personal blog

interesting things to read
Bottlemania: how water went on sale and why we bought it. An excerpt from the book of the same name. See also A tall, cool drink of ... sewage by the same author.

The story of the shit knife:

The Inuit didn't fear the cold; they took advantage of it. During the 1950s the Canadian government forced the Inuit into settlements. A family from Arctic Bay told me this fantastic story of their grandfather who refused to go. The family, fearful for his life, took away all of his tools and all of his implements, thinking that would force him into the settlement. But instead, he just slipped out of an igloo on a cold Arctic night, pulled down his caribou and sealskin trousers, and defecated into his hand. As the feces began to freeze, he shaped it into the form of an implement. And when the blade started to take shape, he put a spray of saliva along the leading edge to sharpen it. That’s when what they call the “shit knife” took form. He used it to butcher a dog. Skinned the dog with it. Improvised a sled with the dog’s rib cage, and then, using the skin, he harnessed up an adjacent living dog. He put the shit knife in his belt and disappeared into the night.

Athletes on the edge: interviews with a traceur, a cold-water endurance swimmer, a sword swallower, a competitive eater, and a human cannonball.

Protective RNA virus - this is pretty neat: "The "protecting virus" contains an altered gene that makes it harmless and prevents it from reproducing in a cell. If another influenza virus invades the cell it still remains harmless, but rapidly reproduces and prevents infection by literally crowding out the new influenza strain."
To links by Beth on 2008-09-27.