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)
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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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Stephen Fry to David Cameron and IOC: a Russian 2014 Olympics would be a repeat of the 1936 Berlin games
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Comedian and national treasure Stephen Fry has written an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee calling on them to move the upcoming Winter Olympics from Russia to another country, specifically, any country in which homosexuality is not criminalized and LGBT people are not violently scapegoated as they are in Russia. Vladimir Putin recently rammed through legislation that bans being gay, talking about being gay, or advocating for the rights of LGBT people, and violent gangs routinely and savagely attack LGBT people, with impunity. Vicious practices like "corrective rape" and murder are ignored by the police. Fry compares bringing the Olympics to Russia in 2014 to cowardice that led to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which legitimized Hitler and the Nazis on the global stage.
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Ars Technica's Casey Johnston reviews Outlier's Women’s Daily Riding Pants, a technical garment that effectively comprise a pair of jeans for wearing, rather than simply being photographed in. They've got generous pockets, a finish that repels water and dirt; a fast-drying loose weave; a higher cut in the back to prevent plumber's crack, and they stretch in four directions. Johnston's review makes them sound great, and makes me want to try on a pair of the men's version. They run about $200.
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1995 saw the launch of the now-classic Disneyland ride Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye; to promote it, they arranged to have Patti LaBelle headline a (pretty terrible) Indiana Jones-themed halftime show at that year's Superbowl, which is apparently some sort of foot-the-ball thing.
The street protests in Brazil have gained momentum, with huge crowds in the streets. At issue is a kind of corporatist corruption symbolized by two upcoming football tournaments that are to be held at enormous public expense, even as poor Brazilians find themselves struggling with substandard infrastructure and price-hikes for public services. As in other BRIC nations, Brazil seems like a place where the economic future is here, it's just not evenly distributed -- not by a long shot.
The Brazilian president has praised the protesters for demanding justice but the state's spies have ramped up their social media surveillance, and the Brazilian police have met the protesters with extreme use of force, including gas, rubber bullets, and shotgun-toting cops on horseback and motorcycles:
Simultaneous demonstrations were reported in at least 80 cities, with a total turnout that may have been close to 2 million. An estimated 110,000 marched in São Paulo, 80,000 in Manaus, 50,000 in Recife, and 20,000 in Belo Horizonte and Salvador.
Clashes were reported in the Amazon jungle city of Belem, in Porto Alegre in the south, in Campinas north of São Paulo and in the north-eastern city of Salvador.
Thirty-five people were injured in the capital Brasilia, where 30,000 people took to the streets. In São Paulo, one man died when a frustrated car driver rammed into the crowd. Elsewhere countless people, including many journalists, were hit by rubber bullets.
The vast majority of those involved were peaceful. Many wore Guy Fawkes masks, emulating the global Occupy campaign. Others donned red noses – a symbol of a common complaint that people are fed up being treated as clowns.
Brazil protests: riot police scatter crowds in Rio [Jonathan Watts/The Guardian]
Brazil is up in arms. Hundreds of thousands are in the streets. The capital building in Brazilia was surrounded, then stormed. Here's some pictures of last night's goings-on, and above, a video explaining some of the reasons for the uprising.
Diego sez, "Protestors - mainly students - are taking the streets of Sao Paulo. The problem: the government just raised the bus fare from R$3 to R$3,20. The protests are getting a really violent reception from the police. You can see a video of the police action. The problem isn't the 20 cents. I think the real problem is that we are having so many issues of inflation, very high taxes, corruption - 2014 World Cup stadiums being built with public money, costing about $1 billion each pop - so future looks really bleak here. Everything seems to be boiling after this 20 cents. If you ask me, Brazilians are getting tired of being treated as clowns. Tonight (6/13), there's going to be a new protest. People won't stop until they get what they want. Hopefully, with some international attention, Sao Paulo's police may stop hitting students with their batons and tear gas."
Good to see America's educational priorities on such sound footing:
You may have heard that the highest-paid state employee in each state is usually the football coach at the largest state school. This is actually a gross mischaracterization: Sometimes it is the basketball coach.
