First, some necessary background: Thursday Night Football games are pretty much the worst, and while the NFL seems disinterested in discontinuing them, at least it does what it can to improve the viewer experience. For example, after New Jersey’s New York Jets and New York’s Buffalo Bills faced off last season, some fans complained they had trouble differentiating between the Jets’ all-green and Bills’ all-red “color rush” uniforms. So when those teams met again on a Thursday night earlier this season, the league came up with a simple solution: the Jets wore all-white instead of all-green. Problem solved. (Or, at least, one of them. Thursday Night Football remains a terrible idea.)
Bail was set for #ManInTree at $50,000, which means it won’t be long before we hear he’s signed a lucrative book deal to help cover the costs. Since the forthcoming memoir may as well be a foregone conclusion, I took the liberty of designing a book jacket on his behalf:
Last Tuesday, while much of the world stood transfixed by the tragic bombings in Brussels, Seattle could not take its eyes off #ManInTree — a man (surprise!) who defied police orders to descend from an 80-foot sequoia tree in downtown Seattle for a full Shabbat (25 hours).
At the height (pun intended) of his popularity, KOMO News’ livestream of #ManInTree’s treetop standoff attracted 420,000 viewers (the perfect number of Seattleites to demonstrate interest in someone really, really high). By comparison, a nearby Hillary rally attracted fewer than 3,000.
As #ManInTree’s ordeal stretched into Wednesday, I could not help but notice certain parallels between his story and that of the impending holiday of Purim (which began that night). And so I was inspired to pen a piece of poetry,* which I now publish publicly for the first time. I hope you enjoy:
He may have lost a character and gained a show, and I may have taken a seven-month break, but one thing hasn’t changed: I still watch Stephen Colbert on the nightly. And that means you can continue to count on regular commentary for some time to come.
Friday night, Stephen’s guest was Scott Kelly — and Colbert lobbed him a softcomet: “This is hardly your first mission to the International Space Station. You were on the ’99 mission that fixed the Hubble telescope, a second mission in 2007 that added new equipment to the station, and on your third mission, in 2010, you spent 159 days in space. How long are you up this time?”
I’ll admit that in the past I’ve expressed concern regarding Russell Wilson’s questionable decision-making. See, “The narrative is wrong: Russell Wilson makes questionable decisions, too“, and “The one guy Russell Wilson needs to stop taking advice from“. But here’s the thing: both of those posts deal with his decision-making ability off the field. I have yet to question (so far as I can recall) his ability on the field. Which is why scaremongering headlines like this one — “Russell Wilson’s Decision-Making Is a Concern Heading into Super Bowl” — don’t have me too worried heading into Super Bowl Sunday.
In fact, in case I wasn’t confident enough before, the article itself actually helped reassure me. Here’s how its author, Sean Tomlinson, spins Wilson’s performance against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game into his source of primary concern:
Thousands of rabbis gathered this past weekend in Brooklyn for the 31st International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries. Naturally, the occasion called for the help of a drone:
You may have never heard of Yakima, WA, so please allow me to introduce you. It’s a cute little town in Eastern Washington with beautiful views of Mount Rainier that I’ve driven through a number of times. Though it sits within view of a fearsome volcano, Yakima was actually listed as one of the 10 safest places to live in the United States — considering only the risk posed by natural disasters — as recently as two years ago.
But not all is well in paradise. In February 2010, researchers from the Environmental Protection Agency sampled 331 homes in the Yakima area, and found that about 20 percent of their wells contained water above the safe standard for nitrate levels. A follow-up study conducted two years later concluded that the most likely source of contamination was the high concentration of dairy farms nearby. Nitrates can percolate into groundwater from fertilizer or manure.
And nitrates are serious business. According to the Yakima Herald:
I’m like the anti-Ahasuerus, losing sleep over the King — literally: I should be sleeping right now, but instead I’m writing about Felix Hernandez. The King and I go way back (to even before that time he got me into an article on MLB.com), so I’m happy to give up a single REM cycle to fully express my concern.
This has nothing to do with the fact that Felix just gave up 7 runs in a start, and allowed the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to come back from a 7-1 deficit and win 10-9 (here’s the obligatory crazy win-probability graph). Felix will be fine. He’s Felix. The last time he gave up a big lead, he went out his next start and threw a perfect game (oh hey — you again). Seriously, check out August 10 and then August 15.
No, I’m worried about Felix’s decision to wear a Lewis Yocum memorial patch on his uniform for tonight’s start in Anaheim:
I remember the first time I heard of Carlos Slim. Not the specific moment, nor where I was, or what I was doing — after all, it wasn’t 9/11* — just the feeling of shock when I learned that there was someone out there with more money than even Bill Gates.
Over time, I’ve slowly gotten used to the idea of his existence, as he and Gates (and Warren Buffett) have spent the past few years moving in and out of the top spot. As recently as the Forbes 2013 release, Slim came in first with $73 billion. But since those rankings were published, Microsoft shares are up 28% while Slim ran into some “regulatory troubles”,** and just last month, BG3 finally reclaimed his status as the world’s richest man for the first time since 2009.
Or so they say.
I’m here to take issue with this methodology. Gates is famously generous with his money, and has promised to give a large portion of his fortune to charitable causes, so it feels a little bit like cheating to count all the money in his bank account as his. More realistically, he’s a rich guy, but somewhere much farther down the list. Clearly, you just can’t trust Forbes.
So while it’s nice that the financial magazine collects all this information about people with way more money than they know what to do with, I prefer a different index of wealth: the Gates Generosity Guide. The GGG differs from Forbes in that it is based not on the size of any pile of cash, but on how much money moguls have done their best to give away.
And based on his latest effort to channel money to others, it would appear the Gates estate has fallen on tough times:
Bill Gates needs your help to raise money for fighting AIDS. As of the time of this writing, 9,696 people have RTed the message, earning The Global Fund exactly $9,696. Big money. Or, you know, what used to fall out of Gates’s mouth every time he flossed.
To gauge just how far Trey’s fallen, compare that desperate attempt to harness the crowd with the last time he got himself involved in the power of social media — or, at least, what passed for it at the time. Once was, Bill Gates spent all his time desperately trying to give money away, to the tune of hundreds of dollars per email. If you had an electronic mail account at any point between the late 90s and early 00s, you almost certainly remember what I’m talking about: