Month: July 2022 (Page 1 of 2)

Friday Playlist

Just a little more cleanup from my podcast archives research, a whole heck of a lot of new music, and no playlist next week due to travel means (at least) one more mega playlist for your listening pleasure.

“In the Right” – The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness
Some jim-dandy power pop here, my friends.

“Overcome” – Young Guv
Let’s keep it on the power pop tip for one more track.

“ILYSM” – Wild Pink
WP has made some of my favorite music of the last five years. Band leader John Ross was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and has been undergoing treatment since. I do not know his prognosis, but hoping it is positive since he is still making music. This is the title track from the band’s next album, expected in October, which will be focused on what he has been going through. If this song is indicative of the entire album, it’s going to be incredible. When everything comes together at the 2:45 mark, it might be the music moment of the year.

“Sometimes” – MUNA
A strong contender for artist of the year with this music critic.

“That’s Rare” – Free Time
I’m astounded that this band is from New York and not Australia. It makes no sense; this is straight Aussie jangle pop. The singer even sounds like he’s from Brisbane!

“Olympus” – Blondshell
I approve of songs like this that speak of deep emotional wounds.

“Fire Maple Song” – Everclear
Speaking of emotional wounds…Holy lost songs! This was one of my very favorite songs of the 1990s. And somehow I haven’t listened to it since I made the transition away from iTunes and into streaming services. We’re talking a good 7-8 years here, folks, maybe more. Unbelievable! And I had pretty much forgotten about it. Until I came across it in the old pod playlists. Thank the Music Gods for setting me straight!

“Summer Dream” – Bonny Light Horseman, Anais Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson, & Josh Kaufman
A gorgeous song for these warm, breezy nights.

“Paris (Ooh La La)” – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals live at Red Rocks
My brother in music E$ sent this video to me this week. Not a single thing about it sucks. I swore I had listened to some of Potter’s music at some point, but nothing jumped out at me after a quick review. I might need to rectify that. With that in mind…

“Whole Lotta Love” – Grace Potter covering Led Zeppelin
From her Covid Days livestreams. Remember those?

Wednesday Links

M and I are off to visit Purdue so it seems like a great day to share some more interesting reads.

I don’t know a thing about cricket, and I’m guessing most of you don’t, either. That doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the ridiculousness of this story.

“I have never seen a scam like this. These guys just cleared a patch of land deep inside a village and began playing a match and beaming it on YouTube to make money through gambling. Even the local villagers were not aware of this. We know very little about the Russians who were putting bets on this game,” Mr Rathod said.

India: How a fake ‘IPL’ cricket league ran for Russian punters

I enjoyed this Q&A with Jack White. This quote stuck out to me:

I’ve often felt sorry for people who have hit songs that they’re forced to play in that exact same way for their entire lives or entire careers. There’s definitely some goodness in there. But I always feel from the sidelines like, Oh, that’s too bad. You can’t play around with that or people get their hearts broken because you’re messing with a good thing.

I find that’s true with certain artists: I would riot if Neil Finn, say, completely changed “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” But for artists like White, who I expect experimentation from, if he totally ripped one of his classics apart and put it back together in a new way, I would be cool with it.

Jack White on the Most Stubborn and Prophetic Music of His Career

I think it is safe to say that Journey occupies a very different space in the music world than Jack White does. Journey is the epitome of corporate rock where White has built his entire career on challenging the norms of the music business.

Journey was my favorite band in the early 1980s. I still hung onto some love for their music until the summer of 1992, when Pearl Jam, Nirvana, etc totally rocked my world and had me turning my back on much of the music I grew up on. I never really fell back in love with Journey, although I have grown to appreciate their rockers again.

With that background, I find this piece a little cruel or, as my girls would say, extra. But it’s still a fun read.

They’re probably not the most earnest rock band of all time — there are plenty of contenders for that title — but their combination of sincerity and emphaticness was emblematic of a rock era ruled by dudes with no chill. No wonder the music video for “Separate Ways” is so spectacularly, awkwardly awful.

Journey Mastered the Art of Uncool with “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”

Gary Smith is on the short list for greatest magazine writers ever. I read his work for years without finally registering his byline. Once I knew who he was, I was certain whatever piece I was about to read would be amazing.

