You know how it goes. One small step. One giant leap. It’s the greatest moment in human history.
But why does it matter?
I’m a space nut. If I didn’t have such a toxic relationship with math and science, I would have studied astrophysics in college. But instead I’m a writer who has a permanent residency inside his own head and asks his friends to help him calculate his tip at dinner. While I don’t know the formulas NASA used to get to the moon, I know this…
Risk is in our DNA. When the itch got too severe, we left the safety of the trees and learned to walk upright. We turned rocks into tools and propelled to the top of the food chain. There’s a lot we’ve messed up along the way. But the one thing human beings will always do is take that leap even though every neuron in our brains tells us to stop.
So during this celebration of #Apollo50, I invite you to ask yourself a question. What’s the one thing you want to accomplish even though the odds tell you it’s impossible? Think about how we’ve only been on this planet for a fraction of a moment, yet we’ve been able to accomplish so much. If you’re scared to do something great, then pause. Breathe. Reflect. Think of all the people who told the Apollo astronauts they couldn’t walk on the moon. Then leap.
What if you could quantify someone’s lies? Not the number of lies, but rather the cost of lying. That’s the theme of HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl.
The fifth and final episode aired this past Monday and boy howdy I can finally take a deep breath again. Chernobyl was one of the most gripping and horrifying shows I’ve watched in a long time.
Writer Craig Mazin does an incredible job of telling the story of both the improbable sequence of scientific events along with the Soviet Union’s culture of lying that allowed Chernobyl to happen.
Chernobyl happened the year before I was born. I knew enough about it to understand it was the worst nuclear disaster in our history. But I’ve never considered the terror of watching your skin melt of your bones or having to abandon your home and pets because of a lethal invisible cloud. Never once did I think about the number of lives lost or the hopeful couples suddenly unable to have children after a lifetime's dose of radiation in a matter of seconds. And I certainly never considered the compounded debt of lies that created this disaster.
Mazin throws us right into the disaster from the start of episode one. The reactor blows at the haunting time of 1:23:45 a.m. and the subsequent investigation begins. Following chemist Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) and Council of Ministers' deputy chairman Boris Shcherbina, (Stellan Skarsgård) we learn along with them that without quick intervention, the entire continent is in danger of nuclear holocaust. And when the Iron Curtain wants you to keep the outside world from knowing the truth, the stakes are unimaginably high.
I recently signed up for an HBO subscription so I could binge Game of Thrones. I wasn’t about to be the only person on Twitter not trashing Bran the Broken. The plan was to unsubscribe as soon as Thrones ended and wow, I’m so thankful I’ve been too lazy to do so. If I was financially proactive, I might have missed Chernobyl. This was infinitely better than the last season of Thrones. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss could learn something from Mazin on how to wrap a show up in five episodes. Maybe because the truth can be more terrifying than fiction, but Chernobyl is undeniably one of the best written shows I’ve ever watched.
I highly recommend checking out Chernobyl if you haven’t already. Also, download the official podcast hosted by Peter Sagal of Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me. His interviews with Mazin help break down the Soviet names and customs that can make the show a tad difficult to follow.
You've probably seen the above image everywhere today. The first ever photograph of a black hole. BFD right? It looks like a blurry SpeghettiO smashed against the side of a can. Wrong.
Up until day, the evidence for black holes was indirect. Scientists could see their gravitational influence from the way stars behaved, or from gravitational waves which were only recently detected. But today was the first time in human history that a black hole had been observed.
This sucker is enormous. It exists about 55 million light-years away and could comfortably fit our entire solar system. It's hard to wrap your head around it, but I'm here to give you four fun facts you can "well actually..." your friends with this weekend. And what feels better than flexing on your friends with knowledge. Not a whole lot.
1. Black holes are dead stars
You've probably heard that when our sun dies, it'll swell up to a red giant and vaporize the inner planets before exploding. Pleasant. But that's not what happens with massive stars much larger than our sun. Once their fuel runs out, they collapse under their own gravity. The remaining matter is flung into space and what remains is a singularity of infinite density.
2. Time is bonkers near a black hole
The larger an object is, the more gravity it has. The more gravity an object has, the slower time moves. Think of it like this. You and three of your friends are holding a bed sheet by the corners. The sheet is the spacetime fabric. Someone drops a ping pong ball in the center of your sheet. That represents Earth. The sheet slightly warps. Now imagine someone drops a 100 lb iron ball in the middle of your sheet. The spacetime fabric would severely warp compared to the ping pong ball. So if you were unlucky enough to be falling into a black hole, time would move much slower for you compared to your luckier friends back on Earth.
