Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Test 24: Stacey Demands (More) Numbers

The first thing I want to point out is that the two ladies that I make The Test are very smart. They're great teachers: motivational and analytical and funny and very intelligent. Stacey could talk philosophy with Socrates and Cunningham knows how to tear into a difficult text, AP English style. Their students are lucky to have them.

That being said, listening to them discuss anything numerical is a fascinating cognitive experience. I have to give Stacey credit-- in this episode her answers do make more sense than usual-- but her methods are circuitous and bordering on lunatic. Cunningham actually enters the realm of the absurd. If you haven't tuned in to the show yet, this is the one to start with. It's an interesting set of questions, Cunningham channels Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Stacey does some math, and I question the capacity of the human mind. We get a little testy with each other, and some judgemental pronouncements are made, but in the end a good time is had by all.

Check it out, play at home, and see how your number sense compares the the ladies. I promise you'll laugh out loud, and if you're not careful, you might even learn something before it's done (or get roofied and have your toes licked).

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Sublime, Beautiful Dave Grohl

The arc of the Foo Fighters' story is long, but it bends towards humanity.

Back in July, we told you about the seemingly quixotic attempt by a thousand Italian musicians to get the Foos' attention. Organized by Fabio Zaffagnini, the group performance caught Dave Grohl's attention, and the band promised to come to the small northern Italian city to perform a show. They made good on that promise on November 3.

What a show it appears to have been.

In nice piece of theatrical symmetry, the band opened the show with 'Learn to Fly'.

A moved Grohl thanked the crowd the musicians, saying "I fucking cried", when describing his reaction the first time he saw the group video.

Grohl dedicated 'My Hero' to Zaffagnini, and the joy and pure happiness on the latter's face tells you that we might be seeing the best moment of his life. And what happens from the 5:30 mark or so is just a brilliantly human moment. It made me happy to see it.

Finally, the band invited one of the stars of the original video, a mohawked drummer, to sit in on the skins while Foos drummer Taylor Hawkins handled lead vocals on Queen/Bowie's 'Under Pressure'.

There's so much to love here. Not the least of which is Dave Grohl's essential decency. Long may he rock.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Australia is cooler than us. The evidence is overwhelming, so much so that I don't feel particularly compelled to list it. (There are other reasons why I don't feel like listing it, many of them related to the fact that I'm lazy as fuck.)

No, I won't list it, but I will provide yet another exhibit in the case. Bonds Australia is a maker of undergarments. They're also the geniuses behind an advertising campaign that's made a pair of testicles superstars Down Under.

Really, that should be enough to make the case, no?

Friday, November 20, 2015

No Money Mo Problems

Just days after the triumphant close of BlazerCon, our very own footie fetishist stops by for a timely look at the state of the Premier League. I, for one, will be eagerly scanning Fat Guy in Speedo's work for commentary on Fulham's hiring of former West Brom manager Steve Clarke to the top spot at Craven Cottage and/or Fulham's inability to lure Clarke to the job. Eighth/Fourteenth place in the Championship, here we come!

After noting Gheorghies waiting for Godave’s post, I figured I’d quickly pop off some more Premier League propaganda in hopes that I could beat Dave’s probable self-promotional post to the proverbial punch. (Editor's note: Dave's post was at once self-promotional and non-existent, as he actually posted it on a different blog. We're not sure he completely understands the modern world.) It’s week 33 into the 86-week season and pundits are already waxing poetic about the incredibly improbable and unpredictable shake up among the leagues traditional powerhouses. The top 4 generally consists of some iteration of Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man United in those positions. However, the leaderboard currently reads Man City, Arsenal, LEICESTER CITY and Manchester United. Note that one of these teams is not like the others. Stop the madness. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, squirrels riding birds... mass hysteria!

What’s worth noting is that Leicester City is a recently promoted Premier League side, having returned to the top league in 2014 for the first time since 2004, so the fact that they are flying at such heady heights is nothing short of remarkable. In the Premier League, money spent on player salaries generally correlates to a team’s position in the table. The top four salary spenders are Manchester United (£215), Manchester City (£205), Chelsea (£192) and Arsenal (£166). The lack of a salary cap in the MLB makes that league a (luxury tax noted) reasonably comparable model and there the top four wage bills are Dodgers ($273M), Yankees ($219M), Red Sox ($187M) and Tigers ($174M).  The two World Series teams were the Mets are at #21 ($101M) and the Royals ($113M) at #16. What does this prove? Win or lose, owning any professional sports team in the United States is a guaranteed license to print money.

