Thursday, December 30, 2021

R.I.P. John Madden


"In his irrepressible way, and with his distinctive voice, Madden left an imprint on the sport on par with titans like George Halas, Paul Brown and his coaching idol, Vince Lombardi. Madden’s influence, steeped in Everyman sensibilities and studded with wild gesticulations and paroxysms of onomatopoeia — wham! doink! whoosh! — made the N.F.L. more interesting, more relevant and more fun for over 40 years."


"Rising to prominence in an era of football commentating that hewed mostly toward a conservative, fairly straightforward approach, Madden’s accessible parsing of X’s and O’s added nuance and depth, and also a degree of sophistication that delighted an audience that in some cases tuned in just for him.

Fastidious in his preparation, Madden introduced what is now a standard exercise in the craft — observing practices, studying game film and interviewing coaches and players on Fridays and Saturdays. Come Sundays, he would distill that information into bursts of animated, cogent and often prescient analysis, diagraming plays with a Telestrator, an electronic stylus (whose scribbles and squiggles reflected its handler’s often rumpled appearance) that showed why which players went where."


Madden spent his first 15 years in broadcasting at CBS, starting in 1979. There he introduced his Thanksgiving tradition of bestowing a turducken — a turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken — to the winning team. But the three other major networks all came to employ him because, at one point or another, they all needed him.


At his core, though, Madden was a coach and by extension a teacher; as he proudly noted in interviews, he graduated with a master’s degree in physical education, a few credits short of a doctorate, from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. His unscripted manner translated as well in the Raiders’ locker room — where he guided a cast of self-styled outlaws and misfits to eight playoff appearances in 10 seasons as head coach — as it did in living rooms, man caves and bookstores.


As inclusive as he was beloved, Madden embodied a rare breed of sports personality. He could relate to the plumber in Pennsylvania or the custodian in Kentucky — or the cameramen on his broadcast crew — because he viewed himself, at bottom, as an ordinary guy who just happened to know a lot about football. Grounded by an incapacitating fear of flying, he met many of his fans while crisscrossing the country, first in Amtrak trains and then in his Madden Cruiser, a decked-out motor coach that was a rare luxurious concession for a man whose idea of a big night out, as detailed in his book “One Size Doesn’t Fit All” (1988), was wearing “a sweatsuit and sneakers to a real Mexican restaurant for nachos and a chile Colorado.”

New York Times - "John Madden, America’s Broadcasting Gourmand, Ate Football Up"

"Madden was light years better as a commentator and entertainer than the many analysts who preceded him; it seemed he was calling a different sport altogether. His predecessors in the booth were slower to parse a pass or run and rarely first-guessed plays as deftly as Madden did. The best analysts today — Cris Collinsworth (who replaced him on NBC), Tony Romo and Troy Aikman — aren’t nearly as engaging or amusing.

One benefit of Madden’s highly informed, unpolished, Everyman appeal was his ability to keep viewers watching, or awake, during a blowout. Much of that was Madden — he would have been peerless beside nearly any other play-by-play announcer. But his relationship with his broadcast partner, the terse ex-player Pat Summerall, was part of the magic. Summerall set Madden up like an expert straight man, Bud Abbott to Madden’s Lou Costello."

New York Times - "How John Madden Became the ‘Larger-Than-Life’ Face of a Gaming Empire"

"Because of the limits of computer processing power, Hawkins, who had founded the gaming company Electronic Arts two years earlier, floated the idea of a video game with seven-on-seven football, rather than the 11-on-11 version used in the N.F.L. Madden just stared at him, and said “that isn’t really football,” Hawkins recalled. He had to agree.

“If it was going to be me and going to be pro football, it had to have 22 guys on the screen,” Madden once told ESPN. “If we couldn’t have that, we couldn’t have a game.

The extra years spent developing a more realistic game, which was called John Madden Football and debuted in 1988 for the Apple II computer, paid off. Decades later, the Madden NFL series of video games continues to sell millions of copies annually, has helped turn E.A. into one of the world’s most prominent gaming companies and has left a lasting mark on football fandom and the N.F.L.”


