Hi. I'm Doug LeMoine, and this is where I write about design, art, books, and baseball, approximately in that order. I work at Cooper, and I take photos. You can reach me at doug [dot] lemoine [at] gmail [dot] com

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    Bracketological thoughts, 2013 edition

    Each year, I take some notes as I fill out my bracket.* This year, my notes are mostly an exercise in talking myself into a bracket that is 80% chalk. When I looked at Obama’s bracket, I had a horrible recognition: I am becoming an unfun, 80% cold-blooded pragmatist. Might be the right make-up for leading the free world, but it’s totally wrong for March. Anyway, here are the things that I wrestled with as I put together my bracket.
    • First #1 seed out? … I never say this, but I’m saying it this year: It’s going to be Kansas. We’ve just been too inconsistent. We lost to a TCU team which won exactly ZERO other conference games. It’s true that every opponent treats their game against Kansas like it’s their own personal Final Four, and it’s probably true that we get every team’s best shot. But it’s also true that we won a lot of close games this year that should have gone the other way. We all know that two of those wins were losses that somehow magically became wins through a combination of lucky breaks and timely shot-making. Some would say that luck and timeliness is the mark of a team that toughens up at the right time, but it’s impossible for me to believe that. Disclosure: I am *not* using this as a reverse jinx. If it happens to work out that way, fine. But I just can’t imagine a way that it will. 
    • The Big 10? Michigan? How good are they, really? … I wish I knew the answer to this question. Because then I could impress my friends and make a tidy sum in Vegas. I’d also have some insight into whether Michigan is poised to go on a run, or to continue their slow-motion February/March self-immolation. Given that they’ve lost one, two, three, four! five! SIX! of their last 12 — well, I just have this gnawing feeling like it’s going to be hard to string together six in a row. But then two of those losses were to Indiana; one minor blowout at Michigan State; two to fucking Wisconsin in what were probably the UGLIEST basketball games ever inflicted upon the good people of the Midwest. Honestly, I don’t know how Wisconsin fans can endure year after year of 49-47 games. And that’s not even an exaggeration, my friends. That’s an actual score of a Wisconsin game this year. AND THEY LOST IT. Imagine watching 40 minutes of basketball in which the winning team scores 49 points. No, the hoop is not a peach basket; no, the players aren’t skinny white guys wearing horn-rimmed glasses and Chuck Taylors; no, Dwight D Eisenhower has not recently been elected President. The games are being played in two thousand THIRTEEN! We’ve traced the call, and IT’S COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!
    • Marshall Henderson … Let’s talk about Wisconsin’s first-round matchup — Ole Miss — and their controversial star, Marshall Henderson. The guy is a classless clown (see this gif), but who wouldn’t love to see him taunt the opposing team’s fans after a first-round upset? His performance after the Auburn game ranks up there with most ultimate jackass moments, and yet it is strangely entrancing, too. I’m torn. I want to see him light up Wisconsin, but hasn’t Wisconsin suffered enough? Would March be better or worse with more Marshall Henderson? Probably better.
    • Trendy upset picks … The WORST part of this week is the bandwagonning that happens around first-round upset prediction. Oh really, you’re picking Minnesota to beat UCLA? That’s totally uninteresting to me because everyone thinks that’s going to be an upset. In my estimation, this is no longer an upset. I sort of want to pick UCLA now. In fact, let me reconsider all of those stupid trendy upsets — Cal? I think you’re going to lose. Belmont? Maybe you’re not beating Arizona. Why do people think Arizona is so vulnerable, anyway? The beat Miami by 20 points! Gonzaga, you’re everyone thinks you’re going down. This means that you’re going to the Final Four. Oh wait, Nate Silver thinks the Zags are going to the Final Four. Hmmm.
    • Butler v Bucknell … I want to say that the Cinderella slipper will be on the other foot in this one, but I just can’t. I wonder if opposing coaches detect a faint aroma of sulphur as they pass Butler’s young, earnest, clean-cut coach Brad Stevens in the post-game handshake line. He just seems a little too capable, right? He’s been to two Final Fours with a pretty thin collection of talent; he’s calm, focused, CHARMING, uber-competent, PERSUASIVE. I either think he’s the devil, or I have a crush on him. Not sure which. He’s kind of a catch, anyway, in a Rosemary’s Baby sort of way. I wish his guys didn’t play such godawfully bruising basketball, though. If he really was the devil, his teams would play irresistable basketball, wouldn’t they? Like the Showtime Lakers.
    • Michigan v VCU … The more I look at this potential second round pairing, the more I think that Michigan might be in trouble. They’ll only have one day to prepare — AND FOR GOD’S SAKE I WISH I COULD FORGET ABOUT THIS — but anyway we all know what happens when a team only has one day to prepare for the frenzied, up-tempo game that they play. The 2011 Jayhawks ran directly into that particular Shaka Smart-operated buzzsaw. Elvin Jones might as well have been banging out a drum solo on our asses that afternoon. Keith Moon might as well have lit us on fire and walked off stage. But VCU did all that, and THEN they threw away the drum sticks and just ran our asses out of the gym. What was the final margin of victory? 10? It felt like 30. Anyway, I think that Michigan might get a similar treatment. Fingers crossed. 
    * Did I say “each year?” That’s not strictly true. I didn’t do it last year, since Max was born on the Monday before the tournament started, and I filled out my bracket late late on Wednesday night, then zombie-watched the early Thursday games. I actually don’t remember any moment of last year’s tournament until that transcendent late-afternoon when Norfolk State beat Missouri. 

