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Resolutions ... a follow up

I feel like you deserve an update. Like some sort of eight-twelfths of the year update on my progress on giving up one thing a month.

January's Challenge: No Alcohol

Did you make it?

Yes.

Was it hard?

Not at first, but about the 25th of the month, I was sitting at my desk one afternoon and I really, really, really wanted a drink. I shot some heroin, and the feeling subsided.

Did you come up with any coping mechanisms?

Count down the days like they were a prison sentence. 

Did you learn anything?

  1. I was pretty cranky.

  2. I dropped 11 pounds. Without going to the gym or working out or doing anything. Now, to be fair, I was coming off Christmas in London, so I'd eaten everything I could get my hands on. But. Still. I dropped 11 pounds. 

  3. I slept like a baby every night.

How did you get back in the saddle?

I had a bratwurst at Jake's sitting in front of me at exactly 11:55. I had a Budwesier sitting in front of me at exactly 12:00:01 ... Which brings us to :

February's Challenge: No meat

Did you make it?

Yes.

Was it hard?

Every second. My middle name is Angus, and my mascot from 7th grade through college was bovine based.

Did you come up with any coping mechanisms?

There's a joint nearby that makes a really mean Impossible Burger (that's one of those lab made beef substitutes. And that iteration is really, really good.

Did you learn anything?

  1. I was pretty cranky.

  2. I never felt like I could get full. But when I woke up on March 1, after eating like three sausages at midnight, I felt super bloated ... which made me feel full. Which made me realize all month I had actually been full, but not bloated.

  3. One meal at a time, being meat-free is not that hard. And it's probably a lot easier in Brooklyn than in most places. 
  4. It was smart of me to pick this challenge for the shortest month.

How did you get back in the saddle?

I had a bratwurst sitting in front of me at exactly 12:00:01 and a Budweiser. 

March Challenge: No chocolate

Did you make it?

Yes

Was it hard?

No.

Did you come up with any coping mechanisms? 

I didn't really need any.

Did you learn anything?

  1. I was pretty cranky.
  2. Robyn suggested this one and thought it would be hard. I knew this was going to be my easiest month. I had to not have a chocolate birthday cake. Oh well.

How did you get back in the saddle?

 Well, I kind of couldn't. Because that gets us to April.

April Challenge: No sugar

Did you make it?

I mean ... technically no, I had some sugar. This month's came down to definitions. The point of all of this is to be more conscious of many of my habits. Not to be some sort of terrible punishment. Which is to say, yes. There are sugars in fruits and vegetables. But I'm not trying to just be wildly punishing. Just more aware. So I tried to define it as no added sugars. So, no sweets, obviously. And no sauces with added sugars. Like ketchup and BBQ sauces and such. I also didn't do any honey or artificial sweeteners. That just felt like trading heroin for methadone. (not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Oh, also, at midnight Eastern, April 1, I was in Phoenix, about to fly back to back here from Spring Training / Opening Day. I decided to start my challenge on NY time. It took me about ten minutes to realize the Gatorade I was drinking had already meant I failed. So I recanted and said I meant to start it midnight Arizona time. My bad. 

Was it hard?

Immensely. There's sugar in everything. For the first time in my life, I started actually looking at food labels. They're kind of terrifying, honestly. 

Did you come up with any coping mechanisms?

Drink lots of water.

Did you learn anything?

  1. I was pretty cranky.

  2. Again. There's fucking sugar and high fructose corn syrup in everything. Take a look next time.

  3. Thank God for Bourbon ... which is to say, Thank God for yeast and the magic it does converting sugars into alcohol.

How did you get back in the saddle?

I think it was a pint of Ample Hills ice cream.

May Challenge: No Caffeine

Did you make it?

Again, depending on your definitions, yes. I took to French pressing decaf coffee in the mornings. Is there some caffeine in there? Sure. Is it enough? Not at all.

Was it hard?

Amazingly, no. 

Did you come up with any coping mechanisms?

Take a nap.

Did you learn anything?

  1. I was pretty cranky.

  2. I think sometimes the ritual is as important as the actual content of things. Making decaf every morning did a pretty good job at sating things.

