Caturday Crunchies

[via the Daily What]

January 29, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Video. 2 comments.

Be More Like Pittsburgh

This post has nothing to do with the NFL or sports.  I don’t really even like sports.  Only athletes.  See the right hand column for my very favorites.

Moving on to why Durham (or any place) should be more like Pittsburgh:

Iron City looks out for its bicyclists.

[via Zachary Slobig @ GOOD]

January 25, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Video. Leave a comment.

You Tryna Get Real Depressed?

David Simon believes the children are our future.  Thing is, David Simon hates children.

Wait, that’s not true at all, but check out what dude says about their future.

[image via Big Think]

If you want details about our great nation’s inevitable crumble, watch the amazing Bill Moyers interview below.  It’s plenty long, so bookmark it if you have to.  You’ll be better for it.

[videos and original commentary via Fixing the Economists]

January 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Video. Leave a comment.

Saying “Bunghole” Is Presidential

Put This On has already unpacked this video so well that I won’t even try:

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson needed pants, so he called the Haggar clothing company and asked for some. The call was recorded (like all White House calls at the time), and has since become the stuff of legend. Johnson’s anatomically specific directions to Mr. Haggar are some of the most intimate words we’ve ever heard from the mouth of a President.

January 18, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Video. Leave a comment.

Caturday of Nightmares

Alternate title: Caturday of Sweet Dreams

Just depends on your perspective.

[via the always surprising Square Root of Minus Garfield]

January 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Comics. Leave a comment.

The History of American Political Opinion

Seems like a good time to post this.

From the video’s creator:

Using county-level data, I spatially and temporally interpolated presidential vote returns for the two major party candidates in each election from 1920-2008. The result illuminates the sometimes gradual, sometimes rapid change in the geographic basis of presidential partisanship.

[via Morgan Clendaniel @ GOOD]

January 14, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Video. Leave a comment.

Thars Gold in them Watches

Bill Hammack is one of my favorite explainers.  Keep it up, Engineer Guy.

[via Make Magazine]

January 12, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Smarts. Leave a comment.

Jim Fallows on Throwing Like a Girl

Two things:

1. Natural movements aren’t always innate.

2. We need to stop with the ‘throwing like a girl’ talk.

Jim Fallows:

A surprising number of people think that there is a structural difference between male and female arms or shoulders—in the famous “rotator cuff,” perhaps—that dictates different throwing motions. “It’s in the shoulder joint,” a well-educated woman told me recently. “They’re hinged differently.” Someday researchers may find evidence to support a biological theory of throwing actions. For now, what you’ll hear if you ask an orthopedist, an anatomist, or (especially) the coach of a women’s softball team is that there is no structural reason why men and women should throw in different ways. This point will be obvious to any male who grew up around girls who liked to play baseball and became good at it. It should be obvious on a larger scale this summer, in broadcasts of the Olympic Games. This year, for the first time, women’s fast-pitch softball teams will compete in the Olympics. Although the pitchers in these games will deliver the ball underhand, viewers will see female shortstops, center fielders, catchers, and so on pegging the ball to one another at speeds few male viewers could match.

Even women’s tennis is a constant if indirect reminder that men’s and women’s shoulders are “hinged” the same way. The serving motion in tennis is like a throw—but more difficult, because it must be coordinated with the toss of the tennis ball. The men in professional tennis serve harder than the women, because they are bigger and stronger. But women pros serve harder than most male amateurs have ever done, and the service motion for good players is the same for men and women alike. There is no expectation in college or pro tennis that because of their anatomy female players must “serve like a girl.” “I know many women who can throw a lot harder and better than the normal male,” says Linda Wells, the coach of the highly successful women’s softball team at Arizona State University. “It’s not gender that makes the difference in how they throw.”

Unfortunately, as Linda Wells later describes, young girls are often frozen out of the oral tradition of learning how to throw and there aren’t any good technical manuals to pick up the slack.

The challenge, I suppose, is like that of writing a manual on how to ride a bike, or how to kiss. Indeed, the most useful description I’ve found of the mechanics of throwing comes from a man whose specialty is another sport: Vic Braden made his name as a tennis coach, but he has attempted to analyze the physics of a wide variety of sports so that they all will be easier to teach.Braden says that an effective throw involves connecting a series of links in a “kinetic chain.” The kinetic chain, which is Braden’s tool for analyzing most sporting activity, operates on a principle like that of crack-the-whip. Momentum builds up in one part of the body. When that part is suddenly stopped, as the end of the “whip” is stopped in crack-the-whip, the momentum is transferred to and concentrated in the next link in the chain. A good throw uses six links of chain, Braden says. The first two links involve the lower body, from feet to waist. The first motion of a throw (after the body has been rotated away from the target) is to rotate the legs and hips back in the direction of the throw, building up momentum as large muscles move body mass. Then those links stop—a pitcher stops turning his hips once they face the plate—and the momentum is transferred to the next link. This is the torso, from waist to shoulders, and since its mass is less than that of the legs, momentum makes it rotate faster than the hips and legs did. The torso stops when it is facing the plate, and the momentum is transferred to the next link—the upper arm. As the upper arm comes past the head, it stops moving forward, and the momentum goes into the final links—the forearm and wrist, which snap forward at tremendous speed.

