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Registration for the 2024 XOXO Festival is now open! I will be there, performing some sort of indie media circus act. (I do what the Andys tell me.)

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Today's music to work to: the solo piano version of Philip Glass's Tales from the Loop score.
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John Green on the tradeoffs of sharing your personal life with strangers. "The thing about selling something of yourself is that that you...
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David Marchese interviews Marlon Wayans about grief & comedy. "I miss my parents dearly, but I'm a different human with my parents gone...
1 comment      Latest:

Registration for the 2024 XOXO Festival is now open! I will be there, performing some sort of indie media circus act. (I do what the...
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Have You Seen A Cybertruck Yet? I saw one yesterday driving through the small town I live in and just burst out laughing. It is a...
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Ayo Edebiri Settles Your Petty Disputes
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Diary Comics, Dec. 26-28
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Contenting Ourselves With Stories
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The Earth's rotation rate is changing, in part due to global warming. Melting ice flows away from high latitudes: "a transfer of mass...
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The Evolution of Hokusai's Great Wave
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The benefits of cycling: increased longevity and less likely to have osteoarthritis and experience knee pain. "I was surprised to see how...
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La Maison du Pastel
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Three Pieces That Prove Bach’s Genius

In this video, pianist David Bennett explains three pieces composed by Johann Sebastian Bach that show how much of a musical genius he was. Two of the compositions are puzzle canons, “a piece of music where the performer has to decode what the composer wants in order to perform the music”.

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“Given the lack of decency they have shown, Genocide Inc. has decided it will not be making job offers to any of these protesters when they graduate.” Gotta have decency to weaponize the Torment Nexus.


The Earth’s rotation rate is changing, in part due to global warming. Melting ice flows away from high latitudes: “a transfer of mass away from the poles towards the equator, which slows down the Earth’s rotation rate”.

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John Green on the tradeoffs of sharing your personal life with strangers. “The thing about selling something of yourself is that that you can’t buy it back.” (I used to share much more of myself online; these days I’m more careful.)

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Contenting Ourselves With Stories

I just started a rewatch of Chernobyl and was struck by the opening lines of the first episode spoken by Jared Harris, who plays Soviet nuclear physicist Valery Legasov:

What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories? In these stories, it doesn’t matter who the heroes are. All we want to know is: Who is to blame?

Which reminds me of what historian and philosopher Hannah Arendt said in a 1974 interview:

The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie-a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days-but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.

And also what On Tyranny author Timothy Snyder wrote a few days after the January 6th attack on Congress:

Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true.

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Have You Seen A Cybertruck Yet? I saw one yesterday driving through the small town I live in and just burst out laughing. It is a ridiculous vehicle.

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David Marchese interviews Marlon Wayans about grief & comedy. “I miss my parents dearly, but I’m a different human with my parents gone than I was when they were here. Now I’m a man. I don’t have parents anymore, so I live differently.”

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Today’s music to work to: the solo piano version of Philip Glass’s Tales from the Loop score.

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Ayo Edebiri Settles Your Petty Disputes

Well this is delightful: Vanity Fair set up Ayo Edebiri with a selection of personal beefs and several gavels (and maybe there’s a meat tenderizer in there, I don’t know), she listened to both sides of each argument, and then passed judgment. Listen until at least the second case before you pass judgment on watching the whole thing (verdict: you should)…it involves someone stealing a french fry from a room service tray.

I don’t know how to tell you this…but your father has murdered people before. There are bodies in the ground. ‘I don’t know what she’s so upset about. It’s a victimless crime. Nobody’s gonna miss that fry. Nobody’s gonna miss THAT KID!’

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The benefits of cycling: increased longevity and less likely to have osteoarthritis and experience knee pain. “I was surprised to see how very strong the benefit was.”

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The Evolution of Hokusai’s Great Wave

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai is one of the world’s most iconic pieces of art. Hokusai created the woodblock print in 1831 at the age of 71 as part of his series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. But in some sense, he’d been working on it all of his life.

In 1797, at the age of 37, Hokusai made what could be interpreted as his first wave print, Spring at Enoshima (Enoshima shunbô):

a woodblock print of a wave by Hokusai

Hokusai made his next attempt in 1803 (age 43) with View of Honmoku off Kanagawa (Kanagawa-oki Honmoku no zu):

a woodblock print of a wave by Hokusai

Two years later in 1805 (age 45) came Express Delivery Boats Rowing through Waves (Oshiokuri hatô tsûsen no zu) and it’s starting to look familiar:

a woodblock print of a wave by Hokusai

A few waves show up in Hokusai’s three-volume Quick Lessons in Simplified Drawing (1812).

In 1831 at the age of 71, Hokusai returned to waves with The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa-oki Nami Ura):

a woodblock print of a wave by Hokusai

As others have noted, this version is fantastically impressionistic — it evokes a feeling just as much as it depicts a scene. The others are nice works of art, but this is the work of a master at the peak of his expressive powers.1

But that wasn’t the end of the story. Here’s Fuji at Sea (Kaijo no Fuji) from circa 1834, made at age 74 — it looks great in color:

a woodblock print of a wave by Hokusai

Right around the same period, Hokusai made Kajikazawa in Kai Province (Kōshū Kajikazawa) and Fishing Boats at Choshi in Shimosa (Soshu Choshi). Later on, Hokusai allegedly made a pair of paintings referred to as Feminine Wave and Masculine Wave, but I can’t find any information about them online outside of sites selling prints. [Edit: the Feminine & Masculine Waves are featured in Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave, based on an exhibition in the British Museum. (thx, jody)]

What did Hokusai make of this progression over his career? In a colophon to his series One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku hyakkei), he wrote:

From the age of six I had a penchant for copying the form of things, and from about fifty, my pictures were frequently published; but until the age of seventy, nothing that I drew was worthy of notice. At seventy-three years, I was somewhat able to fathom the growth of plants and trees, and the structure of birds, animals, insects, and fish. Thus, when I reach eighty years, I hope to have made increasing progress, and at ninety to see further into the underlying principles of things, so that at one hundred years I will have achieved a divine state in my art, and at one hundred and ten, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive. Those of you who live long enough, bear witness that these words of mine prove not false.

Note: Screenshots of a viral tweet from 2018 about this series of prints are going around again. I’m sure it will shock you to learn that some of the math and dates haven’t been fact-checked as well as they could have been. I’ve documented the names of the artworks shown here and relied on primary sources for their dates where possible. I’ve used 1760 as the year of Hokusai’s birth and the dates of works are when they were made, not when they were first published. Please let me know if I’ve made any errors…I’d love for this post to be as correct as possible.

  1. See also an old post (in the old design!) about Old Masters and Young Geniuses.
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La Maison du Pastel

From Business Insider’s series Still Standing, a look at La Maison du Pastel, a 300-year-old French company that makes pastels for artists by hand. Back in its golden age, the company supplied the likes of Monet & Degas but fell into neglect near the end of the 20th century. The newest generation of ownership has restored the company and they now offer over 1,900 different pastel colors.

Seriously, take a look at their online shop…there’s all sorts of amazing stuff in there. Like this antique watercolors set — get a load of these color names: Violet Lake, Burnt Lake, Carmine, Venice Red, Vermilion, Orange Chrome, Gamboge, Zinc White, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, Van Dyck Brown, Lamp Black, Payne’s Gray, Indigo, Celestial Blue, Blue Ash, Prussian. You can even order a full set of their pastels for only €29,450.00 (the set comes with a custom-made chest of drawers).

I am not at all an artist but these colors all look so amazing that I’m eyeing one of the smaller sets for myself… (thx, caroline)

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Can shame help us become better people? “In Confucianism, shame is a crucial tool that leads you toward your best self, and you have more power over it than you know.”

