A collection of recent things

I wrote this on Twitter early Monday morning. “21st century living: I just watched an explorer LAND ON MARS on my phone. Top THAT, every century that’s come before us.”

“And almost immediate pictures from Curiosity via Odyssey orbiting above. Pictures. From Mars. Immediately. From MARS.”

Here’s the first color panorama:

I wrote: “People that think space is no longer interesting or exciting aren’t paying attention to space.”

Meanwhile, back on earth, we’re trying to overcome the other front page news. And Will Ferrell isn’t taking it well:

Check out this feature from the New York Times on how all of history’s great sprinters stack up to Usain Bolt. This might be my favorite time piece in a very long time.

Related: the oldest Olympians.

The politicians want your Pandora play lists. But mostly just your email. My Pandora thinks I should really contact an electrician in Kalamazoo, such errors in the algorithms might throw off the campaigns. That would make for an interesting fall.

This was the headline: Pat Dye speaks out on Penn State, Sandusky: ‘If you caught your brother… you’d turn his ass in. Or kill him.’

Well, yeah.

A bit of journalism geekery.

Speaking of journalism: I have a great respect for the people that craft effective longform journalism pieces, particularly the good profiles. They frequently carry the reader through a story in such a way that the unfamiliar, or opposed, often becomes familiar or even likable. That’s what you expect to happen there. “He is the coach of the team I hate, but I tell ya, he’s got a story. And despite wearing different colors — and that just boils my bottom — he almost seems like a human being.” That sort of reaction.

Not this Urban Meyer fluff piece. It just seems … sad … in ways you don’t really want to worry about. Wright Thompson did a fine job, so it isn’t the reporter, but the subject of the profile. Thompson gives Meyer the black-and-white treatment. There’s 1986, enjoying football, and 2006, where you can’t find glory in the glory of winning games gloriously on the fields of glorious battlefield which was, in many respects, viewed by the masses as rapidly approaching glorious. Thompson plays Meyer as a guy trying to find himself, the dad, husband, pal, as opposed to being overrun by That Guy. He leaves it so that you think, maybe, Meyer can get back there, and keep the signed contract he had to make with his kids. Maybe he will; there’s hope for all of us! But you get this suspicion that when Thompson reflects on this piece in a few years, he’s going to be disappointed. That isn’t the journalism, that’s the subject matter.

The best essay I’ve read this week, is a slightly older one, on prison and tattoos. It defies excerpting, but here:

Another popular pattern—though it makes one shudder to think of the process by which it is inscribed upon the skin, or the consequences if a mistake is made—is the spider’s web on the side of the neck. Occasionally, this is spread over the whole of the face, even over the scalp. At first I assumed this design must have a symbolic meaning, but having inquired of many bearers of it, and having been assured by them that there is no such meaning, I am now satisfied that it is its intrinsic beauty, and a certain vaguely sinister connotation attached to spiders’ webs, that attracts people to the design and induces them to adorn themselves with it. Moreover, I vividly recall the scene at a murder trial in which I testified. The judge and counsel were embroiled in a learned discussion of the finer points of mens rea, watched by the prisoner in the dock and his family in the public gallery—all of whom, down to the nth generation, had spiders’ webs prominently tattooed on their necks. Never was the class basis (as the Marxists used to call it) of British justice more clearly visible: two classes separated by, among other things, a propensity on the part of one of them to self-disfigurement.

Today’s terrible story of Europe: More abandoned children as Europe austerity wears on.

Someone could do a regular feature on the terrible story about Europe of the day, couldn’t they?

To take your mind off that, here’s one from the Games in England:

Mark Worsfold, 54, a former soldier and martial arts instructor, was arrested on 28 July for a breach of the peace shortly before the cyclists arrived in Redhouse Park, Leatherhead, where he had sat down on a wall to watch the race. Officers from Surrey police restrained and handcuffed him and took him to Reigate police station, saying his behaviour had “caused concern”.


Worsfold, whose experience was first reported by Private Eye, claims police questioned him about his demeanour and why he had not been seen to be visibly enjoying the event. Worsfold, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010, suffers from muscle rigidity that affects his face. He was released after two hours without charge or caution.

“It could have been done better. I was arrested for not smiling. I have Parkinson’s,” he said, adding that he realised the officers were working long hours and trying to control the event properly, but they had not, in his case, acted correctly. He said he did not want to make further comment until he received a response from Surrey police.

There is not here, of course, but that is increasingly becoming a less desirable sounding place. This regrettable overreaction doesn’t help. But, hey, they kept this guy from worrying anyone. I know people who deal with Parkinson’s and I struggle to imagine having to see them in a position like this.

Tomorrow: a doctor’s appointment, and something really fun!

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