3. There's a super massive black hole at the center of our galaxy
Has anyone seen it? No. We're at a bad angle. But we can see its influence in the behavior of surrounding stars. Not too worry. We're way too far away to get sucked in. You can go back to worrying about everything that can kill you on this planet alone.
4. Two of them crashed into each other a billion years ago, and we heard it in 2015
You may remember the big news a few years back about gravitational waves. Well what happened was a team of astrophysicists built two facilities to detect gravitational waves which hadn't been observed before. Basically they turned the machines on and BAM! Event detected. The waves rippling through spacetime were the result of a violent collision between two black holes over a billion light-years away. It even recorded the noise it made!
1. Captain Marvel rescues Tony and Gamora
Who else would do it? Tony and Gamora are trapped on a crippled Guardian’s ship. Captain Marvel can blast through space effortlessly. She tracks their emergency beacon and brings the ship back to Earth. This one is quick, easy, and gets Iron Man back with the gang to help solve the Thanos problem.
2. A battle with take place within the Soul Stone
I don’t really know how this one would work. But if all the snapped souls are contained within the stone, you’d have to get them out somehow, right? Could the Avengers use the Quantum Realm to travel into the stone and free everyone who was snapped? We’ve seen Thanos inside the soul stone talking to a young Gamora after the snap. So the idea that the stones contain their own dimension isn’t unheard of. The soul stone could be a paradox or a theoretical wormhole where it’s bigger in the inside than on the outside. Or it’s just a movie so shut up, Joe.
3. Captain Marvel travels back in time and steals the infinity gauntlet from Thanos during the Battle of New York
I know… I know… The Infinity Gauntlet is massive. It’s not proportional to Captain Marvel at all. It’s designed to fit the hand of an 8-foot eternal, not Carol Danvers. That’s where this theory doesn’t hold much weight. But the point is if Captain Marvel travels back to the Battle of New York, she could zip through the tesseract’s opening, find Thanos, and steal the Infinity Gauntlet before he has the chance to collect any stones. Thanos would then follow her back to Earth where Captain Marvel and the surviving Avengers are waiting for him. Which brings in my next theory...
4. We’ll get one gigantic battle with all the Avengers against Thanos
The Avengers use time travel to bring Thanos back to right before the snap. But instead of Thanos having the Infinity Gauntlet, Captain Marvel controls it. And because the timeline sifted, Captain Marvel has all the stones instead of Thanos. Every Avenger is present (some script magic would have to be sprinkled in to get the Guardians, Spider-Man, and Dr. Strange back but that’s for fancy Hollywood folks to figure out.) This theory is littered with holes. But you have to imagine with how loved the Civil War airport battle is, and how retweeted the Thor entrance in the Battle of Wakanda is, there’s going to be a massive battle involving nearly every MCU hero.
5. Professor Hulk doesn’t play a big role in reversing the snap, but Bruce is stuck in that form forever.
This is my cynical marketing side here. I think Marvel Studios got the George Lucas playbook and are only changing Hulk’s look to sell more toys. I’m not familiar with Professor Hulk and what purpose he serves in the comics. All I know is he has the physical side of Hulk, but the personallity of Bruce Banner. He’s basically a green Dolph Lundgren.
While Professor Hulk hasn’t been confirmed or seen in the trailers, stills have leaked that suggest he's in Endgame. It would also give reason for Bruce’s Hulk-tile dysfunction in Infinity War. Plus Bruce Banner has admitted to being afraid of turning into Hulk and never coming back. Maybe the tradeoff for balancing brains and braun is Professor Hulk as the permanent state of Bruce? I don’t know what purpose that serves the movie other than an extremely baritone Mark Ruffalo explaining science to the gang followed by punching aliens? I’m very intrigued by Professor Hulk. I hope I’m wrong. But I feel like his only purpose is to push more Endgame merch.
6. Captain Marvel kills Thanos
This is this most obvious guess. Maybe not exactly Carol Danvers turning the stones on Thanos, but it’s the idea that she is the only one strong enough to kill him.
With the all the stones in his possession, Thanos is essentially immortal. Any injury he sustains can easily be reversed with the Time Stone. Then bingo bango bongo, he’s back at full strength. However, in Infinity War when Thor throws Stormbreaker and hits Thanos in the chest, his last words before the snap were, “You should have gone for the head.” Going back to my earlier prediction, Captain Marvel now controls the Infinity Stones. Thor yellls for her to aim at his head as a callback and she’ll blast his face to hell with the full power of the stones.