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Queendom

Queendom is a documentary film by Agniia Galdanova about queer Russian activist and performance artist Jenna Marvin and her unusual form of protest against the war in Ukraine and Russia’s treatment of LGBTQ+ people. From a short review in the Guardian:

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, some brave souls took to the streets of Moscow to voice their horror at the war, and were met with batons and police brutality. Radical queer performance artist Gena Marvin took a different approach. Wearing platform boots, body paint and wrapped in barbed wire, she walked the streets of Moscow in a stark, silent statement against the war. To call Gena a drag artist fails to capture just how subversive and courageous are her public “performances”. Her otherworldly costumes, created from junk and tape, show the influence of Leigh Bowery; her fearlessness evokes the punk provocation of Pussy Riot.

Marvin’s performances can be intense — check out this video from Paris in 2022. France had just advanced into the semifinals of the World Cup and she went out on the streets dressed in an all-black costume straight out of Alien or Pan’s Labyrinth:

Queendom opens in theaters and will available on streaming on June 14.

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Ahead of the Paris Olympics, France has released a scratch-and Sniff baguette stamps. “The baguette, the bread of our daily lives, the symbol of our gastronomy, the jewel of our culture.”

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Interesting hypothesis: the aesthetic of Incan stone work was inspired by corn. “The layout of Machu Picchu mirrors the shape of a corn cob, with its terraces resembling the kernels of corn.”

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Future 2024 Bestsellers

book covers for Long Island Compromise, Frostbite, and Hip-Hop Is History

Kirkus’s list of 20 Books That Should Be Bestsellers reminds me that Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s new book, Long Island Compromise, is due out this summer, so yay to that. Yay also to pal Nicola Twilley for making the list with her book Frostbite. And there’s a new-to-me title on there that I’m intrigued by: Hip-Hop Is History by Questlove (with Ben Greenman).

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A recent study estimates that a human pregnancy demands 50,000 calories, “significantly more than the researchers expected.” The fetus only needs 4% of the energy — “the other 96% is extra fuel required by a woman’s own body.”

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How to get Google search results without the AI garbage. “It’s essentially Google, minus the crap. No parsing of the information in the results. No surfacing metadata like address or link info. No knowledge panels, but also, no ads.”

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The History of Tetris World Records

I know a lot of you probably aren’t going to take me up on this, but I recommend watching Summoning Salt’s feature-length documentary on the history of Tetris world records. I started watching in the other night and once I got going, I couldn’t stop. Some of plot points were familiar — Why Are Humans Suddenly Getting Better at Tetris?, A Revolutionary NES Tetris Technique Gaining Steam, The Greatest Classic Tetris Game of All Time, 13-Year-Old Becomes First to Beat NES Tetris, Another Tetris World Record Completely Demolished! What Is Going On?! — but seeing it all put together in one engaging & informative narrative was really compelling.

Watching these videos about Tetris (and also Super Mario Bros), what strikes me most is how clearly you can see, over and over again, how innovation works:

This is a great illustration of innovation in action. There’s a clearly new invention, based on prior effort (standing on the shoulders of giants), that allows for greater capabilities and, though it’s still too early to tell in this case, seems likely to shift power to people who utilize it. And it all takes place inside a small and contained world where we can easily observe the effects.

And it’s a credit to Summoning Salt and other video producers that this process is so clear to the viewer:

In the video analysis of this speedrun, if you forget the video game part of it and all the negative connotations you might have about that, you get to see the collective effort of thousands of people over more than three decades who have studied a thing right down to the bare metal so that one person, standing on the shoulders of giants in a near-perfect performance, can do something no one has ever done before. Progress and understanding by groups of people happens exactly like this in manufacturing, art, science, engineering, design, social science, literature, and every other collective human endeavor…it’s what humans do. But since playing sports and video games is such a universal experience and you get to see it all happening right on the screen in front of you, it’s perhaps easier to grok SMB speedrun innovations more quickly than, say, how assembly line manufacturing has improved since 2000, recent innovations in art, how we got from the flip phone to iPhone X in only 10 years, or how CRISPR happened.

