Grace 

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

In 2018, Botham Jean was shot and killed in his own apartment by off-duty police officer Amber Guyger. Guyger has stated she thought she was entering her own home, and believed that Jean was a burglar. She has since been convicted of murder.

Yesterday, attendees at Guyger’s sentencing hearing witnessed an incredible gesture of benevolence from Jean’s older brother, Brandt.

“I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please? Please?” Jean asked Judge Tammy Kemp.

The jurist said yes, and Brandt got off the stand and walked toward Guyger at the defense table. She leaped up from her seat and ran to hug him.

They clutched each other in an embrace that lasted for more than a minute — with Guyger loudly sobbing into Jean’s shoulder.

Brandt Jean is too good for this world.

Previously in Grace: In Honor of Fred Rogers

Looks Like He Got a New Motorcycle Though 

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Somewhere in an attic, there’s a painting of Harvard University police officer Charles Marren aging.

Ridiculous Products: Sexy Beyond Burger Costume

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Today marks the first day of October, which means it’s time to buckle down and decide what type of sexy you’ll be this Halloween.1 Will you be a sexy nurse? Perhaps a sexy pirate? You can even be a sexy Mr. Rogers.2 You know you have to be some kind of sexy, and the options are nearly limitless in the awfulness that is 2019.

New this year is a sexy Beyond Burger costume. This is problematic in multiple ways. In addition to its name likely being a trademark violation, it’s also the sexualization of a veggie burger. That’s more than a little bizarre, which I suppose pretty standard when it comes to modern costumes.

Initially, I thought the bestworst3 part of the whole thing was the headband. Multiple fake meat purveyors have had restaurants place little flags on their burgers, to serve as a tiny form of advertising. This costume goes with the more generic “plant based” phrase, which has become incredibly trendy in 2019, but the idea is the same.

However, this implies 1) That your brain is plant-based, which sounds sort of like an insult, and 2) That there’s a massive toothpick stuck right through your skull. The latter is actually rather on-point for a proper, scary Halloween costume, so maybe this horrible idea could be redeemed with a bit of stage makeup and effects.

There’s no redeeming the actual worst part though, which is this:

A stamp on the rear end of the costume says 'Certified Not Grade A'.

I guess the thinking was that since it’s not animal meat, your ass can’t be Grade A. But like the plant based brain, this too looks like an insult to the wearer. How about “Certified: Better Than Grade A”? Or “Certified: Hot!”. Anything would be better than this. Also, your ass kind of is animal meat, when you get right down to it.

This one detail alone is almost as bad as the previously featured Bad Ass socks. The total of all of it is much worse.


Footnotes:

  1. Alternately or synonymously, “slutty↩︎

  2. This may be a new low, and even more ridiculous than the Beyond costume. It’s also deeply, deeply weird, so weird that I don’t feel I can cover it properly. To each their own, I know, but if you’re a person who finds this appealing, I don’t know what to say to you. That hairpiece is something else. ↩︎

  3. I was torn as to which word to use here, and wound up creating a new one instead. I rather like it. ↩︎

Getting Stung in the Face Wasn’t the Worst Part 

Monday, September 30th, 2019

Recently, Sarah Thomas became the first person to swim the English Channel four times in a row, without stopping. This is certainly an incredible feat, though it also strikes me as more than a little ridiculous. Then there’s the fact that the distance covered was just a wee bit higher than strictly necessary:

It should have been a total distance of about 80 miles (129 km) but the tidal pulls in the Channel increased the distance by more than 60%, meaning she ended up swimming nearly 130 miles (209 km).

That is a lot of extra swimming. Thomas could’ve gone crossed two more full times, on an optimal route.

Jimmy John’s Is Not Great at Order Notifications

Friday, September 27th, 2019

Last week, I wrote about the USPS not being good at email. More recently, I ran into a similarly poor notification from sandwich-maker Jimmy John’s:

We’ll set aside the rude instruction to “Come & Get it!”, because that’s in line with Jimmy John’s slightly odd brand. Note the times for these two messages, however. I placed the order at 6:08 PM, and I was told it was ready for pickup at 9:18 PM. That is not exactly “freaky fast”, nor any kind of fast at all.

