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Why a Tie Goes to the Runner: Lessons from Contract Law and the Insurance Industry

Christopher Cocca

Simply put, the Runner is outnumbered.  Cut the Runner a break.

Let’s put a finer point on it.  In contract law, the law of adhesion states that when one party sets all parameters of a given contract with no chance for negotiation, the second party always wins any arbitration having to do with vague language or questions left open to interpretation. The first party must adhere to terms expressly spelled out in the contract.

The Pitcher and the Defense are the first party in our baseball scenario.  The terms of each half-inning (the contract) are clearly in favor of the first party, which is why we get excited when the Batter, the second party in this case, hits safely a mere one third of the time.  Just as a second party comes to a contract at a disadvantage when, say, buying insurance, so to the Batter steps into the box knowing he or she is outnumbered 9 to 1 and that the odds of hitting safely are historically slim (see also the law of large numbers).  Applying the law of adhesion requires that in the case of a Batter/Runner reaching a given base and the ball reaching that same base via delivery from one Defensive Player to another (assuming the second Defensive Player is touching the base in question) at the same time, the judgement ought to go to the Batter/Runner as the party with less ability to negotiate more favorable terms.

Like the law of adhesion, the law of utmost good faith (all parties to a contract are assumed to be honest) is only applicable in baseball in certain situations.  PEDs are banned, as are certain pitches, substances, and practices.  But a catcher trying to deceive an umpire after a pitch that misses, an outfielder taking credit for catching a fly ball when he/she really only trapped it, or any number of other instances of gamesmanship are not only permitted, but also widely lauded.  Gamesmanship is an integral part of the psychology and cerebral appeal of baseball. It’s why traditional fans want nothing to do with expanded instant replay.

Applying the law of adhesion to apparent ties is likely the best and only way to resolve MLB’s vexing (or, if you’re like me, charming) lack of clarity on the issue.



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Marvel Reveals the Scoop on Secret Wars and What it Means for the Marvel Universe. Goodbye 616 & Ultimate U.

Christopher Cocca:

Given what DC has been doing with Multiversity and the upcoming Convergence arc, this feels a little “us too.” Actually, given what DC’s been doing since the JSA met the JLA and “The Flash of Two Worlds” in 1961.

Originally posted on Graphic Policy:

SW Map.jpgIn a live stream today, SVP, Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso dropped a bomb as to what we can expect for Secret Wars. In a live steam they gave the scoop as to what we can expect after this big event. In the event, various Marvel universe’s collide together until one single Marvel universe exists.

In the lead up storyline running through New Avengers and Avengers, dubbed “Times Run Out,” various Earth’s have been encroaching on each other called incursions. A secret cabal of heroes have been dealing with this at times crossing the line between hero and villain, but a point reaches where this is no longer works. All of the Marvel multiverse will come together in what’s called “Battleworld” where the surviving pieces of the Marvel universe will battle it out and set up what the new Marvel universe will be, welcome…

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Titles Leaving Netflix in February

All the questionable Batman entries in the lineage of Tim Burton’s original masterpiece.

TMNT 1990.

Jem and the Holograms seasons 1- 3.

What’s coming?

Freakin’ MASH.

Boomer much, Netflix? Booo.

Once you’re a Jem Girl, you’re never the same.


Here’s the big ole list.


Why Can’t Jedi Fly?

flySo, I was thinking about the Marvel Universe last night and how cool it is that the Ultimate Marvel Universe version of Nick Fury is the canonical version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  That’s like the geekiest sentence I’ve ever written, and certainly the most multiversal.  Then I thought about how Sam Jackson is also Mace Windu, and how Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars and so on.  And then I thought about how Windu was dispatched in Revenge of the Sith, the Defenestration of Coruscant, so to speak.

And then I really started to wonder why Jedi can’t fly.  They can use The Force to jump tall buildings like pre-flight Superman.  Some have used it to levitate.  Yoda used it to jump all over the place in Attack of the Clones.   But why can’t a Jedi with sufficient training and control use The Force to fly? It may not have helped Windu in any case, given that he was probably knocked out.  But we could get all kinds of creative and assume that a highly developed subconscience would perceive the peril and wield The Force accordingly.  That may sound far-fetched, but we’re talking about fiction.  If the franchise wants to bring Windu back, they could enact some version of him surviving in this way with partial amnesia or as Mace “Ben” Windu somewhere west of Tatooine.

