As our outfit continues to grow, we’re tickled out of our minds to introduce our latest hire: Harvey Jane McCloskey, consultant. She’s extremely punctual, arriving for her initial interview almost three weeks early, knows synergy, and stays on the job * for boastfully long stretches.
H.J. happens to be the daughter of ENGINE’s Ben and Shanda McCloskey, but was able to earn a roster spot on merit and smallness alone. She starts first thing tomorrow, taking a co-leadership role in the division ** long headed solely by two-year-old Evie Kirk, who assures board members that Harvey Jane is both “Evie’s baby” and “a mermaid.”
In sliiightly less exciting news, we’ve gained a few great new clients over the past week or so, and are looking forward to getting our expanding team to work.
Thing:Some Thoughts On The Three Amigos from A VC. Very many great things have been written about this week’s LeBron James sideshow — if you missed it, let’s just say it combined all the most spectacular elements of a two-year-long infomercial, a Derby horse auction, and Alexander’s invasion of India. It’s become almost cliche, but it’s true: the problem isn’t what he did, it’s how he did it. Not since Ron Burgundy has a city so unmistakably been told to go **** itself. But let’s get beyond the question of whether we’re mad at LeBron or just disappointed.
The freshest piece on the matter (the one linked to at the beginning of this rambling) frames LeBron’s decision as an experiment being conducted by LeBron. It’s like nothing we’ve seen in the sports history of America, though the word sports is superfluous — a household-name for-profit organization’s labor has taken total control of its own factory.
In X’s and O’s terms, it’s not likely to work. The team won’t have any money to afford depth, James and Dwayne Wade don’t complement so much as duplicate each other, and this might be the biggest foursome of egos since… I don’t know, the Beatles (?), if you count Heat general manager Pat Riley. But let’s say it does work… will sports ever be the same? (ht Rafi Kam.)
Thing: As a Gentile, it’s hard to know how to approach this video. A Holocaust survivor, his daughter, and two grandchildren tour former German concentration camps and Holocaust memorials — where they dance to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
After watching, people tend to either feel goose-bumpy or uncomfortable. Rationally, the presence of an able-minded-and-bodied Holocaust survivor should dissuade any concerns of whether the montage is tasteful and appropriate — if he’s ok with it, you should be too. But it’s still unsettling.
And it’s all because of the song they’ve chosen. It’s an instantly mockable karaoke throwaway, for whatever reason. If they’d gone with a traditional Hebrew song, any traditional Hebrew song, even one we’ve never heard of, the video would be cool but unremarkable. Or you’d expect something like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, whatever — no problem (since apparently men with guitars know more about the joy and power of survival than an African American woman born in the 1940s).
But because “I Will Survive” somehow has become the definitive disco song, it feels like it’s not just the wrong song, it’s almost blasphemous.
But, of course, it’s the best possible song. This man is almost literally dancing on his own grave.
THING:Eat Your Words: Anthony Bourdain on Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz. Anthony Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (first four seasons currently streaming on Netflix), is notorious for challenging his own strong opinions. In this interview he discusses the value he’s gained from his willingness to be wrong, whether by traveling the world or preparing for fatherhood, and what doing it wrong can teach us:
There’s enormous respect and a romanticized reverence for what’s considered the “right” way—meaning, the classic way—and I think most chefs feel powerfully that one should know that before moving on. Like, “I’ve researched this, this is the way they were making it in 1700, goddamn it, and that’s the way it should be made.” Or: “This is the way they make laksa in Kuching and Borneo; that stuff I just had on Ninth Avenue is definitely not the same; ergo it’s wrong.” But, you know, what does “real” or “authentic” mean? The history of food is the history of migrating ingredients and occupation and foreign influences and accommodation.
Somebody who’d be very interesting to speak to on this is Grant Achatz [one of the pioneers of molecular gastronomy]. Here’s a guy who’s been trained in the classics, who knows the quote-unquote “right” away to do everything, but made a very deliberate decision to subvert it all. I think that’s admirable. We need people like that. We would never have had Jimi Hendrix if he’d stuck to the right way to play guitar.
THING:Wooden and Love by Joe Posnanski. John Wooden, the most successful coach in major American sports, died this week at 99. Though he once won 10 college hoops national titles in 12 years, he was even more beloved away from the game. Wooden famously wrote a love letter to his wife every month after she passed 15 years ago, his former players talk about him as if he’s their own grandfather (mixed with Moses or Ben Franklin), and his thoughts on life have become a rolling motivational quip factory over time. Posnanski looks through the lens of Wooden’s coaching style at the Pyramid of Success, a fifteen-block pile of Wooden aphorisms that appears to be a stack of pure cheese at first glance, and finds nothing short of a life plan.
THING:Clay Shirky: What I Read from the Atlantic Wire. Clay Shirky, described by WIRED editor-in-chief Chris Anderson as “a prominent thinker on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies,” details his reading priorities as part of a great series on media consumption by people you’ve heard of.
