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Tags: Misc.

Dancer Who Lost Her Leg in Boston Bombing Is Dancing Again



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The best thing you’ll read today:

Professional dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her lower left leg in the Boston Marathon bombings, took to the stage Wednesday afternoon to do a short rhumba wearing a prosthetic leg made for her at the MIT Media Lab. Haslet-Davis, who has taught 20 different types of dance at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Boston, performed briefly at a TED Conference in Vancouver, B.C.

Hugh Herr, director of biomechatronics at the Media Lab, was at the conference to explain the design of the leg, which he made with a team of scientists savvy in prosthetics, robotics, and biomechanics. Herr is a double amputee, resulting from a rock climbing accident in 1982. He first met Haslet-Davis at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and thought he could help. The dancer’s husband, Air Force Captain Adam Davis, suffered a cut nerve and artery in his left foot in the bombing and had a skin graft from his right thigh to repair his right foot, which was peppered with shrapnel. He had just returned to Boston two weeks earlier from a deployment in Afghanistan when the couple decided to spend a nice spring day watching the Boston Marathon.

After the TED performance, Haslet-Davis stood alongside dancer Christian Lightner and wiped away tears.

Amazing. From this. . .

. . .to this. . .

Welcome back, Adrianne.

 

Tags: Misc.

NASCAR’s Trevor Bayne Diagnosed with MS



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CNN:

 NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, according to his racing team.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, often causing pain, numbness in the limbs and a loss of vision. Symptoms vary by patient and can disappear for months at a time, making it difficult to diagnose early on.

Doctors have cleared Bayne, 22, to compete, said a statement by Roush Fenway Racing.

“I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I feel good,” Bayne said. “There are currently no symptoms and I’m committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible.”

Bayne was the youngest driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 in 2011. He said he plans to race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship in 2014.

Scientists do not know what causes multiple sclerosis, according to the Mayo Clinic, although a person’s risk increases if a family member has the disease.

The rest here.

Tags: Misc.

Astrodome Down



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A defeated referendum in Texas yesterday may result in the demise of the 48-year old Astrodome:

After Texas voters on Tuesday rejected a referendum that would have authorized up to $217 million in bonds to turn the Astrodome into a giant convention and event center, the stadium is likely to be demolished.

“We can’t allow the once-proud Astrodome to sit like a rusting ship in the middle of a parking lot. This was the best effort (to revamp the stadium), and voters have turned it down,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said. Fifty-three percent voted against the referendum.

Emmett said a final decision on what happens to the Astrodome will be up to the commissioners court, the group of local officials who manage the county. But he said the stadium’s future was pretty much sealed with the referendum’s failure. He said a decision would have to be made quickly but didn’t say exactly when that would happen.

While some supporters who attended an election watch party Tuesday evening in an exhibition hall across from the Astrodome vowed to continue fighting for the stadium, preservation groups who had championed the referendum said there was really nothing more that could be done.

“Because it sat vacant for many years, there’s been a lack of passion for it,” said Beth Wiedower, senior field officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of the groups backing the plan.

More here.

Tags: Misc.

Drug Dealing Helped Prepare Jay-Z to Be a Sports Agent



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Indeed, that’s what the co-founder of Roc Nation Sports revealed to Vanity Fair:

Jay’s checkered past taught him a few things that he says will come in handy in his new role as a sports agent: “I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer,” he tells [contributing editor Lisa] Robinson. “To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up. Or if you want to start some sort of barbershop or car wash—those were the businesses back then. Things you can get in easily to get out of [that] life. At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small; you’re going to get locked up or you’re going to die.”

H/T Craig Calcaterra
 

Tags: Misc.

Congratulations to Oracle, I mean the U.S.A., for Winning the America’s Cup



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From today’s New York Times:

Many regattas ago, when Jimmy Spithill had not yet won the grandest prize in yachting, one of his mentors, the Australian Syd Fischer, gave him words to sail by.

