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Two men swapped at birth – one Indigenous, one white – finally get apology. “To have the core understanding of who you are — and who your parents were and who your siblings were — taken away from you, is a shattering experience.”

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What Are you Starting Right Now?
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They fixed it: NASA is able to talk to Voyager I again . "For the first time since November, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft is returning...
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Happy to announce that thanks to folks buying The Process Tee , we've donated a total of more than $4,700 to the National Network of...
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A Little Comments Check-In
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The Lost Mixtape From The Hood Internet
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Okay, here's a toy car for actually cleaning floors . You load it up with paper towels and set the kids loose. It's probably not...
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Mountain Bike Advice?
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Designer/creative Connell McCarthy: "I got married and over-engineered everything." He obviously designed everything — invites, website...
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Fascinated by this "WTF Notebook" post because 1) it's a really good listening/note-taking idea for new team members 2) applied for...
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I don't really know how to describe this but here goes: Tavi Gevinson wrote a 76-page zine called Fan Fiction: A Satire about her...
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Sharks: "the scary triangles of the sea" . (What are the scary triangles of other places?)
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Where Do You Call Home?
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Designer/creative Connell McCarthy: “I got married and over-engineered everything.” He obviously designed everything — invites, website (using AWS!), signage — but also made custom candles and an iPad jukebox app using the Spotify API.

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Cool Art: Naja Tepe’s Pottery

najatepe.jpg

In the spirit of recommending things I truly love, I wanted to highlight the pottery of Northern California artist Naja Tepe. I’ve ordered from her twice now, and her work is fabulous. I love her strawberry-themed items, but the crescent moon on the plate in her most recent Instagram post (upper right in the composite above) made me want to have everything it appears on, too. Great for gifts. I don’t think my mom reads this site, so I will therefore reveal that I got her a Naja Tepe item for her birthday this year.

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Okay, here’s a toy car for actually cleaning floors. You load it up with paper towels and set the kids loose. It’s probably not something I need, but the reviews are strangely compelling.

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Music for Programming, a collection of “the most compelling music for sustained concentration”. I love the interface.

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Fascinated by this “WTF Notebook” post because 1) it’s a really good listening/note-taking idea for new team members 2) applied for weirdly Machiavellian ends, e.g. wanting ppl to think they’re helpful rather than wanting to be helpful.

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Mountain Bike Advice?

a green mountain bike laying next to a trail

Ok mountain bike nerds, I need your advice. Here’s my situation: I’ve been riding for 3.5 years now on a Kona Honzo hardtail (which I really love) and am pondering a full-suspension bike purchase. They are $$$, but I want to do more riding this summer & fall — including some downhilling on some local lift-serviced trails here in VT (Bolton, Killington, Sugarbush, Burke) — and it feels like it’s the right time to invest in an upgrade.

I would say I’m an intermediate rider (but more towards the beginner end of the spectrum than the expert end). I love flowy trails and can do small jumps and such, but I’m not super fast and am still learning how to turn properly in the berms. I’m never going to be a super aggressive rider but I’d like to progress. A lot of the stuff I ride is up and down, so I need something that climbs well (not looking for a downhill bike). I’m 6’ and 155# if that matters. My Honzo is a large and has 29” wheels, which I like. I’ve ridden a Kona Process 153 29 and that felt good, although maybe a little squishy (but maybe everything feels squishy after a hardtail).

There are good bike shops around here and I’m definitely going to talk to them about what I’m looking for, but I’m wondering if anyone out there has thoughts about brands (particularly those that are known for quality (and ones that aren’t)), what to look for, what to stay away from, etc. Should I buy used? If so, good places to buy used? (I know about Pinkbike.) Any help or advice is appreciated, either in the comments below or via email. Thanks!

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Scientists have repurposed a 50-year-old drug to revolutionize bone marrow transplants. “Today, agonizing searches for a matched donor are largely a thing of the past” and “the drug cut rates of acute and severe complications by upwards of 80%”.

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Happy to announce that thanks to folks buying The Process Tee, we’ve donated a total of more than $4,700 to the National Network of Abortion Funds to aid them in their goal of “abortion access for all”.

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Sharks: “the scary triangles of the sea”. (What are the scary triangles of other places?)

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What Are you Starting Right Now?

The NY Times Style Magazine recently published an entire issue dedicated to “what it means start an artistic life”. I have only scratched the surface of this multi-article package, but I locked into this one immediately: We asked 80 artists and other creative people to tell us what they’re starting right now or hope to very soon.

