Golf Distillery’s guide to handicaps:

The handicap index is a one-decimal number used to compare golfers regardless of where they play golf or which sets of tees they use. A golfer with a low handicap index will be better than a golfer with a high one. Very good golfers whose handicap index is better than 0 are assigned a + sign in front of their index number. For example, a golfer with a handicap of +2.0 should score better than one with a handicap index of 2.0, and much better than one with 10.0.

Richard Haass, Handicap:

It is tragic that things were allowed to reach this point. Biden should not be the Democratic candidate. He should have announced sometime in early 2023 that he would not stand for a second term. Yes, that would have made him a lame duck, but it also would have given him the ability to do the right thing about the border and the Middle East without having to worry about how activists in the Democratic Party would have reacted. … The critical difference between Biden and both Bush 41 and Carter is that Biden would be losing to someone who constitutes a grave threat to an American democracy that has served this country well for close to 250 years and a world order that has served this country well for 75 years. If Biden loses to Trump in November, it would overshadow all of his achievements over the past four years and define his legacy. To allow it to happen would be irresponsible and unforgivable. If democracy is truly on the ballot, as Biden and his campaign often argue, then he owes it to the country to step aside.

Sam Kahn:

The question is whether Biden has the self-awareness to realize how devastating his debate performance was and to step aside. My guess is that he’s not even close to it. My heart sank yet again when I saw a clip of him thanking supporters immediately after the debate, and he was gracious and optimistic — exactly as if he hadn’t just spent the previous hour-and-a-half struggling to get to the end of his sentences in full view of 100 million Americans. The only hope is for the people who have any possible influence over him — let’s say Barack and Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, maybe the Clintons — to sit down with him in the Oval Office and break the hard news to him. They can wait for the next round of polling to come out — if there’s a swing of five or even ten points against Biden, as there may well be, there’s a chance that that can get through to Biden. For the sake of the country, I hope it’s ten points — whatever it takes to get the message across. And it does have to happen very, very soon. The point is that the Democrats have a losing hand right now. There is no other shoe that will drop between now and November — Trump is not going to go prison or drop dead, Biden will not magically rejuvenate. The only thing to do is to reshuffle the deck, but it will take Biden to do that and Biden won’t do it unless he is very firmly pushed.

Counterpoint from Heather Cox Richardson:

Immediately after the debate, there were calls for Biden to drop out of the race, but aside from the fact that the only time a presidential candidate has ever done that—in 1968—it threw the race into utter confusion and the president’s party lost, Biden needed to demonstrate that his mental capacity is strong in order to push back on the Republicans’ insistence that he is incapable of being president. That, he did, thoroughly. Biden began with a weak start but hit his stride as the evening wore on. Indeed, he covered his bases too thoroughly, listing the many accomplishments of his administration in such a hurry that he was sometimes hard to understand.

What a fucking mess.

three book recommendations

It’s officially hot book summer; here are three things I’ve read recently and absolutely loved, because it turns out that every book is a beach book.

Moonbound, by Robin Sloan. Robin was kind enough to gift me an advance reader copy of his new novel, so I finished it a bit ahead of some friends of mine (#humblebrag). Set 10,000 years in the future, after the decline of human civilization (“the Anth”), it’s a delightfully weird take on the Arthurian legend, a hero’s journey through a strangely evolved planet that features talking beavers, multi-dimensional math, and a battle with AI “dragons” with a very unlikely narrator.

X and Y and Z, along with time, are sufficient for billiard balls and booster rockets-simple things. But real life, the complexity of it, demands more. This was our discovery: the world, like a sponge, will soak up as many dimensions as you provide.

Eastbound, by Maylis de Kerangal, translated by Jessica Moore. This brief novel (137 small pages – you might miss it on the bookshelf, or lose it in your beach bag!) follows two AWOL travelers on the Trans-Siberian Express: Aliocha, a deserting Russian soldier, and Hélène, a Frenchwoman who has left her Russian lover. They can’t speak, and yet there are sentences like this one…

In the end, whether it was this young man or a bear stretched out there, it would amount to the same thing, the same enormity, as though the real was suddenly crumbling, subverted by powerful dreams or completely other substances capable of catalyzing metamorphoses, as though the real was tearing apart under the pressure of faint but immutalbe deviations, something far bigger, far stronger than it – but no, there are no dreams in Hélène’s head, no drugs in her blood, the young man is well and truly there – indeed, he is the real, the tangible present moment of life, here, breathing with his mouth open a little, body rising and falling imperceptibly with each breath, and if she were to place a hand on him, on his pale and downy cheek, on his shoulder, she knows she would feel him alive, he would stir, open and eye and wake up.

The Best Minds, by Jonathan Rosen. What does it mean to be a friend? And what does it mean to be a friend with someone suffering from schizophrenia? And what happens when that friend stabs his girlfriend to death with a kitchen knife?

You would have to be very ignorant about schizophrenia, as I certainly was, and deluded about writing, as I continued to be, to think that telling the story of your struggle with psychosis could turn it into a past-tense affliction, like sorrow transmuted into words.

no i don't have a substack...

