Sunday, June 25, 2023

The Plan to Save America's Pastime


The Atlantic - "Moneyball Broke Baseball"
By Mark Leibovich

MLB Pitcher Battles the Yips... and (Sports) Writing


New Yorker - "Daniel Bard Made an Improbable Comeback. Then He Had to Do It Again"

By Louisa Thomas

Louisa Thomas on Seattle Sports (Published in Grantland in Jan. 2014):

There is a lot of noise in football, and most of the noise says nothing. It is electric guitars in the television lead-in, jet plane roars, industrial sounds meant to signify manly manhoodness. It is loud suits, shouts of “Omaha!,” the groan and crunch of large men crashing into each other. It is Jim Harbaugh throwing temper tantrums and screaming and acting like a parody of a 3-year-old, for which he is considered to have a lot of passion for the game, because “passion” is apparently another word for noise.

You hear a lot about passion and noise in Seattle. It’s inescapable. Even if it didn’t hit your eardrums and settle in your jaw, even if it didn’t make the floor shake, it would be impossible to avoid, because no one would stop talking about it. It was everywhere and endless, like the small grit of rain in the concrete sky. It came from spotted owl activists and the loggers who lost their jobs because of spotted owls. There were punks with safety pins stuck in their skin; dads in Eddie Bauer; girls wearing suede wedges and Earl Thomas jerseys; Starbucks baristas; and the artist who graced my Facebook page with a close-up of his Beast Mode grill. Maybe it had something to do with being rooted on the margin of the country, caught between mountains and water. Maybe it had something to do with being the spiritual home of both grunge and tall lattes, counterculture and mass culture. In the corner of the press box at CenturyLink Field, a barista calmly steamed milk for grande mochas while the stadium shook.

Maybe it went deeper, back to the late 1970s, when the city was mired in depression, reeling from cutbacks at Boeing, unemployment around 12 percent. A billboard by Sea-Tac Airport read, “Will the Last Person Leaving SEATTLE — Turn Out the Lights?” That’s when the city got a football team to cheer for (and to pay for; years after the Kingdome was demolished, the city is still paying down its debt). The team was terrible for a long time and nearly left town. But then the Sonics did leave, and the Mariners sucked, and football — football was what it is in America. It was Sunday and beer and screaming; it was marine blue and gray-moss green; it was savagery and community and a hell of a lot of fun. It was for guys who worked in airplane factories and who programmed PCs, transplants in a city where it can be so hard to make friends that there’s a phrase for it, the Seattle Freeze. Everyone could be the 12th Man. Winning, which Seattle started to do, no doubt had a lot to do with it. But not everything. Even the excitement when the Seahawks made the Super Bowl in 2005 doesn’t match what it is now, a friend who’s a huge Hawks fan told me. “The craziness surrounding the Seahawks is like the city’s collective id exploding,” he said. And it turned out that the city’s deepest driving desire was to make a really, really big noise.

Especially against San Francisco. Not that the opponent on the field totally matters — Seahawks fans, after all, made noise against the Saints just to be more noisy than the fans in Kansas City. Still, it probably helped that it was San Francisco, with its gold rush and golden hills, its golden light on the Golden Gate Bridge and its long history of golden quarterbacks in golden pants. San Francisco, with its iPhones and iPads and Google doodle, and its claims to the creative spirit, as if an Apple Store didn’t have the vibe of a totalitarian state with good Wi-Fi. Add in the hatred between the teams.

Plus, the noise was effective. It upset snap counts and rattled opponents. And it made the game, which seems ever more packaged and remote, made for TV money, seem like it was theirs.

Louis Thomas on her writing methods (Published in Harvard Magazine in Nov.-Dec. 2020):

LOUISA THOMAS ’04 is at her best in transit. Her finest work develops not when she sits down to write, but on her run directly before. That’s when she plots a story in her head, teasing out disparate threads and weaving them into a cohesive narrative. “Sometimes it will seem a little bit insane,” she admits. “Even if I have a tight turnaround deadline, I’ll go run for 10 minutes or go for a walk—just to get going.” When she sits down to write, it’s pretty obvious to her whether she’s hitting the vein or trying to force it. And now, working on an article about baseball’s pandemic start under a pressing deadline, she’s trying to force it.

The Human Factories Across the World Powering AI


The Verge - "AI Is a Lot of Work"

Netflix Documentary Tour de France: Unchained

San Antonio Spurs Draft Victor Wembanyama


ESPN - "Victor Wembanyama real or fantasy"

From Victor's Twitter—Spurs Legends David Robinson, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan take him out to dinner.