    If you watch this and you *don’t* get a little emotional, then, I don’t know, maybe you need to take a seat on the bench. Maybe you haven’t earned the right to win the game. I watched this on a plane, and my eyes actually got a little moist. But I could watch Legally Blonde on a plane and cry (and okay, fine, that has happened), so maybe that’s not saying much. Anyway, I’ve watched this like 25x in the past couple of weeks, and it’s perfect preparation for pretty much anything I need to do in life. To paraphrase Coach Jackson, you earn the right to edit that contract language! You earn the right to email that spreadsheet to the client! You earn the right to change that diaper! Let’s go get it! 

    Joan Didion says: 

    Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.

    I once was an obsessive notebook-keeper, but in recent years I’ve almost completely stopped. And I hadn’t really agonized over this fact until I had a child and then I started (again) thinking deeply about mortality, the things I’ve created, the things I’ll leave behind, etc. But that’s a different kind of notebook-keeping than Joan Didion’s talking about here, clearly. 

    Via brainpickings.

    This two-wheeled machine kills fascists.

    I’d rather be #2 forever than #1 for a while.

    Paul Smith to Jamie Oliver, recounted by Steven Soderbergh in an interview posted on New York Magazine’s Vulture blog. To complete the journey: I discovered the post via Google Reader in the Longreads feed, and I read it in Instapaper.

    Well, howdy. It’s been awhile. Some stuff happened, yeah. I’ll tell you about it, I promise.

    Talk about beautiful evidence. This map represents the “social network” of Mexican drug cartels, and the really compelling thing is how few nodes are “central.” The distribution is so vast and the relationships appear to be so local that there are way fewer “hubs” than I’d expect. Cool stuff. [Via Fast Company

    Giannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnts!

    Halladay’s no-no over the Internet airwaves

    Yesterday afternoon I watched Roy Halladay's no-no on the Hot Corner, which is Major League Baseball’s concession to the Internet. The Hot Corner allows you to choose a single camera angle from which to watch the game, which has the advantage of showing you stuff you might not see in the multi-camera, frequent-cut-away televised experience. The downside is that you miss everything that happens outside of that single camera frame, which, as it turns out, is a lot. When Halladay was pitching, I chose the angle that kept the camera on his face the entire time, and this time I didn’t miss much because every single important moment happened right there. You could sense (not “see” exactly) the flow that Halladay was in; the announcers kept remarking on how “calm” he looked, but it wasn’t calmness as much as it was quiet, focused intensity.


    Doc
    The final out.


    The New Yorker’s Roger Angell even mentions the flow in a blog entry about the game:
    Pitching his no-hit, 4-0 masterpiece against the Cincinnati Reds last night, the Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay restored the smoothing, almost symphonic sense of pleasure that lies within the spare numbers and waiting possibilities of every ballgame. Even from a distance, at home again in your squalid living-room loge, you felt something special this time about the flow of pitches, balls and (mostly) strikes, the inexorably approaching twenty-seventh man retired …


    And of course the Philly fans were deeply engaged throughout the game. In the later innings, each strike was cheered, and Reds batters received hearty, cascading boos each time they asked for time to try to disrupt Halladay’s rhythm.

    Red doc tober
    This guy brought the right sign to the game.

    The remainder of the post-season will have to be pretty remarkable to out-shine this unique achievement. (And I personally hope that the Giants are up for it).

