Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Math Problem

I enjoyed this article by Jonah Lehrer on Grantland. Lehrer argues that as the influence of sabremetrics (aka advanced statistical analysis) grows, sports teams may be relying too heavily on statistics. To a large extent the recent focus on statistical analysis has improved decision-making in sports. However, the temptation now facing general managers is to quantify EVERYTHING. The reality is that not every variable is quantifiable and that teams are more than just the sum of their parts.

I would argue that people in business fall prey to this temptation as well. We focus only on the hard numbers - productivity, profit margin, operating efficiency, attendance, etc. - at the expense of qualitative observations that can make a difference. The worst leaders treat their employees as little more than math problems - "What variable x can be manipulated to increase the output y?" The best leaders remember, as Lehrer writes, "Not everything that matters can be measured."

Check out Jonah Lehrer's article here.

- Joel

Monday, June 27, 2011

Photographer of the Day

Ball Players, Santa Barbara, CA, 1974 © George Gerster
Georg Gerster. Gerster is a Swiss journalist and aerial photographer.

- Joel

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mount Moriah

I was browsing through the Pitchfork album reviews yesterday and this band's name, Mount Moriah, jumped out at me. I enjoy their take on folk/country/rock. I also like the album cover (above). Check out a tune and a music video below.

- Joel

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bombay Bicycle Club

Here's a catchy tune from British band Bombay Bicycle Club. I'd never heard of them before today, but it looks like they've put out quite a bit of music in the past few years.

- Joel

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Marissa Nadler

© Duncan Crawford
It's a bit melancholy but I'm enjoying this track from Marissa Nadler. You can find it on her self-titled album released last week.

- Joel

With the first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft...

Hakeem Olajuwon
In honor of tonight's NBA draft, here are a few fashion statements made in previous years.

- Joel

Steve Nash

Larry Johnson

Jalen Rose

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Photographer of the Day

© Richard Swift
Richard Swift. Apparently Swift is a singer-songwriter who also does quite a bit of production for various bands. Most of his photography revolves around his music-related travels.

- Joel

© Richard Swift

© Richard Swift

Green Onions

I've been spending a lot of time at my parents' house on the weekends. It won't be long before I move two states away from home, so I'm trying to soak up as much family time as possible in these waning weeks. As a result, I find myself driving back to my house most Sunday evenings. A local radio station (94.9FM for those in Kansas City) has a weekly Golden Oldies Party (aka hits from the Fifties and early Sixties) that coincides with my weekly drive across the city. I'm a sucker for oldies tunes, especially the early rock'n'roll hits. Last night, the song "Green Onions" by Booker T & The MG's came on the radio. It's got to be one of the greatest instrumentals of all time, not to mention it leads into one of my favorite scenes in The Sandlot ("You play ball like a girl!!!"). If you don't know the song I'm talking about, enjoy it out below.

- Joel

Monday, June 20, 2011

World War II in Photographs

Aerial bombing of Barcelona in 1938 by Franco's Nationalist Air Force
The Atlantic is running "World War II in Photos", a 20 part photo essay about World War II. New photographs will be posted every Sunday for the next 20 weeks. Yesterday kicked off the series with a collection of photographs from the years leading up to the war. I was surprised to learn that 4% of the world's population died in battle or as part of the Holocaust during World War II. The photographs from this first installment, "Before the War", create an eerie anticipation of the destruction that is to follow. Go here for the index of weekly chapters in this long-running essay.

- Joel

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

I have a great dad, Ladell Thomason. He has patiently shown me how to be a man over the past 28 years. He makes hard decisions when they need to be made. He loves to laugh, especially at his own jokes. He and my mom have taught me that it is better to err on the side of grace than on the side of justice. He is a godly man who continues to grow and become a better father with each passing year. He loves KU basketball; the picture above shows him on the way into a KU tournament game this past spring. I'm a lucky guy to have such an incredible dad.

- Joel

Thursday, June 16, 2011

© Rob Harskamp
My brother told me about Hoopism.com awhile back. The organizers on the site do a great job of turning NBA history and player statistics into creative illustrations. I enjoyed browsing through the complete history of NBA Championship rings in the illustration above. Click on the image to zoom in if you want the full view. A timely illustration considering Mark Cuban's idea to make his Dallas Mavericks championship bracelets instead of rings this year.

My favorite illustration on the site is NBA Slam Dunk Contest Poster. Want to know who competed in every slam dunk contest? This poster has you covered.

- Joel

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I have a love/hate relationship with ESPN these days. I get tired of theirs as the lone voice in sports broadcasting. However, to keep up on sports, ESPN.com and Sportscenter are unavoidable. Now the juggernaut has managed to co-opt some of my favorite writers - Bill Simmons, Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell - in a new website called Grantland.com. You won't find an ESPN logo on the site. However, don't be fooled; check the footer and you'll find "ESPN Internet Ventures".

Still, I'm excited about a website where I can find these and other great writers lending their opinion on the metaphorical implications of sport. Klosterman already has three articles posted to the site dealing with such topics as the NBA timeout rule that places the ball at half-court, why watching a DVR-ed sporting event is so unfulfilling, and a North Dakota junior college basketball game. Strange topics I'll admit, however, if you know Klosterman, the most mundane topics take on new life in his hands. If you are an intellectual who enjoys sports, Grantland.com is the place for you.

- Joel

Chuck Klosterman - "Space, Time, and DVR Mechanics"


It's been awhile since Beirut released any new tunes. This new track, "East Harlem", is a great way to get back on the scene. I'll be looking forward to his new album, though I'm not sure when it drops. The horns on this song are great. I also love the artwork for the single. It reminds me of the time our family went dog shopping when I was young. My parents decided to forego the Beagle puppies we were visiting and instead purchase the recently pregnant mother Beagle. We called her Honey, but she wasn't so sweet to us.

- Joel

Monday, June 13, 2011


It's definitely not cool to like Coldplay, but I don't mind. It's because their melodies are so catchy, which subsequently attracts the masses, that so many music elitists write them off. But you can't argue with a beautiful melody.

Here's a summer single from the band, which probably means an album is on the way in the not so distant future. Forgive me for being a week behind on this one. I was busy pedaling myself across Kansas.

- Joel

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bike Across Kansas

Welcome to Colorado © Joel Thomason
I completed my first ever Bike Across Kansas today. All in all, I rode 497 miles in 8 days across my favorite state in the Union. The trek took me through the towns of Tribune, Scott City, Ness City, Hoisington, McPherson, Cottonwood Falls, Burlington, Garnett and La Cygne. Along the way I saw a small tornado (while on my bike), started a huge game of knock out (basketball) with some local junior high kids, rode into 35 mph headwinds, heard the worst comedian in history, broke 3 spokes on my rear wheel, watched someone hot-wire a bus, tried to flirt with a girl and failed, and soaked in a state so central to my heritage. I didn't have a camera, but I did have my handy iPhone. Here are a few pictures.

- Joel

Hoisington, KS © Joel Thomason

Ness City, KS © Joel Thomason

Lane County, KS © Joel Thomason

Christ Pilot Me © Joel Thomason

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bike Across Kansas

© Jake Stangel
I'm off to participate in the Bike Across Kansas. For the next 8 days, I'll be traversing the great state of Kansas, riding my bike from the Colorado border to the Missouri border.

See you next week.

- Joel

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Tree of Life

I don't really know what this movie is about, but I want to see it.

- Joel

Thomason Tees

© Cory Thomason
Fresh off his high school graduation, it looks like my brother Cory is starting his own t-shirt business. Not a bad way to make a few extra bucks. He's off to a good start, as you can see by the design above.

- Joel