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August 2017

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Posted by Walt Hickey

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

9 percent

Rating are way up in 2017 for feel-good television network Hallmark Channel, with viewership up 9 percent so far this year. This doesn’t even factor in the huge Christmas bump for the cable channel, which in the holiday season punches up there among the likes of Fox News and ESPN. [The Washington Post]

11 songs

A Bloomberg analysis of the top 20 spots of the Billboard Hot 100 over the past three years found that the most popular brand name dropped was — somewhat unexpectedly — Rolls-Royce, which was mentioned in 11 songs. Eight of the top 12 brands are vehicles; the other four are Hennessy cognac, Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers, Rolex watches and Xanax. I really hope Xanax never makes a car. [Bloomberg]

17 percent

Your car may be losing value faster than in the past: On average, the value of a U.S. used car dropped 17 percent over the past 12 months. In 2014, that figure was 9.5 percent. There’s a glut of automobiles for sale, which drives prices down. On the other hand, this may explain why automakers pursue pop stars to move products. [Bloomberg]

56 percent

Share of Americans who disapprove of the way President Trump handled the events in Charlottesville, Va., according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. [The Washington Post]

1,320 statues of Lenin

Ukraine has completed its goal of removing all 1,320 statues of Vladimir Lenin from public spaces. An additional 1,069 Soviet monuments have also been removed. [The Independent]

2,859 percent increase

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” saw a huge spike on Spotify yesterday in the United States, the same day a total solar eclipse swept the nation. Alternative theory: I seriously crushed the Bonnie Tyler song at karaoke last week, prompting a nationwide re-evaluation of the work. I’m just saying it’s worth investigating. [Quartz]

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Posted by Oliver Roeder and Brin-Jonathan Butler

On Saturday night, in the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, Floyd Mayweather will defeat Conor McGregor. The great old pro will dismantle the MMA vet turned boxing newcomer, securing a 50-0-0 record that will stand alone in boxing’s record books. McGregor will be outpaced, outclassed and, most simply, outboxed. Mayweather will win — every expert says so.

Unless, of course, he doesn’t.

Odds on this spectacle, even farce, of a fight opened heavily in Mayweather’s favor. In November, he was a -2250 favorite, roughly implying a 96 percent chance of victory. By mid-August, the money line had narrowed to -400, or about an 80 percent chance. The money has continued to pour in for McGregor. Many bettors, it seems, believe in the Irishman’s puncher’s chance.

But maybe it’s not even a punch that’ll end it. As one of us has suggested elsewhere, Mayweather’s best chance of losing may be suffering a pulmonary embolism or a brain aneurysm; drowning in his spit bucket or tripping on the way to the ring. Perhaps one of the fighters will do something untoward in the ring. One sportsbook is offering 9-to-1 odds that the fight ends in disqualification. Which makes sense, considering one of the boxers is barely even a boxer — and the chance of an errant kick is so high that it was considered in prefight negotiation.

Strange things happen in boxing. This is the sport where a parachutist later called Fan Man crashed into the ropes during a heavyweight championship fight, after all. And if something strange does happen, it won’t stand alone in the history books. It will join the ignominious ranks of …

Wolgast vs. Rivers
July 4, 1912

Ad Wolgast defeated Joe Rivers via a 13th-round knockout in Los Angeles County. Perhaps the inspiration for “Rocky II,” this grudge match featured both fighters landing simultaneous knockout blows, then crumpling to the canvas. The referee reached the count of 10 and the bout was over, yet for some inexplicable reason he gave the victory to Wolgast on the basis that he had attempted to rise before being counted out. Compounding the confusion, the timekeeper at ringside had only reached a count of four. The referee’s verdict was upheld amid immense backlash, as Rivers’s camp claimed he had been fouled. They famously produced a considerably dented metal foul protector as evidence for their case, which made headlines across the country.

Dempsey vs. Sharkey
July 21, 1927

The fight, held at Yankee Stadium, between Jack Dempsey and Jack Sharkey, guaranteed the victor a shot at the greatest title in sports, then worn by world heavyweight champion Gene Tunney. A crowd of over 82,000 was in attendance to watch the former champ, 32-year-old Dempsey, in his second-to-last fight, square off against 7-to-5 favorite Sharkey in the hopes of avenging his previous loss to Tunney. It was clear by the early rounds that all 82,000 fans and press row were watching Dempsey grow old over the night. Sharkey was handily beating his professed idol when, in the seventh round, Dempsey landed a slew of low blows. When Sharkey protested to the referee, Dempsey delivered a vicious left hook to the chin while Sharkey was mid-sentence. Sharkey did not finish his sentence; Dempsey won by knockout. He later fondly remembered the punch as, “one of the last good punches of my life … His chin was sticking out there, unprotected. I couldn’t miss.”

Sharkey vs. Schmeling
June 12, 1930

With heavyweight champion Tunney having recently retired and vacated his title, promoters scrambled to bring Germany’s Max Schmeling and the New York-born Sharkey in front of a packed Yankee Stadium to fill the void left in Tunney’s wake. Despite winning the first few rounds, Sharkey made a strange decision in the fourth when he abruptly teed off on Schmeling’s groin with a savage blow that dropped the German contender. Bedlam ensued, prompted by Schmeling’s manager storming the ring in protest. The referee disqualified Sharkey and raised the hand of Schmeling. It was the first time the heavyweight championship had been won on a foul. Schmeling became ignominiously known in the American press as the “low-blow champion.”

