Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wedneday Links: Play Ball!

BOULDER, Colorado -- This week we bring you some stories on how baseball makes math fun, Mikheil Saakashvili and his sexual perversions, and the tantrums of the Military-Industrial Complex. So let's get right to it.

Happy Opening Day! Who wants to do some math? In celebration of the start of the 2009 baseball season, we offer you a few pieces on my favorite aspect of the game, arcane statistical analysis! Eric Neel at writes about how fielding like they're wearing boxing gloves has relegated the likes of Bobby Abreu and (sadly) Adam Dunn to MLB's backwaters, thanks to more sophisticated statistical techniques that prove sucking with the glove really does hurt a team. From the New York Times, Alan Schwarz looks at Diamond Mind, a powerful statistics package that allows anyone with a computer to run their own massive simulations. No more Strat-o-Matic dice and cards for me! And finally, Dana Carvey offers his impression of George Will and his Heideggerian take on the national pastime, in game show form.

New York Times: Who wants a porno massage? Mikheil Saakashvili, that's who! The embattled Georgian president has become quite cozy with an American masseuse with a rather unorthodox technique. His political opponents have made hay out of his massage sessions, but Saakashvili is apparently content to be the Marv Albert of Georgia.

Hearst Photography Biennial: Don't touch that! The winning submission in this year's competition is a collection of photos of the old ladies in Russian museums who shadow your every move to make sure you don't touch anything or take pictures without paying for permission to do so. They can be sour-tempered and mean or enthusiastic and informative, adding a great wealth of knowledge to museum exhibits that are usually pretty short on information.

The Daily Show: America's worst Senate delegation? Barack Obama is upping military spending, but on the wrong stuff, apparently. Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing want the government to spend money on overpriced, exotic weapons, which we need to kill Somali pirates in rubber dinghies. In this clip Jon Stewart does his stellar impersonation of Joe "GWOT" Lieberman, the Droopy Dog of the Senate. Tag-teaming with Chris Dodd, the handmaiden of AIG, Countrywide, and other financial felons, they make perhaps the worst pair of silver-haired representatives in the country (well, outside of the South).

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Global Detention Project: Lock 'em up. From the Military-Industrial Complex to the Prison-Industrial Complex, the Global Detention Project recently launched its website. It is an inter-disciplinary research project that examines state responses to migration and the networks of detention facilities that are expanding across the globe. The site features a map of all the immigration detention centers in the US, which they count at 961, with a total capacity of 33,400 detainees. This is only a small portion of America's incarcerated population, which currently stands over two million. Some have had enough of this modern Great Confinement, including the Economist and Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia.

Tilt Shift Photography: Make mine miniature. Don't you wish everything looked like a model train set? Through the wonders of tilt-shift photography, you can accomplish just that. The effect can be achieved either through the use of a special lens or by digitally-altering your photos, which you can upload to this site. The results are quite amazing. Filmmaker Keith Loutit has made a series of films depicting Sydney in this minaturized form.

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