Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Alt Tour (de France)


From Axios Sports:

Lachlan Morton, an Australian adventure racer, is attempting to ride the Tour de France alone, supported only by what he can carry with him.

Driving the news: The Tour de France peloton set off from Brittany on Saturday. Morton rolled away from the same line an hour later and will attempt to complete his "Alt Tour" in parallel with the official race.

Track his progress.

Details: While Tour competitors recover in luxury hotels and ride buses between stages, Morton will sleep on the ground and pedal between stages, making his route over 60% longer (3,424 miles vs. 2,102 miles).

  • The goal is to beat the peloton to Paris, which will require Morton to race roughly 12 hours per day and occasionally at night.
  • He aims to sleep in his sleeping bag for at least eight hours a night and will stop at cafés and gas stations for food and water.

What he's saying: Morton is hoping to capture the original spirit of the Tour, in which riders raced through the night, slept outside, ate where they could, and rarely even finished.

"There's a part of me that thinks I would have been a lot better suited to that era," Morton told WSJ (subscription). "It wasn't necessarily a profession to them. It was just ... a chance to do something epic."

Morton came up along the traditional path of development teams, but he quickly grew tired of the monotony of elite-level racing. "Of all the cycling you can do, it's the closest to a desk job," he said.

The big picture: Morton has essentially spent his life preparing for this moment, having undertaken numerous extreme solo challenges over the years, including a 44-hour race through Spain with no sleep.

Yes, but: Nothing compares to the Alt Tour, which will take over three weeks. Even Morton acknowledges, "I'm not even sure if it's possible."

LEGO Typewriter


CNN – "LEGO gets nostalgic with 2,000-piece classic typewriter -- complete with moving keys and carriage"

NFL to Allow Throwback Helmets in 2022


(Photos via @PFF)

Foundation Trailer

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Mandalorian's Place in Star Wars


The Atlantic – "A New Hope for Star Wars"

By Spencer Kornhaber (in the July/August 2021 Print Issue)

"The Star Wars franchise offers action and escapism, but re-enchanting our own world was always its greatest trick. As Luke Skywalker rises from backwater farmhand to galactic savior over the course of the first three films, audiences gain a visceral sense of why the galaxy he lives in is worth saving. Debris-strewn sets convey that exotic planets have history and commerce. Silly-looking critters and robots carry themselves with dignity and purpose. A supernatural "Force" hums throughout the interstellar menagerie. Viewers come to feel a humanistic, or even animistic, connection. Star Wars immerses you in the awesome knowledge that peripheral things - the neighbors you don't understand, the buildings you don't notice - have their own sagas.


When Star Wars is bad, its galaxy feels like a thing on a screen - not a place you can go.

The world of The Mandalorian, thankfully, is sturdy, like well-worn concrete. The hero flies in a rickety spaceship modeled on a '70s warplane. Baby Yoda's twitching puppet ears convey the expressive range of actual toddlers. Most important, the showrunner, Jon Favreau, has absorbed the take-your-time, exploratory ethos of Lucas's first trilogy. One early episode spends 10 dialogue-free minutes following the Mandalorian as he tries to survive on an arid planet. Two episodes later, the Mandalorian arrives in a forested village where locals harvest bioluminescent krill from ponds. He doesn't just save the village from a hostile tribe's attacks. He moves in to live the Star Wars simple life for a few weeks.


To cheer for a Hollywood product that emphasizes look and feel rather than story and character may sound superifcial. But in life, aesthetics are not incidental. The dents on a vehicle tell a story. So does the glint in a stranger's eyes. Tidy plots are scarce, and populations do not readily divide into Chosen Ones and Unchosen Ones. Star Wars has proved that mass entertainment can wake us up to such realities. My favorite of the many arcs in The Mandalorian involves a froglike creature carrying her unhatched eggs to another planet. Because the alien doesn't speak his language, the Mandalorian treats her coldly - until she commandeers a droid's translation system and delivers a desparate plea for help. Watching that scene jangled my empathy so much that I began to look even at subway rats with a sense of wonder. They are characters in this galaxy too.

