Football may have the highest number of concussions by sport because of the roster size, but many other sports see higher occurrence rates per athletic exposure. According to a National Academy of Sciences report released last month, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, wrestling, ice hockey, and basketball have all proved about as dangerous or more so than football in recent years. That’s why, a year after the Ivy League decreed limited contact in football practice, its members did the same for lacrosse, soccer, and ice hockey. The league, in conjunction with the Big Ten Conference, also launched a cross-institutional research project to study the effects of head injuries in multiple sports.
Former Northwestern goalkeeper Anna Cassell describes how she had to retire from soccer after multiple head injuries:
Joshua Tucker uses political science to downplay it. Stephen Dyson counters:
Why do political scientists place less emphasis on the importance of individual leaders? One reason is that science means moving from studying specific phenomena to developing general explanations. Why South Africa democratized leads to the question of why countries democratize. The more instances of democratization that there are to explain, the less the vivid details of each case – such as a monumental leader – seem to matter. Explanations of many events cannot logically rest on the idiosyncrasies of one event.
The distinctive features of a leader – Evan Lieberman identified Mandela’s remarkable self-restraint – are also harder to measure than factors like the economy.
“I ran on limited government, fiscal responsibility and free enterprise, but when you’ve got programs that have been in place and it’s the accepted norm, to just go in there and stop it would be detrimental to our sugar growers,” – Ted Yoho, Tea Party member of the House, on sugar subsidies.
“Of course I still fancy girls,” said British diver Tom Daley last week. “But, I mean, right now I’m dating a guy and I couldn’t be happier.” There were some standard-issue homophobic reactions (which Buzzfeed and HuffPost obligingly collected), but Daley also elicited a more specific sort of disapproval from certain fans – biphobia, the Advocate called it. These were the people who assumed Daley was gay but unable to fully admit it, or unwilling to relinquish the privileges of being straight. He was called greedy and accused of trying to have it all. (Which is baffling. It’s not as if he’s dating six people at once.)
By contrast, a few days before Daley’s announcement, actress Maria Bello published an op-ed revealing she was in love with a woman after years of dating (and marrying) men. While the headlines were conflicted – some said she’d come out as gay, other said she was bi – her son summed it up best: “Mom, love is love, whatever you are.” The idea of a woman being legitimately attracted to both men and other women was heartwarming rather than confusing.
Let me place a bet with Friedman: Daley will never have a sexual relationship with a woman again, because his assertion that he still fancies girls is a classic bridging mechanism to ease the transition to his real sexual identity. I know this because I did it too.
Maybe we’ll check back in in a few years’ time, and see which one of us has turned out to be right.
Her broader point is the rather tired and utterly uncontroversial notion that “a tiny multiple-choice list of sexual identities doesn’t capture the breadth and depth of the human sexual experience”:
“I have for a long time looked upon the Conservative party as a body who have betrayed their trust; more from ignorance, I admit, than from design; yet clearly a body of individuals totally unequal to the exigencies of the epoch, and indeed unconscious of its real character,” – Benjamin Disraeli, in his novel, Coningsby, appalled by the Conservative Party’s indifference to soaring social inequality in the mid-nineteenth century in Britain.
In his subsequent novel, Sybil, where he railed against the emerging “two nations” – “between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws,” – he articulated a future conservatism that could manage to address not the etiolated dogmas of its past, but the urgent practical demands of the present:
In a parliamentary sense, that great party has ceased to exist; but I will believe that it still lives in the thought and sentiment and consecrated memory of the English nation. ( . . . ) Even now it is not dead, but sleepeth; and, in an age of political materialism, of confused purposes and perplexed intelligence, that aspires only to wealth because it has faith in no other accomplishment, as men rifle cargoes on the verge of shipwreck, toryism will yet rise from the tomb over which Bolingbroke shed his last tear, to bring back strength to the Crown, liberty to the Subject, and to announce that power has only one duty: to secure the social welfare of the PEOPLE.
No, Disraeli was not a Communist; he was a Conservative who saw the rapaciousness of unfettered, ascendant capitalism as a direct threat to constitutional and social order. I find myself returning more and more to Disraeli these days, for reasons David Simon would understand.
