This Week in Our Dumb World
I want to warn you that this will break your heart. It broke mine.
It’s beautiful and personal and a worthy memory for those who fought in the war in Afghanistan as it enters its 19th year.
It’s an appropriate essay to honor our veterans on Veterans Day.
But it will definitely break your heart into a thousand pieces.
Each forester has a signature in the trees they select to cut, and those they leave behind. The Alaska VA just threw their hands up after that and left me to my own devices. On my marking crew, I have a guy that leaves trees with cavities for wildlife like bats and birds, and a guy that prefers to leave certain species like the American basswood, which readily hollows out to make an animal habitat as well as producing a small edible seed for birds. I had to be a lab rat in a medical experiment to get care for my brain injury. Every morning I inject the hormone my damaged pituitary gland can no longer produce. Me, I prefer leaving mast species like black cherry and oak, which drop massive amounts of fruit and nuts for wildlife, as well as our forest’s old growth species like white pine, yellow birch, and eastern hemlock. Sometimes when we’re in training or office meetings, just the sound of that many people breathing and fidgeting around me drives me up the wall. Afterward, I find myself alone out in the forest, crippled by the realization that I’ll never be able to cope with close proximity to people again.
Forests aren’t static; each one has disturbance regimes that reset them, segment by segment, until the whole thing is new again. I can’t get the time off work to drive two hours to the local VA frequently enough for mental health services, and the local civilian doctors are useless for combat trauma. Back home in Alaska, fire and beetles did the job. Here, we have periodic wind storms. A thunderstorm passed through today, dropping walnut-sized hail and blowing trees down around me. I thought I might die as I hid under a big sugar maple. I realized that I couldn’t remember precisely how many friends wound up in flag-draped coffins, but that more had died by suicide than from enemy action.
The missing teeth of hockey players are perhaps the most distinctive sports injury.
The people who fix those teeth make up an absolutely FASCINATING subculture.
A recent study in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness titled "Straight White Teeth as a Social Prerogative" found that spending on dental services in the U.S. has increased by more than $100 billion since the NHL's coffee cup days. Our smiles are now one of the most potent societal indicators of class, status and fitness, thanks to endless marketing campaigns bombarding us with the message that a mouth full of perfectly straight, white chompers is "linked to ... acceptance into high society, improving employment prospects, and ensuring success in career and love."
As a result, players who just a few years ago would have waited until the offseason, or retirement even, to fix a missing or cracked tooth are repairing their smiles right away.
There will always be holdouts; this is the NHL, after all. In 2016, after a high stick turned him into a "Twilight" extra, Bruins winger David Pastrnak's new look became so popular on Instagram that he decided to keep it. Others decline dental work for an entirely different reason: Some of the toughest athletes in the world are just as terrified of dentists as the rest of us.
Especially the Eastern European players. Several team dentists surmised that because of a different standard of dental care in places such as the Czech Republic and Russia -- where the use of Novocain and anesthesia is sometimes considered an indulgence, even in pediatric dentistry -- players from that part of the world are so terrified of the dentist that Long has seen them visibly shaking from fear in his chair.
"Trust me, hockey players get just as anxious, just as annoyed, just as scared as everyone else," Rivera says. "They are huge, and I am small, but I always find it interesting that, in my dental office, they are always way more afraid of me than I am of them."
Like most people, I had a mixed relationship with Deadspin. There were times I loved and times I hated it.
But that was kind of the point. It wasn’t supposed to be something that you liked all the time. I have a million thoughts, all of them are better expressed HERE.
So instead I’m going to start going through the archives for the absolute best of Deadspin. Like this wonderful and glorious story of Heavy Metal Parking lot. A video you should watch and a story you should read if you love metal, weird subcultures, and the kind of anthropology that makes up the best of the internet.
There’s the cherub who just after announcing herself as 13 years old is shown making out with a self-described 20-year-old Air Force enlistee who’d bragged he was “Ready to rock!” while holding a can of Budweiser in one hand and the poor, underaged lass in the other. And the shirtless, 17-year-old central casting stoner who introduces himself as, “Graham, as in gram of dope!” At a time when much of the nation was embracing President Reagan’s “Just Say No!” puritanism, Graham of Dope tells the camera that drugs should be legalized. A drug buddy standing beside him agrees, while making the brilliant period-piece observation that for all the laws against dope, the parking lot on this day held “enough burnouts to go Hands Across America.”
And the barefoot girl in a long white dress who qualifies as the belle of this dirtball ball, bragging in front of her high school pals that a boo-boo on her knee came from sex in the parking lot: “Don’t ever get it in a car!” she says, then yells out “Metallica!” (Deadspin caught up with the dressed-up delinquent—now known as Cherie Steinbacher of Springfield, Va.—to ask if that scream indicated she thought she was at a Metallica show; yes, she thought she was at a Metallica show.)
The consensus MVP of HMPL, however, was the kid in the zebra-striped jumpsuit so eager to spew bile against non-metal acts of the day (“Madonna … she’s a dick!” and “I don’t really give a shit about that kind of punk fuck!”) that he slams himself in the mouth with a microphone while spewing. Hence the birth of the underground rock legend known as … Zebraman!
“I always wondered if Zebraman has any idea that he was famous,” says former Nirvana roadie Mike Dalke, one of many rock and roll lifers who can recite lines from the movie the way David Koresh could quote Revelation. “Does he understand that he’s this epic superstar to so many people in rock and roll, that he’s the Olympic decathlon champ of teenage idiots, that he’s Zebraman, a legitimate superhero?”
As part of examining the best parts of the internet from the last ten years, I’ve gone way down the rabbit hole of old emails (LOL, remember e-mail? crazy times) to find funny things that I sent people in the past.
And lo! It did deliver one of my favorite things ever. You may have loved this the first time, but if not, please know that it’s amazing to read the stories of people who have absolutely hated the great books and the great writers. For your sample, I have chosen some of my absolute favorite reviews of Wittgenstein.
And, in their defense, Wittgenstein WAS a fucking fruit loop.
"Wittgenstein was a man who despised all things metaphysical and spiritual. He fancied himself a no-nonsense objectivist who would not be hoodwinked by false religious promises or tricked into seeing intangible ghosts ... Wittgenstein's solipsism has spiraled out of control and taken on a life of its own. For him the self is everything; all so-called objective entities spring from the subjective self, leaving us with no real objctive reality or atomic facts at all. All we are left with is Wittgenstein, the self-appointed possessor, owner, and sovereign monarch of the known universe. None of us exist unless Wittgenstein invites us into his little world, and we cease to exist the moment we exit his field of vision. I, for one, take exception to this. Hey Wittgenstein: - I exist - get used to it - I'm here to stay - you cannot expel me from the universe - the world does not revolve around you!"
"Wittgenstein was a fucking fruit loop."
Happy Anniversary to one a Great Moment In Problem Solving!
And remember, there is no problem that you can’t explode.