Scott Berkun on the choice of hating v. loving.
I’m not saying not to express hate. I’m still a hateful bastard now and then. It’s therapeutic, it’s fun and can be a way to bond with someone for the first time – but I’m careful not to not let myself off the hook with hate alone. If I hate something, once I’m done tearing it to shreds, I force myself to look for something with the opposite traits of the thing I hated and show it some love.
If this is what happens when you finally get through your email, then I'm all for more of this Inbox Zero stuff from Merlin.
Today, I can’t handle currency, eat fresh peas, or walk on grass. Green is the color of my twisted terror, and it paints my dreams in endless verdant coats. Night after night after night.
If you haven't read it, I won't spoil it for you. But I can't help thinking of it as a response to Eggers' Max at Sea. (And, frankly, a much better response than Choire Sicha and Tom Scocca's chat transcript riff at The Awl, as much as I loved Choire's line "Wow, who's Renata Adler now?" line, since it's so far inside baseball as to be made of pure cushioned cork center.)
Raul Gutierrez on seeing Ted Kennedy at the ocean.
The third time I saw Kennedy in person was a few years later, I had flow to Hyannis Port from from California for a fall wedding. After arriving I escaped the hotel/wedding party for a walk along the shore. It was drizzling and cold, not good walking weather, or good beach weather, but I needed to stretch my legs. The beach was empty save for a solitary figure in the far distance. I wasn't until I got close that I realized it was Kennedy. He was wearing a windbreaker and staring out to sea, hands in his pockets. He was a big hippopotamus of a man, wind whipping his hair around, but he was calm. He stood there for a very long time. What does a guy with that much incident in his life think about in those moments? Policy? Fending off enemies? Family? His aches and pains? I thought about how in the tiniest way I had been part of the noisy background of his life and how nice it must be for someone like him to look out into the empty ocean without yappy people constantly vying for attention.
I had no idea that they were remastering The Beatles...though since it's timed with the release of The Beatles: Rock Band it makes perfect sense. Leave it to Bob Lefsetz for a couple of choice bits on the remasters. First, on "I Should Have Known Better":
This remaster is the anti propofol. It’s like Disney imagineers came up with a serum they could inject into corpses to bring people back to life.
And this one on "Tomorrow Never Knows":
This one track is a metaphor for the whole experience of listening to this boxed set. You’ve got to turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. So you can hear each and every instrument and effect in this track. They built this, the Beatles, George Martin, a host of string players and... There was a vision, which fit no contour in an executive’s brain.
I feel like it is a deliberate creative process to hear a sound in my head and then rummage around for the object that makes that sound. Sometimes, as I’ve noted before, the object itself gets assigned a mystical value and must be on a song, though I know most listeners could not care less whether we use a Telefunken mic or a 30-year-old calf skin drum head.
TypePad asked me: What are things you can do today because of technology that you couldn't do five years ago? Here's a list of things that feel like magic, even though you may take them for granted.
Everything's amazing, you all should be happy, etc., etc.
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I really wish John Scalzi hadn't used the phrase "Epic FAIL" in the title of his piece about technology and design in Star Wars. Because otherwise it's fun reading, in a "yeah, I know, it is sad that I'm simultaneously (a) nodding in agreement, (b) finding it funny and (c) picking which bit to blog about" kind of way.
For the record, here's the bit I picked.
A tactical nightmare: They're incredibly loud, especially for firing what are essentially light beams. The fire ordnance is so slow it can be dodged, and it comes out as a streak of light that reveals your position to your enemies. Let's not even go near the idea of light beams being slow enough to dodge; that's just something you have let go of, or risk insanity.
So for the weekend it's either contemplate light beams slow enough to dodge, or unpack the rules of Eschaton. Either way -- insanity.
C: Some of your pieces remind me of the myth of Sisyphus — for example, "It's Hard, and I Could Use a Little Help" (a five-minute video in which the artist tries to assemble tiny human figurines, but ends up with a sticky mess of glue and plastic limbs). Instead of pushing a boulder that keeps rolling back down, you're trying to make these people and it doesn't work.
KF: When I had to write art statements, Sisyphus would come up. But a key difference is that Sisyphus would get the boulder to the top, and then the rock would roll back down — and I'm interested in never getting to the top. My work is about the process of going there — in that video, for instance, it's important that the people are never made; the video mostly shows me trying to assemble them. (That piece took a long time to make.)
* Disclosure: I'm married to the Traywick in Traywick Contemporary. In fact, sometimes people call me "Mr. Traywick."
The exchange is significant, because it demonstrates that there is indeed a way to "handle" Jon Stewart. You simply have to ignore what he says, interrupt and talk over him, and keep asserting that you're right. You even can try to usurp his role as host by mugging at the audience and rolling your eyes in a shared "there he goes again!" joke with the viewers.
In retrospect, this is the crucial weakness that in their different ways both Bill Kristol and Jim Cramer revealed in their appearances on the show. They listened to Stewart and -- even Kristol!!?! -- revealed through their bearing that they recognized there was such a thing as being caught in an inconsistency or presented with an inconvenient fact. McCaughey did none of that. She is just making it up, as anyone who has followed her work over the decades will know. She was not even minimally prepared for her appearance on the show, flipping aimlessly through the giant briefing book (of legislative clauses) she brought on stage. But she didn't let it bother her. The exchange demonstrated that if the guest reveals no self-awareness or does not accept the premise of factual challenge, Stewart can't get in his normal licks. Future guests will study this show.
Emphasis mine. Her appearance is an amazing thing to watch.
