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June 2009

A link to Lou Gehrig's disease in lake water?

From the Manchester, NH Union Leader (6/7):

The risk of developing a fatal neurodegenerative disease is 25 times higher than the norm for people who live around Mascoma Lake, according to researchers studying the possibility of a link between lake bacteria and neurological illness.

Over a recent six-month period, three people residing on the north shore of Mascoma Lake were diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. So far, nine cases of the disease have been confirmed near the lake.

Doctors and scientists at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon say there is strong evidence that suggests cyanobacteria, single-celled organisms that form on lakes and ponds and release harmful toxins, are an environmental trigger for the development of ALS in people who are genetically predisposed to the illness. 

Two bittersweet stories

Gene Weingarten, "A Parting Thought".

No one accepted physical deterioration with greater grace and humor than my father. Over the last two decades of his life, his eyesight clouded into a soup -- at first, a nice consomme, but eventually minestrone, and a hearty one.

He was effectively blind, but remarkably cheerful about it. He read The Washington Post front to back every day, all day, on a device that magnified each letter to the size of a fist; polysyllabic words required three screens' worth of letters and a nimble short-term memory. My father understood the absurdity of it. He said that using this machine was like putting on mittens to tie your shoes.

Bill Simmons, "When great ones go, it might hurt us more than it does them."

In the academy award-winning classic Cocktail, Coughlin tells young Flanagan, "Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end." It's the single greatest yearbook quote ever. Hell, it may be the greatest movie quote ever. Either Coughlin was the Thoreau of bartending, or Thoreau the Coughlin of writing. One or the other. . . .

It's been a sports experience unlike anything I can remember. Red Sox fans refuse to turn against Ortiz. They just can't. They owe him too much for 2004 and 2007. It's like turning on Santa Claus or happy hour. Every Ortiz appearance is greeted with supportive cheers, every Ortiz failure is greeted with awkward silence. The fans are suffering just like he is. Only when he left 12 men on base against Anaheim on May 14 did I receive a slew of angry e-mails from back home, but even those tirades centered more around Terry Francona's steadfast refusal to drop Ortiz in the order. I cannot remember another Boston athlete stinking this long, and this fragrantly, without getting dumped on.