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Category: Sports

Five Things I Found Interesting for 12/30/22

Here are five things I found interesting while on the internet:

1. It should not be difficult for wrongfully convicted people to get a judge to review new evidence or science relevant to their case. The Innocence Project shared a story about how a wrongfully convicted man used a re-run of the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters to prove his innocence“In 2007, John Galvan was about 21 years into a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit when he saw something on the prison television he thought might finally help him prove his innocence and secure his freedom: A re-run of an episode of the Discovery Channel’s MythBusters.” Galvin was convicted after a coerced false confession under the theory that he and two others had “started the fire by throwing a bottle filled with gasoline at the building and then tossing a cigarette into the pool of gasoline on the porch to ignite it.” That Mythbusters episode demonstrated that while this may be a frequent plot point in movies and television shows, it isn’t scientifically possible. It took 15 years for Galvin and his attorneys to use this science to get the false convictions suppressed. Illinois freed Galvin and the two others falsely convicted earlier this year after they served a combined 105 years in prison for a crime they did not commit. 

2. Jessica Valenti warns about the next lie forced birth activists will try to use to keep women and people capable of becoming pregnant from receiving necessary health care. Republicans have learned that the radical laws they’ve enacted are unpopular with voters. As Valenti explains, “And with horror stories from anti-choice states rolling in at record speed—from sobbing cancer patients and raped children being denied care to women going into sepsis—conservatives have realized that they need a new message and tweaked legislation. And they need it fast.” So we are about to see anti-choice activists suggest amendments to these laws to guarantee equal care for the mother and child. But this is just another so-called abortion exception that is a lie designed to protect Republican politicians instead of patients. Valenti shares how this equal care standard would have complicated critical medical decisions during her pregnancy. Doctors and patients should make health care decisions, not political activists. 

3. Humanity does not have a plan for what to do if we detect a signal from an alien civilization. And this could be a problem, as The Guardian’s Ian Sample explains“It would be a transformative event for humankind, one the world’s nations are surely prepared for. Or are they? “Look at the mess we made when Covid hit. We’d be like headless chickens,” says Dr John Elliott, a computational linguist at the University of St Andrews. “We cannot afford to be ill-prepared, scientifically, socially, and politically rudderless, for an event that could happen at any time and which we cannot afford to mismanage.” Elliott is bringing together researchers to propose ways to get ready, including whether we should even respond. That’s a complicated question, one scientists and science fiction writers like Liu Cixin (in his masterpiece The Three-Body Problem) have considered. I don’t think we should respond because of the risks involved, but I am glad some people are thinking about this challenge. 

4. Ten Major League umpires are retiring this year, the highest number since 1999. As Bleacher Nation’s Brett Taylor explains, this kind of turnover has some benefits“The sudden openings mean MLB will be able to promote ten new umpires from the minor leagues, where there will already have been familiarity with the new rules, and, in most cases, with the automated balls and strikes system.” That is a good point. But I continue to be stunned that a couple of particularly bad umpires are not on this list and continue on like a bad sitcom. 

5. President Ulysses S. Grant couldn’t hear music and was particularly sensitive to military songs. As Salon’s Matthew Rozsa writes, Grant (along with Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft had “…congenital amusia, or an inability to hear music and understand it as — well — music. To those with the condition, music typically sounds cacophonous, like noise.” I may need to use this factoid in pub trivia someday. 

Five Things I Found Interesting for 12/29/22

Here are five things I found interesting while on the internet today:

1. We must stop tolerating the police and prosecutors who do not seem to care if their lies and mistakes put innocent people in jail. ProPublica’s Brett Murphy exposes how a small-town Ohio police officer has successfully spread the junk science idea that it is possible to tell if a 911 caller is lying. Murphy’s article, They Called 911 for Help. Police and Prosecutors Used a New Junk Science to Decide They Were Liars, made me angrier with each paragraph. Police and prosecutors who believe in this junk science have sent innocent people to jail. Here’s one example shared by Murphy: 

Almost everything Carpenter said — and didn’t say — was evidence of deception, according to the state police agent who analyzed her call.

Lewis found 39 guilty indicators and zero indicators of innocence. Carpenter was arrested eight days later. Newspapers and television stations published the 56-year-old’s mugshot.

She spent three months in jail before someone else confessed to the crime.” (emphasis added)

This outcome is wrong. We need to keep junk science out of our courtrooms. And I was also not surprised to learn that the person pushing this fallacy is a police officer who has made misogynistic and transphobic posts on Facebook. 

2. It turns out election disinformation isn’t just for national elections. The Los Angeles Times’ Mark Barabak focuses his column, It’s not just Russia and China targeting Washington. Disinformation is a problem in local races too, on a school board race in the San Ramon Unified School District. This school district is in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, about 20 minutes south of where I live. A radical conservative candidate won the election by 236 votes. But, as Barabak explains, supporters of the winning candidate spread a lie about an opponent’s background. It could have been a factor in the result. Barabak’s column does a great job of amplifying the original reporting in this story by the East Bay Times’ Rachel Heimann Mercader.

