I Don’t Believe in Bitcoins

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I’d just managed to complete my first-ever PayPal purchase when I started hearing about Bitcoins everywhere I turned. I don’t know if it’s the whole Magic: The Gathering thing or what, but I picture Bitcoins like the pile of gold Smaug sleeps on in The Hobbit. Imaginary world, imaginary currency.

But I do try to keep up, so I kept reading up on Bitcoins: on the Vinklevoss twins’ plans for a Bitcoin investment fund, on the surprisingly sober Senate hearings on the cryptocurrency last November, on the Mt. Gox mess, allegations of corruption, and on some old Japanese guy living in California who is either the mastermind behind Bitcoins or a befuddled dopplegänger. It would be a lie to say I understand Bitcoins better now. In fact, the more I read, the more confused I become.

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Are My Savesies Chairs Nice Enough?

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I’m not going to name the town where I live. Go ahead and feel superior if you like — if you and all your kumbaya neighbors never mark your shoveled-out parking spaces with personal items when it snows — but here where I live, we do.

I don’t know if we’re less courteous than y’all, or more suspicious, or just exhausted from our position here at the crossroads of what forecasters refer to as “the northern and western suburbs.” Suffice it to say we’ve been walloped this winter. We’re sick and tired of it. And we know our own limitations, which is to say we know what we’re capable of should some day-tripper parallel-park himself or herself into the barely-bumper-to-bumper spaces we’ve painstakingly carved out of the snowdrifts that surround us. So we mark our spaces. Trust me; it’s safer this way.
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Mom’s Tylenol Use, Dad’s Age Are Latest Suspects on ADHD Front

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Shutterstock

A pair of recently concluded long-term studies may shine some light on the causes of ADHD as well as other mental illnesses including bipolar disorder, autism and psychosis.

In the first, published online by JAMA Pediatrics, researchers at UCLA linked the use by pregnant women of over-the-counter acetaminophen—the pain reliever in Tylenol—with a heightened risk of both attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and hyperkinetic disorder, an especially severe form of ADHD. The researchers reviewed the health histories of some 64,000 children and mothers in the Danish National Birth Cohort between the years 1996 to 2002—histories that included phone interviews during pregnancy, six months after childbirth, and when children turned seven. Birth Cohort moms had taken a standard behavioral screening questionnaire while pregnant; researchers also checked with the national health registries for diagnoses of hyperkinetic disorder and use of ADHD meds. Read more »

Are Millennials Doomed to Repeat History?

Learning Lessons from the past.

Illustration by Jesse Lenz

LAST NOVEMBER, less than a week after the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in the 2013 World Series, my son and husband and I visited the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The place was absolutely deserted. On a Sunday afternoon, we counted fewer than a dozen other visitors. Footsteps ringing on the floors, we made the circuit of empty, echoing displays of memorabilia, and finally sat in a nigh-deserted theater to watch a film honoring the All-American Game. At its conclusion, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” played, much too loudly, while the single usher on hand sang lustily along. The three of us were profoundly embarrassed for him.
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Sorry, Parents: That “Make Your Baby a Genius,” Early-Learning Product You Bought Doesn’t Do Jack

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We know, we know: Your baby is the smartest baby ever. You made sure of that when you shelled out big bucks for a program to teach her to read even before she could walk. You know the one—DVDs, flashcards, flip books, all guaranteed, if used on a daily basis, to get your special snowflake into the best preschool, the best prep school, and then Harvard here we come!

Um. Not.

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Kazakhstan Panties Are Really in a Bunch

This photo taken on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, shows women during a protest against the ban of lace underwear  in Almaty, Kazakhstan. A trade ban on synthetic underwear has Russia and her economic allies with their knickers in a twist. Post-Soviet consumers reacted with dismay to news that synthetic underwear will be banned within the Eurasian Economic Commission, which regulates a customs union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, from July 1. Consumer outcry against the restrictions reached a fever pitch after a Sunday protest in the capital of Kazakhstan, where thirty women wore lace underwear on their heads and shouted “Freedom to panties!” as they were shoved into police vehicles. (AP Photo/Vladimir Tretyakov)

On Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, women protest the ban of lace underwear in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

You know how sometimes there’s just something in the ether, so that everywhere you turn, a subject comes up over and over again? Yesterday, on Presidents Day, that subject was underwear. In one of those news stories that make you scratch your head and go “Huh,” the Moscow Times reported that women in the streets of Kazakhstan were marching with underwear on their heads to protest a new law that’s set to go into effect on July 1st. (You should check out the link, if only for the photo of the demure young Kazakh male averting his gaze from the lascivious lace display.) Read more »

Confessions of an Olympics 2014 Junkie

Sage Kotsenburg (USA) reacts after his first run of men's slopestyle finals at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Photo | Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Sage Kotsenburg (USA) reacts after his first run of men’s slopestyle finals at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Photo | Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

I had a hard time tearing myself away to write this. The German and Russian women’s ice hockey teams are facing off in the living room downstairs. Normally, ice hockey leaves me cold — I never watch the Flyers. But every four years, I clear my slate for ice hockey — men’s and women’s — and curling, and biathlon, and Alpine skiing, and all sorts of other obscure wintry goings-on. It’s time for the Olympics! And I love the Olympics more than I can say. Read more »

POLL: Are You Willing to Skip Your Annual Mammogram to Save Some Cash?

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Shutterstock

I had my annual mammogram last week. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it wasn’t pleasant. My biggest takeaway was cold: The hospital was cold, the changing room was cold, the mammogram machine was cold, the technician’s hands were cold. It wasn’t a great way to start the day.

Still, I perked up when, a few days later, the letter came announcing that my results were normal. Again. They’ve been normal for the past 17 years—years in which I’ve faithfully been trekking into my local hospital to have the test done.

I’m not at high risk for breast cancer, particularly. There are a few instances on my father’s side, none that I know of on my mother’s side. It doesn’t seem likely I’m a carrier of the BRCA genes that have women like Angelina Jolie and Christina Applegate preemptively having their breasts removed. Sometimes it crosses my mind: Do I really need this test this often? Then I hear a story like that of 40-year-old TV reporter Amy Rohrbach, who reluctantly underwent an on-air mammogram on Good Morning America and found out she had cancer. The mother of five subsequently had her own double mastectomy. Read more »

While Making Guacamole For the Super Bowl, I Discovered My Kids Are Now Smarter Than I Am

Photo | Shutterstock

Photo | Shutterstock

I had the avocados. I had a couple of tomatoes, and a lime. I even had cilantro, which I’d hiked all the way back across the vast stretches of our grocery store to get—who decreed that suburban grocery stores should be the size of the Pentagon, anyway?—after I forgot it on my first foray through the produce aisle. So I was pretty sure I had everything I needed to make guacamole for the Super Bowl yesterday when, early in the afternoon, I sliced open the first avocado. Everything was going smoothly until I took a taste of the finished product.

Something wasn’t right.

I called my daughter Marcy. A year spent in Mexico made her a guacamole expert; I’ve watched her stir the stuff up practically one-handed.

“Hey!” she said, answering her phone for once.

“Hey!” I said. “Is there hot sauce in guacamole?”

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