Explanation of Children of Men

•August 22, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men was rather deft about playing the explanation game. There was this huge catastrophe–worldwide female sterility–yet the movie was not overtaken by the mystery of how it happened. Today, I came across a passage in The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken that offered a possible source for PD James’ (author of the novel) story.  Even though James pinned the blame on women,  (Or maybe it was just the characters’ points-of-view?), I can’t help but wonder if this 1992 study on male fertility done at the University of Copenhagen was on his mind.  Here’s the a key passage from it:

data on semen quality collected systematically from reports published world wide indicate clearly that sperm density has declined appreciably during 1938-90, although we cannot conclude whether or not this decline is continuing…Such remarkable changes in semen quality…over a relatively short period is more probably due to environmental rather than genetic factors.

E Carlsen, A Giwercman, N Keiding, NE Skakkebaek – BMJ: British Medical Journal, 1992 – pubmedcentral.nih.gov

And here’s the passage from The Ecology of Commerce (pp. 42-43) that brought my attention to it:

The decline in male fertility, which has been called “remarkable” by Professor Niels Skakkebaek of Copenhagen University, is based on the review of sixty-one papers and studies covering 15,000men around the world between the years 1938 and 1990. Professor Skakkebaek suspects the cause to be environmental factors, because the drops have been accompanied by an equally dramatic increase in genito-urinary abnormalities and testicular cancer. in wildlife, these chemicals [organochlorines] cause decreased fertility, behavioral abnormalities, compromised immune systems, and monstrous defects, such as fish born with both male and female sex organs but incapable of reproduction.

Aside from switching to boxers and not riding bicycles too often, we should probably work towards limiting the use of chlorines that can easily become harmful organochlorines, if we’re interested in giving ‘our boys’ a fighting chance.  As uplifting as the second half of this trailer tries to be, I don’t think I want to live in such a world where babies aren’t being born.


How To Beat Up My Friend

•August 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I was reminded today of a hilarious column that Pete Beatty wrote in the Chicago Maroon back in ought two.  I found it in the archive and passed it around my office to the hilarity of all.  I think it deserves to be seen by more eyes so here’s an excerpt, with the full article here.  Oh, and if you like Pete’s writing, check out his latest work on his blog, Banana Nutriments.

How to beat me up

In the office: I am in the basement of Ida Noyes for a few hours every day. Sometimes I sit with my back facing the door, so you could nail me with a 2 x 4 and kick me around and then run out. There aren’t any cameras. But I am feisty, especially on my home turf, much like the Confederates during the civil war and what not. Come in, ask me if I saw this, hold up a copy of MAROON and then punch me through it. Pull my pants down, take picture, mail it to my middle-school crush.

Fiore, Williamsburg, BK

•August 11, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I enjoyed a really pleasant Sat. evening dinner at Fiore in Williamsburg on Saturday night. I sat at the bar, which I highly recommend. The bartender was really helpful and friendly, letting me taste the wine before making my selection.  In fact, the whole staff was really nice.  The food wasn’t spectacular, but it was certainly better than average and exceeded expectations given the price.  My carbonara had nice, large chunks of pancetta in it and cost only $9. I’ll definitely go back.

If you go to Fiore, you might swing by Larry Lawrence for an after dinner drink. It’s almost directly across the street, and has a classy speakeasy air to it without being totally undetectable.  The coolest feature is it’s 2nd level outdoor smoking patio.  The wall between the patio and the bar is all glass, so while you catch some fresh air you can spy on your friends flirting with each other down in the bar. It’s a pretty neat setup for social spectating.

Oil Prices Drop

•July 29, 2008 • 1 Comment

The NYTimes posted an article from the AP entitled Oil Prices Off More Than $3, Continuing Slide detailing how and why prices per barrell are down to $121.37.

My favorite part of the story is:

And demand for oil in the United States — the world’s thirstiest consumer — continues to fall, dropping by 891,000 barrels per day in May compared the same month a year ago, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said Monday.

