Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Oligarch's Son—A London Story


New Yorker - "A Teen’s Fatal Plunge Into the London Underworld"
By Patrick Radden Keefe"

Why isn't there an Oscar for Stunt Choreography


Variety - "Oscar Stunt Category Being Discussed in the Academy, ‘John Wick’ Director Says Talks Are ‘Incredibly Positive’: ‘We’ve Made Real Movement Forward’"

Vanity Fair - "John Wick Mastermind Says a Stunt Work Oscar Is Coming Soon"

The Wrap - "Oscars for Stunts? Filmmakers and Insiders Say It’s Overdue"

AI Startup (Perplexity AI) Gunning for Search


New York Times - "Can This A.I.-Powered Search Engine Replace Google? It Has for Me."

NYT Hard Fork Podcast - "The State of A.I., and Will Perplexity Beat Google or Destory the Web?"

Future Star Anthony Edwards


Vanity Fair - "Is Anthony Edwards the Next Face of the NBA?"

By Tom Kludt

Rise of Women's Sports


NY Mag - "Women’s Sports Are About to Explode"
By Will Leitch

"But this is still America, and the real way movements break through is by making money. That’s where television comes in. As sports becomes even more essential to a media industry desperate for something people will watch live, women’s sports is a growth market. The WNBA just signed a record rights deal with ESPN and Ion Television; last year’s NCAA tournament was up a full 103 percent on 2022; the Women’s World Cup Final in 2015 was, until last year’s Men’s World Cup Final, the most-watched soccer match in United States history. And of course last year also featured the Nebraska women’s volleyball game, held in the school’s football stadium, which drew 92,003 fans, breaking the (unofficial) record for the most people ever to watch a women’s sporting event in person. Watching the highlights of that event is legitimately moving, and signify what might still be possible down the road."

Does boxing still matter?


The Spectator - "Does boxing still matter?"

"Quick — can you name boxing’s heavy-weight champion?"

Taco Bell Went on Stage to Show Menu Innovation

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Swedish Fika for Americans


Wall Street Journal - "Sweden Has a Caffeinated Secret to Happiness at Work"

"Pronounced “fee-kah,” the Swedish culture of breaking for coffee involves much more than a schlep to Starbucks. It’s meant to be a deliberate pause to provide space and time for people to connect. Many Swedish companies build a mandatory fika into the workday, while the Embassy of Sweden in Washington holds one for staff weekly. IKEA, promoting its Upphetta coffee maker on the corporate website, extols the virtues of fika: “When we disconnect for a short period, our productivity increases significantly.”

“Fika is where we talk life, we talk everything but work itself,” said Micael Dahlen, professor of well-being, welfare and happiness at the Stockholm School of Economics. The ritual helps drive trivsel, he says, a term that means a combination of workplace enjoyment and thriving. The concept is so fundamental to Swedish workplaces that many companies in Sweden have trivsel committees, he said."

Steve Ballmer's Hoops Cathedral


Bloomberg - "Basketball, Basketball, Basketball: Inside Steve Ballmer’s New $2 Billion Arena"

"Intuit is designed so fans in every section walk down to their seats, rather than making those in the nosebleeds turn away from the court to go up, a concept the Clippers borrowed from European soccer stadiums. “Even if you’re sitting in the very last row, you’re walking toward what you are here for,” explains the day’s tour guide, Gillian Zucker, the Clippers’ president of business operations, as she navigates the construction debris and takes a spot in what will be one of the back rows.


Take, for instance, the Wall, an uninterrupted bank of 4,500 seats in 51 rows from floor to ceiling behind one of the baskets. “It’s built for people to channel their inner Steve Ballmer,” says Zucker. To fill the section with those who share in Ballmer’s mania, the Clippers plan to restrict access through a loyalty program. Fans will be required to complete a handful of actions, such as sharing photos of themselves in Clippers gear on social media or answering trivia questions, to earn a “Chuckmark”—named for the team’s mascot, Chuck the Condor—before they can buy tickets for seats in the Wall. “It’s about bringing fans closer,” Ballmer says, “but it’s also to say, ‘Hey … you got a purpose here. Your job is not just to enjoy [clap, clap]. You’re here to contribute. You gotta [clap, clap] help our team out.”

While the Wall, modeled after the stands at San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena, may help re-create the atmosphere of a college field house, it leaves less room for corporate suites. Intuit has only 46 of them around its bowl, compared with 178 at And even these premium spaces are engineered for maximum intensity, with the top row of seating for each suite set near the ceiling, so fans won’t have a view of the court from the dining areas. They’ll have to go back out to their seats.


Ballmer knows his gonzo style isn’t for everybody. Some people want to eat, drink, lounge and, especially in LA, be part of a scene. But there’s already an NBA team in town for those people: the “Showtime” Lakers. The Clippers, as Ballmer sees it, need to cultivate an alternative identity—in the model of their owner—as the team for hoops purists. "

The Chengdu Science Fiction Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects


Apple's Future for Us


Vanity Fair - "Why Tim Cook Is Going All In on the Apple Vision Pro"
By Nick Bilton

"I know deep down that the Apple Vision Pro is too immersive, and yet all I want to do is see the world through it. “I’m sure the technology is terrific. I still think and hope it fails,” one Silicon Valley investor said to me. “Apple feels more and more like a tech fentanyl dealer that poses as a rehab provider.” Harsh words, but he feels what we all feel, a slave to our smartphone, and he’s seen this play before and he knows what the first act is like, and the second act, and he knows how it ends.