This profile looks at his career and what he’s done since leaving Sports Illustrated. This passage is as good an explanation as any for why SI and other sports media that our generation grew up on no longer matter.

As the magazine industry shrunk and the athlete’s pulpit grew, the calculus inverted. The magazine needs the athlete now, not the other way around. “So, the shadows get shut down and the person controls the whole thing. It’s a step of trust no longer necessary for celebrities to take. So why take it?”

No Typo: Gary Smith Teaches Mindfulness to Elementary School Kids These Days

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 76

Chart Week: July 22, 1978
Song: “Baker Street” – Gerry Rafferty
Chart Position: #2, 14th week on the chart. Peaked at #2 for six weeks.

I’ve been wanting to write about this song for ages, and everything finally lined up thanks to an AT40 I caught last week.

“Baker Street” is one of the greatest songs of its time. Or any time for that matter. It is an unforgettable, undeniable, unassailable piece of rock ’n’ roll art. I defy you to listen without cranking it up as loud as is acceptable for your location to revel in its glory.

Sadly, though, it was subject of one of the great screw-jobs in chart history. One that had a direct impact on what Casey Kasem said on two different American Top 40 broadcasts.

Scotsman Gerry Rafferty had six US Top 40 hits in his career; two with the band Stealers Wheel and four as a solo artist. “Baker Street” was, by far, the biggest of those hits. For five weeks in the summer of 1978 it sat at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, stuck behind what would become the #1 song of the entire year, Andy Gibb’s “Shadow Dancing.” However, in late July it looked like Rafferty would sneak past Gibb into the top spot.

In AT40 replays from the 1970s, Casey often gave clues about what the next number one song would be. I always assumed this was because in the ‘70s, AT40 lagged the actual data by a week or two, and he had an idea of what songs would shuffle into what spots in the coming weeks.

The week of July 22, 1978, Casey shared one of these hints in an interesting way. Before playing “Baker Street,” he read a question from a listener asking what country had the most artists with number one hits per capita. He answered Scotland, with four: The Bay City Rollers, The Average White Band, Donovan, and Lulu against a population of about five million. But, Casey suggested, maybe there was about to be a fifth.

When it came time to record the next week’s countdown, Casey indeed worked off a chart that listed “Baker Street” as the number one song in America. He laid down vocals confirming that fact. However, before the show could be mastered and distributed, the chart was adjusted keeping the top two songs as they had been for the previous five weeks. Casey re-recorded the final segment of his show to reflect this correction. A week later “Shadow Dancing” finally fell to number five…but “Baker Street” also fell four notches to number six.

What on earth happened? How can the Billboard numbers change after they’ve already been locked in for the American Top 40 deadline?

The urban legend, and one that seems to have a lot of legs, suggests that Andy Gibb’s management team was responsible. They met with representatives from Billboard to plan for the singer’s appearance on a Billboard-sponsored show. When Gibb’s agents learned that “Shadow Dancing” was about to fall out of the top spot, they strongly inferred that their client would not be making an appearance on the program if his song was no longer number one. Since Gibb was one of the hottest stars in the world at the moment, this sent Billboard scrambling to adjust the count and ensure Gibb’s performance.

Or so people say.

Whether true or not it is a fun theory to speculate about.

So, sure, Andy Gibb kept Gerry Rafferty from earning a number one hit on the Billboard chart. And that sucks. But I guarantee “Baker Street” gets played way more often now than “Shadow Dancing” does, and probably has every year since 1978.[1] So suck that, Andy Gibb (RIP).

By the way, since that question was asked of Casey, four more Scottish acts have topped the Hot 100: Rod Stewart, Sheena Easton, Lewis Capaldi, and Calvin Harris. I would imagine that means Scotland still has the most number one artists per capita of any country. Even with Gerry Rafferty getting screwed.[2]

There is also a controversy about who wrote the incendiary sax line that anchors the song. You can read all about that here. What blew my mind when I read this piece was that Hugh Burns, who plays the roaring guitar solo on “Baker Street,” also played on George Michael’s “Careless Whisper,” another song that is built upon a monster sax riff. Crazy coincidence!

Oh, and if you don’t think this song is a 10, you can fuck right off.

