The Coolest Second-Grader in America
Dillon His Self, NFL drama, GOAT retires, Poor bridges, Miami optimism, Florida Man comeback, Wordle, Cable news shocker
Good morning! Censorship has been hot in the streets recently. Joe Rogan is under pressure for having a curious mind and exploring controversial opinions. A law professor at my alma mater is on the verge of losing his job for saying what 76% of Americans are thinking (albeit with very poor phrasing). And Whoopi Goldberg might get canceled because she said some ignorant shit on the View, which I thought was the only reason people watched in the first place.
Hot take: the answer to dialogue you do not like is not censorship, but better dialogue.
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
On to this week’s stories!
→ The next Dr. Suess: Dillon His Self. I found the coolest second-grader in America. His name is Dillon Helbig and he’s from Boise, Idaho. Dillon is a writer of sorts who's been penning comic-style books for nearly half of his life (3 years). Over the Christmas holidays, he crafted his masterpiece.
The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismas is an 81-page thriller authored by “Dillon His Self” and thanks to an incredibly ballsy guerilla marketing campaign there’s a 56-person waitlist to check it out of his local library! What happened?
Like most 8-year-olds, Dillon isn’t particularly close with any book publishers so he knew that the only way to promote his book would be to take matters into his own hands. Not long after completing it, while visiting the library with his grandmother, he took his shot, carefully sneaking the sole copy of his soon-to-be-hit on a shelf in the fiction section. The rest was up to the literary gods.
“I had to sneak past the librarians,” said Dillon, who says “li-berry” instead of “library.”
The following night Dillon came clean to his parents who then called the library to apologize and ask if they could pick up the budding prodigy’s book, presumably from the lost and found. The library folks said “nah—this is too cute, we’re gonna roll with it” and displayed the book prominently in the more appropriate graphic novels section. The rest is history, as they say.
Besides the growing waitlist of children who want to get their hands on his book, Dillon is having a much bigger impact than he could have imagined. After the story got picked up by the media he became something of a local hero, now his classmates and children from his community are determined to follow in his footsteps and write their own books for the library.
Of course, now that Dillon has established himself as the premier name in the children-writing-for-children-and-also-inspiring-them-to-want-to-write-too genre, the library has been receiving calls from publishers who want to officially publish the book. Boo! My advice to Dillon is to stay independent and keep his options open.
Fortunately, it looks like Dillon is a free-thinker who has a pretty good grip on exactly what he wants. After his newfound success, he’s decided that he wants to become an author, naturally, but his plan is to write until he’s 40, at which point he’ll pivot into his other passion: “I’m going to make games”.
Until then, I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about Dillon His Self and his literary genius. It actually shouldn’t be too long from now because the marketing wizard is already teasing his next book: The Jacket-Eating Closet, based on actual events.
I cannot wait.
→ Off-season drama in the NFL. Brian Flores went 24-25 (.490) as the Miami Dolphins head coach over 3 seasons. As a casual Dolphins fan, I’d say he did a pretty good job with what he had (shit). I think most football guys would probably agree. That’s why his firing last month came as a surprise to the league, especially after a winning season in which he had the worst pass-blocking efficiency score in the NFL out in front of a 2nd-year quarterback who is made primarily out of glass.
This week, Flores sued the NFL and all of its franchises for racial discrimination—a longstanding hot-button issue in the league whose critics claim unfair hiring practices result in an underrepresentation of Black coaches and general managers. At the moment, Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers) is the only Black head coach in the NFL.
Flores is asking, among other things, for an increase in the hiring influence of Black individuals, more transparency in hiring and firing decisions and an effort to help source Black investors to take majority ownership stakes in NFL teams.
Flores also alleges that Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross offered him $100k per game during the 2019 season to tank so that the team could get a higher pick in the upcoming draft1. After hearing that, (former NFL coach) Hue Jackson came out of the woodwork and suggested that the Cleveland Browns paid him to tank too.
Ross denies the allegations (obviously), but the NFL will be conducting an investigation in which they are not likely to find anything because, well, it’s in their best interest not to.
Additionally, Flores presented texts between himself and New England Patriot’s head coach Bill Belichick that he claims confirm these corrupt hiring practices.
I do think the NFL’s hiring practices need work, but honestly, besides being absolutely shocked to learn that the same man from these press conferences is also a huge emoji guy (did not see that one coming), I don’t see evidence of anything from these texts other than the possibility of Belichick playing mind games with the rest of the league. It’s not probable, but it would be extremely on-brand.
So he's more than the GOAT of coaches. He's a kingmaker. Robert of House Baratheon, deciding who gets to sit on what throne throughout the Seven Realms. Moving his pawns around the board to suit his purposes. Two years ago, he had to send one of his hands to New York, so he chose Joe Judge, knowing he would weaken them and Josh McDaniels was still useful. This year, Flores gets fired, so he's no longer a threat. But Daboll's offense has become a problem, so he arranges to have him stationed in the NFC East. Now McDaniels becomes expendable because he can always rehire Bill O'Brien, and Dave Zeigler went to Las Vegas with him as revenge for the Raiders firing his buddy Mike Mayock. And he's so powerful none of the above realize they're being played. It's diabolical.
→ The GOAT retires. Speaking of Bill Belichick… I mentioned above that I’m a Dolphins fan. This means that I’ve spent more than 50% of my life watching my team lose to him and the greatest football player who ever lived: Tom Brady. Brady’s career speaks for itself so I really just want to highlight the way in which he announced his retirement.
