Sunday, September 19, 2021

Sports Fandom is Modern Religion


The Atlantic – "How Netflix Made Americans Care About the Most European of Sports"

"Before i became suddenly consumed by Formula 1, I knew only one way to become a sports fan, and that was to be born into it. That’s how I came to college football, and specifically to the University of Georgia Bulldogs. My dad went to UGA; I was still in the womb when I attended my first game at Sanford Stadium. College football is part of the Deep South’s culture and factors into millions of southerners’ familial relationships—the only time I’ve ever heard my dad swear at another family member was when my Uncle Joey suggested one Thanksgiving that he might bring me a University of Tennessee shirt at New Year’s. My understanding of myself as a Georgia fan is approximately as integral to my identity as my understanding of myself as an American.

This is not as extreme as it might sound: Sports fandom is one of the primary organizing principles of American social life. Daniel Wann, a psychologist who studies the topic at Murray State University, in Kentucky, once administered a survey asking students to make a list of important things about themselves. Several University of Kentucky basketball fans mentioned their team allegiance before their Christian faith. But that’s not so surprising when you consider that the two things were likely passed down to them around the same time, by the same people. I know plenty of young parents who, somewhat jokingly but also very seriously, began encouraging their babies to say “Go Dawgs” as soon as they began talking."

Revisionist History

West Side Story

Adapted by Tony Kushner
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Rachel Zegler, Ansel Elgort

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Directed by Michael Showalter 
Starring Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield

The Card Counter

Written & Directed by Paul Schrader (Writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) 
Starring Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, Willem Dafoe

The Matrix Resurrections

Directed by Lana Wachowski 
Starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Christina Ricci, Jada Pinkett Smith

Don't Look Up

Written & Directed by Adam McKay
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep

The Last Duel


Written by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck

Nightmare Alley

Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Pacific Rim)
Starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, David Strathairn

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Disney Robots


New York Times – "Are You Ready for Sentient Disney Robots?"

Impeachment: American Crime Story

Starring Sarah Paulson, Beanie Feldstein, Annaleigh Ashford, Margo Martindale, Edie Falco, Clive Owen

FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup


Via Axios Sports.

The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup begins today at a newly-built arena in Moscow, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes. 

How it works: Four groups of four will play a round-robin, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the knockout stage. Fox Sports will air the tournament, which runs through Aug. 29.

  • Group A: Football Union of Russia (No. 4 world ranking), U.S. (16), Paraguay (9), Japan (6)
  • Group B: Mozambique (93), Spain (5), UAE (14), Tahiti (13)
  • Group C: Belarus (15), El Salvador (20), Switzerland (8), Brazil (2)
  • Group D: Portugal (1), Oman (21), Senegal (10), Uruguay (11)

The backdrop: Beach soccer began in Rio in 1940, but it took 50 years for a formal governing body to arrive. The World Championships were held annually from 1995 to 2004 on Rio's Copacabana beach before FIFA took over in 2005 and rebranded it as the Beach World Cup.

How it works: Games last 36 minutes, broken into 12-minute periods, with no ties. Three minutes of extra time are added if tied at the end of regulation, followed by a shootout, and wins are worth more if you win in regulation (three points) vs. extra time (two) or shootout (one).

  • The field is 40 yards long by 30 yards wide (field soccer: 115x74) and goals are seven feet tall by 18 feet wide (field soccer: 8x24). The balls are the same size as normal, but lighter and less inflated.
  • Teams have 14 players, with five playing at a time (one as a goalie). Subs are unlimited and even allowed during the action (like hockey).
  • Speaking of hockey, red cards are more like power plays. The offending player is still disqualified from the match, but after two minutes his team can replace him on the field.

Brazil Tries to Make Cachaça a Global Spirit


BBC – "Brazil hopes the world will get a taste for its favourite spirit"

"...enjoy cold glasses of the country's national cocktail - caipirinha, a mixture of cachaça, sugar, and lime, with lots and lots of ice."


"So what exactly is cachaça? Pronounced "ka-SHAS-sa", it is distilled from sugar cane juice. This, Brazil says, makes it different to rum, which is typically made from the molasses, or thick treacle, left over after sugar cane has been processed into sugar. 

Fans of cachaça say this makes it taste fresher and fruitier than rum. 

Cachaça, which can only be made in Brazil, is believed to have been first distilled in the country in 1516. This means that it predates the production of both rum and tequila. 

It is also regarded to be the world's third most-produced spirit, after vodka and China's baijiu. 

The country makes some 800 million litres of cachaça a year, according to trade body Brazilian Institute of Cachaca (Ibrac) Yet such is the thirst for the spirit in its vast home country - less than 1% is exported."

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Malice at the Palace

MLB's Field of Dreams Game


1946 Issue of The New Yorker


From @lesleymmblume: Guys. I have been trying to track this down forever: the original August 31, 1946 issue of the @NewYorker , which contained John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” report WITH the original white paper band ... and this treasure was just unearthed in storage at the John Hersey High School in IL

Lit Hub – "The New Yorker Article Heard Round the World"

New Yorker – "Hiroshima" (August 23, 1946) by John Hersey

The Return of 70's Fonts

Vox – "Why funky ’70s-style fonts are popping up on brands like Chobani and Glossier"

"Branding trends always exist in relation to what came immediately before; aesthetics are a powerful way for a company to stand out from its competitors, and once a particular look reaches oversaturation, it’s time to move on. Particularly in the startup space, the early 2010s were absolutely dominated by sans serifs and minimalist design, a trend that was itself a reaction to the chaotic typography of the 1990s. Now that the simple, utilitarian look has run its course, companies and branding agencies are turning to fonts with a more expressive, human feel.

Many of the typefaces that we associate with the ’60s and ’70s were actually created decades before, though they’re informing the present-day design landscape because of how they were used in the ’70s. Consider the typeface Windsor, which was crafted in 1905 and, according to the Font Review Journal, had its heyday between the 1960s and ’80s. It was famously used on the cover of the counterculture magazine the Whole Earth Catalog and in Woody Allen’s film titles, including 1977’s Annie Hall. Cooper Black was released in 1922, but in the ’60s and ’70s it made notable appearances on album covers from The Doors, Curtis Mayfield, and The Beatles.

“Stylistically, the ’70s were really exuberant and free, and also extremely diverse,” says Natasha Jen, a partner at the design firm Pentagram and the creator of Buffy’s custom logotype. It wasn’t all psychedelia and bubbly fonts: Herb Lubalin, a titan of 1970s graphic design, made looping, thick typefaces, but he also produced Avant Garde, a sharp, angular style recently used as the title card in Netflix’s Master of None."


Font Review Journal – "Windsor — Designed by Eleisha Pechey"


Chobani's New Look (January 2018)
Pizza Hut Font (October 2020)

The "Most Significant Works of Postwar Architecture"


The Return of the Lamborghini Countach (Hybrid)


The Verge – "The Lamborghini Countach, the Poster Car of '80s Luxury, is back - and it's a hybrid"

Saturday, July 24, 2021

AI to Text with a Deceased Loved One


San Francisco Chronicle – "The Jessica Simulation: Love and loss in the age of A.I."

"In the last decade, an approach to A.I. known as “machine learning” has leaped forward, fusing powerful hardware with new techniques for crunching data. A.I. systems that generate language, like GPT-3, begin by chewing through billions of books and web pages, measuring the probability that one word will follow another. The A.I. assembles a byzantine internal map of those probabilities. Then, when a user prompts the A.I. with a bit of text, it checks the map and chooses the words likely to come next.

These systems are called “large language models,” and the larger the model, the more human it seems. The first version of GPT, built in 2018, had 117 million internal “parameters.” GPT-2 followed in 2019, with 1.5 billion parameters. GPT-3’s map is more than 100 times bigger still, assembled from an analysis of half a trillion words, including the text of Wikipedia, billions of web pages and thousands of books that likely represent much of the Western canon of literature.

Despite their size and sophistication, GPT-3 and its brethren remain stupid in some ways. “It’s completely obvious that it’s not human intelligence,” said Melanie Mitchell, the Davis Professor of Complexity at the Santa Fe Institute and a pioneering A.I. researcher. For instance, GPT-3 can’t perform simple tasks like tell time or add numbers. All it does is generate text, sometimes badly — repeating phrases, jabbering nonsensically.

For this reason, in the view of many A.I. experts, GPT-3 is a curiosity at best, a firehose of language with no inherent meaning. Still, the A.I. seems to have moments of crackling clarity and depth, and there are times when it writes something so poetic or witty or emotionally appropriate that its human counterparts are almost literally left speechless.

“There’s something genuinely new here,” said Frank Lantz, director of the Game Center at New York University’s Tisch School of Arts and a video game designer who has been beta-testing GPT-3. “I don’t know exactly how to think about it, but I can’t just dismiss it. "

The Metaverse and What are Video Games


The Verge – "Mark in the Metaverse"

"This is a big topic. The metaverse is a vision that spans many companies — the whole industry. You can think about it as the successor to the mobile internet. And it’s certainly not something that any one company is going to build, but I think a big part of our next chapter is going to hopefully be contributing to building that, in partnership with a lot of other companies and creators and developers. But you can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it. And you feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example, or different types of fitness.

