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Sunday, March 12, 2006


As a very minor theme on this blog, I keep track of an obscure statistic: the cataloging of rock musicians who go on to achieve an advanced degree, particularly PhDs. Curiously, the data includes what I consider an inordinate fraction of punk practitioners. I love all kinds of music, including punk, so I don't really mind adding another musician to the list.

Voila, it looks as if singer Jennie Medin of the semi-dormant Swedish band Cloudberry Jam recently got her PhD in Public Health from Linkoping University. The band made two what I consider classic albums in the latter half of 1990's. I have catered to alternative and free-form stations for as long as I can remember and justify it as a search for the lost tune, something akin to a Razor's Edge quest. When I heard stuff from the C.J. records "Providing The Atmosphere" and "The Impossible Shuffle", I got hooked immediately and simply treasure these records, enlightenment or not. A beautiful voice, with the enchanting quality of someone singing non-native English, mixed with some retro yet unique pop music, and the most stunning cover song ever ("Water" by Dinosaur, Jr. !). Apparently most of their fan base resides in Sweden and Japan, so they never made it big here and eventually decided to break up so Medin could work on her doctorate.

Cut to eight years later, and still in search of enlightenment and the possibilty that the group has reformed, I find that, yes, Ms. Medin did complete her degree, with a very interesting PhD thesis and journal article to boot. Studying the statistical incidence of cardiac strokes on women in Sweden, her research showed alarming rises in the occurrences of strokes during the 1990's for younger women in particular.
"Something has occurred to cause an increase in stroke incidence among the population, especially among women, One hypothesis is that society and working life has changed in a way that affects women more than men," says Jennie Medin. "The study indicates links between organizational change, work-related stress, and stroke cases.

"It seems as though many of these patients have been through an organization shuffle in the workplace, often in conjunction with downsizing of employees. That was especially the case during the nineties in organizations where the majority of employees were women," she continues.
What an encore. Way cool, Dr. Jennie! And, to top it off, she has got a new record that I can get as an import from Japan for all of about $35.

Break from an uplifting story amidst some dismal health news, to a dismal health story buried in some strange politics. Around these parts, Hall-of-Fame baseball player Kirby Puckett rates as something of a hero and sports legend who displayed an infectious joy in playing the game. Basically, everyone liked the guy. When he recently died from a stroke, lots of people felt the connection. Not the most dedicated fan as I once was, I still became curious as to how it affected people, especially since Puckett was my age and perhaps I felt a bit of mortality creeping up on me. So tonight I attended the memorial service downtown. I got caught up in the emotion, but the reality of the situation became just, you know, weird.
  1. No one mentioned that Puckett had participated in cad-like behavior, culminating in lots of rumors and even charges for violent outbursts (understandable, I guess)
  2. Teammate Al Newman, Puckett's age exactly with a similar bowling ball build, gives a brief speech and doesn't mention that he too had a brain aneurysm recently (odd that).
  3. Former manager Tom Kelly blurts out that the bank-robbing relief pitcher Jeff Reardon (and angioplasty patient) was the last piece of the puzzle in one of Puckett's championship seasons, but couldn't attend (justifiable that he didn't mention the bank-robbing part I guess).
  4. Current manager Ron Gardenhire closes the proceedings by urging everyone to support the Twins this year, because they will show the same enthusiasm as Puckett (Win! Twins!).
  5. All the former players line up and everyone takes pictures, with Puckett's family obscured and huddled behind them (!)
I half anticipated this kind of weirdness. In the end it became the flip-side to the memorial of the late Senator Paul Wellstone, which I happened to catch as well. Unfortunately, whereas the right-wing pundits immediately classified Wellstone's memorial as politicized, I kind of doubt any of the commercialization of Puckett's memorial service (Win! Twins!) will get called to attention. Nor will anyone likely mention the statistically odd cardiac issues of a bunch of players in their mid and late 40's (steroids? who knows?). Dr. Jennie, care to investigate this one?

As I have grown older, my interests have changed from spectator sports to music. Call it enlightenment. No kidding.


Professor Blogger Oil Shock said...

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9:45 AM  
Professor Blogger monkeygrinder said...

I like sports as an outlook to focus on something that has no consequences good or ill in the larger world. Kind of a relief.

Sadly, football season is over...

9:24 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

I agree with you if you include participatory sports, its the spectator sports that I am totally disillusioned with. I went through all the phases as a youth -- watching and keeping statistics on baseball, football, then basketball -- and then I realized that's all there is; it's kind of an evolutionary dead-end.

11:06 PM  

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