I was talking to my son about this video yesterday and of course he’d already seen it — “I love Summoning Salt’s videos” — and I loved his take on the way in which the NES version of Tetris was unwittingly challenging these players beyond what the game’s makers had ever envisioned. Where the designers may have just kept increasing the speed of the game as the levels got higher (boring!), the game glitches and throws all these interesting challenges at players: tile colors you can barely see, game-ending kill screens that you can pick your way around, a level with 810 lines, and the game resetting after hundreds of levels. So instead of players just having to get faster (which they have definitely done), they’ve had to navigate all of these other obstacles as well. (thx, nathan)

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“A [2022] report adds to a growing line of research showing that police departments don’t solve serious or violent crimes with any regularity, and in fact, spend very little time on crime control.” Instead: “conducting racially biased stops”.

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Here’s something that I believe without any evidence to back it up: chocolate chip cookies taste better without chocolate chips in them. (I do prefer CCCs with sparse chips though.)

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Whoa, classic console emulators work on Apple TV now? (In other words, you can play old school NES/SNES/N64 games on your Apple TV.) You can even connect a controller.

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Danny MacAskill Goes Mountain Biking With Friends in Scotland

Danny MacAskill is known ‘round these parts for his jaw-dropping trials riding (I first posted about him 15 years ago) but this ride is a little bit different. MacAskill and four friends take to the local mountain bike trails around Inverness, Scotland on ebikes and have a grand old time. For me, listening to the banter was just as entertaining as watching the riding — it’s obvious they’re just out there having a blast.

P.S. I was also trying to calculate how fast I would die if I tried riding some of that stuff and the answer is “almost immediately”. Yiiiikes.

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This week in crossword history (1924): Cross-Word Puzzlers to Hold [10-Letter Word Meaning Meet]. “Enthusiastic followers of tiddley-winks, jackstraws, parchesi […] have not yet announced the dates of their respective conventions.”

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In case anyone else is on a bedside lamp acquisition journey, I got some ideas out of this Strategist post, as well as from this Architectural Digest roundup.

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One Strange Side Effect of Parenting

The other day while singing to my daughter, I realized that I can, in fact, sing better than I used to. I think the sheer amount of “Wheels on the Bus” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” did the trick: I enjoy it more now and feel like I’m hitting more of the right notes. I’m still not “good,” but I’m not bad, and I’m less embarrassed to be caught singing in front of other people. It reminds me of the Terry Gross detail that she took voice lessons not to become a better singer but simply so she could sing along more pleasurably to music she loved.

Has anyone else been singing anything fun lately? For their kids, or in any other situation? I’ve been singing a lot of Carrie Anne, by The Hollies.

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Addicted to Exercise?

legsrunning2.jpg
If you don’t like exercise or are getting sick of your workout routine, a few recent essays will keep you in good company. Last fall, Aja Frost wrote I Was (Am?) Addicted to Exercise for the newsletter Platonic Love:

I never deviated from or relaxed my exercise routine; it was sacred. As long as I exercised, my body wouldn’t slip back into its old state. I’d be safe.

And last week, Rod Gilchrist wrote I Was a Running Addict for The Guardian:

The trouble is, once you’ve got the running bug, it’s hard to scale back, even when your body demands it.

And a few days after that, The Guardian also ran I Thought Fitness Was My Superpower. Then I Realized It Was a Ball and Chain, by Sam Pyrah:

I tried to push through it – until, suddenly, neither my body nor my brain could find a reason to carry on. I slowed to a walk. I stopped my watch. I sat down and had a little cry, the sweat drying on my back. Then I walked home.

The essays remind me of a concept called Positive Addiction (and a 1985 book of the same name) — the idea that it’s possible to be truly addicted to things that are good for you. I’m an almost-daily runner, and I do understand how it could be described as addiction, although for now I just love it. Maybe a key is that I don’t run especially long distances. And it’s a relatively new habit. But I guess there’s (hopefully) still plenty of time for it to sour.

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The 40-hour workweek isn’t “a biological necessity,” per a recent episode of History Unplugged. “In fact, for much of human history, 15 hours … was the standard.” I haven’t listened yet, but 15 hours sounds pleasant.

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Diary Comics, Dec. 26-28

It’s another Thursday Afternoon With Edith! In these comics from last winter, our baby was just born. (Previously.)

dec26intro.jpg
dec26.jpg
dec27.jpg
dec28.jpg

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Cicadas and Prime Numbers

You may have heard that this year, for the first time since 1803, two different broods of cicadas will emerge at the same time.

This year, though, will be a rare event. Two groups, or “broods,” are waking up during the same season. There will likely be billions, if not trillions, of the insects.

There’s the 17-year-group called Brood XIII, which is concentrated in northern Illinois (brown on the map below), and the 13-year clutch, Brood XIX, which will emerge in southern Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and throughout the Southeast.

You may have noticed the lengths of both periodicities (13, 17) are prime numbers — and that does not appear to be a coincidence. Scientists haven’t nailed down an exact cause, but one hypothesis has to do with predator cycles:

According to the paleontologist Stephen J. Gould, in his essay “Of Bamboo, Cicadas, and the Economy of Adam Smith,” these kind of boom-and-bust population cycles can be devastating to creatures with a long development phase. Since most predators have a two-to-ten-year population cycle, the twelve-year cicadas would be a feast for any predator with a two-, three-, four-, or six-year cycle. By this reasoning, any cicada with a development span that is easily divisible by the smaller numbers of a predator’s population cycle is vulnerable.

Prime numbers, however, can only be divided by themselves and one; they cannot be evenly divided into smaller integers. Cicadas that emerge at prime-numbered year intervals, like the seventeen-year Brood II set to swarm the East Coast, would find themselves relatively immune to predator population cycles, since it is mathematically unlikely for a short-cycled predator to exist on the same cycle. In Gould’s example, a cicada that emerges every seventeen years and has a predator with a five-year life cycle will only face a peak predator population once every eighty-five (5 x 17) years, giving it an enormous advantage over less well-adapted cicadas.

See also Long-lived insects raise prime riddle.

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The movies that influenced Star Wars, from Flash Gordon & Buck Rogers to The Hidden Fortress by Akira Kurosawa to The Searchers & Metropolis.

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Trailer for Season Two of The Rings of Power

I am apparently one of the few people who really liked the first season of the Lord of the Rings prequel series, The Rings of Power. I mean, it had its rough spots and maybe there was a little too much table-setting, but in general it left me wanting to see what was going to happen next. The trailer for season two just dropped and it looks pretty action-packed and stocked with characters & events that would be familiar to those who have read the main book series. Here’s the synopsis:

Sauron has returned. Cast out by Galadriel, without army or ally, the rising Dark Lord must now rely on his own cunning to rebuild his strength and oversee the creation of the Rings of Power, which will allow him to bind all the peoples of Middle-earth to his sinister will. Building on Season One’s epic scope and ambition, the new season plunges even its most beloved and vulnerable characters into a rising tide of darkness, challenging each to find their place in a world that is increasingly on the brink of calamity. Elves and dwarves, orcs and men, wizards and Harfoots… as friendships are strained and kingdoms begin to fracture, the forces of good will struggle ever more valiantly to hold on to what matters to them most of all… each other.

And they also released a behind-the-scenes look at the production of season two:

The second season of The Rings of Power premieres on August 29 on Amazon Prime.

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I Was Shot in Vermont. What if It Had Been in the West Bank? “Why did reporters…interview our mothers and take our portraits when young men my age have been shot at by snipers, detained indefinitely without trial and treated as a statistic?”


Scope of Work is holding a contest around the idea of “umarelling”, the act of pausing to observe construction work in progress.

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Pulitzer Prize in Fiction juror Michael Chabon recommended three non-winning books that he “deeply dug”: The Ice Harp (Norman Lock), After World (Debbie Urbanski), and Dearborn (Ghassan Zeinnedine).

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On Sports Parenting

I am a sports parent but have never been the type that lived through the achievements of their kids, but even so, there are parts of Rich Cohen’s The Sad Fate of the Sports Parent I identified with.

The end began like this: One evening, after the last game of the high-school season, I asked my son if he’d be trying out for spring league. For a youth-hockey kid, playing spring league is the equivalent of a minor-league pitcher playing winter ball in Mexico — so necessary as a statement of intent and means of improvement that forgoing it is like giving up “the path.” Rather than a simple affirmative nod, as I’d expected, I got these words: “I’m going to think about it.” Think about it? For me, this was the same as a girlfriend saying, “We need to talk.”

Only later did I realize that those words were the first move in a careful choreography. My son wanted to quit, but in a way that would not break my heart. He also didn’t want me to rant and rave and try to talk him out of it.

We had reversed roles. He was the adult. I was the child.

I find the life-long child/parent role-reversal dynamic endlessly fascinating. And also this bit:

He had no inherent genius for the game, but he loved it, and that love, which was his talent, and the corresponding desire to spend every free moment at the facility — the life of a rink rat — jumping onto the ice whenever an extra player was needed, shooting tape balls in the lobby, made him an asset. A kid can have all the skills, speed, size, and shot, but if he doesn’t want to be there, if he doesn’t love the game, it’s not going to work.

It was passion that got him onto the top teams (this was tier-two and tier-three hockey in Fairfield County, Connecticut) and thus sowed the seed that eventually became, for me, a bitter plant. His love for the game elevated him to the hypercompetitive, goal-fixated ranks, where it’s always about the next tryout and the next season, who will make it and, more important, who will be left behind. Irony: His love for the game had carried him to a level where no love is possible.

Both of my kids are skiers competing on a national level and they are definitely struggling with this — how do you balance the genuine love of a sport and competition with the fixation on goals & judging? When is it no longer worth it?

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Tracing the history of emoji, surprisingly, back to the 80s. “Once you accept that emoji existed in the 1980s, more things come to light.”

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Delia Brown’s Portraits

deliabrownjustineii.jpg

Thanks to the Instagram account New American Paintings, I recently came across the work of Los Angeles-based artist Delia Brown, including the above portrait, “Jai Maa! (Justine II),” which I love. A feature on Brown in Independent Art Fair magazine also includes an awesome painting of hers from 2000 called “What, Are You Jealous?” (probably NSFW).

Someday — someday! — I want to turn down an invitation to something because “I can’t, I’m sitting for my portrait at that time.”

Elsewhere in portraits: King Charles’s, by Jonathan Yeo. “In his interview with the BBC,” the NYT’s Vanessa Friedman writes, “Mr. Yeo noted that when the king first saw the painting, he was ‘initially mildly surprised by the strong color,’ which may be an understatement.”

Many more of Brown’s paintings can be found on her website and Instagram.

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Paul Ford writing about AI is a treat. “AI is, very simply, a totally shameless technology. It does everything badly and confidently. And I want to be it.”

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“My love of farm-fresh frozen confections does not outweigh my distaste for food poisoning — or bird flu.” Interesting look at the interstate raw milk trade.