Summer Movie Trailers

Space Jam: A New Legacy Trailer (April 2021)

2020 (2021) U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team


PG Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)

SG Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
SG Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
SF Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
C Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)

CBS Sports – "Team USA roster tracker: Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal among stars committed to play in Tokyo Olympics"

2016 U.S. Men's Gold-Medal-Winning Olympic Basketball Team

PG Kyle Lowry
PG Kyrie Irving
SG Klay Thompson
SG Jimmy Butler
SG DeMar DeRozan
SF Kevin Durant
SF Paul George
SF Carmelo Anthony
SF Harrison Barnes
C DeMarcus Cousins
C Draymond Green
C DeAndre Jordan

PG Chris Paul
PG Russell Westbrook
PG Deron Williams
SG Kobe Bryant
SG James Harden
SF LeBron James
SF Kevin Durant
SF Carmelo Anthony
SF Andre Iguodala
PF Kevin Love
C Anthony Davis
C Tyson Chandler

PG Jason Kidd
PG Chris Paul
PG Deron Williams
SG Kobe Bryant
SG Dwyane Wade
SG Michael Redd
SF LeBron James
SF Carmelo Anthony
SF Tayshaun Prince
PF Carlos Boozer
PF Chris Bosh
C Dwight Howard

PG Allen Iverson
PG Stephon Marbury
SG Dwyane Wade
SF LeBron James
SF Carmelo Anthony
SF Shawn Marion
SF Richard Jefferson
PF Tim Duncan
PF Carlos Boozer
PF Lamar Odom
C Amar'e Stoudemire
C Emeka Okafor

PG Gary Payton
PG Jason Kidd
SG Ray Allen
SG Vince Carter
SG Tim Hardaway
SG Allan Houston
SG Steve Smith
SF Shareef Abdur-Rahim
PF Kevin Garnett
PF Antonio McDyess
PF Vin Baker
C Alonzo Mourning

PG Anfernee (Penny) Hardaway
PG Gary Payton
PG John Stockton
SG Reggie Miller
SG Mitch Richmond
SF Scottie Pippen
SF Grant Hill
PF Karl Malone
PF Charles Barkley
C Shaquille O'Neal
C Hakeem Olajuwon
C David Robinson

PG Magic Johnson
PG John Stockton
SG Michael Jordan
SG Clyde Drexler
SF Larry Bird
SF Scottie Pippen
SF Chris Mullin
PF Charles Barkley
PF Karl Malone
PF Christian Laettner
C Patrick Ewing
C David Robinson

"Kodak was arguably the greatest of the great American companies"


The Atlantic – "The Rise and Fall of an American Tech Giant"

Future World Sporting Events

2020 (2021) Tokyo Summer Olympics
2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
2022 Qatar FIFA Men's World Cup
2024 Paris Summer Olympics
2026 Milan Cortina Winter Olympics
2026 Canada/Mexico/U.S. FIFA Men's World Cup
2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics

New York Times – "Saudi Arabia Mulls Bid for 2030 World Cup"

ESPN – "Brisbane set to be named host of 2032 Olympics next month"

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Change Washington State to Cascade


Seattle Times – "Take it away, D.C.: Let’s give our Washington a new name"

"Lest we think state names are sacrosanct, note that scholars still disagree on the origin of the made-up “Oregon.” Supposedly the name of “the great river of the West,” Oregon has been attributed to words vaguely connected to Spanish explorers, French fur traders, Midwestern Native Americans and even a tribe in Connecticut.

“Idaho” was simply invented by a deposed delegate from the future state of Colorado. George Willing falsely claimed it was an Indigenous word meaning “gem of the mountains.” When his own territory wouldn’t accept this flimflam and went with Colorado, the counterfeit was applied to the new panhandle territory."

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Southern Ocean


National Geographic – "There’s a new ocean now—can you name all 5?"

NPR – "Coming Soon To An Atlas Near You: A Fifth Ocean"

Pulitzer Awards Darnella Frazier Special Citation


Poynter.org – "Pulitzers award Darnella Frazier a special citation for recording the murder of George Floyd"
NY Mag – "Darnella Frazier, Who Filmed George Floyd’s Murder, Gets Pulitzer Nod"
Poynter.org – "Here are the winners of the 2021 Pulitzer Prizes"

Special Citation
Awarded to Darnella Frazier, for courageously recording the murder of George Floyd.