  3. Thank God for Bourbon. Just because that needs to be said more.

How did you get back in the saddle?

With a big pot of coffee. Black. Full strength.

June Challenge: No Video games

Did you make it? 

Nope.

Was it hard?

Apparently.

Did you come up with any coping mechanisms?

Nope. I tried reading instead. It did ok, but didn't get it done in the end.

Did you learn anything?

  1. I was pretty cranky.

  2. Train rides are made for the mindlessness of games like Two Dots and such. What got me in the end, though, was Tap Baseball. On about the 25th or so, I logged in just to check things. Before long, I found myself playing a couple of games a day. I never turned on the Xbox or any other games. But I couldn't bear the thought of my team just sitting there. Atrophying. While Cliff's got better.

How did you get back in the saddle?

By failing completely.

July Challenge: No Restaurants

Did you make it? 

Not 100 percent. A couple of times, I ate some fries or something off of someone's plate. There were also a few Seamless orders in there.

Was it hard? 

It was surprisingly easy to improve in this area by a ton.

Did you come up with any coping mechanisms? 

Meal prep and grilling.

Did you learn anything?

  1. I was pretty cranky.

  2. This is totally way more possible than I imagined.

August Challenge: No cursing

Did you make it?

No. Eleven minutes into the month, I called some kid on Fortnite a fucking idiot.

Was it hard?

At first. Clearly. Then, after a few slips here and there (many of which, the people around me didn't even notice) I'd go days without a slip. After about three weeks, I wasn't even cursing in my thoughts. That is to say, at first I was still cursing internally, but filtering it before I said anything. Then I pretty much wasn't even thinking it anymore. and once I stopped in cursing, it was pretty amazing how much more cheery and positive I think I was overall ... in my words and my actions. 

There was one exception: At some point in this month, I downloaded the "42 Dominoes" app for iPhone. If you're not aware of the game 42, you're dead to me. But the way it works is you have a partner and two opponents. The app gives you a computer partner to play two computer teammates. I played a ton of 42 in college. And there were just normal phrases and short hands we spoke in while throwing bones around a table. And those phrases and sayings and cursing just came pouring back into my internal dialogue. So I'd curse in my head when my computer partner made stupid mistakes. As if it was 1997 again and I was talking across the table to David DeStefano or something. 

Did you come up with any coping mechanisms?

Not really. I mean I didn't try to substitute words or anything. I mean I wouldn't call someone a monkey kisser instead of a mother fucker or anything. I'd try to just maybe say, "crap," if I stubbed my toe or something.

Did you learn anything? 

  1. I was actually pretty not cranky.

  2. It's amazing how much words and thoughts influence attitudes and actions. I mean, that should be 100 percent obvious, but until you experience it, you probably don't fully get it.

How did you get back in the saddle?

By posting the "Fuck" scene from The Wire to Facebook.

 

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Resolutions

Look, I hate them too. But I do like the challenge.

So here's what I'm doing:

  1. Knocking $1000 a month off my pile of stupid debt. 
  2. Setting aside a travel fund.
  3. Getting under 200 pounds.
  4. Running 1000 miles.
  5. Doing two months of Movember to raise $2000.
  6. Making 5 new ballparks.
  7. Knitting a scarf.
  8. Learning Spanish.
  9. Learning the harmonica.
  10. Giving up one thing a month, as follows:
  • January - Alcohol
  • February - Meat
  • March - Chocolate
  • April - Sugar
  • May - Caffeine
  • June - Video Games
  • July - Restaurants
  • August - Cursing
  • September - Jeans
  • October - Social Media
  • November - Elevators
  • December - Amazon

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So I hated the Last Jedi

SPOILERS

I'm not sure there's going to be a thread to this narrative, but that's ok. I'm not sure there was a narrative thread to that movie. So I'm not doing this directly on social media. And I reserve the right to edit, amend and add. Also, these are in no real order. But I will try to start off with the things I liked:

1. The jokes were fairly good.

2. The opening crawl happened.

3. Rose's line ... ~"We don't kill what we hate. We fight for what we love," was a great line and really stopped me in my tracks. It's a brilliant idea for a pew pew pew space cowboy movie series.

