06 July 2015

Monday is Time for Pump Up Jams: Tritonal ft. Jonathan Mendelsohn - Satellite (BlueCollar Remix)

Universal Truth: Everyone needs a good pump-up jam once in a while.

Maybe you get down with some funky old school shit. Maybe you thought that Grateful Dead "reunion" show was the hottest hotness. Maybe you got Let it Go on repeat-offender lockdown. Maybe you like country music. Maybe you can't wait for Dre to finally finish the follow up to Dee Are Eee. Whatever. Point is: you need an anthem. This is today's anthem. Tomorrow, who knows? You get today.

Free download? Why yes. Yes indeedy.

28 June 2015

Let's Play Games: Unravel

This game was announced at e3 and the guy that did the intro was very sincere and nervous and charmingly relatable.

Plus the game looks great!

26 June 2015

26 June 2015: It's About Damn Time

Just Two Beautiful Men, Sharing a Moment
** Pictures look best if you narrow your browser window until they are stacked on top of one another **

I love America. This country is full of idiots and bullshit but if you are lucky (and I am very lucky) it can be a lovely place to live and work, because it is also full of wonderful people and places.

Today we got a long overdue reminder that sometimes the judicial system actually delivers a very tiny bit of sweet hot justice: gay people can get married in any state of the union, regardless of which backwards fuckwits think that marriage should only exist legally between a man and a woman in whatever backwater fuckwitted state they choose to call home.

Equal protection and equal rights under the law means everyone, all the time. If that offends or bothers you then you need to get over yourself or move somewhere your views are reflected in the law (I hear Saudi Arabia is lovely this time of year). The Supreme Court did not tell anyone what marriage is, they just said 'hey, treat everyone the same - the law cannot and will not discriminate'. If you think marriage is only valid if it is between a man and a woman then that's cool, get down with your bad self. Keep thinking that backwards shit! But you cannot legally enforce that view because it is discriminatory. (Sad faces.) Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Big shout out to all the dissenting justices (each wrote their own dissent) so they could go on record as flag-bearers for discrimination for future generations! It's like you all knew were going to be remembered as assholes but wanted to be remembered as unique assholes in your own special way.

If you, the reader, insist on pushing and enforcing your discriminatory views out into the wider world on religious grounds then you should just fuck right off. You are on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of human decency. (Which: what the hell? Why are you such a dick?) Someday people will look back on your views with regret and chagrin, and wonder what people were thinking. That day cannot come soon enough, and today was a big step on the way there.

America. Fuck Yeah. Finally.

Jim Jeffries and Gun Control

Big Cheese sent the attached video and asked what I thought about it. I had some thoughts, which I have reproduced here. It's a funny video!

He's not wrong.

Anti-gun advocates like to talk about Port Arthur because Australia enacted legislation and they have not had a mass shooting since then. There is actually a disturbing amount of overlap between Port Arthur and Sandy Hook, the two shootings that white people seem to care about. (Note that white people only care when other white people get shot - more on this shortly.)

Left unmentioned is that Australia, despite all its bluster, is a pissant country comprised of mostly empty space. And they had a lot of shootings! That place is fucked up. Australia has about half as many people as California, and less than 1/10th as many people as the US as a whole. Nice place to visit but it is basically Florida, with worse food. So, yeah: Australia banned guns! :: wanking motion ::

Setting aside the very real problems of scale: yes, constitutional arguments are dated and reductive and feeble in the extreme. It is just as bad as pointing at the bible when you are having a religious discussion; complete non-starter. Also the constitution has a proud history of being impressively wrong about important things: slavery, equal rights for women, booze, etc.

That a gun owner is more likely to use their gun on themselves than someone else is not an impactful argument against gun ownership. So what if they do? The people most likely to die of gun violence are either 1. Young black males, or 2. Older, unattached white men in their 50s and 60s. If you remove suicides from gun death statistics then the people most at risk are young black men, and it is not even close. When white men agitate for gun rights they are, statistically speaking, fighting for the right to shoot themselves. I'm fine with that. Free will is free will.