7. Maybe nobody kills Thanos
I don’t think Thanos is getting out of this alive. But a fate worse than death is endless isolation on Thanos Farm knowing he failed at his destiny. We know time travel is part of Endgame. So do the Avengers travel back to the Battle of New York and destroy the tesseract? That would prevent Thanos from teleporting through space to collect the other stones. It’s possible, but would be pretty underwhelming for the audience.
8. Gamora and Nebula get their revenge
I would be shocked if this one happened because it’s too obvious for the Russo brothers. But they focused a ton on the broken relationship of Thanos and Gamora during Infinity War. Endgame would be weird if it breezed over him killing his own daughter in the last movie.
It’s a popular theory that Gamora’s spirit lives in the Soul Stone. So if the Avengers could get the Soul Stone from Thanos, and reverse the snap, Gamora would rejoin the living. Then her and Nebula attack a weaker Thanos, killing him with the balancing blade he once gifted Gamora. It would be an opportunity to wrap up the subplot of Infinity War, but it’s too predictable for a cinematic universe this complex.
9. The post-credit scene will be our first look at the X-Men introduced into the MCU
This one is a huge stretch. The Disney acquisition of 21st Century Fox was only completed on March 20th of this year. That is an impossibly tight window to film and edit a famous Marvel post-credit scene. If you’re not familiar with the deal, Disney now owns the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool franchises. Deadpool is the only one making the cut, but X-Men and Fantastic Four are getting total reboots. People would lose their goddamn minds if the post-credit scene was something like this:
The shot pans across a snowy Canadian forest. The snap has been reversed and we see a pile of ash start to coalesce. The shot zooms in and we see the shape of a hand. The shot zooms in even further. Then out of the resurrected hand, three metal claws quickly extend and the screen goes black.
It’s possible, but highly unlikely. My guess is there’s probably some legal challenges that kept the Russo brothers from working on any 21st Century Fox IP until after March 20th. But what else could the post-credit scene be? We see Peter Parker get his passport photo taken at CVS? Every post-credit scene in the MCU has lead to Endgame. Spider-Man Far From Home is the only MCU movie in post-production. Everything else hasn’t even begun filming yet.
Endgame is probably going to make $2 billion and Disney knows it. They’re not going to end the most ambitious crossover event in cinematic history with an underwhelming post-credit scene. Whatever they give us, it’s going to create so much speculation for the next phase of the MCU.
Taylor Swift posted this image to her social channels this week and it took the internet about three seconds to figure out she's teasing a new album. Just an over-filtered photo reminiscent of Instagram's infancy. No. Way.
Four palm trees on the left. Taylor Swift. Fearless. Speak Now. Red. Her country albums.
Two on the right. 1989. Reputation. Her pop albums.
One in the middle. Her seventh album. Balanced between the trees.
She's releasing a pop/country album. But when?
Well folks... Taylor is dropping more hints.
Look above. She's sitting on the sixth step above a piano. Then she's standing behind five holes in the fence. Slats? What are they called? I didn't grow up in a fence household. Whatever. She's counting down. You get the point.
I for one am surprised if it's really a new album. Reputation came out in late 2017 which kicked off a massive stadium tour. She's currently filming Cats. She's had no downtime at all! When would she have written new songs or recorded any vocals?
But she also usually releases a new album every two years. So who the hell knows? She didn't become the biggest megastar since like King Tut by taking days off.
So here's my guess. She drops a new song on Saturday, March 2nd, that's super fun and breezy. Like a palm tree. Get it! Not on the nose at all. Then the new album announcement says Taylor's seventh album will be a pop/country crossover event slated to hit in Mayish-Junish which will obviously be the ultra-smash hit of the summer. Can't wait!
Incredible. During the Australian leg of her High As Hope Tour, Florence + The Machine dropped two new tracks on us. Moderation, a high energy celebration of Florence's all or nothing truth, and Haunted House, a soft and sweet ballad to her heartache.
Moderation is too percussion heavy to flow evenly in High As Hope. It would have paired *Italian chef finger kiss* beautifully following Big God, but too jarring of a drop into Sky Full of Song. The overarching theme would have been interrupted. Moderation is perfect as a standalone track performed live.