Ali vs. Liston
May 25, 1965

Muhammad Ali had been a 7-to-1 underdog when he stole Sonny Liston’s crown in 1964 — a strange match in itself that included Ali being temporarily blinded by a foreign substance allegedly from Liston’s gloves and ended with Liston refusing to come out for the seventh round. In the time between the February 1964 match and the rematch in May of 1965, Ali converted to Islam, changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali and his friend Malcolm X was assassinated. It would be an understatement to say that the rematch swirled with controversy. Ahead of the rematch, Liston was considered a 13-to-5 favorite. Midway through the first round of the fight, a looping right hand later dubbed a “phantom punch,” crumpled Liston to the canvas while Ali danced around the ring. The crowd began to roar, “Fix! Fix!” Hall of Fame commentator Don Dunphy didn’t buy that it was a legitimate knockdown, stating, “If that was a punch, I’ll eat it. Here was a guy who was in prison and the guards used to beat him over the head with clubs and couldn’t knock him down.”

Duran vs. Leonard
Nov. 25, 1980

Only five months after handing superstar “Sugar” Ray Leonard his first humiliating loss and taking his title in Montreal, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran returned to meet Leonard at the New Orleans Superdome for one of the most eagerly anticipated rematches in boxing history. Duran had eaten everything in sight after his victory in June and ballooned up almost to the class of a heavyweight before crash dieting and horrifically sweating his way back down to the welterweight limit of 147 pounds. Leonard had counted on this when he pushed to have the rematch as quickly as possible. After being humiliated for eight exhausting rounds, Duran finally gave up and —or so the popular story goes — uttered “no más” to referee Octavio Meyran. Duran followed up the shocking conclusion to the fight by announcing his retirement from the sport. (He’d return to the ring less than a year later.)

Bowe vs. Golota
July 11, 1996

Riddick Bowe was coming off a victory in the third match of his blood-feud trilogy with Evander Holyfield when he squared off against undefeated contender Andrew Golota in Madison Square Garden. Bowe had mostly refused to train for the fight on the basis of his public dismissal of Golota as a “bum.” Golota took control of the fight, but his biggest obstacle to victory became his devotion to excessively fouling Bowe with egregious, swung-shovel-like low blows. After repeated warnings failed to improve Golota’s accuracy, the referee began deducting points. He took three away before offering a final warning that a further low blow would cost Golota the fight. Golota continued to dominate the fight while unleashing perhaps his most sadistic barrage below the belt one final time with 30 seconds left in the seventh round. A massive riot ensued, and police, security and fans clashed in what would be remembered as the “Riot at the Garden.” Five months later, in Atlantic City, Bowe and Golota fought a hotly anticipated rematch. Golota repeated his domination of Bowe and his desire to ruthlessly foul him, leading to a ninth-round disqualification.

Lewis vs. McCall
Feb. 7, 1997

Oliver McCall, for most of his career a distinguished journeyman, was best known as Mike Tyson’s sparring partner before handing heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis his first professional loss in a shocking upset in September 1994. Their rematch more than two years later was arguably the most bizarre heavyweight title fight; by the end of the third round, fans no doubt knew they were witnessing something nobody could have predicted. Before the closing bell to end the round, McCall had dropped his hands and looked despondent. When he came out for the fourth and fifth rounds, McCall spontaneously became a pacifist. Referee Mills Lane noticed McCall’s lips quivering before he began to cry. The fight was stopped in the fifth round.

Holyfield vs. Tyson
June 28, 1997

When the washed-up Evander Holyfield was announced as Mike Tyson’s next opponent after Tyson had secured his second title belt on the way to unification, the opening odds for their November 1996 match made Holyfield a 25-to-1 underdog. The referee stopped the fight in the 11th round after Tyson was sent stumbling into the ropes. A rematch, which drew enormous interest, took place the following year. Holyfield quickly proved to both the world and Tyson that his first victory hadn’t been a fluke. And Tyson’s response became the defining moment of his career. With 39 seconds left in the third round, Tyson’s leaned over and tore a chunk of Holyfield’s ear lobe off with his teeth. Before the round was out, he savagely attacked Holyfield again in the same way and was disqualified.

the wolf reader

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 08:23 am
missangelique999: (bookish)
[personal profile] missangelique999
There were the books, and wolves were in the books.
They roamed between words. They snarled and loped
through stories with bedraggled wolfish looks

at which the hackles rose and the world stopped
in horror, and she read them because she knew
the pleasures of reading, the page being rapt

with the magic of the fierce, and she could do
the talk of such creatures. So one day
when teacher asked if there were any who

could read, she rose as if the task were play,
to claim the story where she felt at home.
The tale was Riding Hood, the wolf was grey.