Filmmaker Boots Riley:

I’m getting ready to start filming a feature I wrote about a group of professional female shoplifters who find a device called a situational accelerator that heightens the conflict of anything they shoot it at. I also have a sci-fi adventure: a janky, lo-fi epic space funk opera. My dream is to use the same crew and shoot the two movies back to back in Oakland, Calif. [where I live]. That’s one thing about being 53 — I want to be able to spend more time with my kids.

Writer Alice McDermott:

There are three kinds of novels I’ve never taken to heart: science fiction, murder mysteries and novels about novelists. So I’ve decided to try my hand at each. If I fail, they’re probably not books I’d want to read anyway.

Cartoonist Daniel Clowes:

I’ve always had the desire to do fakes of artworks I admire — to figure out how they were done, and so I could have otherwise unaffordable artwork hanging in my living room. Painting [with oil] is as frustrating and exhilarating as I remember it being when I was in art school 43 years ago, and my paintings look alarmingly not unlike the ones I did at 19.

Artist and writer Nell Irvin Painter:

I’m way too old to be a beginner. I’m 81 and have already written and published a million (OK, 10) books. But a very different kind of project’s been tugging at me: something like an autobiographical Photoshop document with layers from different phases of my life in the 1960s and ’70s — spent in France, Ghana, the American South. I’d have to be myself at different ages.

Artist Christine Sun Kim:

I have a bit of an adverse reaction to people doing American Sign Language interpretations of popular songs on social media - they’re usually based entirely on the lyrics in English, when rhyming works differently in ASL. So I’ve been wanting to make a fully native ASL “music” video. One day.

Artist Eric Mack:

I’m starting to recharge in order to begin my next body of work. I journal, read, explore the Criterion Channel and get deep-tissue massages. I keep wishing I’d organize the fabrics in my studio.

I love that: Mack shared not what he’s working on next but that he’s using the time to recharge the batteries, a step that’s often neglected, either out of sheer economic necessity, obsession, or fear (I was *terrified* to take time off from the site for years). And I want to see both of those films by Boots Riley — “a situational accelerator”?!

So. What are you starting right now or hope to very soon?

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Why earthquakes on the East Coast are felt farther away than ones on the West Coast. It’s the age of the rock and the faults.

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Denis Villeneuve’s Four Favorite Films

Letterboxd asked Dune director Denis Villeneuve what his four favorite films were and he cheated and listed five (including 2001 and Blade Runner).

First of all, who knows how long Blade Runner has been on his top 5 (or even 10 or 20 list) but getting to do a sequel of one of your favorite films has to be unbelievably rewarding as a director.1

And I’m going to cheat as well here and list a number of other films that Villeneuve has publicly praised, courtesy of this piece from IndieWire: Vertigo, Children of Men, Downsizing (?), There Will Be Blood, Seven Samurai, The Beguiled, Jaws, and three Nolan films (Dunkirk, Inception, Tenet).

  1. I was trying to think of what might be the equivalent to this for me and all I could come up with is getting hired to reboot Suck or something.
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They fixed it: NASA is able to talk to Voyager I again. “For the first time since November, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is returning usable data about the health and status of its onboard engineering systems.”

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A Little Comments Check-In

Hey there everyone. As I quickly touched on over the weekend, I launched a few new tweaks/features for the comments here on kottke.org:

1. Ability to edit comments. After you post a new comment, you’ve got 10 minutes to edit it — to fix any typos, formatting slip-ups, or quick extra thoughts. After 10 minutes, the comment is locked. Edited comments are denoted by some text (“Edited”) next to the timestamp of the comment and you can click on it to see the comment’s original text.

2. A (hopefully) less confusing posting interface. I still haven’t totally dialed this in, but the inline reply box wasn’t working, particularly when you tried replying to the last comment in a thread and then you had Dueling Comment Textareas but only one was the One True Textarea — chaos. Now everything (posting, replying, editing) is in a popup modal. We’ll see how that works.

3. There’s been a list of recently active comment threads on the front of the site for a couple of months now. One of the biggest feature requests I’ve gotten is a way for people to follow threads that they’ve participated in, to see if others have replied to them, etc. There are lots of potential ways to tackle this problem, but for right now, I’ve added a tab to the front page comment widget that lists threads that you’ve commented in that have new comments. It’s not perfect, but neither is turning the whole site into Reddit or a social media site. Navigating that middle path is going to be tricky — I don’t want to end up in a place where several things about the site half-work — but hey it’s fun to be out here experimenting.

