Newborn Babe

Before we completely move on from Independence Day, let's reflect on a remarkable achievement in America's pastime. Shohei Ohtani just became the first major leaguer in baseball history to be selected to the All-Star Game as a pitcher and as a hitter. He'll also be the main draw when he competes in the home run hitting competition, as he currently leads the league with 31 homers. In addition to being a great baseball story, the Japanese born Ohtani is also a reminder of another American tradition: immigration. He really is having an unthinkable year in baseball and seems to be excellent at everything. If Ohtani develops a taste for hot dogs, Joey Chestnut is history.

+ "If you had to distill the amazement of Ohtani to one sentence, it would be this: he hits the ball harder than Juan Soto (92.5–92.3 mph exit velocity), throws harder than Yu Darvish (95.4–94.8 mph), and runs faster than Randy Arozarena (28.9 -28.7 sprint speed). He leads the major leagues in home runs and bunt hits. (He is 4-for-4 when bunting for a hit, an unmatched success rate.) Until this year, no player (and we're looking at you, Babe) ever hit 30 homers and made 10 starts on the mound in the same year. Ohtani did it in just 81 games." Tom Verducci in SI: Shohei Ohtani Isn't Babe Ruth—He's Better.


Shooting More Than Fireworks

Sadly, we have to report on America's other pastime. "More than 180 people were killed in shootings across the country over the Fourth of July holiday weekend." That's one weekend, folks.


Different Hoax for Different Folks

"'You're living this reality that people don't understand, and there's nothing you can say that will convince them. They just say you're lying.' The post-traumatic stress experienced by nurses and doctors during the pandemic has been compared to what soldiers suffer. But in places still rife with covid denial — often rural, conservative and devoted to former president Donald Trump — there is a difference: It is like having fought in a war that many believe never took place." WaPo: Their neighbors called covid-19 a hoax. Can these ICU nurses forgive them?

+ "She has found that most people she talks to eventually get vaccinated. The challenge, she said, is 'getting people to talk to me about it in the first place.'" Rural Kentucky health officials press on, one shot at a time.


Seeing the Shrink

"Consumers tend to be price conscious. But they're not net-weight conscious. They can tell instantly if they're used to paying $2.99 for a carton of orange juice and that goes up to $3.19. But if the orange juice container goes from 64 ounces to 59 ounces, they're probably not going to notice." NPR's Planet Money: Beware Of 'Shrinkflation,' Inflation's Devious Cousin.


Lizard Skinny

"After learning that the venom of a Gila monster lizard contained hormones that can regulate blood sugar, Daniel Drucker started wondering why. And could the venom somehow help treat diabetes? ... Ten years later, a synthetic version of a hormone in the venom became the first medicine of its kind approved to treat type 2 diabetes ... After doctors noticed mice and humans on the drug for diabetes appeared to lose weight, they began to consider its use in obesity science." Vox: How a lizard's venom inspired the promising weight loss drug Wegovy. (Now I have a craving for venom...)


Chilling in Iceland

"The trials, in which workers were paid the same amount for shorter hours, took place between 2015 and 2019. Productivity remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces." Four-day week 'an overwhelming success' in Iceland. (Wait until they get a taste of the No Day Workweek.)


Moving the Space Needle

"One of Stephen Hawking's most important predictions about black holes has finally been observationally confirmed by ripples in the fabric of spacetime, reports a new study. The milestone not only validates the theories of the influential physicist, who died in 2018, it also provides a new means to test some of our most fundamental assumptions about the universe." Scientists Confirm Stephen Hawking's 50-Year-Old Theory About Black Holes.


UNC Ya, Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya

"Amid the political weaponization of critical race theory by conservatives, Hannah-Jones was denied tenure as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism in May by the UNC board of trustees, an unusual move that sparked a national outcry and protests by the student body. The board finally granted her tenure last week in a 9–4 vote, just days before she was slated to start her position at the university." But then, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the 1619 Project, said, thanks but no thanks and took a gig at Howard University. (I know it's hard for some people to accept, but slavery happened.)


You Are Not a Jedi Yet

" The Pentagon said Tuesday it canceled a disputed cloud-computing contract with Microsoft that could eventually have been worth $10 billion. It will instead pursue a deal with both Microsoft and Amazon and possibly other cloud service providers." Pentagon cancels disputed JEDI cloud contract with Microsoft. (I never pictured Clippy as a Jedi.)


Bottom of the News

"Victim, 65, felt a nip in the genital area shortly after sitting on the lavatory at his home in Graz." That seems like a net negative. Austrian man bitten by python during visit to the toilet.

+ At long last, the Ever Given will be freed. "The two sides said the Ever Given would be allowed on Wednesday to leave the Great Bitter Lake, the canal's midway point, where it has been impounded."

+ Five Photographers Captured Their 4th Of July Experience.

+ Jessica Springsteen named to U.S. Olympic equestrian team. (Bruce is now known as Jessica Springsteen's dad.)

+ Did I mention I'm on Instagram, now? Give a follow. I'm pretty fly for an old guy.