Guns are too easy to get. The recent massacre in South Carolina highlights this fact all too well. I think owning a gun should be like getting a pilots license. Everyone can apply but it requires a demonstrable level of proficiency and commitment in order to take one home. If you can get through the screening process and demonstrate proficiency then you should be able to own whatever gun you want.

As for Sandy Hook, no one gives a shit about the black kids getting killed around the country every day but when a mentally ill, mentally retarded kid uses a gun his mom bought him (legally) to shoot a bunch of white kids it is the end of the world. Soccer moms across the nation are afraid for their little angels, and the NRA says they should put an armed guard at every school. Both reactions are incredibly dumb. Your kids are not at risk, and an armed guard is just the first guy to get shot.

People want to enact legislation on anomalies. What cascade of legislation is going to effectively prevent a mother from buying an expensive gun and making it available to her sociopathic, autistic child? I suggest: none. That was a catastrophic failure on too many levels. Legislating and adjudicating for anomalies leads to extreme reactions that may or may not solve future anomalies but almost always have unintended consequences. (The militarization of the police in the US saw its genesis in large part as a result of the North Hollywood shootout. That was two guys, one time, and now we have a country literally overflowing with wannabe soldier-cops and provincial SWAT teams.)

Let's address the real epidemic: gun violence in inner cities and urban areas. It has been ongoing for a generation now and shows no signs of slowing or stopping. Let's address the root causes of the violence (poverty, lack of opportunity, the drug war) and instead of taking away guns let's see if we can find a way to give poor people a reason to stop shooting each other.

25 June 2015

I Went There: San Francisco

(One in an occasional series.)

Went to SF for a conference and spent several days down by Union Square and the Tenderloin and the Mission. It was a busy week in SF: the Warriors won the NBA title, Obama came to town to see how I was doing speak at a Mayors conference and it was also some kind of centennial for City Hall. Oh and it was sunny and unseasonably warm for most of the week, which happens only slightly less often than Centennial celebrations.

So it was a happening week in the city. My room at the Parc 55 had a nice view. Union Square is my least favorite part of San Francisco - it is everything shitty about a mall combined with everything shitty about crowded urban areas - but once you got past the mediocre restaurants and aimless throngs of tourists (do they not have a Banana Republic in Germany??) you can wander into the Tenderloin or south of Market for some local color and good foods. The areas do get legitimately sketchy with the mentally ill and drug-addicted homeless but stay out of the alleys and don't be phone zombie and you will be fine.

Spent a Friday afternoon drinking beers at Pier 23, which is pretty much the best way to spend a sunny Friday afternoon in San Francisco. Got to catch up with Ze Newbs and his family in person in the evening. That was superb because it made my trip fun instead of just work. Good times.

21 June 2015

Keep Calm and Make It Rain

Congratulations to the Warriors and their long-suffering fans. A great year capped by the NBA title? It gets no better.
Keep calm and Steph Curry.

Ps. Fuck Matthew Dellevadova back to the D-league. That guy is good at all the parts of basketball that are miserable to watch and awful at all the good parts. He is basically the inverse of Steph Curry.

13 June 2015

This Book is Not Good: Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

I was able to buy a used copy of Maplecroft by Cherie Priest for $0.99 plus shipping. I overpaid.

This book is not good. The monsters are not scary. The characters are flat. It is all just a lot of predictable, boring, by-the-numbers crap. Brief periods of action are frequently interrupted with long-winded expository whining. Don't bother unless there's absolutely nothing else to read. And even then: meh.

Priest is good writer but her talents are wasted here.

08 June 2015

Hot Jamz: Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding (Jasper Dietze Remix)

There are a lot of good remixes of this song. I prefer this more uptempo version. Put some bounce in it!

