Things even non-riders might find amusing

I like riding, and I like data. I also like getting faster, so with the encouragement of a friend who offered to coach, I bought a power meter for my bike to facilitate more directed training.

In order for this to be useful, though, I also needed to establish a baseline of my maximum sustained effort. Cyclists call this the Functional Threshold Power. The truer test is an hour long ride where you go as hard as you can for the whole hour, leaving nothing in the tank.

That’s obviously unpleasant (you’re alone) and hard to gauge (am I going to fast? too slow?), so the more common approach is to do a 20 minute test and multiply by .95, which is what I did today.

This isn’t the sort of thing you want to do on public roads, obviously; fortunately, Houston has Memorial Park and the Picnic Loop, which is a closed, paved track available for public use. When the weather’s nice, you see lots of riders on it, but also walkers and whatnot. Anyway, it’s close enough to the house that I used the ride over as a little warmup, and then started the FTP test as soon as I hit the entrance to the track.

After 20 minutes, I backed off, exited the track, and rode home.

So, can you see the part of this graph from Strava that represents the 20 minute test?

Screen Shot 2017 11 21 at 2 47 01 PM

ABSURDLY BRIEF REVIEWS OF RECENT FILMS, BOOKS, AND ALBUMS

St. Vincent, Massseduction
OH SWEET LORD YES.
Jane Harper, The Dry
BASICALLY MYSTERY BY NUMBERS.
The National, Sleep Well Beast
DEEP VOICE STILL SAD.
Lord Huron, Strange Trails
ABUNDANT PLEASING COUPLETS.
Jonathan Lethem, A Gambler’s Anatomy
LOTS OF BACKGAMMON. LITTLE ELSE.
Edgar Wright, Baby Driver
20 MINUTES OF JOY.
Ted Leo, The Hanged Man
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR.
The War On Drugs, A Deeper Understanding
SOLID.
Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky
NO.
John LeCarre, Legacy of Spies
FUN, BUT ODDLY EPHEMERAL.

In 1980, apparently, metaphor was illegal in music video

Exhibit A, the 1980 video for Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” — a great song, to be sure:

Too bad about that video, because HOLY CRAP it’s kind of amazing this effort didn’t kill the whole notion of music videos in its crib. After about the 5th or 6th time I realized the shot was directly and literally mirroring the lyrics, I started making notes. Follow along if you dare.

0:20 “laying everybody low”
As the Romeo actor saunters down a stylized hallway, actors he passes collapse to the floor.
0:47 “He’s underneath the window”
He is underneath a stylized featureless wall with a high window, in which our Juliet lounges.
1:03 “…the dice was loaded from the start”
A disembodied hand shakes and releases dice. The dice have Romeo and Juliet’s faces on them!
1:09 “…and you exploded in my heart”
The Romeo die explodes.
1:18 “…the movie song…”
New set, invoking a movie theater MST3K-style with patron silhouettes in front below a screen. Juliet is on the screen.
1:38 “..come up on different streets”
Romeo and Juliet sashay towards the camera down two parallel, stylized hallways — separated by a wall, natch. Is nothing is too on the nose for this director?
1:57 “…fall for chains of silver”
I think we have our answer.
1:59 “…chains of gold…”
We absolutely have our answer.
2:05 “…pretty strangers…”
A smiling, handsome man in a cheesy fedora rolls by in a T-top Camaro.
2:22 “…when we make love, you used to cry”
This guy makes Brian De Palma look subtle. It’s a tight shot of Juliet’s eye and a single, absurdly large tear. Obviously.
2:28 “…there’s a place for us”
Two folks enter the movie theater set, and take the only two seats left. At least the two people aren’t together, and aren’t Romeo and Juliet, so progress, maybe?
2:38 “…just that the time was wrong”
We’re still in the theater, but the film stops on a shot of Romeo trying to speak to Juliet — but the film stops, and the celluloid burns away! Tragic! Edgy! (And, I assume, completely baffling to millennials.)
2:52 “I can’t do the talk like the talk on the TV”
JESUS CHRIST JUST SHOOT ME. It’s a shot of woman’s disembodied legs wrapped around a small television, on which we see a nose-down shot of a male actor rapidly moving his mouth around as if he’s talking.
3:14 “All I do is miss you”
Our Romeo has fallen from a height and is splayed out, miserably, against a wall. This may seem like progress, but you will be disappointed, because it’s just a setup for what comes next.
3:17 “…and the way we used to be”
Juliet magically fades in, lounging beside him, and then fades away again.
3:23 “and keep bad company”
Romeo is still splayed out as before, but is now surrounded by a several sets of standing legs.
3:27 “kiss you”
Kisses mean lips! The shot cuts briefly from Romeo’s splayed form to a tight shot of Juliet’s lips, then back to Romeo, over and over.
3:39 “…used to cry…”
Improbably enormous tear shot repeats from 2:22.
3:46 “there’s a place for us”
We’re in the theater set again, but now it’s just R&J seated front and center watching a film of themselves lying on a rug together all cozy.
3:56 “it’s just that the time was wrong”
The movie versions of our heroes vanish, leaving the poignantly empty rug.
4:50
INTERPRETIVE DANCE; fadeout as Knopfler plays.

