MH will be taking a summer break tomorrow—perhaps longer—so here’s a little lagniappe on top of today’s edition. To tide you over. We’ll be back… when we’re back.
Three things we know about megamillionaire hedge-fund manager Michael Burry, who was profiled in Michael Lewis’ fantastic book, The Big Short:
He’s the smartest guy in the room.
He’s the wealthiest guy in the room.
He is a fearless and unapologetic iconoclast.
More than a decade ago, Burry made himself (and his few remaining clients) hundreds of millions of dollars by seeing through the charade of the housing market and CDOs, etc. He shorted mortgages when housing prices had only been increasing for six consecutive decades. Rule No. 1: Gravity always wins.
Last week, under his Twitter name of @cassandra (a reference to the Greek goddess who issued dire warnings that no one heeded b/c who wants to hear bad news?), Burry sent out the following tweet:
“People always ask me what is going on in the markets. It is simple. Greatest Speculative Bubble Of All Time In All Things. By two orders of magnitude. #FlyingPigs360”
The tweet has since been deleted but the message lingers.
It’s frothy out there and you have to wonder, Will we be looking back and wondering how come more of us didn’t listen to Burry sooner? The first time we had an excuse. None of us knew he existed. Now we do.
Check out just a few stocks or currencies that are discussed daily on CNBC:
Tesla (TSLA): Up more than 300% in the past year, and it had already risen about 300% in the year prior to that.
Greyscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC): Up more than 200% in the past year, and again, it had been lower than that.
AMC Cinemas (AMC): Up more than 1,000% in the past year.
We’re not here to tell you what to do, if you’re in the market.
But here we sit in what will be the fourth consecutive 115-plus degree day in Phoenix, something we never experienced more than one day a summer (side note: it’s still spring) growing up here in the late 70s and early 80s. The point: people warned us about climate change for decades but everyone was too busy getting a killer tan to care. Now, people care. Particularly since it’s been about 10 months since the Valley’s last solid rain storm. No lie.
Why didn’t we listen? is a common refrain among failed civilizations. Or investors. We’re listening to Burry. Do what suits you best.
In Philadelphia, with Julius Erving and Allen Iverson seated courtside, the Sixers blow a 26-point 3rd-quarter lead and lose Game 5 to the Atlanta Hawks. What happened? Well, only two Sixer players, Joel Embiid and Seth Curry, scored after halftime; the Sixers were outscored 40-19, AT HOME, in the fourth quarter; and Ben Simmons shot 4-14 from the free throw line.
Embiid (above), who finished with 37 points and 13 boards, did all but carry his team on his wide shoulders but it just wasn’t enough.
The Jazz also lost at home despite having a decent halftime lead the Clippers being without Kawhi Leonard, a three-time NBA Finals MVP.
Both series had been squared at 2-2. The team that wins Game 5 of a 2-2 series goes on to win 82% of the time.
23 And Me
The Arizona Diamondbacks lost again last night, in San Francisco. Not only are they 2-27 over their las 29 games but this was their 22nd consecutive road defeat, an ignominious record they now share with the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics and the 1963 New York Mets.
The D-Backs could collect their 23rd consecutive road loss before sundown, as they wrap up their series at San Francisco with a matinee. On the hill for the Giants? Kevin Gausman, who is 7-1 with a 1.43 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP. Uh oh.
As The Kid pointed out to me, Arizona’s last road win was Madison Bumgarner’s (7-inning) no-hitter at Atlanta on April 25.
It Happened One Film
Another vignette from Frank Capra’s autobiography, Frank Capra: The Man Above The Title.
The year was 1933 and by this time Capra had begun to establish himself as the star director at his little movie-making studio, Columbia Pictures, but they were clearly not in the same league as the big boys, MGM and Paramount. He was the star of an also-ran studio, but his imperious boss, Harry Cohn, trusted him.
Meanwhile Capra was obsessed with winning an Oscar, but he sort of felt that he’d never get that acclaim unless he was pitching in the big leagues with MGM or Paramount.
So here’s Capra mooning that his latest film, Lady For A Day, will get the Dangerfield treatment from the Academy (and it will). But in the meantime he’s about to make his next picture. No actress in Hollywood, not even those who’ve worked with Capra, will take the female lead. They’ve read the script and they hate it. Finally he and his writer, Rob Riskin, pay an in-home visit to an actress with whom Capra had worked before on one of his very first films. It’s early December and the actress tells them she’s packing up to spend a month skiing in Sun Valley with friends. They beg her to reconsider. She lays down the gauntlet. “I get $25,000 a picture,” she says. “If you double that and get me in and out in four weeks, I’ll do it.’
She thinks she’s put the carrot out too far. Instead, Capra gets his boss, Cohn, to go for it. The actress is Claudette Colbert.
