Links

----- 4 stars -----

Fight the Ship: Death and valor on a warship doomed by its own Navy / ProPublica
Excellent reporting and storytelling:

The collision of the vessels was the Navy’s worst accident at sea in four decades. Seven sailors drowned. Scores were physically and psychologically wounded. Two months later, a second destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, broke that grim mark when it collided with another cargo vessel, leaving 10 more sailors dead. The successive incidents raised an unavoidable question: How could two $1.8 billion Navy destroyers, protected by one of the most advanced defense systems on the planet, fail to detect oncoming cargo ships broadcasting their locations to a worldwide navigational network? The failures of basic seamanship deeply embarrassed the Navy. Both warships belonged to the vaunted 7th Fleet — the most powerful armada in the world and one of the most important commands in the defense of the United States from nuclear attack. ProPublica reconstructed the Fitzgerald’s journey, relying on more than 13,000 pages of confidential Navy investigative records, public reports, and interviews with scores of Fitzgerald crew members, current and former senior Navy officers, and maritime experts. The review revealed neglect by Navy leadership, serious mistakes by officers — and extraordinary acts of valor and endurance by the crew. The Fitzgerald’s captain selected an untested team to steer the ship at night. He ordered the crew to speed through shipping lanes filled with cargo ships and fishing vessels to free up time to train his sailors the next day. At the time of the collision, he was asleep in his cabin. The 26-year-old officer of the deck, who was in charge of the destroyer at the time of the crash, had navigated the route only once before in daylight. In a panic, she ordered the Fitzgerald to turn directly into the path of the Crystal. The Fitzgerald’s crew was exhausted and undertrained. The inexperience showed in a series of near misses in the weeks before the crash, when the destroyer maneuvered dangerously close to vessels on at least three occasions. The warship’s state of readiness was in question. The Navy required destroyers to pass 22 certification tests to prove themselves seaworthy and battle-ready before sailing. The Fitzgerald had passed just seven of these tests. It was not even qualified to conduct its chief mission, anti-ballistic missile defense. A sailor’s mistake sparked a fire causing the electrical system to fail and a shipwide blackout a week before the mission resulting in the crash. The ship’s email system, for both classified and non-classified material, failed repeatedly. Officers used Gmail instead. Its radars were in questionable shape, and it’s not clear the crew knew how to operate them. One could not be made to automatically track nearby ships. To keep the screen updated, a sailor had to punch a button a thousand times an hour. The ship’s primary navigation system was run by 17-year-old software.

http://bit.ly/2DvYBLg


----- 3 stars -----

A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions / New Yorker

Dan Mallory, who writes under the name A. J. Finn, went to No. 1 with his début thriller, “The Woman in the Window.” His life contains even stranger twists. [...] Most people have jazzed up an anecdote, and it is a novelist’s job to manipulate an audience. But in Colorado Mallory went further. He said that, while he was working at an imprint of the publisher Little, Brown, in London, between 2009 and 2012, “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” a thriller submitted pseudonymously by J. K. Rowling, had been published on his recommendation. He said that he had taught at Oxford University, where he had received a doctorate. “You got a problem with that?” he added, to laughter. Mallory doesn’t have a doctorate from Oxford. Although he may have read Rowling’s manuscript, it was not published on his recommendation. (And he never “worked with” Tina Fey at Little, Brown, as an official biography of Mallory claimed; a representative for Fey recently said that “he was not an editor in any capacity on Tina’s book.”) Moreover, according to many people who know him, Mallory has a history of imposture, and of duping people with false stories about disease and death. Long before he wrote fiction professionally, Mallory was experimenting with gothic personal fictions, apparently designed to get attention, bring him advancement, or to explain away failings. “Money and power were important to him,” a former publishing colleague told me. “But so was drama, and securing people’s sympathies.” [...] I recently called a senior editor at a New York publishing company to discuss the experience of working with Mallory. “My God,” the editor said, with a laugh. “I knew I’d get this call. I didn’t know if it would be you or the F.B.I.”

http://bit.ly/2DqmyE0


----- 2 stars -----

Inside Wisconsin’s Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn / Bloomberg Businessweek

