Welcome to the Real-Time, Live-Updating Portal Matrix For Tracking Your Child’s Grades Obsessively (via the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — “Welcome to the new school year, parents. This year, we’ve made some changes to our grading process. This 12-minute video will briefly summarize how we’re using online resources to allow you to monitor and evaluate your child’s progress on a real-time, 24/7 basis. Please click below to begin.”

So we’re not getting report cards this year? Weird. Okay. (click)

“Welcome to PowerSuccess School MetricsSolutions, the convenient online portal for tracking your child’s successes at a glance. You’ll notice the page opens into Classic View. Click the button marked List View, which will be easier.”

 List View, got it. (click)

“List View expands into Grid Views for all eight of your child’s classes, listed here in reverse order. Over time, this Grid View will auto-populate with live evaluations of your child’s potential success metrics potential.”

 Wait, does that mean grades?

“Sort of. We don’t use grades now, we use evaluations of standards relative to your child’s individual talents and the aggregate performance of students in his or her age group, potential earning category and hair color, merged with bar-graph spreadsheets that determine within three significant digits whether your child will ever attend college. Those are also live-updated, just FYI.”

 Wait, so there are grades, or…

“Pay attention, we’re not even two minutes into this video.”

The rest of the video at On Parenting at the Washington Post.

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Olympic Athletes Simply Can’t Stop Lining Up For Free Big Macs (via GQ)

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You know you want one, decathletes

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GQ — The Olympics are a showcase for peak physical magnificence, a relentless Tinderfest (you think you don’t stand out in a bar? Try navigating a village full of gymnasts and swimmers in Rio de Fucking Janeiro), and proof that we are surrounded by golden sports gods and goddesses who can totally swim in emerald-green water and not die. So it’s a little weird that they’re all losing their shit over free Big Macs.

Indeed, aside from Biles, Ledecky, Bolt, Phelps, and the Slovakian canoe slalom team (REPRESENT, MY PEOPLE!), the clear winner in Rio this year is McDonald’s, which established a fully functional calorie tent in the Olympic Village to offer free Big Macs, McGriddles, and dirt-cheap loaves of meat to hungry Olympians looking to kick-start just a littttttle bit of body decline.

More at GQ. 

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How I Destroyed a Bruce Springsteen-Related Guinness World Record in 60 Seconds Flat (via Success Magazine)

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Success — Jumping right into the book of Guinness World Records with the mission of finding one to break is daunting. You’re not simply trying to decide how to order your eggs or which project to launch, you’re trying to be remembered for something incredible—something that will etch your name into a metaphorical mountain that will endure time, memory and erosion. Have you ever sat down and said, “All right, at what thing should I become the best in the world?” It’s scary. Big ambition can be. So I went with the only thing I knew I was really good at.

The full story at Success magazine.

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Inside Ark Encounter, Kentucky’s Preeminent Life-Sized Noah’s Ark (via GQ)

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GQ — Noah’s Ark is the first left after the gas station, down the street from the Mexican restaurant.

I know going in that it’s technically called the Ark Encounter, that it’s dry-docked here in Kentucky, and that it’s the work of a creationist organization called Answers in Genesis (AiG). But given that it constitutes a $100 million boat-shaped Bible theme park and the self-proclaimed “largest timber-frame structure in the world,” I’d expected a more dramatic approach. Maybe some animatronics. At least a little traffic. Instead the thing just appears in the distance, massive and curious and facing away, as if it has already started sailing without me.

From this perspective, I can already tell that it doesn’t look a thing like the Noah’s Ark I heard about in Sunday School, which was essentially a Little Tikes pool toy that eluded the laws of physics while ferrying a floating zoo to safety during a rainstorm. As the celestially appointed sea captain, Noah was depicted as a jolly Caucasian carpenter with kind eyes and a Dumbledore beard. He carried a staff, which he used to herd the koalas and llamas, all of which were extremely huggable.

The Ark Encounter is a lot of things, but it’s not huggable. Here’s what’s going on inside the planet’s judgiest, death-iest theme park. 

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Two Days Embedded in the World’s Hottest Brickyard (via Indy Monthly)

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Proud of self for taking this photo and not falling off a moving pickup.

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Indy Monthly — Two things about my experience at this year’s Brickyard 400, held Sunday on the surface of the sun: This was my first NASCAR race (though I’ve seen Cars 4,000 times, which counts), and I was lucky enough to spend it with Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski and his Miller Lite 2 crew. So while I can’t hear a thing anyone is saying right now, I can offer these thoughts from Keselowski’s pit box and Pit Road.

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What Is Pea Milk and Should You Be Drinking It? (via GQ)

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GQ — Alright, let’s get this out of the way: If you can say the phrase, “I’m about to drink a nice glass of pea milk” out loud without dissolving into hysterics, you have never been to seventh grade and I feel sorry for you.

