Aqua girl

Mermaid flippers

I finally started my aqua therapy today, and want to say again how grateful I am to everyone who donated. I can actually feel it pulling the knee adhesions apart as I do the exercises. I have some work ahead of me, but thanks to your generosity, I can do it!

Another first

Pretty sure Mo’Ne is the first Little Leaguer to make the cover of Sports Illustrated — but with that comes the hex!

SI mone

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you

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Mo’Ne Davis, of course:

“She has an effortless media savvy,” says Peterson after a day at WHYY, talking on radio about the death of Michael Brown and unrest in his hometown of Ferguson, Mo. “Juxtaposed with the loss of Michael Brown’s life, the emergence of Mo’ne is a great relief.”

In his opening monologue, Oliver warned his audience that after a weary week of Israel-Hamas-Ebola-Ferguson, his show would treat some dark material.

But . . . Mo’ne Davis, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. As did Oliver. He used Davis/Taney as an antidote to the fear, anger, and hatred in the air – and as a comment on media themselves:

“In the world of sport, a new star emerged this week. I love this girl, but the best part of Mo’ne Davis is not that she happens to be female. It’s that she also happens to be awesome. Waving her fingers after strikeouts . . . and displaying remarkable self-confidence.”

Although often portrayed as modest, at least among her teammates, Davis can dish the TV athlete patois. On Friday she said, “I throw my curveball like [certifiably awesome L.A. Dodgers pitcher] Clayton Kershaw and my fastball like Mo’ne Davis.” She’s publicly challenged Kershaw to a pitch-off.

The smitten Oliver gushed:

“How is she that self-confident at 13 years old? I’m not that self-confident now and I have a TV show! But of all the wonderful things Mo’ne Davis did this week, this is my favorite. . . . ”

Right after her historic 4-0 shutout of Tennessee on Friday, ESPN’s Jaymee Sire asked Davis whether it was hard to handle all the sudden media attention.

“Not really,” Davis said, all old-trouper equanimity. “I can always say no, so that’s like my special weapon for the media.”

Oliver went bonkers over these wise words:

“Mo’ne Davis is incredible. Saying no to dumb questions from the media is a special weapon everyone should use.

“Who are you wearing?” No.

“What do you think of the 2016 candid-” No.

“If you were a tree, what tree would you-” No! No! No! No! No!

Taney, first and foremost, is a local story, with folks watching Sunday night’s 7-6 victory over Pearland East of Texas on TVs throughout the area – and on a big screen at City Hall. Tracking on Twitter suggests it’s not nationwide quite yet. According to the tracking site Topsy.com, Twitter’s mentions of the term Taney have, as you might expect, spiked for Dragon victories over the last week, hitting 10,000 tweets a day (high, but not nation- or world-class) but once, in Sunday night’s stirring come-from-behind victory.

According to the site Trendsmap.com, in the Philadelphia region as of Monday afternoon, five of the leading six hashtags concerned Little League baseball: #Philly, #Davis, #Taneydragons, #Taney, #Taneybaseball, and #Mone. Other trenders included #Believeindragons and #Zion, the last for Zion Spearman, stalwart Taney batsman.

Perhaps most important: On Topsy’s sentiment score, which measures the association of terms with other positive or negative terms, Taney scores a sky-high 91. Former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel tweeted: “How about those Taney Dragons! I see you!” So did many other prominent locals, and they better had, or else.

But there’s national love now as well. There’s all that ink. And according to Trendinalia.com, Philadelphia tied with Los Angeles for the greatest number of area-related trending topics from Sunday to Monday. National boldfacers have joined in: Michelle Obama, TV boldfacers Ellen DeGeneres and Diane Sawyer, basketballer Kevin Durant, and tennis great Billie Jean King. And, yes, Kershaw.

Peterson sees a heartening message in this media story. At a time when, elsewhere in the country, race relations are still in turmoil, Davis “radically presents you with the promise of black life and a powerful indication of progress,” he says. “With her sense of herself as being able to do anything, and her capacity for greatness, it’s inspiring. What’s beautiful is you can see it in her words, the way she winds up, the way she moves on the baseball field. I’m trying to figure out a way to get my family and me out to Williamsport for Wednesday’s game.”