From the start, he insisted on realism, instructing developers on details as exacting as how a defensive player should be tackling and which stances linemen should use during certain formations.

The early interaction on the train — Madden had a lifelong fear of flying — showed Hawkins that Madden, despite being affable and entertaining, treated the development process seriously.

“Whatever John says is the final word. He had that kind of presence and the ability to be the commander,” Hawkins said. “It didn’t matter that I was running my company, he’s still going to tell me what to do,” he added with a laugh.


Madden’s desire to make the game as accurate as possible came even as he realized the real sport he loved did not always match how other people made their own fun.

“I went crazy one time, in fact, when my son Joe and Michael Frank played,” Madden told Grantland in 2012. “They were on the bus, and the score was 98-96. Neither one of them ever punted. It would be like fourth-and-20, and they’d go for it. I was so pissed off. I said, ‘You’ve got to punt.’ And they never wanted to punt.”

Still, he hoped the video game would help everyday fans learn the intricacies of football plays and more fully enjoy the sport.

Madden peppered the game development process with teachable moments. Once, at Madden’s house, Hawkins teased Madden for never delivering a playbook with 150 plays that could be used in the game, as was required in his contract.

“He basically pulled a 1980 Raiders playbook off a shelf and handed it to me and said, ‘Here you go,’” Hawkins recalled. “‘Here’s the playbook, you go figure it out.’”

Nike Air Force 1


Nike - Air Force 1

A Classic Since 1982
Designed by Bruce Kilgore and introduced in 1982, the Air Force 1 was the first ever basketball shoe to feature Nike Air technology, revolutionizing the game and sneaker culture forever. Over three decades since its first release, the Air Force 1 remains true to its roots while earning its status as a fashion staple for seasons to come.

1982: A Legend is Born
The Nike Air Force 1 becomes the first basketball shoe to bring soft, springy Nike Air cushioning to the game.

1983: The “Original Six”
The high-top AF-1 is worn by Nike’s top NBA players of the era: Michael Cooper, Bobby Jones, Moses Malone, Calvin Natt, Mychal Thompsen and Jammal Wilkes.

1985: Re-Released
A trio of retailers in Baltimore re-introduce the AF-1 in royal blue and chocolate brown colorways, and all 3,000 pairs sell out almost as soon as they hit the shelves. No longer just for basketball, the sneaker takes the streets by storm.

1986–1991: “Shoe of the Month” Club
Select retailers began exploring the concept of releasing one-off Air Force 1 designs. Every release is a hit and immediately sells out. Sneaker culture grows from Baltimore along the entire East coast as fans seek out new drops.

Mid-90s–2000s: Sneaker Gold
Around events and holidays, Nike introduces limited, special and premium editions that turn the Air Force 1 into collector gold overnight. The sneaker is catching on faster than retailers can keep it on the shelves.

2000: Hip Hop’s Sneaker
Air Force 1’s popularity among globally influential rappers and artists propels it farther beyond sport and into culture. For the new millennium, Roc-a-Fella Records is presented with a timeless, white-on-white edition featuring the label’s embroidered logo.

2022 Food Trends


New York Times - "How Will Americans Eat in 2022? The Food Forecasters Speak."

Ingredient of the year: Mushrooms

Drink of the year: 1980's Cocktails

"Even in the age of no-alcohol cocktails, all those 1980s drinks you can barely remember (for obvious reasons) are coming back. Look for Blue Lagoons, Tequila Sunrises, Long Island iced tea and amaretto sours re-engineered with fresh juices, less sugar and better spirits."

Candy nostalgia

"Nostalgic childhood favorites from China (White Rabbit candy and haw flakes) and South Korea (the honeycomb-like treat ppopgi, a.k.a. dalgona candy, and Apollo straws) will work their way into American shopping carts and recipes for desserts and drinks."


"Mash-ups like “swicy” and “swalty” will join the linguistic mania that brought us unfortunate nicknames like char coot and Cae sal (charcuterie and Caesar salad, that is). The new phraseology reflects an even wider embrace of flavor fusions that marry savory spices and heat with sweetness. Nene, a South Korean-based fried chicken chain that is just starting to move into North America, has even named a sauce swicy. Its flavor profile mirrors what would happen if gochujang and ketchup had a baby."

