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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


* Elsewhere in actually existing media bias: Rupert Murdoch supposedly wants to buy NBC Universal, for what I can only assume is pure spite.

* Yesterday's bogus insurance industry "bombshell" seems to have backfired, galvanizing support for reform and making the passage of some sort of public option more likely. Olympia Snowe just cast a vote for the Senate Finance Committee bill on its way out of committee, saying, "When history calls, history calls."

* This American Life is doing back-to-back shows on the same topic (health care) for the first time in its history this week and next. This week's episode on the doctor- and patient-side pressure that contribute to rising costs is quite good, if perhaps a bit generous to the insurance companies; next week's episode, promisingly entitled "Somebody Else's Money," will focus on the insurance companies themselves.

* If classic games had achievements.

* At the core of the C.T.E. research is a critical question: is the kind of injury being uncovered by McKee and Omalu incidental to the game of football or inherent in it? Part of what makes dogfighting so repulsive is the understanding that violence and injury cannot be removed from the sport. It’s a feature of the sport that dogs almost always get hurt. Something like stock-car racing, by contrast, is dangerous, but not unavoidably so.

In 2000 and 2001, four drivers in Nascar’s √©lite Sprint Cup Series were killed in crashes, including the legendary Dale Earnhardt. In response, Nascar mandated stronger seats, better seat belts and harnesses, and ignition kill switches, and completed the installation of expensive new barriers on the walls of its racetracks, which can absorb the force of a crash much better than concrete. The result is that, in the past eight years, no one has died in Nascar’s three national racing series. Stock-car fans are sometimes caricatured as bloodthirsty, eagerly awaiting the next spectacular crash. But there is little blood these days in Nascar crashes. Last year, at Texas Motor Speedway, Michael McDowell hit an oil slick, slammed head first into the wall at a hundred and eighty miles per hour, flipped over and over, leaving much of his car in pieces on the track, and, when the vehicle finally came to a stop, crawled out of the wreckage and walked away. He raced again the next day. So what is football? Is it dogfighting or is it stock-car racing?

* And bad news, everyone: we're post SF again.