Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nature

Feel free to caption. This was in taken by yours truly, at my home. Nature.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Our Favorite Recurring Feature

Since we all kinda miss the Teej, gallivanting as he is across the great capitals of Europe, here's something from his catalogue to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.



Hat tip to Clarence for the find.

Friday, August 15, 2014

All My Foreign Friends Are Coming Over Tonight

On this, the eve of the 2014-15 Barclays Premier League season, we welcome once again our roving footie correspondent, Fat Guy in a Speedo, who offers a preview as comprehensive as any of our usual crap.

Although Hank Williams Jr. and Anne Coulter might not attend, and aforementioned party would have to be in the morning, soccerball season is back. "Wait a minute," you might be thinking, the World Cup is over and MLS is in mid-season, what is this guestie on about? Well gentle reader, I am not talking about the Columbus Crew, Montreal Impact or Miami Fusion although these team names make the Wizards sound like an inspired name choice. I am talking EPL, England's greatest national output after . . . after a minute of reflection I got nothing, seriously. Monty Python and Borat maybe. England's football league is light years ahead of any other national league in terms of speed, physicality, pasty chavs and awful weather conditions. Kickoff is this weekend and I'll give a rundown of the only 4 or 5 teams that have a title shot and/or any name recognition over here, if at all.

Chelsea  - Owned by free-spending, Putin-light oligarch, they will have gelled under second year wundercoach Jose Mourinho who has won many titles with many teams from many countries.  Despite his enormous success, he quits/moves/gets fired every other year because he is an insufferable twat who plays boring, "ugly" football, i.e., meaning defensive, low-scoring matches. He should win the league this year with Chelsea as they will have had a full season to be accustomed to this lack of style. Chelsea fans everywhere celebrate this as they too, are a brio-less lot of lumpenproletariat. 

Arsenal  - Like Chelsea, they are a London-based team, this is all they have in common. Arsenal play free-flowing, open football under long-standing French coach Arsene Wenger. Wenger has enjoyed tremendous success at Arsenal, unfortunately, all of this success is a 90s, early 2000s memory. Wenger has eschewed the vast sums spent on the modern footballer over the past decade and is proof that you get what you pay for.  His only silver over the past 9 seasons is an FA Cup trophy last May.  Buoyed by this windfall of glory, Wenger has uncharacteristically spent $50M on Chilean Alexis Sanchez amongst others.  It will be interesting to see if this group of bridesmaids can finally take it to the next level. Unfortunately for fans of the Gunners, the answer will be 'no.'

Liverpool - Like Arsenal, they are still chasing past glory, unlike Arsenal they have spent 100s of millions of pounds to achieve this over the past decade to no avail.  Liverpool had an amazing run last season and failed to heed the ABCs of life, they couldn't close it.  You can pinpoint the second it all ended, top of the table and 3 games left, Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard lost possession in midfield and conceded the goal that changed their fate. (Editor's Note: Last year was my daughter's first as a Liverpool fan. Gerrard is her favorite, natch. And this really bummed her out.
Additionally,  chompy Luis Suarez has been sold to Barcelona, for all his innumerable faults, he was the greatest player in the world last season. Despite his 10-game ban for biting Chelsea defender Ivanovic in 2013, he scored 30 goals last season. At that pace he would've been on the amazing tally of 40 if he wasn't an absolute sociopath on the pitch. Without him, Liverpool and his fans can be prepared for another disappointing season.


Manchester City - What's left to be said about the 'noisy neighbors' of Manchester United? Still owned by Arab billionaires who knew nothing about soccer prior to purchase, still spending 100s of millions of pounds a year on the world's greatest players, still clamoring for approval despite winning the league last year, their lot will be the same this year.  They might win it, they should win it, but no one except the Gallagher brothers will care if they do. 

Manchester United - (Editor's Note: Seriously, fuck Manchester United.) Despite having their worst season in 30 years and finishing seventh under David Moyes, the hand-picked hapless successor to Sir Alex Ferguson, England's greatest coach ever. Branded the Chosen One at the season's beginning, his player's gave him the new nickname "Fuck Off Moyes" by season's close.  Although this nickname tells us everything we need to know about the nuanced thinking of professional athletes, this season looks to be quite different. 
Louis Van Gaal's nickname is the Iron Tulip and after leading the Netherlands national team to third place this World Cup, United fans are hoping to see similar results this coming season. United have won all 7 pre-season friendlies under Van Gaal, fans are so enthused that this will continue that it will be great fun for all non-United fans to watch them stumble to mediocrity when the season commences. Van Gaal has never coached in the EPL and it is a different entity from what he's used to. The fact that United will have no European football (Champions or Europa League) during the season as they didn't qualify should help them get back on track. They will win the League. (Editor's note: No, no they will not.)

Fulham - Second to last place last season saw them drop down to the Champions League for the upcoming season. Rob will have a hard time finding them on the telly this year. Predictions, Fulham take second and are back in the Premier League next season and Rob gets 3 viruses watching them on dodgy Russian feeds. (Editor's note: Fulham lost their first Championship Match, so things are already going swimmingly.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rugger? I Wouldn't Want to Be Hit by Her.