This absolutely MUST win the prize for “best opening paragraph” this week

At The Daily Beast, re: Mr Page’s baffling testimony, in an article with the fanTAStic title “The Strange Pleasure of Seeing Carter Page Set Himself on Fire”.

Watching Carter Page immolate himself and incriminate a half dozen of his colleagues from the Trump-Putin 2016 campaign has been a strange, almost guilty pleasure. Profoundly disconnected, socially awkward, and reeking of late-stage virginity, he gives off the creepy Uncanny Valley vibe of a rogue, possibly murderous android or of a man with a too-extensive knowledge of human taxidermy and a soundproofed van.

The whole piece is a gold mine, actually:

The delta between Trump’s imagination of himself and the brand image that he desperately wants to sell is always wide; he’s the “billionaire” lout playing the Manhattan sophisticate who gorges on fast food. He’s a man with a lemur wig and a five-pound bolus of chin-wattle who think’s he’s irresistible to women. He’s the serially bankrupt master of the Art of the Deal. The TV talk show character who snuck into the Oval Office on a tide of Russian influence and now thinks he won on the merits.

The TSA is still useless

Recent testing showed they were still failing to find “threatening items” over 80% of the time in randomized tests.

We can expect Congress to yell about this, and the TSA to change procedures some trivial amount in an attempt to “improve,” but that’s the wrong lesson here.

Here’s what we know:

  • The TSA just failed another test by an enormous margin.
  • The TSA has failed these tests repeatedly for 16 years.
  • This means the TSA is absolutely not stopping most “forbidden items” from getting on planes.
  • And yet, air travel is absurdly safe.

The only intellectually honest conclusion here is that the TSA is utterly, completely pointless. We’re spending billions but failing to stop even trivially “forbidden” items. Those items make it onto planes. Nobody dies. The TSA has never foiled an actual plot; all they do is confiscate liquids and nail clippers, and generally increase the hassle factor of flight.

Their efficacy in thwarting airborne terrorism might be debatable if they were shown to do even a C+ level job of their mission, but here we see the truth: They’re crap at their job, have ALWAYS been crap at their job, and yet air travel is absurdly, mind-bogglingly safe — and that safety has nothing to do with the TSA, and never has.

Security is always about balancing access with safety. We put up with some hassles in exchange for value. The TSA provides no value, but is constantly ramping up their hassle. This is a bad deal, and we need to end it.

End the TSA. Now. We’ve wasted billions on security theater in the last 16 years, and we have nothing to show for it except angry travelers and long lines.

How About That Regional Sports Squad!

I am reliably informed that, last evening, the collection of millionaire athletes ostensibly based in Houston defeated a similar squad based on Los Angeles, and as such now engage in a break — I think it’s two months? — before starting the entire process all over again.

This calls into question the meaning of such an event, but you’d never know that from the city’s reaction.

I will, however, have to rejigger my maxim regarding big-time Houston sports, which heretofore I assumed were banned from championships by the Illuminati. The only exceptions up to now have been the ’94 and ’95 Rockets, and I think we can all understand how the Conspiracy was caught flat-footed by the utterly improbable development of Michael Jordan forsaking the Bulls and going to play baseball in Alabama for two years.

Still not as cool as the Cubs winning, though.

This is a terrible, terrible idea. Please don’t do it.

Amazon Key is a new service that lets their couriers COME INTO YOUR HOUSE to drop off packages.