“Syd used to say to me when something was going good, ‘Be careful,’ ” Spithill said, “ ‘because you can be a rooster one day and a feather duster the next.’ ”

A sailor had to be careful indeed in the 34th America’s Cup, which generated historically fast speeds and risks in carbon-fiber foiling catamarans that bore a greater resemblance to flying machines than boats.

But while it once looked all but certain that Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper and helmsman, and his crew mates were going to end up as feather dusters in San Francisco, they were ultimately able to turn Fischer’s catchphrase on its head, pulling off the greatest comeback in America’s Cup history and one of the most dramatic in any sport.

Trailing by 8-1 to the challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand, and within one defeat of losing the Cup, Oracle continued to upgrade its boat and its confidence and — against overwhelming odds and a team of veteran sailors — proceeded to win an unprecedented eight straight races to defend the trophy.

The final blow was delivered Wednesday in the first winner-take-all race since 1983. It was a grand spectacle, with the biggest and loudest crowd of the regatta gathered onshore and the two predatorial catamarans crossing the start line in near unison at well over 30 knots.

Oracle was the first to crack, burying both bows in the water as it prepared to round Mark 1 And generating a huge splash and a collective gasp back on shore as it slowed dramatically. But there would be no breakdown and no Kiwi revival. Though New Zealand led at Mark 1 and Mark 2, the third leg was again critical. In the early stages of this best-of-17 regatta, Oracle was the slower boat upwind, but as the series stretched on, the team’s designers and shore crew used the off days to modify the boat to their advantage.

Wednesday only underscored the obvious. Oracle was the significantly faster boat upwind, hydrofoiling for extended periods while Team New Zealand remained closer to the water and increasingly farther from the defender.

The rest here.

And here’s a multimedia-interactive from the Times that shows the Oracle boat in action. Look ma, no canvas!

Tags: Misc.

International Olympic Committee ‘Totally Satisfied’ with Russia’s Anti-Gay Law



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We’ll see what the IOC has to say once the protests happen in Sochi. Via the AP:

The International Olympic Committee has dismissed concerns over Russia’s law banning gay propaganda, saying it doesn’t violate the Olympic charter’s anti-discrimination clause, and pronounced Russia ready to host the 2014 Winter Games.

Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, gave his stamp of approval during a news conference Thursday at the conclusion of the commission’s 10th and final visit to Sochi before the games, which begin on Feb. 7.

Russia has come under scrutiny as the next host of the Olympics because of the law passed this summer outlawing “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors,” which many worry may apply to gay athletes and visitors to the games.

Killy said the commission deliberated for several days and concluded “the IOC doesn’t have the right to discuss the laws that are in place in the country hosting the games, so unless the charter is violated we are fully satisfied.”

The rest here.

 

Tags: Misc.

Science: Fans’ Weight Gain Is Tied to W–L Records



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It’s science so it must be true. USA Today:

Fans of losing teams like to say that their favorite team is killing them. They may be right.

A study in the academic journal Psychological Science found that fans of losing teams consume more calories the day after games than fans of teams that win.

Yes, losing can make fatter fans.

Professor Pierre Chandon of the INSEAD business school, who conducted the study with the doctoral student Yann Cornil, looked at food consumption in NFL cities the day after games. He found that the day after a loss, fans tend to gorge themselves.

As Chandon put it:

“One day after a defeat, Americans eat 16 percent more saturated fat, and 10 percent more calories. But on the day after a victory of their favorite team, then it’s the opposite. They eat more healthily. They eat 9 percent less saturated fat, and 5 percent fewer calories. There was no effect in cities without a team or with a team that didn’t play.”

This holds true not only for NFL teams, as the duo found similar results when looking at French soccer teams and their fans.

The rest here.

Tags: Misc.

Rocky V Star, Heavyweight Champion Tommy Morrison Dies at 44



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Details here.

Tags: Misc.

Throwing Out the First Pitch, Gangnam-Style



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It helps if you’re trained in taekwondo:

 

Tags: Misc.