4. John Williams's score. It's great. 

5. If you're not aware, Mark Hamill has been voicing The Joker for several Batman projects, and it's amazing. I feel like his Luke Skywalker in this movie is at least one-third his Joker, and I love that.

6. That scene with Laura Dern lightspeeding through the dreadnaught was AMAZING.

Additions upon further reflection:

7. Adam Driver is doing a helluva job with Kylo Ben.

8. It's a really beautiful movie. The scenes on Crait are just gorgeous.

And now, my other thoughts. Which should get 85 percent of your attention:

1. The opening space battle sequence is just intelligence-insultingly stupid. One fucking guy in one fucking X-Wing takes out all the surface cannons on a Dreadnaught in one pass? Give me a fucking break. I've played a lot of Star Wars: Battle Front II. Those cannons don't just go up like kindling. NOR SHOULD THEY. 

2. You know ... there was a really good reason the bombers in the first 6 episodes were things like the Y-Wings and Hyenas. It's because "bombs" in Star Wars were really more proton torpedo like than actual armaments like we have in our world.

You know why that is?

Because there's no gravity in space. 

(That's bolded because it's pretty important.)

No matter how large the dreadnaught is. So. Hmm ... that's odd. Why are bombs (bombers and bomb switches) falling in this movie?

Edit: As Matt points out in the comments, there are a couple of precedents for bombs falling "down" in other Star Wars films. And he's obviously completely correct. But neither of those instances hammer home the point that they're using gravity. I still knock off points for what we see in The Last Jedi.

3. Really? We're too good to include the line "I've got a bad feeling about this?" It's been in every single Star Wars movie. Even Rogue One. If you're not going to do it, but you're cracking jokes everywhere, you've got to at least say, "I've got a good feeling about this," and wink at the camera.

4. I almost walked out of the theater when Princess Leia did her Mary Fucking Poppins in Deep Space bullshit. That was atrocious. Also, she should be super fucking dead after getting blown into deep space. Which leads me to:

(As has been pointed out, you don't automatically die immediately from exposure in Deep Space. But, I will say that we shouldn't all have to Google shit afterwards to see if it's possible. Also, we need more funding for science education so we all know how long you can survive in Deep Space.)

5. So now we don't get a good, proper chance to say goodbye to Princess Leia on screen? That's bullshit.

6. Why, exactly, didn't the First Order attack them with TIE fighters? Somehow, allegedly, it's too far out from the fleet for them to be supported. But didn't Vader survive the destruction of the first Death Star with just his TIE fighter? Also, since when has the First Order given a shit if they're sending TIE pilots off on a suicide mission? Go shoot up the fucking ship, assholes. Let's be smart here. You've got a chance to win the war forever.

7. I get that Poe got demoted for being an idiot jetjockey. OK. Cool. But why couldn't Laura Dern tell the crew about her plan? Why couldn't we have had some tense scenes about how everyone needs to pitch in and use less power and energy and we all pull together and try to get this Resistance to the abandoned base. Like Speed in space ... that sounds like a winning, tense Gravity-like movie that doesn't insult anyone's intelligence. Instead, it leads to:

8. That dumb fucking second act plotline with Finn and Rose. Now, first of all. I'm required to believe the First Order is so inept that they can't or won't track every craft that splinters off from the armada. OK, that would be dumb / grossly incompetent.

Secondly, have you ever tried to explain the plotline of a video game to someone? If you want to approximate that, try to explain the Rose-Finn plotline to your mom. It's one of those bad video game sidequests that just keeps dragging on and on. Like you set out to kill a bad guy in a game, and then you learn you have to do it with a missile, so you go find a missile. And then you learn that missile's guidance system is down, so you need to get a new one. Then you learn it needs more fuel, so you have to go get that. And so on and so on. And that's then when you finally kill the guy in the video game, you're like, "well, that took longer than it should have." But it's Gears of War 4 or something and you're not playing it for the plot. Because that plot is subpar. It turns out, that plot is even more subpar when it's in a Star Wars movie. A Star Wars movie that's about 30 minutes too long. Hmm ... I've got an idea ... Hmmm.

