The web is full of great things to read, great videos to watch, great links to explore. Here are a few of my favorites that I discovered this past month:
To all those people who have asked my why I think Friday Night Lights is one of the best shows ever to grace a television screen, please read this:
There are a handful of shows I ask everyone I talk to about television if they have seen: The Wire, Mad Men, Friday Night Lights. But when I ask them if they’ve watched and loved Friday Night Lights, what I mean is are you my kind of person? Are you all heart? Are you bothered by this 21st-century lack of earnestness, our abundance of irony? Do you wonder how we forgive and coach ourselves to do better? How we can strive again for valor and loyalty and daring and redemption?
I fear we are defaulting to needless negativity as some kind of social currency. But Friday Night Lights is the most earnest show I’ve ever watched. Not sentimental, however: these characters aren’t perfect. In fact, this show is incredibly astute at allowing humans to have stratums of complexity: to have character and occasionally act without it, and then to live in the mire of their own dumb choices. Do I adore Coach? Yes. Do I think, as Tammy says, he is a molder of men and a husband of fierce devotion? Absolutely. Do I also think he can also be a self-involved, sexist prick who values his career over his wife’s? No question.
Regardless of the scale of the battle, the stakes in Friday Night Lights are rarely phony or contrived. It’s about winning games, sure, but its scope far exceeds that. This is a show that tests and reflects commitment not just on the football field, but back in the locker room. And in Street’s rehab room, and Saracen’s grandmother’s living room, and Julie’s bedroom, and eventually out to Luke’s farm and Tim’s prison and Tammy’s dream in Philadelphia. This commitment is not about obligation, but something more sacred. Duty. The hidden gale that blusters and grows within us and makes us yearn to give someone else exactly what they need.
Think what you want about the man and his music, but sometimes, Kanye West has a knack for saying things in the oddest, but most perfect, way:
When a kid falls in love with an airplane or a bike or a dinosaur—especially if you're an only child and it's not because of the book that the sibling was reading—it's like, fuck, you mean to tell me that the dinosaurs walked the earth and stuff like that?! That's amazing! You mean to tell me that these giant multi-ton crafts can fly that fast and that loud, and they can flip, and there's danger, the possibility of them exploding? That's fucking cool! You mean to tell me that this girl with this fucking body and this face is also into style, and she's a nice person, and she has her own money and is family-oriented? That's just as cool as a fucking fighter jet or dinosaur! And just as rarely seen.
With the Michael Sam reaction and the Ray Rice situation, it has been a tough few weeks to be a football fan. Even harder to be a fan of sports media, right now, especially ESPN:
If you’re left scratching your head wondering why Smith hasn’t been penalized at all, you’re probably unfamiliar with both the culture of ESPN—a boy’s club where reports of egregious incidents/remarks by its commentators vis-à-vis the treatment of women have plagued the network for years—and the strange corporate apparatus itself: a hyperbolic spin machine masquerading as a “news network.” It is, simply put, the Fox News of Sports.
I love helping other people, but have trouble asking for help myself. Jon Crowley captures that sentiment perfectly:
When someone asks me for advice, or a friend is in trouble, I don't feel like I'm offering advice, or parachuting in to offer perspective. I feel responsible for helping them through this, at their own pace, until things are on a better footing for them. I will feel this responsibility constantly, for years at times, if the past is any indicator.
I don't feel comfortable putting that burden on anyone else, and I don't always feel comfortable with taking it on myself, but that's who I appear to be.
Lost in all the talk about the American showing at the World Cup this past month was the fact that the US women actually dominate international soccer:
Only one thing mars my enjoyment of watching the World Cup, and it's the absence of one small word. Just a tiny qualifier in a statistic that really should be corrected as our men's team continues to gain respect internationally. So I ask the American commentators, please stop announcing that Landon Donovan is the "all-time U.S. leading goal scorer." He is not. With 57 international goals, he's not even in the Top Five.
The all-time U.S. leading goal scorer is Abby Wambach, with 167 goals, followed by Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (130), Michelle Akers (105) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100). In fact, Abby Wambach is the all-time leading goal scorer in the world, among all soccer players, male or female.
We're rapidly approaching a municipal election, and Desmond Cole has consistently been one of the smartest, most thoughtful voices on municipal issues in this city:
One of the reasons it is so difficult to address bigotry is that we tend to focus on the abusers rather than the abused. We spend a lot of time debating whether individual people are racist, misogynistic, or homophobic; we parse their words in search of hidden meanings, dispute whether there’s a difference between making a racist remark and being a racist. Meanwhile, the legion of real people who have been slurred fade into abstraction. Victims of discrimination become points of reference instead of individuals whose vilification deserves immediate attention, opposition, and remedy.
After refusing to address his countless insults and denigrations, and in the face of years of evidence to the contrary, Rob Ford and his say-anything brother Doug are now claiming that the chief magistrate of Toronto is not a raging bigot. Rob Ford is, of course, a world-class bigot. About this there can no longer be any dispute.
Lots of good discussion about watching porn here, but it was this passage that stood out most for me:
There are always going to be people who are smarter, sexier, wealthier or whatever than we are, & at the same time, there are always going to be people who are not as smart, sexy or wealthy as us. Does it make a difference in our daily lives? No, not really. Knowing, for example, that you have a higher IQ than the guy down the road is not exactly a source of pride or security. It doesn’t alter your reality in any way. You still have problems. We all do. So, what I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter where you are on the sliding scale of beauty, intellect or wealth. We all have our issues.
Comparing yourself to other people sucks & it hurts. Some people are caught in a constant loop of comparison with others, & ultimately, they are always trying to be someone they’re not. It is such a waste of life. You can only be you. Everyone else is taken!
As a fan of cheeseburgers, I'm of the opinion that big food and fast food aren't evil, it's how we engage with them:
I believe in a world where cheeseburgers are healthy and chocolate cake is what you deserve on your birthday and makes your life better. And you should have ice cream.
I've long been fascinated by how we decide what to keep, what to delete, what to cherish, what to erase. Turns out, this is a fascination that has existed for ages:
I accidentally delete things all the time: an email I meant to send, a phrase I wrote but replaced, or a hard drive I thought I was fixing—only to realize I erased my computer’s operating system.
Yet, I find I can take comfort in the fact that humans have had this problem for hundreds of years. I also take comfort in the fact that even things erases can sometimes be found again. Whether on hard drives or on centuries-old parchment, what appears to be lost is often only hidden. And the technology we use—both to record information in the first place and to recover it when it’s gone—reflect the fundamental values of our time.
A Dutch physicist takes colored x-rays of flora and fauna, and the resulting artwork is beautiful: