Some great things to read

March 4, 2011

I read some very good stuff on the interweb this week. You might enjoy:

Paul Graham’s
Taste for Makers.
Excellent thoughts on making things that are simple and good, which can easily apply to design, writing, art, mathematics, acting, everything, really:

Good design is timeless. In math, every proof is timeless unless it contains a mistake. So what does Hardy mean when he says there is no permanent place for ugly mathematics? He means…. if something is ugly, it can’t be the best solution. There must be a better one, and eventually someone will discover it. Aiming at timelessness is a way to make yourself find the best answer: if you can imagine someone surpassing you, you should do it yourself.

The Hairpin’s thoughtful, insightful
Ask an Abortion Provider.

I speak of my abortion as a positive experience, not to secure the “most awesome abortion” prize (hello judges…?) but to save a seat for the possibility that this doesn’t have to be the worst thing that ever happened to you in your whole life…. If it makes you uncomfortable to think about abortion as something that could possibly be positive for a person, think of why you’re a person who doesn’t want someone to do the best that they can under the circumstances they’re in.

The Awl co-founder Chiore Sicha’s touching and funny elegy to his cat,
The Last Photograph of Cat.

Cat believed that everything was a prison… Because of his view that there was always something better beyond what boundaries so arbitrarily constrained him, Cat spent most of his life trying to climb over, through and under any possible obstacle.

The Wikipedia article on
Emotional Labour.

… a form of emotional regulation wherein workers are expected to display certain emotions as part of their job, and to promote organizational goals. The intended effects of these emotional displays are on other, targeted people, who can be clients, customers, subordinates or co-workers.

Every in-person job I’ve had in the past decade has involved a very heavy component of emotional labour, since basically I am hired to get people to open up with me (like when I interview or teach them), or to help them feel emotions that I generate (ie, as an actor) or to regulate their emotional journey (ie, banishing awkwardness and creating flow and comfort when hosting).

I was instinctively very aware of this concept, so it was fun to learn that it had a name and other people have written about it. One thing stood out to me: basically, the more superficial the emotional labour, the worse the worker feels about themselves. You have to genuinely believe in what you’re doing if you want to be OK with doing it. I’ve really noticed this.

Writer Mike Sager has a section on his personal website called Tips.
It includes some real gems:

– 53 ways to improve your reporting
(Sit in the back, in a place that commands the entire field.)

– 51 ways to improve your writing
(Dare to be bad. Then go back and edit.)

– 25 ways to improve editorial relationships
(Try to avoid drinking at lunch.)

OKCupid: Best questions to ask on a first date

February 8, 2011

Q: Do my date and I have long-term potential?
A: According to OKC, couples with long-term potential are most likely to give matching answers to the following questions:
1. Do you like horror movies?
2. Have you ever travelled around another country alone?
3. Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and live on a sailboat?

According to OKC’s data set, matching answers on these questions were even more predictive of a successful match than questions about sex, god and smoking.

It’s a fun read: here.

Infinite Camel

December 8, 2010

Thanks to Peneycad for the tip.

Ten years in two minutes

December 3, 2010

Neato. Via Kottke.

Sun melts rock, OH MAH GAWD

November 25, 2010

So this is a big mirrored parabola thingie that collects 3 square metres of sunshine and focusses it to a pinpoint. Which is hot enough to burn literally anything on earth.
My brain seriously exploded and is now dripping down my neck. It’s pretty hot but this is hotter:

Thanks to Jessie for this mind-melting clip.

What’s it like to be blind?

November 10, 2010

UPDATE: The link to the webforum was broken; I fixed it. Here.

Here is a very long, very in-depth web forum, where tons of users ask honest questions of a 26 year old man who’s been blind from birth.

He answers all sorts of stuff, ranging from how much he cares about women’s looks to whether he pees sitting or standing, to info about his computer (he doesn’t use a monitor!) to what his computer screen-reader sounds like. Turns out he can listen to his computer-voice at an absolutely dizzying speed (here’s an mp3).

The thread is 15+ pages long and takes forever to go through, but it’s super-interesting, and worth at least a skim. Read it here.

Koki Tanaka – Everything is Everything

October 20, 2010

Hypothetically, if I said to you, “Hey, watch this six-minute video of random things done to random objects by unseen people”, then you probably think you’d be like WAT
But I am saying that, and I bet you’ll watch it and find it strangely enjoyable. People with children or babbies, make sure to show it to them, too- apparently it goes over extra-well with little kids.

Via MeFi.


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