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About Wilbur

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  1. Why not enjoy viewing an All-Star Game from a time when the players cared? The West, led by Magic Johnson and ably supported by a terrific squad, including an outstanding game from Ralph Sampson, finally defeated the East in 1985. Plus, this was the famous "Michael Jordan Freeze-Out" orchestrated by Isiah Thomas, which turned out to be a poor choice for a variety of reasons. See the coaches criminally under-utilize Calvin Natt and Robert Parish! Gape at the unconventional shots that Dr. J's enormous hands allow him to take! Glory in the plain, useful uniforms that were unique to this game! Revel at the competition for rebounds in the paint that today would result in multiple flagrant fouls! Cringe at Dick Stockton's comb-over! Gaze at the stars of yesteryear in unaccustomed colors! Shrink in terror at the look Moses gives Kareem when he gets one of his shots blocked! Boggle at the sight of actual defense being played in anger! Marvel at the immensity of Michael Jordan's fur coat!
  2. So Ben says that LeBron's greatest peak was in Miami, but frankly it isn't obvious to me that he has ever really fallen off from those years very much at all.
  3. Maybe that is why the half-court offense looks so stilted - the hand-offs? Viewing it as a disinterested observer, it is like a long goods train starting off, with the cars in front moving, the ones in the middle clanking and bouncing, and the ones in back still standing still. Clunky and without much rhythm, but I guess this is by Van Gundy's intent?
  4. The Pelicans are one of the few teams that I take the time to watch regularly, and you are so correct. It is baffling how a team with Brandon Ingram on it can be so stiff, halting, etc. to say nothing of the other players who have the potential to play a smooth, pacey game. They seem really bereft of ideas in the half-court, particularly. It is like you took a team out of the NBA dark ages of the 90-00s and told them about contemporary spacing but nothing else about how to make use of the spacing. Players like Ball and Zion have played with pace in the past, yet on the break they often look like they are thinking instead of acting, and in the half-court there is a lot of standing around. It is also frankly confusing as to how they ended up with such shallow depth, given that they traded AD for a good group of players with potential, yet seem to have squandered or lost that potential. I keep watching them in the hope that they will figure it out and burst into life, but it has been a damp squib to date.
  5. Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch was a long and interesting story, and one I liked better than The Lies of Locke Lamora. One of the key features that stood out to me included the fact that the plot reminded me a lot of Yojimbo (or A Fistful of Dollars if you prefer the illicit remake by Sergio Leone) in that the protagonists play off powerful factions against one another. Another is how Locke's actions and motivations recreate the characteristics of Flashman in his cowardly falling into lucky outcomes when it is time for violence. Finally, the Treasure Island references are enjoyable and easy to comprehend once the characters get onto the seas with the pirates. The two main characters, Locke and Jean, seem to develop and possess more compassion in this story than in the original novel, as they express empathy with some individuals among the down-trodden who are not members of their gang. And this provides one of the most humorous elements of the book when they work out their sympathies for the underclass upon the rulers on one particular den of vice and iniquity. Still, this is in contrast with their general willingness to murder and rob anyone who isn't them without much concern. Finally, I enjoyed the cliff-hanger at the end, and I will seek out the next book just to find out what happens to Locke.
  6. Yes, that has been the underlying theme of several of the jokes I get from guys in Beijing.
  7. I see the Chinese authorities have swept up some American State Department employees with their probes: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-56196977
  8. Texas is definitely special, and not just in that it mostly doesn't participate in the rest of the US power grid. The Texas capital is gigantic - as large as or larger than the US capitol, and yet it stands empty most of the time. It is pretty easy to tour around inside, as nothing it happening the majority of the time except janitors chasing out grackles. And this is because without income taxes, there just isn't much to do, frankly. Texas governors, for instance, have very limited executive action because the state doesn't have all that much in the way of government machinery to operate.