The fierceness was the wood where grey wolves roam.
She read it round, she read it through and through
It was as if the wolf were hers to comb,

like those bedraggled creatures in the zoo
that, trapped behind the bars, would snarl and stride
as you’d expect a page or wolf to do.

-george szirtes

Interesting Links for 22-08-2017

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 12:00 pm
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[personal profile] andrewducker

UpWords - Max Lucado: [From] 21 August 2017

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 04:53 am
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[personal profile] sparowe

God Has Not Left You Adrift

Today's MP3

Spiritual life comes from the Spirit! (John 3:6)Your parents may have given you genes, but God gives you grace. Your parents may be responsible for your body, but God has taken charge of your soul. You may get your looks from your mother, but you get eternal life from your Father, your heavenly Father.

God is willing to give you what your family didn’t. Didn’t have a good dad? God will be your Father. The Scripture says, “Through God you are a son; and, if you are a son, then you are certainly an heir” (Galatians 4:7 Phillips).

Didn’t have a good role model? Try God. He has not left you adrift on a sea of heredity. The past does not have to be your prison. You have a say in your life. You have a choice in the path you take. Choose well! Choose God!

Read more When God Whispers Your Name

[PHOTO] Field of dreams, Christie Pit

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 03:05 am
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
Field of dreams #toronto #christiepit #seatonvillage #night #lights #baseball

I love the glow of the powerful lights illuminating Christie Pit's baseball field for night games.

The Ever-Changing U.S. Plan In Afghanistan

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 02:20 am
[syndicated profile] 538_feed

Posted by Gus Wezerek

President Trump gave a nationally televised speech at Fort Myer in Virginia on Monday to “lay out our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.” But he declined to specify exactly how U.S. strategy in the 16-year-old Afghan War would change, saying, “We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on.” Even if he had provided more details, American plans in Afghanistan have rarely followed the script.

Posted by FiveThirtyEight


This week on the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast: How did President Trump’s rhetoric on white supremacist rallies shift from “many sides” to the specific issue of Confederate monuments? The team discusses what Confederate monuments mean to Americans and why we’re talking about them in the first place, with Vincent Hutchings of the University of Michigan.

Plus: What is the generic ballot and what can it tell us about our political future?

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast publishes Monday evenings, with occasional special episodes throughout the week. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Now Stare Directly At This Eclipse Story

Monday, 21 August 2017 08:14 pm
[syndicated profile] 538_feed

Posted by Maggie Koerth-Baker, Christine Laskowski, Rebecca Boyle, Christie Aschwanden and Meena Ganesan

After weeks of anticipation — and writing about it! — the total solar eclipse finally arrived in the U.S. FiveThirtyEight staff were fanned out across the country, hoping to bask in totality. Here are their dispatches from beneath the corona.

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska in the minutes before totality felt like the prelude to a tornado. The colors of the world were too saturated. The wind was too still. Silence sidled up behind me and wrapped me in muscle-tensed arms. And then my best friend whispered, “I gotta do it. I’m gonna look at it. You can’t stop me.”

It was a defiant stand against collective wisdom and common sense. We, the media, had spent all month talking about not looking directly at the sun. We, personally, had spent all day talking about not looking directly at the sun. Yesterday, the front-page story in the Lincoln Journal Star — entitled “Yes, looking at an eclipse can burn your eyes” — was about a man who damaged his retinas during the 1963 eclipse. All this, it turned out, was not enough. And a glance at Twitter during the eclipse suggests we weren’t the only ones who felt this way. The warnings merely made the looking more necessary, more delicious — like pulling a scab away from your flesh inch by furtive inch.

Why do we want so badly to stare at a thing we have been told repeatedly to not stare at? In 2011, some researchers at Florida State University asked essentially the same question about the High Place Phenomenon — that tingly, twitchy urge that fills your feet when faced with a ledge you know you should not jump from. Prior to this paper, psychologists had speculated that the call of the edge was an expression of suicidality. But out of a group of 431 undergraduates, the Florida researchers could find no evidence of that. The urge to jump was common, and distributed pretty evenly across the population. Suicidal or not, flinging yourself from a cliff is a desire we all seem share.

Just like the urge to turn our delicate eyes towards a burning sun. The 2011 paper could only speculate why we do things like this. Maybe the desire to do something stupid and dangerous reaffirms the will to live? Or maybe it’s more fundamental than that. Some collective personal shit we’ve been trying to work through since the days long ago when somebody wrote a story about people who couldn’t help but eat the one fruit they were told to leave alone. Maybe this is us. Maybe this is human nature. Anyway, I hope my editor accepts that as an excuse when I can’t see tomorrow. — Maggie Koerth-Baker

Instagram Photo

CARBONDALE, Ill. — We left Memphis at five this morning and drove until we reached the southern tip of Illinois. Nashville had been an option but we chose Carbondale because the area around Carbondale would be the spot with the longest duration of totality in all of the United States — two minutes and 38 seconds.

We saw it start. The moon edged across the sun, slowly, almost imperceptibly, like two coins. As though a cold dime were sliding over a molten, copper penny.