    A bike should look good on its own, but it’s incomplete until a person rides it

    Shinya Kimura
    Shinya Kimura is a custom motorcycle builder, and the subject of a beautiful short profile on YouTube.

    William H. Whyte dissects a street corner



    "There’s another kind of activity that we call ‘People just standing there, alone.’ Life swirls about them, and they let it all pass by. They just … stand there."

    From The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, by William H. Whyte.

    Only worn when mobbin’

    Scraperbike - Oakland


    So I was catching up with the haps in my new city today on Berkeleyside, and I noticed a reference to yet another cool thing that originated in Oakland. No, it’s not turf dancing, or whistle tips, or ghost riding, or even hyphy. It’s scraperbikes, old beaters totally tricked out with colorful, cheap, homespun decorations. Not only are they cool-looking, the scraper crew wrote some by-laws to keep it all legit:

    In order to become a member of the Original Scraper Bike Team, you must: Be a resident of Oakland, CA. Be at least 7y/o or older. Retain A 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA), Create your own Scraper Bike…(It Has To Be Amazing, Or Else You Can’t Ride.) A single-file line when riding. After 10 rides The Scraper Bike King and his Captains will decide if your bike is up to standards and if you can follow simple guidelines. After your evaluation we will consider you a member and honor you with an Original Scraper Bike Team Shirt. Only worn when Mobbin’.


    The above quote, and the still are from a beautiful short movie called Scrapertown by Zackary Canepari & Drea Cooper, which you should definitely watch for the sheer awesome camerawork alone.


    Zack and Drea have a series of lovely videos about California called California is a place, also worth checking out.

    Why does cycling in SF suck more now than in 1994?

    Cycling seems more dangerous, more hassle-filled, and generally more aggro than when I moved here. Why? Maybe it’s me. I moved to Berkeley recently, and I’m pretty close to having a lawn that I can tell kids to get off of. Maybe it’s that the city has changed a lot. There are more cyclists, more people in general (60,000!) and more density, especially downtown. On the other hand, there are more bike lanes and signage, and there’s more bike awareness among the pedestrian and motorist populations. You’d think that more cyclists + more cycling awareness + more cycling accommodation would have resulted in some kind of net improvement, but it hasn’t. Pedestrians seem more antagonistic to bikes; motorists of all types are much more antagonistic; and some of my fellow cyclists seem to be the most antagonistic of all. Why?

    Felix Salmon has written a really interesting, and widely quoted, "unified theory" of cycling that touches on what I think is the heart of it all: That most cyclists think they’re pedestrians, when we’re actually more like motorists.

    Bikes can and should behave much more like cars than pedestrians. They should ride on the road, not the sidewalk. They should stop at lights, and pedestrians should be able to trust them to do so. They should use lights at night. And — of course, duh — they should ride in the right direction on one-way streets. None of this is a question of being polite; it’s the law. But in stark contrast to motorists, nearly all of whom follow nearly all the rules, most cyclists seem to treat the rules of the road as strictly optional. They’re still in the human-powered mindset of pedestrians, who feel pretty much completely unconstrained by rules.


    I really agree with this. I don’t know how to make it so, and I’m really not a law-and-order type. But I think that agreeing to follow the rules of the road would do a lot to make us all more predictable. Also, I’d like to add: Pass on the freakin left.

    HTML5 disturbingly close to bringing a tear to my eye

    Aw, man. It just got a little dusty in my office at Cooper. Seeing my old childhood home in Leawood, Kansas will do that, especially when the Arcade Fire provides the soundtrack and when Google engineers work with a music video director to create the experience.

    8710 Lee Blvd - Wilderness downtown

    The photo above is from an “interactive video” called “The Wilderness Downtown,” and it’s actually as technologically interesting as it is emotionally-provocative. (It’s especially emo if the Google Maps satellite imagery from your home looks appropriately old and nostalgic; see image above). Anyway, it’s referred to as an “experiment” with Google’s Chrome browser, which is probably why, at times, it started to feel like a showcase of whizzy HTML5 elements — windows get launched and shuffled around; you’re asked to scribble on the screen; graphics are animated and layered. I don’t know, maybe I’m just the right mix of cheeseball and geek, but it kind of worked for me.

    Something which can last

    A great three-minute account of a meeting with Borges.



    About the life of an artist, he says: “The task of art is to transform what is continuously happening to us, to transform all these things into symbols, into music, into something which can last in man’s memory … as the years go by, if the stars are on your side, you may discover that you are at the center of a vast circle of invisible friends whom you will never get to know but who love you. And that is an immense reward.”

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