Treat your to-read pile like a river, not a bucket

This struck a chord with me. Part of the very reason this blog exists at all is because I have a constant list of things I’d like to read and feeling unproductive that I postpone attending to so many of them.

this means treating your “to read” pile like a river (a stream that flows past you, and from which you pluck a few choice items, here and there) instead of a bucket (which demands that you empty it). After all, you presumably don’t feel overwhelmed by all the unread books in the British Library – and not because there aren’t an overwhelming number of them, but because it never occurred to you that it might be your job to get through them all.

Oliver Burkeman

The Kite

A moving animated short film by Martin Smatana I discovered on Colossal.

They are both made out of layers, which symbolize their age. The boy has many of these layers… he has all his life before him. But grandfather, on the other hand, has already lost most of his layers, and he has only few left. As he gets older, he also gets thinner, and at the end of his life, he is as thin as a sheet of paper. One day, the wind just softly blows him away and takes him up to the sky…

Martin Smatana quoted in an article on Colossal.

Netflix, Shein and MrBeast

Another fascinating article by Benedict Evans.

“What is MrBeast and his hundred million subscribers in this – is he a star, a show, a showrunner or a network? ‘Yes’.”

Benedict Evans

MrBeast is pretty fascinating. The Lex Fridman Podcast had a great interview with him as well: MrBeast: Future of YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram.

More from Benedict Evans:

“YouTube doesn’t buy LA stuff from LA people – it runs a network, and the questions are Silicon Valley questions. YouTube, in both the network and the kinds of content, is a much bigger change to ‘TV’ than Netflix. It’s ‘video’, but it’s also ‘time spent’ and it competes with Netflix and TV but also with Instagram and TikTok (it does puzzle me that people focus on competition between Instagram and TikTok when the form overlaps at least as much with YouTube). And YouTube doesn’t really buy shows or buy users – it pays a revenue share.”

Benedict Evans

Paper Menagerie

Kan,” she said. “Laohu.” She put her hands down on the table and let go.

A little paper tiger stood on the table, the size of two fists placed together. The skin of the tiger was the pattern on the wrapping paper, white background with red candy canes and green Christmas trees.

I reached out to Mom’s creation. Its tail twitched, and it pounced playfully at my finger. “Rawrr-sa,” it growled, the sound somewhere between a cat and rustling newspapers.

I laughed, startled, and stroked its back with an index finger. The paper tiger vibrated under my finger, purring.

Zhe jiao zhezhi,” Mom said. This is called origami.

I didn’t know this at the time, but Mom’s kind was special. She breathed into them so that they shared her breath, and thus moved with her life. This was her magic.

From the Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu

A wonderful short story. I almost hate to link to Gizmodo, which allows one to read it for free in its entirety because it’s so ad-ridden. But it’s worth a a read.

As Gizmodo says at the beginning of it’s article:

Ken Liu’s incredible story “Paper Menagerie” just became the first work of fiction to win all three of SF’s major awards: the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award.


In Praise of Fast Food

A great counterbalance to the common (and, I think, still a good thing to remain critical about) distrust of fast food.

For our ancestors, natural was something quite nasty. Natural often tasted bad. Fresh meat was rank and tough, fresh fruits inedibly sour, fresh vegetables bitter. Natural was unreliable. Fresh milk soured; eggs went rotten. Everywhere seasons of plenty were followed by seasons of hunger. Natural was also usually indigestible. Grains, which supplied 50 to 90 percent of the calories in most societies, have to be threshed, ground, and cooked to make them edible.

So to make food tasty, safe, digestible, and healthy, our forebears bred, ground, soaked, leached, curdled, fermented, and cooked naturally occurring plants and animals until they were literally beaten into submission. They created sweet oranges and juicy apples and non-bitter legumes, happily abandoning their more natural but less tasty ancestors. They built granaries, dried their meat and their fruit, salted and smoked their fish, curdled and fermented their dairy products, and cheerfully used additives and preservatives–sugar, salt, oil, vinegar, lye–to make edible foodstuffs.

Unte Reader

In addition, I was surprised that so many international dishes that seemed timeless to me, were invented in the 20th century:

Nor are most “traditional foods” very old. For every prized dish that goes back 2,000 years, a dozen have been invented in the last 200. The French baguette? A 20th-century phenomenon, adopted nationwide only after World War II. Greek moussaka? Created in the early 20th century in an attempt to Frenchify Greek food. Tequila? Promoted as the national drink of Mexico during the 1930s by the Mexican film industry. These are indisputable facts of history, though if you point them out you will be met with stares of disbelief.

Utne Reader

The Commodordion

Clever people can make a hobby out of anything that exists.

In late October, a Swedish software engineer named Linus Åkesson unveiled a playable accordion—called “The Commodordion”—he crafted out of two vintage Commodore 64 computers connected with a bellows made of floppy disks taped together.

-Ars Technica

AI Yōkai

Disturbingly cool.

AI Yōkai (AI 妖怪) is a dictionary of monsters from Japanese folklore, whose images have been generated by me using the artificial intelligence program Midjourney.

Maciej Lipiec

Found in a Library Book

The Oakland Public Library has a fun, voyeuristic, website where they showcase items found n library books.

Well, if you leave them in an OPL library book, or around the library, you might find them featured right here, on our website.

Oakland Public Library

They have a Twitter and Instagram feed, too.