31 March 2015

Hot Takes: Andy Gray is a Moron

The internet is a vast space and there is a lot of pressure to generate content. Also the barriers to entry are low - you do not need to be able to think critically. There are too many examples of this type of stupid to list but a good one caught my eye today. Take it away, Andy Gray of SI, who got worked up because the very, very rich Chicago Cubs are acting to protect their controlling interest in a well paid employee:

This really annoyed me [says Andy]. The MLB Players Association is livid because the Cubs are sending Kris Bryant to Triple-A for the first 10 games of the season. In doing this, it pushes Bryant's free agency back another season. The MLBPA feels this is unfair. You know what's unfair? The average salary of a MLB player in 2014 was $3.82 million while the median salary of an Army staff sergeant in 2014 was $31,521. I know Bryant has been one of the best players this spring training, but baseball players are rich beyond belief and nobody wants to hear your complaining. Rant over.

This logic is so reductive and stupid that it makes me wonder how this guy is able to function successfully in the wider world. How can he collect his own salary in good conscience knowing that our servicemen and -women around the world are egregiously underpaid? How can anyone!!?? :: head explodes ::

To recap: baseball team behaves unethically (but legally) to give themselves the best possible business advantage and restrict an employees earning potential. This is 'unfair' (and very often illegal, but the rules are different for MLB). But no one should complain about unfair or unethical wage-reducing practices because they make a lot of money and Army staff sergeants do not. Ugh I still can't get this to make any sense at all.

If you are in second grade and/or work in the link-dump subdivision of a media enterprise in decline then it is perfectly acceptable to draw a straight line from MLB player earnings and a low-tier professional in our armed forces. In all other instances, such as if you can think critically at a third-grade level or above, then it is not reasonable. These two things are related only because your brain is small so they have to sit in close proximity, a lonely life raft of ideas floating in a vast ocean of otherwise empty space.

30 March 2015

Been Busy, but: Cookie Monster is Still the Best

Pushing paper and stuff. I wrote some posts that weren't very good so then I had to start over.
In the interim, here is a GIF of what I look like when get my hands on a big plate of cookie(s).

23 March 2015

Ian the Climate Denialist Potato

A potato is a better scientist than the clowns that deny climate change. So is a kitten.

Hot Jamz: Let You Go (feat. Great Good Fine Ok) by the Chainsmokers

This came out a month ago and according to insufferable pedants that care about these kinds of things it's 'too progressive'.

Pro Tip: When someone starts talking that kind of bullshit to your best bet is to just turn up your jam, point to your ears, shrug and shake your head that you cannot hear them. Then dance your way around so you face the other direction.

Keep on keeping on, people.

Fistbump a Bald Eagle


22 March 2015

Small Sample Size: Who Did it Best?

Not much of a fan of rap music around these parts but this remix is growing on me. Sticky hook and a good mashup. And that cover image from soundcloud is dope.

I remember the original Fugees track, because although it was a 'minor hit' in the America it was a repeat offender in my Sony Discman headphones because it's a damn good song.

What about that hook though? Well, it's pretty good in the original, which came out in 1987 (!!!). I'm going to let that sink in for a minute, because that is 25 years ago. Enya is a not-even-a-little-bit-guilty pleasure at Chez GJAW. How the hook came to the Fugees is anyone's guess, but credit to their producer(?) for hearing the truth in it. Well played.

16 March 2015

Handstands Part Two: Crossover Skillz

Last week I wrote about the general benefits of practicing inversions. 
To summarize: They are good, and you should do them. 

How Do Handstands Overlap with Crossfit Skillz? 

Whoa, back up. What is a crossfit skill?

Good question. For our purposes I will define it as an athletic movement that appears frequently in crossfit workouts and requires a combination of strength and flexibility to perform efficiently. A quick trip through The Google returns many different results related to 'crossfit skills' - a partial list:
  • Wall balls
  • Squats
  • Pull ups
  • Toes to bar
  • Muscle ups
  • Double unders
  • Rope climb
  • L Sit
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Thruster
  • Snatch
  • Walking without falling over (very underrated skill)
  • Clean
  • Clean and jerk
  • Bicep curls
Just typing that list made me pumped.

Okay Then - How do Handstands Help Me Do Those Things?

All the exercises list above are easier with a strong core. Executing the complex movements (read: clean and jerk, muscle ups, snatch) requires good kinesthetic awareness AND a strong core. If only there were some way to improve my balance, core strength and kinesthetic awareness all at the same time...(see where this is going?)

