Wandering Eye: A database of killings by police, going to music festivals sober, and more

Here is an intriguing piece in Yahoo Health (via Reuters) about the movement to ban breath-holding exercises in public swimming pools. Every boy or girl does this: three or four deep breaths then try to swim to the other side underwater (when I was 13 or so, I got so I could do a full lap and a half—three crossings—of my neighbor's pool). Turns out it's a deadly hazard, and now May 31 is "Shallow Water Blackout Prevention Day." The Navy has long known about "shallow water blackout," in which the diver runs out of oxygen before his brain knows it, then faints under water and drowns. But only now are lifeguards hearing about it. This PSA with swimming god Michael Phelps came out a few months ago. "Because the swimmer has a low oxygen level at the time of the fainting, brain damage occurs within a couple of minutes, and death is very likely," Dr. Alan Lake warns. Strong swimmers die of this every year or so—including Lewis Lowenthal, a high school swimmer who died at the North Baltimore Acquatic Club in 2012 as Phelps and teammates were taking their Olympic victory lap. So breath-holding and underwater distance-swimming contests are out. (Edward Ericson Jr.)


The other day in The Washington Post, music critic Chris Richards (a friend of mine) wondered what music festivals really mean in 2015, lamenting that attendees are more concerned with selfies and that the music—the supposed attraction—is really background music. Today, the New York Times kinda-sorta offers a different perspective: a profile of people who go to huge festivals completely sober. No booze, no drugs. Nothing. This is not so much an ethical stance; many of the people who, for example, go to Bonaroo sober (a group known as Soberoo) are recovering from battles with addiction. You might be surprised to learn the sober music movement started with the Grateful Dead and now extends to EDM. As one festival-goer, a former alcoholic, told the Times, "Now I actually remember what I'm seeing." Though it's not explicitly said in the Times piece, we gather these people still go to music festivals because they do indeed love the music. (Brandon Weigel)


Obviously there's been a lot of talk, nationally and locally, about police brutality and police officers causing deaths. But it's been difficult to track the issue in a quantitative way because there is no federal database that collects data on how often police kill civilians, let alone what demographics tend to be most affected by police brutality. But The Guardian has used public records, local news reports, and Guardian reporting to pull together an impressive database of the people that have been killed by police in the United States in 2015. By The Guardian's count, 464 people have been killed so far this year, 102 of whom were not carrying weapons. And adding quantitative data to back up what protesters and activists have said for years now: Police disproportionately kill minorities, and unarmed black people in particular are twice as likely to be killed by police as unarmed white people. (Anna Walsh)

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