Male lead? Capra’s in luck. Sort of. Louie B. Mayer, the head of MGM and the most powerful man in Hollywood, is furious at one of his male stars, Clark Gable. He basically puts him out on a loaner to Columbia to teach Gable a lesson. Gable arrives at Capra’s office midday, drunk. Capra asks Gable if he’d like to read the script on his own or if they should talk about the story first. Gable looks at Capra, whom he’s never met, and says, “Pardner, I don’t care what the fuck you do.” (Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn...)
The film? It Happened One Night. It would go on to become the first (of only three films) to sweep the five major Oscar categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay.
Capra’s genius lay in a few different talents: 1) he could always find a way to rally the most diffident or even downright recalcitrant lead actors to put aside their egos for the sake of the film, and 2) he was never too stubborn to listen to a better idea.
Capra had a very close friend, a writer named Myles Connolly, who was never afraid to be the gadfly reminding Capra he was not perfect. Such friends can often be annoying, but they’re almost always good for us. Connolly took a look at the script and showed Capra the problem: neither the heiress nor the gent had any traits that would make any normal American, in the midst of the Great Depression, want to root for them. He suggested that the heiress be bored with her well-kept existence, that the guy have some issues of his own. Make them sympathetic. Capra had Riskin rewrite the script. He listened.
The rest is Hollywood history.
Rafael Nadal has announced that he will not be competing at Wimbledon later this month/next month. What does that mean? A much more open door for Novak Djokovic to win. What does that mean? Well, Roger Federer and Rafa have 20 Grand Slam wins and Djokovic has 19.
So if the Djoker wins at the All-England, all three tennis greats will be tied for the most Grand Slams with 20 and tied for the first time since before Roger won his first Grand Slam in 2004.
And this opens the door for Djokovic to be the all-time leader in Grand Slam wins. Whether you think that makes him the greatest tennis player of all time is up to you.
A Triumph For Satire
These are the type of moments that Joseph Heller or Paul Beatty (The Sellout) wishes they’d written. As GOP-infested state legislatures move to outlaw the teaching of Critical Race Theory, i.e. history, the Senate has just approved Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery.
So the GOP is saying, You can have your day off to celebrate not being slaves any more (hell, you’re all lazy and not working and just collecting the unemployment any more), you are just not allowed to teach anyone, white students particularly, about the origins of all of this.
Go Ask Alex
We were watching the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials last night and we may have discovered America’s next darling/sweetheart… oh no, am I objectifying. Yeah, probably. But that’s how the world, and marketing, works. Her name is Alex Walsh, she’s 19, attends Virginia, she won the 200 IM, and she has a face that can move truckloads of Wheaties boxes.
No one has Katie Ledecky’s talent, but Walsh has the intangible “All-American girl” traits that can elevate her to stardom.
Tales From The Crypto
If there’s one thing that can potentially sink the crypto craze (besides it being a very well-marketed Ponzi scheme), it’s the profundity of various and newfangled coins. If you have too many different types of coins, all of them springing up from thin air, then none of them are valid. Billionaires and treehouse inhabitants learned this the hard way yesterday as the IRON Titanium Token, a.k.a. TITAN, surged to $65 a coin, then quickly dropped to below $60, inducing panic among the whales.
Its latest stop? A price of $.002175, or about 1/5 of one penny.
If you owned 1,000 TITAN coins at the start of yesterday, they were worth $65,000 at one point. They’re now worth two dollars.
If Bitcoin were the only cryptocurrency, the concept would have far greater stability.
…. had to know this was coming. He’d won eight straight since betting on the Clippers in Game 5 at home. So he did a similar thing yesterday, a Game 5 involving the Clippers, except going against them. And he lost. He’s now at 19-8 and the bank is down to $1,510.
Waiting on today’s wager. We wonder if he’ll have the temerity to take the Diamondbacks.
UPDATE: He’s taking Brazil -500 over Peru. So to win $100 or to lose $500.
With Kyrie Irving out with a sprained ankle and James Harden at about 50% with a sore hammy, Kevin Durant absolutely took over Game 5 for the Brooklyn Nets. The two-time MVP transformed into The Lord of Flatbush Ave. with a 49-point, 15-rebound, 10-assist masterpiece as the Nets took a 3-2 lead in the series with a 114-108 victory.
Never in the history of the NBA playoffs had a player had a triple-double combo of at least 45 points and at least 15 boards (with 10 assists, by definition). Now one has. Two years after a disastrous exit in Game 5 of the NBA Finals due to a ruptured Achilles, Kevin Durant is back.
Alex Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
By midway through the Olympics (Opening Ceremony is July 23) you will probably be familiar with the name John John Florence. The 28 year-old is the U.S.’ top male medal hopeful in the new Olympic sport of surfing.