Based on data drawn from media reports and state salary databases, the ranks of the highest-paid active public employees include 27 football coaches, 13 basketball coaches, one hockey coach, and 10 dorks who aren't even in charge of a team.
...Coaches don't generate revenue on their own; you could make the exact same case for the student-athletes who actually play the game and score the points and fracture their legs.
It can be tough to attribute this revenue directly to the performance of the head coach. In 2011-2012, Mack Brown was paid $5 million to lead a mediocre 8-5 Texas team to the Holiday Bowl. The team still generated $103.8 million in revenue, the most in college football. You don't have to pay someone $5 million to make college football profitable in Texas.
Infographic: Is Your State's Highest-Paid Employee A Coach? (Probably) [Reuben Fischer-Baum/Deadspin]
Early 20th century ad for a cockroach racing kit (complete with roaches) sold by the International Mutoscope Reel Company, makers of arcade machines and dime museums. "Holds the crowd… Gets the money." (via Weird Universe)
Rutgers University somehow didn't get around to firing its abusive, homophobic, slur-spewing basketball coach until months after someone filmed him at it.
Critics of Rob Ford, Toronto's laughable bumblefuck of a mayor, will tell you that at least he's good at teaching high-school football (maybe the only thing he truly enjoys). So it's newsworthy that the schools for which he coaches are considering firing him, and he won't show up to meetings to discuss his misconduct.
The school board is examining a Sun interview in which Ford made disparaging comments about the school community that have been called inaccurate by the board, parent council members, teachers and even one of Ford’s assistant coaches. The mayor asserted that Don Bosco players come from “broken homes” and would be dead or in jail if not for football.
Some parents have called for Ford’s removal.
“We haven’t made any decision whatsoever,” board spokesman John Yan said Thursday. “We’re trying to meet with the mayor, because we have to have an opportunity as part of the process to discuss his comments.
“Part of that process is for Mr. Ford to provide us with either with an explanation or a commentary on what transpired on the March 1 interview.
Here's a brutal, must-read article from Brian Phillips detailing the bizarre, globalized game of soccer-match-rigging, which launders its influence, money and bets through countries all over the world, in what sounds like an intense, sport-themed LARP of a William Gibson Sprawl novel:
Right now, Dan Tan's programmers are busy reverse-engineering the safeguards of online betting houses. About $3 billion is wagered on sports every day, most of it on soccer, most of it in Asia. That's a lot of noise on the big exchanges. We can exploit the fluctuations, rig the bets in a way that won't trip the houses' alarms. And there are so many moments in a soccer game that could swing either way. All you have to do is see an Ilves tackle in the box where maybe the Viikingit forward took a dive. It happens all the time. It would happen anyway. So while you're running around the pitch in Finland, the syndicate will have computers placing high-volume max bets on whatever outcome the bosses decided on, using markets in Manila that take bets during games, timing the surges so the security bots don't spot anything suspicious. The exchanges don't care, not really. They get a cut of all the action anyway. The system is stacked so it's gamblers further down the chain who bear all the risks.
What's that — you're worried about getting caught? It won't happen. Think about the complexity of our operation. We are organized in Singapore, I flew from Budapest, the match is in Finland, we're wagering in the Philippines using masked computer clusters from Bangkok to Jakarta. Our communications are refracted across so many cell networks and satellites that they're almost impossible to unravel. The money will move electronically, incomprehensibly, through a hundred different nowheres. No legal system was set up to handle this kind of global intricacy. The number of intersecting jurisdictions alone is dizzying. Who's going to spot the crime? Small-town police in Finland? A regulator in Beijing? Each of them will only see one tiny part of it. How would they ever know to talk to each other? Dan Tan has friends in high places; extradition requests can find themselves bogged down in paperwork. Witnesses can disappear. I promise; you'll be safe. Who can prove you didn't see a penalty? We're fine.