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two by two


Long time readers know I love a good 2x2. After all, two of my most read blog posts feature them; one here on sippey.com, and one that’s been unceremoniously deleted from blog.twitter.com. LOL.

Which is why I absolutely LOVED Noah Brier’s deep dive into the history of the 2x2 at Why is this Interesting. From Igor Ansoff at RAND, to Boston Consulting Group to Clayton Christensen’s passionate defense of the form in 1997, Brier lays it all out.

While it may seem silly to spend this amount of time diving into the concept of the 2x2 rather than the content of some of the most famous matrices, in this case, I think the medium is the message. Strategy is far too often disconnected from execution and simple tools like 2x2 matrix attempt to make it more accessible and therefore more easily acted upon by individuals within an organization.

Emphasis mine.

ten recent good things

Deb Chachra’s book, How Infrastructure Works.

I think of these two systems, time and mapping, as the infrastructure for infrastructure. Their growth in extent and precision has paralleled and enabled the infrastructural networks that rely on them.

Olga Tokarczuk’s novel, Flights.

The world is ready to be overturned – it’s only a convention that the floor is beneath our feet, while the ceiling is overhead, the body no longer belongs just to itself, but is instead a part of a live chain, a section of a living circle.

Episode 9 of Shōgun.

Accepting death isn’t surrender. Flowers are only flowers because they fall.

Jaqueline Novak’s Netflix special, Get On Your Knees.

I do have a sort of poetic sensibility I like to warn people about at the top of the show because I know it can be trying at times. I can’t help myself. Yeah, I used to write poetry in college. Like many, I gave it up. I grew tired. I grew tired of being in a constant state of enchantment. You know, just so many hours spent curled in windowsills, just the muscles cramping, the eyes drying out from all that wonderment, just… Every night seeing the moon as if for the first goddamn time. I just wanted to grow accustomed to the moon, you know? I wanted to take moonlight for granted, like other girls.

Ted Gioia on the MacGuffin, What Is Really Inside the Briefcase in ‘Pulp Fiction’?

The fun is in the pursuit, not its final object. But consider the unsettling implication: Hollywood heroes are really chasing nothing.

Robin Rendle, Longboarding.

Onboarding is the interface. All of it. Not just a check list or a flow or big dumb modals with fancy illustrations in them. Onboarding is every moment in the application. So every moment should be cared for.

Heather Cox Richardson, April 12, 2024.

At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, a federal fort built on an artificial island in Charleston Harbor. … Over the next four years, the Civil War would take more than 620,000 lives and cost the United States more than $5 billion. By 1865, two-thirds of the assessed value of southern wealth had evaporated; two-fifths of the livestock— horses and draft animals for tilling fields as well as pigs and sheep for food— were dead. Over half the region’s farm machinery had been destroyed, most factories were burned, and railroads were gone, either destroyed or worn out. But by the end of the conflagration, the institution of human enslavement as the central labor system for the American South was destroyed.

Amanda Petrusich, Maggie Rogers’s Journey from Viral Fame to Religious Studies.

Headlines are overblown by design, but her audience’s devotion—something akin to worship—was real. The tumult of the Trump Administration and the pandemic meant that Rogers’s fans, like everyone, were increasingly desperate for moral guidance. But Rogers was, too. “I was looking for answers, just the same as everybody else,” she said. “It was really jarring—people asking me for advice on suicide, or to perform marriages. I started to realize that there was this functional misalignment with the work that I had trained to do and the work that I was being asked to perform.”

Rosencrans Baldwin, Stillness.

Phones ping. Pots clatter. Every day has its heartbeats and hydraulics, and so do I. But to sit with them, feel them in my chest and know them better—a feeling of freedom grips me.

Brooks Reitz, A sauce for anything/everything.

Tonnato is a sauce made from canned tuna, lemon, olive oil, anchovies, and mayonnaise. It doesn’t jump off the page when you read “tuna sauce,” but it way overdelivers on the plate. It comes together in the food processor in minutes and should be deployed liberally on anything: raw veggies, hard boiled eggs, and grilled chicken being a few of my favorite vehicles.

r.i.p. richard serra

Richard Serra died this week. Coverage: Artsy, Artnet, NYT (Kimmelman), NYT (Smith).

Here’s Kimmelman on experiencing Serra’s “elliptical mazes of twisted Cor-Ten steel.”

I always found them to be serious fun. They concentrate the mind, stirring fear and anticipation, changing inch by inch, step by step. Serra magically transforms folded, tilting walls of rolled steel into what can almost resemble planes of melted wax. Passages, like caves or canyons, narrow and looming, suddenly open onto clearings.

Google Photos is getting pretty good – here’s a screenshot of the first bit of search results from all the Serras I’ve snapped over the years…

Richard Serra search in my Google Photos

The experience of disappearing into his mazes turned Serra’s sculptures into something remarkably human, almost in spite of their materials, their scale. This short piece from SFMOMA about the installation of his piece Sequence is a great reminder of how Serra’s sculptures bumped up against notions of time, decay, civic infrastructure, personal boundaries and visual perception.