(Worth noting that Tom Breihan wrote about “Baker Street” and the various stories behind it as a bonus track for The Number Ones during last year’s Stereogum fundraiser. You can read it here. He only gave it a nine. 🤷‍♂️)

  1. I’m not here to hate: “Shadow Dancing” is a terrific song, too. It’s just not All-World like “Baker Street.”  ↩
  2. I wonder if this experience caused Casey to stop dropping hints about what the next week’s top song would be. In the ‘80s he did far more “What song will be number one next week? Will it be…” and then rattled off two or three contenders without committing to any one song.  ↩

Family Notes

It has been a lazy few days around our house.

M spent last week in Michigan with one of her best friend’s families. She seemed to have a great time. Boy was the house quiet without the most talkative sister around. Kind of a preview of what awaits us next fall.

I had big plans to do something fun with her sisters while she was away, but every day one of them had something pop up that prevented that from happening. C had two more driving lessons, watched two of her cousins part of one day, and cleaned for one of her aunts another day. L pitched in with that aunt and mowed her yard for her. L and I got a couple workouts in between her hanging with friends.

Saturday we had most of L’s travel basketball team over for a season-ending pool party. Despite a forecast for a heat index approaching 110, it stayed cloudy all day and was actually a nice evening to spend outside. The girls seemed to have fun and it was nice to hang out with the parents casually rather than in the stands or while on a basketball trip.

Sunday we had some friends over for dinner. They have boys M’s and C’s ages and in recent years those gatherings have been a little awkward. These kids have known each other since birth but something about the teenage years turned it weird a couple years back. But everyone was happy and got along last night. We managed to avoid the heavy storms that split the area, although the kids never got into the pool because we could hear thunder in the distance. There was a possible tornado only about two miles from our home. Fortunately it was moving away from us and we were never in any danger.

Today is a big day in our house: M’s 18th birthday! Her sisters have been saying for weeks how weird that sounds to them. For some reason her turning 17 last year seemed weirder than 18. But it is still odd to have an adult child, legally speaking. Especially since she still has a year of high school left. I didn’t turn 18 until after I graduated so that has always seemed like the natural progression to me. You graduate, turn 18, then go to college. Obviously that only works for about a third of the population, but it was my experience and my “normal.”

Fortunately she has matured a lot the past 2–3 years and seems ready to be 18. She still has moments where we smack our foreheads at her lack of common sense or ability to figure things out on her own, but that’s normal. In general she’s a smart, mature, well-adjusted kid that seems comfortable in her own skin and in social settings.

Much of parenthood is spent hoping. Hoping that you are teaching your kids the right things and hoping that they are taking those lessons in. Hoping that they don’t grow up to be shitheads. M’s journey to adulthood is far from over, but I am proud of where she is at at this moment in her life. I’ve always said I wouldn’t be worried about her because, one way or another, she’ll figure out her path. I still feel exactly that way about her.

We had a rough patch, M and I, when she was 14–16ish, and it took awhile to come out of that. But we get along a lot better now than we did a couple years ago (and things weren’t really that bad then) and we enjoy each other’s company and giving each other shit.

We took C and her out for brunch today, then walked around the mall for a bit.[1] I mocked her for being excited about getting a birthday discount at Kendra Scott. We will have a big birthday dinner for her and a group of friends in the next week or so. She is headed to a local lake with friends later today. I imagine the young man she’s been spending some time with will be there as well. Not a bad way to spend your 18th birthday.

C and I went to the orthodontist this morning. She has struggled with her retainer regimen since she got her braces off over a year ago. We’ve already had to have it re-fitted once. Well, she went through a long spell of not wearing it, now it doesn’t fit, and her teeth have moved. So she’s going in Invisalign for the next 4–6 months. Which is lovely. I think she realizes this is her last chance and needs to take better care of her teeth if she doesn’t want her parents to ground her until she goes to college.

  1. L is spending the day with friends at a water park.  ↩

Friday Playlist

I continue to clean out the holding pen of music that is overflowing with both new tracks and classics I rediscovered while trolling the archives of my old music podcast.

“Alright” – Sam Fender
The life cycle of albums can be strange. These days many bands will drop multiple singles well before releasing the full album. Streaming messes up how singles are handled once the public has their hands on the LP so you might as well trickle them out slowly when you have the chance. My only real radio experience is with SiriusXM, and they often play only the first single and ignore the others. Weird. Anyway, Fender wrote this song early in the process for Seventeen Going Under but it did not make the final album cut. And despite that album going to number one in England and it spinning off a couple pretty successful singles here in the States, he’s already dipping into the B-sides, releasing this as a single earlier this week.