I didn’t ask Cook about this because I didn’t realize it all until days later, but I did ask him if technology is moving too quickly. If all of it, AI, spatial computing, and our reliance on technology, if it’s all too much. “What does the future of it all look like?” I asked Cook.

“I think it’s hard to predict exactly,” he replied.

“But you’re making it,” I said. “So don’t you get to predict it?”

“What we do is we get really excited about something and then we start pulling the string and see where it takes us,” Cook told me. “And yes, we’ve got things on the road maps and so forth, and yes, we have a definitive point of view. But a lot of it is also the exploration and figuring out.” He concluded, “Sometimes the dots connect. And they lead you to some place that you didn’t expect.” (Letting connected dots lead the way was a theme Cook’s predecessor used to talk about.)

The question is, is the place we’re about to go, into the era of spatial computing, going to make our lives better, or will it become the next technology that becomes a necessity, where we can’t live in a world that’s not augmented? I think Joswiak had it half right when he said, ​​“It feels like we’ve reached into the future and grabbed this product. You’re putting the future on your face.” I think it’s the other way around. Apple is taking us into the future, into a new era of computing. Some of us are running as fast as we can to get there, and others are being dragged, kicking and screaming. But we’re all going. We’re going to the moon, and we’re going to look around at the ghostly luminescence of ancient dust under a black, star-studded sky, and we’ll just know that this is the future of computing and entertainment and apps and memories, and that this apparatus wrapped around our head will change everything."

The Problem With Apple Watch Rings


The Atlantic - "The Apple Watch May Have a Calorie Problem"

"Diaz, the exercise physiologist, told me that, back when he wore a Fitbit, he’d find himself pacing his apartment in the evening trying to get his steps in. “I just didn’t like the relationship that I was forming with the device and with my life,” he said. He’s not saying that no one should use them, he clarified, but the problem with these devices is that they use external motivation, whereas “what the science tells us is that for long-term behavior change, internal motivation is far better.” Rather than being poked to move by a computer on their wrist, a person should find a way to get in exercise that they enjoy, because then they’ll be more likely to keep it up in the future.

To prove his point, Diaz asked me how I felt after finishing rock climbing or surfing. I gushed about the high. Closing Apple’s rings, or reaching 10,000 steps, might feel good. But it’s nothing like the joy that comes from moving your body simply because you want to."

The New Yorker's Sofia Coppola Profile


New Yorker - "Sofia Coppola’s Path to Filming Gilded Adolescence"
By Rachel Syme


"At the time, Coppola was married to the director Spike Jonze, whom she’d met in the early nineties through her friends Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, of the band Sonic Youth. But the two were in the process of separating. Jonze released his own feature directorial début, “Being John Malkovich,” the same year that “The Virgin Suicides” premièred, and while Coppola’s film had a modest return his became an indie sensation. She recalled feeling, in their relationship, an echo of her mother’s experiences. Jonze and a few of his friends had discussed launching a directors’ collective, and, according to Coppola, they didn’t even invite her to join. “I don’t want to embarrass Spike and those guys,” she said. “I think it’s just about understanding the dynamic there, which was a very nineties, dudes’-club dynamic. I was going around with Spike to promote his films, and I was just kind of the wife.” (Jonze could not be reached for comment.)

She was surprised when “Lost in Translation” became a runaway hit, not only winning her an Oscar but earning more than a hundred million dollars worldwide on a four-million-dollar budget. “I thought I was writing this really indulgent piece,” she recalled. “I mean, who cares about some rich girl trying to find herself?” But audiences connected to the film’s fuzzed-out mood of dislocation and the tragicomic pleasures of two lost people finding each other for a moment in time. At the end of the film, Bob and Charlotte share a kiss, and he whispers something inaudible into her ear. “I never even wrote that line,” Coppola said. “Bill always said that it was something that should stay between them.”

There is an adage in Hollywood that actors want to win awards to boost their egos, whereas directors want to win awards to boost their budgets. After “Lost in Translation,” Coppola found herself courted by the major studios. The producer Amy Pascal, who was a top executive at Sony Pictures at the time, told me, “I was desperate to work with her.” When they met, in 2004, she asked Coppola what project she dreamed of making. Coppola answered immediately: “Marie Antoinette.”

NFL's Global Ambitions

Jungle Training


New York Times - "U.S. Military Returns to the Jungle, Training for a Very Different Threat"



GQ - "Rucking Is the Workout of 2024" (Jan. 2024)
Outside Magazine - "I Rucked Every Day for a Month—Here’s What I Learned" (Jul. 2023)
CNN - "Rucking is an easy way to fitness" (Sep. 2023)
New York Times - "This Full-Body Workout Fits in a Backpack" (Oct. 2023)
Forbes - "What Is Rucking? Why #Rucking Has Gotten Over 19.3M Views On TikTok" (Sep. 2023) - "The 7 Basics of Rucking for Anyone Who Wants to Ruck for Fun" (Oct. 2023)
WSJ - "Getting Into This Fitness Trend Is Simple. Just Pack a Bag." (Oct. 2023)
Business Insider - "Rucking can help you burn fat, build muscle, and stay strong as you age — and you don't need a gym" (Nov. 2023) - "What is Rucking?"

Tokyo Couple's Obsession with Philly Cheesesteak


NBA's Chess Club


GQ - "Why Be a Point Guard When You Can Be a Grandmaster? Inside the NBA's Chess Club"