SIMON ROMERO and TAYLOR BARNES
We were having breakfast in the outhouse by the kitchen when Choerab sidled up to us. Round-faced with rimless glasses, he’d been discipline monk when I’d taught there, despite being behind every scam going; he’d even run a book on sports day at the local Tibetan school, TCV. Looking anxiously around, he hissed: “You wanna play football?”
This was the summer of 1997. Between August 1994 and February 1995, I’d lived in the monastery in McLeod Ganj, the Tibetan settlement where the Dalai Lama lives on the ridge above Dharamsala. The monks had been obsessed by football, to the extent that one who had a tuft of hair at the front of his head was known as Letchkov. Other than at special festivals, they were banned from playing, but there were occasional attempts to organise illicit games. Occupying an awkward position between the monks and the monastery hierarchy, I’d always turned a blind eye but stayed away.
Everyone was in awe of him — teammates, opponents, fans. In Chicago one year, the fans actually voted Stan Musial their favorite player … over all of their own Cubs. In New York, one year, they had a Stan Musial Day. And the umpires … oh, the umpires loved him. He never got thrown out of a game. There are two umpire stories worth telling now, one true and the other probably an exaggeration that began in truth. The exaggeration goes like so: A rookie was pitching to Musial, and after working it to a 3-2 count, walked Musial on a borderline pitch.
“That was a strike,” the rookie growled at the umpire.
“Young man,” the umpire said. “Mr. Musial will be happy to let you know when you throw a strike.”
Right, that probably didn’t happen, not exactly like that … but this did happen. In 1954, Wrigley Field, Musial lashed a key double down the right field line with the Cardinals trying to come back. Only the umpire, Lee Ballanfant, mistakenly called it foul. Or, anyway, the Cardinals were sure he was mistaken, because they rushed out on the field, so full of fury that crew chief Augie Donatelli felt compelled to throw out shortstop Solly Hemus, then throw out manager Eddie Stanky, then threaten to throw out Peanuts Lowry.
“What happened, Augie?” asked Musial, who had been confused by the scene. “It didn’t count, huh?” Donatelli explained — in somewhat embarrassed tones — that his double had been called foul. Musial shrugged and stepped back to the plate. He promptly hit a double to the same spot, this time keeping it clearly fair. The Cardinals came back to win.
As late as the early 20th century, capital brutally suppressed labor and ground down wages to subsistence levels. But labor fought back, aided by Congress, which passed the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. The act paved the way for big increases in unionized labor wages, and union participation tripled.
Inevitably, capital fought back. Through the 1970s, owners moved jobs to Sun Belt right-to-work states. They automated, outsourced and worked to diminish the power of unions. When Ronald Reagan crushed the air traffic controllers’ union in 1981, it was a clear signal: labor had finally been forced to capitulate entirely.
But around this time, a dangerous new adversary to capital emerged: talent. Talent, in contrast to the more generic labor, is highly skilled and portable. And in the 1970s, talent began to flex its muscles. In Hollywood, artists demanded “percentage deals” rather than straight compensation (see George Lucas’s profit share on the “Star Wars” films). On Wall Street, investment managers demanded 20 percent of the upside on top of the traditional 2 percent of assets under management. In executive suites, C.E.O.’s accrued stock-based compensation so that they could share the upside with the capitalists. And, in 1975, baseball players won free agency, which led to the explosion of athlete salaries across professional sports.
To say violence is a sickness that threatens public health isn’t just a figure of speech, they argue. It spreads from person to person, a germ of an idea that causes changes in the brain, thriving in certain social conditions.
A century from now, people might look back on violence prevention in the early 21st century as we now regard the primitive cholera prevention efforts in the early 19th century, when the disease was considered a product of filth and immorality rather than a microbe.
“It’s extremely important to understand this differently than the way we’ve been understanding it,” said Gary Slutkin, a University of Chicago epidemiologist who founded Cure Violence, an anti-violence organization that treats violence as contagion. “We need to understand this as a biological health matter and an epidemiologic process.”
Joshua Keating gathers evidence that widespread gun ownership doesn’t translate into successful uprisings against oppressive government:
[T]he country ranked last on the [Small Arms Survey] — with only 0.1 guns per 100 people — is Tunisia, which as you’ll recall was still able to overthrow a longtime dictator in 2011. With only 3.5 guns per 100 people, the Egyptian population that overthrew Hosni Mubarak was hardly well armed either. On the other hand, Bahrain, where a popular revolution failed to unseat the country’s monarchy, has 24.8 guns per 100 people, putting it in the top 20 worldwide. A relatively high rate of 10.7 guns per 100 people in Venezuela hasn’t stopped the deterioration of democracy under Hugo Chávez.
Michael Moynihan recently dismantled the myth pushed by gun activists that Hitler’s rise was aided by gun control laws.
Physicists have created a quantum gas capable of reaching temperatures below absolute zero, paving the way for future quantum inventions.
The chilly substance was composed of potassium atoms which were held in a lattice arrangement using a combination of lasers and magnetic fields. According to a news report in the journal Nature, by tweaking the magnetic fields the research team were able to force the atoms to attract rather than repel one another and reveal the sub-absolute zero properties of the gas.
“This suddenly shifts the atoms from their most stable, lowest-energy state to the highest possible energy state, before they can react,” said Ulrich Schneider of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich to Nature. “It’s like walking through a valley, then instantly finding yourself on the mountain peak.”