03 June 2015

The Internet Delivers: Weird Fish Rash

The internet is full of an unlimited supply of stupidity. (You can find quite a lot of it on this blog.)
But sometimes it delivers the goods. This comment was from a weird (kind of pointless) story about not eating sewer fish in New Jersey. If you were thinking of eating sewer fish then most definitely do not. But then this happened, courtesy a glorious person that is out there, in the world, doing good work with local wildlife:

A few years ago I went down into a city ravine (water up to the knees or waist depending on where you stood) to help a 3-foot-long muscular sumbitch of a fish get off the gravel pile it had beached itself on and into deep enough water to “breathe”. My wife snapped photos, I looked like an idiot, it was all a very bad idea. Got a weird fish rash. Probably against the law? Not sure what law. Anyway, it was meant to help the fish. Somewhere in there I probably contemplated a mercy killing. Probably killed it anyway by accidentally feeding it an ice cream cone. (It got fish splashed so we dropped it in the water... and the fish went right for it. Gulp.)
Trying like hell to remember why this anecdote was relevant. The end? Thhpbbt.

31 May 2015

The Good Stuff: David Regelin Yoga

Took a class with David Regelin yesterday. Didn't know too much about him except he was from New York. Actively avoided doing too much research; better to go and see what he's all about and decide for myself. Plus I was looking for an excuse to get out of the house and yoga workshops are good because you always learn something, even when they are terrible.

The class was outstanding. Great from start to finish. David is an inspired, careful, intelligent teacher. I cannot recommend him enough. I described him as 'Tim Senesi East' to people that know Tim. Not because they are both annoyingly tall, dark and handsome (though they are), but because they are very athletic, alignment-focused, have a wealth of knowledge and share it in a useful, digestible way. If Regelin is ever in your area then make an effort to get to his workshop or training. Absolutely worth your time and money.

And the tall part matters: the balancing poses are easier for shorter people so seeing a muscular person taller than me teach poses is inspiring and humbling. It's great that the toothpick-armed jockeys can do cool shit but I'm neither skinny nor short so I have other challenges, like fitting my man-thighs into boardshorts. And getting some sun. Maybe.

30 May 2015

Read All About It: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey and Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer

Jewel Wasp: Giving Roaches Nightmares for Millennia
Happened to read Girl with All the Gifts and Parasite Rex back to back. That was a (fortuitous) coincidence because they overlap a bit and both books are good.

If you have to choose only one then read Parasite Rex. It is sensationally titled as "Inside the bizarre world of nature's most dangerous creatures", which is one of the reasons it sat on my shelf for so long. I thought it would be sensationalistic and dumb. It is neither. It is a cerebral look at parasites and the way they have shaped the world. Turns out the book just scratches the surface but it is very easy and entertaining reading. The variety, complexity and specificity of parasite species is astounding.

If you want some easy science-y fiction then Girl with All the Gifts is a good read. It is perfect light reading as long as you do not mind savage brutality as a plot device. Main character is a girl, so: feminism? Not sure. Some of the characters are a little thin and predictable but overall it's a good pickup if you see it used or can borrow it from a handsome gentleman that does not need it taking up any more of his already overflowing bookcase.

21 May 2015

Out With a Bang: Letterman Does it Right

This is fantastic. I forgot how much I loved this song.
Also: the guys put on tuxedos, even Taylor Hawkins, who wore shorts to his own wedding (per Dave Grohl). That is rad. 

20 May 2015

Albert Burneko is the Best

Left and Right are Social Constructs
There are a few people out there doing good work on the internet and Albert Burneko is one of them. Most of the Deadspin staff is surprisingly good (Tom Ley and Greg Howard are great) but my personal favorite is Burneko. His words are good words. His style is good style. His essay (instructions?) on how to grill a whole fish is a masterpiece, but it is only one of many.