Wait, what about Chelsea? Their poor play is proof that if enough people wish for something worldwide, it will come true. The 2014 league winners have collapsed and currently occupy 16th place (out of 20) in the EPL table. There is no real reason for their decline, the same players, owner, coach and horribly defensive style of play are replicas of what drove them to victory last season. Every week heralds a new low and the players look defeated before play even begins.

Meanwhile, Leicester City play with total positivity and attacking abandon, they are like an injury-laden Notre Dame team without the international support, coffers or Showtime series. They have come from behind several times and never show intimidation regardless of the venue. Check ‘em out this weekend, I’m sure if you do based on this post you will be rewarded with an incredibly dreary 0-0 defensive draw. In other sporting news, does anyone really think that a one-defeat Notre Dame team will get trumped out of the playoffs by whatever crap team climbs to the top of the turd tower that is the Big 12?

I was at this game.

See you on Boxing Day! Dave’s post should be up by then.

Additional editor's note: says here that Tottenham Hotspur will claim one of the Prem's four Champions League spots. They haven't lost since the season's opening match, and they boast one of the youngest and most athletic lineups in the league. Plus, they have guys with fun names, like Dele Alli, Erik Lamela, Toby Alderweireld, Hugo Lloris, Moussa Dembele, and Harry Kane.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This Town Needs an Enema

I confess that the events last weekend in Paris and the resulting race to the bottom by American political and media voices (lest I be accused of partisanship, I'm looking at you, too, Chuck Schumer) have left me in a funk. Frankly, we've managed to look cowardly, xenophobic, and just plain cruel all at once.

As a response to my dismay, I found myself seeking moments of bliss to counteract the darkness. Fortunately, I'm surrounded by idiots with a penchant for joyous dipshittery. One, in particular.

Thanks, man. You're the best.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Test 23: Princess Cunningham

Stacey, Cunningham and I have recorded twenty-five episodes of The Test and I'm happy to report our enthusiasm for the project hasn't flagged. And we've got listeners (God knows who . . . but we've been listened to and downloaded over 13,000 times). We are to the point where we are occasionally making tests to annoy the shit out of each other-- that was Cunningham's plan with this one . . . she knows I hate all things Disney and wanted to put me on the spot. Don't fret, as I exact my revenge next week.

Give this one a shot, sing along at home, and see if you can channel your inner princess. Special features include Stacey blurting out an answer and not realizing it, a very difficult two word tongue twister, and some confusion on my part between a post-apocalyptic '90's movie and an abandoned waterpark.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Math is Our Friend

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Not a galaxy so much as a life phase, really. In any case, it was nearly 25 years ago when several GTBers and friends conceived of the Bad Brewery Tour as an offbeat Spring Break journey. The details are a bit hazy, but the trip centered in Milwaukee, with plans to visit Pabst and Miller (in hopes of finding the source of Milwaukee's Best and Mickey's Big Mouth), among others. There was a stop planned at the National Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis, too, if memory serves.

It may well not.

Now that we're older, wiser, and much more to the point, drinkers of far better beer, I think it's time to revisit the wintry reveries of far younger men. And thanks to the mathematically-inclined hops heads at Flowing Data, we don't even have to work very hard to plan.

Flowing Data is dedicated to the analysis, exploration, and visualization of data to help scientists and the rest of us understand information more easily and completely. The brainchild of UCLA PhD Nathan Yu, the polyinformatic site covers a breadth of data-related topics, from voting patterns, to genomics, to solar weather, to the predicted date of the end of the world. And most relevant to our uses, to beer.

Anyone can make a map of great American craft breweries, and lots of people have. It takes a bit more effort and data manipulation skills to turn that list into an algorithmically optimized road trip planner.

This is a lot easier to read on the Flowing Data site
The trip is designed around the 72 American breweries that made RateBeer's list of the world's top 100 brewers, but Yu has helpfully visualized areas with a high concentration of additional breweries and brewpubs using thicker lines. But the real value of the Flowing Data planner is in route optimization, as seen below.

Y'know, if we do this right, we can hit Surly, Pabst, Founder's and Bells in a three-day mini-tour. Spring Break, anyone?