But John John’s mom, Alex, may be the more intriguing story. Her tale is a combo of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” and the Beach Boys’ “Surfer Girl.” Alex was born and raised on the Jersey shore, but she grew up dreaming about the Hawaiian surf lifestyle. At age 16 she won a bikini contest, which gave her enough dough to travel to California, where she won another bikini contest, which gave her ample scratch to move to Hawaii. She landed without a place to stay or a soul in the world that knew her, but Alex Florence is not the type who remains a stranger.
She quickly found a shack to move into on Oahu’s famed North Shore—home to the Banzai Pipeline, the greatest break in surfing. She became a surfer and also had a son. Exactly who John John’s dad is not public information… leading to some speculation that it is 11-time surfing world champ Kelly Slater… whom John John beat out for the final spot on the Olympic team.
You’ve got to give the lady credit. A lot of people say, “Baby this town rips the bones from your back” and “we gotta get out while we’re young,” but Bruce lives only a few miles from where he grew up. Alex heeded the call and moved her existence from the Jersey shore to the North Shore… and never looked back.
A Burrito, No Competo
American middle-distance star Shelby Houlihan will not be going to Tokyo. The American record-holder in both the 1,500 and the 5,000 won’t even be headed to this weekend’s U.S. Track & Field Trials in Eugene, even though she lives just two hours north in Portland.
Why not? Houlihan tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid, nandrolone.
Houlihan, who at age 28 is in her absolute prime and who did not win a medal in Rio, claims she is innocent. The 12-time All-American from Arizona State is blaming the bad contents on a pork burrito she purchased from a food truck. “I feel completely devastated, lost, broken, angry, confused and betrayed by the sport I love,” Houlihan, who found out last Friday that her appeal had been denied, posted on Instagram. If you read this story, there’s good reason to believe that Houlihan is telling the truth.
The ban lasts four years. Houlihan’s hopes for Tokyo are gone. It’s not as if she’s Russian, after all.
(With 15 homers and 43 RBI, 3rd baseman Eduardo Escobar is actually having an All-Star season for baseball’s worst team)
After a home win versus the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, May 2nd, the Arizona Diamondbacks had a 15-13 record. Not superb, but at least competitive in baseball’s most talented division: the National League West. Then the bottom fell out.
The D-Backs are 5-35 since then and 2-26 in their last 28. They’ve lost 21 consecutive road games—the MLB record is 22. In this 40-game span the Diamondbacks have had a 13-game and our currently in the midst of a 12-game losing streak.
Quick: name a player on the D-Backs. I can’t, either. That’s likely part of the problem.
A reminder that the 1962 New York Mets, in their inaugural season, own baseball’s worst record in the modern era over a full season (40-120, .250). The D-Backs, at 20-48 (.294) are still north of that.
North By Northeast
Remember that item we ran a month or two ago (of course you do) about how Hitchcock films have so many recurring conceits? Well, we ran that before we ever saw Saboteur, Hitchcock’s 1942 spy thriller. I guess it’s easier to say that almost every Hitchcock film has distinct elements of one or more other Hitchcock films. It’s as if he has a certain number of ingredients and each dish resembles one or three other dishes.
Saboteur is basically North By Northwest headed in the opposite direction (L.A. to the Statue of Liberty), except our hero is on the run from the law for a crime of war sabotage of which he is innocent. It even has a climactic scene, as in North By Northwest, with our hero and the villain grappling on an iconic American landmark with the villain falling to his death (there’s a lot of gravity playing a role in Hitchcock films: these two, Vertigo, Rear Window). This film also resembles other early Hitchcock efforts (Notorious, The Lady Vanishes, The 39 Steps) involving Nazi spies and/or Fascist rings.
And as we noted with Battleground a week or two ago, the notion of fascists and/or authoritarian governments is nothing new. Here’s Hitchcock in 1942, when the Nazis were all over Europe and the U.S. (and Great Britain) were in dire straits, using a scene to fight for truth, freedom and the American way. The dashing villain in this scene is that era’s Mitch McConnell, the Koch brothers, Mike Pompeo and, of course, Donald Trump.
….did it again. That’s eight in a row off Portugal’s 3-0 win versus Hungary. He moves to 19-7 and is now up a healthy $1,635.
Tonight he loves that Kawhi Leonard is out for the Clippers so with UTAH being at home, he likes the JAZZ minus-125. Risking $125 to win $100.
Remember, oh, a few months ago when Texas was TOO COLD and residents were burning furniture to stay warm because the grid was down and its GOP leadership was blaming it on wind turbines? Well, here we are a few months later and now Texas is TOO HOT and once again citizens are being asked to live as if they are in a third-world country (don’t do laundry or dishes, please).
Maybe Texas just has a major Goldilocks problem?
