Hold My Ear

Cauliflower Power, Best Eclipse Photos

Can I bend your ear for a minute? Actually, if you’d like, I can also twist it, punch it, kick it, and grind it into a wrestling mat. If you’re a physical contact avoiding Humanties major like me, whose only calloused body parts are the fingertips with which you hammer your laptop keyboard, the idea of having your ear turned into a vegetable probably sounds likes a net negative. But to some, the attaining of cauliflower ear is a combination rite of passage and badge of honor. The goal is not a little, harmless nibbling of the ear, nor a full Mike Tyson lobe-otomy, but rather a hard-earned collection of destroyed blood vessels and pus. Pain, injury, permanent disfigurement: all music to the ears. ESPN’s Ryan Hockensmith put his ear to the ground (softly) to report on the beautiful and grotesque honor of cauliflower ear. “When he was 8 years old, Bo Nickal went to his parents like so many little kids do. He figured out a major goal for himself. ‘I want cauliflower ear,’ he announced. A second-grader dreaming of permanently damaged ears would generate panic for most parents, but Nickal’s dad and mom, Jason and Sandy, are combat sports people. And for combat people cauliflower ear isn’t a lifelong injury. It’s a sign of a life well led. Bo’s dad had cauliflower ear. His dad’s dad had cauliflower ear. And his mom is a former amateur boxer who smiled with pride at her young son. It was like a kid saying he wanted to take over the family business someday.” I’m not sure it counts, but I’m still emotionally scarred from a wet willy I got in elementary school.


Spectacles to Behold

If you’re of a certain age, there’s a good chance you’re reading this through a pair of glasses (or holding your phone really far away from your face). “But for nearly a billion people in the developing world, reading glasses are a luxury that many cannot afford. According to the World Health Organization, the lack of access to corrective eyewear inhibits learning among young students, increases the likelihood of traffic accidents and forces millions of middle-age factory workers and farmers to leave the work force too early. Uncorrected presbyopia, not surprisingly, makes it harder for breadwinners to support their families.” The NYT (Gift Article) on how something as simple as a cheap pair of reading glasses can change the lives (and fortunes) of those who wear them. Glasses Improve Income, Not Just Eyesight.


Cuts from the Clips

For most observers, the eclipse was something to revel in, but for some the moment was a little more stressful. The latter group included a group of researchers who had “five telescopes, four and a half minutes, and one shot at getting data from the total solar eclipse.” WaPo (Gift Article): Why this eclipse could really show Einstein was correct. “In addition to the pesky cloud, there was another problem. Six minutes before the eclipse, the students at telescope station No. 4 called for help. Its alignment was off, perhaps because of a faulty mount.”

+ Kottke has a collection of the best photos and videos of the 2024 solar eclipse. And here are more amazing photos from AP and BBC. It’s notable that the best photos of the eclipse are of the people looking at it.

+ All right, folks. The eclipse is over. It’s safe to stare at the sun again.


Conn Artists

UConn achieved the rare feat of becoming back-to-back NCAA hoops champions. But even that doesn’t really hint at their two year dominance. “The Huskies won each of their 2024 NCAA tournament games by at least 14 points. A season ago, UConn won its six tournament games by at least 13 points.” UConn overwhelms Purdue in second half to win back-to-back national titles. (It was a double win for me as well. I had UConn winning in my March Madness bracket, and as a child, I shopped in the Husky section.)

+ “A major reason for the Huskies’ never-ending loop of NCAA tournament triumph is an assistant coach who has designed their unstoppable offense. He also happens to be Bill Murray’s son.” Bill Murray’s Son Designed UConn’s Offense. It’s No Joke. Here they are celebrating after the win.

+ While UConn’s rendition of Groundhog Day was a remarkable team achievement, this year’s NCAA tournament was all about the women. South Carolina’s championship win over Caitlin Clark, Iowa drew record 18.7 million viewers. “The broadcast peaked at 24 million viewers, and it was the most-watched basketball game at any level since 2019.”