American Diet Over the Years


Raiders of the Lost Ark


New York Times – "Four Secrets About ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’"

"Eight months after introducing the world to Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Chewbacca, George Lucas invited Steven Spielberg and the screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan to his assistant’s home in Los Angeles to pitch a new name for adventure.

“Indiana Smith,” Lucas said. “Very Americana square.”

Sighed Spielberg, “I hate this, but go ahead.”

Over the next five days, according to a story conference transcript, the three concocted a swashbuckling archaeologist who fused Humphrey Bogart to James Bond. They gave Indy a bullwhip and a passport — and they tweaked his name.

“Jones,” Lucas conceded, “people can call him Jones.”

That brainstorming session, of course, led to “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary this month (and is streaming on Paramount+). Four decades later, the iconic hit has become the pivot point between cinema’s past and present. Indiana Jones’s narrow escapes from Nazis, boulders, blow darts, poisoned dates, speeding trucks and, of course, snakes, tip a fedora to the cliffhanger serials of the 1930s — the kiddie adventures that shaped his creators — even as they calibrated their nostalgia into a cross-promotional blockbuster that would define Hollywood’s future."

The Ringer – "The Pulp and Pleasure of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ 40 Years Later"

The Guardian – "Raiders of the Lost Ark at 40: Indiana Jones’s first adventure remains his greatest"

Steven Soderbergh on Raiders of the Lost Ark (October 2014)

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets


New York Times Magazine – "Kevin Durant and (Possibly) the Greatest Basketball Team of All Time"
By Sam Anderson

"The Nets’ Big 3 are almost comically different, physically and spiritually and stylistically. It’s like the opening screen of a video game in which you have to choose your character, each of whom comes with a different set of pros and cons. Do you want the tiny quicksilver thief (Kyrie Irving) or the burly crafty woodsman (James Harden) or the tall ethereal phantom (Kevin Durant)? Choose carefully — your survival depends on it. Somehow, Brooklyn figured out the cheat code that allows you to pick all three."


"But the Durant I met was not at all a brand ambassador. Instead he lowered himself, in slow motion, onto a long couch and asked, sincerely, “What do you want to talk about?” I said, only 20 percent joking, the meaning of life. This seemed to make him happy. We proceeded to sit there and talk for a very long time, sinking deeper and deeper into the couch, about his childhood and Chesapeake Bay and meditation and crabs and Twitter. The K.D. who hosted me that afternoon was relaxed and talkative and full of questions, both rhetorical and actual, and he seemed to have all the time in the world. It felt less like an interview than like a therapy session or a late-night dorm-room philosophy jag.

This was all classic Durant. In a sports world defined by tough-guy posturing and bulletproof messaging, he has always come off as something else: a thinker and a searcher and a wandering soul. In interviews, he will abandon the script of jock clichés and drop right into existential dread. “I go to sleep at night, like, ‘Am I going to be alone forever?’” he once told Zach Baron of GQ. And to Michael Lee of The Athletic: “I’ve been roaming my whole life. I never had no stable environment. Ever. Ever. Since I woke up.” Durant has spoken publicly about how important it is to cry. If Michael Jordan were a Dostoyevsky character, he would be Kevin Durant."


"Not surprisingly, then, Twitter has been the source of a couple of the major gaffes of Durant’s career. He once, excruciatingly, responded to a critic in the third person (“Kd can’t win a championship with those cats”) — thereby accidentally revealing that he was trying to defend himself, anonymously, from a fake account. (The Onion recently published an article called “Kevin Durant Spends All Day Feuding With Own Burner Account.”) More recently, Durant was caught up in a furor when Michael Rapaport, a professional loudmouth, exposed a series of inflammatory messages — including sexually explicit and homophobic language — that Durant had made to him, months earlier, as the two argued in the D.M.s. (The N.B.A. eventually fined Durant $50,000.)"
"What Durant understands, he explained, is that the people writing to him aren’t actually writing to him. Kevin Durant, to them, is just an abstraction, a guy on the TV, a figment of their imaginations. So what they are doing is projecting onto him the pain or hatred or longing that they actually feel about real things in their own lives. This is why he likes to write back. He wants to show them that he is an actual human, just like them, with his own fears and hatreds and longings. He wants to connect with them on that level. Even the angry ones, he believes, have good hearts. Hatred, he told me, is just another form of passion, and therefore a sign that you’re really alive."