Amtrak had a special eclipse deal where the train from Chicago stopped in Carbondale. We met a woman from Rockford, Illinois, who had done just that, and Amtrak employees were marveling at the spectacle on their work break. As clouds moved and merged and offered new glimpses, I heard gasps and giggles. One woman cried out, “It’s beautiful!”

But we didn’t see the actual totality. The dark clouds, which we’d hoped would shift away in a suspenseful turn, remained. Our cosmic concert, at least from our corner of Carbondale, was rained out. True, it got dark. Gloaming dark. And the cicadas, in their confusion, made a fabulous ruckus. The air grew noticeably colder. We saw two drones hovering above, but no corona. I’d always known there was a chance of this happening, but the disappointment was palpable. (Although Tommy and Elliot didn’t seem to mind. They’d taken to an elderly man who began explaining the nature of clouds to them. They were mesmerized.)

The next solar eclipse will also cross Carbondale again in 2024. I can’t say for certain I’ll try my luck here a second time, but I’ll try somewhere. I know I will. — Christine Laskowski

Instagram Photo

PADUCAH, Ky. — It was purple. I don’t often think of the sun in this color — my favorite views of it, from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, show a flame-throwing hellscape of orange and crimson. But its upper layer, the chromosphere, was purple — an improbable shade of violet trending toward neon. The rest was gone behind the moon. The corona surrounding the hole in the sky was pale, but not ghostly like I’d imagined — it was creamy. It looked like the color of hot water, fresh off the boil for tea, right after you mistakenly add the milk before steeping.

I spent the last nine months researching total eclipses, listening to people who travel to the ends of the Earth to witness them, and writing about them. I spent almost as long imagining what this one would be like for me and my family. I had several dreams about cloudy weather, or missing it because I was stuck on Gchat, and at least one dream about what the corona would look like. That dream was dominated by my fear of flames surrounding the hole in the sky. I thought it would be scary, or at least awesome, in the literal sense of that word. Instead, it was friendly.

When the diamond ring appeared, in the instant before totality, I held up my binoculars to get a better view, but I couldn’t focus because my hands were shaking too much. But I wasn’t scared — I was so happy. The sun was not a blazing orb of hellfire. It was quiet, empyrean light, glazed with my favorite color and swaddled in creamy haze.

I hoped this eclipse would give me a new view of the solar system, and it did, just not the one I expected. I like this version. Space isn’t empty; it’s filled with that milky haze, and we’re all swaddled in it, too. It’s friendly. It’s home. — Rebecca Boyle

Instagram Photo

CASPER, Wy. — On my run this morning, my dog and I were chased by a wolf. It was totally boring compared to watching the eclipse.

I’d been anticipating and planning for today’s total solar eclipse for years, and in the week leading up to the event, I’d started to have nightmares about something going wrong (cloudy skies would be the worst). I had another fear — that I’d built such great expectations for the eclipse that the real event would feel like a letdown.

Instead, everything transpired as perfectly as I could have hoped for. It felt as close as I will ever come to standing on another planet. The light turned weird and unfamiliar and the spectacle of the sun’s corona shooting out from behind the moon was a sight that no human language has developed words to describe. It was a transfixing experience that felt physical and spiritual and mind-blowing. I can’t tell you what it’s like, you need to see it for yourself.

I have become an umbraphile. — Christie Aschwanden

Instagram Photo

SYLVA, N.C. — I left Manhattan on a Greyhound bus early Saturday, got picked up in Richmond, Virginia, traveled to Asheville, North Carolina on Sunday, and then finally made it to a small town on North Carolina’s tip called Sylva Monday afternoon. All for one minute and 44 seconds of totality.

Almost everyone who made the journey to the path to see the Great Eclipse of 2017 has a story like this. But it was totally warranted. The sky looked almost like something you’d see in a game of Pac Man. Slowly, small bites were taken from a spectacularly glowing orange sun.

“It’s happening!” “It looks amazing — you gotta see this.” Our neighbors on the shaded patch of grass we found next to a baseball field included kids, some amateur astronomers and even a few eclipse chasers who said they’d be back again. As the partial eclipse sank in, the sun looked almost like a moon, turning into a crescent. The tree’s shadows began to spin sun spots and you could see crescents everywhere.

Suddenly it turned cold and dark — and weird. The moon completely covered the sun, with its rays just bleeding out. The street lights went up, and totality produced a field full of gasps and applause almost in unison.

And then, just like that, as if nothing had happened, the sun’s rays overtook the moon and life was normal again. — Meena Ganesan

Instagram Photo

[BLOG] Some Monday links

Monday, 21 August 2017 10:53 pm
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Anthrodendum's Alex Golub talks about anthropologists of the 20th century who resisted fascism.

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes a study suggesting the TRAPPIST-1 system might be substantially older than our own solar system.

  • Centauri Dreams considers tidal locking as a factor relevant to Earth-like planetary environments.

  • The Crux shows efforts to help the piping plover in its home on the dunes of the Great Lakes coast of Pennsylvania.

  • Dead Things considers the evidence for the presence of modern humans in Sumatra 73 thousand years ago.

  • Bruce Dorminey makes the case for placing a lunar base not on the poles, but rather in the material-rich nearside highlands.

  • Far Outliers shares some evocative placenames from Japan, like Togakushi (‘door-hiding’) from ninja training spaces.