He also writes about basketball, and his essay on why Nick Young is terrible is also a masterpiece. I come back to it periodically, usually for this passage, which is the purest purity:

To confirm my anecdotal sense of his game, I've spent the past three seasons carefully documenting every single one of Young's touches, for the Wizards and also for the Clippers. It turns out that on a shocking 62.3 percent of his touches, he forced (and bricked) a contested pull-up 20-footer early in the shot-clock. On another 20.4 percent of his touches, he forced (and bricked) a contested pull-up 20-footer early in the shot-clock. And on the remaining 17.3 percent of his touches, he turned and pegged the ball through the television screen, directly into my face.
That is advanced analytics at their finest. If you have ever watched Nick Young play basketball for 5 minutes then you know Burneko is speaking pure truth to power.  Young's incompetence is even more amazing in person; he is a rare orchid that can only flourish in a very specific set of circumstances: troglodyte head coach (Byron Scott), team with other no-name players (identify 3 Lakers from last year excluding Kobe), and a tanking franchise with a top-five protected first round pick (sad faces for Knicks fans).

Enjoy Albert Burneko at every opportunity.

18 May 2015

I Went There*: Portland

*One in an occasional series where I talk about places I visited. If that's not your thing then here are cat videos.

Visited Portland, Oregon for several days. Had meetings, ate food, walked around, went to yoga. Portland has a lot of neckbeards and able bodied homeless and brunettes with sensible haircuts. Normally I'm a fan of short hair but Portland made me realize I'm a fan of short hair that says, "I styled my hair like this because it is cute". Portland girl styles are more "I didn't feel like making any sort of effort whatsoever". It's very practical, if not terribly flattering.

It is relatively inexpensive to eat and drink downtown but the hotels are pricey. Although there were a lot of able-bodied homeless I didn't get aggressively panhandled like I did in Vancouver (which is both spectacularly expensive and overrun with gutter punks). So that was nice. Overall I recommend it. There are a lot of cool places to eat and get a beer, fun outdoorsy things to do. The yoga studio I visited was very good. The downtown and immediate environs are nice and much of it is walkable. 

Favorite thing: pie at the The Imperial. They made a strawberry-peach pie that was as good as anything I could make. If I ever go back to Portland I will make sure I stop in again.

Second favorite: River running through town. Don't see much of that down where I live. 

16 May 2015

Life Lesson: Don't Be a Macho Dick

Pancakes > Workout
One thing that I really like about my gym (aside from that they sometimes blow off workouts to get some flapjacks, see photo) is that the competition is friendly. It can be competitive but you can tell someone flat out that you want to beat their time and there is nothing macho in it. This comes from the top down: the coaches set the tone and the macho stuff is known to be not acceptable. You just want to do your best and if someone else motivates you that is up to you. You are competing to do your personal best, not necessarily beat other peoples times. And if it is then you can joke about it. There is always someone faster / stronger than you anyway so who cares? It's between you and the weights. 

That said: I got up early to do a circuit workout class this morning with my friend at his gym. It was tough. The circuit was super long so we just went through it twice. There were about 9 people in the class.
  • Sled push 40 yards
  • Rope wave thing up and down 40 times total (20 each arm)
  • 12 burpees
  • 12 standing butterflys, weighted
  • 12 plyo push ups
  • 12 standing rows
  • 12 bw dips
  • 12 plank chin ups
  • 12 bench press (weight varied by person)
  • 12 pull ups
  • 12 squats (weight varied)
  • 20 sec hard run on the treadmill
  • 12 box jumps
  • 12 shoulder presses (weight varied)
  • 12 lateral raises for more shoulder work
  • 12 bridges on the swiss ball
  • 12 tricep press downs
  • 12 bicep curls
I did a crushing clean to overhead and thruster/pull up combo workout (I want to rename that workout 'the nightmare') 12 hours ago (so many 12's!) so I was pretty blown out before we started. When I got to the new gym this morning some guy I had never met introduced himself and gave me the most aggressive handshake ever. I am a fan of the firm handshake but this guy tried to squeeze my hand like he was wringing out a towel. Since I have a very strong grip from jiu jitsu and the gym work I was immediately annoyed because, really guy? It's like that? Because if it is I can definitely crush your hand if that's how you want to do it.

