What I'm Reading (Mar. 30)

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Beethoven’s Hair
People vote with their feet
Repugnant transactions
All my brackets are busted bigtime


“A 56-year-old musician presents with diffuse abdominal pain, cramping, and jaundice. His medical history is notable for years of diffuse abdominal complaints, characterized by disabling bouts of diarrhea.

The patient succumbed to his illness. An autopsy showed diffuse liver injury ... Notably, the nerves of his auditory canal were noted to be thickened, along with the bony part of the skull, consistent with Paget disease of the bone and explaining, potentially, why the talented musician had gone deaf at such a young age.”

A lock of hair and sophisticated scientific analysis suggests the reasons underlying the death of Beethoven. From Medscape, Celebrity Death Finally Solved -- With Locks of Hair


One of the migrations we hear little about, except perhaps in the early winter, is the internal movement of people, like those Snowbirds, leaving the Northeast for warmer climes. But more and more, those moves are permanent and reflect people moving closer to their perceived tribes.

“Just as there are ways to withdraw from a marriage before any formal divorce, there are also ways to exit a nation before officially seceding.”

Are we exiting and leaving behind the United in the United States? From The Conversation, Secession is here: States, cities and the wealthy are already withdrawing from America. For a more prescient look, consider The Nine Nations of North America, written in 1981.


“A common denominator shared by many repugnant transactions is moral outrage. Here, we have one group deciding that someone else’s behavior is unacceptable because their values conflict. As a result, the variable that relates to government regulation kicks in.”

Beginning with paying for an organ donor, Elaine Schwartz from EconLife introduces us to repugnant transactions and a study examining how our moral outrage determines our “need” for government intervention. From EconLife, Why Dinner Guests Say Thank You With Wine, Not Cash


This year's March Madness busted everyone’s brackets right away. Sixty-eight million Americans are anticipated to bet $15.5 billion throughout the tournament.

“It’s also a conceptually odd use of a sin tax, considering that the entire point of one is to discourage activities that are damaging to public or societal health. Alcohol and tobacco taxes artificially raise the market price of those goods because higher prices curb alcohol and tobacco use.

But here, the logic is reversed, and we are intentionally expanding the amount of gambling and gambling addiction in order to juice state revenue numbers.”

What’s the deal with sports betting? From Vox, America’s bad bet on expanding legal sports gambling