Flavor of the year: Hibiscus

Yuzu has its fans, but the even money is on hibiscus, which is adding its crimson hue and tart, earthy flavor to everything from cocktails and sodas to crudos and yogurt.

A Focus on India

"With Covid limiting international travel in 2021, cooks in the United States explored regional American food. In 2022, regional foods from India will get a lot of attention, with deep dives into dishes from Gujarat, Kerala, Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and the Awadh area."

Sunday, December 26, 2021

January 6 Was Practice


The Atlantic - "Trump's Next Coup Has Already Begun"

"“The thing that got our attention first was the age,” Pape said. He had been studying violent political extremists in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East for decades. Consistently, around the world, they tended to be in their 20s and early 30s. Among the January 6 insurgents, the median age was 41.8. That was wildly atypical.

Then there were economic anomalies. Over the previous decade, one in four violent extremists arrested by the FBI had been unemployed. But only 7 percent of the January 6 insurgents were jobless, and more than half of the group had a white-collar job or owned their own business. There were doctors, architects, a Google field-operations specialist, the CEO of a marketing firm, a State Department official. “The last time America saw middle-class whites involved in violence was the expansion of the second KKK in the 1920s,” Pape told me.

Yet these insurgents were not, by and large, affiliated with known extremist groups. Several dozen did have connections with the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, or the Three Percenters militia, but a larger number—six out of every seven who were charged with crimes—had no ties like that at all.

Kathleen Belew, a University of Chicago historian and co-editor of A Field Guide to White Supremacy, says it is no surprise that extremist groups were in the minority. “January 6 wasn’t designed as a mass-casualty attack, but rather as a recruitment action” aimed at mobilizing the general population, she told me. “For radicalized Trump supporters … I think it was a protest event that became something bigger.”

Pape’s team mapped the insurgents by home county and ran statistical analyses looking for patterns that might help explain their behavior. The findings were counterintuitive. Counties won by Trump in the 2020 election were less likely than counties won by Biden to send an insurrectionist to the Capitol. The higher Trump’s share of votes in a county, in fact, the lower the probability that insurgents lived there. Why would that be? Likewise, the more rural the county, the fewer the insurgents. The researchers tried a hypothesis: Insurgents might be more likely to come from counties where white household income was dropping. Not so. Household income made no difference at all.

Only one meaningful correlation emerged. Other things being equal, insurgents were much more likely to come from a county where the white share of the population was in decline. For every one-point drop in a county’s percentage of non-Hispanic whites from 2015 to 2019, the likelihood of an insurgent hailing from that county increased by 25 percent. This was a strong link, and it held up in every state."

Niantic CEO John Hanke on AR/VR/Metaverse

WIRED - "‘AR Is Where the Real Metaverse Is Going to Happen’"

"Whereas you want people to actually experience daylight, albeit with a phone in their hands.

I really got into this idea of using digital tech to reinvigorate the idea of a public square, to bring people off the couch and out into an environment they can enjoy. There’s a lot of research that supports the positive psychological impact of walking through a park, walking through a forest—just walking. But now we live in a world where we have all this anxiety, amplified by Covid. There’s a lot of unhappiness. There’s a lot of anger. Some of it comes from not doing what our bodies want us to do—to be active and mobile. In our early experiments, we got a lot of feedback from people who were kind of couch potatoes that the game was causing them to walk more. They were saying, “Wow, this is amazing, I feel so much better. I’m physically better, but mentally I’m way more better. I broke out of my depression or met new people in the community.” We said, “Wow, like, this is good we can do in the world.”"

According to your manifesto, your mission is also to warn about the hype and danger of the full-on metaverse, which has gone from a science fiction concoction to the latest tech buzzword.