9. Couldn't we have pulled everyone off one of the other ships and lightspeeded it into the Dreadnaught?

10. Look. I've always rooted for the bad guys in Star Wars movies. Why? Because the very best Star Wars movie is Empire Strikes Back. We all agree on this. And it's the best because it shatters the rules by letting the bad guys win. Star Wars is totally villain driven, and you need that Second Act to make the Third Act even better. When the prequels were announced, I, as a guy that roots for the villains in the Star Wars movies, immediately knew Episode III was going to be the prequel movie for me. I knew this one would be the one where the bad guys "won" ... or at least made it interesting on the good guys. I was right. Other than the NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! scene, it's not a terrible movie. Certainly the most interesting of the three prequels.

When this trilogy was announced, I said, "OK, Episode VIII is going to be the best movie, because the bad guys have to win it to make the good guys' win in IX an even bigger deal." I got zero payoff out of VIII. The First Order certainly didn't win. The leadership is in shambles. Pasty and Whiny are about to tear each other apart. Unless Disney is going to let me have the bad guys win in the end, where was my payoff in this whole damned trilogy, Mouse?

11. I deserve to know who the hell Snoke is. I just do. And I should get that payoff without having to buy a book and read a few hundred pages to get it.

Now, all that said, will it make me stop playing Star Wars: Battle Front II? Of course not. I just got good at it.

Will I buy The Last Jedi on iTunes when it comes out? Sure.

Will I go see the standalone Han Solo movie in a few months? Of course I will.

Will I go see JJ Abram's Episode IX? For sure.

Will I go see all three of the next trilogy that Rian directs? Sure.

So, yes. I am part of the problem.

BUT I DON'T HAVE TO LIKE IT.

Let's keep discussion to the comments here, so no one gets spoiled unless they want to.

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What I read (Week of 5/30 - 6/2 2017)

Yeah, because ain't no one reading on their day off ...

The Battle for New York

Fleet Week in this town is something to be experienced.

The lede: I'm a war correspondent for Popular Mechanics, on board the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan. We're on a high-profile military mission and I'm in the ready room, waiting for our pre-mission brief, as dozens of chiseled Marines wearing desert tan battle-dress uniforms file in. These guys could just as easily be walking into class on some college campus, but instead have chosen to major in defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I'm embedded with infantry Marines from Camp Lejeune's 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a badass unit designed to be a "forward-deployed, rapid-response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and selected maritime special operations at night or under adverse weather conditions from the sea, by surface, and/or by air." They are trained to "locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver."

 

 

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What I read (Week of 5/22 - 5/25 2017)

(because I'm totally starting this long weekend a day early.)

The Thieves Who Steal Sunken Warships, Right Down to the Bolts

Shit, guys. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the piece last week and totally forgot it.

The lede: Last November, a team of international divers departed the Indonesian island of Java on a mission to survey sunken World War II warships. The Dutch government had tasked them to assess the condition of two particular Dutch vessels, the Hr. Ms. Java and Hr. Ms. De Ruyter, both sunk in 1942 during the Battle of the Java Sea, not far from the remote island of Bawean.

'I Can't Feel My Body.'

TJ Ford has always been one of my favorites. The Players Tribune is growing into being one of my favorite websites.

The lede: The first time I was paralyzed was during a pickup game.

Alone on the Open Road: Truckers Feel Like ‘Throwaway People

Speaking of being on the road on this long weekend ...

The lede: EFFINGHAM, Ill. — The vast Petro truck stop here is a neon-lit, blacktop oasis at the crossroads of America. It beckons big-rig drivers with showers, laundry machines, a barber shop, even a knife store. “Professional drivers only,” reads the sign above the tables of the Iron Skillet restaurant, where truckers sit mostly alone, carrying the solitude of their jobs into an otherwise social setting.

HOW ANKER IS BEATING APPLE AND SAMSUNG AT THEIR OWN ACCESSORY GAME

... here's a hint: It's because Apple and Samsung stink at this.

The lede: Steven Yang quit his job at Google in the summer of 2011 to build the products he felt the world needed: a line of reasonably priced accessories that would be better than the ones you could buy from Apple and other big-name brands. These accessories — batteries, cables, chargers — would solve our most persistent gadget problem by letting us stay powered on at all times. There were just a few problems: Yang knew nothing about starting a company, building consumer electronics, or selling products.