James Fallows, who has a long history of writing about the "personal information management" category, discovers The Brain, a piece of software I've had an on-again off-again relationship with for more than a decade.
The program has the rare combination of virtues I have previously appreciated in Zoot, Agenda, et al. It is very flexible: there are few hard-wired constraints, and if you decide at any time that you want to change how info is structure or organized, that's easy to do.
Will Gompertz, a director at the Tate Gallery, is putting on a one hour show at the Edinburgh Fringe festival where he gives the entire history of modern art in an hour. With humor, of course, lest anyone in the audience want to slit their wrists with memories of trying to stay awake through endless slide carousels in the dark room of Art History 101.
He published a taste of the show this weekend in the Times; here's a fantastic three paragraph romp through modern art.
Impressionism — painting outside of a studio with quick, loose brushstrokes to capture an evocative impression of their subject. Van Gogh was an Impressionist but wanted to express how he felt about what he saw so he distorted the subject. This helped to lead to Expressionism practised by artists from Edvard Munch through to Francis Bacon. The Fauves (wild beasts) expressed themselves by painting with bright colours. Jackson Pollock did it by throwing or dripping paint on a canvas. His paintings were abstract — Abstract Expressionism.
Cézanne was very important. He began as an Impressionist but then started to look at a subject from two different perspectives to represent how we see. Picasso and his friend Georges Braque were very impressed and started to paint subjects from lots of different views. This is Cubism. Marcel Duchamp was a Cubist but then changed art for ever. He said the idea is more important than the medium and refused to stick with the limited choice of canvas or stone. So he chose everyday objects and called them art because he had altered their context. This led to Conceptual Art where the idea becomes the medium.
The Dadaists were very cross. They blamed the horrors of the First World War on the Establishment’s reliance on rational and reasoned thought. They radically opposed rational thought and became nihilistic — the punk rock of modern art movements. Dada plus Sigmund Freud equals Surrealism. The Surrealists were fascinated by the unconscious mind, as that’s where they thought truth resided. Piet Mondrian thought he could paint everything he knew, felt and saw by using two lines placed at rectangles and three primary colours. This was called Neo-Plasticism and was inspired by Cubism. So was Futurism, which is Cubism with motion added. Vorticism is the same as Futurism, but British. The Minimalists might represent the real truth because they weren’t trying to represent anything. Performance Art is Dada live.
Of course the jokes are better if you stayed awake through Art History 201.
There may already be something like it out there, but I couldn't find anything quite like it, and I keep spending time poking around Unicode on Wikipedia and various other sites and finding it hard to get a sense of the whole range of options available.
This is my favorite, "heavy teardrop-spoked pinwheel":
Today's question of the day on TypePad is right up my alley: What are your fitness goals? What is helping or preventing you from accomplishing them?
I love food, I love television, and I love reclining on sofas. Add those three things together, and at the ripe old age of almost-41, I find myself about 20 pounds over fighting weight, and have recently started to do something about it. I'm trying to be more mindful of what (and how much) I eat, get to gym a few times a week, and be more active during the day...even if it means just grabbing a walk around the block.
I've been following the advice of the geeks I love and tracking my progress -- I keep a (private) Google spreadsheet to track weight, and a (private) your.flowingdata account to keep track of days where I dragged my ass to the gym. These two data points are good, but I'd love a better solution to keep track of the third -- what I'm eating.
There are dozens of iPhone apps that promise to help you log what you eat and count calories. I've tried the LiveStrong app, LoseIt and DailyBurn, and while all three of them have their nice tracking capabilities and their slick UI touches, the food catalogs in all of these apps are just awful. Let's say I have a slice of toast and a peach for breakfast (mmm, summer). Toast -- that's easy. But search for "peach" and your results screen is full of canned and preprocessed food -- canned peaches in syrup, canned peaches in water, peach Yoplait yogurt, a peach-flavored breakfast bar, etc. I realize this is how most of America eats, but this catalog just doesn't work for anyone who's eating real food.
It also creates this sense of false precision; instead of the app that lets me track the 182 calorie breakfast bar, the 15 calorie cup of coffee and the 373 calorie Lean Cuisine frozen dinner, how about the app that lets me keep track of things like "I had a big, unhealthy lunch" (I highly recommend the fried cheese sandwich at Hotel Utah, by the way), or "I ate like a rabbit for dinner."
Anyway. What was the question? What's preventing me from accomplishing my fitness goals? Clearly it's the App Store.
Presented by Intel, Sponsors of Tomorrow.
From Sasha Frere-Jones at the New Yorker, on the sentiment analysis of tweets re. the death of the Michael Jackson.
It is reassuring that people are using “sad” correctly, though the paper reveals a less felicitous trend: thousands of people think that Michael is spelled “Micheal.” A study reveals that my degree of sadness surrounding this misspelling is 98.9%. (This was a double-blind study using an n of 1.)
In my own personal experience, I've discovered that many many people spell Michael "S-I-P-P-E-Y", which is weird.
What I love most about this bit is the guy auditioning for the dog food commercial.
Please give me a way -- a multi-tiered web application with a full JSON rest-based API, a little bookmarklet, a desktop widget, an iPhone app, a small little whatchmacallit, whatever, it doesn't matter -- to pull a list of the people who have "Liked" a particular article in Google Reader. It will be much easier to build a canonical list of
idiots really smart people that way.
Thanks in advance!
PS -- You're still out there, right? You haven't moved to Facebook or something have you? Do I need to start writing letters to "Dear LazyFacebook"? Or "Dear LazyTwitter?" Because that would be a drag.
PPS -- Yep, I actually signed it "Your pal." Admit it, you miss him too.