HOLY CRAP what a shitty idea. Please listen to me; I know things. For one thing, “smart” door locks absolutely aren’t. They’re less secure than conventional keys, because an attack on your door lock needn’t be local — even with a “smart” lock that’s not tied to Amazon.

With something like this plan, where you trust a corporation to keep your lock closed, you necessarily create a HUGE target for bad actors even if we stipulate (which I absolutely will not) that no simple bug or software failure will compromise the lock on its own.

I remain ABSOLUTELY GOBSMACKED at the level of trust some people are willing to give massive corporations that already have terrible, terrible, terrible privacy records: Google, Facebook, and Amazon. People are literally purchasing devices from Amazon that listen to your house all the time without regard to the privacy implications. It’s bananas.

Don’t do that. And for the love of God, Tom Waits, and tacos, absolutely do NOT consider putting a lock on your house that Amazon has the key to. I mean, HOLY SHIT.

Again. And again. And again.

I hugged my wife this morning, when we heard about Las Vegas, and 50 more dead. I can’t stop thinking about that moment today, about our safety together in our bedroom as we got ready for work, and about the shattering loss to each of the victims’ families. It seemed bizarre to realize, in that moment, that the loss was certainly still unknown to many of those families, who like us were dressing for work, unaware of what was coming. I hugged Erin tighter.

But also, I think, we hugged because we know that no one really cares. We know this because it keeps happening, and no one does anything about it. Already I’ve seen on Facebook useless, empty blather about how gun rights are important, and let’s not rush into anything, and it’s the right of the citizen to be armed to protect himself and his family, and let’s not politicize a tragedy, and all the rest of that tired bullshit.

They needn’t bother. We know now, after Sandy Hook in 2012, that the ammosexuals have won. We as a nation chose guns over the lives of children. We stood in the aftermath of the deaths of 26 children and took no meaningful action.

The first thing I did when I got to my desk this morning was repost this Onion story, which is a thing of beauty in its brutal honesty. Here’s the text:

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

ISLA VISTA, CA—In the days following a violent rampage in southern California in which a lone attacker killed seven individuals, including himself, and seriously injured over a dozen others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Tuesday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said North Carolina resident Samuel Wipper, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this guy from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past five years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

Two years ago almost to the day, in response to another shooting (in Oregon, at a community college), President Obama addressed our collective failure:

We don’t yet know why this individual did what he did. And it’s fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations may be. But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.

Earlier this year, I answered a question in an interview by saying, “The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws — even in the face of repeated mass killings.” And later that day, there was a mass shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. That day! Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.

We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.

[…]

There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.

We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.

And, of course, what’s also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. I would ask news organizations — because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

These were remarks given on October 1, 2015. We have, of course, done absolutely nothing. This is who we are.

It doesn’t have to be who we always are, but right now, in this mean and rude year of our lord 2017, this is America.

If you want more information, Vox has some charts for you concerning our uniquely American problem — and, by inference, our uniquely American refusal to do anything about it.

No, Tom, I will not play this with you.

I am certain that it is not exceptional for a game to exist, but be rarely played.

I am, however, reasonably certain that The Campaign for North Africa is perhaps the only game that has never, ever been completed, not even once, by people who are not clinically insane.

You remember those “bookcase games” published in the 1970s and 1980s, from companies like Avalon-Hill and the like? These are a long way from Monopoly; they’re intricate and complex and intended for adult players or very enthusiastic teens; many take multiple sittings to complete, even at an hour or two per session. Some people like this sort of thing very much, even today, in this era of simple iPhone games.

CNA is the apotheosis of that genre, and may also be its nadir. It is so unbelievably detailed as to be, more or less, unplayable. For example:

  • It ships with 1,800 counter chits
  • The map can cover multiple normal-sized tables
  • The rulebook comes in three volumes
  • Gameplay is absurdly detailed, even down to managing individual planes and pilots in a campaign-level simulation

This complexity, of course, comes at a tremendous cost: A full game of CNA will take an estimated 1,500 hours, and requires 10 people. To put that in perspective, a 40-hour-a-week job takes about 2,000 hours per year.

iO9 has more, and there’s a MeFi thread as well.

