Update: switched out the cheesy and substantially faked tennis robot ad for an actual, honest-to god tennis robot that can actually play table tennis.
As usual with these things, it's really 16-bit style, but it's fantastic, so who cares? [YouTube]
This is the only footage from Sochi that you really need to watch: when the AT-ATs of Russia attacked the skiers, it was sheer, Olympian magic. Watch it now before the IOC exercises its right to humorlessly obliterate anything that interferes with the corporate integrity of its celebration of human potential and indifference to human rights.
Cities spend millions to court the Superbowl, offering tax-exemptions for Superbowl employees, building fancy stadiums, paying cops and municipal workers to secure the site, and more. The Superbowl claims that this is a good investment: they say a city can expect to bring in $600 million in local economic activity from the big game.
But independent economists who investigate that number find it very, very suspicious. For one thing, the majority of money spent at a Superbowl is spent in the Superbowl, or on goods that are manufactured under license from the Superbowl, and the lion's share of that money leaves town with the Superbowl. One economist, Holy Cross professor Victor Matheson, compares this to "an airplane landing at an airport and everyone gets out and gives each other a million bucks, then gets back on the plane. That's $200 million in economic activity, but it's not any benefit to the local economy."
The Superbowl's own methodology for calculating local spending sucks. Other economists put the figure at between $0 million and $120 million. Not chump change, but also a lot less profitable than previously suspected, especially when you factor in the costs to the city of putting on a Superbowl.
Kyle from Bumperactive writes, "On February 2, Washington and Colorado, the first two States to legalize recreational marijuana, compete in... The Smoke-A-Bowl! Bumperactive is celebrating the historic event with a special edition of three Smoke-A-Bowl IVXX tees, and a sticker set. $5.00 from the sale of every tee, and $2.00 from every sticker pack, benefits the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). 'Cause it ain't just about feelin' groovy. It's also about ending half a century of disastrous and inhumane drug control policy. We're 4% of the way there. Orders ship via USPS next business day!"
The photo above depicts an alleged new Vibram golf-shoe with two-tone uppers and individual toe-pockets. It's not clear whether this is real or rumor, nor am I sure whether this is terrible or wonderful. It is one of those liminal things, all right.
It's been twenty years since Tonya Harding's crew had Nancy Kerrigan cracked in the knee, spurring the most lurid, sensational, and bizarre brouhaha in the history of figure skating. Over at Bleacher Report, Matt Crossman spoke to many of the scandal's biggest stars, including Shane Stant, the man who was paid $6,500 to knock Kerrigan out of the Olympics:
It all started when Stant's phone rang a day or two before Christmas 1993. His uncle, Derrick Smith, called to ask if Stant, then 22, would hurt somebody for money. Pressed for specifics, Smith asked if Stant would "take down a skater,'' according to Stant's FBI confession.
Stant asked for more details. A man named Shawn Eckardt called and said it would involve slicing the skater's Achilles tendon. Stant said no. He wouldn't cut anybody. They settled on injuring the person enough so she could not skate.
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Brian Drake donned a wingsuit atop the ENSA ski-run in Couloir, France, and then did a ground-skimming trench-run that left me half-terrified, half-tingling in sympathy. Wish they'd shown the landing, though.
Last night's Frontline documentary about how the National Football League denies and hides overwhelming evidence linking the sport with brain injuries among its players is available for free online. (Trailer above.) The film is based on the book League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth. It was written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, investigative reporters for ESPN. The documentary was initially a collaboration between ESPN and PBS but back in August, ESPN abruptly pulled its affiliation with the project due to pressure from the NFL, according to the New York Times. In other news, go team!
Frontline: League of Denial (PBS.org)
UC Irvine researcher Crystle Martin studies what pro wrestling fans can teach us about storytelling, education, and community. What she found is like “fantasy football meets Dungeons and Dragons.” Lissa Soep interviews Martin about the interactive theater of professional wrestling fandom.Read the rest
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Experts from the Danish National History Museum have warned that pacus -- a relative of the piranha -- have been spotted in the Danish/Swedish Øresund channel. The pacu has been known to bite swimmers, and have been known to attack men's testicles, because "testicles sit nicely in their mouth." So men are being cautioned to avoid nude swimming in the channel, though the museum's Henrik Carl stresses that the risk is not very high, in the grand scheme of things: "You're more likely to drown than get your nuts bitten off."
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