Given this refresh, this seems like a good moment to check in on how comments are going overall. Here’s what I wrote when they launched back in October:

“Always good, often great, and occasionally sublime” describes a lot of the feedback I get via email and social media — kottke.org readers are a super-interesting bunch and very often share things that are more interesting than whatever thing I posted that prompted them to write in. Reader comments become more valuable to everyone who reads the site when they’re relocated from my inbox and from disparate threads on various social sites to the site itself. Some days, my inbox is the best thing on the internet and I want to bring that vibe to the site.

The timing feels right. Twitter has imploded and social sites/services like Threads, Bluesky, and Mastodon are jockeying to replace it (for various definitions of “replace”). People are re-thinking what they want out of social media on the internet and I believe there’s an opportunity for sites like kottke.org to provide a different and perhaps even better experience for sharing and discussing information. Shit, maybe I’m wrong but it’s definitely worth a try.

I have been very happy with how the comments have gone over the past 6 months. Borrowing Michael Pollan’s formulation, I feel like we’ve largely stuck to the unstated maxim of “Post comments. Not too much. Mostly interesting.” Every day on the site, there’s are 2-3 active threads going and I learn something new from or am moved (to feel, to action) by a comment or a discussion, but it’s not so much that you can’t keep up with it all. There are a lot of posts without comments and that’s great too. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to participate and adding to the vibe here.

Moderation has been extremely easy — having commenting open only to active members has resulted in aligned incentives for everyone and we’ve all committed to the bit, i.e. tried to follow the guidelines to help create something meaningful together.

How about some stats? Around 850 unique commenters have left more than 4300 comments on ~650 posts (mean: 6.5 comments/post, median: 3 comments/post). The most popular post is Who Are the People in the Neighborhood? (350 comments) and more than two dozen threads have 30 comments or more. Only 4 comments have started with the word “actually”. 🙃

Comments are open on almost every post now, and that’s been going well. The very few comments I’ve had to hide have either been off-topic, out of place in a community setting, or of the “fighting about opinions” variety. Nothing that I can recall has been mean-spirited or in bad faith. All of the hidden comments would not be out of place on social media at all, but we’re trying something slightly different here.

The last time we checked in on the comments, I shared a few threads that I thought were particularly good for whatever reason and I’d like to do that again here:

  • The job board comments thread is an obvious place to start — in the months since I’ve heard of a couple of people who found work bc of it. I’ll try doing this again in a few weeks.
  • Why Weather Forecasts Have Gotten So Good. Not a huge thread but almost every comment is substantive. And Jeffrey Shrader, whose paper was cited in the link I posted, made a comment and took the time to answer questions from other readers. The thread made the whole post so much better.
  • Knitting Anything? A perfect Friday post about something that a lot of people are into. This was one of the most active threads and the most enthusiastic. I don’t knit and am not super interested in it, but I checked back on this one through the weekend because everyone was so excited to share and learn. And now I want to learn how to knit a little?
  • I asked Edith about her favorite threads and she replied with two: this short thread about an interview with Marilynne Robinson (she keeps thinking back on the comments here) and the recommendations in this thread for Middlemarch (“changed my life!”)
  • Where Do You Call Home? Maybe my favorite thread on the site…just so many people sharing personal stories and thoughts about what and where they think of as home and why.
  • I loved Aaron’s question and the resulting thread: What Did You Learn How To Do This Year? Again, lots of sharing and camaraderie around interests.
  • And finally, a short thread about something goofy with folks in the comments sharing related goofy things. One commenter even came back more than a month later to follow up on a recommendation made by another reader (“Recommend! And thanks Elsa!”)

What threads and/or comments have you particularly liked? Maybe I’ll collect some of them under a tag of some sort so we can all keep track of them. Also, please let me know if you’ve got feedback or other thoughts about the comments — I’ve got a list of future improvements I’d like to do, but would love to hear of any features you’d like to see or pain points you’re having a hard time with.

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A database of useful biological numbers, including the duration of an eye blink, the surface area of human skin, the diameter of a water molecule, and the mass of a male fruit fly.

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Hold the Line is a “piece of sound art generated by data from Canada’s 2023 wildfire season”, an data sonification if you will. Clicks represent fires (Zippo “tings” for human-started fires) and rumbles for forest area burned.

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For All Mankind has been renewed for a fifth season and the show is getting a Apple TV+ spin-off called Star City, which will follow the same alt-timeline as FAM but from the Soviet perspective.

