workers)

Somewhat of a random mix this month, hopefully the funny counterbalances the depressing.

1. (The World's Hardest Race) - Would you want to run the world's hardest race? In Leslie Jamison's article for the Believer thirty-rive runners "face hollers and hells, a flooded prison, rats the Size of possums, and flesh-flaying briars to test the limits of self-sufficiency."

"Julian has completed five hundred-mile races so far, as well as countless “short” ones, and I once asked him why he does it. He explained it like this: He wants to achieve a completely insular system of accountability, one that doesn’t depend on external feedback. He wants to run a hundred miles when no one knows he’s running, so that the desire to impress people, or the shame of quitting, won’t constitute his sources of motivation. . . . when it’s midnight and it’s raining and you’re on the steepest hill you’ve ever climbed and you’re bleeding from briars and you’re alone and you’ve been alone for hours, it’s only you around to witness yourself quit or continue."


2. (Shady Police) - Did the Chicago police coerce witnesses into pinpointing the wrong man for murder? According to Nicholas Schmidle, the answer is probably yes. So depressing.

"At one point, Judge Bolan told Mullenix, “Perry Mason does this. Perry Mason proves the guy in the back of the court did it.” . . . . He ridiculed Mullenix’s argument as one more appropriate for the TV show “Unsolved Mysteries.”

. . . .

Wayne Washington reiterated that his confession had been false, saying, “The detectives told me that they wouldn’t let me go until I confessed to murdering Marshall Morgan.” Jody Rogers signed another sworn recantation. Then Jody’s brother, Michael, who had corroborated Jody’s false testimony at the trial, revealed something startling: the Chicago police had secretly been paying him for his co√∂peration. “Every time they picked me up, I got some money,” he wrote in a sworn statement. “They told me if I had any problems with anyone in the neighborhood they would take care of it.”

3. (The Thought Process of Being Late). Funny.

"Anyway the reason I’m “late” is because I work, you know, and even though I was supposed to leave the office at 6:30 I got this really annoying and urgent email. That I ignored. But I only ignored it because my friend sent me this dumb YouTube link that I had to watch immediately, otherwise it would be yet another open tab weighing on my conscience, right along with that Times article I meant to read and the credit card I never picked up from this bar on Leroy. So whatever, I watched the video and then I had to watch another one because you know how that goes, and then it was almost 7 so I ran out the door like a maniac while cursing about how I was going to be late, and then I stopped for a quick snack because you never want to enter a date on an empty stomach."

4. (Food Allergies) - Scientists may have discovered the cause of food allergies in children - we're screwing up our gut bacteria through overuse of antibiotics. (On a somewhat lighter note, apparently gut bacteria also explains why diet coke makes you fat).

"A very quick summary of the study: Scientists took a group of mice with peanut allergies and gave them the gut bacteria Clostridia, a bacteria found commonly in humans. After administering it, they found that the mice no longer had food allergies.

. . . .

So, how long until this result provides benefits for humans?

"There's much, much, much more work to be done," says Nagler. "Next, we want to look at children with food allergies. And then it has to be developed in a safe drug format, and that's going to take some time."

But one thing we don't have to wait for is what this study suggests about the possible culprit behind food allergies: Our antibiotics-happy culture.

"We don't want to say this is a cause and effect relationship, but we do want to raise the concern," says Nagler. "An infectious disease specialist made the point that most kids in the U.S. receive two or three courses of antibiotics in infancy. Most of the treatments they receive are for viral infections, meaning, they're getting a treatment that serves no purpose."

What they're getting instead is the alteration and elimination of the bacteria that may keep allergens at bay. And that's just one of the problems that are associated with the overuse of antibiotics."

5. ("Bitches") - This Momestery post had me laughing out loud (I hate to excerpt because you really should read the whole thing, but oh well, my favorite passage is below).

"All of a sudden, I was snapped out of my daydream and back to my senses by someone tapping me on the leg and saying: “your turn.” Since most of the time I live in my head – this moment is the story of my life. This moment when I’m happily lost inside my mind world and someone in my physical world tries to bring me back to the present – so I have to quickly figure out who I’m with, where I am, and what’s going on. This is why we daydreaming introverts seem constantly dazed and confused. We are like scuba divers who are down in the deep on a quiet treasure hunt but are constantly being yanked back up above water. It takes us some time to surface and reorient.

Searching for a clue- I looked down at my hand and saw one Uno card sitting in my palm. This was a GREAT clue! I was playing Uno, apparently! And Look! I only had one card left! Which meant I was WINNING! Ba-Bam! And before I had any clue what I was doing – I held my card in the air and yelled:


I yelled Uno, bitches, at my five year old and seven year old daughters. I called my daughters bitches. With great glee and gusto. In the middle of a family card game.

. . . .

I called my sweet girls bitches. And even so, I’ll have you know that Amazon calls me an official parenting expert. And so here’s the thing: if you do not call your children bitches- I imagine that you must be some sort of parenting GURU. Good for YOU. Really. Well done.

There you go- there’s your take away. You are an AMAZING parent. Go forth today with great parental confidence and dignity, bitches."


6. (Fast Food Workers) - And finally, the New Yorker published a great piece on the fast food labor protests. I find the following argument incredibly convincing.

"The Berkeley-University of Illinois study, commissioned by Fast Food Forward, found that American fast-food workers receive almost seven billion dollars a year in public assistance. That’s a direct taxpayer subsidy, the activists argue, for the fast-food industry. Taxpayers are also, by that logic, grossly overpaying the industry’s top management. According to the progressive think tank Demos, fast-food executives’ compensation packages quadrupled, in constant dollars, between 2000 and 2013. They now take home, on average, nearly twenty-four million dollars a year. Their front-line workers’ wages have barely risen in that time, and remain among the worst in U.S. industry. The differential between C.E.O. and worker pay in fast food is higher than in any other domestic economic sector—twelve hundred to one. In construction, by comparison, the differential is ninety-three to one.

The fast-food chains insist that if they were to pay their employees more they would have to raise menu prices. Their wages are “competitive.” But in Denmark McDonald’s workers over the age of eighteen earn more than twenty dollars an hour—they are also unionized—and the price of a Big Mac is only thirty-five cents more than it is in the United States. There are regional American fast-food chains that take the high road with their employees. The starting wage at In-N-Out Burger, which is based in Southern California, and has two hundred and ninety-five restaurants in California and the Southwest, is eleven dollars. Full-time workers receive a complete benefits package, including life insurance—and the burgers are cheap and good."

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