We’re at a fork in the road. The future that I am describing is the one that’s going to win. It’s one where computing stays with us, disappearing into the background and supporting what we’re doing. It is ubiquitous computing, which goes back to the early work at Xerox PARC. I feel like that vision of the future has gotten somehow lost tempor


In some cases, you want to make artificial objects persistent, bound to geographic locations available to everyone on your system who’s tuned to a given channel. I live near Astor Place in New York City, so if I had that system, I might be able to see a reenactment of the “Shakespeare Riot” that took place there in the 1800s. And someone I’m walking with, or maybe a whole crowd of people, would be looking at that same historical reenactment, even though, if we took the glasses off, it would be the same old street corner. Is that what you’re talking about?

Yeah, exactly. That’s a great poetic example. A less poetic one would be King Kong climbing up the Empire State Building, or the Ghostbusters vortex on top of that apartment building on Central Park West. You would be able to create that persistent reality. Everybody will be able to see it, and it’s kind of locked in place. With a reality channel, when you use all these tools, you can create with it too.

In your essay, you talk about how you might be walking around and the buildings might take on pastel hues and the people you see would be in costumes. To me that’s a weird thing and maybe even a scary thing. That doesn’t necessarily put you in touch with your world—it distorts the world.

If I asked you to imagine a Greek city, what do you imagine?

I’m thinking of buildings like the Parthenon. Like Greece in my history book.

All those buildings were painted with crazy, psychedelically bright colors—yellows, greens, and reds. We think of them now as these whitewashed buildings. We’ve always adorned our environment, our architecture, with embellishments. These reality channels can make the world more interesting in certain ways, just using bits instead of atoms. Instead of paint, it’s digital paint. It can be very localized, or maybe it’s something that is mapped across the entire world.

Die Hard as Christmas Movie


The Atlantic - "Is [REDACTED] a Christmas Movie?"

"No one ever imagines that their own dashed-off nothings are part of the same heap of dashed-off nothings that they may, at other times, refer to as “crushing” or “hellish” or “eroding my will to live.” And no one ever treats their own opinion about Die Hard as a Christmas movie as helping to sustain the powerful curse that is the conversation about Die Hard as a Christmas movie. Not even the person who started it all by accident.

After he’d done a Google search and seen the extent of the mess, Agger compared himself to a guy who tosses an apple core over his shoulder, then comes back to the same spot years later to find a full-grown tree. Minutes later, he emailed me to correct the metaphor: “I’m the guy who threw a cigarette out the window and accidentally burned down the forest!”"

NBA Considering In-Season Tournament


ESPN - "Renewed momentum for creation of in-season NBA tournament, sources said"

"There's renewed momentum for the creation of a future in-season NBA tournament among the league's 30 teams, sources told ESPN.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association have been discussing elements of the tournament, which could become part of the calendar as soon as the 2022-23 or 2023-24 season, sources said.

Negotiations have centered on an in-season tournament that would begin with pool play as part of the regular-season schedule prior to teams with the best records advancing to an eight-team, single-elimination tournament that would culminate prior to Christmas, sources said. The proposal also would shorten the regular season from 82 to 78 games, sources said.

The sides have discussed a purse of $1 million per player for the winning team, and the players could see more financial and competitive incentives before an agreement on the format, sources said. The NBA has been motivated with the prospects of lucrative television and sponsorship revenue that it is hopeful would deliver long-term financial growth."

Curry's Custom GOAT Jacket


From @NickDePaula: "Stephen Curry arrived tonight (12/20/21) in a custom “2974” varsity jacket by Trophy Hunting."

Steph Curry Breaks NBA Record with 2,974th Made 3 Pointer (Dec. 2021)
Lionel Messi the 🐐 (Jun. 2018)

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Leonard Cohen - "Hallelujah" (Live from London)

Most Popular Wikipedia Articles of 2021


Quartz - "The most popular Wikipedia article for every day in 2021"

Dave Itzkoff on Boba Fett


New York Times - "Boba Fett, Intergalactic Man of Mystery"

"He fuses all these genres — the crime movie, the western, the samurai, the medieval legend — into one iconic image,” said [Jonathan Kasdan] Kasdan [, a son of the “Empire Strikes Back” screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan]..."

All time best Nike sneaker?