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The Trailer for Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis

Francis Ford Coppola has been making Megalopolis since 1983 and has self funded it “in part by the sale of a significant portion of the director’s wine empire”. But the trailer is finally here and it premieres at Cannes in two days’ time. Here’s a synopsis shared by Coppola himself:

A man balances precariously on a ledge high above a once-grand city in the opening scene of Francis Ford Coppola’s MEGALOPOLIS, and the movie that follows is — at least in part — about an entire civilization teetering on a similarly precarious ledge, devouring itself in a whirl of unchecked greed, self-absorption, and political propaganda, while a few bold dreamers push against the tide, striving to usher in a new dawn. The man is called Caesar (Adam Driver), like the Roman general who gave rise to the Roman Empire, Cesar the labor leader who organized California’s farm workers in the 1960s, and a few other notably great men of history. But he is also clearly an avatar of Coppola himself — a grand visionary witnessing a once-great thing (call it cinema if you must) withering before his very eyes and determined to revivify it. And, after decades of planning, MEGALOPOLIS the movie is the powerful elixir he has produced: a sweeping, big-canvas movie of provocative ideas and relentless cinematic invention that belies its maker’s 84 years of age.

Coppola seems to have been born-again by a strike of filmic lightning, and the movie — no, the experience (complete with in-theater “live cinema”) — that has emerged feels at once the work of a film-school wunderkind unbowed by notions of convention, but also the work of a wizened master who knows much about life and the ways of the world. To paraphrase Coppola himself speaking decades ago about his APOCALYPSE NOW, MEGALOPOLIS isn’t a movie about the end of the world as we know it, it is the end of the world as we know it. Only, where APOCALYPSE left us in a napalm-bombed fever-dream haze, MEGALOPOLIS, surprisingly and movingly, bestows on us a final image glowing with hope for the future.

You should also watch this clip of the film shared by Coppola, which reveals another aspect of the story:

This is either going to be amazing or a beautiful disaster, but either way I’m excited to see it…if they can find someone to distribute the film.

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TIL that some tiny bits of bitcoins are more valuable than others. “Those produced in the year bitcoin was created are considered vintage, like a fine wine. Other coveted sats were part of transactions made by bitcoin’s inventor.”

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Whoa, a 5500-piece Lego set of the tower of Barad-dûr from LoTR. According to The Verge, the eye lights up, there’s a Shelob inside, and you can stack multiple sets to make your tower taller.

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Google is replacing their search results with AI answers. There’s a very simple explanation for this: it’s better/cheaper to provide potentially wrong answers to keep you clicking within Google than it is to send you away for the right answers.

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Hot Frank Summer Starts Now!

cover of Frankenstein

Hey folks. I’ve posted a couple of times about Hot Frank Summer, the group read of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1831 edition) that some folks are doing on Bluesky. Well, it kicks off today. To participate, all you need to do is follow the reading schedule. If you don’t have a copy of the book yet, check out this free ebook version by Standard Ebooks — they even have a web version you can read on your phone or tablet (or Vision Pro, I guess?).

If you’d also like to discuss the book (and/or follow along with others discussing the book), there’s this feed on Bluesky. I found this little tidbit on the feed:

Frankenstein takes place in the mid-1790s and Moby Dick may take place as early as 1830, so it’s possible Captain Walton sailed with a young Ahab.

Someone needs to write that little crossover prequel.

Anyway, you can also use this comment thread as a place to discuss the book. I’m not sure how well it will work, but we can give it a try? I’d suggest not discussing anything ahead of the day’s reading, but other than that, let ‘er rip!

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Love this phrase: decanting groceries. “Do you really want to spend your one wild and precious life putting marshmallows in jars?”

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Hey, if you’re looking for a well-designed (and free!) ebook of Frankenstein for Hot Frank Summer (starting tomorrow!), check out this Standard Ebooks edition.

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Out Sick Today

sign that says 'it's been 0 days since I've taken a sick day'

Hey folks. I’ve been battling a wicked sore throat since Saturday; it keeps knocking me down and I keep getting back up but this morning it hissed STAY DOWN and I’m just going to listen to it. Hopefully I will be back with you tomorrow, but for now, I’m going to find some soup, read my book, watch the Spurs/Man City match, and not ride my bike, which is the thing I most want to do today. *sigh*

See you tomorrow, I hope!

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