“Ricochet” – Preoccupations
There is no better current practitioner of post punk than Preoccupations.

“Didn’t It Rain Last Night” – First Rodeo
Exactly the kind of twangy music I can handle. I wish we would have run into these guys when we visited Nashville instead of the more traditional country artists we heard. The title of this song also seems like one of those funny websites/Twitter accounts like “Did Duke Lose?” Because, more often than not the last two months, the answer to their question has been “Hell no.”

“Sweetness and Light” – Lush
Now we jump into the archive tracks. Lush was a band that I absolutely loved for a brief time in the mid-90s. Long enough to buy at least three of their albums? This was their first-ever single, released as an EP in October 1990 and then was the first track on their debut album a month later. My life improved greatly when I discovered it four years later. You can draw a straight line from this track to other songs/bands I’ve played for you over the years. Lush probably has a few better songs, but this is one of the five best of their career.

“Come Out, Come Down, Fade Out, Be Gone” – 120 Days
Listeners to my pod will recall I included more electronic music back then than I do now. Not sure why that is. Maybe the sources I got my music from back then were more inclusive of electronica? I don’t think it’s because of some big taste change on my part, because if a song like this came out today I would still play the hell out of it. Anyway, this is from 2006.

“At the Stars” – Better Than Ezra
One of the all time great Driving on a Warm Summer Night With the Windows Down songs. 1998? I swore it was older than that.

“Ceremony” – Radiohead covering New Order
One of those musical moments that blew people’s minds. First off, the idea of a webcast was pretty damn groundbreaking in 2007. And then for Radiohead to rip up this classic pretty much finished the job on anyone whose brain was still intact.

“Deadbeat Summer” – Neon Indian
It’s been so hot this summer it’s tough not to be a deadbeat.

Weekend Sports Notes

Some sports happenings over the past few days.


As if being shitty wasn’t bad enough, ten Royals players “did their own research” and decided not to get vaccinated against Covid, preventing them from traveling to Canada for the series with the Blue Jays over the weekend.

Just an exhausting moment. As I am barely interested in the team or sport right now, this does not make me want to come back.

Let’s move on…

Pacers Go Big…Almost

The Pacers have never been big players in the free agent market. Good players who are healthy generally don’t want to come to Indianapolis, and the Pacers have generally run a tight financial ship and refused to overpay to get talent to come to town.

That nearly changed last week. They signed restricted free agent Deandre Ayton to a massive offer sheet. Ayton had a strained relationship with the Phoenix Suns who seemed lukewarm on bringing him back on a max contract. There had been rumors for weeks the Suns and Pacers were talking about a deal that revolved around Ayton and the Pacers’ Myles Turner. If those talks were serious, though, they never resulted in a trade agreement.

So the Pacers sent out only the second offer sheet they’ve ever tendered, the biggest in league history, for Ayton. For about three hours Pacers fans were debating whether to be excited about the prospect of Ayton joining a young roster or to worry about Ayton getting hurt or just sucking and turning the deal into a disaster that sunk the franchise for the 2020s.

That debate only lasted a few hours because the Suns quickly matched the Pacers’ offer. Which could be a good thing. Offering $133 million for a big man in the current NBA seemed ultra aggressive, especially for one like Ayton, who is a good player but certainly not among the league’s elite.

It was cool the Pacers tried to make a splash, at least. Now I wonder where they go. They seem set up to remain on the outside of the eastern conference playoff picture next year, but also not bad enough to enter the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. They have a ton of cap room and a lot of picks stacked up for the next few years. Plus they still have to figure out what to do with Turner, an elite shot blocker and serviceable 3-point shooter whose total game does not match his ego or financial desires. Do they package Turner and some of their picks for a difference maker? Hang onto Turner until the trade deadline to see if he meshes with their new lineup (and can stay healthy)? Or do they move Turner now, take on a bad, expiring contract, and hope they are crappy enough to get deep into next year’s lottery and then make rapid improvement?