A handstand builds core strength, core stability and upper body strength. It also teaches you to get comfortable in uncomfortable positions. If you work on your handstands regularly your unweighted crossfit movements (toes to bar, L sit, pull ups, etc) will see improvement first. Weighted movements will take a bit longer to show improvement but you will experience a cascade of benefits across all the exercises. Core work is good like that. 

Ditch the Training Wheels: Get Off the Wall

The wall is a training tool and the wall is a crutch. A 'handstand against the wall' is not a handstand any more than leaning against a wall is the same as standing upright unsupported. These are very much not the same things! Cast aside the crutch and learn to balance like the awesome person that you are. It's a big step but I think you are ready.

Why Work On Handstands If I Can Already Walk On My Hands?

Walking on your hands is rad! You are strong and athletic and have good kinesthetic awareness and I wish I could do that! But: Do I have good balance when I am standing upright and wobbling around like a drunk person? No. No I do not. If you have to move around then your balance needs work. Good news is you are most of the way there. A handstand hold will be easy for you to learn.


The better your balance is then the better you are at controlling heavy weights and your body in awkward positions (such as over your head, or during a butterfly pull up, or getting up off the ground). Want to get improve your overall fitness? Get upside down on your hands!

14 March 2015

The Reaper Man Comes for Us All: Goodbye Terry

Death and Death of Rats
Sir Terry Pratchett was my favorite author for many years. I read his books obsessively, distributed them like an evangelist. I bought the Discworld novels again and again to re-read and then give away to friends, because if only more people could be exposed to his brilliance!

In the past 5ish years my passion for his work has cooled. I grew up got older, Vimes mellowed, Corporal Carrot became Commander Carrot, and my favorite characters stopped appearing with the same regularity. I still bought and read the books, of course. But for me the classics are Small Gods, Feet of Clay, and (especially) Reaper Man.

Recently I had to call my 401(k) provider for tax information and the authentication protocol required that I identify my favorite character in literature. I had supplied this information in the distant past and had no idea what my original answer was. Complicating matters is the fact that I like to read, I read a lot, and my tastes evolve over time (see previous paragraph). There was a quiet moment on the line while I thought about it, realized the obvious answer and said,"Death." The operator paused and said, "Yes, that's what it says here. I'll get that information out to you immediately."

Terry Pratchett died on Thursday, 13 March after a battle with Alzheimers. He was 66. His stories will live on indefinitely, although I see that Reaper Man is sold out on Amazon right now. Let me know if you want to borrow my copy.

11 March 2015

Cephalopodcast: Octopus Takes His Leave

This guy took his time but he got there in the end. Also: whoa!

10 March 2015

Hot Slow Jam: Phoebe Ryan - Mine (Atlas Remix)

Feeling this jam. It just came out. It's got very few plays on soundcloud. Check it.

08 March 2015

To Protect and Serve: Ferguson, Missouri Police Department

Police do not exist to 'fight crime'. The police do not exist to protect you. Police exist to generate revenue (write tickets) and take statements after a crime is committed.

In an ideal world the police enable us to live in a free society, without the fear of the strong preying on the weak. We do not live in an ideal world, so most police departments fall well short of that goal.

At their worst police prey on the members of society with the weight of the 'justice' system behind them, giving them carte blanche to spread fear and intimidation and levy fines and impose penalties without reprisal. If they are in collusion with the courts they can write your ticket and then the court can enforce it and you have no recourse. Can you imagine how awful it would be to live in a place like that? No? Well if you live int the United States you don't even need a passport because you can find it in Ferguson, Missouri. And New York City. And big and small municipalities all over the country.

The truly damning thing about the Ferguson Report is the institutionalized racism and predatory attitudes of the police and judges and clerks and every single person that worked for the government. Bear in mind that this is just what the Ferguson Report found and could reasonably prove - it is by no means the worst of what they may have heard.

Ferguson PD and local government put their boot on the neck of the populace, every day, for years. This is the courts creating laws to generate revenue and charging the jackbooted thugs police to enforce those laws, which they then use to pay their generous salaries so they can justify raising even more revenue, and on and on in a synergestic nightmare negative feedback loop.

Imagine what rich white America would do if you rewrote the report and replaced the words "African American" with "jewish". People would flip their shit! As it is, well, there's some outrage, and some of the worst offenders (where 'offender' = repressive, racist government asshole) are going to lose their jobs but on the whole they will go unpunished, retreat to their redoubts, and continue to forward emails about how Barack Obama is the antichrist. To be fair, it's not like they did anything that was against the law.