I think a lot of people, when they think about the metaverse, they think about just virtual reality — which I think is going to be an important part of that. And that’s clearly a part that we’re very invested in, because it’s the technology that delivers the clearest form of presence. But the metaverse isn’t just virtual reality. It’s going to be accessible across all of our different computing platforms; VR and AR, but also PC, and also mobile devices and game consoles. Speaking of which, a lot of people also think about the metaverse as primarily something that’s about gaming. And I think entertainment is clearly going to be a big part of it, but I don’t think that this is just gaming. I think that this is a persistent, synchronous environment where we can be together, which I think is probably going to resemble some kind of a hybrid between the social platforms that we see today, but an environment where you’re embodied in it.

So that can be 3D — it doesn’t have to be. You might be able to jump into an experience, like a 3D concert or something, from your phone, so you can get elements that are 2D or elements that are 3D. I’d love to go through a bunch of the use cases in more detail, but overall, I think that this is going to be a really big part of the next chapter for the technology industry, and it’s something that we’re very excited about.

It just touches a lot of the biggest themes that we’re working on. Think about things like community and creators as one, or digital commerce as a second, or building out the next set of computing platforms, like virtual and augmented reality, to give people that sense of presence. I think all of these different initiatives that we have at Facebook today will basically ladder up together to contribute to helping to build this metaverse vision.

And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company. And obviously, all of the work that we’re doing across the apps that people use today contribute directly to this vision in terms of building community and creators. So there’s a lot to jump into here. I’m curious what direction you want to take this in. But this is something that I’m spending a lot of time on, thinking a lot about, we’re working on a ton. And I think it’s just a big part of the next chapter for the work that we’re going to do in the whole industry."

New York Times – "We Need a New Term for Video Games"

"Everyone is trying to get us to come out — or stay in — and play. Seriously. Peloton, Netflix, Zoom, TikTok, Amazon, Apple and Google are all either experimenting or going much bigger into video games.

What’s going on?

The straightforward answer is that globally people already spend a lot of time and money on video games, and established game companies and newcomers alike are eyeing all sorts of interactive digital experiments to grab more of our time and money.

I’m excited for this development, even though my own avid video game playing ended in the era of BrickBreaker for the Blackberry. It feels as if we’re in the middle of reimagining both what a “video game” is and what online idle time can be — more engaging and social, perhaps, and a little less passive doomscrolling. (Or I might be reading too much into this. Yeah, it might just be about money.)

Whatever the motivation, games may soon feel inescapable. New features on Zoom — yup, that Zoom — include poker, trivia and mystery games. Peloton, the maker of $2,500 exercise bicycles, is releasing a game that allows people’s pedal power to command a rolling virtual wheel. Netflix this week confirmed that it planned to add video games to its online entertainment service. Facebook, TikTok, Amazon, Apple and Google to varying degrees are pitching us video games or selling game subscriptions. (The New York Times is going bigger into digital games and puzzles, too.)"

Tokyo Olympic Pictograms


The Cut – "New Sport Alert!!!"

Washington Post – "Human pictograms stole the show at the Tokyo Olympics' Opening Ceremonies"

Cleveland Guardians


ESPN – "Cleveland changing name from Indians to Guardians after 2021 season" – "The inside story of how Cleveland Indians became Cleveland Guardians – Terry Pluto"



July 22, 2022

Written & Directed by Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Furniture Ideas

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Nike - This is Tomorrow

Lachlan's Alt Tour


New York Times Magazine – "A Tour de France With a Twist: Only 1 Rider"

"What made the alt tour feel special, though, has little to do with whether the black dot would overtake the pink. More enjoyable by far was the vicarious thrill of experiencing an epic journey that had been flattened into the two-dimensional space of a screen, but not compressed — the whole journey was there, spooling out in real time. With no television cameras or commentators to narrativize the relationship between those two small dots, the lone rider and the full event, the vague terrain between them was cultivated instead by the imagination. What grew in that space, aside from branding opportunities, was precisely what our pandemic year has made us crave and fear in equal measure: adventure. Proof of this could be found at Rapha’s Instagram feed, where some “dot watchers” became part of the story: After days spent following his progress across the map, they saw it pass through their villages or towns, where they hopped on their bikes and joined him for an hour or two. Morton briefly became a member of their community, and they briefly became part of the unique advertisement unfolding on social media."

