McMcEwan’s genius son; JFK birthday surprise; 5 reasons to spurn e-readers
Too many fascinating news bits today: Ian McEwan’s genius spawn cures the common cold! A lucky fellow in Arkansas discovers a JFK autograph in a birthday book! PCWorld (of all places) says you don’t need a digital reading device!
First, the best news for cold sufferers: Ian McEwan’s son, Will, a 26-year-old post-graduate researcher at Cambridge, has co-written a scientific paper “that could point the way to a cure for the common cold,” reports the London Telegraph.
Of course, in the way of this kind of piffling news story, it’s not enough that Will may have discovered some new detail about the cold virus or the immune response to it.
Oh, no: Will’s discovery that the immune system can fight the virus even after it has infected human cells proves all previous researchers to have been blind cretins.
“They say in their paper something like: ‘We’re redrawing 100 years of dogma on viruses’,” says the proud Pa, adding: “It’s quite strong stuff. I said: ‘Are you sure you want to say that?’ ”
The brief Telegraph story begs the question of why, if the immune system can attack the cold virus inside of cells, it needs Will to notice, instead of just going about its microscopic business.
My guess: We’ll never hear about this again, and people will continue to get colds and recover as they have since, I don’t know, the Pleistocene.
And it’s not as if McEwan, already the most over-rated novelist in the solar system, needed an ego boost.
“We’re in a state of complete exultation,” the author, 62, said. “It started as a hunch, but they’ve very quickly had extraordinary results at the genetic and molecular level.”
But I must not let my antipathy for McEwan (Saturday remains tied with Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men as the worst novel I’ve read this millennium) put me in the churlish position of rooting for a disease. So: You go, Will. Cure the common cold.
Second: A man in Little Rock, Arkansas, received a used copy of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 book, A Strategy for Peace, as a birthday present. Tucked between pages 62 and 63, he found a Kennedy business card with the president’s signature scrawled across it, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Paul Vitale says he had an opportunity to show the signature to Ted Sorensen shortly before his recent death. The Kennedy speech writer said it looked authentic.
Vitale’s friend bought the book online for $4.95, making it next to impossible to determine its provenance. The book is secreted in a safe deposit box, pending authentication. Once he knows how much it’s worth, Vitale plans to do some unspecified “good” with it.
What do you bet this is another story we never hear anything about ever again?
Finally, PCWorld magazine has named “5 Reasons You Don’t Need An E-Book Reader.” Of course, this being PCWorld, none of them have to do with the innate superiority of printed books — an unimprovable technology — but only with techie considerations.
Go to the magazine for details, but here they are in brief: 1. You can read both Kindle and Nook books on your IPhone or Android–who needs a dedicated reading device?; 2) e-readers are too expensive for what they do, compared to more costly but also more versatile tablet computers; 3) they are useless in the workplace where, again, a tablet would better serve; 4) they are harder on the natural environment than printed books; 5) most business materials are better delivered to a tablet or full-sized computer.
Is it just me, or do 3 and 5 sound identical?
Not being a gadget geek myself — the prospect of reading a book on an electronic screen gives me a sense of howling existential despair — I find none of these reasons compelling or interesting except for No. 4.
But like Churchill in World War II, I will take my allies where I find them. Yay, PCWorld!