 

Read New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Remarkable Speech About Removing Confederate Monuments

This is good. 

The lede: The city of New Orleans has elected to pull down Confederate monuments from its public spaces. With the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee this week, that task is complete. The proposal brought near endless debate, and vitriolic outcry from the monuments' defenders. But in a remarkable speech shortly before Lee's statue was removed, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared with astonishing moral and historical clarity that these were not monuments to some bygone way of southern life implied by believers in the Lost Cause. They were symbols of white supremacy, and of the systemic oppression of human beings.

The Oral History of a Hungover David Wells' Unlikely Perfect Game

And now, some baseball.

The lede: For all the New York Yankees’ storied and glorious history, before 1998 the franchise could claim just one perfect game: Don Larsen’s wildly improbable performance against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. That was until David Wells in 1998, a most imperfect Yankee in what would become the Yankees’ greatest season.

Did you see something good this week? Drop me a comment below or shoot me an email ... colby at colby angus black dot com.

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What I read (Week of 5/15 - 5/19 2017)

"Upshot" to Cornell's death ... getting to really get back into Kim Thayil's guitar playing. There was nothing like it when they first broke out, and that's still true.

On to the reading ...

His Kampf

I keep waiting for something like this to happen with one of my classmates ... Maybe they say the same thing looking at me?

The lede: On december 17, 2007, the libertarian magazine Reason held a Christmas bash—a “Very Special, Very Secular Christmas Party”—at its office in Washington, D.C. The guest of honor, the late Atlanticbook critic Christopher Hitchens, tugged liberally on his drink and gave a speech about how the holiday season was oppressive (“like living in fucking North Korea”). Then near the height of his powers as an anti-theist pamphleteer, Hitchens led the crowd in a tuneless rendition of Tom Lehrer’s “A Christmas Carol,” before slipping away and leaving the guests to the open bar and the mistletoe.

When Your Child Is a Psychopath
 

I didn't intend for this to be a themed reading list for the week ...

The lede: This is a good day, Samantha tells me: 10 on a scale of 10. We’re sitting in a conference room at the San Marcos Treatment Center, just south of Austin, Texas, a space that has witnessed countless difficult conversations between troubled children, their worried parents, and clinical therapists. But today promises unalloyed joy. Samantha’s mother is visiting from Idaho, as she does every six weeks, which means lunch off campus and an excursion to Target. The girl needs supplies: new jeans, yoga pants, nail polish.

My Family's Slave

The Atlantic killed it this week ...

The lede: the ashes filled a black plastic box about the size of a toaster. It weighed three and a half pounds. I put it in a canvas tote bag and packed it in my suitcase this past July for the transpacific flight to Manila. From there I would travel by car to a rural village. When I arrived, I would hand over all that was left of the woman who had spent 56 years as a slave in my family’s household.

The Empathy of David Brown

We need more of this guy.

The lede: Chief Brown started his shift early that day. There were demonstrations planned in Dallas and cities across the country, and he knew his officers faced the difficult task of protecting protesters, some of whom were seething at police. The day had passed relatively peacefully, though a few people had been arrested at afternoon protests. Brown stayed late to monitor the evening march through downtown. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, so he decided to head home for the night. Before leaving, he told David Pughes, his second in command, to call him when the last protesters left the area. Brown made it to his condo across the street from police headquarters and had just taken off his gun belt when Pughes called. Brown could hear that he was out of breath.

The 100-Year-Old Penalty for Being Black

Hmmm.

The lede: It’s 1880. The Civil War ended 15 years ago. Three years ago, federal troops withdrew from the South. Now, children of black and white workers of similar economic standing are able to climb up the economic ladder at the same pace. So by the start of the next decade, the median black worker earns more than around 30 percent of the nation’s labor force.

 

‘It’s just horrific’: caseworkers break their silence to reveal toll of addiction on children

I’ve had the honor of following Mealer’s career since we worked together at The Texan in college. This is one of his more sobering pieces.