The Alt Tour (de France)

1896 Athens Olympics


Wikipedia – "1896 Summer Olympics"

"Fourteen nations (according to the IOC, though the number is subject to interpretation) and 241 athletes (all males; this number is also disputed) took part in the games. Participants were all European, or living in Europe, with the exception of the United States team. Over 65% of the competing athletes were Greek. Winners were given a silver medal, while runners-up received a copper medal. Retroactively, the IOC has converted these to gold and silver, and awarded bronze medals to third placed athletes. Ten of the 14 participating nations earned medals. The United States won the most gold medals, 11, while host nation Greece won the most medals overall, 46. The highlight for the Greeks was the marathon victory by their compatriot Spyridon Louis. The most successful competitor was German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann, who won four events."


"At the 1894 Sorbonne congress, a large roster of sports were suggested for the program in Athens. The first official announcements regarding the sporting events to be held featured sports such as football and cricket,[46] but these plans were never finalised, and these sports did not make the final list for the Games.[47] Rowing and yachting were also scheduled, but were cancelled due to poor weather on the planned day of competition.[48] As a result, the 1896 Summer Olympics programme featured 9 sports encompassing 10 disciplines and 43 events. The number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses. 

Athletics (12)
Cycling Road (1)
Track (5)
Fencing (3)
Gymnastics (8)
Shooting (5)
Swimming (4)
Tennis (2)
Weightlifting (2)
Wrestling (1)"

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Tom Sachs's Nikes


W Magazine – "Can a Pair of Sneakers Be Conceptual Art?"

Nike – "Become a NIKECRAFT Mars Yard Wear Tester"

Lagos and Future Global Tech Cities


Rest of World – "Beyond Silicon Valley: The six cities building the future of the global tech industry."

"Every hour, 77 people move to Lagos from other parts of Nigeria. Everything happens in Lagos. It’s the cultural and commercial center of Nigeria, home to the country’s oldest bank and its largest independent film studio. And it’s the hub for the country’s fastest-growing sector: technology.

Lagos is home to Jumia, the continent’s largest e-commerce company. But the city’s most prominent startups are in fintech — perhaps no surprise, given that the task of moving money around is still the most important challenge within Africa. Tech startups in Lagos are international in scope, with access to local funding through a growing venture capital network and a much larger pot of funds available through foreign VCs. Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator, held its first and only event in Africa in Lagos in 2016, a sign of the city’s growing influence within global tech circles.

The growth of the tech sector in Lagos almost feels inevitable, a natural extension of just how much the city draws everything into its orbit. The centralized nature of the city has spurred innovation, even as entrepreneurs now bemoan just how concentrated Lagos is."

Friday, July 16, 2021

Monday, July 5, 2021

The Oral History of Terminator 2


The Ringer – "The Tin Man Gets His Heart: An Oral History of ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day"

The Origin of Sports Broadcasting


From Axios Sports:

100 years ago today, American superstar Jack Dempsey knocked out Frenchman Georges Carpentier in Jersey City, New Jersey, en route to his third heavyweight title defense in as many years. 

Why it matters: This was not only boxing's first million-dollar match — it was also the first sporting event broadcast via radio, reaching 200,000 listeners across 125,000 square miles.

The backdrop: Radios were rare in the early 1900s, and during WWI the government rescinded civilian licenses. But post-war, amateur interest was piqued.

  • At first, they were only viable for point-to-point communication. But in 1919, an engineer at Westinghouse Electric had the idea to play music for anyone with a receiver to hear.
  • A year later, Westinghouse launched Pittsburgh's KDKA, which was granted the country's first commercial broadcasting license so it could air the results of the presidential election (Harding vs. Cox).
  • RCA, a Westinghouse competitor, wanted to give people a good reason to buy their radios, so they got to work on figuring out how to broadcast the highly-anticipated heavyweight bout.

How it worked: The stadium didn't have structures high enough to attach the antenna, so an RCA employee transmitted remotely from a nearby train station, which had recently erected a clock tower.

  • During the fight, one person relayed the action via phone to a clerk at the station, who then typed up the play-by-play for the announcer to read out over the airwaves.
  • Listening parties formed across the northeast, from small get-togethers in private homes to thousand-person gatherings in public venues.
  • (Not-so) fun fact: The tubes on this proto-radio transmitter were so bright that the announcer was partially blinded for days after sitting so close to them.

What came next: KDKA broadcast the first baseball game a month later — an 8-5 Pirates win over the Phillies.

🎥 Watch: Full Dempsey-Carpentier fight (YouTube)

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)