Local Sushi


NY Mag – "The Future of Sushi?"
By Adam Platt

"Like most businesses in the city, the restaurant industry is filled, these days, with rumors of disruption and change. Will the tourists come back? (Probably.) Will the rents stay low? (Nope.) Will the business lunch ever return to fashion, not to mention the good old lunchtime salad, munched furtively in your messy cubicle? (Hmm.) Does Daniel Humm’s Twitter-shaking announcement that Eleven Madison Park is going to a meatless menu in the immediate post-pandemic future mean the death of haute cuisine as we know it? (Not likely.) Will the $30 all-beef gourmet burger endure during this urgent, newly reimagined era, never mind the fat-cat, expense-account-fueled New York steakhouse, and will the legions of Zoom-addled sushi bros return to their windowless ritualized omakase bunkers and start forking over thousands of dollars for shreds of endangered tuna ever again?

The big-city steakhouse is probably safe for now, but if you want a glimpse into what the disrupted future might look like for that other fat-cat expense-account destination, the sushi parlor, I suggest you book a seat at Rosella, which opened late last year in a comfortably stylish East Village space across from Tompkins Square Park. The sushi master in residence, Jeff Miller, went to college in Gainesville, Florida, and trained in Austin, Texas, instead of Tokyo, Osaka, or L.A., and most evenings you’ll find him preparing his artful nigiri menu wearing a Florida Gators cap on his head. Instead of a Japanese symbol or character, the restaurant is named after a breed of Australian parrot (Miller first fell in love with cooking in Australia), and unlike in many of the more traditional sushi joints around town, Brazilian funk plays over the sound system along with the occasional dulcet, bouncy song by the Clash.

But the biggest difference between Rosella and your average hushed, priestly pre-pandemic omakase destination is the sourcing of your meal. There are no esoteric shrimp from Hokkaido on the menu or delicate saori (needlefish) flown in directly from the chilly waters of Tokyo Bay. Most of the fish is local or curated from sustainable farms in Europe or around the U.S. The sushi rice, which is mingled with vinegar and sake in the traditional way and mixed in wooden tubs four times per day, is grown in California. The fat pearly shrimp come from the Gulf, the scallops are hoisted from the stormy seas off Montauk, and when Miller served me bigeye tuna one evening, he took pains to explain that tuna was out of season now but that his favorite supplier kept choice cuts in the back of the freezer to send to special clients. "

Saturday, June 5, 2021

The Brilliance of N'Golo Kanté


The Guardian – "N’Golo Kanté: the one-man midfield who conquered Europe for Chelsea"

"Kanté isn’t simply a tackler or a runner, he’s a mobile brain, an agent of cohesion. Most tellingly he’s human kryptonite to the false nine system that continues, 15 years on from its Pep-led renaissance, to baffle more rigid defensive structures."

New York Times – "N’Golo Kanté, Chelsea and Beating the System"

"Arsène Wenger was probably underselling it when he described N’Golo Kanté’s performance as “unbelievable.

”With metronomic, almost eerie regularity, City built attacks only to find out that at the key moment, Kanté was there, in just the right place to win a tackle, at just the right angle to block a pass, at just the right time to interrupt the plan. At time, it felt as if someone had passed Kanté a script. He did not wait for instruction from the side. He just went to where the danger was, and eliminated it.

Kanté was, in his own way, no less decisive here than Lionel Messi was in the 2009 and 2011 finals, or Cristiano Ronaldo was in 2014. The fact he is still pigeonholed as a holding midfielder means this will not be remembered as “the Kanté final,” but it would hardly be unwarranted.

But to focus exclusively on his destructive capabilities, formidable though they are, is to do Kanté a disservice. He was also, often, the one who led Chelsea’s counterattacks. He determined the shape of the midfield. His passing helped to destabilize City’s defense. For a few minutes in the first half, he did a passable impression of Frank Lampard, turning his hand to breaking into the City penalty area, timing his run late.

He did what great midfielders do, and shape-shifted as the flow of the game demanded. No wonder, as tends to happen with Kanté, a meme appeared at one point, detailing the great midfield threesomes of the recent past: Barcelona’s Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets; Real Madrid’s Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric; and Kanté, all by himself."

Americans Drinking Alone


The Atlantic – "America Has a Drinking Problem"