The lede: Inside the Clinton County child protection office, the week has been tougher than most.

Did you see something good this week? Drop me a comment below or shoot me an email ... colby at colby angus black dot com.

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What I read (Week of 5/8- 5/12 2017)

It's real, raw and emotional: After 12 seasons, Bibens-Dirkx fulfills MLB dream with Rangers call-up

I've got a whole lot of Baseball on the brain right now, as I'm sure you'll see ... both here and in other ways soon. I think my favorite part of becoming a bigger and better Baseball fan the last few years is being able to see a whole lot more good, even when I absolutely hate The Texas Rangers and their fans. Baseball teaches patience and perseverance and finding good where it would naturally be easy for me to focus on the evil. (Read: Dallas and idiot Dallasites.)

The lede: SEATTLE -- Even in the gloom of a season heading toward disaster -- which is where the Rangers currently find themselves -- there are those rare feel-good moments.

What Happened When the Health Department Messed With McSorley’s Iconic Wishbones

I'm a sucker for New York, a good bar and good story told well.

The lede: Throughout my life around McSorley’s, there was no piece of the bar more sacred than the World War I wishbones. There were about twenty of them, all turkey bones except for one curved duck bone, dangling above the bartop from the frame of a gas lamp that hadn’t been used since electricity brought lightbulbs to McSorley’s in the 1930s. When I was a kid, the bones were sheathed in an inch of dust, as if feathers of ash had grown back around what was left of the birds. In a bar where everything was old, from the scarred tables to the potbelly stove to the nineteenth-century icebox, the wishbones appeared downright ancient. For dust to grow that thick on top of those little bits of skeleton, they had to have been left untouched for almost a hundred years. They looked otherworldly, so much so that when tourists would visit McSorley’s after reading about the wishbones in guidebooks, they would often march right up to the taps, glance at the dusty inverted Vs hanging above them, and then ask, “So where are the wishbones?”

 

 

 

 

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What I read (Week of 5/1 - 5/5 2017)

How the Left Learned to Hate Like the Right

I beg your pardon?

The lede: MARIETTA, Ga. — Shortly before President Trump’s swearing-in, I spoke to Steve Cohen, a liberal congressman from Tennessee, about his decision to skip the ceremony. Mr. Cohen said his horror of Mr. Trump almost made him understand how Tea Partyers might have felt under President Barack Obama. “I want my country back!” he said, echoing the right’s rallying cry.

Hasan Minhaj's Trump Bashing Comedy Routine at the White House Correspondents Dinner Annotated

Speaking of left and right and hating ...

The lede: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the series finale of the White House correspondents’ dinner. Oh man.

Alec Baldwin Gets Under Trump's Skin

This is called a segue way. From someone roasting the President to someone toasting the President.

The lede: Alec Baldwin collapses onto his dressing-room couch at Saturday Night Live like a man participating too enthusiastically in a trust fall. He is 58 years old. He has three children under 4. He has been dividing what’s left of his time between filming a movie with Emilio Estevez in Cincinnati and answering the call from NBC whenever it comes, which, because of his now-signature portrayal of Donald Trump, has been many weeks this season. His appearances gather eyes like car accidents; some clips have been watched on YouTube more than 20 million times. Those legions of viewers have formed a kind of makeshift resistance, a community of the gaslit, together feeling a little less crazy for knowing that at least Alec Baldwin can see what they are seeing. Turning the president into a running joke might prove the most consequential work of his career. It’s at least been the most consuming.

Sins of Commission

This is a piece I think about or talk about at least every three months - mainly in regards to the action of the Texas Ranger. But it's still something. And it's even more something to think about how the State of Texas really hasn't done much to help the situations of their most unfortunate children.