07 March 2015

Had It the Whole Way

I Got This

Professional athletes, like the rich, are not like you and I. 

During a postgame interview some jackass in the stands (may he be punched by security on his way to being ejected from of the stadium) threw a water bottle at the victorious goalie. If the intended target were any more cool about it that water would have frozen. That's Steve Mandanda, goalie for Marseille.

Stand On Your Hands, Part the First (of Two Parts)

THAT IS NOT ME IN THE VIDEO. That is Ido Portal. 

Legal disclaimer: Always consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program or trying something new;  any exercise you do at your own risk and if you get hurt being a dumbo then that's your fault. Don't be a dumbo.

Long time readers know that I like to exercise. (It gets me out of the house.) Friend Bennycakes asked if I would throw some weights words around and explain why inversions in general, and handstands in particular, are Good for You (that is Part the First), and also elaborate on the benefits as they relate to specific activities, such as crossfit skillz (to be covered in Part the Second).

The temptation to create a 'top 10 reasons handstands are RAD2TEHMAX' listicle is strong but this isn't buzzfeed so we will resist the urge.

We Were Inverted

There are many claims about the mental and physical benefits of inversions. Let's back up: an inversion is when your heart is higher than your head. Some claims are specious but if we apply common sense we can discern that you are getting some or all of the following benefits:
  • Spinal decompression (headstands excepted, obvs)
  • Shaking up the flow of your lymphatic system, which helps keep you healthy
  • Strengthening and toning whatever parts you are using to hold yourself up (shoulders and arms in a handstand)
  • Encouraging your arterial system to work harder, and giving your heart and venous system a brief respite
  • Shaking up the flow of your digestive system, encouraging proper digestion
  • Strengthening your core
  • Improving your balance
  • Learning how to be comfortable upside down (underrated skill, btw)
These are good things!

Will a 10 second handstand hold per day give you all these things? Probably not! So why bother?

Handstands are a Force for Good

You know who likes handstands? Kids! (Also: dogs! Though they may take the opportunity to get all up in your face. That's a benefit in my book. YMMV) Point is: handstands are fun! You can reap the strength and balance benefits of an inversion even in relatively short handstand holds. How great is that? I think it is great.

Have you ever seen a bunch of people trying to learn a handstand? Does it look like they are having a bad time? No, because something about being upside down and falling over and then getting up again is simultaneously humbling and empowering. Try it and you'll see.

Why don't more people practice handstands? Because they are afraid. Afraid of getting hurt (valid reason), afraid of falling (also valid), afraid of looking silly (not valid). Nothing wrong with that. Fear can be healthy - it keeps us from putting ourselves at risk unnecessarily. But sometimes it keeps us from reaching our full potential (Life Lesson alert!).

Borrowing from Ido Portal: Whatever your body does, it will get good at. Sit and become good at sitting. Move and become good at moving. Stand on your hands and become good at balancing. The balance skill will spread to many other parts of your athletic life. I will cover a few of those in Part II. 

05 March 2015

Too Good Not to Share: Eric Prydz vs. CHVRCHES with Tether

Heard this jam for the first time recently. Instant classic. Apparently it has been showing up in Eric Prydz live sets for over a year but since I don't get to those it is new to me. He's released it for download a couple weeks ago.

Prydz has a knack for taking whatever is good about a song and making it great.  I want to post the extended mix of this jam for your listening pleasure but the only versions available online are bootlegs not worth listening to. Just hit the replay button on this one and you'll get the idea, although the full version is superior because the song has a better tension / release pace. You care.

03 March 2015

Cuttlefish True Facts

I loved this too much not to share. Found it during my Cephalopodcast research but thought it warranted its own post.

02 March 2015


This guy is Death's Shadow.

When is someone going to start a youtube channel called "Cephalopodcast" and show videos of cephalopods doing stuff? Because cephalopods are awesome. Just the octopus family alone would be worth hours and hours of entertainment. Then you have your squids, which are often predatory and come in sizes ranging from teeny tiny to 'sea monster'. And also the cuttlefish: kind of a cross between a squid and an octopus. They use camouflage like the octopus (chromatophores FTW!) but tend to be out and a bout a bit more, though they are not pelagic like many squid species. So there's a lot of good stuff there. Let's do this!

I visited the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific and got a kick out of seeing all the creatures. The Giant Pacific Octopus did not make an appearance. They are shy creatures. Oh well.