Sunday, August 5, 2007

Are Your Friends Contagious?

I just returned from a two week road trip and blog vacation to find a very disturbing phone message. Apparently ottoman humping and beer guzzling are not in keeping with the solemn dignity of the Turkmen people and any further lapse will result in loss of our hard-earned status as the official blog of Reclusive Turkmenistan. My efforts to defend As Good As News in a return call led only to confusion. The Turkmen view the Ottoman as ancient opressors and are only too happy to see them humped, but not on a video accompanied by non-traditional music. The fact that As Good As News broke the story before the Daily Show elicited only the rhetorical question: if John Stewart were going to leap from the Brooklyn Bridge would you jump first? Turkmen prefer fermented goats milk to beer and are only vaguely familiar with the Western concept of the six pack. Fortunately, Doc Gurby was intrigued by the Death Cat, wanted to know if the cat could predict political assassinations as well as death from natural causes.

Barry Bonds finally caught Hank Aaron. This was inevitable, the only news is that it didn't happen sooner. Roger Maris never deserved his asterisk. The fact that the season was extended from 154 to 162 games effected many records, but only Roger was singled out for an asterisk. Like many observers, As Good As News would be happy to shift that asterisk next to Barry's name, but let's take it a step further. The official record book should go online, with comment threads for every record. What would the Babe have done if he had not spent years as a pitcher and started playing in the dead ball era? Suppose Ted Williams had not lost several prime years to military service in two wars. What if Junior Griffey had stayed healthier? The official on-line record book of MLB would create more buzz than the Maguire-Sosa home run race - now there's an asterisk fest.

Obesity can spread from friend to friend like a virus according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Other effects of behaviour may also spread, even amplify, as they travel across a network of friends. The cause of this phenomenon is not certain. Could lead to a whole new approach in selecting friends. Imagine , a new format in Face Book with extended questions on habits and outcomes, good and bad. Not just body type, drinking and smoking - do you study and work hard, get good grades, eat healthy, have a history of heart disease, etc. Picking a roommate could become a life choice. So, if I make friends only with thin, workaholic teetotalers will I reform? Not a chance - either I drag the new friends down with me or I get bored and go back to my old gang before I get any "benefit" from associating with the new friends. I'm sure all my friends would feel the same way. Strangely I have not received a single e-mail or phone call since this story was published. But I'm sure none of my friends would dump me for some thin guy.

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