Swimming from Cuba to Key West

Just about every paragraph in this article has something that jumped out on me. The story is about Diana Nyad, a 61 year-old radio commentator who is going to swim from Cuba to Key West in 60 hours. Straight. As one of the marathon swimmers quoted says, “I can’t imagine doing anything for 60 hours.”

There will be liquid mixture of predigested protein, jellyfish stings, and swollen tongues from the salt water. Diana is the record holder for world’s longest swim, and is probably going to go $150K in debt because she’s only raised $350K of the $500K necessary. It costs that much because there are 22 people helping put this together.

But also, and let’s be honest, this is why I’m posting this.

Two men in kayaks will follow Ms. Nyad’s every stroke. They will hold a shark shield — neoprene rods that emit electrical waves to zap sharks that come too close. The waters between Cuba and Key West are a notorious shark playground. But the shield is not foolproof. Just in case it fails, as it did last year in the Caribbean when another woman was on a marathon swim, four shark divers with spears will be onboard, ready to jump.

Lastly:
“Jack LaLanne was 60 when he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf, in San Francisco, for a second time, handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.”

Swimming from Cuba to Key West

Somerville asks, ‘Are You Happy?’

My city in the NY Times! I remember noticing this question on the City’s census form a couple months ago, but I didn’t realize it was among the first in the nation…

Officials here want this Boston suburb to become the first city in the United States to systematically track people’s happiness. Like leaders in Britain, France and a few other places, they want to move beyond the traditional measures of success — economic growth — to promote policies that produce more than just material well-being.

To draw up its questions, Somerville turned to a neighbor, Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychology professor who wrote the 2006 best seller “Stumbling on Happiness.” Dr. Gilbert, who donated his time, is also helping the city do a more detailed telephone survey, using a randomized sample of Somerville’s 76,000 residents.

Somerville asks, ‘Are You Happy?’

Inside Baseball

The Baseball Hall of Fame just announced this year’s class of inductees, and there were some notable names missing. Here’s Nate Silver on the numbers. His point is basically that good baseball players today are better than great baseball players of yesteryear.

If you’re not willing to reserve a place for players who meet or exceed the statistical standards of the average Hall of Famers at their positions, however — players like a Larkin or a Bagwell — the discussion really ought to turn to which players we need to kick out. No Barry Larkin? No Travis Jackson. No Tim Raines? No Max Carey. No Jeff Bagwell? No High Pockets Kelly. No Trammell and Whitaker? That’s fine: let’s boot Tinker and Evers.

Barry Larkin and Jeff Bagwell, 2 players who didn’t make it but should have, are indicative of how people vote now. Barry Larkin didn’t make it because he was merely spectacular for close to a decade, not eye poppingly amazing, during an era of steroid use. Jeff Bagwell, on the other hand, had amazing stats, also during an era of steroid use. It seems like Larkin is being compared unfavorably in light of ballooning offensive stats, for not doing steroids. On the other hand, Bagwell is being punished for having those stats during the same era, even though there’s never been evidence of steroid abuse.

Inside Baseball

Free parking not actually free

Tyler Cowen writes in the NYTimes

The subsidies are largely invisible to drivers who park their cars — and thus free or cheap parking spaces feel like natural outcomes of the market, or perhaps even an entitlement. Yet the law is allocating this land rather than letting market prices adjudicate whether we need more parking, and whether that parking should be free. We end up overusing land for cars — and overusing cars too. You don’t have to hate sprawl, or automobiles, to want to stop subsidizing that way of life.

Free parking not actually free

Treme Trailer

“Treme”, David Simon’s latest premiers Aprill 11 on HBO. The show and Simon got the
New York Times Magazine treatment on Sunday…

The story lines in “Treme” begin three months after Katrina, and they follow a diverse group of characters as they rebuild their lives in a city torn apart, a city in which tens of thousands of houses are abandoned, in which only 50 percent of the population remains, in which neighborhoods are still without power. The main characters in “Treme” aren’t the overburdened cops, spiraling addicts, ruthless dealers, struggling dockworkers, corrupt politicians or compromised journalists of “The Wire.” In their place, for the most part, are musicians.

http://www.hbo.com/bin/hboPlayer.swf?vid=1085428

Treme Trailer

Mad Men Barbie Dolls

I really hope we don’t look back at this and say, “Then. It was then we knew the show had jumped.” I mean… it doesn’t mean anything, right? It’s nothing. Shake it off.

The dolls are part of a premium-price collectors’ series for adults that Mattel calls the Barbie Fashion Model Collection. Although there have been Barbies and Kens based on other TV series, among them “I Love Lucy” and “The X-Files,” the dolls will be the first licensed line for that collection, Mattel says, with a suggested retail price of $74.95 each.

Mad Men Barbie Dolls