This is because Texas’ leadership wants to remain fiercely independent, which comes at a price to Texans when your leadership is also grossly incompetent, corrupt, misogynistic and ignorant. Funny how life works that way.
There are three states we’ve spent time in that seemed markedly different than the rest of the USA in terms of infrastructure, plumbing, road maintenance and just general functionality: Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Now what else do those three states have in common, you might ask?
Texas, unlike those other two states, has no excuse. It’s a wealthy state with tons of resources that has long been grossly mismanaged. Oh, but its high school football fields are the best in the nation.
Forgot to include this yesterday, but it’s one of Bill Maher’s better “New Rules” essays. What I love about Maher, admire about him, is that he’s as likely to piss off the Far Left as he is the Far Right. Because he’s not about searching for affirmation or protection from either tribe. He’s about looking for the truth. And if you disagree with his truth, please just show us the facts. I think he’s spot-on here. If you disagree, tell us why.
Here’s Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, a true rock god (whom we had the privilege of serving tequila shots back in 2012), going full-blast on the awfulness that has always been Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.
The Last Frontier Rail
Did you know about the Alaska Railroad? You can fly your ass to Anchorage, the state’s largest city, and from there embark either north- or southbound. You can go by rail to Seward or to Fairbanks. You can even take it directly to Denali, home of the national park that is home to the highest peak in North America. The state of Alaska owns and operates the railroad, which actually covers relatively little ground in the entirety of The Last Frontier. The state understands its value both for freight and tourism.
It’s never been easier to explore this planet (with access to beer most of the way), and yet so many people are addicted to their laptops and home base. What would Jack London think?
…Speaking of rails, train kept a’ rollin’, all night long… he improves to 18-7, seven straight wins, off last night’s Vegas shutout of Montreal. He’s at 18-7, a 72% win percentage, and up to $1,535.
Today he likes Portugal and confirmed aqua drinker Cristiano Ronaldo over Hungary in the EuroCup. That’s a -220 bet, so $100 to win and $220 to lose.
Ned Beatty enters the ultimate transfer portal at age 83. An incredible character actor with an outstanding body of work, but let’s focus on two scenes that will live as long as people love movies. What makes them so powerful is that Beatty (no relation to Warren, who was born the same year) is playing two characters who could not be more opposite. The first, from Deliverance, is weak and literally gets raped—probably the most uncomfortable moment on screen in a major motion picture to that point in time (1970).
The latter is an all-mighty potentate, explaining to a charismatic TV host how the world actually works. From Network, 1975.
Two lines that will live forever: “Squeal like a pig!” and “And you will atone!” (only the latter was actually uttered by Beatty himself). So iconic is the latter cinema moment (both, actually) that Jimmy McGill reprises it in the premiere episode of Better Call Saul.
Down 1-0 to the greatest clay court player ever on Friday, Novak Djokovic rallied to win the final three sets at the French Open semis (the key moment was winning the third set tiebreak after squandering a 5-3 games lead). Then on Sunday, down 2-0, he rallied against 5th-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas and again won three straight sets.
The all-time men’s Grand Slams championships titles list now looks like this: Roger Federer, 20 (age 40); Rafael Nadal, 20 (age 35); Novak Djokovic, 19 (age 34). For us, this was the Djoker’s springboard triumph, the one that will allow him to finish atop this list.
Also, we should mention that UNSEEDED Barbora Krejcikova won the women’s title at the French. So Naomi or Serena basically gave one away.
Speaking of Serbian swingers, Nikola Jokic’s weekend in Denver began with pregame MVP presentation and ended with the above frustration swipe, drawing an immediate ejection.
So it was quite a Sunday for Serbian swingers.
On the second day of Euro Cup 2021, in a match between Scandinavian sides Denmark and Finland, Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen suddenly collapsed on the pitch. According to the team doctor, Eriksen “was gone” before being resuscitated with a defibrillator. At the time, in the match’s 43rd minute, neither side’s players know if Eriksen had expired for good or no when they were asked whether or not they wished to continue the match. No one should have put them in that position.
Eriksen has recovered and is in stable condition. Denmark lost, 1-0.
Finally, a good idea: one that will promote both tourism and wild animal welfare.
The Interstate 80 bridge that connects Illinois and Iowa across the Mississippi River is in poor shape (related: it’s always infrastructure week) and needs to be replaced. It’ll cost $20 million to tear it down. So Chad Pregracke has a better idea: you’ve got to build a new bridge anyway, so why not keep the existing bridge intact and allow it to be used as a bridge for bison to cross so that they may graze in either state (would a buffalo toll be one bill?).
Pregracke agrees that his idea is crazy, but so crazy that it might just work. A bison bridge would draw tourists to the area and it would also save the cost of having to tear down a bridge that would have a practical purpose.
