March 22nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Baseball's Unicorn Moment

Mike Trout is arguably the best player in baseball. Shohei Ohtani is the reason why there’s an argument. Marvel should sign Ohtani who is the impossible, superhuman combination of a great hitter and a great pitcher, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Babe Ruth. Both Ohtani and Trout play for the Angels, and therefore, neither of them have really ever played in a hugely significant game. Until last night. If you were writing the World Baseball Classic as fiction, you’d want it to go something like this: Ohtani would will Team Japan into the championship and Trout would lead his USA teammates—many of whom he recruited to play—to face them. The game would be close. It would come down to the final out. Ohtani would be on the mound. Trout would be at the plate. The count would run to 3-2. The basepaths must have been sprinkled with Angel dust, because, somehow, impossibly and inevitably, this field of dreams moment is exactly how things played out. SI: The World Asked Shohei Ohtani For the Fairy-Tale Ending. He Delivered.

+ Joe Starkey: Tell me again why Shohei Ohtani isn’t the greatest baseball player of all time. Seriously, Sidd Finch can’t believe what Ohtani is doing.

+ Tom Verducci: “This was drama as you like it, as if Shakespeare had Ohtani in mind when he wrote: All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women are merely players / They have their exits and their entrances / And one man in his time plays many parts.” You know it’s a big baseball moment when sports writers go full Shakespeare. This moment was why you watch sports. It was just As You Like It. The Beating Heart of America’s Pastime Is Officially in Japan.

+ The American call. The Japanese call. What a great, great way to launch into the start of the Major League baseball season. Play Ball!


You Can’t Handel the Truth

“A famous lock of hair — the subject of a book and a documentary — was not Beethoven’s. It was from an Ashkenazi Jewish woman. The study also found that Beethoven did not have lead poisoning, as had been widely believed. Nor was he a Black man, as some had proposed. And a Flemish family in Belgium — who share the last name van Beethoven and had proudly claimed to be related — have no genetic ties to him.” They learned all that and a whole lot more from a lock of hair a dying man asked friends to clip for remembrance. Gina Kolata in the NYT (Gift Article): DNA From Beethoven’s Hair Unlocks Medical and Family Secrets. When reading news and assorted hot takes, it’s worth noting that we’re still piecing together the cause of death for a guy who died in 1827. Looking Bach, the truth was Haydn in plain sight.


Water World

A shrinking reservoir signals Ukraine and Russia are waging a dangerous water war. The headline is a bit misleading, since only one country is waging war on anything. But the underlying story is vital to keep in mind. The fight for resources, especially water, will be a geopolitical focal point of this century.

+ A quarter of world population lacks safe drinking water. And the situation is expected to get worse. Number of city dwellers lacking safe water to double by 2050.


You Don’t Know Jack Shit

The Supreme Court ponders a surprisingly difficult case about poop jokes. “Jack Daniel’s loves dogs and appreciates a good joke as much as anyone. But Jack Daniel’s likes its customers even more, and doesn’t want them confused or associating its fine whiskey with dog poop.” (I can see the concern over potential confusion, as most people associate Jack with puking, not shitting.)


Extra, Extra

Full Steam a Fed: “The Federal Reserve on Wednesday enacted a quarter percentage point interest rate increase, expressing caution about the recent banking crisis and indicating that hikes are nearing an end.” (And so far, the market seems cool with that.)

+ Socal Studies: The closures are “impacting more than 565,000 students in the nation’s second-largest school district.” The massive Los Angeles public school worker strike, explained.

+ Against the Wind: Bay Area residents got a break from the endless rain and instead got some insane wind. How much wind? Well, a big rig blew over on the Bay Bridge, an Amtrak train hit a tree and derailed, shards of glass fell from skyscrapers, and the guy who was going to remove the fallen tree from my backyard had to reschedule because he had too many other fallen trees to deal with.

+ Guarding Harding: We know that most of the culture war crap is used to distract voters from fiscal issues. But it’s rarely this obvious. “A former Florida lawmaker who sponsored a bill dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law by critics has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 relief funds … Harding faces up to 35 years in prison, including a maximum of 20 years on the wire fraud charge.”

+ Case Not Closed: Of interest to those who followed the Murdaugh case and documentaries: “The death of Stephen Smith, whose body was found in the middle of a road in 2015, is being investigated as a homicide.”

+ It’s Just Win, Baby: “Being at their show at the time had the same energy as being at church in front of a priest. We were all there, in front of them, glorifying them. They were… I don’t want to say gods… but they were so highly respected and loved!” After allegations against Win Butler, an existential crisis lingers for Montréal. (Arcade Fire is one of my favorite bands. I skipped their last show in SF.)

+ Sound Byte: While you’re worrying about ChatGPT, consider the vocal deepfakes with which we now have to contend. They’re unreal.

+ The Viper and The Diaper: The Trump Protests So Far: Mostly Press and Also Someone in a Diaper.


Bottom of the News

“Two inmates in a Virginia jail used primitively made tools to create a hole in the wall of their cell and escape, only to be found hours later at an IHOP restaurant nearby.” (I’ve gone to greater lengths to satisfy a French Toast craving.)

+ Bad Bunny is being sued for $40 million by his ex-girlfriend for using her voice on his songs.

+ “For his extraordinary contributions to the American songbook and for being the boss.”

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