Kid Hoops

L’s team decided to get together for one more tournament. Saturday they played two teams they played two weeks ago, including the team that knocked them out of that tournament. They pounded that team pretty good, although they were playing without their best player. We were three players short, including a starter, but not sure that was an even trade. In game two they got a 14-point win over a team we have now beaten three times. This was our best performance against them.

In Sunday’s semifinal we had a five-point lead early in the second half but lost by 10. Our girls just got waxed in the last 10 minutes or so. The other team was too fast on both ends, our girls neglected to play any help defense, and we missed a ton of easy shots early that could have had us up by double digits early in the game.

L had a mixed weekend. She shot the ball like crap going 3–20 overall. Saturday she hit the top of the backboard with 3 pointers from behind the NBA line.[1] Apparently she’s been working out too much. In the second game she missed two wide open layups and another two contested ones. But she did score six in that game. And she turned the game around with her defense. We were down seven when she checked in. Five minutes later, when she checked out, we were up six. In that span she had two points, two rebounds, two assists, and three steals. She just shut down their point guard, getting steals on three of four possessions. We never looked back after that.

We’ve been doing some good shooting over at the YMCA, so I don’t know if she was just sped up, if her contacts weren’t locked in, or if it was the classic case of the improvement she’s making in practice not translating to games yet. Whatever the explanation, her shooting was gross. Afterwards I reminded her, though, that back in January if she ever took a 3-pointer, it was usually two feet short. Now she’s shooting them 3–4 feet long from behind the NBA line. So she has the range, she just needs to lock in the accuracy.

The Open

Jeeeeez what a let down. Rory McIlroy seemed like was finally going to break his eight-year major-less streak, playing beautiful golf all weekend. He was a little less stellar Sunday, missing six putts by a combined six inches, but still played well enough to win.

Except Cameron Smith went nuclear and hit every freaking putt on the back nine. Shooting 30 on the last nine of a major – six birdies and three pars – is pretty dope. Rory couldn’t even finish second as Cameron Young snuck by him with a final round 65.

There was no meltdown round this time. Rory played great all four days. Perhaps he was a little too cautious Sunday. Or the nerves caused shots that gave him short birdie looks the first three days to leave him much longer looks in Sunday. Whatever the cause, it felt like a massive letdown when he couldn’t close it out. Sometimes you just get unlucky and end up on the wrong side of a legendary closing round by another golfer.

It was really a magnificent tournament. St. Andrews is barely hanging on against modern players and technology, but it produced a terrific weekend of golf. Saturday, when six or seven players all seemed to be in the mix, was amazing to watch. It came at a perfect moment for professional golf, which has seen the 2022 season dominated by the break between the PGA and the Saudi-backed LIV tour. But you also have to wonder when we will see a tournament like this again. The 2023 major season could be drastically different as more players defect to the LIV, which could affect their ability to play in future majors. Perhaps it was that, more than Rory coming up short, that made the end feel a little extra somber.

  1. The tournament was at Jeff Teague’s gym, and we played both Saturday games on the NBA court, which is longer than the other two high school courts at the facility, and only has the college and NBA three point lines parked. Not sure why they had kids as young as fifth grade playing on it without the high school arc marked.  ↩

Friday Playlist

Normally my Spotify playlist where I stash songs for the Friday Playists has anywhere from three to eight songs in it. This week is different, though.

First off, this has been a very good year for music already and it feels like a ton of solid tunes get released every week. So I have plenty of new tracks to share.

Second, I dug into the playlists of my old music podcast this week and re-discovered a bunch of tracks I hadn’t heard in years. I slapped several of them into the potential list.

And then we had a couple anniversaries, a death, and an interesting read that also prompted me to add some songs.

As I sit down to start making this week’s list, there are 25 tracks up for consideration. Which means you, the readers/listeners, are the beneficiaries! And for a few weeks we’ll have bigger playlists than normal. And maybe a couple vids each week until I get the pool whittled down again.

“Silence Is Golden” – The Beths
Really good, straight ahead indie rock from New Zealand.

“Punk Tactics” – Joey Valence, Brae
Sounds like The Beastie Boys crossed with Run the Jewels.

“Want Want” – Maggie Rogers
Ms. Rogers has such a gift for making near-perfect indie pop songs.

“My Body My Choice” – Margaret Glaspy
It’s a fucking shame we have to have songs like this.