Ray Chapman and the ‘Masons’ vs. the ‘K.C.s’



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Ray Chapman, shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, was hit in the head by a pitch at the Polo Grounds 93 years ago today. He died the next morning at St. Lawrence Hospital (now a minimum-security prison) on West 163rd Street in Washington Heights. Two months later, the Indians appeared in, and won, their first World Series.

Mike Sowell tells the story in The Pitch That Killed (1988), an account of the grim incident itself and a history of events leading up to and following it. Though he’s too restrained to describe the 1920 season in such stark terms, from his telling, the reader begins to form a picture of it as a watershed in the history of major-league baseball.

Rumors that the White Sox had thrown the World Series to the Reds back in October 1919 were building and would culminate in a grand jury a month after Chapman’s death. In the offseason, around Christmas 1919, the Red Sox had sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in what we now regard as the most monumental transaction in baseball history. He was in right field at the Polo Grounds when Chapman was hit. (Ruth himself died 28 years later to the day, in 1948, the only other year the Indians won the World Series.)

In July 1920, another good Boston pitcher, Carl Mays, whose reputation for being a headhunter followed him, ended up on the Yankees’ roster after breaking his contract with the Red Sox. Ban Johnson, president of the American League, took legal action to block the trade, which he feared would set a bad precedent, but the case ended up in a court in New York, and that was that. In August, Mays threw the pitch that killed Chapman. In late September the White Sox, locked in a tight pennant race with the Indians, lost seven of their regulars, suspects in the Black Sox scandal, when owner Charles Comiskey suspended them, practically handing the pennant to the Indians. In November 1920, the National Commission, a triumvirate consisting of the presidents of the two major leagues and the owner of the Cincinnati Reds, hired Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to fill the newly created position of commissioner of baseball.

Sowell arranges those familiar elements of baseball history to create, as I say, a picture that highlights their interlocking relationships and tells a complex story that happens to be true. But it’s in a subplot to the Chapman incident as he relates it that this reader, anyway, finds the most disturbing significance.

In August 1920, Chapman, a Protestant, had recently married a Cleveland woman who was Catholic. According to her family, he had plans to take instruction to be received into the Church during the offseason. On his deathbed, a priest administered last rites. His wife’s family arranged a Catholic funeral at St. John’s Cathedral in Cleveland. Manager Tris Speaker did not attend, and catcher Steve O’Neill showed up with a black eye. According to newspaper accounts, Speaker’s absence was due to nervous exhaustion. In a newspaper interview decades later, Bill Wambsganss, or Wamby, the second baseman for the 1920 Indians (he pulled off an unassisted triple play in Game Five of the World Series), described a fight between Speaker and O’Neill. Speaker was a Protestant and Mason; O’Neill, a Catholic. Speaker objected to what he saw as sectarian aggression by Chapman’s Catholic wife and her family. O’Neill defended their decision to have him buried in the Catholic Church. The argument escalated, according to Wamby, and punches were thrown.

During his Red Sox years (1907–15), Speaker — together with Smoky Joe Wood, who would reunite with him when Wood moved to the Indians in 1917 — was said by the Boston newspapers to be a leader of what they dubbed the “Masons,” Protestants who were opposed in the clubhouse by the “K.C.s” (Knights of Columbus), Catholics who were primarily Irish Americans. A seasoned baseball historian warns me against looking for religious conflict in major-league baseball, but here are two dots — the early-20th-century Red Sox as described by the press at the time, and Wamby’s plausible account explaining O’Neill’s black eye and Speaker’s no-show at Chapman’s funeral — that, when you connect them, do reflect what we know from history to be a dark social reality in American society at the time.

Tags: Misc.

Mascot Fired For Not Being Fat Enough



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English soccer team Bradford City F.C. fired the man who played its mascot, the “City Gent”, because he lost too much weight. Since 1994, Lenny Berry has played the “jolly, portly character” that was based on Stafford Hegginbotham, the club’s former chairman.

Imagine the legal challenges if this were to happen in the U.S.

Tags: Misc.

Ted Lasso: An American Coach In London



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NBC’s funny promo for the English Premier League features Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso, an NFL coach brought to Tottenham Hotspur. He doesn’t last long in the job.