  • Language Hat notes the exceptionally stylistically uneven Spanish translation of the Harry Potter series.

  • Language Log thinks, among other things, modern technologies make language learning easier than ever before.

  • The LRB Blog notes how claims to trace modern Greece directly to the Mycenaean era are used to justify ultranationalism.

  • Marginal Revolution considers which countries are surrounded by enemies. (India rates poorly by this metric.)

  • The Numerati's Stephen Baker considers how Confederate statues are products of recycling, like so much in our lives.

  • The NYR Daily considers the unique importance of Thomas Jefferson, a man at once statesman and slaver.

  • The Planetary Society Blog celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2 Sunday.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, for a country fighting a drug war, Mexico spends astonishingly little on its police force.

  • Drew Rowsome takes a look at classic John Wayne Western, The Train Robbers.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel considers the critical role of NASA's Planetary Protection Officer.

  • Strange Company notes the many legends surrounding the early 19th century US' Theodosia Burr.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy hosts Ilya Somin' argument against world government, as something limiting of freedom. Thoughts?

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Ukrainians are turning from Russia, becoming more foreign to their one-time partner.

A delay.

Monday, 21 August 2017 08:11 pm
agoodwinsmith: (Default)
[personal profile] agoodwinsmith
While Mom's platelets were higher today than last week, they are still too low and so Mom's final chemo has been delayed for another week.


Monday, 21 August 2017 10:47 pm
kitcatwoman: Kuro from Blue Exorcist. (Default)
[personal profile] kitcatwoman
I didn't do much over the weekend except watch Defenders on Netflix. I really, really enjoyed that show. It's nice to see everybody together at last. I was especially happy to see Jessica Jones. She's my favorite of the four and I'm really looking forward to the second season of her show. I still don't care for Danny, but everyone else in the show acts as a buffer for him, so I didn't mind him too much. I still haven't finished watching Iron Fist and I doubt I ever will.

Speaking of Netflix, I don't have a lot of good feelings about their version of Deathnote. And from what I've read online, I'm not the only one.

Well guys that's all for now. I'll update soon. :)

Well, it could've gone better

Monday, 21 August 2017 07:56 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
I wanted to be there right when the museum opened - missed that by about an hour.

DID get the glasses. Boy, those were something. They seemed completely opaque until you looked up at the tiny, orange, dim sun. (The kids sold theirs to people even later than we were!)

Missed the lecture due to some miscommunication. Didn't see other exhibits, same reason.

But we did enjoy looking at the sun through the (shared) glasses, and the kids really loved making pinhole projectors on index cards. I'd expected they would - they wrote their names and all!

One thing that was not explained to me in the documentation, but in retrospect should've been obvious: The dimmer the light got, the closer the index cards had to be to make a clear image. At the beginning, having one on the ground and one in your hand was good enough. By the midpoint, when it was 70% covered and dark (and when we were done) they had to be right next to each other.

Several people, hearing me launch into another spiel on how "our eyes work the same way" and "the image is backwards and upside down - look, compare it! - but when it happens in our eyes our brains automatically flip it" asked if I was a teacher or a scientist! LOL. Only the former in a very *literal* sense, but this is something I've known since I was six or so. I had a book on the structure of the eye. (I didn't say that. I just said I homeschool and I made the kids listen to me talk to them about it.)

And then on the way back we talked about the Statue of Liberty and all. I heard a tour guide the other day say that the original model for the face was the sculptor's girlfriend, not his mother as in the finished version, but I don't know if that's correct. Still, "she looked too sexy" is obviously a story that's hard to give up!

Posted by Fred Clark

OK, then, we think, we'll try not to do that. And we prepare ourselves for the possibility that at some point we'll be confronted with a stark, conscious, volitional choice between sin and not-sin, complete with a little devil on one shoulder whispering "Go ahead, commit racism" and a little angel on the other shoulder saying, "No, don't, just keep on not committing racism."

  • I really liked this Kerry Gold article in the Globe and Mail showing how the young, priced out of Vancouver, simply went on to remake Port Moody.

  • In the Toronto Star, Edward Keenan describes how the West End Phoenix, a new model of newspaper, is set to develop.

  • Also in the Star, Scott Wheeler describes how Torontonian John Vyga ended up helping take the Berlin Wall down in 1989.

  • Steve Munro takes a look at what the metrics for TTC station cleanliness actually mean. We're doing better than we think.

  • Shawn Micallef wonders why so few Torontonians make a habit of swimming in Lake Ontario.

Solar Eclipse 2017

Monday, 21 August 2017 05:28 pm
nattalie: (Default)
[personal profile] nattalie
I watched the eclipse from Nasa TV channel, it was amazing.

It was cloudy on Indianapolis and Michael was working but anyways he could take some pics with his iPhone.
There you have

He was not using the special glasses and he just looked at the sun when clouds covered it... I hope nothing happens to his eyes 

Posted by Neil Paine

During a season full of stellar individual performances — from Giancarlo Stanton’s home runs to Chris Sale’s strikeouts — Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto quietly put together one of the most obscure-yet-impressive streaks in baseball history. Between July 26 and Aug. 15, Votto reached base successfully at least twice in 20 consecutive games, putting together only the eighth such streak since 1913.1 During that span, Votto hit .435 and put up a downright Barry Bonds-ian on-base percentage of .611.

