Penn Gazette appears sadly misinformed

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From the July/August 2013 edition of the Penn Gazette: A New Book of Old Penn Songs, covering the release of Songs of Penn: Honoring Musical Tradition at the University of Pennsylvania.

According to the article, the book contains 55 Penn-related songs, which is about 53 more than the list of songs with which I was previously familiar. But where gaps in my Penn-related knowledge are, I like to think, outside my curricular responsibility, the Penn Gazette ought not to be afforded the same level of indulgence. Hence, the current post.

The Gazette describes the book as “the first Penn songbook in 90 years”, an appellation I believe to be decidedly undeserved. Behold, a publication known by the precise name “The Penn Songbook”, released circa-2000:

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NYTimes article on Christian/Jewish names brings out the stupid

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An article appeared Friday in Motherlode, the NYTimes Parenting blog inexplicably not called Father & Motherlode, titled My Jewish Daughter, Mary. As you may have gathered from the title, it featured the thoughts of Israeli citizen (resident?) and mystery novelist Devorah Blachor as she agonized over whether to name her Jewish Daughter “Mary.”

If the decision caused her such agony, you might astutely ask, why not just choose a different name? As it turns out, Devorah had little choice in the matter: she offered naming rights to her first-born, and he immediately settled on Mary.

Alright, then.

Now, I’m not interested in writing about whether Mary is an appropriate name for a Jew. I know at least one Jewish Mary, and a whole crew of Jewish Chris and Christinas. Granted, they all converted to Judaism, but the point is that it’s in no way a crippling affliction; so long as Devorah doesn’t name her daughter Ursulah or Dorcas she’ll probably turn out fine. This wasn’t really worth bringing to the New York Times.

But I promised the stupid, and the stupid I’ve got. Unsurprisingly, it comes in the form of comments:

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Seattle’s plan for tonight’s game might not be the best idea

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Earlier this year, the Seattle Public Library (book)wormed its way into the Guinness Book of World Records when it set the standard for world’s longest domino chain made of falling books.

Exciting stuff.

So exciting, the rest of town wanted in: Tonight, Seahawks fans plan to land a spot of their own by generating the loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium during their home opener against the NFC West rival 49ers.

The standing record is 131.76 decibels, set at a Turkish football soccer stadium back in 2011. And while Seattle’s Century Link Field has never before approached that level of noise, topping out around 20 decibels short, it’s easy to understand why organizers think they have a shot. After all, the Clink is the stadium one Harvard study identified as providing the best home-field advantage in football, and was famously the site of a minor earthquake during the 2010-11 playoffs, in which Marshawn Lynch says, “Get off me!” to Tracy Porter.

That said, I shouldn’t have to tell you why this is not the best idea. Instead, I’ll let audiologist Brian Fligor of Boston Children’s Hospital do it:

“Pack people in nice and tight, all screaming at about 115 decibels, and yeah, I could imagine peak sound might hit 132 decibels.”

At that level, people can suffer immediate and permanent hearing damage, Fligor warned.

Well, that’s the reason your mom could have told you — and, if she’s anything like mine, does every time you put on headphones — and it’s certainly not the reason I went out of my way to turn this into a blog post.

But there’s also a non-medical reason to leave the record alone: As things stand, the loudest noise officially recorded during a Seahawks game is 112 decibels. Superstition is a big part of sports, and the NFL is no exception. Sometimes it’s best to just leave well enough alone. One hundred and twelve decibels should be plenty for the Twelfth Man.

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Facebook translations are truly the best

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Exactly five months ago, I shared Facebook/Bing’s very special translation of יחי אדוננו מורנו ורבינו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד. I owe that stellar discovery to my sharp-eyed brother, who is also responsible for the post to come.

Some quick background: A friend of ours recently attended a wedding and posted a photo of the event on Facebook. I share this information because it is not immediately obvious from simply looking at the heavily-image I am about to post. Aside from the blurry names and the [redacted] photo, notice anything funny about it?

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