Fortunately, this order did not in fact take 3 hours and 10 minutes to make. I picked it up around 6:20 PM, and I was enjoying it at home a few minutes later. In fact, when I received this notification, I thought “I just ate my sandwich, and it’s in my stomach right now”.

I don’t know if this was another slow computer server, or if someone simply forgot to tap the “Order Ready” button on the screen. Alternately, it’s also possible an entire second order was prepared, and that an identical copy of my sandwich sat there, lonely and unloved. That might be the saddest possibility of all.

It’s the Alexa That Says “Bad Motherfucker” 

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Samuel L. Jackson’s voice will soon be available for Amazon Alexa products. That’s going to be briefly hilarious for plenty of people. Even better, it means that so long as Jackson has some sort of Alexa device around, he’ll now be able to remind himself to put the gazpacho on ice in an hour.

Don’t miss this delightful detail either:

After purchasing the feature, you choose whether you’d like Sam to use explicit language or not. If you ever change your mind, you can toggle between clean and explicit content in the settings menu of the Alexa App.

Somehow, I doubt Apple will ever bring anything quite like this to Siri.

Reinforcement Learning Is Fascinating 

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

After implementing a very basic hide-and-seek game, and teaching the artificial intelligence players simple rules, reinforcement learning led to truly fascinating results. Have a look at the animated gifs in the article, and remember that none of these specific tactics were programmed by humans.

Googly Body Worlds 

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

This was not my work, but my hat is off to the artist.

Sadly, That’s Not Today

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

This past Saturday, while on a run, I saw a woman wearing a shirt that simply said “Sept 21” on the front. As I ran past, I turned around to see if there was anything else on the back, but it was blank. I remembered that Saturday was indeed the 21st of September, so I was obviously forced to assume that this woman owned 366 shirts, and she wore each of them on their specific day of the year.1 While this seemed a rather inefficient way of remembering the current date, literally nothing else made sense.

Bizarrely, however, this rational and logical conclusion was actually (most likely) incorrect. It turns out that in 2016, comedian Demi Adejuyigbe turned September 21st into the best new holiday in ages, and he’s been doing fabulous work promoting it since 2016.2 That year, he posted his first video set to an edited version of Earth, Wind & Fire’s song “September”.3

If you need a pick-me-up of any sort, that 66 seconds is pure bliss. In that video, you’ll also spot the original shirt design, apparently made just minutes before the video with a stencil and a marker. This is essentially what the woman I saw had as well. It makes a lot more sense here, with a soundtrack, rather than in a vacuum.

By September 21st, 2017, the world seemed a much darker place than it had just a year earlier. Still, Adejuyigbe returned, trying to fight back the gathering horror.4 We now had two full minutes of September 21st-related goofiness, just when we needed it most.

The festivities continued, and indeed grew larger, in 2018. That year’s video featured a body double, a tear-away jacket, and a children’s choir.5 It also included my very favorite moment, a brief mention of “December”, followed by an immediate course correction back to September.

This year, we got a marvelous single shot video, including a mariachi band and some hilarious video editing to place Adejuyigbe into the original Earth, Wind & Fire video.6 It continues to be tremendous fun. We now have over four full minutes of delightfulness, which is longer than the original song. Wonderful!

While I came late to this party, I’m fully on board now, and eagerly looking forward to September 21st, 2020.7 If you want to get into the holiday spirit yourself, you can purchase your own confusing t-shirt. Since 2018, Adejuyigbe has sold September 21st t-shirts to raise funds for some very worth charities. It’s too late to use such a shirt properly in 2019, but the next September 21st is getting closer all the time. Personally, I can’t wait to celebrate in slightly less than a year.


Footnotes:

  1. That February 29th shirt is really not getting much use. ↩︎

  2. Adejuyigbe is surely best known for his work in Sandwich Video’s tremendous “How to Vote” project. ↩︎

  3. The 2016 video is archived here. ↩︎

  4. The 2017 video is archived here. ↩︎

  5. The 2018 video is archived here. ↩︎

  6. The 2019 video is archived here. ↩︎

  7. Also, November 3rd, 2020. ↩︎

Rusney Castillo’s Golden Handcuffs 

Friday, September 20th, 2019

In 2014, the Red Sox signed Cuban player Rusney Castillo to a 7-year, $72.5 million contract. Now, due to arcane rules surrounding baseball’s luxury tax, that deal is actually preventing him from playing in the big leagues.