Now, thanks to the colossal foul-up of the Obamacare exchange software, we might not get to 24 million exchange enrollees by 2017. But let’s say it’s half that. That’s still 12 exchange plus 12 Medicaid equals 24 million Obamacare enrollees by 2017. Is the Republican nominee for President in 2016 really going to run on a platform of taking health coverage away from 24 million Americans? Especially after the Republicans ran in 2014 on ensuring that Americans can keep their health plans? …
It’s hard to imagine a Republican winning the 2016 GOP primary by stepping back from the party’s insistence on repealing Obamacare. But it’s also doubtful that a Republican can win the 2016 general election by throwing 24 million Americans off of their health plans. And therein lies the rub.
Indeed it does. But the GOP hardly has a reputation for thinking ahead, does it? The party that gave us Gitmo and no post-invasion plan for Iraq and no adjustment on taxes, even as the debt ballooned, tends to wing it, then hunker down in compounded error. It’s a way of life for them. Greg Sargent flags the above ad, from the GOP primary for a Georgia Senate seat. The ad attacks Rep. Jack Kingston for suggesting that Republicans fix Obamacare. The whole concept of responsibility, dealing with reality, or coming up with constructive solutions to emergent problems … well, that’s not the Republican way. The Republican way is to keep mouthing the same slogans of late-Reaganism until their jaw muscles seize up.
“I’m utterly committed to the idea that capitalism has to be the way we generate mass wealth in the coming century. That argument’s over. But the idea that it’s not going to be married to a social compact, that how you distribute the benefits of capitalism isn’t going to include everyone in the society to a reasonable extent, that’s astonishing to me. And so capitalism is about to seize defeat from the jaws of victory all by its own hand,” – David Simon.
People are deeply, deeply disillusioned with the leaders who’ve followed Mandela, both official African National Congress politicians and emotional leaders like Mandela’s offspring. Mandela’s relatives seem to have bucked his example entirely; some have banked millions in mining, an industry against which the apartheid-era ANC railed against as the heart of South Africa’s satanic injustice, while others have cashed in with a reality TV show.
The allegations against the politicians in actual office are more troubling. The country’s second democratically-elected president, Thabo Mbeki, was bitterly criticized for denying South Africa’s AIDS epidemic. Mbeki’s successor, President Jacob Zuma, was prosecuted for both rape and racketeering; he was acquitted of the former, and the latter charges were dropped on technicalities, but recently a huge scandal around taxpayer-funded upgrades to his massive home dominated the papers until Mandela’s—for Zuma, very propitiously timed—death. Daily, the whole black political class is accused in the media of corruption in the awarding of government contracts and greed in treating itself to swanky vacations and flashy vehicles.
“They were heroes,” one of the students standing beside me on the police line mused grimly, “but then they started buying cars.” As they buy cars, economic growth has slowed, basic education has fallen into disrepair, and inequality has deepened. This fall, The Economist concluded in a cover package pessimistically titled “Cry, the Beloved Country” that South Africa “is on the slide both economically and politically” and that the ANC’s “incompetence and outright corruption are the main causes.”
Applebaum argues that Mandela’s death should “should cause South Africans to look critically at the state he helped create and, above all, at the ANC, the party he led”:
Andy Towle has a dizzyingly long list of what are mercifully becoming less news-worthy events. My vote goes to Ted Chalfen, a senior at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado, for this integrating, positive commencement speech, which managed to avoid all sense of victimology:
How can anyone not describe this as a moral advance for America?
Sy Hersh has some troubling details about the way the Obama administration explained its intelligence that Assad was solely responsible for the sarin gas attack last August 21. They also downplayed the distinct possibility – aired in their own intelligence – that the al Nusra front may have gotten access to the materials.
The always-worth-reading Jack Shafer digs up the long history of passing off advertizing as editorial:
Advertisements masquerading as editorial copy date back at least to the late 19th century, when they were called “reading notices,” according to the Encyclopedia of American Journalism. Publishers encouraged the placement of reading notices, which placed brand and company names in news stories without any disclaimers, because it was more profitable than conventional advertisements.
And the critics then sound uncannily like this blog today:
In his memoirs, Washington Gladden wrote about quitting his job as a reporter at the New York Independent in 1874 because he could not convince the paper to stop publishing reading notices and publisher’s notices that looked like news stories. “They seem to be essentially evil, and a weakness to the paper,” Gladden wrote. “My scruple may be a foolish one, but I cannot overcome it.” (Hat tips to Prof. Ronald R. Rodgers for this and several other historical pointers.) Renowned journalist Charles A. Dana despised the form, too, writing in 1895, “Let every advertisement appear as an advertisement; no sailing under false colors.” His sentiment was shared by many colleagues, including Editor and Publisher, which editorialized against them, and Adolph S. Ochs, owner of the New York Times. Idealistic publisher E.W. Scripps, who founded an ad-free newspaper in Chicago in 1911, thought avoiding unlabeled reading notices made “good business sense.”
But reading notices were considered so effective that one 1908 book on advertising devoted an entire chapter to “Puffs, Reading Notices, Want Advertisements, Etc.” The key to writing a good reading notice, author Albert E. Edgar advised, was duplicity. “A reading notice of any kind has a certain amount of value because the public reads them as matters of news and not as items of advertising.”
The core business model of sponsored content is lying to readers in order to whore out more completely to advertizers. Call that what you will – “advanced advertorial techniques” or “partners” – the better the lie the more effective the ad. The small question is whether media sites whose fundamental goal is deceiving readers eventually render themselves obsolete. As the WSJ’s Gerard Baker puts it:
An advertiser wants to advertise in The Wall Street Journal to be seen and to be associated with a brand like The Wall Street Journal, or The Financial Times or Bloomberg, because those news organizations are respected. If [advertisers] manipulate the digital or print operations of those news organizations, it makes the reader confused as to what is news and what is advertising, and the reader’s trust, the very reason that those advertisers want to advertise in those news organizations, goes away.
Nate Silver gives it eighteen months, tops. I suspect that’s optimistic. By which time no one may be able to tell the difference between an ad and a piece.
Curiosity turned into a major discovery in the art world when inventor Tim Jenison stumbled into proving that the celebrated, hyperrealistic paintings of 17th century master Johannes Vermeer were achieved not through pure genius but through the aid of the camera obscura, a device that projects a perfect image of its surroundings onto a screen:
[Jenison] traveled to Delft again and again, scouting the places where Vermeer had painted. He learned to read Dutch. He paid for translations of old Latin texts on optics and art. Much later, he did a computer analysis of a high-resolution scan of a Vermeer interior, and discovered “an exponential relationship in the light on the white wall.” The brightness of any surface becomes exponentially less bright the farther it is from a light source—but the unaided human eye doesn’t register that. According to Jenison, the painting he digitally deconstructed shows just such a diminution from light to dark.
But still, exactly how did Vermeer do it? One day, in the bathtub, Jenison had a eureka moment:
A recent Brennan Center report suggests reforming the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, which doles out money to states:
Current measures inadvertently incentivize unwise policy choices. Federal officials ask states to report the number of arrests, but not whether the crime rate dropped. They measure the amount of cocaine seized, but not whether arrestees were screened for drug addiction. They tally the number of cases prosecuted, but not whether prosecutors reduced the number of petty crime offenders sent to prison. In short, today’s JAG performance measures fail to show whether the programs it funds have achieved “success”: improving public safety without needless social costs.
Using the power of the purse to reduce incarceration rates would not necessarily find a hostile reception in state capitols. As the Prospect‘s Abby Rapoport reportede arlier this year, prison reform is not the sole province of the left. Several states controlled by conservative Republicans—including Texas and Kansas—have enacted salutary prison reforms. Indeed, state legislatures should consider using their own budgets to focus police and prosecutors on crime-reduction goals rather than rewarding incarceration as an end in itself.
San Francisco, the birthplace of street skateboarding, was also the first city to design solutions such as “pig’s ears” – metal flanges added to the corner edges of pavements and low walls to deter skateboarders. These periodic bumps along the edge create a barrier that would send a skateboarder tumbling if they tried to jump and slide along.
Indeed, one of the main criticisms of such design is that it aims to exclude already marginalised populations such as youths or the homeless. Unpleasant design, [PhD student Selena] Savic says, “is there to make things pleasant, but for a very particular audience. So in the general case, it’s pleasant for families, but not pleasant for junkies.”
Preventing rough sleeping is a recurring theme. Any space that someone might lie down in, or even sit too long, is likely to see spikes, railings, stones or bollards added. In the Canadian city of Calgary, authorities covered the ground beneath the Louise Bridge with thousands of bowling ball-sized rocks. This unusual landscaping feature wasn’t for the aesthetic benefit of pedestrians walking along the nearby path, but part of a plan to displace the homeless population that took shelter under the bridge.
(Photo of rocks beneath Calgary’s Louise Bridge by Flickr user anarchitect)
Jerry Saltz urges all but the wealthiest young artists to stay away from MFA programs, which after two years are “hovering near a quarter-million dollars” in cost. And besides, students have to deal with “a lot of bullshit”:
Iffy artist-teachers wield enormous artistic and intellectual influence over students, favors are doled out in power cliques. Zealous theoreticians continue to scare the creativity and opinions out their third generation of young artists and critics. Too many students make highly derivative work (often like that of their teachers) and no one tells them so. A lot of artists in these programs learn how to talk a good game instead of being honestly self-critical about their own work.
… I’ve taught at institutions across the prestige spectrum. Truthfully? Students who go to high-profile schools get a subtle eighteen-month bump after they graduate, in part because dealers and collectors (oy) see their MFA shows. However, once this short-term advantage dissipates, the artist becomes one in a crowd, with a mountain of debt, and may need to have a full-time job indefinitely to pay it off. There’s no surer way to throw away that early advantage than getting a job that saps their art-making energy.
Saltz also recommends a new essay by artist Coco Fusco, who “pulls back the curtains on the risky business and chancy racket of the Master of Fine Arts degree.”
Joshua David Stein chronicles how the letter is used less and less on the Internet:
[I]n 2004, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake founded Flickr, a photograph-sharing application, without the standard penultimate E. “The most compelling reason to remove the E,” explained Ms. Fake, “was that we were unable to acquire the domain Flicker.com … The rest of the team were more in favor of other options, such as ‘FlickerIt’ or ‘FlickerUp’ but somehow, through persuasion or arm-twisting, I prevailed.” It was good news for the company but bad news for the letter. A year later, the company was acquired by Yahoo for $35 million.
Soon many startups began jettisoning their Es like toxic assets. In 2009, Grindr, a geosocial network application for gay men, chose to make do without the letter E. Membership quickly swelled. Myriad other brands followed suit, including Blendr, Gathr, Pixlr, Readr, Timr, Viewr, Pushr.
And of course, there is the blogging platform Tumblr, whose launch in 2007 may have marked the true end of E. “There are a variety of reasons why Tumblr contains no E, from branding considerations to environmental factors (fewer letters mean lower power consumption by our servers),” said the company’s editorial director, Christopher Price. “At the end of the day, however, it all comes down to one simple, absolute truth: Tumbler.com looks fucking stupid.”
Charles Kenny proposes that we export the growing ranks of unemployed Americans to other countries that need more workers, pointing to Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico, and South Korea as potential destinations:
According to the State Department, only about 6.3 million U.S. citizens live abroad, or around 2 percent of the domestic population. In relative terms, that’s pathetic. About 5.5 million British people live permanently abroad, almost five times the U.S. level in per capita terms. Maybe they’re trying to escape the lousy weather, but it isn’t like Brits have natural advantages over Americans as travelers. British people are almost as bad at speaking other languages as Americans are, and in terms of haughty isolationism and disdain for foreigners, surely Brits are worse. (I’m allowed say this — I’m British.) So why shouldn’t America send out some huddled masses for once?
But would these other countries want American workers?
Noting that Qatar “is estimated to have recently spent well in excess of $1 billion on Western art,” James Panero considers the implications:
On the one hand, Qatar’s art initiatives can be seen as a modernizing force, one that could liberalize the tribal attitudes of the country’s native population and pave the way for further political reform. On the other hand, contemporary art may merely serve as a cover for further repressive policies. This artifice of modernism mirrors Qatar’s other contradictory diplomatic positions. An ally to the United States and host of U.S. Central Command, Qatar nevertheless reportedly helped Khalid Sheikh Mohammed escape U.S. capture in the 1990s, may have been paying protection money to al Qaeda, and is currently arming radical Syrian rebels and offering safe haven to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The terrible history of Iran demonstrates what can happen when a modernist culture merely overlays a repressive regime. In such circumstances, artists and organizations might profit by spreading modernity, but they are also abetting a compromised state.
(Photo of skyline in Doha, Qatar, as seen from the Museum of Islamic Art, by Mark Pegrum)