Jonah Keri’s new book

Jonah Keri’s new book comes out today! Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos, as you might be able to tell from the title, is a book about the Expos. Here’s an excerpt from Grantland. If you’d like to take my advice, buy three copies because Jonah is a friend and a hell of a writer.

“The only thing I could say that has bothered me at times about Montrealers—and I understand it, so it hasn’t bothered me in depth, it hasn’t bothered me to the core—but when I’ve been up there a few times over the years, people come up to shake your hand, and go, ‘Blue Monday.’ Everybody does it. I’ve come to terms with that, and it’s because that’s the easiest way for them to relate to me. It’s not meant to be negative. They know where they were when they were listening and the ball went over the wall. Every now and then it’s said in a way that’s not as nice. But I’ve come to grips with the fact that, for the most part, it’s not malicious.”

Additional excerpts here and here. Jonah will be doing a Reddit AMA today at 1:30PM EST.

Jonah Keri’s new book

Kottke remaindered links and the tab attic

I was thrilled to spend last week editing It’s a fun time introducing a larger audience the stuff I like on the Internet. When posting on Kottke, I obviously post a lot more often than I post here, and from time to time I’ll have a problem with pacing. I’ll see something awesome, but not have the time to write it up right then, and then 5 other awesome things show up for which I have to make time. But then I’ve gone and posted too much that day, and so the original awesome thing will have to wait until tomorrow. I’ll just leave the tab open and get back to it.

To me tabbed browsing is equal parts blessing and curse. I’ll open a link in a new tab with the intention of doing something with it, and I’ll leave it there forever if I have to. When I started this post I had 75 tabs open. I have a problem. (There’s a Firefox extension that makes it so anytime you restart Firefox, the tabs don’t load until you click on them again. This extension is an enabler, and makes the whole tab attic idea possible. Tab attic: noun describing the brain space occupied by unopened tabs you know are in a row up above somewhere, but you’re not ready to use. The more tabs you have open, the heavier the tab attic is.

In any case, I wanted to share a bunch of links that definitely could have gone on Kottke last week (maybe some of them still might?), but didn’t because they got locked up in the tab attic. This post took a ton of time and I realized because it’s actually 10 posts in one.
Damien Hirst and the great art market heist.

Hirst is not only the world’s richest artist, but a transformative figure who can be assured of his place in history. Sadly – for him and for us – this is not because of the quality of his work but because he has almost single-handedly remade the global art market in his image: that is to say, the image of the artist as celebrity clown, the licensed working-class fool who not only shits on us from on top of his pile of cash, but persuades us to buy that shit and beg for more. This cockney chancer routine, perfected in the 60s by the likes of David Bailey and Keith Moon, has deep roots in British pop culture. We have a lot of affection for guys like these, who seem to be getting away with it, sticking it to the man.

Also, here’s Felix Salmon on How Damien Hirst recaptured his market.

I Was a Cookbook Ghostwriter.

The answer: they don’t. The days when a celebrated chef might wait until the end of a distinguished career and spend years polishing the prose of the single volume that would represent his life’s work are gone. Recipes are product, and today’s successful cookbook authors are demons at providing it — usually, with the assistance of an army of writer-cooks.

Gwyneth Paltrow denied having a ghostwriter in a Tweet with a grammatical mistake.

Jorge Louis Borges on The Task of Art.

For a poet, the symbols are sounds and also words, fables, stories, poetry. The work of a poet never ends. It has nothing to do with working hours. Your are continuously receiving things from the external world. These must be transformed, and eventually will be transformed.

Extreme Maple Syrup. This one I was going to post because it mentions my friends Jamie and Matt in the first paragraph, and I was going to tie it to Making the Grade: Why the Cheapest Maple Syrup Tastes Best which has been in the tab attic since November.

Martin Picard! You make the macho chefs of America look like sissies—except maybe your fellows in the group that calls itself the International Hoof and Snout Mafia: Chris Cosentino; Fergus Henderson; Anthony Bourdain; Matt Jennings, of Farmstead, in Providence; Jamie Bissonnette, of Coppa, in Boston, and a former vegetarian. Inventor of foie gras poutine, popularizer of head cheese, butcher: Picard, at his Montreal restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, has for almost a decade been outdoing just about everyone in decadent down-home cooking.

-I don’t know if this one would have made it in, but it was opened as a maybe, and I am in tab attic prune mode. Sasha Frere-Jones: Good Things About Twitter.

That’s the vegetables. What else is on Twitter? A poetic spambot named Horse_ebooks that spits out isolated phrases like “monopoly on your radio” or fragments like “33 Dependence on chance may seem a burden and a limitation on fraternity.” Occasionally this found poetry comes with a link to a terrible e-book such as Pizza Recipes, which would seem to be the original purpose of Horse_ebooks. Adrian Chen of Gawker recently reported on the feed’s origin (Russia) and purpose (inept commerce) and poetic engine (maybe automated, maybe human). Why do more than fifty-five thousand people follow Horse_ebooks? Because he/it tweets “Pocket Change Written Plan Ball Games Family Haircuts” and, after you’ve read the name Santorum for the 456th time, these are the words that keep hope alive.

