November 14, 2011
[books] Is Reading On The Toilet Bad For You?
… ‘No writer owned the arena of toilet reading more than Henry Miller. He read truly great books on the lavatory, and maintained that some, Ulysses for instance, could not be fully appreciated elsewhere. The environment was one that enriched substantial works – extracted their flavour, as he put it – while lesser books and magazines suffered. He singled out Atlantic Monthly. Miller went so far as to recommend toilets for individual authors. To enjoy Rabelais, he advised a plain country toilet, “a little outhouse in the corn patch, with a crescent sliver of light coming through the door”. Better still, he said, take a friend along, to sit with you for half an hour of minor bliss.’
November 7, 2011
[life] Why Fingernails on Blackboards Sound So Horrible
… ‘Much time has been spent, over the past century, on working out exactly what it is about the sound of fingernails on a blackboard that’s so unpleasant. A new study pins the blame on psychology and the design of our ear canals…’
October 31, 2011
[life] Baby Sharks Birthed in Artificial Uterus
… ‘After mating, a female produces as many as 40 fertilized embryos, separated between two separate wombs. The embryos take nearly a year to fully develop, but they begin hunting long before that. After about two months, their own yolk sacs go dry. Hungry, they start eating their brothers and sisters. After the rampant in utero cannibalization, only one shark — the biggest and strongest — is left in each womb.’
October 24, 2011
[people] Stephen Levy on finding Einstein’s lost brain
I came to the conclusion that the brain, in sectioned form, was still in the possession of the pathologist who removed it from the Einstein head, Dr. Thomas Harvey. I tracked him down in Wichita, Kansas. At first he didn’t want to tell me anything, but after a while he finally admitted that he had the brain. After a longer while, he sheepishly told me it was IN THE VERY OFFICE WE WERE SITTING IN. He walked to a box labeled “Costa Cider” and pulled out two big Mason jars. In those were the remains of the brain that changed the world.
October 4, 2011
[books] Maurice Sendak: ‘I refuse to lie to children’
… great interview with the children’s author …
And with that he’s off again. Of Salman Rushdie, who once gave him a terrible review in the New York Times, he says: “That flaccid fuckhead. He was detestable. I called up the Ayatollah, nobody knows that.” Roald Dahl: “The cruelty in his books is off-putting. Scary guy. I know he’s very popular but what’s nice about this guy? He’s dead, that’s what’s nice about him.” Stephen King: “Bullshit.” Gwyneth Paltrow: “I can’t stand her.”
October 3, 2011
[politics] A List Of Things Confiscated From People Entering The British Parliament
… ‘Spike Wristbands / Weed Killer / Secateurs / Science Putty / Peircing Kit / Plastic Thumbs.’
[via Tom Morris
September 13, 2011
[life] A Deathbed Story I Would Never Tell
… a story about a stopped clock and Richard Feynman’s Wife …
I’m thinking about the great American physicist, Richard Feynman, sitting in New Mexico, at the bed of his dying wife. He’d been called, and told that she had only hours to live; he’d hitchhiked from Los Alamos, where he was working on the top secret atomic bomb project. It was 1945.
He walks to her bedside, kisses her; she is breathing shallow breaths. We are still at war and six weeks later, America will explode its first atomic bomb. He stands there, sits there, watches her, kisses her, and very quietly, the Hodgkin’s disease that had attacked her young body takes her. She was in her 20s, he was 27. They’d been married only two years. The nurse records the time of death: 9:21 p.m. He is empty with loss. What few things she had, he packs up; he arranges for a cremation, walks back into her room and sees that the clock had strangely stopped ticking. The hands are frozen at 9:21, the very moment of her death.
I know how this story would feel to me. It would be as though the universe had somehow noticed what had happened, that some invisible hand slipped into my world and pointed, as if to say, “We know. This is part of the plan.”