And yet we need milk alternatives because cows are over and everybody hates them now. No one drinks milk anymore; we’ve all turned to an uproariously diverse buffet of beverages that includes, but is not limited to, almond milk, coconut milk, macadamia milk and hemp milk (yes it’s real, and no it doesn’t). The newest—and pretty much only—entrant into the white-hot alternative milk game is Ripple, a yellow split pea-based concoction that has already made the industry sit up, take notice, giggle at the name, and then say, “Eh, sure, why not.”

Here’s what this stuff tastes like.

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Chris Cornell Has an Absurd Number of Songs (via Indy Star)

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Indy Star — Great Caesar’s ghost, Chris Cornell has a lot of songs. Technically his current solo acoustic tour supports “Higher Truth,” his sterling fifth solo record and one that’s powered not by the thunderstorm roar of Soundgarden and/or Audioslave but an acoustic guitar — though, happily, his valkyrie four-octave voice hasn’t gone anywhere. (If you haven’t, check out “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart,” a near-perfect single and a fine on-ramp into where he’s going with this.)

But Cornell’s show, which visits the cozy environs of the Murat on July 9, also draws from a galaxy of work that includes — deep breaths — grunge pioneers Soundgarden, the rhythmic and raging Audioslave, the Seattle supergroup Temple of the Dog and his previous four solo records (including that one with Timbaland). Throw in a James Bond theme, his contribution to “12 Years a Slave,” a cut from the “Singles” soundtrack, a track from a second Seattle supergroup Mad Season and a Donald Trump spoof called “Make America Great Again” and we’re dealing with a pretty huge grab bag.

But more than shining a light on his catalog, this tour serves to reinforce just how powerful Cornell’s voice remains. At 51, he’s applying it to reframed versions of “Black Hole Sun,” “Blow Up the Outside World” and “Doesn’t Remind Me.” But he’s also throwing in material from his recent round of killer viral covers, including a room-flattening “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a rewrite of “The Times They Are a’Changin’,” (in Cornell’s version, they aren’t) “Thank You” (something that probably happens after three solid decades of Plant comparisons) and a live mashup of Metallica’s “One” vs. U2’s “One,” which sounds like it has no right to work and then totally does.

Here’s how he makes his picks, via the Indy Star.

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Here, My Child, Let Me Help You Open That Complicated CD (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

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More complicated than it looks

On Parenting at the Washington Post — I just watched my beloved, treasured, magical, sharp and thoughtful 12-year-old struggle to open a CD case for a full 20 seconds. He stared at it, fidgeted with each edge and then fought with the wrong side. He pushed on the black spine, trying, I’m guessing, to activate some secret spring-release mechanism. He flipped it over, inspected it, scowled, then flipped it back over for further scowling.

When he caught me watching him, an unmanageable smirk playing on my face, he made his movements more furtive, exerting pressure on parts that did not move but trying to play it all off like, “Pfft whatever, I’m just absently fidgeting with this thing. I don’t even know why you’re looking at me.” When he caught me fumbling with my camera to try for a surreptitious video, he warned, “If you post this to Instagram, you’re going to need an insurance policy for your face.”

I’m not in the business of humiliating my children online in video form, so I’ll just use words.

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Luke Bryan Is About to Play to an Awful Lot of People in Indiana (via Indy Star)

636028018097583505-PR-shot-A-Jim-WrightIndy Star — If you’re a fan of beach-country megalith Luke Bryan, you are in the right state. This weekend, Bryan plays back-to-back nights at the Klipsch Music Center, the only act pulling a double-shot there this summer. In October, he’ll bring his eighth annual Farm Tour back to picturesque Spangler Farms near Fort Wayne. All told, in the next three months, Bryan will play to something like 65,000 people in Indiana, after having done basically the same thing last year. (If you’re counting, he also performed in Evansville in February.)

Of all the seat-fillers (and shakers) in country, Bryan is one of the most astonishingly reliable; he and Kenny Chesney could easily spend an evening comparing stadium-show statistics. But for all his success singing of the party life, there are hints of change: Bryan retired his series of annual beer-splashed Spring Break concerts and EPs last year, which was both cause for sadness among his Coppertone-and-bikini-topped fans and probably a solid idea, as — let’s be honest — he’s knocking on 40, married to his high-school sweetheart and raising three kids.

More from one of country’s most reliable draws at the Indy Star.

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Darius Rucker on NASCAR, ‘Purple Rain’ and How He Ended Up Playing Jesus in a Back Seat with Billy Ray Cyrus (via Indy Star)

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Indy Star — Darius Rucker’s Saturday night show should be a little less stressful than his last appearance in Indy, when he had to sing to 350,000 people and time his performance to fighter planes.

“I get a phone call from my manager and he says, ‘They want you to sing the anthem at the Indy 500,’ Rucker says, “I was like, ‘There are so many singers in the world — they want me to do it?”

There are, and he did, and it was an honor — just one that required timing the big finish to the roaring appearance of two F/A-18 Hornets and two E/A-18G Growlers. “You have to sing it at the right time, the planes might be late, the planes might be early,” Rucker laughs. “There’s a guy on the radio with the pilots telling me ‘Stretch it out, stretch it out.’ I was like, ‘Man I’m stretching as much as I can! What do you want me to do, scat in the middle?”

More at the Indy Star.

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