Transparent

I thank you heavenly father for this food, this great day, these lovely people, in Jesus’ name we pray.

Oy gevalt.

Let’s start here: Transparent is very funny.

Transparent is a half-hour show about a Jewish family in Los Angeles, but to call it a sitcom would be a horrendous mischaracterization. There’s no pressure to deliver a punch line every couple of minutes. The issues being explored are weighty.
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Five Predictions for the NBA Season

The NBA is back, which sounds weird, because it feels like it never ended. Actually, it kind of feels like it’s ending now, when it’s actually starting, because with all the offseason drama behind us, the only thing that’s left is boring old basketball. This leaves me and the nine other people that waste their time watching regular season games played in dead arenas as the only people left paying attention. So for you, my sad nine friends, here are five predictions for the actual, basketball-playing season.
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Sports and Art

“Rebounds, with their reliable uncertainty, are part of what makes basketball beautiful. There are general rules that dictate the nature of missed shots. But thanks to the perfect design of the basketball hoop, there will always be randomness.”

This quote — at the end of a Kirk Goldsberry article on rebounding data from new tracking technology — quietly makes a bold statement that has little to do with the rest of the article. The article is on stats. What percentage of missed shots end up where. Cold hard facts. The quote is about beauty.

People who cover sports love to talk about athletes and plays as if they were artistic achievements. A particularly difficult catch by a wide receiver is “beautiful.” A crossover is “a work of art.” And then there’s the way soccer announcers talk about football, where an effective offense becomes “a cultured attack.”
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Louie and Devin Hester

Louie is one of those shows that no one watches but everyone talks about, and by everyone, I mean critics. When it comes to TV, my wheelhouse is basically those shows and cartoons, so when I noticed Louie on Netflix I decided to find out for myself what all the fuss was about.

I was hooked. A little over a month later and I’ve seen every episode. 
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Football and the Absurd

The slow trickle of trunks and suitcases onto campus is complete. Classes have officially begun.

Back into our lives are lectures, homework, projects, labs, exams, grades — all the stuff we pay frightening amounts of money to stress out over and complain about.

Luckily, we can take solace in one thing. (Other than, I guess, being fortunate enough to receive an education. And hot water and cooked food and medicine and the internet and airplanes and probably one or two other things.) The end of summer means the start of a new season. Football season.
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Is A Miss Always A Miss? Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article in which I asked, is a miss always just a miss? If you want the gory details, you can find them here, but I’ll try to sum up the idea quickly.

For some time now in the NBA, people have been trying to figure out the quality of different shots. One easy way to do this is to look at how often a shot goes in, and how many points it gets you when it does. For instance, three-pointers count for, surprise, three points, and they find their way into the basket about 36% of the time, making them worth 36% x 3 points = 1.08 points per shot. Looking at shots in this way paints a pretty accurate picture of their value.

There is, however, one problem with this method: It ignores the most common outcome of the shot, a miss. After all, 64% of the time players launch three-pointers, the ball doesn’t land gracefully in the net. Instead, it bounces off the rim into a mass of bodies and something happens. The question is, what exactly is that something?

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