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Deep Routes

Letters of Note shares a letter that Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens wrote to his wife, stepson, and future son, to be opened only in case of his death:

I never thought I would be writing a letter like this, I really don’t know where to start. I’ve been getting bad feelings though and well if you are reading this….

I am forever in debt to you, Dakota, and the Bean. I searched all my life for a dream and I found it in you. I would like to think that I made a positive difference in your lives. I will never be able to make up for the bad. I am so sorry. The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. I will always have with me the small moments we all shared. The moments when you quit taking life so serious and smiled. The sounds of a beautiful boy’s laughter or the simple nudge of a baby unborn. You will never know how complete you have made me. Each one of you. You saved me from loneliness and taught me how to think beyond myself. You taught me how to live and to love. You opened my eyes to a world I never dreamed existed. I am proud of you. Stay on the path you chose. Never lose sight of what is important again, you and our babies.

On ESPN, Wright Thompson profiles Les Miles’ obsession with beating Alabama:

The bubble minimizes Miles’ greatest weakness: clock management. Even his family makes fun of him; he recently decided that he would never have a meal after 7 p.m., which means there’s often a race to eat at 6:51. So many daily tasks are farmed out that he’s almost pure thought, a free-floating football brain focused on Alabama. A staff member moves Miles’ car to the stadium for home games and to the airport for road games. His secretary picks out suits, attaches the LSU lapel pen. Someone plugs in his cellphone so that it is miraculously always charged.

Taking away mundane decisions frees Miles to use his greatest strengths: joy and a contagious belief. Nick Saban, the coach against whom he is most often measured, chases victory by removing variables, including emotion. Miles needs to transfer his joy and intensity to the players, amplifying emotion instead of removing it. This is a much harder way to win games, trying to ride the unpredictable bulls of desire and belief.

The Wire creator David Simon weighs in on the General Petraeus scandal:

I’m neither an admirer nor detractor of General Petraeus. But I am most definitely a detractor of what journalism has become in this country, of what passes for the qualitative analysis of our society and its problems. And I’ve paid enough attention to the human condition to no longer take seriously the notion that anyone who lets penis or vagina rub against the wrong person, who is indiscreet in doing so, and who then tells the truth about it when confronted by an FBI agent is unfit for either citizenship or public service. I certainly know enough about the human condition to know that all kinds of people — smart and dumb, powerful and powerless — are capable of finding themselves in such a circumstance and shaking their heads at just how far they strayed, at just how indiscreet they were in their very ordinary, human hunger, and how they have hurt those closest to them. Sex, done right, is some powerful shit. And when Americans begin to accept the human condition for what it is rather than an opportunity to jeer at the other fellow for getting caught, then we will be, if nothing else, a little bit more grown up. I remember when Francois Mitterand’s wife and mistress walked beside each other in the French premier’s funeral procession and few in that country thought it remarkable. The French have got their problems, but in some respects, they make our country, our political commentary, seem as mature and insightful as a fourteen-year-old unsticking the pages of his dad’s just-discovered skin mags. It’s a peculiar American hypocrisy that only the worst kind of journalistic hack would readily and willingly embrace as a meaningful metric.

The New York Times calls for the abolition of the electoral college:

We say that in full knowledge that the college may be tilting toward the kinds of candidates we tend to support and provided a far more decisive margin for Mr. Obama earlier this month than his showing in the popular vote. The idea that a voting method might convey benefits to one side or another, in fact, is one of the strongest arguments against it.

There should be no structural bias in the presidential election system, even if population swings might oscillate over a long period of decades. If Democrats win a string of elections, it should be because their policies and their candidates appeal to a majority of the country’s voters, not because supporters are clustered in enough states to get to 270 electoral votes. Republicans should broaden their base beyond a shrinking proportion of white voters not simply to win back Colorado, but because a more centrist outlook would be good for the country.

Quick Reads

- Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy” – as told by cats. [Buzzfeed]

- Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer own a wine vineyard together. (Obligatory bad joke: how often do their shipments get intercepted?) [Yahoo]

- Singapore cabbie returns $900,000 in cash to visiting Thai couple [Google]

Food Porn

Cemita Atomica – stuffed with milanesa, carne enchilada, jamon, oaxacan cheese, avocado, chipotle peppers, and papalo – @ Cemitas Puebla (Chicago)

Monster tots – Tater tots doused in buffalo sauce, topped with melted cheese and bacon, served with queso sauce – @ Schoolyard Tavern (Chicago)

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