So many of us, I think, would have this sense. Lawrence Krauss, in his new biography of Feynman, Quantum Man, says, “We seem to be hard-wired to find that what happens to each of us naturally appears to take on a special significance and meaning, even if it’s an accident.” But Feynman, he says, was unable to think that way. He couldn’t and he wouldn’t.
What he did was, he remembered that the clock had been fragile. He had been asked to fuss with it; he’d fixed it several times. In his memoirs (that is, in his version of this story), he says the nurse must have picked up the clock to determine the time of death, unsettled the workings inside, and the clock stopped. No miracle. Just an ordinary, accidental jostle. Here he is, describing a moment of enormous significance, and he won’t allow a Signifier.
September 12, 2011
[life] Modern Love – When an Ex Blogs, Is it O.K. to Watch?
… a NYT writer on blog stalking … ‘I knew all the daily ups and downs of someone I had not laid eyes on in two decades. And let’s face it, at this point that kind of intimacy usually comes only with someone you live with, someone you have to listen to, someone with whom you have no choice. But I had a choice. I pictured myself as ex’s shrink, the old-fashioned kind who doesn’t say much as you lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling. The undercurrent of despair in his posts was real. Was he asking for help?’
September 6, 2011
[life] Hugging: fear the feel and do it anyway
… a Guardian writer visits a Cuddle Workshop … I’ve never been a hugger. As far as I’m concerned, the words “hello” and “goodbye” are perfectly valid ways to tell people that you’ve a) arrived and b) decided to leave. Smooshing your bodies together on top of that seems like overkill. The process is fraught with unanswered questions. What if I go in for a hug but the recipient expects only a peck on the cheek? What if I miscalculate my approach and end up burying my face in their neck? What if it’s a warm day? Should I draw attention to my sweaty back?
September 5, 2011
[books] The Book Collection That Devoured My Life
… ‘I do have a few hundred books that I reread or consult fairly regularly, and I have a lot of books pertaining to whatever current or future projects I have on the fire, and I have many, many books speculatively pointing toward some project that is still barely a gleam in my eye. I have a lot of books that I need for reference, especially now that I live 40 minutes away from the nearest really solid library. I have some books that exist in the same capacity as the more recondite tools in the chest of a good carpenter — you may not need it more than once in 20 years, but it’s awfully nice to have it there when you do. Primarily, though, books function as a kind of external hard drive for my mind — my brain isn’t big enough to do all the things it wants or needs to do without help.’
August 18, 2011
… Epicurus’ four-part cure for leading a happy life …
“The fundamental obstacle to happiness, says Epicurus, is anxiety,” writes D. S. Hutchinson.
August 16, 2011
[life] The Digital Storage of Analog Memories
… how to let go of keepsakes and tchotchkes … ‘Do you have a bunch of physical items stuck in storage? Objects you’ve kept over time that you can’t get rid of because you have a set of memories attached to them? Objects are keystones of memory, but pictures of those objects are still adequate keystones…’
August 15, 2011
[funny] Ineffective Pick-Up Lines for the Modern Internet Persona
… ‘My Klout score is an 83, which makes me a Thought Leader. There’s a lot of pressure to stay relevant and forward thinking, when you’re that influential. A few sub-par tweets and I could be downgraded to Specialist. I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with being a Specialist… you’re not a Specialist, are you?’
July 21, 2011
[life] How long does it take for most of the atoms in your body to be replaced by others?
… ‘In about a year every atom in your body would have been exchanged. Not a single atom in your body is permanent and there is a 100% chance that 1000s of other humans through history held some of the same atoms that you currently hold in your body.’
[via Robot Wisdom
July 7, 2011
[life] A Field Guide To Bullshit
… Intellectual black holes are belief systems that draw people in and hold them captive so they become willing slaves of claptrap. Belief in homeopathy, psychic powers, alien abductions – these are examples of intellectual black holes. As you approach them, you need to be on your guard because if you get sucked in, it can be extremely difficult to think your way clear again.
