Page 146. " And you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis "

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a form of motor neuron disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. As the disease develops, motor neurons die and the brain loses its ability to initiate and control muscle movements.

Amyotrophy is the progressive wasting of muscle tissue.  Sclerosis is the stiffening of tissue, usually due to replacement with connective tissue.

Stephen Hawking has ALS.


Page 147. " It would be a shame to die without riding the Cyclone "


The Coney Island Cyclone
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Coney Island Cyclone - Credit: auggie tolosa / Olatz eta Leire

The Cyclone is a rollercoaster ride on Coney Island. It is one of the most famous attractions in Brooklyn, and has been operating for 80 years.

Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22, was a fan.  The Cyclone features prominently in his memoir Now and Then (1998), and his 1994 novel Closing Time.

Page 149. " I'm the 467th-richest person in the world "

Unknown Picasso
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeUnknown Picasso - Credit: StrangeInterlude / James Spurrier
Forbes magazine publishes the most famous (or infamous) list of rich people in the world. Their list only goes up to 400 so you can't check Ada Black's claim, but to own two Picassos she'd have to be very, very rich.