“Even Flow” – Pearl Jam
I heard this a couple times last week and realized I had just passed the 30th anniversary of the weekend that I fell in love with this song, and with it one of my very favorite bands ever. I swear I heard it 1000 times over the weekend of July 4, 1992. Then I went out and bought Ten the following week, and, well, I would assume I’ve listened to no artist more since then. This alternative take, which was used for the song’s video, is the best version.

“Would?” – Alice in Chains
AiC is kind of the forgotten band of the grunge era since their recording career was so short. They were monsters at the time, though, right behind Nirvana and Pearl Jam and ahead of Soundgarden in the commercial pecking order. Last week’s Sunday Pitchfork classic album review was AiC’s breakthrough album Dirt. Pretty much guarantee I hadn’t listened to it, in full, since well before the ’90s ended. I spun it after reading that review on Sunday. I agree with the author: it is a pretty bleak listen. But all the big songs still absolutely cook, and I’ve added a bunch of them into my Spotify library.

“James Bond Theme” – John Barry Orchestra
Monty Norman died last week. That name may not register with you, but he is the man who wrote the original James Bond theme for Dr. No. The movie’s producers had composer John Barry make some tweaks to Norman’s tune and then record it for the movie. For nearly 30 years afterward, Barry was publicly given full credit for writing it. Eventually Norman won a court battle and earned the writing credit he had been denied for far too long. RIP.

“James Bond Theme – Moby’s Re-version” – Moby
Why not?

“Summer Drive” – Dragon Turtle
Here is one from the podcast archives that I had completely forgotten about. What a gorgeous, haunting song. I listened to entire album and is a very good disk to chill out to.

“Brothers” – Gang of Youths
When I wrote about GoY’s amazing angel in realtime album earlier this year, I mentioned what an absolute motherfucker this song was. If you haven’t listened to the entire album it may not hit as hard. David Le’aupepe’s performance here is undeniable and incredibly affecting. The “But he lied about that too,” and “But if he forgives him, then I should too” lines are absolute crushers.

Reader’s Notebook, 7/14/22

The Committed – Viet Thanh Nguyen
I read, and loved, Nguyen’s The Sympathizer in 2015. His sequel did not quite meet the original’s standard.

The Committed picks up a few years after The Sympathizer, with the main character living in Paris in the early 1980s, and attempting to start a new life in the Vietnamese ex-pat community. Once again he must play the different factions of the community off of each other to maintain his safety. He falls in with criminals, corrupt French politicians, and must hide his work for the Communists from his best friend, an ardent anti-Communist.

The story is rich and complex, but as it is less moored to real events, it lost some of the magic that made The Sympathizer such an enjoyable read.

The Plot – Jean Hanff Korelitz
A buzz book from last year, this novel wades into the world of meta fiction. It does a pretty good job.

Jacob is a once-promising writer who learns that a former student has died without ever publishing a brilliant story he had worked on while they were at a writing workshop together. The student’s story featured a unique plot that he believed could not miss. Jacob takes the bones of that story, writes his own novel based upon it, and becomes the hottest writer in the world. Soon, though, someone is harassing him for stealing the plot.

Korelitz lays out the story in two tracks, one focused on Jacob and his life, the other sharing pages of Jacob’s novel. The two tracks, of course, come together, each with big twists. Both are are supposed to be big shockers. I would say the double fictional one is, but that lessens the impact from the single fictional one (If that makes any sense).

The Plot is a fun read, perfect for summer, but falls just short of matching the hype it arrived with.

The Lords of Easy Money – Christopher Leonard
I don’t know shit about economics. I should put that out front. Despite that ignorance, I have some theories, thoughts, and concerns about our economy, capitalism in general, and how our government allots its resources in keeping the economy healthy. I don’t know if they hold up to scrutiny from anyone who actually knows a little about economics, but thoughts I have.

I heard Christopher Leonard discuss his latest book on No Laying Up’s The Trap Draw podcast. Leonard is from Kansas City, one of people he builds this book around is from Kansas City, and his general topic was the state of our economy and his fears the Federal Reserve has greatly overstepped its role over the past decade. Throw those all together and I was very interested to read this.

I was expecting a fairly dry book that was difficult to get through. There were plenty of times when the econ jargon got laid down so thick that it was hard to keep up. But Leonard does a fantastic job breaking down complex concepts into more easily understood examples. It’s my stupid brain’s fault I can’t keep them all straight.