July 5, 2011
[life] Notes For A Young Gentleman
… ‘A gentleman should never be seen to handle money, except in a brothel or a casino.’
May 27, 2011
… A collection of captured moments from Google Streetview.
May 17, 2011
[tech] The Art of Endless Upgrades
… Kevin Kelly on an issue I’ve noticed too – I spend far to much time maintaining a few simple websites … ‘Keeping a website or a software program afloat is like keep a yacht afloat. It is a black hole for attention. I can kind of understand why a mechanical device would break down after a while — moisture rusts metal, or the air oxidizes membranes, or lubricants evaporate — all of which require repair. But I wasn’t thinking that the intangible world of bits would also degrade. What’s to break? Apparently everything.’
May 14, 2011
[books] Balancing The Books
… Ed Stourton’s Book Storage Crisis … ‘Our dilemma is a middle-aged one but I suspect, on the basis of conversations with like-minded friends, a common one. Our books are taking over our house and, it sometimes seems, our lives…’
[via Feeling Listless
May 8, 2011
[nyc] The Terminal: The Roughest Bar In New York City
… a brief and fascinating look with video … ‘I used to poke my head into the Terminal back in the late 70s. Its notoriety drew artists and punks and the curious. But, it wasn’t welcoming to slumming hipsters or bush league Bukowskis. It was an enclosed society with it’s own brutal code, not easily cracked by the voyeuristic aesthete.’
May 4, 2011
[life] Suburban woman is sued after elaborate online hoax
… ‘Every decade or so I get a taste to pose as a man (and up to 20 other people simultaneously) and reel me in some juicy middle-aged woman flesh…’
April 25, 2011
[life] Born Digital
… some anecdotes from Kevin Kelly on what it means to be born in a digital world …
Another acquaintance told me this story. He has a son about 8 years old. They were talking about the old days, and the fact that when my friend was growing up they did not have computers. This fact was perplexing news to his son. His son asks, “But how did you get onto the internet before computers?”
April 11, 2011
[quote] “When people do not respect us we are sharply offended; yet in his private heart no man much respects himself.”
— Mark Twain. (from 7 Life Changing Lessons You Can Learn from Mark Twain
March 14, 2011
[life] Average Brit Has Three Mysterious Keys
… ‘British people carry an average of nine keys around with them, but can identify only six of those, with no idea what the other three came from, or what they unlock…’
February 15, 2011
[internet] Cyberspace When You’re Dead
… ever wondered what happens to the stuff you uploaded to the internet after you die? …
Lustig pointed me to a recent corporate study that identified “chief memory officer” as a kind of unofficial role taken on by someone (often mom) in many families — the person who is paying attention to the idea that there may be no physical scrapbook or set of journals to hand down to future generations and that bits-and-bytes memory objects need to be preserved somehow.
February 10, 2011
Is Facebook Making Us Sad?
… ‘Facebook is, after all, characterized by the very public curation of one’s assets in the form of friends, photos, biographical data, accomplishments, pithy observations, even the books we say we like. Look, we have baked beautiful cookies. We are playing with a new puppy. We are smiling in pictures (or, if we are moody, we are artfully moody.) Blandness will not do, and with some exceptions, sad stuff doesn’t make the cut, either. The site’s very design—the presence of a “Like” button, without a corresponding “Hate” button—reinforces a kind of upbeat spin doctoring.’
January 28, 2011
[life] Do Nothing For 2 Minutes
… ‘Relax and listen to the waves.’
January 25, 2011
[internet] Five Emotions Invented By The Internet
… ‘The state of being ‘installed’ at a computer or laptop for an extended period of time without purpose, characterized by a blurry, formless anxiety undercut with something hard like desperation.’
January 19, 2011
[life] Wikipedia’s List Of Common Misconceptions
… ‘The notion that goldfish have a memory of only three seconds is false.’
January 18, 2011
[Facebook] Mary’s Welcome to Facebook
… ‘Kellen, why did you sign me up for this?’