I’m not here to celebrate the cheaper gas; I’m here to say, “Way to go USA!”  Individuals are deciding to use less oil.  It took extremely high prices to get it done, but Americans have figured out how to live using less oil per day.  Chances are that even if prices drop total consumption will stay down.  It may not continue to plummet, but it’s a step in the right direction.

I’d love to hear some reports about what individuals have been doing this summer to save money on gas and thus use less oil.  There are probably some pretty creative solutions out there.  Car companies putting a lot of efforts towards developing and selling more hybrids and electric cars have certainly been a help, but they can’t affect people who can’t afford new cars.  So, what’s happening out there?

My efforts have been:

1) riding my bike to work instead of taking the subway. (although this doesn’t change anything b/c the subway i would’ve taken is still running.)

2) Ordering products from The Green Office for our office.  (Evidently, they do something clever with shipping.)

3) Switching from getting our coffee to delivered to the office to buying it a local roaster.  We’re loving D’Amico Foods these days, especially the Carroll Gardens blend. (Saving gas on freight.)

4) Not ordering FreshDirect–again avoiding gas spent on delivery.  However, we did start getting boxes of organic fruit and vegetables delivered from Urban Organic last night.  It’s such a great service.  They shop for in season produce at local Farmers’ Markets, throw the choice selections in a box and deliver it to your door.  It’s like Christmas!  You get different foods based on the season and what looks good. I highly recommend it!  (If you sign up, mention my name, Jared Ranere, because then I’ll get a free box!)

Bike Stolen in Carroll Gardens

•July 21, 2008 • 2 Comments

A red Trek 800 was stolen out of a garden of 4th Pl. between Court St. and Clinton St. in Carroll Gardens.  It has new comfort road tires, which distinguish it from any other red Trek 800 that would normally have mountain tires.

If you see it, leave a comment on this blog, or, better yet, steal it back, and then leave a comment on this blog.

Another Movie Set

•July 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment
The "ppe" is the end of the word "Shoppe" as in Flower Shoppe, pronounced shop-ee, of course.

The "ppe" is the end of the word "Shoppe" as in Flower Shoppe, pronounced shop-ee, of course.

A movie is being shot at Court St. and Degraw. Looks like they’re using the Flower Shoppe as the set.  I hope it’s a movie about a busybody Italian florist whose luck in love extends to everyone but herself.

This set is right across the street from Damico’s Coffee where there was a nice old neighborhood man sitting in his chair on the sidewalk.  It’s not clear if he was there to watch the shoot or if he parks himself in front o Damico’s everyday and today the scenery was a little more interesting.  Also not clear if he was excited to have the movie on the block or complaining about it to all passersby.  And it’s this very fact that makes me love my neighborhood.

AP Photo

AP Photo from Examiner.com

While I’m on the topic of glamour, yesterday I stook in line behind Ms. Universe, Dayana Mendoza, at the Mr. Softee on 5th Ave. and 72nd St., right outside Central Park.  She had a camera crew with her so I thought they were just shooting a small scene and she was some telenovela actress that I didn’t know.  But after she got her ice cream, the cameraman turned to me and my girlfriend and said, “That’s Ms. Universe,” as he winked at us.  Evidentally, he was proud of his job, but he wasn’t quite as excited as the ice cream man who took a picture of himself with Miss Universe with his IPhone.  (What ice cream man has an IPhone???  He must run some kind of Mr. Softee internet startup on the side.)  The couple behind us was very unimpressed, even though Miss Universe was definitely the most put together person I’ve ever seen. There’s no reverence anymore, or maybe they were just hot and wanted their ice cream.

I definitely didn’t realize they were still doing Miss Universe competitions, but apparently she was crowned on July 14th.  The Examiner has the story. And it turns out she likes vanilla with rainbow sprinkles, or “de colores” en espanol.

Google Reader Feature Request

•July 17, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I’d like to be able to add a comment to an article a friend has shared.  This is slightly different than sharing with a note because I don’t necessarily want to share that article with my network; I just want to respond to what my friend shared.  Get it?  Good.  Then let’s get crackin’.