3 Body Problem Trailer

The Three-Body Problem (Jan. 2023)

The Princess Peach Game


Axios - "Nintendo promises a Princess Peach game and Mario's return"

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Hip Hop is the New Classic Rock


From the New York Times' New Dad Canon.

Related, Esquire's Top 5 Rappers Dead or Alive (By Mitchell S. Jackson)

Languages of the Internet


Rest of World - "What languages dominate the internet?"

"Combined, the two data sets suggest significant over- and under-representation. English, German, and Japanese command a much larger portion of the internet than they do among native speakers. By contrast, many non-European languages hardly exist on the internet at all.

For some international groups, these discrepancies are an ominous sign for the future. As early as 2003, UNESCO was urging the public and private sectors to maintain online content in the full range of human languages. But as the web has grown, the gap between spoken language and what’s used on the internet has only grown.

Bhanu Neupane, a program manager at UNESCO who works with language inequity, told Rest of World we might be moving towards a world where only a handful of languages are meaningfully present online. “The world is converging,” Neupane said. “And after 15 years, there could be just five or 10 languages that are prominently spoken and used in business and online. So we’re very concerned about this.”"

The Hidden Benefits of Commute


The Atlantic - "The Psychological Benefits of Commuting to Work"

"Marchetti’s Constant, as those 60 minutes are known, is usually understood to describe what people will endure, not what they might actually desire. But if you take the richest people of any era—who can afford to design their lives however they like—and calculate the transit time between their home and workplace, what do you find? J. P. Morgan: a roughly 25-minute ride by horse-drawn cab. John D. Rockefeller: an elevated-rail ride of about 30 minutes.

In a 2001 paper, two researchers at UC Davis attempted to divine the ideal commute time. They settled on 16 minutes. To be sure, this was a substantial shortening of the study participants’ actual commutes (which were half an hour, on average). But it was not zero. In fact, a few wished for a longer commute. Asked why, they ticked off their reasons—the feeling of control in one’s own car; the time to plan, to decompress, to make calls, to listen to audiobooks. Clearly, the researchers wrote, the commute had some “positive utility.”"

Monocle's Guide to the World's Best Swimming Pools


To be released in October 2023.

The Monocle team dips its toe into the world of swimming, revealing one hundred beautiful and inspiring places to take the plunge.

Swimming is excellent exercise of course, but it’s so much more than that: it can be a transcendental experience, offering us space to reflect and to escape. It’s an antidote to screens and all-encompassing technology. Perhaps it’s the shedding of inhibitions that come with a dip, or could it be that getting somewhere under our own steam is an act that’s health-giving, refreshing and life-affirming? Whatever it means to you, swimming—alone or with others, badly or brilliantly—is about being in the moment.

This new book celebrates bathing in glorious full-color photography, revealing the editors’ chosen swimming spots from inner-city architectural wonders to lakes, beach clubs and bagni. Whether you’re looking to do laps in Italy, tread water in Australia, sink into the icy depths in Iceland—or perhaps just sit on the side and let others do the hard work—this guide includes a setting for everyone. Dive right in.

How Modelo Dethroned Bud Light in the US


Wall Street Journal - "How Modelo Dethroned Bud Light as America’s Top Beer"
NBC News - "How Modelo Especial became America's No. 1 beer amid Bud Light's rapid decline"

Are unicorns real?


By Ellis Rosen.

How Marvel Took Over Movies


New Yorker - "How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Swallowed Hollywood"
By Michael Schulman

Sunday, June 4, 2023

What It Takes to See 10,000 Bird Species


Outside Mag - "What It Takes to See 10,000 Bird Species"
By Jesse Williamson

Reflecting on Succession


The Guardian - "Jesse Armstrong on the roots of Succession: ‘Would it have landed the same way without the mad bum-rush of Trump’s presidency?’"

New York Times - Bill Wambsganss Was Many Things. But He Wasn’t a ‘Succession’ Spoiler.""

New York Times - "On ‘Succession,’ if You’re Eating, You’re Losing"

Baby Keem & Kendrick Lamar - The Hillbillies

Outkast Bobblehead


FOX 5 Atlanta - "Free OutKast bobblehead given away at Atlanta Braves game being sold for top dollar on eBay"

TikTok's Influence Over Restaurants


The Logo for LLMs


New York Times - "Why an Octopus-like Creature Has Come to Symbolize the State of A.I."

The Las Vegas A's



The End of the Oakland Warriors (May 2019)
The Bjarke Ingels Group Plans for the Oakland Athletics (Nov. 2018)
Moneyball (Jan. 2011)