3. Parker Malloy shares was she wrote for the annual journalism predictions effort by Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab in this post at her The Present Age Substack. She explains what she believes the dire financial situation in the media ecosystem will likely cause. “I worry that all of this will make the media ecosystem so weak that what’s left will be a mess of “pink slime” content, politically driven propaganda, and a reliance on curated material from outlets chasing new subscriptions and an ever-shrinking share of ad revenue, tied to the whims and business decisions of billionaire social media tycoons. And that’s where the moral panics come in.” I fear that’s correct. Malloy also highlights some other predictions you may find helpful to have in mind for the coming year.  

4. Molly Knight is one of my favorite baseball writers, and she recaps her 2022 in this post on her The Long Game Substack. It hasn’t been an easy year for her, but she’s continued to write outstanding articles about many subjects and build a fun community. Even if you don’t like baseball, reading how the COVID-19 infection she got at the All-Star Game should remind all of us that we still don’t know how much this can impact all of us. As Knight writes, “I mention all of the stumbles I endured in 2022 because I know so many of you are hurting during this time of year, and it can feel so isolating to go online and see the curated and airbrushed lives of friends and strangers on social media who seem to have it all together.”

5. The Guardian shares its list of the world‘s top 100 female soccer players. Reviewing the profiles of these players is a great way to prepare for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand beginning on July 20. Meg Swanick listed the Americans in the top 100

16- Cat Macario
18- Alex Morgan
21- Soph Smith
29- Lindsey Horan
33- Rose Lavelle
36- Mal Pugh
47- Trinity Rodman
66- Naomi Girma
70- Megan Rapinoe
88- Mia Fishel
93- Becky Sauerbrunn

And, something I want to do as many days as possible because the issue is so essential: Jessica Valenti at Abortion, Every Day recaps the news from across the country regarding reproductive freedom and sexual and reproductive health care. She explains what is happening in Louisiana: “Well, we’re seeing that terror in stark action: OBGYNs in the state are refusing to see pregnant women until they’re 12 weeks along, because they’re afraid that the high risk for miscarriage in that first trimester could end up making them a target for investigation.” Valenti covers what is happening around the country, including another story that explains why we need to be concerned about protecting the health privacy of women and other people who can become pregnant. 

Make the World Baseball Classic More Meaningful

Dan Schlossberg shares an excellent idea in the Here’s the Pitch Substack to make the World Baseball Classic more meaningful: move it to after the World Series.

Doing so would allow starting pitchers to be closer to full capacity, not interfere with spring training, and fill the gap in the month of November before the winter meetings start in December.

As Schlossberg notes, Major League Baseball is sending a barnstorming team to South Korea this November to raise awareness of the game. It should learn something from that experience.

Happy Anniversary to the Sandberg Game

Today is the 38th anniversary of the game that cemented Ryne Sandberg as my favorite baseball player. On NBC’s Game of the Week (when that mattered) against arch-rival St. Louis, Sandberg hit game-tying home runs in the ninth and tenth innings to help the Cubs come back from a 9-3 deficit to win 12-11 in 11 innings.

Sandberg finished the game 5-6 with two home runs and seven RBI. He earned the National League MVP that year, leading the Cubs to their first post-season appearance since 1945. It still brings me chills thinking about it.

Major League Baseball put together a highlights package focusing on Sandberg’s two late-inning home runs.

The Marquee Sports Network also produced a great documentary about the game a couple of years ago:

Until the 2016 season, this game was the most important in my time as a fan of baseball. Watching the Cubs win a World Series added a few games to that list. But for as long as I think about baseball, I’ll remember how happy I was watching the Sandberg game make #23 a national star.

Ukraine Prepares for World Cup Qualifiers

Grant Wahl interviews the Guardian’s Nick Ames to discuss the Ukrainian Men’s National Soccer Team’s preparations for Wednesday’s World Cup playoff against Scotland.

As you can imagine, preparations have been difficult since Russia’s invasion in February. Ames has been following the Ukrainian team as they have prepared in Slovenia the past few weeks. Is soccer meaningful when one’s country is facing extermination? As Ames tells Wahl:

So it is important. And I think also it’s important to remember that what Russia is trying to do in Ukraine is erase Ukrainian culture, no more, no less, really. I think I said it in my piece from Slovenia. And I think as you and I both know, Grant, from our travel: What is an international football team, if not an expression, a representation of a culture, of a country’s hope, of a country’s ambition, of how a country expresses itself and everything around it? So I think that is all tied into what the feeling was in the camp.

If Ukraine can beat Scotland and then Wales, they will face the United States in the first game of the World Cup’s group stage in November.

I’m glad they will be able to try.