A regular spot to share some ideas about what’s good and what’s not on the interwebthingy. But, you know, it’s your life, so feel free to agree, disagree or ignore what follows.
What caught my attention last week
Reading To The End
Thomas Swick at The Weekly Standard reviews Clive James’ latest book Latest Readings. It reads as a pre-obituary for “the preternaturally well-read and jack-of-all-genres” who continues to evade leukaemia’s grasp.
This book possesses an undercurrent of brave, unsentimental reflection; the author is intermittently philosophical and, in the face of death, funny. He writes of watching Heaven’s Gate (1980) and “feeling my life growing shorter in a way that I don’t feel even now, when it is.”
The Joys of Parenthood
The Washington Post reports on some German research that concludes “the effect of a new baby on a person’s life in the first year is devastatingly bad — worse than divorce, worse than unemployment and worse even than the death of a partner.”
The study’s goal was to try to gain insights into a longstanding contradiction in fertility in many developed countries between how many children people say they want and how many they actually have. In Germany, most couples say in surveys that they want two children. Yet the birthrate in the country has remained stubbornly low — 1.5 children per woman — for 40 years.
The consequence of the negative experiences was that many of the parents stopped having children after their first.
They should have just asked Ned: those early years of child-raising are the hardest I’ve ever worked. But the joys are incomparable, and life-long. So come on Deutschers, keep calm and have another.
The Referee’s Decision Is
Always Usually Right
In the week that RWC2015 organisers announced they’ll be using HawkEye technology at the Cup to assist in video replay decisions, Noah Davis and Michael Lopez at fivethirtyeight.com run their stats ruler over the performance of baseball umpires.
Given their differences, umps develop reputations. Near the end of infielder Mark DeRosa’s 16-year career, he knew what to expect from the umpire calling balls and strikes. “You gain knowledge over the course of being in the big leagues for the course of a couple of seasons,” he said. “You understand which umpires are a little bit wider in their zone, who are a little bit more north-south, who’s going to force the pitcher to come tight.”
Before games, he and his teammates would even talk about what they could expect during the game: “A comment would be passed back and forth, whether we should be pulling the trigger tonight or ‘this guy is normally a hitter’s umpire and likes to force the pitcher to come back over the plate, so let’s be a little bit more picky with what you’re going to swing at.’ ”
What I’m Trying To Ignore Next Week
Stories about adultery website hacks. Dumb, dumber and dumbest.