Welcome To The Internet
We’d been hearing some of the tweeps push the “High Praise” button on Bo Burnham’s new comedy special, Inside, which he basically wrote, produced and performed from wherever he was safe-spacing. So we thought, Okay, we’ll give it a short listen and… WOW. The lyrics here are brilliant, as is the entire performance.
It’s as if there’s an American-born Tim Minchin out there. You’ll want to listen to these lyrics more than once.
Three years later, we’re still a little mystified as to why Anthony Bourdain killed himself (June 8, 2018). Few humans appeared to have a better life and few seemed to have more of a passion for it. Bourdain, the 6’4″ chef-author-adventurist, was living the dream with his shows No Reservations (The Travel Channel) and Parts Unknown (CNN). He seemed like the guy you’d want to sit down and have a beer, or better yet, a meal with. I always thought of him as the Lou Reed of chefs: totally New York, totally a rock star, totally feral, and with a dark side just under the surface.
Next month a documentary about Bourdain’s life and death, The Roadrunner, will be released. July 16th. Can’t wait.
…. keeps rolling. He won with the Pirates on Friday to move to 17-7 with a bank roll of $1,435. What will he do next?
Tonight, he wants to keep the win streak alive with VEGAS minus-250 versus Montreal in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That’s $100 if Vegas wins and a loss of $250 if Montreal wins.
This would seem like an absurdly gross misuse of power, no? Particularly since there was no evidence of any crime being committed. What was taking place is that Schiff was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee investigating leaks about the White House and Russia.
As an aside, there’s no person in the world keeping a better secret than the American translator who was in the room with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Whatever communication passed between those two world leaders in Helsinki in the summer of 2018 is invaluable.
Kamala Harris, here a senator, asked the right question but erred in letting Bill Barr off the hook. She should have remained silent and waited, as uncomfortably long as it took, to get a response.
It Goes To 12
College football has now decided to go from a 4-team playoff to a 12-team playoff. Guess what? Relative to the 4-team playoff, we are in favor of this (we’d return to the old system of the two top-ranked teams at year’s end and bowls and Brent Musburger and/or Keith Jackson, but that’s us). With one YUUUUGE caveat: you shouldn’t be asking the best players in college football to play two to three extra games, with exponentially higher risk of injury, without compensating them. That’s just unethical.
This is a fascinating story about people, the pandemic and pussycats. Here on Isla Fuhrtada, a small island off Brazil’s coast, live 100s of mostly abandoned cats. They are mostly feral now. What exactly they are eating, I don’t know. Maybe they should become pen pals with that elephant herd in China.
I think they could start charging cat lovers to visit the island and then use the proceeds to leave Nine Lives cans all over the island. Works for us.
In a few hours from now as the MH staff pecks this out, Rafael Nadal will be taking on Novak Djokovic in the French Open semifinal. A few notes, via The Kid…
—Nadal is 105-2 all-time in matches at the French
—Nadal has only dropped 22 sets in those 107 matches, or about one per five matches.
—Should Nadal beat Djokovic and win the final, he will surpass Roger Federer for the most Grand Slams in a career (21 to 20). Djokovic has 18. However, there are those who will always consider this mark somewhat dubious. Why? Because currently 13 of Nadal’s 20 career Grand Slams were won in Paris. He is the King of Clay, unassailable. But while he has won at least one of each of the other three Grand Slams, he’s not been anywhere near as dominant.
–No matter where Djokovic and Federer end up on the all-time list, and there guess here is 1st and 3rd respectively, Nadal is the greatest player on clay ever. Not even close. Whether he’s the greatest tennis player of all time is a matter of opinion. There will be those who will never shake from Fed. Djokovic will likely end up with the most Grand Slams and yet also the fewest fervent acolytes of the trio.
Say It Ain’t So, Bo
1989: “Bo Knows”
2021: “Bo Knew”
The news coming out this week about Bo Schembechler, arguably the most iconic coach (after Fielding Yost?) in Michigan football history, is truly disturbing. Some are saying it’s worse than the Joe Paterno news and that may be accurate. If you’re not up on what’s happening, read here. And remember that it’s Bo’s stepson making these allegations, with first-hand knowledge of being a victim as a child.
One suggested reason as to why coach Bo Schembechler never blew the whistle on Dr.Robert Anderson, why in fact he lobbied to have him reinstated: control (see our Vlad Putin item above). When you’ve got the goods on someone else’s sexual perversions, you can get them to do what you want.
Somewhere in heaven (or elsewhere), Woody Hayes’ spirit is saying, “All I ever did was punch a player on national TV.”
Her name was Judith Love Cohen. Born in Brooklyn in 1933, she excelled at both math and ballet. In college, she was the only female in her engineering classes and also dancing in the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. She moved to Los Angeles, where her dance career ended but she was the only woman in her engineering classes at USC.
