Wandering Eye: Fighting peanut allergies, a young IT guy gains 'internet millionaire' status, and more

The growing prevalence of peanut allergies among youngsters is a confounding public-health frustration, prompting institutional responses (e.g., schools banning kids from bringing to school anything with nuts in them) that deprive unaffected kids of a regular diet of this excellent source of protein. Turns out, the best way to fight peanut allergies is to give peanuts to infants, according to a just-published study in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the authors' own words, "the early introduction of peanuts significantly decreased the frequency of the development of peanut allergy among children at high risk for this allergy and modulated immune responses to peanuts." Peanut innovator George Washington Carver would be mighty pleased. (Van Smith)

 

Meanwhile, in York, Pennsylvania, a young IT guy for a funeral service has spent $18,000 on an internet startup company's online hype contest—and won himself "internet millionaire" status. As Fusion reports it, Eric Martin happened upon a hot new startup called Jet, which ran a contest to sign up people for the as-yet-unlaunched $49-a-year shopper's club. No individual shopper has yet given Jet $49, but venture capitalists have given the brogrammers behind it $200 million to lose. And Jet needed a big body count, so it went online and offered 100,000 stock options to the sucker—er, enthusiast—who signed up the most "Insiders." Martin bit hard, spending his tax refund and a lot more on internet advertising to get about 8,000 people to fill out an online form. That's right: He's out of pocket $2.25 per person and for that he's got 100,000 magic beans. Or, really, a promise of 100,000 magic beans. "On paper, Eric Martin is now a millionaire, with a big stake in one of the most hotly anticipated start-ups in years," Fusion enthuses—because what else could Fusion do? Oh, yeah . . . they could continue: "He likely won't be able to exercise his options for years. And if Jet crashes and burns, they'll be worthless, and his $18,000 will have been wasted. Even with boatloads of pre-launch buzz, Jet is still going up against Amazon, one of the most cutthroat competitors in the history of American capitalism." Oh. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

If you follow literature—and by that, I really mean something more like the fashion of books—you've not been able to escape all the raving about Karl Ove Knausgaard's multivolumne autobiographical novel "My Struggle" (some of the press comes from wondering why he gave it a name that, after translation, has the same title as Hitler's "Mein Kampf.") If you don't have time to read the three volumes that have been translated, but you're still curious what all the fuss is about, this week's cover story of the newly redesigned New York Times Magazine gives you a sense of the quality of his prose and the way he mixes ordinary details—a lost driver's license—and big ideas—North America's first European inhabitants. Or rather, what is so charming is the way he lets the details invade the bigger ideas. (Baynard Woods)

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