It was classic Votto, who has a knack for reaching base that has few historical peers. But it was also typical in that it came midway through yet another hopeless Cincinnati season. The Reds are 14.5 games out of the National League’s last wild-card spot, with essentially no chance of making the playoffs. So far in 2017, Votto is tracking for 7.0 wins above replacement (WAR),2 while leading the majors in on-base-plus slugging percentage. Assuming the Reds miss the playoffs, it would mark the sixth season in which Votto had at least 4.5 WAR (roughly an All-Star-caliber season) while his team failed to advance to the division series — the Reds have only reached the NLDS twice since Votto debuted in 2007, and they lost the best-of-five series both times.3

All told, Votto has generated 41.2 WAR in seasons where the Reds either missed the playoffs or lost the play-in game. Since the playoffs expanded in 1995, few hitters have seen more of their individual excellence go to waste4:

Good batters on bad teams

Position-player WAR accumulated for teams that didn’t make the division series of the playoffs, 1995-2017

1 Adrian Beltre LAD, SEA, BOS, TEX 62.1 ✓
2 Barry Bonds SFG 60.7
3 Alex Rodriguez SEA, TEX, NYY 57.0
4 Bobby Abreu HOU, PHI, NYY, LAA, LAD, NYM 51.5
5 Carlos Beltran KCR, NYM, SFG, NYY 51.3 ✓
6 Ichiro Suzuki SEA, NYY, MIA 51.1 ✓
7 Todd Helton COL 50.7
8 Mike Trout LAA 46.6 ✓
9 David Wright NYM 46.5 ✓
10 Scott Rolen PHI, STL, TOR, CIN 46.0
11 Miguel Cabrera FLA, DET 42.3 ✓
12 Carlos Delgado TOR, FLA, NYM 42.0
13 Larry Walker COL 41.7
14 Joey Votto CIN 41.2 ✓
15 Sammy Sosa CHC, BAL, TEX 40.9
16 Albert Pujols STL, LAA 40.6 ✓
17 Vladimir Guerrero MON, LAA, BAL 37.5
18 Brian Giles PIT, SDP 36.8
19 Ian Kinsler TEX, DET 35.6 ✓
20 Frank Thomas CHW, TOR, OAK 35.0

2017 WAR was prorated to 162 games and adjusted according to the playoff odds of the player’s team. (i.e., for a team with an 80% playoff probability, only 20% of the player’s WAR applied to his wasted-WAR total.)


Votto isn’t alone among active players who’ve produced bushels of squandered value. FiveThirtyEight favorite Adrian Beltre is the division-series-era leader in inconsequential WAR, with his teams having flushed away more than 60 of his wins over the years (including, most likely, 3.5 more this season5). But at age 38, Beltre is also five years older than Votto, and he — like many other names above Votto on the list — at least experienced some postseason success to ease the sting of the lost output. Beltre’s Texas Rangers, for instance, came within a single strike of winning the World Series in 2011.

Votto hasn’t had that chance yet. So if we filter our original list down and look at wasted WAR through age 33, Votto climbs to No. 9 on the list of position players. Although he may never pass Beltre, Bonds or Alex Rodriguez in total wasted WAR, perhaps Votto’s eventual fate will be as his generation’s version of Todd Helton, the longtime Colorado Rockies first baseman who finally made the World Series in 2007 after years of pouring great stats into the void.

Meanwhile, on the pitching side, there’s the increasingly tragic case of erstwhile Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who dominated the American League for a decade but still fell victim to his team’s ongoing playoff drought. Here’s King Felix and the rest of the leaderboard for wasted WAR among hurlers:

Good pitchers on bad teams

Pitching WAR accumulated for teams that didn’t make the division series of the playoffs, 1995-2017

1 Felix Hernandez SEA 51.8 ✓
2 Roy Halladay TOR, PHI 49.6
3 Pedro Martinez MON, BOS, NYM 47.8
4 Mark Buehrle CHW, MIA, TOR 43.7
5 Javier Vazquez MON, ARI, CHW, ATL, FLA 42.8
6 Curt Schilling PHI, ARI, BOS 41.9
7 Zack Greinke KCR, MIL, LAA, ARI 34.8 ✓
8 Kevin Brown BAL, FLA, LAD 34.4
9 Cliff Lee CLE, SEA, PHI 33.9
10 Dan Haren STL, OAK, ARI, LAA, WSN, MIA 32.2
11 Brad Radke MIN 31.3
12 Roy Oswalt HOU, TEX, COL 30.5
13 Jake Peavy SDP, CHW, BOS, SFG 30.3
14 Kenny Rogers TEX, OAK, DET 30.2
15 Roger Clemens BOS, TOR, HOU 30.2
16 Justin Verlander DET 30.1 ✓
17 Chris Sale CHW, BOS 29.9 ✓
18 A.J. Burnett FLA, TOR, PIT, PHI 28.5
19 Randy Johnson SEA, ARI, SFG 28.1
20 Jamie Moyer BAL, BOS, SEA, PHI, COL 27.7

2017 WAR was prorated to 162 games and adjusted according to the playoff odds of the player’s team. (i.e., for a team with an 80% playoff probability, only 20% of the player’s WAR applied to his wasted-WAR total.)