Best part? Pro soccer is so corrupt that they don't give a damn, despite the fact that there is no game there, just a network of frauds that may exceed $1B:
Let me answer that question by referring you to the phrase that I hope will be your primary takeaway from this piece. Soccer. Is. Fucked. Europol announced the investigation Monday, leaving everyone with the impression that this was an ongoing operation designed to, you know, stop a criminal, maybe catch a bad guy or something. On Tuesday, multiple journalists reported that Europol is no longer pursuing the investigation. They've turned the information over to the dozens of prosecution services in the dozens of countries involved, which should keep things nice and streamlined. The man at the center of the whole story, the Singaporean mobster Tan Seet Eng, known as Dan Tan, has a warrant out for his arrest, but the Singaporeans won't extradite him and Interpol won't pressure them to do so.3 UEFA and FIFA talk about stamping out corruption, but, and I'll try to be precise here, FIFA rhetoric is to action what a remaindered paperback copy of Pippi in the South Seas is to the Horsehead Nebula. FIFA is eyeballs-deep in its own corruption problems, being run, as it is, by a cabal of 150-year-olds, most of them literally made out of dust, who have every incentive to worry about short-term profit over long-term change. They all have streets named after them, so how could they have a bad conscience? FIFA sees the game as a kind of Rube Goldberg device, or, better, as a crazed Jenga tower, and their job is to keep it standing as long as the money's coming in. Doesn't matter how wobbly it gets. Nobody look at the foundations.
Match-Fixing in Soccer [Brian Phillips/Grantland]
The finest moments in physics instruction always involves something going bang, blam, or boom, and this is no exception: Purdue's prof Mark French and grad students Craig Zehrung and Jim Stratton built a supersonic ping-pong-ball gun that attains supersonic muzzle velocity:
To demonstrate the conversion of subsonic to supersonic flow, Prof. French and his team designed the gun shown above. The end of the pressure vessel is sealed with laminating tape. Both the nozzle and the barrel are evacuated so the the gas flow is unobstructed. Overall, the gun is a bit less than 12 feet (3.65 m) in length.
To fire the gun, the pressure is increased in the pressure vessel until the tape breaks. French found that two layers of tape ruptured at about 60 psi (414 kPa), and three layers at about 90 psi (620 kPa). The speed of the ball was measured using a high-speed camera viewing the ball moving against a calibrated scale. A typical velocity was a bit over 1,448 km/h (900 mph) – nominally a velocity of Mach 1.23, which is about the top speed of the Soviet-era MIG-19 fighter.
The lead photo should convince the reader that this ping-pong gun is not a toy. The energy and momentum of the ping-pong ball is roughly the same as that of a .32 caliber ACP pistol – not the best choice for defense, to be sure, but quite lethal under the right circumstances.
Ping-pong gun fires balls at supersonic speeds [Gizmag/Brian Dodson]
Murdo sends us a video showing "an Englishman in Japan showing how the Japanese queue for local football games. They stick sellotape to the ground with their information on it, marking their places in the queue so that they can return to that point in the future. They even do it the night before the actual queue forms!"
Podium Cycling sells this boss Pee-Wee Herman skinsuit for your Big Adventures. They also do Spider-Man and various other novelties (light-up Tron, "hipster," etc), but Pee-Wee takes the cake.
Pee-wee Inspired Skinsuit (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
Oh, and Katie also spotted a bulldog on a skateboard.
Woman whose ex- won't return her suitcase retaliates by auctioning the locations of his secret fishing holes
Angela Potter, a teacher in Waikato, NZ, has a funny definition of "vindictive":
"My ex-boyfriend is an avid and very successful fisherman who asked me to protect his collection of GPS fishing spot co-ordinates [with my life no less]. Not a problem," she wrote on the auction.
And sold secrets tend to make for an angry man - Miss Potter said her ex was less than pleased to find out they had been shared.
Miss Potter said she would never have sold the co-ordinates had it been an amicable breakup, however, the man packed his belongings into her suitcase, which had sentimental value, and fled the country.
"When he refused to return my suitcase that's when I sold his co-ordinates," she said. "I didn't list them to be vindictive. I listed them as a bit of a laugh."
OTOH, she's now dating a new fisherman and says that she has not shared her ex's fishin' holes with him.