She worked at TRW, an engineering firm, for more than 30 years. Her most important project was the Abort-Guidance System, which was used to get the Apollo 13 astronauts back home safely in 1970. A few months earlier she had given birth to actor Jack Black. Yes, this dude…
Pretty cool, eh?
…. is hot tonight! The world, is hot tonight! But where will he be tomorrooooooooow?
The Kid wins his fifth straight, I believe, to move to 16-7 and $1,335. He liked Vegas last night and they beat Colorado 6-3. You’d think he’d be up more than $335 for having won roughly 70% of his picks.
We’ll see if he gives us a call today. His favorite athlete is Rafael Nadal and he claims to have made boatloads of juju betting Rafa at the French Open over the years, so he might be incommunicado this morning.
UPDATE: The Kid likes MILWAUKEE (35-27) -270 against Pittsburgh (23-38) in the Senior Circuit. To win, $100. To lose, $270. The Brewers put Brandon Woodruff and his 1.42 ERA on the hill at home.
I saw something late last night, I believe it was during Brian Williams’ “The 11th Hour” broadcast, that said Democrats would continue trying to persuade Republicans to quit obstructing every initiative of President Biden’s simply on the basis that they’re his.
There is no try, as everyone’s favorite little green man, Yoda, once said. There is only do.
Mitch McConnell, who may be the most evil man ever to occupy a chair in the U.S. Senate, understands this. Democrats still do no.
Yesterday the transcripts of former White House counsel Don McGahn’s testimony from Friday were released (McGahn negotiated a deal in which he’d only testify if it was not televised, because he’s smart enough to know that his words would then live forever in infamy on YouTube). McGahn, in case you missed it, testified that his boss, Donny Trump, had ordered him to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the midst of his investigation. McGahn chose not to do so, explaining that such a maneuver would be a textbook example of obstruction of justice, the very thing that Mueller was investigating.
Then, when word leaked, Trump wanted McGahn to write a release saying that it was he, McGahn, who wanted to fire Mueller and that Trump had nothing to do with it. That Trump had never ordered this. A direct and outright lie, confirmed by one of the two men involved.
This on top of listening to tapes, released earlier this week, in which Rudy Giuliani explicitly states the “quid pro quo” that Trump wants from the Ukraine. And then Trump went out publicly and said, “No quid pro quo.”
I don’t know how many more pieces of evidence anyone needs to see that Trump is an outright crook and that Republicans are hell-bent on destroying democracy in exchange for returning to power. And, having learned their lessons from the past four years, never relinquishing it again short of an outright war.
Democrats cannot just try. They must do. If that means putting Donald Trump in shackles now and worrying about the ramifications later, do it. If that means openly investigating every last aspect of January 6th and holding the powerful people (in Congress and in the White House) accountable, do it. If that means telling McConnell and Joe Manchin to go f*ck themselves and pressing ahead with legislation anyway, do it.
You’ve got the will of the majority of the American people on your side, do not squander it. There is no try. There is only do.
On this same Brian Williams’ telecast last night a former U.S. Attorney, I believe her name was Joyce Vance, argued the merits of Attorney General Merrick Garland opting against prosecuting Trump with, “If we begin prosecuting former presidents, we’re going to look like a banana republic.” Dear Ms. Vance. See the picture below. We’re already there.
Suns point guard Chris Paul’s line in Phoenix’s Game 2 win versus Denver last night: 17 points, 15 assists, 0 turnovers. It’s Paul’s third career playoff game of at least 15 assists and zero turnovers, each of which has taken place in a different decade. Since 1984, every other player in the NBA combined has a total of two such games in the postseason.
Think about that. That’s encompassing the careers of Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Isaiah Thomas, Steve Nash, Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd and LeBron James. The rest of them all? Two. Paul? Three.
Much of that has to do with the zero, not the 15. And that’s what stands out about Paul, from watching him all season. He makes fantastic decisions. He only passes when he’s found someone open and he only takes shots that he knows he can make. I cannot remember anyone who was so deadly from mid-range.
TNT showed a graphic last night that said the Suns have won more playoff games (138…now 139) than any franchise that has never won the NBA Finals. Similarly, Paul has the most assists of any NBA player who has never advanced to the NBA Finals… with one exception: Steve Nash. The irony there being, of course, that Nash won a pair of MVPs as a Sun and looks as if he’ll be coaching this year’s NBA Eastern conference champs, the Brooklyn Nets.
I was not in favor of the Kelly Oubre for Chris Paul trade last summer. Paul, after all, is 36. I was dead wrong. Chris Paul has brought stability and toughness and confidence to a young Suns team that, since losing Game 3 in LA, has won five in a row, the last four by at least 13 points.