Sadly, Hernandez may not have much more to add to this list — at age 31, his numbers aren’t what they used to be, and his trips to the disabled list are becoming more frequent. But between Hernandez, Beltre, A-Rod, Ichiro Suzuki and Randy Johnson, these lists also serve as a reminder to never discount the Mariners’ ability to squander future Hall of Famers’ production.

As for Votto, it remains to be seen whether the Reds will be able to put his WAR to good use anytime soon. They have MLB’s fourth-worst record so far this season, but the team also has one of the youngest rosters in the majors (Votto aside) and a solid farm system. And while Votto is already 33, Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA system projects him to have seven more seasons of starting-caliber production left in his career. So even though plenty of Votto’s great performances have gone to waste — 2017 included — there’s some hope that they may mean something more in the future.

Posted by Walt Hickey

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

Today, a large portion of the United States will experience a solar eclipse! Here’s an all-eclipse version of Significant Digits. I’ll be co-anchoring ABC News’ digital coverage of the eclipse, watch it here.

1 hour, 33 minutes, 16.8 seconds

Duration of the eclipse on U.S. soil today from Oregon to South Carolina. A solid 70-mile-wide swath of the country coast-to-coast will get to experience a total solar eclipse for anywhere from a few seconds to over two minutes. It may be responsible for the largest mass migration to see a natural event in human history. [The Atlantic]

45 million pairs

Number of eclipse glasses — the approved way to view a solar eclipse without permanent retina damage — sold by American Paper Optics (one of the few authorized sellers of certified glasses) over the past two years. Do what you can to get your hands on a pair; it’s unsafe to attempt to stare directly at the sun. [ABC News]

1,651 miles per hour

Average speed of the eclipse as it sprints across the country. While the big event is going on, a considerable amount of research will be happening, as briefly blocking out the sun is a handy way of studying everything from earth’s ionosphere to how animals react to eclipse-induced midday temperature and light swings. [FiveThirtyEight]

75 million

Approximate number of people who live within a 200-mile drive of the path of totality across the country. About 12 million people live directly in the path of totality; experts estimate they could be joined by about 7.4 million people traveling to watch the eclipse. That could make for some serious traffic and clogged cellular networks. [FiveThirtyEight, Curbed]


Number of interstate highway routes that the total solar eclipse crosses. State and local officials are working to ensure that first responders and highway crews can react in a timely matter with or without access to cellular networks. [Time]

3.2 percent

Percent of energy generated in North Carolina from solar power in 2016. The nation is about to experience a slight dip in solar power generation, and the planning to react to the eclipse has underscored a number of issues regarding the state of infrastructure in the U.S. Regardless of how this time goes, by 2024 — the next time the U.S. is due for a solar eclipse — we’ll need to be ready. [FiveThirtyEight]

Looking for a single page to bookmark to always access the latest Significant Digits? Say no more.

If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Posted by Harry Enten

President Trump’s firing of White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is the latest in a string of major administration departures over the last month. But unlike others who left (Reince Priebus, Anthony Scaramucci and Sean Spicer), Bannon was a clear fan of Trump since the primary campaign. Indeed, Bannon’s website,, was instrumental in supporting Trump long before any members of the Republican establishment got behind him.

After Bannon was fired, he said he was going to “war” against the president’s enemies, including some in the administration itself. Bannon, moreover, represented a clear ideological wing within the Trump White House and in the GOP electorate more broadly. If Bannon wages a media campaign against Trump, or if Bannon’s departure leads the White House to turn away from Bannon’s nationalist agenda, how much political trouble could Trump have? Put another way: How big is the Bannon wing of Trump’s coalition?

They don’t make up a majority, but a big chunk of Trump’s voters share Bannon’s positions.

Before we delve into the numbers, let’s first define what we mean by the “Bannon wing.” Generally, we’re talking about a more populist, nationalist and isolationist brand of Republicanism. More specifically, Trump voters who are pro-police, against free trade, against the U.S. playing an active role (militarily and diplomatically) in the international community, strongly against illegal immigration, and in favor of more infrastructure spending. There are obviously other parts of Bannon’s agenda, but these are among the defining features that help separate it from other wings within the Republican Party.

To help us figure out how many Trump voters match this description, let’s consult the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study.6 The survey asks voters whether …

  1. They are for or against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Which we’ll use as a proxy for free trade.)
  2. The U.S. should send troops to help the United Nations uphold international law.7 (Involvement in the international community.)
  3. The U.S. government should identify and deport immigrants in the country illegally. (Illegal immigration.)
  4. Their local police should receive a grade of A (excellent), B (above average), C (average), D (below average) or F (poor).
  5. Their state government should increase spending on infrastructure. (Infrastructure spending.)