  9. I wonder if there is a legal mechanism to remove the senior leadership teams of the utilities that failed to winterize their businesses in exchange for receiving payment from tax dollars? We did a corporate exile for three years to Austin in the 2000s, and the comment Mlle. Zabzie made about "magical thinking" in Texas corresponds with my own perceptions. Without being too detailed, two of our fabs received power from sources that failed to comply with Orange Book standards, and it was on the Board report every quarter as a risk. The only other place in the world with such a type of risk was Germany, where the main power source was a natural gas pipeline from Russia, with all the political risks that entailed. And the "magical thinking" in Texas included other things like our household garbage. We were required to separate household waste into three separate containers that were collected on three different days of the week. When we first moved to Austin was I okay with this, but about 18 months later I discovered that all three types of garbage were just thrown down into two giant holes in the ground on the west side of town. Or the toll roads. Or the major highways without connecting high-speed ramps. Or the terrible and outdated highways. If you don't have a real means for tax collection, your infrastructure is going to be incomplete, and Texas has some terrific roads that are available to wealthy Texans and some badly-designed or badly-maintained roads that serve the less affluent. This is true in a lot of states, but in Texas it just seems more in-your-face. The roads were my own first real life evidence of all those theories of public goods being more than just theories in a macroeconomics book. Anyways, enough Texas-bashing. My main question is, do we as a society have a means of removing failed leadership from public utilities?
  10. It is Timmy's turn in Ben's Barrell. Comparing the late-comers to basketball like Olajuwan and Duncan is interesting to consider.
  11. My problem is also with the VAR process here. In the recent past we have seen VAR scrutinized for several minutes over pixels here and there, and on this occasion the ref runs over to tap the monitor and depart without more than a glance? Either use VAR consistently or not at all, because that demonstration was farcical.
  12. When the first Vorkosigan Saga stories were published, they stood out significantly from the other things published, especially in the 'zines, because of the ethnicity and culture that Bujold wrote about. A lot of stuff in Analog et al of the early 80s was "Southern California in SPAAAaaaace!", so Russian / French / Greek cultural touchpoints made it very different, and for me, anyway, quite attractive. It was time to explore new worlds while we explored new worlds, so to say. Today a first-time reader will probably feel the Bujold cultural furniture is pretty tame, but once upon a time it was hot stuff.
  13. He was like a combination of Bird's forward-thinking and Jordan's athleticism, with the intensity and competitive fire of both, in a Size L package. And like Moses, he really dedicated himself to achieving his full potential. It really is a shame that he labored in obscurity and without reward for 12 years in Minnesota. Basketball is a team game, and when your best teammate over a decade of play is Sam Cassell, life is going to be hard. Like the Big Leagues and the NFL, the NBA's late 80s/early 90s expansion teams really watered down the league's overall talent level and created many teams with no hope. There were just not enough competitive-level NBA players at the time to fully man all those squads to play quality ball. Also, the comment section of Ben's videos are pretty full of good stuff. His videos seem to bring out the best of Youtube's usually lousy commentary.
  14. As a follow up note, I had planned to load Circe by Madeline Miller onto my hiking/biking iPod for my next group of audiobooks, but I was wary after the disappointment with The Song of Achilles. The story of Circe is not exactly a ripping yarn to begin with, so as an audiobook it really needs to hold my attention in some manner - I don't want to spend 16 hours listening to a story that doesn't captivate / educate / stimulate. So I randomly pulled up chapter nine and gave it a brief preview listen. Again, the fifteen minutes I heard while cleaning up the breakfast dishes and setting out my gear for the day could have described the morning routine of a housewife in Ames, Iowa - nothing in it contained the "furniture" of ancient Greece. I don't usually pile onto an author, but be aware that if you read Madeline Miller's work set in mythological or ancient Greece, it won't be particularly mythological or ancient. If you DO want that setting and to be immersed in that world, the classic answer is Mary Renault - just ask John F. Kennedy. Mary Renault's stories of ancient Greeks and Alexander are FANTASTIC as middle-brow literary output and as captivating stories. Or maybe you want a manly-man version of heroic Greek tales - then try the currently-active writer that will give you the ancient world, Christian Cameron - both his Tyrant series and The Long War series are fine reads, and much more to my taste than Madeline Miller. [End rant]
  15. The Texans looked at Barcelona FC and thought, "That is a well-run organization, let's emulate them!"
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