Coveni, Covidi, Covici
Yesterday India registered the most deaths of any one country in a single day since the pandemic began more than 15 months earlier: 6,148. Now, sure, 6,000-plus deaths in the world’s second-most populated country ain’t all that much relative to the entire population, but that’s still still almost 3 people dying per minute all day. Dropping like flies. The pandemic curtain call has not yet begun.
Stupid Human Tricks
That dude directly over her left shoulder in the white top is all of us… who are sane. It’s the curious thing about full-blown Trump cult members: there’s that mixture of sinister intentions with abject stupidity. Their minds are simply fried.
And here’s a woman who probably wouldn’t be this outspoken in her hatred and racism before Donald Trump became president. Just flying that ignorance and bigotry flag with pride.
Meet Jane. She’s from Zanesville, Ohio. She has cancer in her lungs, spine and liver and says that the doctors are giving her a 2% chance of survival. It’s not stopping her from bringing a little beauty into this world. She said two things that really stuck with us: 1) “It’s important for people to know that I’m more than just the bad things that have happened to me,” and 2) “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard any more before you decide to be happy.”
Contrast that with the two women (“ladies?” Ha!) above who are stoked by fear and insecurity and anger and hatred. We have a choice about how we react to the world. We can react with love and hope or we can react with anger and hate.
… won again as the Islanders prevailed in Hempstead and knocked out the Bruins.
So he’s now at 15-7 and up to $1,235. Cooking with gas.
Tonight he’s sticking with the NHL and he likes VEGAS minus-135 over Colorado. $100 if he wins, down $135 if he loses.
Joe Pompliano, who is one of the better Twitter follows out there (“For he’s a jolly good follow...”), asked his followers to submit their “most beautiful sports venues in the world” last week. The results are magical. That’s Henningsvaer Stadium in Norway above.
Hitzfield Stadium, Switzerland
Jock Itch? No, Jokic
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who was selected 41st in 2014 while a Taco Bell commercial aired on ESPN, was named NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) yesterday. Jokic, 6’11” and from Serbia, becomes the fifth foreign-born player this century to be named league MVP. A superb passer as well as owner of the softest shot in the NBA, Jokic averaged 26, 10 and 8 this season.
Personally, we had Steph Curry as our MVP, which means we must be xenophobic but not racist. Right?
In Ohio, a woman testifies in the state legislature that being vaccinated causes one to be magnetized, and that forks and car keys will this be stuck to your forehead. Why they wouldn’t be stuck to your fingers is a question apparently no one asked. Is there a scintilla of evidence of this? No. But if you’ve been paying attention, you know evidence no longer matters to the GOP.
Chipotle Off The Old Block
Chipotle, which had revenue of $6.1 billion in 2020 and a net profit o $355 million, announced today that it will be raising prices 4% to cover the cost of increasing labor costs. Never mind that the company’s share price is up 400% since 2018. The lesson here is clear: stock price is sacrosanct.
Obviously, Chipotle could easily cover the cost of the increase in labor costs (i.e. higher salaries) within its net profit output, but that would potentially damage the share price. And in this era of capitalism, nothing is allowed to harm the share price. So Chipotle passes that cost on to consumers as if to say, “Nothing we can do about it.”
Two days ago on CNBC Jim Cramer, who has made roughly $100 million in the stock market, was lamenting that he could not find a bartender at his Brooklyn-based Mexican restaurant, Bar San Miguel. Co-host David Faber pushed him on this, asking him if he’s willing to offer a better wage to a potential bartender. Said Cramer, “That’s negotiable.”
I can’t say it enough: the naked greed of the uber-wealthy is head-spinning. Cramer claims he was helping out at his restaurant last night because they’re understaffed. So a dude who could easily afford to double everyone’s wage and not miss a dime at a tiny hole-in-the-wall bistro (I’ve been there; it is tiny) would rather give up his nights to work there than to pay his employees more. I’ve worked at a number of restaurants and I’ve always thought the same thing: If I owned a restaurant, I’d have the smallest staff possible of the best employees possible and then I’d pay them way more than they could make anywhere else. Quality employees who are happy at a restaurant makes all the difference in service. I imagine it works this way at other companies, too.
But employers never practice this approach. They’re too addicted to profits. And yes, the idea of a business is to make money, but at what cost to the quality of the product?
…won with Brazil so he’s now back to .667 at 14-7 and above water at $1,120.
He’s taking the Islanders at home tonight versus the Bruins (we disapprove when Gerrit Cole and the Yankees at Minnesota are there for the plucking.
He’s got them at +115 so if he wins, $115, if he loses, $100 down.
Had an insight yesterday that I posted on Twitter that sorta went viral. So I thought I’d add it here.
