Like the rest of the world, I’ve been utterly fascinated at the technological prospects and societal implications of 3D printing for the past few years. I’ve had plenty of opportunity to explore the space for other outlets, but have been looking for the right way to approach it by way of the RiYL format. When 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental swung by the city to address the Inside 3D Printing conference in Manhattan, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The company has been at the forefront of the space since 1986, when co-founder Chuck Hull invented the process of stereolithography, which gave rise to the world of industrial additive manufacturing. The company’s been a player on the business side since then and has also spent the last several years developing a consumer facing arm for the quickly growing world of desktop 3D printing.
There’s a lot of ground to cover here, of course, but I think we make a valiant effort, tackling the the viability of consumer technology, the on-going patent wars and the recent controversies surrounding 3D printed weapons.
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Oh, and as we approach episode 50, I’m asking listeners to let me know which RiYL episodes have been their favorite, thus far. Please send any feedback to email@example.com
My knowledge of sabermetrics is elementary, at best. I know that it’s utterly transformed baseball analysis and helped get a lot of plush clubhouse jobs for an army of number crunching math geeks. I know that it involves a close examination of traditionally undervalued statistics like on-base percentage and foul balls. I know it’s caused writers and managers to rethink the amount of emphasis put on traditionally overvalued indicators like batting averages and strikeouts.
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Like most the rest of the world, the majority of my knowledge on the subject begins and ends with Michael Lewis’s 2003 sports writing masterpiece, Moneyball. Since the book was released, sabermetrics’ influence on the sport has continued to grow, affecting both back room analysis and on-field play. It’s also helped to redefine baseball journalism, most prominently in the work of Baseball Prospectus.
The site has roots reaching back to the mid-90s, in the form of an annual still released each year ahead of the new season. Commonly regarded as a sort of spiritual successor to Bill James’s pioneering publication, Baseball Abstract, BP has maintained a cutting edge analysis of the games widely read by fans and management alike.
The site’s editor in chief Ben Lindbergh sat down with me the week prior to opening day in a Manhattan cafe blaring the hits of the 90s to discuss how a group of statistic geeks have transformed our national pastime.
I first encountered Shlomo Lipetz backstage at the City Winery. The 6’4 mustachioed gentleman is a tasked with booking acts the restaurant/venue, a job that lets him interact with the likes of Nick Lowe, Glenn Tilbrook and an impressive roster of well-known musicians who’ve played the intimate sit-down setting. It’s a job that only promises to grow more hectic with the recent openings of satellite venues in Chicago, California and Nashville.
A cool job by any measure, but it’s Lipetz’s afterwork passion that made me want to sit down with him in front of a pair of mics. A few times a year, he returns to his native Israel, where he dons a hat and glove to play the part of the country’s greatest native baseball player. “How many people can say they’re the best at anything?” I ask. Lipetz waves the question away modestly, pointing out that, in the country of eight million, fewer than 2,000 people actually play the sport.
The sport’s history in the country is just as anaemic. In 1986, when Lipetz first learned of the game by way of a Mets game on a trip to visit relatives in the States, the country had a single decent ball field, albeit one entirely lacking in a pitcher’s mound — an essential element for the position Lipetz would later adopt.
Returning to home after the visit to New York, Lipetz cobbled together a team using classmates who were, at best, vaguely familiar with the sport. The pitcher describes his early days with a certain fondness, games played in sweats with mismatched jerseys and adult softball mitts on repurposed soccer fields.
The early losses were, naturally, brutal, with the team scoring its first run in its second year of tournament play. By 18, however, Lipetz’s ball playing skills were strong enough to earn him a military deferment and to land him a gig playing the sport at a school in Southern California.
Lipetz and I sat down at City Winery during a Bob Mould soundcheck to discuss the state of the growing sport in his homeland.
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Hospitality lived up to their name, for the record, when I paid a visit to their Red Hook apartment. A day after the release of their second record, Trouble, things were decidedly low key in the apartment shared by vocalist Amber Papini and percussionist Nathan Mitchel. When I arrived, there was no indication that the band had only just released a new record, only food on the stove and some quiet before the touring storm.
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We exchanged some words about Glenn Gould and Keith Jarrett, both in-studio hummers, as I untangle a mess of cables. I off-handedly make a comment about a copy of Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung sitting nearby with a bookmark nestled halfway through. Mitchel answers that he’s attempting to get into the mind of a critic in the wake of the album’s release. “You’re not a critic, are you?” He asks. I’m not sure how to answer.
I enjoyed the conversation, though I did feel myself falling back on stock music journalist questions, from time to time, as Papini and Mitchel passed the mic back and forth. It wasn’t so much out of habit as a genuine interest in the goings-on of a band the week of their sophomore release. By outward appearances, things appear mostly the same in their lives, but the buzz generated by the release of the band’s self-titled debut in 2012 has certainly amped up expectations for the record’s followup.
“It’s impossible for me to tell a story from Point A to Point B,” Rodney Anonymous explains off-handedly, toward the top of our interview. “I take a lot of detours.” You’ll figure that out soon enough, of course. The Dead Milkman’s mind and mouth move just about as quickly as you’d expect from the guy who wrote “Stuart.” Thirty years after forming the band, the frontman has yet to slow down, even in the face of the compressed disc he severely aggravated leaping off a stack of amps at a recent show.
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His taste in music has also refused to stay still (off-handedly jabbing his bandmates for their love of Wilco), with an outright refusal to listening to anything old, save, perhaps for the occasional Clash song. No one’s made of stone, after all. With that in mind, I probably should have seen it coming when he suggested we mean at a spot just off of Philadelphia’s South Street called Digitalferret.
The store is, it seems, the city’s foremost goth and industrial music store. When I arrive at around 9 on a Saturday night, the back half of the store is monopolized by a crowded table just settling in to a round of Magic the Gathering. Several employees kindly ask if they can help me when it’s pretty clear I’m not there for the card game. I spot Rodney rifling through a row of records. The scene’s proven a major influence on his more recent work, like Burn Witch Burn and 25 Cromwell Street — an despite the fact that he openly admits he’s in the place frequently, there’s always more to be found.
The shopping can wait, however. We pick up and head off to a tea place just around the corner, to talk about losing a friend and bandmate, Ronald Reagan and the miserable final years of the Milkmen’s first incarnation.