The most beautiful sports moment I’ve ever seen

The shittier the news gets, the more I love baseball. I watched another great game in the Little League World Series last night: Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West vs. Rhode Island’s Cumberland Americans. Cumberland battled JRW’s batting powerhouse until the final out, but couldn’t pull out the winning run.

What was really amazing was the speech coach Dave Belisle gave to his boys after the loss:

After losing to Jackie Robinson West 8-7, Dave Belisle gathered his Cumberland American team from Rhode Island to let them know that even though they lost, it’s not a reason to be upset or disappointed.

As most of the kids in the huddle cried, Belisle made them all lift their heads and look him in the eye as he told them to be proud because they had their hometown “jumpin’, the whole state jumpin’, you had New England jumpin’, you had ESPN jumpin’.” He also told them the only reason he would cry after this run is because he won’t be coaching them.

Aww. ESPN was smart enough to leave the camera on for the entire speech, and all I could think about was all the damaged men I know whose dads weren’t there for them. I know we still have such men, because they were all on Twitter during this speech, calling him “soft” and “an example of the pussification of sports.”

But there were also guys on Twitter who said they played hockey for Coach Belisle’s many state championship teams, and they responded by calling him “a coach I’d run through brick walls for.”

If you coach sports (or if you’re a parent), here’s the whole speech. Memorize it, and when your kids fail, use it. You could do worse.

Volcano in Iceland might erupt soon

It had to be better in the old days when you had no idea what was coming:

A hard-to-pronounce volcano in the middle of Iceland is showing signs that it could erupt soon, and to add insult to injury, the volcano sits beneath a glacier which could itself explode if and when it comes in contact with magma.

The stratovolcano, called Bárðarbunga (pronounced similar to “ba-thar-bunga”), sits beneath the largest glacier on Iceland according to Ben Orlove over at GlacierHub. Recent earthquake activity in and around the volcano is growing in frequency and occurring closer to the surface, suggesting that Bárðarbunga may soon erupt.

If you don’t vote, they don’t care

Citizens are always far too slow to make the connection between their lack of participation in the political system and their likely oppression by said system. Politicians respond to constituents! I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a full-court press now to get Ferguson residents registered. Now if they just turn out and vote, they can make real change in their community. If I could wave my magic wand and do one thing, it would be to make voting mandatory:

Black political leaders in the area say it’s not surprising that Ferguson’s government isn’t responsive to their community’s concerns, because blacks across St. Louis County simply haven’t turned out to vote in large numbers, or run candidates for office.

No one collects data on turnout by race in municipal elections. But the overall turnout numbers for Ferguson’s mayoral and city council election are discouraging. This year, just 12.3% of eligible voters cast a ballot, according to numbers provided by the county. In 2013 and 2012, those figures were even lower: 11.7% and 8.9% respectively. As a rule, the lower the turnout, the more the electorate skews white and conservative.

“I think there is a huge distrust in the system,” said Broadnax, a Ferguson native. Many blacks think: “Well it’s not going to matter anyway, so my one vote doesn’t count,” she said. “Well, if you get an entire community to individually feel that way, collectively we’ve already lost.”

Ferguson’s election system may also be a factor. For council elections, the city has three districts, or wards, and each ward elects two members each. That means it’s edging toward an “at-large” voting system, in which there are no districts at all, and all candidates face the whole electorate. Numerous jurisdictions around the country have used such systems to reduce minority representation, since it makes it harder for numerical minorities to elect their preferred candidates.

[…] It doesn’t help that Missouri’s city council and school board elections are held in April, rather than in November when they would coincide with state or federal contests. That arrangement leads to lower turnout across the board, but especially among racial minorities. Some southern cities have been accused of deliberately moving their municipal elections to the spring or summer in order to reduce black turnout.

[…] But State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, whose district includes Ferguson and who has been involved in the protests, said she thinks the anger over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown will translate into increased political engagement among the region’s blacks.

“I think this issue is changing the game completely,” said Chappelle-Nadal. “People are upset.”

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