The Secret Ingredient. “Liquor companies love to claim they use closely guarded, centuries-old recipes. usually it’s just marketing.”

As Breaux points out, even if he were to determine the exact formula for Chartreuse or Campari, it’s not as though customers would come clamoring for his imitations. The makers of the originals are “going to outspend me in marketing,” he says. Breaux notes that the best-selling spirit globally is vodka, behind which there are no significant production secrets at all. It’s essentially pure ethanol; the main added ingredient is marketing.

-I really like talking about pig breeds and breeding habits, so I was excited to share this article from a couple months ago. Hogs Wild by Ian Frazier should remind you of Ossibaw pigs, a post I put on Kottke the summer before last.

In frontier times, farmers let their hogs run loose, then collected them with the help of dogs on butchering day. Many hogs chose to skip this event, naturally. After America became rich, circa 1890, sportsmen with money imported Eurasian wild boars to stock hunting preserves. When these animals escaped and crossbred with feral swine, they created a tougher and even better-adapted (some say) feral hog. The fact that wild swine have been living in America for centuries does not dissuade wildlife biologists from referring to them as a “non-native” species. Feral hogs of the species Sus scrofa live on every continent but Antarctica, and also on many islands and archipelagoes. Except in the original range of the Eurasian wild boar, feral hogs are non-native everywhere.

-One of the best parts of editing are the people who send in links. I still haven’t quite hardened myself to not feeling guilty about not using these links. This is a job for sociopaths, I think. In any case, former ShareBro Jonah Keri, sports statistics advocate, writer, and all around bon vivant sent me this link and I thought it was a no-brainer for posting, but didn’t have the time to get through the article, or even start it. I’m fascinated by this topic for a movie, and the fact that it rose organically out of the Internet. How One Response to a Reddit Query Became a Big-Budget Flick. I’ve posted about this project twice before, and Jason may have, as well, but this is a great definitive profile of James Erwin.

The encyclopedias proved that he had talent and erudition, but they didn’t bring him any attention—the buyers were mainly libraries—and barely earned him minimum wage. But writing the encyclopedias did teach him a crucial set of skills. He now knew how to mine history for tragedy and comedy. He could instantly recall huge swaths of fact. (Erwin competed on Jeopardy! in 2009, walking away a two-time champion and $23,598 richer.) Perhaps most important, he could compose large blocks of text with astonishing speed.

Kevin Nguyen of the Bygone Bureau (why are you here? go there!) sent over a bunch of awesome things that…fuck. These really should have been posted. Well, two of the links, the rest were boring. Kevin’s taste is only slightly attuned to mine. Now I’m just being a jerk to goad Kevin into an angry Tweet.
Dance the flip-flop by Robin Sloan:

Sculpt eight different vases. PHYSICAL

Take photos of those vases. DIGITAL

Find those photos and combine them somehow into a single vase. DIGITAL

Print that new vase in plaster with a 3D printer. PHYSICAL

Take photos of that new vase. DIGITAL

Make an animated GIF! DIGITAL

And I don’t know how to describe except as Kottkeporn. This one would have been perfect.

Also, if you think 75 tabs is a lot, Jason uses 3 different browsers at the same time.

Kottke remaindered links and the tab attic

The Extra 2%

Internet good guy and friend, Jonah Keri, is out with his first book, The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First:

In The Extra 2%, financial journalist and sportswriter Jonah Keri chronicles the remarkable story of one team’s Cinderella journey from divisional doormat to World Series contender. When former Goldman Sachs colleagues Stuart Sternberg and Matthew Silverman assumed control of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2005, it looked as if they were buying the baseball equivalent of a penny stock. But the incoming regime came armed with a master plan: to leverage their skill at trading, valuation, and management to build a model twenty-first-century franchise that could compete with their bigger, stronger, richer rivals—and prevail.

Check out an excerpt in GQ, and one on ESPN. Here’s a bit about how the Rays missed on Albert Pujols even though one of their scouts loved him and they could have gotten him for a flyer.

They still worried about the player’s build, as Jennings had earlier, and wondered what position he would play. This was especially odd, since the player didn’t get much chance to try out at third base, his natural position, or first, where Arango thought he could also fare well. Many skeptics also wondered about his age: he was born in the Dominican Republic, didn’t move to the United States until high school, and always looked old for the age he was supposed to be. Meanwhile, the player’s agent was new to the gig, and that uncertainty raised fears that just signing the guy could become dicey, even in the later rounds. Besides, the Devil Rays had their targeted names up on the draft board, and the draft was flying by. Jennings wasn’t ignoring Arango’s projection per se. There was just so much other stuff going on that they didn’t give it much thought. By the time you get past the tenth round, most players have no shot of ever sniffing the big leagues, let alone becoming productive regulars, let alone becoming the kind of superstar Arango envisioned. No big deal.

Congrats, Jonah!

The Extra 2%