His central argument in that the Fed, since the 2008 housing market collapse, has transitioned from a body that was supposed to quietly guide the economy with an eye on the long term, to a much more active agency more concerned with the short term at the expense of widening the prosperity gap by constantly securing the interests of the richest people and corporations in the country. The Fed has created trillions of dollars out of thin air to shore up nearly every part of the financial system over the past 14 years. It has made it nearly impossible for large banks, massive investment firms, and hedge funds to be punished for making bad financial decisions. They know no matter how riskily they behave, if their bets fail, the Fed will be there with billions of dollars to bail them out.

But if you start talking about universal healthcare, forgiving college debt, establishing a living wage, or even simply increasing the minimum wage – all programs that would cost much less and more directly affect the lives of many more Americans – cries of “SOCIALISM!!!” erupt and the plans get torpedoed before they ever come to vote.

Sorry, I’m inserting my opinions into Leonard’s.

Bottom line, our economy is probably fucked. The Fed has done a lot to try to un-fuck it, but in the process have only helped the richest people/entities and created an unsustainable new system that will eventually fuck everyone.

I should read a book about climate change next to improve my mood.

Tuesday Links

A few links I’ve come across in the past few days that are worth sharing.

First, the New York Times wrote about one of M’s classmates. That’s right, THE NEW YORK TIMES! I never guessed Booker would rise as high in the national rankings as he has (#2 in one list, #4 in another) when I stood next to him at freshman orientation nearly three years ago.

This piece is less about Booker the player than about the path he and his family have chosen. A course that includes playing for a summer team with no shoe company affiliation and remaining at Cathedral for four years rather than transferring to a prep school. It took awhile, but with his explosion over the past four months, their choices seem to be paying off.

A Prized Recruit Shows the Shoe Circuit Is Not the Only Path

(Pro tip: if you have a public library card, I bet you can get access to the NYT for free. Check your library’s website. That’s how I read NYT articles I’m interested in.)

From The Guardian, an interesting piece about tracking what we listen to, watch, and read. I’ll admit I often get paralyzed looking at my lists of things I want to consume, and some pressure to make sure my monthly Media posts are filled with interesting entries.

Despite the positives of this – that we are motivated to make space for things we enjoy – it doesn’t exactly feel in the spirit of great art to be gamifying it in this way. And the flip side of those gratifying “Watched” lists is their ominous (and guilt-inducing) “To watch” opposite numbers. What ought to be an enticing smörgåsbord of future entertainment begins to look like an impossible mountain to climb.

‘It’s dopamine’: why we love to track our watching and reading habits

I read a John Darnielle novel awhile back. I’ve never been a huge Mountain Goats fan, although I like some of their songs. But I knew Darnielle was an “interesting” guy.

This piece confirms that.

“If you, every day, choose to be a little petty; if you, every day, deny somebody a little help that you could give at no real cost to yourself, you are going to become a much worse person than the guy who murdered somebody one time. By the time you’re 50, you’re going to be an unpleasant person to be around.”

The Mountain Goats Are Choosing a More Radical World

(Tuesday morning someone I follow mentioned that the Goats’ new songs are bangers. I checked them out and I must agree. Take a listen for yourself here.

Weekend Notes: School Visits and Tennis

A pretty boring weekend around our house. I wrapped up Stranger Things. M went to a concert. But other than that the weekend proper was pretty low key for our family. We had great weather so we spent a lot of time just hanging out around the pool or on the back porch.

College Visits

Thursday M and I took our second trip to Ohio to visit a college, this time going to Oxford, home of Miami University. We went with one of her best friends and her dad, who is a Miami alum.

He had warned me ahead of time that Oxford is in the middle of nowhere. He wasn’t lying! Maybe there’s a main highway that connects the city to Cincinnati or Dayton, but coming from the west you pretty much have to take these little, two-lane county roads to get there. On one of them you even go through some Amish/Mennonite country. It feels very isolated.

We headed over early so our driver could give us his tour before the official one. Miami has a beautiful, traditional campus, lots of red brick buildings and green space. Despite being roughly half the size of the University of Cincinnati – MU has about 20,000 students total – it feels like the bigger school just because the campus is more spread out.