So why don’t girls learn how to do this?

The crucial factor is not that males and females are put together differently but that they typically spend their early years in different ways. Little boys often learn to throw without noticing that they are throwing. Little girls are more rarely in environments that encourage them in the same way. A boy who wonders why a girl throws the way she does is like a Frenchman who wonders why so many Americans speak French “with an accent.””For young boys it is culturally acceptable and politically correct to develop these skills,” says Linda Wells, of the Arizona State softball team. “They are mentored and networked. Usually girls are not coached at all, or are coached by Mom—or if it’s by Dad, he may not be much of an athlete. Girls are often stuck with the bottom of the male talent pool as examples. I would argue that rather than learning to ‘throw like a girl,’ they learn to throw like poor male athletes. I say that a bad throw is ‘throwing like an old man.’ This is not gender, it’s acculturation.”

[Jim Fallows @ the Atlantic via Angela Vasquez-Giroux @ the Idler]

January 10, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 2 comments.

Douglas Coupland’s Predictions for the Coming Decade

I read this a couple of months ago, but only now, in these early days of the new decade*, does it feel right to stamp out the ubiquitous optimism with some good doubt.

Douglas Coupland, a Canadian curmudgeon, lists 45 predictions for the coming decade. Here are the ones that strike me as particularly probable:

2) The future isn’t going to feel futuristic

It’s simply going to feel weird and out-of-control-ish, the way it does now, because too many things are changing too quickly. The reason the future feels odd is because of its unpredictability. If the future didn’t feel weirdly unexpected, then something would be wrong.

5) You’ll spend a lot of your time feeling like a dog leashed to a pole outside the grocery store – separation anxiety will become your permanent state

8) Try to live near a subway entrance

In a world of crazy-expensive oil, it’s the only real estate that will hold its value, if not increase.

10) In the same way you can never go backward to a slower computer, you can never go backward to a lessened state of connectedness

24) It is going to become much easier to explain why you are the way you are

Much of what we now consider “personality” will be explained away as structural and chemical functions of the brain.

38) Knowing everything will become dull

It all started out so graciously: At a dinner for six, a question arises about, say, that Japanese movie you saw in 1997 (Tampopo), or whether or not Joey Bishop is still alive (no). And before long, you know the answer to everything.

And here are some that don’t seem likely at all:

7) Retail will start to resemble Mexican drugstores

In Mexico, if one wishes to buy a toothbrush, one goes to a drugstore where one of every item for sale is on display inside a glass display case that circles the store. One selects the toothbrush and one of an obvious surplus of staff runs to the back to fetch the toothbrush. It’s not very efficient, but it does offer otherwise unemployed people something to do during the day.

11) Old people won’t be quite so clueless

No more “the Google,” because they’ll be just that little bit younger.

13) Enjoy lettuce while you still can

And anything else that arrives in your life from a truck, for that matter. For vegetables, get used to whatever it is they served in railway hotels in the 1890s. Jams. Preserves. Pickled everything.

14) Something smarter than us is going to emerge

Thank you, algorithms and cloud computing.

20) North America can easily fragment quickly as did the Eastern Bloc in 1989

Quebec will decide to quietly and quite pleasantly leave Canada. California contemplates splitting into two states, fiscal and non-fiscal. Cuba becomes a Club Med with weapons. The Hate States will form a coalition.

32) Musical appreciation will shed all age barriers

Draw your own conclusions after reading the full list at the Globe and Mail.

[Article via the Browser. Image via Maet32’s photobucket]

* The 21st century began on January 1st, 2001. Therefore, the first decade of the 21st century ended a few days ago. We can argue about this if you want, but that exercise would be wholly redundant.

January 6, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 2 comments.

Christopher Hitchens on How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea

[image via The Thinking Blue]

I envy Hitchens’ writing style. He takes confident chances with the language and they work.

Now that “the holidays”—at their new-style Ramadan length, with the addition of Hanukkah plus the spur and lash of commerce—are safely over, I can bear to confront the moment at their very beginning when my heart took its first dip.

It was Dec. 8, and Yoko Ono had written a tribute to mark the 30th anniversary of the murder of her husband. In her New York Times op-ed, she recalled how the two of them would sometimes make tea together. He used to correct her method of doing so, saying, “Yoko, Yoko, you’re supposed to first put the tea bags in, and then the hot water.” (This she represented as his Englishness speaking, in two senses, though I am sure he would actually have varied the word order and said “put the tea bags in first.”) This was fine, indeed excellent, and I was nodding appreciatively, but then the blow fell. One evening, he told her that an aunt had corrected him. The water should indeed precede the bags. “So all this time, we were doing it wrong?” she inquired. “Yeah,” replied our hero, becoming in that moment a turncoat to more than a century of sturdy Liverpool tradition.

Take notice Soulja Boy, because this is what swagger actually looks like.

[Christopher Hitchens @ Slate via the Browser]

January 4, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 2 comments.

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