Can’t keep up?

Do you ever get the sense that you just can’t keep up with all the news. For example, just how many people have died so far this year in mass shootings? As of the time I’m writing this post, that number is 256, according to my arithmetic and the data available from Shooting Tracker. In addition, 744 more people were injured in the 203 incidents when those 256 people were killed. That’s right! One thousand people killed or wounded so far in 2015 in the events spread across the 207 days of the year—almost one incident a day and an average of greater than one death and three injuries per day.

Shooting Tracker defines a mass shooting as one in which “four or more people are shot in a spree or setting, likely without a cooling off period.” That does not mean four or more people are killed. Shooting Tracker is a crowd-sourced site that was developed by some Redditors. People submit documentation for incidents, essentially news reports of shootings.

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Filed under News, Non-violence, Notes and comments

Kansas student to Gov. Brownback: “Tip the schools”

I may be a bit late to the dance, but I still want to admire the provo-like action of Kansas University student Chloe Hough. According to a story by Rochelle Valverde in the Lawrence (KS, US) Journal-World, while working as a waitron in a local restaurant, Ms. Hough served Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on 2 May 2015; Gov. Brownback has been leading an effort to make substantial reductions in Kansas state spending, including on education, on the argument that lowering government costs and reducing taxes will spur substantial growth in business, industry, and jobs. When Ms. Hough presented the governor with the check, she annotated the check with a personalized message. You can see an image of the check and get the full story in the LJ-W‘s version of Ms. Valverde’s story.

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Filed under Amusements, Education, News, Notes and comments, Politics

Bring more that just your Irish family

In case you’ve missed it, an entire country will be holding a referendum on marriage equality. Nope, this is not just nine old jurists in Washington, DC, USA. It’s The Republic of Ireland, a bastion of battles between religious groups, and Ireland actually is leading the way here. The question will be put to the electorate 22 May 2015.

Polls show widespread support of the initiative, but will the voters turn out to endorse it? The Belongto organization (BeLonG To— BeLonG To Youth Services; they have lots of different capitalizations!) developed another marvelous spot in its series of LGBT supporting spots. The one shown here encourages folks to vote “yes” on the initiative.


In a story in the Guardian entitled Irish voters to decide on same-sex marriage in May referendum, Leo Varadkar, a minister of the government came out and encouraged a positive vote. Additionally, in a separate story in the Guardian, entitled Irish voters keep campaigners guessing as gay marriage referendum nears, Henry McDonald reported about Irish people of note (the Irish drag artist Panti, whose real name is Rory O’Neill, and Pat Carey, who was once a whip in parliament) who also supported a “yes” vote.

The BBC reported on this process in November of 2013.

All of this is worth reviewing, I’d say. But see if you can watch the YouTube clip without getting a little emotional.

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Filed under Civil rights, Equity, Humanism, Notes and comments, Politics

Looks gorgeous

Rob's book cover

See for Yourself: A Visual Guide to Everyday Beauty by Rob Forbes looks like a feast for those who enjoy finding design in their everyday surroundings. According to the author,

See for Yourself is a book I just completed, coming out in May, but its available now at PUBLIC. The book is comprised of over 500 images that I have taken during the last ten years from walks and bike rides in cities around the world. It’s in these everyday settings where I seek out quirky and unusual objects not found in tourist guides; benches in Milan, bike locks in Amsterdam, fire hoses in Maine, house numbers in Charleston, and hundreds of other pedestrian works of design. I wrote it with the same intent I had in founding PUBLIC Bikes: to encourage us to become more engaged and connected with our cities, and to put a smile on our faces.

Mr. Forbes has a wonderful eye for color and form. I’m looking forward to seeing this title.

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Filed under Amusements, Arts, Eco-stuff, Neighborhood, News, Notes and comments, Sites I visit

3.14

xkcd comic about pi with caption: my most famous drawing and one of the first I did for the site
Randall Munroe’s Classic Pi Day Comic

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Filed under Amusements, Memories, News

U.Va. hoops: Not boring!

I like seeing defensive basketball played well, and the University of Virginia men’s team has been doing that frequently recently. The team stakes its game on intensive defensive pressure, often holding opponents to fewer than 50 points and sometimes even fewer than 40 points in games. The local crowd applauds blocks, tips, and steals vigorously and gets really loud when the defense forces the opponent into the last 10 seconds of the shot clock.

Over a couple of weeks, there was a flurry of discussion about whether the style of play constituted boring basketball. The coach dismissed the criticism and the team seems to enjoy the crowds’ enthusiasm for its defense.

I was just looking at the changes in U.Va.’s offense and defense over the past three coaches.* I noticed that the defense has, indeed, improved in recent years, as reflected in Ken Pomeroy’s opponent-adjusted points allowed per 100 possessions. The trend is clearly that the recent U.Va. teams are giving up fewer points. And, the trend is that U.Va. is clearly scoring more points per 100 possessions, too. So, how boring is that?

Of course, the tempo at which Tony Bennett’s teams play (adjusted tempo is Mr. Pomeroy’s metric; possessions per 40 minutes adjusted for opponents) is markedly lower than the pace at which previous teams have played. Why is the recent trend toward slower play? Virginia does not often race the ball up the court after other teams’ made baskets or after gaining possession via a rebound or steal. The team runs a set offense routinely. But, remember, Virginia is a team that forces the other team to use a lot of the clock, and that reduces the number of possessions, too.

With a win Monday night, this not-so-boring-to-me brand of basketball would make U.Va. the first school outside of North Carolina, Duke, and N.C. State to win consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference regular season titles outright.

*For 2015, the data reflect only the first 28 games.

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Filed under Amusements, Hoops, Neighborhood, Notes and comments

Change the naming of hurricanes

Over at ClimateNameChange.org there is this too funny video. It won’t even take three minutes for you to watch it, so don’t hesitate, click now!

Flash of the electrons to my pal Frank for turning me on to this.

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Filed under Amusements, Eco-stuff, News, Notes and comments, Politics, Science