Haunted House is the lone b-side to High As Hope, and similar to Moderation, wouldn't have fit among the 10 tracks. High As Hope ended on a celebration of domestic stillness, and Haunted House would have detracted from that beautiful conclusion.
Both songs are fantastic and are already classic Florence + The Machine songs. Give them a listen below.
I'm a Bulls fan extremely mad online. If you aren't sure why, Ricky O'Donnell summed it up best here.
Below you'll find the application I'll be sending to 29 other teams. It's simple, straightforward, and if answered correctly, will fix my problem of having bumbling idiots running basketball operations for my favorite team.
Obviously I'm kidding. The Bulls will always be the center of my civic pride. But it's heartbreaking to watch a franchise openly express zero interest in assembling a dynamically run organization.
Yes, we've had it really good as Bulls fans. We've had the blessing of watching six championships with the greatest athlete to ever play the game. But now, nearly 21 years since Michael left, the organization has watched the city's two baseball teams each win a World Series, three Stanley Cups, and a Bears team turn a toxic culture into a Super Bowl contender coming of age under the right coach.
But the Bulls are lazy. They refuse to put the work into winning another title. Instead they keep hoping with enough Jordan era nostalgia we'll keep blindly handing over our money without ever seeing just how little they respect us. That's why they've never changed the logo, or the uniform, or why they plant Scottie Pippen courtside for every game. They're hoping we just keep thinking about the 90's when things were perfect. But we're not as dumb as John Paxson thinks we are. The game is more accessible than ever with the advent of League Pass and sharing highlights online. There are no big markets anymore. Only superstars with massive follower counts. And the Bulls transparent dysfunction has kept every free agent superstar from ever landing in Chicago.
And It's not just here in Chicago. The Bulls are still incredibly popular in Asia. David Stern had the brilliant, but also like no duh dude, idea to take the game globally as Michael Jordan's stock soared. But those 90's kids in Asia have grown up. A lot of them have their own children who will probably fall in love with basketball like their parents did. Who are they seeing on TV or YouTube? Not Cameron Payne, or Jabari Parker. They're watching Steph, Embiid, LeBron, Harden, and Durant.
By refusing to do what's right and fire John Paxson and Gar Forman, the Bulls continue to alienate their fan-base and decimated their growth potential. After Jordan's run, they had an opportunity to be the next Lakers, or Celtics, or Yankees. Instead of working at becoming a multi-decade institution of greatness, they've made nearly every wrong decision possible and show no signs of accountability.
Until ownership sells the team, this is what we can always expect - a dysfunctional, condescending misery. I'm just so sick of it.
Do you remember when 808s & Heartbreak was first announced? It was mayhem. Kanye wasn't going to rap? He was going to sing entirely in Auto-Tune? Couldn't be true.
On Nov. 24, 2008, Kanye dropped his fourth studio album and people lost their goddamn minds. This was the beginning of the late aughts - the Auto-Tune ages as historians will declare it. Megastars of the decade like T-Pain, The Black Eyed Peas, and Lil Wayne egregiously abused the audio processor. Now Ye was using it? He was better than that.
Kanye's original teddy bear trilogy was a near-perfect epic of his rise from a Chicago kid to THE biggest superstar on the planet. His lyrics were playful and his beats energetic. Kanye's charisma was magnetic and we loved everything he gave us. Maybe because people saw themselves in him, or found hope in his story, or used his music to escape their realities. Whatever we saw in Kanye totally changed when he dropped 808s & Heartbreak.
I don't think people knew how to respond to 808s & Heartbreak at first. The Auto-Tune balanced well with Ye's new, unorthodox beats, but still totally alien compared to his original trilogy. What was even more shocking was how Kanye, arrogance was the steam to power my dreams West, poured out his vulnerabilities in front of us. He never did that before. Just read this verse from "Welcome to Heartbreak."
"Chased the good life my whole life long
Look back on my life and my life gone
Where did I go wrong?"
The album is incredibly human. It's about suffering, loss, and rejection - emotions common throughout our existence but unbearably difficult to articulate. We never thought about relating to Kanye on this level before, but here we suddenly were, confronting our own traumas with Ye. Relating our stories to the ones found in music creates a deeply personal connection with an album, but it takes time. And that's what this album needed.
Ten years later, 808s & Heartbreak is regarded as one of the best albums of the aughts. Now that the Auto-Tune deluge of the era has faded, Kanye's use of it doesn't feel as cheap as it once did. His audacity to experiment with introspective lyrics helped influence monumental hip hop albums from Drake, Kid Cudi, Childish Gambino, and Frank Ocean.
