Note 45: R.I.P. 2016 Chicago Cubs

All good things have a natural lifecycle.

Sailing school wrapped up two weeks ago, and I took last week off from the Lake. I had been meaning to reach out to some of the skippers from the Crew U program so that I could set up some options for getting out on the Lake throughout the end of summer and sailing season. I lucked out and had few respond to my messages and I’m pretty good shape moving forward.

Last night, I went out with a skipper who sails with his family on their J/105 for some casual sailing and practice behind the helm steering the ship upwind and downwind. Since actual racing has been paused for the next two weeks on account of the summer’s biggest event, the annual race to Mackinac Island, last night was pretty mellow and felt more like me being invited to this family’s Thanksgiving on their boat than a more competitive scenario. I’m looking forward to sailing with them and a couple of other skippers over the next couple months.

In addition to sailing, one of my favorite new discoveries of the summer is the Canadian comedy Trailer Park Boys. The best description that I can provide is that it’s our northern neighbor’s own version of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, even though it predates the American show by five years. The show follows a collection of petty criminals who live and scheme in the Sunnyvale trailer park in Nova Scotia, and once you get past some of the juvenile humor (which I love), it’s a remarkably earnest show.

Bubbles and his kitties is a fun running theme (videos are NSFW due to language):

This gag really reaches its peak a few seasons later when Bubbles adopts a mountain lion addicted to weed, names it “Steve French” (“French” for the fur pattern on his nose that looks like a thin “French” mustache) and inevitably has to let it go after he’s weened it off the marijuana Ricky and Julian had been raising.

And then there’s Ricky doing his best to be a good father, but ends up raising a well-intentioned juvenile delinquent as a daughter as the series progresses:

I know that this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s become my current binge, and based on the amount of content that Netflix has online, I’ll be binging it for quite a while longer.

Go Cubs, go!

After a half-decade run, the era of the 2016 Chicago Cubs will be finally at an end within the next couple of weeks. After a hot May that catapulted the Cubs to the top of the NL Central, June and July saw a historic collapse that has the team sporting a 44-46 losing record, eight games behind the Brewers. Given that the owners are keen to cut payroll and most of the 2016 World Series core become free agents after this season, the Cubs management is looking to trade players for prospects to other teams who have a chance at competing for the World Series this year.

It’s a bit of a bittersweet moment for this resident of Wrigleyville. I really jumped back onto the Cubs bandwagon in 2015 as we watched Joe Maddon turn a team of youngsters into a team of strong contenders that made the playoffs ahead of schedule and won the World Series the next year. That core held on for a year or two, and then we started to see players drift away until we we are left with Bryant, Rizzo, Báez, Contreras, and Heyward. Along the way, we lost Schwarber, Lester, Almora, Edwards, and Zobrist. It was a fun period to watch baseball and root for the neighborhood team.

That said, I’m glad that the team is moving on to building a new team earlier in the season than petering out later on. I have a lot of fun watching new players develop and seeing guys fresh out of the minor leagues do things like this:

For me, there are two open questions about how the next generation of Cubs come together:

  1. Is David Ross the right manager to do for the next generation that Joe Maddon did early in his tenure? It seems pretty clear that different managers excel at different parts of a team’s lifecycle - Maddon wasn’t as great with a more mature team - is Grampa Rossy the right guy for this new time, or would another manager be better for this task?

  2. What veterans of the 2016 team will the Cubs organization keep around to mentor and guide the next generation on the field and in the clubhouse? Anthony Rizzo seems like a no-brainer - even if that means overpaying him - and I was recently impressed by the passion for the sport that Contreras showed, even if it might have been expressed in a slightly better manner.

Regardless which parts of the the team depart and who sticks around, I’m looking forward to an exciting next decade of Cubs baseball as we get to see a new crew try to live up to the standard that this one set.

Book report

One new book to review this week…

The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré (★★★★☆): This is the direct sequel to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and deals with the aftermath of Bill Haydon’s betrayal as George Smiley looks for opportunities to save the Circus as it rebuilds. He finds one in a mysterious bank account in the Far East and the story alternates between investigating what Karla (Smiley’s Soviet counterpart) is up to in Hong Kong and the geopolitics of a region rocked by wars in the former Indochina.

Unlike some of the earlier entries in the George Smiley saga, this book is a slow and methodical tale that eschews popcorn action for an intricately-woven situation that is unraveled for the reader as the story progresses. As quickly as Karla tore down the Circus, Smiley and Co. spend their time carefully rebuilding the operational side of the Circus in an attempt to strike back at Moscow Center.

This book highlight’s le Carré’s ability to write in different modes, and is a great read for anyone willing to put in the time to absorb everything that it throws your way over 700 pages. After I finish up a couple non-fiction books on the rocket industry, I’ll be eager to get back to Smiley and Karla’s own Cold War.

In terms of my overall reading goal, I am now four books ahead of schedule (57 of 101).

Interesting reads and watches

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu Has Become a Serialized Podcast (Gizmodo)

Amazon has acquired Facebook's satellite internet team (Engadget)

Moon’s Wobble Will Intensify Flooding Along U.S. Coasts by the Mid-2030s, Research Suggests (Gizmodo)

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s Partnership Did Not Survive Trump (New York Times)

West Virginia is Trading Trump for Tech Workers (Politico)

Here’s why Richard Branson’s flight matters—and, yes, it really matters (Ars Technica)

Elon Musk booked a trip to space with Virgin Galactic (Engadget)

Girard Series, Part 1: The Death of the Festival (Charles Eisenstein)

Evidence of Life Could Exist Just Beneath Europa's Icy Surface (Gizmodo)

What the Hell Happened to the Claremont Institute? (The Bulwark)

The Vive Pro 2 Is the Best VR Experience You Can Buy, but It'll Cost You (Gizmodo)


I don’t have any news from the Elite universe to report this week, CMDRs, but I did have a couple of other wins this week. After last week’s app incident with Google, I’m happy to report that Fresh Comics is back on the Play Store, and out of rejection jail. In addition to getting the app back online, the biggest win here is that I now have an incident number I can refer to as I rescue some of my other apps.

In other news, the folks at Reddit enjoyed the work I did to make my Surface Duo look like a paperback book. That was pretty cool.

I hope your week goes well, too!