Tags: Misc.

Phil Woosnam, Pioneer of North American Soccer, R.I.P.



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Phil Woosnam, the man who set the foundation for David Beckham and others in the United States, died last week at 80. Born in Wales in 1932, he had a teaching career before turning professional at 26, playing for Manchester City. He later went on to play for West Ham United and Aston Villa, among other clubs, ending his playing career with the Atlanta Chiefs. He served as head coach of the U.S. National Men’s Team in 1968 and then, from 1969 to 1983, as commissioner of the North American Soccer League. During Woosnam’s tenure with the NASL, soccer greats such as Pelé, Bobby Moore, Johan Cruyff, and Franz Beckenbauer came to play in the U.S. He was also instrumental in helping the U.S. win the bid for the 1994 World Cup.

Tags: Misc.

Nate Silver Will Join ESPN/ABC



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From ESPN:

Leading statistician and best-selling author Nate Silver will join ESPN later this year, bringing his unique brand of creativity, journalism and statistical analysis through his award winning website, FiveThirtyEight.com. The site’s new incarnation will allow Silver to return to his sports roots while expanding his approach to numerous disciplines, including economics, culture, science and technology, and other topics. FiveThirtyEight will also continue to provide data-driven coverage of politics, including forecasts of the 2014 and 2016 elections. The site will extend ESPN’s leadership in using data and analytics in its cross-platform storytelling.

Silver will serve as the editor-in-chief of the site and will build a team of journalists, editors, analysts and contributors in the coming months. Much like Grantland, which ESPN launched in 2011, the site will retain an independent brand sensibility and editorial point-of-view, while interfacing with other websites in the ESPN and Disney families. The site will return to its original URL, www.FiveThirtyEight.com.

The full press release here

Tags: Misc.

Shocker: WWE Matches Are Fixed



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Via The TelegraphWWE embarrassed as wrestling match outcomes leaked online

What’s more embarrassing is that some Americans didn’t know this already. 

Tags: Misc.

Arsenal Fan Chases Team Bus For Five Miles In Vietman



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During English soccer club Arsenal’s tour in Vietnam, one fan ran alongside the team bus and also hitched a ride on a moped for five miles, for which the super-fan was rewarded by being welcomed onto the team bus where he posed for pictures with the team and the manager. If there’s a Fan of the Year Award, it should go to him.

Tags: Misc.

Shaq Now a Cop in Golden Beach, Fla.



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Golden Beach is known in Florida for its really, really rich residents and speed traps. Now people in Golden Beach can get a ticket from a really, really rich cop: Shaquille O’Neal.

Here’s a post I wrote on Golden Beach and its police department when President Obama was in town for a fundraiser. I wonder if Shaq will draw get-the-police-cars-washed duty as the newest member of the force?

Tags: Misc.

Ready, Set . . . Mow



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Thirty-five drivers. Eighteen races. Three classes. It can only be the British Lawn Mower Racing Association Championship. For safety reasons, all blades were removed. Guess that’s what some of us dream about when mowing our lawns each weekend.

Tags: Misc.

Red Bull Salzburg Defender Gives Ball Wings



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In a friendly match against German soccer club FC Schalke, Martin Hinteregger of Austrian club FC Red Bull Salzburg scores from deep in his own half. His team went on to win 3–1.

 

Tags: Misc.

Iraq’s Under-20 Soccer Team



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War-weary Iraqis have reason to celebrate: Iraq’s under-20 soccer team advanced to the semifinals of the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey, where they will face Uruguay. The Young Lions of Mesopotamia defeated England, Chile, and Egypt in the group stage, Paraguay in the round of 16, and South Korea in the quarterfinals. Favorites Spain and Portugal have been elimiated.

For a country that still suffers from sectarian violence, this is extraordinary. “We built this team to be like a family,” coach Hakeem Shakir, the coach explains. If the Young Lions of Mesopotamia win tonight, they will face either France or Ghana in the final on Saturday. Their country deserves a fairytale ending.

Tags: Misc.

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