Complex - "The 100 Best Nikes of All Time"

Footwear News - "The 16 Best Nike Shoes of All Time That You Can Shop Right Now"

Cultedge - "30 Best Nike Sneakers of All Time: Our List of Icons"

Nike to Retro LeBron 2 in 2022


Complex - "Nike LeBron 2 Retro Releasing in 2022"

"The LeBron 2 retro is slated to release early next September, per a Nike brand document viewed by Complex that details the company’s product plans for next year, but its release date could change given how many shoes have recently moved off their original dates. Neither James nor Nike have confirmed the return of the LeBron 2."

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Melting Aspen Gondola


Adweek - "Melted Gondola Car Stunt Created to Raise Awareness of Aspen Temperature Increase"

Steph Curry Breaks NBA Record with 2,974th Made 3 Pointer

New Yorker - "Steph Curry Redrew Basketball’s Map of Possibilities" 

Avatar 2 Heads to the Ocean


Entertainment Weekly - "James Cameron opens up about his long-awaited (and awaited) Avatar sequel"

"hat do you do after making the world's highest-grossing movie of all time, shattering the record you yourself had set more than a decade earlier? If you're James Cameron, you take a breath and then dive headfirst into the deep end — literally. After topping the box office with 2009's Avatar, his fantastic tropical saga of blue-skinned aliens and environmental messaging, the director vowed to return with not one but four planned sequels. He decided the first of these (in theaters Dec. 16, 2022) would be set primarily underwater, requiring years of technological research and months of training actors to hold their breath for lengths that would impress even a Navy SEAL.


But setting a story below sea level presents more than a few challenges. The innovative performance-capture process designed for the first Avatar wasn't intended to work underwater, so Cameron and his team had to engineer a way to accurately record the actors' tiniest movements and expressions while submerged. That footage was then animated by artists at the multi-Oscar-winning visual-effects company Weta Digital. Much of the performance-capture filming took place in a 900,000-gallon tank (built specifically for the sequels), which could mimic the ocean's swirling currents and crashing waves. "My colleagues within the production really lobbied heavily for us to do it 'dry for wet,' hanging people on wires," Cameron notes. "I said, 'It's not going to work. It's not going to look real.' I even let them run a test, where we captured dry for wet, and then we captured in water, a crude level of our in-water capture. And it wasn't even close."

Many of the cast members prepared for the plunge by getting scuba-certified, culminating in a field trip to dive with manta rays in Hawaii. But when it came to filming, air bubbles and scuba technology would have interfered with the performance-capture process — so each actor had to train with professional divers until they could free dive, holding their breath for minutes at a time. Cameron says 72-year-old Sigourney Weaver, who's returning in a top secret new role after dying in the first film, could easily hold her breath for six and a half minutes, while new cast member Kate Winslet "blew everybody away when she did a seven-and-a-half-minute breath hold." Avatar 2 marks a reunion between Cameron and his Titanic star Winslet; here, the 46-year-old Oscar and Emmy winner plays one of the Metkayina, a mysterious character named Ronal."

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Written & Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Starring Michelle Yeoh

Refurbishing Cars for the Electric Era


New York Times - "Looking for a Way to Soup Up Your Car? Go Electric."

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Losing a Bitcoin Hard Drive


New Yorker - "Half a Billion in Bitcoin, Lost in the Dump"

By D.T. Max

The Next Beverage Wave


"Samantha Durfey was a high school sophomore in St. George, Utah, when the first Swig soda shop opened its doors there. Today, at 28, Ms. Durfey, visits the shop at least three times a week. She usually orders a Save Me Jade — Diet Dr Pepper with sugar-free vanilla and coconut flavor syrups — but every now and then she’ll change her order if she wants a break from caffeine.

“They have really good carbonated-water drinks, and because carbonated water itself is disgusting they mix it with fresh fruits and sugar-free syrups and stuff,” she said, “and it makes it taste really yummy.”


Since the first Swig opened in 2010, dozens of soda-shop chains and independent soda shacks have opened from Idaho to Utah to Arizona, an area of the Mountain West sometimes called the Mormon Corridor. A significant portion of the region’s population belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the church’s prohibition on tea and coffee has spurred a niche beverage market that has intensified in the last decade, hitting a fever pitch during the pandemic.


