On the Way to Selma

From staying in his lane to sitting with the President, Rembert Browne writes about his rare opportunity to ask the President one question on a historic flight to Selma:

I felt proud — we were a team in this conference room, and they’d pulled their weight. As he finished answering Maxwell’s question, the president gave her a smile, rotated a bit, and looked directly at me.

It’s a great read and a fascinating peek into the mind of a bright young writer.

Brandi Carlile Covers ‘Murder in the City’

From Garden & Gun’s First Listen: Brandi Carlile’s “Murder in the City”:

Accompanied by the tight harmonies of Tim and Phil Hanseroth—known as “The Twins”—Carlile played a mix of old and new songs, including a cover of the Avett Brothers’ “Murder in the City,” which became the unofficial anthem of the tour.

I love that she covered it, though I’m not crazy about the result. It’s definitely a song worthy of imitation and reinterpretation.


Man, elections are hard:

In other words, Diamond and Arthur played three games of chance. Each game provided 50-50 odds to each man. Diamond won two of the games, but Arthur won the seat because the third game was the only one that mattered.

Just remember that the next time you think your vote doesn’t matter. It matters.

Update: Speaking of local governments, I love this bit of insight into state legislatures from John Oliver.

Hidden City

N&O staff columnist Josh Shaffer, after almost a full day of tour Raleigh via CAT buses:

Once you’re on it for a while, you realize how little of Raleigh you’ve seen. I’ve been exploring these streets for 10 years and I found myself completely lost twice, not a landmark in sight. There are large swaths of this city that only a few people ever experience. The bus will show you Snowberry Drive. And Mr. Wonderful’s Chicken and Waffles. And the little free library on Glascock Street, which offers selections from Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison.


A lifelong Carolina fan sent me this piece by Thad Williamson to serve as a representation of his thoughts and feelings of the revelations brought out by the Wainstein Report. The piece is honest, possibly still a bit defensive and deluded (regarding Dean and what he did or didn’t know and the degree, understandably so), and appropriately optimistic:

UNC is still an institution that aspires to greatness, and specifically to the notion that academic accomplishment and high-level athletic accomplishment can go hand in hand. Some of the problems at Carolina stem from the systemic tension between those two goals, when student-athletes are brought to campus without the requisite academic preparation. That’s a tension felt at almost every school in the country that plays big-time sports, and indeed is intrinsic to the current model of college sports.

I had similar thoughts about the program – regardless of how they got to where they are now (good or bad), UNC will always attract a large number of talented individuals, whether they be future professional athletes, doctors, scientists and researchers, writers – you name it. They still have the potential to build on the foundation of historical greatness and, if done right, they can rise to the top, look down and proclaim without irony that they arrived the Carolina way.

The Last Stride

Noah Davis, writing for Grantland, on Landon Donovan’s final appearance as a player with the USMNT:

Donovan was not the star we wanted, but he was the star we deserved. He carried the game as far as he could. He was the best, most visible player the U.S. had, as the program moved from half-empty stadiums to soccer-specific venues, multimillion-dollar contracts for American stars, and a domestic league that averages higher attendance per game than the NBA and NHL. Donovan didn’t make that happen on his own, but his stardom helped facilitate it. A reluctant star can still be vital, as long as he keeps showing up.

I still can’t believe or fully understand why it ended the way it did, but I’m glad he got his final game. Such an incredible career.

A Watchful, Thoughtful Eye

It’s no surprise to me that John Gruber has the most thoughtful take I’ve read so far on the recently announced Apple Watch (or Watch, if you’re scoring at home). Prepare yourself for insightful, and perhaps shocking, speculation on pricing,

I think Apple Watch prices are going to be shockingly high — gasp-inducingly, get-me-to-the-fainting-couch high — from the perspective of the tech industry. But at the same time, there is room for them to be disruptively low from the perspective of the traditional watch and jewelry world. There’s a massive pricing umbrella in the luxury watch world, and Apple is aiming to take advantage of it.

… and measured, careful consideration on unannounced functionality:

With Apple Watch, I think we’re only going to realize just how big a breakthrough it is after Apple fully unveils its computational power and the depth and complexity of WatchKit. And if I’m wrong, and Apple Watch’s computational hardware is in fact only slightly ahead of existing smartwatches, and that WatchKit is really just a glorified notification display system for iPhone apps, then Apple is in deep trouble.

Spoiler alert, Gruber doesn’t think Apple is in deep trouble and nor do I.

Melody and Words

Over on Grantland, Steven Hyden explores the possibilities of the unexplored Ryan Adams and, in the process, exquisitely sums up the talent that is Ryan Adams:

On the one hand, it confirms his status as the most talented singer-songwriter of his generation. When it comes to putting melody and words together into appealing, melodic, and heart-rending packages, nobody does it with more apparent ease.

Adams’ career arc hasn’t been quite what it seems a lot of people expected, but I think the only people who are suffering from that are the ones with the outsized expectations.

Painting Statistical Joy

I don’t remember being a faithful follower of Sesame Street; perhaps its heyday of influence occurred before I could remember such things. I do, however, remember a strong affinity for This Old House, The New Yankee Workshop, and The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. If you, like me, enjoyed the friendly and happy little stylings of Bob Ross, do yourself a favor and head over to FiveThirtyEight for Walt Hickey’s statistical analysis of the best painting show ever:

In total, Ross painted 381 works on the show, relying on a distinct set of elements, scenes and themes, and thereby providing thousands of data points. I decided to use that data to teach something myself: the important statistical concepts of conditional probability and clustering, as well as a lesson on the limitations of data.

This was a fun, if not mind bending at times, read for me. I loved taking the trip down memory lane and trying to scan the deepest recesses of my brain to recall if I ever witnessed the rare bridge or cliff. I’m almost certain I never saw a palm tree.

Short Range Vision

Kirk Goldsberry, writing for Grantland, on former Wolfpack star T.J. Warren:

Despite his obvious scoring prowess, it’s how and where he scores that make him so intriguing. Warren is a true throwback, scoring in ways and in places that the league has largely forsaken.

That’s from Goldsberry’s seemingly optimistic introduction. Goldsberry takes a sharp turn toward reality in his conclusion:

As a small forward trying to find a place in today’s NBA, it doesn’t bode well for Warren that he made just 17 of 88 shots (19 percent) beyond 16 feet last season. For him to maximize his value, Warren will not only have to continue his success close to the hoop, he’ll also have to improve both his frequency and his efficiency out on the perimeter.

I don’t disagree with Goldsberry’s assessment; I just hope the “short” commentary surrounding Warren turns out a lot like the commentary surrounding another former Wolfpack athlete.