There are no shortage of fan theories:  flying would take too much concentration, for example. But where there’s a Journal of the Whills, there’s a way.

Martin Luther King in 1968: Eradicate Poverty and Homelessness, Whatever the Cost

The Poor People’s Campaign was conceived to create the political pressure required to enact the types of economic changes that Dr. King and his advisers believed were necessary. “It didn’t cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters,” King said during a February 1968 trip to Mississippi, “…but now we are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation spending billions of dollars and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.” The same month, he announced to reporters demands for a $30 billion annual investment in antipoverty measures, a government commitment to full employment, enactment of a guaranteed income and funding for the construction of 500,000 affordable housing units per year.

Read the rest here, via The Nation.

More on the Poor People’s Campaign here.

Occupy DC 1.0:  I was never, ever taught about the economic aspects of King’s vision in school.  Nothing about the Poor People’s Campaign, carried out after King’s death, or Resurrection City, the PPC’s Washington, DC shantytown.  Were you?  While the occupation and the PPC were criticized for not having concrete goals toward economic justice, Dr. King himself had very clear demands. Mark Engler notes:

One of King’s most sustained pieces of economic reflection appeared in his 1967 book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? The work provides an important window into King’s thinking at the end of his life.

In the book, King articulated a Keynesian, demand-side critique of the American marketplace. He argued, “We have so energetically mastered production that we now must give attention to distribution.” Unless working Americans and the poor were able to obtain good jobs and increase their purchasing power–their ability to pump money back into the economy–it would be sapped of its dynamism. “We must create full employment or we must create incomes,” King wrote. “People must be made consumers by one method or the other.”

King criticized Johnson’s War on Poverty for being too piecemeal. While housing programs, job training and family counseling were not themselves unsound, he wrote that “all have a fatal disadvantage. The programs have never proceeded on a coordinated basis…. At no time has a total, coordinated and fully adequate program been conceived.”

Rather than continuing with “fragmentary and spasmodic reforms,” King advocated that the government provide full employment. “We need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted,” he wrote. “New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available.”

We’re still doing it piecemeal. Perhaps more important than honoring Dr. King with a national day of service would be honoring him and continuing his work with a national day of protest.  A national week or month or decade.  Imagine what he would have achieved, imagine where we’d be on the long arc bending finally towards justice, had King survived into the present.  Racial justice and non-violence weren’t the only things he was right about, they’re just easiest parts of his witness to praise in mixed political company. As a nation, we’ve forgotten that King knew what rising generations are only now beginning to intuit. How long must King sing the song of 1968, how long from the grave, before we see and realize the fullness of his vision?


Required Reading: “Hope Is a Tattered Flag” by Carl Sandburg


Hope is a tattered flag and a dream of time.
Hope is a heartspun word, the rainbow, the shadblow in white
The evening star inviolable over the coal mines,
The shimmer of northern lights across a bitter winter night,
The blue hills beyond the smoke of the steel works,
The birds who go on singing to their mates in peace, war, peace,
The ten-cent crocus bulb blooming in a used-car salesroom,
The horseshoe over the door, the luckpiece in the pocket,
The kiss and the comforting laugh and resolve—
Hope is an echo, hope ties itself yonder, yonder.
The spring grass showing itself where least expected,
The rolling fluff of white clouds on a changeable sky,
The broadcast of strings from Japan, bells from Moscow,
Of the voice of the prime minister of Sweden carried
Across the sea in behalf of a world family of nations
And children singing chorals of the Christ child
And Bach being broadcast from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
And tall skyscrapers practically empty of tenants
And the hands of strong men groping for handholds
And the Salvation Army singing God loves us….

Carl Sandburg
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Why Do We Dream?

Hope is a tattered flag and a dream of time,” wrote Carl Sandburg.  We delight in, struggle with, are comforted, haunted, challenged, or vexed by these sometimes sweeping, sometimes simple arcs. Dreams are fleeting tapestries of memories, fears, hopes, doubts, unresolved problems, traumatic events, desires, things we could have should have would have done or said.  Why do we have them?  Where do they come from, really?  How is it even possible that our brains construct them in the first place?

Science doesn’t really know.  Researchers have linked the phenomenon of dreaming to memory-making, problem-solving, and the processing of information and emotion.  Renee Descartes, the 17th-century French philosopher famous for formulating the maxim cogito ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”), warned that dreams prove the fundamental duplicity of our senses.  Lucid dreams (dreams in which we know we are dreaming) are rare, prompting Descartes to note that to a dreamer in the act of dreaming, the dreamed reality is experienced as reality.  Our senses are unable to properly distinguish the dream-time simulation from real-world experience.  Consider this an early formulation of the sensory anxieties inherent to various brain-in-a-vat scenarios or the Matrix films.

Can't_readMany people believe that left-brain functions, such as reading, are impossible while dreaming.  This concept was a key plot point in a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series in which Bruce Wayne realizes he’s captured in an induced, idyllic dream (his parents are alive) when he repeatedly tries and fails to read newspapers and books.  This episode is so well-remembered that Google assumes you want to add “batman” to  the search phrase “can you read in dreams” (which of course you do).  Batman makes everything better, but it’s not as clear whether the no-reading meme is true.  Lots of people say they’ve read in dreams, but because that makes Batman a liar (more likely, they are lying, because Batman), I have my doubts.

Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA, held that dreams were essential to problem-solving, allowing the otherwise resting mind to sort through millions of inputs and establish patterns.  Crick’s research partner, James Watson, famously claims to have realized the double-helix structure after dreaming of a spiral staircase in the thick of their research.  Descartes himself claimed to created what become the basis of Western material philosophy, the scientific method, in a dream.

Although we still don’t really know for certain why we dream, scientific consensus seems to be with Crick.  Minus the inventory of mental needs that comprise our waking hours, in sleep, our minds are free to fire different neural paths and establish intellectual, emotional, and other connections we’re often kept from making otherwise.  In fact, with apologies to Fiona Apple, problem-solving isn’t just the reason for dreams, but for the very act of sleeping.

We sleep, it seems, to dream, and we dream to make sense of life, to better understand and experience our world, ourselves, and our relationship to everything between.  Here the spiritual experience of dreams as visions or prophetic words are not at odds with the likes of Descartes or Crick, and certainly not with Sandburg.  We are vessels of knowledge, hope, and time seeking understanding, clarity of purpose.  We seek better patterns, fairer systems, and, sometimes, we find them.





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Preview: Star Trek #40

Christopher Cocca:

Read the first 7 pages, complete with glowing-90s-superhero-eyes!

Originally posted on Graphic Policy:

Star Trek #40

Mike Johnson (w) • Tony Shasteen (a & c)

It’s the epic finale of “The Q Gambit”! The fate of the past, present and future are at stake as Kirk, Sisko and Spock face off with the mad Cardassian Dukat… and discover the secret behind Q’s machinations in their timeline! Don’t miss this climactic chapter in the STAR TREK event of 2014, produced in association with TREK writer/producer Roberto Orci!

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

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William H. Gates III reacts

5 Powerful People You Didn’t Know Were Related to Bill Gates

Chances are good that they’re related to you, too, because of how descent works.  Here are five famous folks who share a common cousin in the Microsoft founder and world-renowned philanthropist.

1.  Diana Spencer, more famously known as Princess Diana.  She’s related to Bill Gates through common ancestors Caleb Fobes and Sara Gager, Gates’ Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandparents and Diana’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents, making Bill and Diana 7th cousins, twice removed.

2, 3, and 4. George W. Bush.  Gates’ 7th Great Grandparents, Nathaniel House and Hannah Davenport, are also the 7th Great Grandparents of the 43rd President of the United States, making Gates and Bush 8th cousins.  Bush’s siblings, including presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, are also 8th cousins of Gates, and George H.W. Bush, the 41st president, is Gates’ 7th cousin, once removed.

5. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Gates’ 8th Great Grandparents are also FDR’s 6th Great Grandparents, making Gates and Roosevelt 7th cousins, twice removed.

Bonus Cousins:  Gates is also related to John Kerry and Richard Nixon.  Use this ancestry list and this cousin chart to see how.

William H. Gates III reacts


The Bill Gates You Don’t Know

It’s true that you can now play Oregon Trail for free, in DOS, via the Internet Archive.  It’s also true that before there was a Bill Gates who founded Microsoft, there was Swiftwater Bill Gates of the Klondike Gold Rush, no relation.  Microsoft Bill Gates’ grandfather, also named William Gates, was also a prospector active in the same time and place as Swiftwater, which just goes to show that history wants what history wants.  Read the life story of the other famous Bill Gates, written by his mother-in-law, here.  I bet he would have liked one of those waste-to-water machines.

Click here to see how Mr. Gates is related to Princess Di, the Bushes, FDR, and Richard Nixon.