The soda-shop chains pay special attention to the history of Starbucks — which decades ago expanded at a breakneck pace, from fewer than 20 stores in 1987 to more than 100 in 1992. Worldwide, there are more than 30,000 Starbucks today. Many soda-shop owners believe their industry could be at least that successful.

“There is a great soda-drinking culture in the Mountain West region,” Mr. Auernig said, adding, “What Starbucks originally did for coffee was kind of our idea with soda.”"

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Food from Low to High Class


New York Times Magazine - "The Humble Beginnings of Today’s Culinary Delicacies"

Home Alone House on Airbnb

 - "Ahhhhhh! You now have a chance to stay in the 'Home Alone' house" 

Pantone's 2022 Color of the Year


Pantone Color of the Year 2022: Very Peri

Vogue - "Pantone’s 2022 Color of the Year, Very Peri, Embraces Strangeness"

CNN - "Pantone unveils Color of the Year for 2022"

WSJ - "Pantone’s 2022 Color of the Year Has a Lot of Competition"

Pantone Colors of 2021: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (Dec 2020)
Ultra Violet (Dec 2017)
Greenery (Dec 2016)

More on the Metaverse


WSJ - "Apple’s iPhone Successor Comes Into Focus"

WSJ - "Is the Metaverse Really the Next Big Thing?"

Bloomberg - "Navigator: After the Pandemic Comes … the Metaverse?"

"This week, Seoul became the first major city to announce that it will enter the metaverse, with plans to establish a platform for “contactless communication” by the end of 2022. The platform will host a variety of public services, historic sites and cultural events that residents can access by putting on virtual reality headsets. By 2023, the city will open its “Metaverse 120 Center,” which will serve as a virtual city hall where residents meet with local officials (in their avatar forms) to request services or file complaints.

It’s all part of the mayor’s “Five-year Metaverse Seoul Promotion Master Plan,” which is billed as a way to make public services more accessible to everyone by getting rid of barriers like distance — though as Quartz rightly notes, buying the headsets needed to enter this metaverse will cost at least $300.

It’s little surprise that Seoul is the first to make its metaverse ambitions public. The South Korean government has long been imagining the future of cities, spending the last two decades conceptualizing and developing Songdo, its “smart city” from scratch. The city of Seoul announced plans in 2018 to develop its own currency, the S-coin, to be used as a payment method for city-funded social programs for public employees, job seekers and citizens looking to save electricity, water and gas."

Design at Apple


Wallpaper - "Inside Apple Park: first look at the design team shaping the future of tech"

Winning Time


Created by Adam McKay, Max Borenstei 
Starring John C. Reilly, Solomon Hughes, Jason Clarke, DeVaughn Nixon, Sally Field, Hadley Robinson, Gaby Hoffmann, Adrien Brody, Jason Segel, Tamera Tomakili, Rob Morgan, Quincy Isaiah

Chillin Island

December 17 on HBO Max.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Importance of Reading and Writing


From FS Brain Food:

“You can't replace reading with other sources of information like videos, because you need to read in order to write well, and you need to write in order to think well.”

— Paul Graham

I think this relates:

Writing is often the process by which you realize that you do not understand what you are talking about.

R.I.P. Virgil Abloh


New York Times - "Virgil Abloh, Ambassador and Infiltrator"

By Jon Caramanica


New York Times - "Louis Vuitton Show in Miami Becomes a Virgil Abloh Tribute"

Sneakers Now OK in the Workplace


The Atlantic - "Hill Staffers Are Wearing Sneakers Now"


Today Show - "A look inside America's obsession with sneakers"

Simulating Westworld


New Yorker - "The New Luxury Vacation: Being Dumped in the Middle of Nowhere"

Decoding the Rosetta Stone


New Yorker - "How the Rosetta Stone Yielded Its Secrets"

America's Gambling Vice


The Atlantic - "America's Gambling Addication is Metastasizing"

Après Shot Ski


Axios - "Après ski as a non-slopes lifestyle"