Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 710986 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2260 on: December 08, 2019, 04:35:39 pm »
Why would you think water is and was purer in the Americas?

Because Europe had more big cities. In 1800, London's population was about 1 million; the population of New York, the largest U.S. city, was 60,500 (per Wikipedia). Population density promotes diseases and sanitation problems.

So while I realize that not all water impurities are caused by human contamination, I wasn't sure whether "natural" diseases in water were as big a problem as sanitation-related diseases in city water supplies.

Also, I have read that Europeans came here with the assumption that water was unsafe. This was before germ theory developed; they just knew that water had caused problems in Europe. I have read the one of the reasons the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, rather than farther south where they'd been headed, was that they were running low on beer.


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2261 on: December 08, 2019, 10:52:25 pm »
I did know that everybody of every age drank from morn til night because they didn't trust the water. I've always wondered, though, whether they were right about the water in this country. I can see why they would be right about the water in European cities, but you'd think it would be purer here. So were they just paranoid because of previous experiences or were there "natural" diseases in the water here?

Yes, the water was purer, and yes, they were paranoid. If you grew up in Europe where you had reason to distrust the water, and then you came to the New World, where you weren't familiar with the water, you'd be hesitant to drink it. People, or at least some English colonists, brought their prejudices against drinking water with them. (I'd have to go back and research, but I remember that somebody, maybe William Bradford, wrote that some people who came to New England got discouraged when they realized they would have to drink water because there was no beer.) It apparently took a while before people generally got the idea that the water in America was safe to drink.

There were exceptions (aren't there always?). The water in Tidewater Virginia (think Jamestown), and I guess Maryland, too, was lousy because wells got contaminated by seawater. When the tides came in, the lower reaches of the James River were infiltrated by ocean water. Exactly how it gets into the ground along the river and seeps into wells, I don't know. I just know that it did.

I guess there are some waterborne illnesses native to America, like "beaver fever,"  but by and large the water was purer.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2262 on: December 08, 2019, 11:09:49 pm »
Why would you think water is and was purer in the Americas? In the stories of Western expansion, there were many reports of impure water leading to illness and death from diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever and the like. Also in mountainous places, water can have high levels of metals, including lead, mercury, arsenic and uranium.

During the centuries of colonization of Eastern North America, the water "back here" was purer than the water in Europe. There were no dense centers of population in Eastern North America where the water would get contaminated by human waste.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 03:16:48 pm by Jeff Wrangler »
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2263 on: December 09, 2019, 01:14:20 pm »
Fun side story! In the area I cover for the newspaper, there's a big lake with an island called Big Island with a cove where boaters like to party. It gets so crowded in the summer it has the charming nickname of Sperm Bay. Boats line up in rows tied together with rope. This year, after the July 4th weekend people who'd been to Big Island started getting sick. As I recall something like 90 reported to the county that they'd been sick. The number grew over 4-5 days as the case was in the news, so as they heard about it more people thought to call the county. Otherwise, who gets sick and immediately says, "I'd better report this to the county"?  :laugh: Presumably many people didn't, so the actual number was probably much higher.

Anyway, the cause of the illness was presumed to be poop in the water, possibly from someone swimming or, grosser, a boat emptying its sewage tank into the lake. Nobody thought to blame any naturally occurring water impurity. There is a kind of algae that grows on lakes and can make you sick, but even that is created by human disruption -- phosphorous fertilizer and the like running off lawns into the water and encouraging algae growth.



Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2264 on: December 12, 2019, 09:33:44 pm »
The new issue came today and I had a couple of deja vue moments reading it. In the front section, I read the part about Lil Peep and Terrence Malick. Lil Peep's beloved grandfather was a charismatic fellow named John Womack, Jr., a "Marxist historian." Then, another sketch where Keanu Reeves' name pops up randomly. I skipped a few articles and then got interested, halfway in the middle of an article about the science fiction writer William Gibson. Lo and behold, Keanu Reeves keeps popping up. But I really started getting the creepy deja vues when the author interviews an old friend of his, Jack Womack. a fellow writer from whom Gibson takes advice.

"In a hyperconnected world, patterns can repeat in different idioms," the author, Joshua Rothman, writes. So true.
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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2265 on: December 14, 2019, 01:15:16 pm »
Later in the Gibson article, someone is drinking out of a coupe glass. I had just read earlier in the issue about bubbly served in flutes or coupe glasses. The writer complained that the former "bottles up" the wine too much while the coupe makes it go flat. Is our magazine playing with us? Will there be a test?

Anybody know the origin story of the coupe glass?
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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2266 on: December 14, 2019, 04:59:06 pm »
I've only been able to come up with captions for the cartoons on the last page of each issue a handful of times. This time, I finally did come up with a caption I thought was halfway funny, but of course the deadline had passed. So, I'll post it here:

Caption: “As one of the knights of Delorean, I must vanquish foreign invaders and return them to their own time.”

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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2267 on: December 15, 2019, 10:59:39 am »
I've only been able to come up with captions for the cartoons on the last page of each issue a handful of times. This time, I finally did come up with a caption I thought was halfway funny, but of course the deadline had passed. So, I'll post it here:

Caption: “As one of the knights of Delorean, I must vanquish foreign invaders and return them to their own time.”

Maybe it would be better if the caption said “As one of the knights of Delorean, I must vanquish foreign invaders and return them back to the future.”
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2268 on: December 16, 2019, 03:10:53 pm »
As a reformed gin drinker I was charmed by Anthony Lane's article about that alcoholic beverage in the Dec. 9 issue.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2269 on: December 16, 2019, 08:51:40 pm »
As a reformed gin drinker I was charmed by Anthony Lane's article about that alcoholic beverage in the Dec. 9 issue.

I've just recently started to find gin drinkable. In the tastings that regional distilleries do at my local liquor store, I've noticed they're coming out with all sorts of nuanced complex flavors now -- not so junipery..

But as I've told the people at the tastings, I couldn't drink gin for years because when I was a teenager that's what my parents kept in their (unlocked) liquor cabinet.  :laugh: