Nobody Throws Balls Like Yu
NPR; Robert Krulwich
He's 26 years old, comes from Japan, plays baseball in Texas and can throw pitches like no one else in the game. He's Yu Darvish and he throws fastballs, sliders, slow curves. Facing him - and this is the thing that makes him bigger than baseball, just a stunning athlete - you'd have no idea what's coming, or when. He can throw a 96 mph fastball, pause, shuffle about, and then toss a piddly 64 mph slowball. Batters can't prepare. Most seem stunned. In this GIF, Drew Shepard captured five of his pitches from one game and superimposed them, so for the first time, you can literally see his athletic range.
Incredible layered gif showing why the batters have no clue.
How can we prevent Bangladesh and West Texas-style workplace disasters?
Washington Monthly; Kathleen Geier
News about the horrific Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh continues to unfold. According to the latest count, at least 362 people have died, but that toll is certain to rise. Hundreds more workers are unaccounted for, and at least 2,500 workers have been injured. The owner of the factory building has been arrested, thousands of angry demonstrators have taken to the streets of Bangladesh's capital city of Dhaka, and hundreds of thousands of workers have walked off the job in protest.
Over at In These Times, the excellent Michelle Chen offers a comprehensive overview of the disaster. The entire piece is a must-read, but I wanted to highlight two especially important points Chen makes. One is that though the Bangladeshi garment industry is profoundly hostile unions, a unionized workplace or more heavily unionized workforce in general could have prevented the tragedy. Chen cites this statement by Human Rights Watch:
According to labor organizers in Dhaka, none of the factories located in the Rana Plaza building were unionized. Weak enforcement of labor laws in Bangladesh contributes to impunity for employers to harass and intimidate both workers and local trade unionists seeking to exercise their right to organize and collectively bargain.
World Thinkers 2013
1. Richard Dawkins
When Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist, coined the term "meme" in The Selfish Gene 37 years ago, he can't have anticipated its current popularity as a word to describe internet fads. But this is only one of the ways in which he thrives as an intellectual in the internet age. He is also prolific on Twitter, with more than half a million followers-and his success in this poll attests to his popularity online. He uses this platform to attack his old foe, religion, and to promote science and rationalism. Uncompromising as his message may be, he's not averse to poking fun at himself: in March he made a guest appearance on The Simpsons, lending his voice to a demon version of himself.
2. Ashraf Ghani
Few academics get the chance to put their ideas into practice. But after decades of research into building states at Columbia, Berkeley and Johns Hopkins, followed by a stint at the World Bank, Ashraf Ghani returned to his native Afghanistan to do just that. He served as the country's finance minister and advised the UN on the transfer of power to the Afghans. He is now in charge of the Afghan Transition Coordination Commission and the Institute for State Effectiveness, applying his experience in Afghanistan elsewhere. He is already looking beyond the current crisis in Syria, raising important questions about what kind of state it will eventually become.
3. Steven Pinker
Long admired for his work on language and cognition, the latest book by the Harvard professor Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature, was a panoramic sweep through history. Marshalling a huge range of evidence, Pinker argued that humanity has become less violent over time. As with Pinker's previous books, it sparked fierce debate. Whether writing about evolutionary psychology, linguistics or history, what unites Pinker's work is a fascination with human nature and an enthusiasm for sharing new discoveries in accessible, elegant prose.
4. Ali Allawi
Ali Allawi began his career in 1971 at the World Bank before moving into academia and finally politics, as Iraq's minister of trade, finance and defence after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Since then he has written a pair of acclaimed books, most recently The Crisis of Islamic Civilisation, and he is currently a senior visiting fellow at Princeton. "His scholarly work on post-Saddam Iraq went further than anyone else has yet done in helping us understand the complex reality of that country," says Clare Lockhart, co-author (with Ashraf Ghani) of Fixing Failed States. "His continuing work on the Iraqi economy-and that of the broader region-is meanwhile helping to illuminate its potential, as well as pathways to a more stable and productive future."
Seattle Police should 'restrict' superheroes, report says
ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News
One major review of SPD's response to last year's May Day riots concluded the department should "restrict superheroes from ... interfering with law enforcement operations." The report was written by former Los Angles Police Deputy Chief Michael Hillmann. It essentially said Phoenix Jones should stick to the comic book stores.
Jones posted a video railing against the report.
"I am super mad!" He shouts to the camera, adding, "Michael Hillmann, I hope your kids don't have Batman posters in their house because you are a superhero hater!"
In what is, no doubt, the first ever claim of its kind, Jones said he's being discriminated against because he is a superhero and chooses to put himself in harm's way to fight for what is right. He believes the only thing that differentiates him from any other Good Samaritan is his crimefighter costume.
Only certain types of tragedies spark swift political action: Tim Harper
The Star; Tim Harper
When Canadian political leaders come together in the wake of a tragedy like the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, they show they can act quickly in the face of public outrage.
But that action raises another question about inaction.
Why do these same leaders move so slowly - or not at all - on the question of violence when it involves aboriginal women, or suicides when they take place in our First Nations communities?
There are an estimated 600 murdered or missing aboriginal women in this country.
There may be more, there may be fewer, but without a national inquiry, we can't know.
Army Chief Of Staff Blows Up At A California Congressman
Business Insider; Paul Szoldra
Hunter continued, criticizing the system and advocating "off-the-shelf products" already existent in the private sector. But what really miffed the Army leaders was what he did next: he got up to leave.
"May we respond? I think I heard a question," McHugh asked the committee chair. "Well, I don't want to respond if the gentleman's going to leave. Would you care to hear a brief response?"
But Odierno had enough.
"First off, I object to this," Odierno said. "I'm tired of somebody telling me I don't care about our soldiers, and we don't respond. Everybody on my staff cares about it, and they do all they can to help," before going on to criticize Hunter's use of an "anecdotal incident."
"You have a very powerful personality but that doesn't refute the facts that you have gaps in the capability," Hunter said before he was cut off by Odierno.
What is the West? 5 ways the region stands out
Ecowest; Mitch Tobin
he "West" is as much a cultural invention as a geographical construct, so it's a difficult place to define. Ranging from the driest of deserts to the wettest of rainforests, the lands of Western North America include an incredible diversity of ecosystems and people.
But in many ways, the American West does hang together as a region. The public domain dominates many states and the landscape tends to be much drier than the rest of the country. It is a land with limited water supplies, but vast tracts of open space, a region where extreme topography gives rise to an exceptionally rich array of species.
The West is complex and defies easy categorization, but below I explain EcoWest's geographic focus and discuss the five characteristics that set the region apart. Links to a supporting PowerPoint deck are at the bottom of this post.
The Underground Economy: D.C.'s Richest and Poorest Metro Stops
Washington City Paper; Posted by Chris Dickersin-Prokopp
Metro doesn't just run from one part of town to another; it bridges some enormous gaps in income around the D.C. region. Median annual household income along the subway system ranges from $147,630 around the Friendship Heights station on the Red Line to $31,735 in Congress Heights on the Green Line. These figures are from the American Community Survey's 2011 5-Year Estimates. Each number represents an average of the median household incomes for all populated census tracts within a half mile of the station. (This was inspired by a New Yorker project that mapped income inequality on New York subway lines.)
The most volatile route in our system is the Orange Line, reaching upward of $142,000 at East Falls Church and bottoming out at around $34,000 18 stops later at Minnesota Ave. Just across the Anacostia River from what your realtor will have you believe is Capitol Hill, Minnesota Ave. is also one of the two adjacent stations that boasts the highest level of income inequality between next-door neighbors; the Stadium-Armory station's surroundings have an annual household income of about $88,000, more than two and a half times Minnesota Ave's.
The 20 'Most Well-Read Cities' in America, According to Amazon.com
Time; Matt Peckham
The company says the rankings were determined "by compiling sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format since June 1, 2012, on a per capita basis in cities with more than 100,000 residents." This is Alexandria, Va.'s second consecutive year in the top spot, according to the company; newcomers to the list include Vancouver, Wash., Dayton, Ohio, Clearwater, Fla. and Tallahassee, Fla.
Amazon's definition of "well-read" leaves plenty to be desired, of course, since it's based on sales alone. British physicist Stephen Hawking's acclaimed popular science explainer, A Brief History of Time, was a major bestseller, moving more than 10 million copies since it first appeared in 1988, but it's also often referred to as one of the "most bought, least read" books around.
Firearms research: The gun fighter
Nature; Meredith Wadman
As Wintemute delved into gun research in the 1980s, he decided to immerse himself in the gun culture. He joined the NRA and the rifle and pistol club in Davis, where he practised shooting at an indoor range. In 1999, he started to visit gun shows, good opportunites to observe firearm purchases. "Gun shows are sort of like zoos," he says. "You can easily see a wide range of behaviours."
At his first show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the signs used to advertise guns caught his attention. One licensed retailer displayed a Mossberg Model 500 shotgun with a pistol grip next to a poster that read "Great for Urban Hunting". Another sign, beside a Savage rifle, read: "Great for Getto [sic] Cruisers".
Wintemute says that he was astonished by the blatant promotion of guns as murder weapons. "It was clearly a story that had to be told - bearing witness is part of the job - but I wanted to figure out a way to tell the story quantitatively, scientifically."
It took several years of trial and error at shows before he was confident enough of his methods to begin collecting data. He cut off his waist-length ponytail so he would not stand out in the crowds, bought a small camera and placed it in a bag of Panda liquorice with a lens-sized hole cut in the side. A pen and notepad would attract too much notice, so he set up his office voicemail so that he could call it from his mobile phone and record long messages. He later added a video camera disguised to look like a button on his shirt.
Crossposted in orange.