The main drag of town is right next to campus. You literally go from the president’s home to a fraternity house to a red light to several blocks of bars and restaurants. We cruised around this area a bit, popped into some shops, had some lunch, and headed back for the school tour.

Our tour guide was great. She was smart (Biomedical engineering major with two science-based minors), funny, and did a fine job showing us what we needed to see. There was a lot more walking than on our first two visits, though. Where at UC they played up football and Xavier basketball, Miami presents itself as a hockey school, complete with a tour of their hockey arena. I was not expecting that! The arena was filled with kids who were attending camp.

I’m already a little numb to the tour presentations even after just three. You just get a different version of the same pitch tailored to highlight each school’s strengths. I kind of wish M had specific academic interests so we could do an engineering or business school focused tour rather than these general ones.

M might be numb to them, too. Or maybe it was just the presence of her friend, because it seemed like they were talking to each other more than listening/observing. Although I should give her the benefit of the doubt and figure she was able to take it all in while having a constant conversation.

I saw two big bummers about Miami. First, the sheer difficulty of getting there. While it is right at two hours from Indy, same as the Cincinnati schools, because the final 30 minutes are on county roads, I have some worries about travel if we needed to get there in the winter. Second, while they provide some tuition relief to all students, they aren’t nearly as generous as either UC or Xavier. It isn’t Notre Dame expensive, and we told M if that’s where she really wants to go we can make it work. But it is the most expensive school, after various forms of tuition relief, she plans to visit. Since the school didn’t wow her, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.

What could be an issue for M is how the sororities don’t have their own houses. You still live in the dorms or off-campus housing. Each house has a “suite” where they hold meetings, but they don’t have a true house to call theirs. I guess it all goes back to the old zoning rules that stated any house that had more than X unrelated woman was considered a brothel. You’d think they would update those rules. Also I had to explain to all of my girls what a brothel is.

Oxford is a cool little town, one truly built around the university. I’m not sure it would be much more than a couple traffic lights if the school wasn’t there to anchor it. It is a nice combination of elements: neither tiny nor large; excellent academic reputation; large, beautiful campus; not too far from home but still away.

I think M enjoyed the visit and will probably apply to Miami, but it seems like UC remains her favorite of the three schools she’s visited.

If you follow sports you know the school is always referred to as “Miami of Ohio” to avoid confusing it with the University of Miami in Florida. My favorite shirt I saw – that I totally forgot to take a picture of – was one that said “We were a college before Florida was a state.” That checks out! Miami University was founded in 1809 while Florida gained admittance to the Union in 1845. Crazy!


Wimbledon used to be a huge part of my late June/early July sports routine. But that faded long ago. I can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched more than a few minutes of a match, even on championship weekend.

Sunday I caught most of the men’s final, between Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios. That was mostly because of how entertaining Kyrgios is. I’m reluctant to use certain terms to describe his behavior because I genuinely do not know if he has mental issues or if he is just one of those super hardcore competitors that loses his mind a little on the court and is basically normal off the court.

Regardless of the cause of his conduct, watching him is a wild ride. Moments of absolutely sublime tennis. But when things go sideways, they go SIDEWAYS. He argues with the umpires. Screams at himself. Berates the people sitting in his box. Complains about people in the stands. Famously, in his round of 32 match, he pushed right up against getting into a physical altercation with his opponent.

You never know what you’re going to get and it makes for thrilling, if sometimes uncomfortable, viewing.

The final had it all. Punishingly powerful tennis from Kyrgios to win the first set. Shots that showed astonishing athleticism, skill, and courage. And then him losing it mentally when he blew two games he was a point away from winning, one a break opportunity at 0–40, another a service game when he was up 40–0. He got a warning from the chair umpire, and engaged him in long diatribes during changeovers. He treated the people in his box like they were responsible for his errors. He described a woman in the stands he believed was heckling him as looking like she had had “about 700 drinks.” It was amazing.

Naturally Djokovic, who isn’t quite as steady as Roger Federer but seems eternally composed in a championship match’s biggest moments, let Kyrgios work himself into a tizzy and then pounced. His 7–3 win in the fourth set tiebreaker was deceptively easy, as Kyrgios seemed mentally checked out by that point.

It was a fine way to spend a Sunday morning.

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