THING:Great African Singularities by Appfrica. Appfrica, a Ugandan software company, shows how African presence, language accommodations, and representation are alarmingly absent from otherwise globally focused pages by tech giants like Yahoo!, Google, Apple, Facebook, and more. Blogger Jonathan Gosier sees one solution:
The business world (and in this case tech companies) needs to be constantly reminded that they need you with cold hard facts. There are no other arguments. Show them the numbers, the patents, the inventions, the talent, the enthusiasm, the courage…the success stories. Don’t open your mouth to tell anyone anything or ask them for anything ever again…show them.
THING:Color Survey by XKCD. Men and women see color differently. Everyone accepts this. But according to science!, some things about the effects of gender on color perception aren’t quite what you’d think. And other things are exactly what you’d think. So. THING:Why Is It Always Minority Players Suffering From Lack of Hustle? by Walkoff Walk. Certain sportswriter cliches — deceptively fast, great motor, reminds me of Wes Welker — have long been suspected of being applied much more frequently to white athletes. Well, somebody finally put it to the test. As Walkoff Walk proves, at least one descriptor, lack of hustle, is almost exclusively reserved for black players. I tried Googling up some football-related racial code language. The most common recipient of Wes Welkerousness as bestowed by pro writers? Looks like it’s Golden Tate, a black player. (If we’re counting message boards, then it’s Jordan Shipley, a white player who’s taller, skinnier, much less agile, and a little slower than Welker — plus they play in very different offenses. Nevermind all that; Jordan Shipley Wes Welker is a Google suggested search at this point. I just football-nerded all over the place, and I apologize.) For whatever reason football writers seem to be less influenced by race than baseball writers. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. Fans and TV announcers, on the other hand… THING:Local boy with cancer turns into a superhero for a day by the Seattle Times. Half the town of Seattle conspired with Make-A-Wish to give superpowers to a 13-year-old with life-threatening liver cancer. If you can make it through this article without misting up, your not-crying muscles have superpowers of their own.
This piece is entitled “Tea with Tyson,” as in Mike Tyson, and as in discussing tea with him. The following three minutes will rank among the best fifteen minutes of your day, unless if you’ve saved Seattle from Dr. Dark today:
Thing: Social, Super-Sized by social-creature. “The same technology that allows us to be more connected than ever before imaginable, on its flip side, perhaps even simply through contrast, has increased our capacity for loneliness. We have built up a new tolerance level, and all we do is want more more more. Hence, the compulsion to feel a part of something, something massive, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of other people, all experiencing the same trending topic stream together as it scrolls by.” We should feel both comfort and horror when we think of the ways technology is enhancing (taking advantage of?) our prehistoric/biological need for social connection. In other words, how would Genghis Khan have used Foursquare?
Thing: 10 Ways to Access Blocked Stuff on the Web by Lifehacker. Now, if a site wants you to pay money for content, and you choose to access that content without paying, you’re stealing — whether you like Rupert Murdoch or not doesn’t change that fact. However, there are plenty of times when we’re unable to get to something, and there’s a perfectly good reason to bypass whatever’s in the way. Whether that means getting around Gmail downage, avoiding an overeager office or university page-blocker so you can get work-related research done, dodging an oppressive government, or watching legally streamed TV from another country, the internet always wins.
Thing: Why Teenagers Are Growing Up Slowly Today from Newsweek and Kids Learn Math Easily When They Control Their Own Learning from Psychology Today. The construct that comes to mind when we use the word school has little in common with the ideal learning environment. And it’s not about tweakable elements like student-to-teacher ratio — it’s about the whole concept of school and what we’re really trying to accomplish. You know this. But it’s worth repeating from top to bottom until everyone knows this.
I swear I’ll do three sets each of Radioheads and Ghostfaces at max weight, max reps for saying this out loud, but CONFESSIONTIME: I like two Creed songs. So it’s with only 99% ironic passion that I’m able to join in the LOLETARIAT on mocking this song Scott Stapp recorded for the Florida Marlins.
But you’re telling me you’re serving up “One-strike-two-strikes, swing aweey-ahhh/ A Diving Catch-hh! A stohe-len beeaase-ahh/ A perrfec game-uh! A trih-pul play-ahh!/ Anoe-tha playhoff ra-ace, YES?/ WORLSEERIESCHEIMPSWE’LL [CRACK!] BEE!”, all over Friday Night Lights guitars run through the NASCAR-mosh filter? Oh, it’s summertime, friends:
Ambitious dunk contest participant somehow, someway winds up with half his leg submerged in the basket. You want to talk about mainlining social media — note the immediate cameraphones-to-ladders ratio once everyone realizes what’s happened.
The citizen journalism impulses of today’s youth? Flourishing.