January 10, 2011
[media] The Death of One Middle Class Woman is Equal to that of Six Prostitutes, Reveals UK Media
The recent tragedy where two hot air balloonists were killed was quite rightly headline news.” revealed one British reporter.
“But if it had been two prostitutes flying that balloon it wouldn’t have got anywhere near the same coverage, though it might have made page 5 of The Sun, with a headline something like Slag, Bang, Wallop!”
“It would take about twelve prostitutes to die in a balloon crash to make headline news. I’m not sure why twelve prostitutes would be flying a balloon, but I guess if you had enough money and a fetish for that sort of thing then anything is possible.
December 19, 2010
[funny] Study: Women Always Answer Their Phones Unless They’re Having Great Sex With Someone Else
… ‘The study emphasized that while women who failed to answer the phone were almost unquestionably with someone else enjoying the most volcanic sensual escapade they’d ever had, there was also the possibility that they were busy gazing deeply into another man’s eyes, knowing and feeling a type of love they had never known or felt before.’
December 15, 2010
[everest] Abandoned on Everest
… powerful blogpost on the numerous dead bodies of climbers left on Everest (contains disturbing images) … ‘An area along the northeast route to the summit has earned the unassuming nickname of “Rainbow Valley”, simply because of the multicolored down jackets of the numerous corpses littering the hillside. Even in the harsh conditions of lethal altitudes, corpses can remain for decades, some appearing frozen in time with climbing gear intact.’
November 22, 2010
[comics] Superhero or supervillain: Which lurks inside you?
… ‘Plato suggested that no one could escape the corrupting influence of having the power to do anything without being caught – a sort of earlier version of “Lord of the Rings,” Galinsky said. “Power makes people feel psychologically invisible,” Galinsky told LiveScience. “It’s ironic, because in many ways they become more visible to other people.” Galinsky and other researchers have shown how people who feel entitled to their power became moral hypocrites by holding other people to higher moral standards for speeding or breaking tax laws – even as they judged themselves less harshly for the same actions.’
[comics] What ‘Batman’ Taught Me About Being a Good Dad
… ‘I am trying to build a good human being here, someone who will make the world better for his presence. Because I don’t know any other way to do it, that means I’m building a little geek. So he can’t know, yet, that death doesn’t really mean anything in comics. I want him to think that these stories have weight, that they mean something; they are our myths. I give my son comics and cartoons and episodes of Thunderbirds because I want him to understand right and wrong, and why it’s important to fight the dark side of the Force. The mantras spoken in this corner of pop culture are immature, but they have power: With great power comes great responsibility. Truth, justice, and the American Way. The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. No evil shall escape my sight.’
October 1, 2010
[cctv] Go Look: CCTV From A Cruise Liner During A Heavy Storm
… ‘On August 1, the Pacific Sun ran into a heavy storm 400 miles north of New Zealand, hitting 25-foot-tall waves and 50-knot winds. Its 1732 passengers weren’t prepared to endure the madness that ensued. Absolutely crazy. The video seems like a slapstick comedy until you see people smacking against columns and walls…’ [click for video]
September 8, 2010
[space] Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot
… ‘Consider again that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.’
September 1, 2010
[funny] Go Look: 10 Photos Capturing Moments of Spontaneous Badassery [Page 1
| Page 2
] … ‘He’s practically a goddamn action figure up there: He comes complete with Uzi (mid-cock), Italian wingtips and a mustache made out of revenge.’ [click for the photo]
[lifehacks] What Should I Do to My Work Laptop Before I Leave My Job?
… ‘How can I get my laptop sparkling clean so I can preserve my privacy and avoid runing afoul of IT or any corporate policies?’
August 26, 2010
[life] Placebo Buttons
… ‘In many offices and cubicle farms, the thermostat on the wall isn’t connected to anything. Landlords, engineers and HVAC specialists have installed dummy thermostats for decades to keep people from costing companies money by constantly adjusting the temperature. ‘
[via As Above