Three days after Adam Schefter prematurely announced he was calling it quits, Brady made a post on Instagram that made it official.
The post has 8 slides of text in which Brady thanks everyone from the Tampa Bay fans to his Buccaneers front office, coaches, and teammates to his witch-doctor Alex Guerrero to the doctor who birthed him to the goddamn second-string peanut vendors in the nosebleeds at Raymond James Stadium.
Do you know who (or what) was not mentioned—not even once? The New England Patriots or Bill Belichick. Hilarious! How many years did he spend in Foxboro—20!? BAHAHAHA!. These are the kinds of moves that only kings make. It reminds me of another GOAT who was notorious for his pettiness. His name? Michael Jordan.
Some people are just built differently.
P.S. Like Jordan, Brady was an excellent baseball player. A left-handed hitting catcher, he was drafted in the 18th round (507th overall) by the Montreal Expos in 1995. Players he was drafted ahead of include Roy Halladay (HOF), Kerry Wood, Mike Lowell, Gabe Kapler, David Ross, Juan Pierre, Brad Lidge, Mark Mulder.
→ We have too many “poor” bridges. President Joe Biden was scheduled to give a speech in Hazelwood, Pennsylvania on Friday, January 28th. Just hours before he was set to take the stage to talk about his new $1.2T infrastructure package—which includes $1.6B in funding for Pennsylvania bridges—a 447-foot bridge collapsed in nearby Allegheny County. I usually love irony, but not this kind. Fortunately, no one was killed and just 10 people were injured. Only 3 were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries which is a mini-miracle considering the fact that the bridge had 5 cars and a county bus on it at the time it crumbled.
The cause of the collapse is “under investigation”, whatever the hell that means. The bridge was last inspected in September 2021, but the inspection report has not yet been made available to the public. It had been rated “poor” by PennDOT (state agency that inspects bridges) for years and Pittsburgh 311 Response Center received 4 complaints/requests for maintenance since 2016. There was also at least 1 more Pennsylvanian who voiced their concern to the city, and even included an unsettling photo:
I’m no civil engineer, but how on Earth can you not do something about what’s going on in that picture for over 3 years!? The problem isn’t isolated either: over 11% (175/1580)2 of bridges in Allegheny County are in the same “poor” condition as the late Fern Hollow Bridge above. It gets worse too. Whoever owns the bridge is responsible for necessary maintenance and upgrades, and most of them are owned by either the state or the city, which is to say that maintenance rarely (if ever) occurs.
P.S. This is unrelated, but since we’re on the topic of bridges—imagine having so much money that you could have one dismantled just to make way for your new superyacht. That’s what Jeff Bezos is doing in the Netherlands.
→ Miami: come for the weather, stay for the… Joel Stein wrote a piece for Financial Times this week titled “How Miami became the most important city in America”. I don’t think Miami is the most important city in America, but I also don’t think Stein is being sarcastic.
He dives into Miami’s resurging relevance thanks to the tech, finance, NFT, and crypto industries, or as Mayor Francis Suarez puts it: the Miami Movement. Stated otherwise, why are Silicon Valley, New York, and San Francisco bros flocking to the 305? It’s worth the read.
“It was incredibly refreshing to live in an area where the goal is to emulate people who are successful. It felt like moving to Mars.”
- Keith Rabois
What do I think? Optimism. People are moving to Miami because of the optimism.
→ The Florida Man rebrand is underway. For the uninitiated, “Florida Man” is a fictional catch-all for any Florida resident who finds themself in a whacky, off-the-beat, often illegal and dangerous activity. Essentially, Florida Man is a meme.
The reason behind the meme’s popularity, as I understand it, is that the freedom of information laws in Florida make it easier to obtain police and arrest records, which translates into a surplus of slam-dunk headlines just waiting to be written by any lazy journalist with a deadline to hit. Besides that, the only difference between Florida Man and any other manifestation of human stupidity is that Florida Man has better weather, so he is easier to hate.
For a couple of years now—since around the time the Miami Movement started—I’ve had a feeling that the Florida Man brand was due for a massive comeback. I even recently made a prediction:
This week, Alex Perez wrote an excellent piece for the Washington Examiner in which he examines the evolving history of Florida Man and his role in a cultural shift adjacent to the Miami Movement. It’s another great read. It also strengthens my theory that the Florida Man comeback story is just beginning.
"You’re an idiot for not basking in Florida’s sense of sanity, for not being in on the joke, for not heading down to the beach, where business is booming and “normalcy” returned a long time ago."
→ The New York Times buys Wordle. If you haven’t discovered Wordle yet, you’re welcome. What started out as a simple word puzzle game created by a bored software engineer as a gift for his girlfriend ended in a big payday after the NYT acquired it this week for an amount in the low 7-figures.
→ Hell has frozen over. In October—the most recent month for which data is available—Tucker Carlson was the #1 cable news show at 9 p.m. among 25-54-year-olds. That’s not necessarily news. What’s news is that Carlson was also the top news program among Democrats in this demographic. For the 8-11 p.m. slot, of all Democrats from this age group surveyed, 39% chose FOX, 31 % chose MSNBC, and 30% chose CNN.
It’s interesting, but I still think people should generally keep away from FOX, CNN, MSNBC, etc. though. There are simply too many quality sources of information available now to voluntarily subject yourself to the biased bullshit that frequents the cable news airways of today.
That sound you just heard was a collective groan from Dolphins fans bemoaning what never was with Joe Burrow.