Follow the white ball

Sam Knight’s profile of mercurial snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan for the New Yorker:

When discussing O’Sullivan’s game, commentators and rivals often talk about his unusual sequencing—the way he links shots together around the table. Phil Yates, who was the snooker correspondent for the Times of London for twenty years, compares O’Sullivan to a savant, able to perceive mathematical solutions without knowing how or why. “I don’t think he can break down why he is as good as he is,” Yates said. “He just is.” According to [artist Damien] Hirst, O’Sullivan often comes off the table in a fugue state: “I go, ‘What about that pink you potted?’ And he’ll go, ‘What pink?’ He’s blank. He’s totally startled. It’s like van Gogh. I go, ‘You did brilliantly there.’ And he goes, ‘Did I?’ ”

The left-wing politics of Clapton FC

Sam Wetherell, for Jacobin:

In contrast to many in East London and Essex — where support for fascist parties and movements has increased in recent years — the Clapton Ultras explicitly oppose far-right politics. Many are recent immigrants, and they have raised money for refugee charities, campaigned against the state closure of LGBT youth clubs, and banned anyone with sexist, racist, or homophobic views. They maintain a fierce independence from the club’s management, and are openly hostile to its owners and administrators.

In a part of London that is being torn apart by gentrification and nationalistic and xenophobic political rhetoric, the Clapton Ultras are reshaping the relationship between sports and politics.

Why there are so many ties in swimming

Timothy Burke has an interesting post on Deadspin that explains why there are so many ties in swimming contests. The swimmers’ times are deliberately not measured to the next decimal point (thousands of a second) due to the relative tolerance of concrete pool lengths and lanes, which are more than a factor of ten greater. So we could measure times more accurately, but the distance each swimmer travels can vary in a way that has a far greater impact.

Rethinking the Olympic host city

Uri Friedman for The Atlantic:

These troubles are not unique to Brazil. Despite exceptions such as the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, “in most cases the Olympics are a money-losing proposition for host cities,” the economists Robert Baade and Victor Matheson conclude in a 2016 paper. In recent years, many Olympic host cities have had to reckon with corruption, ballooning costs, underinvestment in public services in the run-up to the Games, and projects that don’t help—and sometimes harm—much of the population. Once the festivities end, cities are frequently left with a load of debt and a bunch of useless megastructures. It’s no wonder then that, according to one recent poll, 63 percent of Brazilians believe hosting the Olympics will hurt their country.

Given these realities, many of the governments jockeying to host the Olympics these days are autocratic. Since the leaders of Russia and China aren’t accountable to voters, they are free to spend as much as $50 billion on the competition. Meanwhile, in many democracies, support for hosting the Olympics is waning—especially amid concerns about economic stagnation and income inequality.

Baade and Matheson propose several solutions to today’s predicament, including a pretty profound change: Why not designate a permanent home for the Olympic Games?

I like one of the other suggestions: run all the events in the most suitable cities across the globe at the same time.

Casually and routinely ignored

Sans Bullshit Sans — Leveraging the synergy of ligatures. “The font that replaces every buzzword by a Comic Sans-styled censorship bar.”

My year ripping off the web with the Daily Mail Online. “Yes, most outlets regularly aggregate other publications’ work in the quest for readership and material, and yes, papers throughout history have strived for the grabbiest headlines facts will allow. But what DailyMail.com does goes beyond anything practiced by anything else calling itself a newspaper. In a little more than a year of working in the Mail’s New York newsroom, I saw basic journalism standards and ethics casually and routinely ignored. I saw other publications’ work lifted wholesale. I watched editors at the most highly trafficked English-language online newspaper in the world publish information they knew to be inaccurate.”

Tone of voice guidelines by the University of Leeds (pdf)

Internet slang meets American Sign Language. “How do you sign ‘new’ words? The Deaf community works as a network, collectively brainstorming new sign language terms over the web, until dominant signs emerge.”

The Gary Glitter fans who still follow the leader. “Perhaps understandably, not everyone was terribly enamoured of Thomas’s renewed interest in, arguably, one of the most reviled figures in British pop history. ‘I started getting a bit of shit,’ he says. ‘A lot of my mates started getting a bit funny about things when they saw Gary Glitter videos on my Facebook page.’ ”

Vince Vaughn and co-stars pose for idiotic stock photos you can have for free. “Enter the new Vince Vaughn movie Unfinished Business, which comes out Friday. Twentieth Century Fox has teamed up with iStock by Getty Images to create a set of stock photos featuring Vaughn along with co-stars Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco and others.”

The iron lungs of the city. Looking at street tree grates in New York.

Silicon Valley and the end of architecture. “The public architecture of Silicon Valley is like the interior design of a hotel that rents by the hour.”

This guy probably engineered your favorite DIY rock record. “Kyle Gilbride [of Swearin’] recorded Waxahatchee, Girlpool, Quarterbacks, and more. Here, he shares the stories behind six songs.”

Top Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris lives by his own code. “The truth is even stranger: The Van Man has a consistent 92-mile-an-hour fastball, a $2 million signing bonus, a deal with Nike and a growing fan club, yet he has decided the best way to prepare for the grind of a 162-game season is to live here, in the back of a 1978 Westfalia camper he purchased for $10,000. The van is his escape from the pressures of the major leagues, his way of dropping off the grid before a season in which his every movement will be measured, catalogued and analyzed. If a baseball life requires notoriety, the van offers seclusion.”

Futures of text. A survey of all the current innovation in text as a medium.

Walmart has sent me a C&D order about http://t.co/cwz8qGVbru http://t.co/ROSdTmUy36

— Jacques Frost (@jephjacques) March 8, 2015