Extra, Extra

Ballot Pox: Stealing elections after the vote is so 2020. The new thing is stealing elections before the vote. “Voting in Michigan will be easier for many people this fall than it was four years ago. There will be nine days of early voting. All mail ballots will have prepaid return postage. And every community will have at least one drop box for absentee ballots because of a measure adopted by voters with the support of the state’s top Democrats. Those casting ballots in North Carolina, where Republicans enjoy a veto-proof legislative majority, will see dramatic changes in the opposite direction. For the first time in a presidential election, voters there will have to show an ID. More votes are expected to be thrown out because of new absentee ballot return deadlines. And courts will soon decide whether to allow a law to go into effect that would reshape the state’s elections boards and could result in fewer early-voting sites.” WaPo (Gift Article): New voting laws in swing states could shape 2024 election. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times: Vote for people who want you to vote.

+ Alley Oop: “The E.P.A. has classified the two chemicals as likely carcinogens. They are considered a top health concern in an area of Louisiana so dense with petrochemical and refinery plants that it is known as Cancer Alley.” NYT (Gift Article): To Cut Cancer Risks, E.P.A. Limits Pollution From Chemical Plants. “The new regulation is aimed at reducing the risk of cancer for people who live close to plants emitting toxic chemicals.” (Somehow, this will be opposed by some.)

+ The Topic of Cancer: “Adults in the prime of their lives, often otherwise outwardly healthy, are dying of aggressive cancers that appear to develop more quickly and be more deadly than in the past, for reasons that scientists cannot adequately explain. Clinicians have especially been noticing a rise in cancers in the gastrointestinal (GI) system — including colorectal, kidney, and pancreatic cancers — in adults younger than 50, the cutoff for what is usually considered early-onset cancer.” Why are so many young people getting cancer?

+ Living in Another Century: “In a historic decision Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the state must adhere to a 123-year-old penal code provision barring all abortions except in cases when ‘it is necessary to save’ a pregnant person’s life.”

+ Runaway Training: “A judge sentenced the parents of a Michigan school shooter to at least 10 years in prison Tuesday for failing to take steps that could have prevented a ‘runaway train’ — the killing of four students in 2021.”

+ Crime(a) Scene: “Human rights monitors claim that occupation forces engage in torture and prolonged captivity in a sprawling penal network.” Vanity Fair: Russia Runs a Hidden Prison System for Ukrainian Detainees—In Crimea. The world sure focuses a lot more attention on the tactics used by Israel’s military after being attacked by an enemy who still refuses to agree to a ceasefire than to Putin’s ongoing, relentless string of war crimes.

+ Kitchen Table Issue: “In political terms, the contradictions have left Biden in no man’s land—more critical of Israel than its American supporters want, but not critical enough for Democrats and activists who have demanded that he pressure the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to curb the suffering.” Did the killing of World Central Kitchen aid workers tip the scales? Evan Osnos in The New Yorker on one accidental bombing that could change the equation between the US and Israel.

+ Trumpster Fire: “Here’s how high Trump Media’s valuation is: Even if the stock price plunged by 50% each day this week, it would still be valued much more richly than any of its peers.” Why Trump Media stock is subject to extreme turbulence. It’s worthless garbage. Get out before the con man fleeces you. And surprise, surprise, the accounting firm that did the pre-IPO audit (and that no one had ever heard of) has a history of audit deficiency. Seriously, run from this stock.


Bottom of the News

“The museum in southern Germany on Tuesday confirmed that it had fired a member of its technical services team after he was found to have hung one of his own paintings in a part of the gallery dedicated to modern and contemporary art, allowing him to share a space with works by pop art pioneer Warhol for an entire day. The 51-year-old man had smuggled his work into the display at Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne ‘in the hope of achieving his artistic breakthrough.” This gives new meaning to an art installation.

+ Authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya are banning music they consider either too fast or too slow, effectively criminalizing many genres. Much of the world is an asylum being run by the lunatics.

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