He is about my age and roughly the same height as me, very fit with a runner's build: lean, thin upper body, not much shoulder or arm bulk. I do circuit type workouts like it is my job and one thing I know is that the skinnies cannot do the strength stuff. Burpees maybe, pull ups and push ups and dips and presses: not so much. So we did the warmup and Macho Dick was in a huuuuuuuuge hurry to finish first on the WARMUP. He is such a tryhard, took it sooo seriously. What's the rush? He had his most serious face on. Even though he was doing some of the the warmup work wrong - he wanted to be first all the time. I just wanted to talk to the girls. Whatevs.

It's time to start the circuit and the fastest people are supposed to go first because we do the exercises in order. There are two sleds. Macho Dick heads straight for a sled. He cannot wait to whip some ass. After some prodding I go first with Macho Dick - I would much rather hang back and kick it with my peeps but whatever let's get this over with. He is super excited and really goes for it on the sled, finishes way ahead of me. I hope he feels good about this because there's a lot of work left to do and I am going to grind him to dust.

He rushes to the ropes and cranks those out. He rushes to the burpees and wait a minute... he seems to be slowing. Gets to the plyo push ups and now I am caught up because there is only one station and have to wait for him to finish. At this point the sled push appears to be catching up with him. He struggles on the dips (lol weakling) while I power through the plyo push ups and the row. I am now caught up to him. This is odd because it seemed like he was going to kill it after the sled push. I swap an exercise to pass him and keep on keeping on, finishing my first circuit well ahead of everyone else.

Macho Dick is looking a little worn but he's still in it, albeit much more slowly. It is gut check time: finishing first is off the table; now he has to figure out how far behind he will end up. Which sucks for him because he is clearly very invested. Another thing the gym has taught me: you learn a lot about yourself when you do not perform as well as you expect. Do you work through it or do you quit? Fight or surrender? (For me it depends on the day: some days the bear eats you.)

The workout is hard. Everyone is struggling, including me. Look at that list. That's a lot of shit to do!

I head back out and hit the sled again, start the whole thing over. It is damn tough this time around because I am feeling used up from 12 hours prior and I get no breaks because all the stations are open. And also the trainer has ramped up all the weights for me. Nice. So I do my thing, grind out the work and after about halfway through round two I see Macho Dick WALK AWAY DURING THE WORKOUT. Not take a breather - everyone is doing that - but literally exit the facility.

Where does he go? What does he do? Did he have an important call to make mid-workout? Not sure. He had to take an extended time out. LOLOLOLLLLL By the time he returned I was just about done. Ahhh what happened man? Did I break your will or did you sprain your ego? Bit of both? :-/

Finished up my workout and waited for everyone else to get done. Macho Dick finished last which is utterly unimportant except he wanted to make a big deal out of it.

Being a Macho Dick is lame if you are first or last or anywhere in between. It is not important. No one cares except you and the other asshats. Just do your best and encourage others to do the same. Effort is what counts; this is not a race. Everyone starts from different skill levels and works to improve. No one takes anything away from you if they finish before you, and you do not take anything away from anyone if you finish before them. 200 pounds is always 200 pounds.

Hot Jamz: I Want You Back by the Jackson 5 (Shaparder and LRX Remix)

Long-time readers will know that I love this song (the original is filed under Dancefloor Destoyers for a reason). It gets an update in this remix and I confess I am enjoying the hell out of it. They put a little more bounce in it (always a good idea) and kept the world-beating bassline and vocal. I GOT MY DANCING SHOES ON WHAT ABOUT YOU??