Among Trump voters, approximately 15 percent supported all five positions, including a B or better for their local police. So let’s call this 15 percent the “core Bannon” voter. This isn’t a particularly large group. On its own, for example, it’s not enough to win a Republican primary. But it’s certainly big enough that Trump needs its continued support in order to survive a serious primary challenge in 2020 (if one arises). Remember Trump won only 45 percent of the national primary vote in 2016. To put this 15 percent in some additional perspective, the percentage of Hillary Clinton voters who were Hispanic in the general election, an important part of her coalition, was about 12 percent.

Of course, there are members of Trump’s coalition who agree with some of what the Bannon wing believes, but not all of it. And these issues don’t all rank as equal priorities for all Trump’s voters. So let’s expand the possibilities a bit and make for looser ideological groupings:

  1. Isolationist Bannon-ites — Trump voters who want the U.S. to have a more distant relationship with international partners. These are people who are against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and against sending troops overseas to uphold international law.
  2. Nationalist Bannon-ites — Trump voters who support deporting immigrants who are here illegally. These voters are pro-police and strongly against illegal immigration. You might also call these voters cultural conservatives. This group’s policy preferences overlap with the white nationalism often voiced at Bannon’s website, Breitbart, but it’s a much bigger group.
  3. Populist Bannon-ites — Trump voters who are more economically populist in a party that often isn’t. These voters are against the Trans-Pacific partnership and are for more infrastructure spending.

Clearly, there is going to be some overlap between these groups. There will be some who fit into just one of them, some two and the aforementioned 15 percent who agree with all three. Individually, each of these three groupings has a lot more support than the five-for-five Bannon wing.

About 50 percent of all Trump voters fall into Group No. 1 — they want the U.S. to be less active on the world stage. The pull of this group shouldn’t be too surprising given that even Clinton was forced to come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Trump made a point during the primary campaign of (falsely) claiming that he always opposed the Iraq War.

Group No. 2, nationalist Bannon-ites, make up about 45 percent of Trump voters, people who want to identify and deport all immigrants in the country illegally and give their local police a grade of above average or better. Trump’s appeal clearly went beyond voters with hardline positions on policing and immigration — issues that represented the starkest contrast with Clinton. But cultural conservatives are a substantial portion of Trump’s coalition.

The smallest group is the economic populists. About 40 percent of Trump voters were against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and for more infrastructure spending. This may be the area where Bannon and Trump were most at odds with Republican Party leaders. Sure, there were Republicans who had been arguing against free trade for a while (see Pat Buchanan), but few Republicans argue for more infrastructure spending. The departure of Bannon from the White House is another sign that the infrastructure part of the Trump agenda is seriously imperiled.

Perhaps the most telling sign that Bannon’s positions represent a major part of the modern Republican Party is the percentage of Trump voters who disagree with all of the five key Bannon-esque policy stances listed above. It’s less than 2 percent. Whether the Republican mainstream likes it or not, a little bit of Bannonism is in pretty much every Republican voter. Don’t expect Trump to suddenly become a different person. Bannonism is a part of Trump’s coalition, even if Bannon is no longer part of the Trump administration. And Trump needs it to remain that way.

The views offered of Charlottetown Harbour from Beaconsfield's fourth-floor cupola are noteworthy.

From the top of Beaconsfield (1)

From the top of Beaconsfield (2)

From the top of Beaconsfield (3)

From the top of Beaconsfield (4)
I went outside about twenty minutes before the solar eclipse reached its local maximum in Toronto. Even before the midday twilight hit, the quality of light and colour in the sky had shifted subtly, were off, like yet not like a late evening.

Dusky eclipse sky

Eclipse sky above condos

Sun glimpsed through glasses

Posted by Fred Clark

Alas, once we inspect this statement a bit we find that it's not quite so clear. There are layers of ambiguity here which can make such an apparently forceful statement confused and confusing. Rather than providing moral clarity, this ambiguity can wind up leading us morally astray.

Creativity Welcomed

Monday, 21 August 2017 01:12 pm
a_carter82716: (Default)
[personal profile] a_carter82716 posting in [community profile] addme
NAME: Amy Carter

AGE: Just turned 41 on August 5th


LOOKING FOR: Like minded creative individuals that is into comic cons, cosplay and learning things and / or brainstorming right along with me. I would not say that I am 'pro' though others may disagree with that. I just like to being creative, experiment and see what happens. Feel free to check out my interests to see if we're a good match.

ANYTHING ELSE?: This account is just my sewing account, nothing 'personal' per say. I am currently working on moving my cosplay stuff over to this dreamwidth account from my LiveJournal account. It is quite a slow process so please bare with me. Also most of my costumes are MERMAIDS! *ahem* I have a slight obsession. ;p

ALSO KNOWN AS: [personal profile] sinicallytwisted <--- My art journal, which is also being worked on. ;)

Solar Eclipse 2017

Monday, 21 August 2017 02:08 pm
nattalie: (Default)
[personal profile] nattalie
 The eclipse has begun, I'm watching it from Nasa channels. The sky is very clear here but we have not glasses for this and not sure what we could see from this point of the planet. They say that ppl from Brazil will be able to see a part of the eclipse, but not us. What I like about American ppl is that they make a party about everything.