“This is the Eighth Wonder of the World.” So declared President Donald Trump onstage last June at a press event at Foxconn’s new factory in Mount Pleasant, Wis. He was there to herald the potential of the Taiwanese manufacturing giant’s expansion into cheesehead country. He’d joined Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou and then-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to celebrate a partnership he’d helped broker—“one of the great deals ever,” Trump said. In exchange for more than $4.5 billion in government incentives, Foxconn had agreed to build a high-tech manufacturing hub on 3,000 acres of farmland south of Milwaukee and create as many as 13,000 good-paying jobs for “amazing Wisconsin workers” as early as 2022. [...] Foxconn has a history of overpromising and underdelivering on major deals. In Brazil in 2011 and India in 2015, it pledged to invest billions of dollars and create tens of thousands of jobs after Gou courted each country’s leaders, but each project fell far short. In 2013, Foxconn said it would invest $30 million and employ as many as 500 people at a Pennsylvania factory that also never fully materialized. Multiple former executives say Gou makes big promises to secure favorable terms and is unsentimental about reneging on or abandoning them as costs dictate. Wisconsin officials apparently didn’t consider Gou’s track record problematic. Instead, they describe the billionaire, who charmed them with stories of his early days selling TV parts in the Midwest, as almost philanthropic. “My impression of him was, what a nice person,” says Scott Neitzel, who led negotiations for the Walker administration. “An extremely genuine, down-to-earth tycoon.” When asked if the state looked at Foxconn’s history, WEDC Chief Executive Officer Mark Hogan says, “We didn’t spend a lot of time on that because, in the end, we got to know these people so well.”

https://bloom.bg/2DtMRZK


Inside 37-year-old pitcher Luke Hagerty's improbable comeback story / ESPN

Hagerty went to the Cubs' affiliate in Boise, Idaho, and dominated, and it was supposed to be the start of a meteoric rise, with team officials telling him he could be in the major leagues by the next September. He chuckles at that now, the salad days, before he lost the ability to do what was so fundamental: throw a baseball. Before he really learned what it meant to work, and before he had any idea what he could be, and before he was 37 years old, sitting in a hotel room on the outskirts of Seattle, 12 years removed from his last pitch in organized baseball, unable to sleep, his mind racing at 2 a.m., wondering if he actually could convince a room of scouts that he wasn't just some crazy old man who thinks he can still pitch.

https://es.pn/2DphQq3


The Dirty Secret of El Chapo's Downfall / Vanity Fair

The Guzmán trial will do nothing to stem the flow of drugs into the United States. Don’t get me wrong. Guzmán’s conviction for trafficking literally tons of drugs into the United States would be a good thing. He’s not Robin Hood. He’s a killer responsible for untold suffering—surely far more than he’s charged with—and if he spends the rest of his life in prison it will be something like justice. But his capture has done nothing to ameliorate the American drug problem, and his conviction would be likewise meaningless. The reason is simple. By the time of Guzmán’s capture, “escape,” and recapture in the farce that made him a celebrity, he had already lost most of his power. He was superfluous. Expendable. [...] But nobody calls Mayo Zambada the “godfather of the drug world,” and that’s the way he likes it. You don’t see Zambada interviewed in Rolling Stone, trying to launch romances with television stars, or working on a biopic about himself, as Guzmán did. Zambada is a conservative businessman who prefers to stay behind the curtain. (If there is a Don Corleone of Mexican drug lords, it is Ismael Zambada.) And his partner Guzmán was becoming increasingly problematic. [...] In other words, Guzmán’s shenanigans cost the cartel money. The old truism that there’s no such thing as bad publicity is definitely not true for organized-crime figures, and for whatever reason—whether he became enamored of his own press clippings or just came to believe his own legend—Guzmán started to seek the limelight. He wanted Hollywood to make a biopic about him and that effort—combined with his infatuation with Mexican soap-opera star Kate del Castillo—led Guzmán to sit for an infamous interview with the actor Sean Penn for Rolling Stone magazine. [...] This much is sure: Guzmán would not have been recaptured or extradited without the permission and cooperation of Zambada and other powerful figures in the cartel and Mexican government.

http://bit.ly/2Dr6Loj


The ugly -- and, yes, slightly gross -- truth of stadium bathrooms / ESPN

Inside a women's restroom on the southwest concourse of Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Scott Jenkins, the stadium's general manager, reaches down and, without hesitating, places his right hand on the floor. Uric acid, he says -- you know, the corrosive compound in our urine that often gets spilled by the gallon inside stadium bathrooms just like this one -- can eat through regular epoxy-based paint in practically no time at all. Which is why, before the $1.6 billion MBS opened in 2017, Jenkins made sure every one of his bathroom floors was coated in the shiny, space-age, dual-system polymer under his fingertips right now. It's called MMA, or methyl methacrylate, and, judging by Jenkins' reaction, this is the first time anyone's ever bothered to ask about it. "Oh, I'm geeking out right now," he laughs. "I love potty talk." When it comes to the home of Super Bowl LIII and the taboo, bizarre but often revealing world of stadium bathrooms, well, there's quite a lot to discuss.