The lede: IT BEGAN WITH A WORD ONLY A CHILD would use—“icky”—uttered in a place where innocence was commonly assumed to be dead. A conversation between a tormented teenager and a volunteer math tutor about sexual abuse at a high- security lockup in Pyote, about fifty miles west of Odessa, set in motion a chain of events that has led to the downfall of the executive director of the Texas Youth Commission (the state agency responsible for juvenile corrections), the ousting of its board, the dispatching of police to every juvenile facility in the state, and an opening for the kind of corrections reform not seen since federal judge William Wayne Justice assumed control of the state prison system in the eighties. In the wake of the scandal, conventional wisdom about our obligation to delinquent youth has moved a long way in a very short period of time. “They are criminals,” one agency supervisor told a reporter shortly after the story broke in February. “They are not children, as you keep calling them. They have survived in this world by learning how to manipulate and using it to their advantage.” Two weeks later, after the real story of what had happened at Pyote had become impossible to deny, a rural East Texas legislator named Jim McReynolds was almost in tears. “They’re God’s children,” he told a packed hearing room at the Capitol. “I read last night till I wanted to vomit.”

Brad Pitt Talks Divorce, Quitting Drinking, and Becoming a Better Man

The lede: Brad Pitt is making matcha green tea on a cool morning in his old Craftsman in the Hollywood Hills, where he's lived since 1994. There have been other properties in other places—including a château in France and homes in New Orleans and New York City—but this has always been his kids' “childhood home,” he says. And even though they're not here now, he's decided it's important that he is. Today the place is deeply silent, except for the snoring of his bulldog, Jacques.

How Brainstorming Not Ideas Sparks Creativity

This ties into a lot of things we've been grappling with recently at work. And I think if we'd have started with this, we'd be in a very different place.

This lede: Brainstorming has developed a fraught reputation, perhaps deservedly so. When groups of people are thrown together and expected to come up with original ideas, there is often too much pressure to be creative–resulting in ideas that are anything but.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/dining/halal-cart-food-vendor-new-york-city.html?_r=0

Here's some things I really meant to read this week.

http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/gun-violence/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-09/how-intel-makes-a-chip

https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/04/mental-model-hanlons-razor/

http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2017/investigations/florida-pinellas-auto-theft-kids-hot-wheels/car-theft-epidemic/

https://medium.com/cuepoint/how-long-can-i-listen-to-the-white-stripes-without-losing-my-fucking-mind-c1e0929c74c6

http://features.texasmonthly.com/editorial/the-trouble-with-innocence/

http://www.ozy.com/flashback/when-the-us-pushed-nearly-a-million-mexicans-back-across-the-border/76427

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/04/25/the-sins-of-the-father-shall-not-be-visited-on-the-son-julius-ethel-rosenberg-robert-meeropol/

http://www.sbnation.com/a/future-of-football

Did you see something good this week? Drop me a comment below or shoot me an email ... colby at colby angus black dot com.

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What I read (week of 4/23 - 4/29 2017)

If you really respect Trump voters, tell them the truth

An interesting piece, given that I come from a one horse town and live in one of those places that's mentioned for reinventing itself.

The lede: A wave of recent columns argue that what Trump superfans — or at least some hazily imagined, hard-pressed Northern working-class version of them — really want is respect. By all appearances, though, the opposite is the case. Those voters want what most voters want from politicians: to be disrespected, via shameless pandering and the occasional blatant lie.

Video Games Are Better Without Stories

I've been known to knock back a few 50 hour immersive video games now and then. I've also been known to never really know if I enjoy them. Part of what pushes me along is the girlfriend's love of the stories. The Atlantic takes a different, very Roger Ebert friendly tack.

The lede: A longstanding dream: Video games will evolve into interactive stories, like the ones that play out fictionally on the Star Trek Holodeck. In this hypothetical future, players could interact with computerized characters as round as those in novels or films, making choices that would influence an ever-evolving plot. It would be like living in a novel, where the player’s actions would have as much of an influence on the story as they might in the real world.

50 Years Ago, This Was a Wasteland. He Changed Everything | Short Film Showcase

OK, so I didn't read this. But it's still worth 8 minutes of your time.

The lede: Fifty years ago you couldn't hardly walk on this place. It was wall to wall brush. There wasn't any grass. There wasn't any water. Nobody wanted it.

Mike Judge, the Bard of Suck

I know this came out last week, but I've had it open in a tab in my browser ever since and just now finally finished it. Don't judge me.

The lede: As we took a seat in the back of the Commissary, a restaurant on the Sony Pictures Studios lot, Mike Judge pointed out a man seated two booths away. It was Tom Rothman, the chairman of Sony Pictures and former head of Fox’s film division, where he oversaw the rocky release of Judge’s 2006 film, “Idiocracy.” The movie imagined America 500 years in the future, populated and ruled by absolute morons, its infrastructure crumbling, its cities piled high with trash, everyone anesthetized by impossibly stupid television like the hit show “Ow! My Balls!” Though the film finished shooting in 2004, the studio mothballed it for more than a year. When “Idiocracy” was finally released, it wasn’t screened for critics or promoted in any other way — there wasn’t even a trailer — and it was shown in only seven cities, New York not among them. The studio, it seemed, was fulfilling the bare minimum of its contractual obligations, as if hoping that the movie would just go away.

 

HAMTRAMCK STADIUM: PRESERVING DETROIT’S NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY

Did you know there are only 3 remaining Negro League fields left? Did you know I can probably see one from my office and I somehow haven't been there? New life goals.

The lede: Just five miles north of Detroit’s Comerica Park — home of the Tigers — sits a relic of baseball history. The pitcher’s mound is barely detectable, the base paths are long gone, and all is silent but the chattering birds making nests in the roof of the 87-year-old grandstand.

Did you see something good this week? Drop me a comment below or shoot me an email ... colby at colby angus black dot com.

 

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What I read (week of 4/16 - 4/22 2017)

I think once you start judging items for newsworthiness, you never really stop. I'm closing in on 20 years since I ran a college newspaper, but I've found I keep recommending stories to people and they keep acting like they like it ... So I thought I'd start chronicaling the good things I read and maybe start kicking out a newsletter straight to your inbox ... who knows?

 

‘DID YOUR FATHER DIE?’

An amazing piece from the Washington Post on the effects of violence on one second grader.

The boy was sitting in his favorite spot, atop his dad’s bed, playing their favorite game, “NBA 2K16” on the Xbox One, when he heard the sound. Pop, pop, pop, from just outside the second-floor window on that warm summer afternoon. Tyshaun McPhatter’s father burst through the open doorway, crouching. “Get down on the floor,” he screamed, and the 7-year-old knew what that meant: more gunshots.

Craig Hodges: ‘Jordan didn’t speak out because he didn’t know what to say’

Maybe you knew what former NBA great Craig Hodges was up to, but I didn’t. The Guardian is on the case.

“I’m sad to say that one of our players was shot on Monday,” Craig Hodges reveals after he has spoken for an hour about his brave but tumultuous career in the NBA. Hodges fell out with Michael Jordan, confronted George Bush Sr in the White House and won two championships with his hometown team, at a time when the Chicago Bulls were venerated around the world, before he was ostracised and shut out of basketball for being too politically outspoken.

The Trouble With Innocence

Going to try to keep this to one Texas Monthly piece a week, and this is a good one.

June 6, 2016, convicted murderer Kerry Max Cook walked into a Tyler courtroom. The sixty-year-old was dressed in black, his silver hair trimmed short. Cook’s eyes, dark and nervous, shot around the wood-paneled chamber, which was filling rapidly. Local news reporters and a documentary-film crew from New York were setting up cameras and microphones. Cook caught sight of three men in the audience, men who had once been convicted criminals themselves: Billy Smith, Michael Morton, and A. B. Butler Jr. All three, famously, had been proved innocent of their alleged crimes after serving a collective sixty years behind bars. They had come from miles away to attend this hearing, and Cook walked over to greet them. Smiling, the three stood to shake his hand. Morton clapped him on the shoulder.

The Secret Life of Pitchers

Going to try to keep this to one The Atlantic piece a week, and this is a good one.

The major league baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, will never be mistaken for a rebel. He’s a 58-year-old Harvard Law School grad who clerked for a U.S. district judge appointed by Richard Nixon; became a partner at the lofty Philadelphia law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and made his name in the league negotiating collective-bargaining agreements and investigating the Biogenesis doping scandal of 2013. The guy even wears a tie when he throws out the first pitch at games.

Did you read something good this week? Drop me a comment below or shoot me an email ... colby at colby angus black dot com.

 

 

 

 

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