The thing is, if it were me, I’d have stayed on “Mars”

Eight months ago, 6 faux-astronauts moved into a simulated Martian habitat in Hawaii as an experiment in closed-system living.

They emerged on the 17th, and the spin iO9 has put on it is “Hopeful Martians Emerge from 8-Month Experiment To Find Earth Horrific As Ever,” but you have to ask yourself: if you locked yourself away the day before Trump took office and only just emerged, isn’t everything pretty much exactly the shitshow you’d expect?

Everybody believes in Harvey now.

Far-flung folks are worried, so, first: Erin and I are fine. We stay fine. Our home has never, ever flooded, and probably won’t this time, just because of the mild elevation our area enjoys.

We have power. We have food, bourbon, wine, cable, and Internet. But much of Houston has none of these things right now, and there but by the grace of God, you know? I’d love to be able to say I made a study of Houston flood plains when I bought this place, but in truth I just bought what i could afford in the neighborhood I wanted to live in — the elevation is a happy accident, but it’s a VERY happy accident indeed.

Now, some context.

There’s a picture being tossed around in social media that I want to share, and annotate a bit. It was taken from a high-rise apartment building at Studemont and Memorial, and looks back to the southeast towards our neighborhood, and includes Buffalo Bayou, which is one of the many natural waterways that run through Houston.

Here’s the neighborhood in question from Google maps:

Screen Shot 2017 08 27 at 11 36 59 AM

Key things to look for are the headquarters for Service Corporation International (who are, by the way, straight-up evil) and the studios for local TV station KHOU.

And here’s what the bayou looks like normally, with the same points marked — n.b. that the bayou is lined by a couple levels of paths and no small amount of greenspace. It’s a lovely area; people run and bike and walk and picnic there all the time. Trails there are connected to a network that stretches through huge parts of the city, and that network is growing all the time.

Screen Shot 2017 08 27 at 11 50 58 AM

And here’s what it looks like right now:

From hi rise

KHOU has had to evacuate. The uphill grade on Taft is what’s saving us, basically, but the waterline ON Taft is far, far higher than we’ve ever seen it — only a block or so north of Dallas, which is completely BANANAS, because the idea of the water at that point covering even Allen Parkway is pretty unusual.

Now, that’s still a long way from us, both in terms of distance but also in terms of elevation, but it’s still shocking.

Don Lemmon is all of us

After Trump’s speech in Phoenix, Don Lemmon was a bit taken aback, and minced no words.

A transcript, in case the video link rots:

Well, what do you say to that?

I’m just going to speak from the heart here. What we have witnessed was a total eclipse of the facts. Someone who came out onto the stage and lied directly to the American people. And left things out that he said, in an attempt to rewrite history. Especially when it comes to Charlottesville.

He’s unhinged. It’s embarrassing—and I don’t mean for us in the media because he went after us—but for the country. This is who we elected president of the United States. A man who is so petty he has to go after anyone he deems to be his enemy, like an imaginary friend of a six-year-old. His speech was without thought. It was without reason. It was devoid of facts. It was devoid of wisdom. There was no gravitas. There was no sanity there. He was like a child blaming a sibling on something else. ‘He did it, I didn’t do it.’

He certainly opened up the race wound from Charlottesville. A man who [is] clearly wounded by the rational people who are abandoning him in droves, meaning those businesspeople and the people in Washington who are now questioning his fitness for office and whether he is stable. A man backed into a corner, it seemed, by circumstances beyond his control, and beyond his understanding.

That’s the truth. If you watch that speech as an American, you had to be thinking ‘what in the world is going on? This is the person we elected as the president of the United States? This petty? This small? The person who is supposed to pull the country together?’ It certainly didn’t happen there.

I remember thinking we were better than this, that there was no way we’d elect this guy. But the hard truth is we’re not, and we never have been.

Vroom vroom.

The McLaren F1 was introduced 25 years ago this year. Road & Track has a nice oral history that’s worth your time, including bits from McLaren owners and employees.

Here’s my favorite bit from the story:

MARK GRAIN (Senior technician, McLaren Cars/Motorsport): There was a German customer, a businessman. He lived in Cologne, commuted in the car every day. He said, “Oh, I’ve got a problem, this warning light. I’ve looked in the manual, can’t find anything. Can you send somebody out, see what it is?”

So one of the guys went. It turns out it was the engine cover lifting slightly. The warning light for the engine cover.