Mike Krzyzewski began coaching at Duke in 1980-81 and in 40 seasons has compiled a record that perhaps only John Wooden surpasses. Coach K, 74, has won five national championships (second only to Wooden) and 1,097 games in Durham (1,170 overall). But here’s what’s interesting, as Coach K’s success translates to the NBA:
• With the exception of Kyrie Irving and his 27.1 ppg in the 2016 NBA Finals, no Duke player has really impacted an NBA championship team in the past 40 years. Outside of Irving, who only played 11 games for Duke, the next best scoring average in an NBA Finals on the winning side by a Dookie is Shane Battier’s 11.6 ppg in the 2012 Finals. And after that it’s Dhontay Jones at 1.6 for the Warriors.
• Since 1980-81, four different players from three different schools INSIDE THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA have been named NBA Finals MVP (a total of 11 times). None of those players were from Duke: Cornbread Maxwell, Celtics, 1981 (UNCC), James Worthy, Lakers, 1988 (UNC), Michael Jordan, Bulls (UNC), and Tim Duncan, Spurs (Wake Forest).
•Since 1980-81, three different players from North Carolina schools have been named NBA MVP (you can probably name them) a total of nine times. Again, none played for Duke and Coach K: Michael Jordan, UNC (5), Tim Duncan, Wake Forest (2), Stephen Curry, Davidson (2).
Am I implying that Coach K is overrated as a coach? I’m not implying anything, but if I were to draw a conclusion, I’d say that this actually further enhances his reputation. He won with team basketball and without overwhelmingly dominant talent (Wooden had Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton, a pair of future NBA Finals MVPs and regular season MVPs). Of course, you might argue that Coach K did not develop his players to excel at the NBA level. I’d disagree. Outside of Laettner and Hill, he never had a 3- or 4-year player with All-Star potential. Battier, perhaps.
A few months ago Phyllis read Frank Capra: The Name Above The Title, after my cousin gave it to her. It’s the autobiography of one of Hollywood’s most celebrated directors (It’s A Wonderful Life, It Happened One Night, Meet John Doe, You Can’t Take It With You, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, etc.). Phyllis brings up the book plenty so I figured I’d pick it up for a read.
I’m only 80 pages in, and this may surprise you, but Frank Capra’s life story reads not unlike the script of a Frank Capra film. This early gem of an anecdote hooked me. Capra graduated from Cal Tech, but after WW1 and some health issues, was down on both his luck and money. It was 1922. He was 25 and staying at a seedy hotel in San Fran, down to his last day that he could afford his room. Hopped a trolley car, where the conductor handed him a leaflet about a theater troupe. Capra had zero experience in drama or film, but he headed over.
Inside an abandoned gym, Capra found a doddering middle-aged Shakespearian thespian who told he was looking to turn poems into short films. This was in the era of silent films. Capra, in his early 20s, introduced himself as being “from Hollywood.” He was from Pasadena. Showing moxie that I’d never had, Capra told the gent that he’d like to help him but he just couldn’t, that he was too busy. The man begged him to help, gave him $75, and put Capra in charge of producing and directing his film.
Again, Capra had zero experience. He went to a theater, watched The Sheik four times to study how it’s done, then hired a buddy who had camera experience. His one direction to said buddy: “Whatever I tell you to do, say, ‘Yes, Mr. Capra’, so that everyone on the set will think I know what I’m doing.”
The result is the 11-minute short that, thanks to YouTube, you can watch above. Capra made this film entirely on instinct and what he thought should work. It launched one of the most successful careers in Hollywood history.
Zero Fox Given
We don’t know why Fox News would accept a company’s $185,000 for an ad buy and then refuse to run its ad. Oh, yes we do. Some day when the history of America’s decline is written, historians will wonder aloud about the power of the First Amendment and how an Australian-born TV mogul was able to manipulate it so as to gaslight half a nation (the predominantly white and undereducated half).
Rat’s All, Folks
Mee Magawa, the Cambodian landmine-sniffing rat who is retiring after five years of exemplary duty. That Magawa is around to have his photo taken attests to the outstanding job that he did. In his half-decade Magawa, designated as a HeroRAT by the Belgian non-profit that trained him and oversaw his duties, sniffed out 71 land mines and 38 other items of “unexploded ordnance” while clearing some 2.4 million square feet of land.
It’s a testament to how poor a job God did as the designer of man being “in His own likeness and image” that we need vermin to save us from ourselves, eh?
…I’m sure I need not tell any of you that Vietnam defeated Indonesia, 4-0, in its World Cup qualifier yesterday. The Kid’s intel runs far and deep. He’s back to approaching .667 at 13-7 and back above the surface at $1,020. We’ll wait to see what he has for us today.
The Kid likes Brazil -185 over Paraguay in more World Cup qualifying today.
That’s risking $185 to win $100. This could get The Kid up to .667 win percentage for the first time in awhile.