808s & Heartbreak's role in shaping the current generation of hip hop stars is undoubtedly huge, but its most significant contribution to pop culture will be its successor. The creative risk Ye took allowed him the confidence to create My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy two years later. Not only is it regarded as Kanye's best project, but it's one of the greatest albums of all time. Without question. Every single person should own that album.
Kanye is a difficult subject to write about. His recent comments on Twitter have been incredibly disappointing at times. I understand why people have stopped listening to his music and I don't blame them. Even without the comments, his recent work has dropped in quality and he's indefinitely delayed the release of his latest project, Yandhi. Something's up and I don't know what it is. Whatever Kanye is battling, I hope he finds the peace he deserves. He's given us a lot, and the least we can do as fans is try and understand Kanye's journey as both an artist and a man isn't linear.
Ask people my age about Voyager and I think most would say they've at least heard of it. Maybe they'd even remember it was a set of twin satellites that took photos of the gas giants? They might even bring up the Golden Record. Maybe I'm giving people too much credit? But after watching The Farthest - Voyager in Space I need to ask:
Do people forget how awesome Voyager was?
I know I do. Both Voyager satellites launched 10 years before I was born. Voyager 2's final image of Neptune beamed back to Earth when I was 18 months old. I've always had the luxury of comprehending the enormity of Jupiter's Great Red Spot, or seeing the shadow of Saturn on its magnificent rings. I've been blessed with data.
These enormous giants were once immeasurably distant specs of light moving among the stars. They captivated our imaginations, serving as the pillars of early religion and inspiring the names of all seven days - names we still use today.*
Voyager happened at the right time. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory calculated a rare alignment of the planets favorable for a fly-by mission. How rare was it? The last time an alignment was this ideal, Thomas Jefferson was our nation's president.
With an audacious plan, NASA built two small bus-sized satellites designed to take photographs and collect data of the gas giants. Each encounter would last several weeks, followed by a slingshot to the next alien world using gravitational assist, eventually slipping beyond our solar system at a speed of 10 miles per second.
Voyager 2 launched first. As it approached its initial target, the images poured in. Early on, it was a small dot on a screen. Faster and faster, the details emerged - swirling stripes and tumultuous storms. Finally, we arrived at the king of planets. Our Roman god.
Voyager 1 left Earth a few months later. Using a shorter, faster trajectory, it zipped past Voyager 2 to study one of Saturn's moons. Titan. The reason being Titan's surface was believed to be similar to that of an early Earth's and we could learn a lot about ourselves from this distant moon. Despite the scientific intent of studying Titan, what we remember most was experiencing the grandeur of Saturn's rings up close for the first time in human history. Cosmic dust dancing endlessly in orbit and we had courtside seats.
Brevity is impossible when describing the scientific significance of this mission. Writing the details would take weeks and who the hell wants to read that. After all, this isn't a scientific article. It's a love letter to Voyager.
I'll leave this blog with one final thought.
At the end of Voyager 1's orbit around Titan, the illustrious Carl Sagan asked the satellite for one last job before taking off for interstellar space. Turn around and take a picture of Earth. An asinine request in nature because, at 4 billion miles away, Earth is just a small spec of light. But you don't tell Carl Sagan no. The command was sent and the photo was snapped.
What came back served zero scientific purpose. But rather a poetic reminder of how far we've come, yet how far we still have to go.
On a day like today, where the news is all too familiar, it's a reminder of Voyager's most significant legacy.
That's us. One single pixel. A pale blue dot suspended in a sunbeam.
Let's cook! The best thing about Nike taking over as uniform supplier for the NBA was introducing the 4-6 jersey rotation. Each team gets an Association, Icon, Statement, (formally known as home, away, and alternate respectively) and City. Some get a Classic and playoff teams will get an Earned jersey this season. But the City uniform changes every year and typically debut after the first monthish of the season. Which for NBA nerds like myself, that means 30 delicious new leaks a year.
The Timberwolves leak today tells us their City uniform this season is inspired by Minnesota's favorite departed baby boy, Prince. The late singer was an NBA fanatic and of course, a Minnesota native. It's only fitting their most culturally significant son is honored in Purple Rain font in his favorite color. We still need to see the official unveiling to absorb every detail, but from the leak it appears the Timberwolves finally did something right this season.
I write the words I'm too uncomfortable to say.