But the only time the car ever did it was 185, 190 mph. “It does it on the way to work, and it does it on the way back.” Every day.

!

“Don’t you see the danger inherent in what you’re doing here?”

Exhibit A, in which Saturday Night Live posits a reductio ad absurdum endgame for overloaded shitty mall tacos, i.e. the “Taco Town” sketch:

Exhibit B, in which Jeff Goldbum has cross words for the scientific community:

And now, Exhibit C, in which YouTuber Andrew Rea of “Binging with Babish” — who first made a splash by actually cooking the “Il Timpano” from Big Night — performs the culinary black magic necessary to bring this abomination into the real world via his Harlem kitchen:

May God have mercy on our souls.

Hey! Look! More racist cops! Who knew?

This jackass cop — officer J. S. Bolen — seems to think it’s a good idea to detain and harass a guy for jaywalking. He even tries to make up laws to justify his actions.

Obviously, the Jacksonville LEO that employs him has taken no action at this time, even defending one of the obviously-invalid citations issued to the young man.

The Sheriff’s Office cited Florida statute 322.15(1) as to why Shipman was given a citation, but the statute only applies to drivers, not pedestrians. It states that every licensee must have his or her license on them “when operating a motor vehicle.”

More here.

Rebecca Solnit on Trump and the corrosive experience of wealth and privilege

Trump is the apotheosis of a certain kind of warping wealth and privilege. This essay is mandatory reading, and I suspect will become one of the keystone bits of analysis written in this era.

She ends:

The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence. He must know somewhere below the surface he skates on that he has destroyed his image, and like Dorian Gray before him, will be devoured by his own corrosion in due time too. One way or another this will kill him, though he may drag down millions with him. One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall. Another dungheap awaits his landing; the dung is all his; when he plunges into it he will be, at last, a self-made man.

What do you do with the extra cookie?

Author Michael Lewis (The Blind Side, Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Big Short) gave a pretty spectacular commencement speech at Berkeley in 2012. Kottke has more, but the key bit is this, about the tendency of very successful people to discount the amount of arbitrary luck typically involved in their positions:

A few years ago, just a few blocks from my home, a pair of researchers in the Cal psychology department staged an experiment. They began by grabbing students, as lab rats. Then they broke the students into teams, segregated by sex. Three men, or three women, per team. Then they put these teams of three into a room, and arbitrarily assigned one of the three to act as leader. Then they gave them some complicated moral problem to solve: say what should be done about academic cheating, or how to regulate drinking on campus.

Exactly 30 minutes into the problem-solving the researchers interrupted each group. They entered the room bearing a plate of cookies. Four cookies. The team consisted of three people, but there were these four cookies. Every team member obviously got one cookie, but that left a fourth cookie, just sitting there. It should have been awkward. But it wasn’t. With incredible consistency the person arbitrarily appointed leader of the group grabbed the fourth cookie, and ate it. Not only ate it, but ate it with gusto: lips smacking, mouth open, drool at the corners of their mouths. In the end all that was left of the extra cookie were crumbs on the leader’s shirt.

This leader had performed no special task. He had no special virtue. He’d been chosen at random, 30 minutes earlier. His status was nothing but luck. But it still left him with the sense that the cookie should be his.

This experiment helps to explain Wall Street bonuses and CEO pay, and I’m sure lots of other human behavior. But it also is relevant to new graduates of Princeton University. In a general sort of way you have been appointed the leader of the group. Your appointment may not be entirely arbitrary. But you must sense its arbitrary aspect: you are the lucky few. Lucky in your parents, lucky in your country, lucky that a place like Princeton exists that can take in lucky people, introduce them to other lucky people, and increase their chances of becoming even luckier. Lucky that you live in the richest society the world has ever seen, in a time when no one actually expects you to sacrifice your interests to anything.

All of you have been faced with the extra cookie. All of you will be faced with many more of them. In time you will find it easy to assume that you deserve the extra cookie. For all I know, you may. But you’ll be happier, and the world will be better off, if you at least pretend that you don’t.

Share the cookie.

If you’re my age, there was nothing like a Countach

This video about the world’s first supercar is pretty fun. Lambo made the Countach from 1974 until 1990, which is kind of insane; at that point, they moved on to the Diablo, and then to the Murciélago, and then, in 2011, to the current Aventador.

For a comparison between an ’88 Countach (effectively, the pinnacle of the breed) and a new(ish) Aventador? We’ve got you covered.

And as long as you’re falling down this hole, Jay Leno has an ’86.

I’m not a basketball fan, but…

…it does seem worth noting two things about this year’s NBA Finals.

First, the Warriors are a game away from sweeping the entire playoffs; they haven’t lost a single game, and are up 3-0 over the Cavs. The 2000-01 Lakers dropped only a single game and finished at 15-1, but lost their streak at game 1 of the Finals. (Back then, the first round was best-of-5 and not best-of-7). The Warriors, if they win, will have a 16-0 streak.

Second, LeBron James is playing in his seventh consecutive finals. That’s not unprecedented, but it’s damned rare — the only folks with more played on the 1957-1966 Celtics, who dominated the league and appeared in the Finals all 10 of those years.

“King” among those folks was the legendary Bill Russell (and I say “legendary” because you’d have to be borderline divine to have been a famous basketball player in the 50s that I know about). He’s the only one who was on all 10 squads, and won 8 in a row from ’59 to ’66.

The 8-in-a-row, obviously, still stands; nobody’s managed to string more than 3 titles together since (Bulls twice, Lakers once).

The terrible intersection of American racism, poverty, and HIV

Via MeFi, we find this NYTimes Magazine story: America’s Hidden HIV Epidemic, which asks the question “why do America’s black gay and bisexual men have a higher HIV rate than any country in the world?”

While the problem is nationwide, the story focusses on Mississippi — which, as it happens, will no longer offer free HIV tests through the Health Department after June 1, owing to budget cuts forced by the Republican supermajority in charge of the state.

The Jackson paper notes something also found in the NYTimes story: in Jackson, 40% of gay or bisexual men are HIV positive. Forty. Percent.

When your son joins the Army

John Nova Lomax’s new piece in Texas Monthly is about his son’s decision to join the Army.

The lede:

My son was jobless, directionless, and apartmentless. So when he decided to join the Army, we were just glad he was out of the house. What we didn’t know was just how much the military would change him—and us.

But the real kicker is this:

A picture I took of him that day in his camo, standing in the sandbag-lined trench that led into the Yankee tunnels, and that by a trick of the light appears almost sepia-toned, fills me with a mixture of dread, pride, and regret. Privates are always privates, and war is always war.

I say regret, because I have not served, and now, with middle age upon me, never will. Right before my eyes, the little boy I had known was becoming a man I could never know.

It’s pretty damn fine. Go read the whole thing.

I am suddenly WAY more enthusiastic about Wonder Woman

Sure, the trailers LOOK good, but so far the DC films haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory, so I was kinda keeping the whole thing at arm’s reach.

Then I noticed something important, largely because (a) The Hollywood Reporter tweeted something ignorant/clickbaity that was (b) then shamed into my timeline:

Screen Shot 2017 05 31 at 12 37 06 PM

Yep. Wonder Woman is directed by Patty Jenkins, whose first feature was the Oscar-winning Monster in 2003 (which she also wrote, btw).

Sold. Hey, Mrs Heathen, when are we going?

(Prior Art.)

These are awful people, and we should make fun of them.

I think my friend T. framed it best: “Please dunk on this extremely bad at life family with me.”

A key bit is this:

In September, we had learned that I was pregnant with our second child and we accelerated our plans. We needed a place with at least three bedrooms. Unfortunately, that dream was becoming increasingly unrealistic for a young family without a lot of money. Julian had just finished his PhD in education and was teaching part-time at Humber; I was an editor for the Food Network’s website and preparing to go on maternity leave. Still, we scoured the listings every day, searching for a fixer-upper that we could renovate ourselves to save money. We weren’t particularly handy, but we’d seen all the home reno shows, and it seemed like everyone in the city was doing it. How hard could it be?

Our budget was $560,000[.]

And it gets so much more bizarre, privileged, and tone-deaf — oh, and dumb as hell. For example: they end up spending their half-million-plus budget on a house they had not personally seen or inspected, and entered into a no-condition contract. They end up fine, apparently, but only because of the largesse of wealthy family and friends, and despite some astonishingly stupid choices.

Frankly: eat the rich.