Courtesy of man of the world Mr. KQ, we commend to your attention Meya Bizer, a 21 year-old Penn State student who happens to be the world's hardest-hitting female rugby player. Bizer, a fullback on the USA Women's Eagles, is nicknamed The Human Sledgehammer. Check out the video below to see why:



ESPNW opines that, "Bizer might just be the hardest-hitting athlete, male or female, in sports." While we're probably not ready to go there, if for no other reason than the fact that, at 5'8, 158 lbs, she gives up seven inches and nearly 70 pounds to, say, Kam Chancellor, she's still a singularly impressive athlete. Penn State and USA Women's Rugby strength coach Ian Jones tells a story of Bizer's work in the weight room: "At Penn State, some of our male athletes from rugby or lacrosse or football will be training across the room and they'll see the weight she's moving and they're like, 'Holy s---, I can't even do that.' Her force development is unique for a female athlete, and it transfers onto the field."

The Women's Eagles fell to New Zealand, 34-3, in Women's Rugby World Cup play on Friday, and failed to advance out of group play. But at only 21, we're sure to see - and feel - more of Bizer over the coming years.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

Farewell to an incandescent fucking genius. It's not your fault.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gheorghe Longform Guestie

Special guest longform post from Shlara...

Local Hoopster Nolan Smith is Working Hard to Get Back into the NBA

Nolan Smith has been playing on NBA courts since he could walk.

His father, the late Derek Smith, was a journeyman guard in the league, playing nine seasons with five different teams after a successful college career at the University of Louisville, which included a NCAA Championship in 1980.

Derek was known in basketball circles for his tenacity, grit and relentless drive. He would acknowledge that other players may have more raw talent, but no one was going to outwork him.

"Hard work is definitely who he was," said Nolan about his father. "No matter what it was, tennis, track, basketball, school, he always preached working hard."

For the first eight years of his life, Nolan was Derek's shadow. He quietly and intently studied and internalized his father's every word and move. Nolan idolized Derek, and wanted to be exactly like him: competitive, but with an unwavering positive attitude and an out-sized joy for life, his family and the game of basketball. Eighteen years later, he still does.

Derek passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from an undetected heart defect in 1996. At the time, Derek was starting his third year as an assistant coach for the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) and brought Nolan to countless practices and games, just so they could spend time together. That was part of Derek's deal to accept the job--Nolan had to be welcome to tag along for everything.

"He always just told me watch--watch what [the pro players] do, how they carry themselves, how they handle their business," said Nolan. "I watched them, but I also watched him. Every day."

Nolan lost his hero and North Star. Derek's NBA friends stepped in to help fill the void--Juwan Howard and Johnny Dawkins assumed "big brother" status. Coach Jim Lynam took Nolan under his wing. Their mentoring and support were invaluable, but it was the lessons, love and wisdom from his father that formed Nolan's foundation as an athlete and person.

Talent was clearly inherited. People often say to Nolan "you look so much like your father," or "you move like your pop."

"I love that people see him in me," said Nolan.

But it is in his commitment to hard work and his joie d'vivre that he most resembles his father. These are the comparisons he cherishes. And this is what will carry him through the toughest stretch of his short professional career as he works he way back into the NBA.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Dropping Actual Science

Matt Daniels is a data scientist at Undercurrent, a New York-based strategy and management consulting firm. (As an aside, if your kids ask you what they should be when they grow up, you should tell them to be data scientists. Those fuckers are gonna own the world.) Matt Daniels also loves hip hop. He combined his gift for data analysis with his passion for music to create 'The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop' project.

Version 2.0 of Daniels' work was just released in June, and compares the lyrical range of 85 different artists (since the analysis requires at least 35,000 words in an artists' recorded body of work, it doesn't include newer acts, or those with limited recordings). As Daniels explains, "
I used a research methodology called token analysis to determine each artist’s vocabulary. Each word is counted once, so pimpspimppimping, and pimpin are four unique words. To avoid issues with apostrophes (e.g., pimpin’ vs. pimpin), they’re removed from the dataset. It still isn’t perfect. Hip hop is full of slang that is hard to transcribe (e.g., shorty vs. shawty), compound words (e.g., king shit), featured vocalists, and repetitive choruses."

The analysis is published on the project website, but you can purchase it in poster form from Pop Chart Lab. Aesop Rock is the runaway lyrical champion of the world, his vocabulary so impressive that Daniels had to change the x-axis to accommodate him. Of note, as Daniels says, "Wu-Tang Clan at #6 is fucking impressive given that ten members, with vastly different styles, are equally contributing lyrics."

On the other end of the scale, DMX sits in dead last, joined by a number of hip hop's biggest names, including Kanye, Lil Wayne, Snoop, and 2Pac. Goes to show, I guess, that lyrical virtuosity may not be the most important factor in moving records. Which is something Sean Carter not only figured out, but let us know on The Black Album cut, "Moment of Clarity":

I dumbed down my audience to double my dollars
They criticized me for it, yet they all yell 'holla'
If skills sold, truth be told, I'd probably be
Lyrically Talib Kweli
Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
But I did 5 mil - I ain't been rhyming like Common since

So Jay-Z is already down with data science. What did I tell you about owning the world?