https://es.pn/2DnTVHo


The Better Boarding Method Airlines Won't Use / YouTube
Not clickbait, actually, but a well-animated primer of different boarding approaches.
http://bit.ly/2Do0g5E


You Don’t Need Sports Drinks To Stay Hydrated / FiveThirtyEight

What followed was a national campaign to sell the public on the idea that exercise caused dehydration, the cure was Gatorade’s specially developed drink, and this tonic was critical for sports performance — it was created by a doctor and tested in studies, after all. One of the brand’s early print advertisements boasted that Gatorade was absorbed 12 times faster than water (a claim walked back in 1970, after Ohio State team doctor Robert J. Murphy challenged it at a meeting of the American Medical Association). In a stroke of genius, Gatorade turned the drink’s sodium, phosphorus and potassium into a special selling point by rebranding these ordinary salts with their scientific name — “electrolytes,” which is simply the scientific term for molecules that produce ions when dissolved in water. [...] It was no longer sufficient to simply drink some water and eat a meal after exercising. The idea these marketing campaigns fostered was that physical activity created extraordinary nutritional needs and that these specially formulated beverages were the best way to meet them. This was science speaking. [...] Yet Noakes is far from alone in worrying that the rush to prevent dehydration may have put exercisers at risk of the far more serious condition of water intoxication. In 1986, a research group published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association describing the experience of a medical student and a physician who’d become stuporous and disoriented during an ultramarathon. The men were diagnosed with hyponatremia, and they concluded that they’d developed the condition by drinking too much. There’s never been a case of a runner dying of dehydration on a marathon course, but since 1993, at least five marathoners have died from hyponatremia they developed during a race.

https://53eig.ht/2DqWvMJ


----- 1 star -----

Becoming / Vimeo

Watch a single cell become a complete organism in six pulsing minutes of timelapse. Native to central and southern Europe, the amphibious alpine newt breeds in shallow water, where its larvae are born, hatch and feed on plankton, before sprouting legs and moving to land. This timelapse video from the Dutch director Jan van IJken tracks the development of a single-celled zygote into the hatched larva of an alpine newt. Captured in stunning detail at microscopic scales, Becoming is a remarkable look at the process of cell division and differentiation, whence all animals – from newts to humans – come.

http://bit.ly/2Dpe1B8


How A 92-Year-Old Congressman Became The Hilarious Leader Of Resistance Twitter / BuzzFeedNews
Some excellent tweets here:

Rep. John Dingell, the longest serving member of Congress in US history, who became known for his epic Twitter account, died Thursday at the age of 92. [...] Dingell mastered Twitter in a way that was unusual for a member of Congress at the time — particularly one who was born before even television was invented.

http://bit.ly/2Dv0JCX


Peculiar Pyongyang, a 4K Time Lapse Video of the North Korean Capital / Kottke

Time lapse video tours of big cities are a common sight on YouTube — see this Dubai hyperlapse or this Paris time lapse — and the technique has become an aesthetic of its own. But seeing the super-stylized & ultra-HD practice applied to a place like Pyongyang, North Korea broke my brain a little bit.

http://bit.ly/2Drwxc9


Poor Sleep Makes People Poor: The Costs of India Standard Time / Marginal Revolution

In an original and surprising paper, Maulik Jagnani, argues that India’s single time zone reduces the quality of sleep, especially of poor children and this reduces the quality of their education. Why does a nominal change impact real variables? The school day starts at more or less the same clock-hour everywhere in India but children go to bed later in places where the sun sets later. Thus, children in the west get less sleep than children in the east and this shows up in their education levels and later even in their wages!

http://bit.ly/2SmzUeC


Bees ‘get’ addition and subtraction, new study suggests / Science
If I understand it correctly, what's in the article doesn't quite support the headline or the blurb below (and I haven't bothered reading the original paper), but this is pretty interesting nonetheless:

If math is the language of the universe, bees may have just uttered their first words. New research suggests these busybodies of the insect world are capable of addition and subtraction—using colors in the place of plus and minus symbols.

http://bit.ly/2SnC7q1


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