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The Lost Mixtape From The Hood Internet

This weekend I was doing some programming work (comments, another small project) and listening to some old-school electronica (DJ-Kicks by Kruder & Dorfmeister anyone?). When I write, I tend to listen to chill stuff so I can concentrate — classical, vaporwave, soundtracks, Jon Hopkins, Sigur Rós, Tycho, Boards of Canada, things like that — but when designing or programming, I need something faster with a beat to spur me onwards.

So anyway, I was about to switch from electronica to something by kottke.org favorites The Hood Internet when I thought to check their website to see if they’d released any new mixtapes. And lo — they had (sorta). The Lost Mixtape is a 45-minute mix of music from circa 2005-2009, discovered on some dusty old hard drive and recently finished up & released for our listening pleasure.

The bit at around 16:00 where they mix Milkshake and So Electric is just superb. You can find streaming options and a downloadable MP3 on their website.

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This had me cackling in laughter this morning: Kevin Del Aguila hamming it up in the wings off-stage while the show, Some Like It Hot, goes on. How on Earth did the actors not completely break during all of that?

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A bot that pairs the clichéd “I hope this email finds you” with snippets from books beginning with “finds you…” E.g.: “I hope this email finds you wherever you go, and lands right in the center of your brain.”

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This looks promising: an RNA-based vaccine effective against any strain of a virus and works for those with weakened immune system (babies, immunocompromised). “This could be the universal vaccine that we have been looking for.”

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Once again, it is cheaper to decarbonize our world now than to pay for the costs of climate damage in the future. “Climate damages by 2050 will be 6 times the cost of limiting warming to 2°.”

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Quick site notes: 1. you can now edit comments for 10 min after posting, 2. there’s a new comment posting interface that’s hopefully less confusing, 3. the front page comment widget shows threads you’ve posted in. Come try it out!

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Green’s Dictionary of Slang is “is the largest historical dictionary of English slang” that contains “nearly 100,000 entries supported by over 400,000 citations from c. ad 1000 to the present day”.

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Writ Small: A Newsletter Recommending Kids’ Media

todayjulie1.jpg

My daughter is home sick from daycare, and I’m letting her watch my phone unlimitedly. She’s absorbed in it but made an exception to look up and point at the above picture, from an entry in Chadwick Matlin’s newsletter Writ Small, about the book Today, by Julie Morstad. The newsletter highlights kids’ media — “think Bluey, but stuff that isn’t Bluey” — and so far the worst part is that I want to buy everything it recommends.

I also learned a lot from this installment on a song from the 2021 My Little Pony movie. (thx, Gillian!)

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From Kevin Kelly on the occasion of his 73rd birthday, 101 bits of additional life advice. “Most arguments are not really about the argument, so most arguments can’t be won by arguing.”

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“my therapist just told me that the NYT word games app is becoming a problem for many of her patients, including me … she asked me how long i spent every day doing them and i LIED

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The re-release of Interstellar in 70mm IMAX on my birthday? Don’t mind if I do! “Interstellar will fly back into theaters on Sept. 27, 2024. It will be shown in 70mm Imax prints (Nolan’s preferred format), as well as on digital screens.”

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“R men ok?????” Boy Room is a new video series that features tours of the “squalid” bedrooms of young men.

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Black Twitter: A People’s History is a three-part Hulu documentary series directed by Prentice Penny (Insecure) premiering in May. It’s based on Jason Parham’s Wired article of the same name.

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Feathers Are One of Evolution’s Best Inventions

Really fascinating piece by Michael Habib in Scientific American about how amazing feathers are: they come in so many different shapes and sizes and do so many things (insulate, keep dry, flying, noise dampening, etc. etc. etc.) And I loved the opening anecdote:

In October 2022 a bird with the code name B6 set a new world record that few people outside the field of ornithology noticed. Over the course of 11 days, B6, a young Bar-tailed Godwit, flew from its hatching ground in Alaska to its wintering ground in Tasmania, covering 8,425 miles without taking a single break. For comparison, there is only one commercial aircraft that can fly that far nonstop, a Boeing 777 with a 213-foot wingspan and one of the most powerful jet engines in the world. During its journey, B6-an animal that could perch comfortably on your shoulder-did not land, did not eat, did not drink and did not stop flapping, sustaining an average ground speed of 30 miles per hour 24 hours a day as it winged its way to the other end of the world.

Many factors contributed to this astonishing feat of athleticism-muscle power, a high metabolic rate and a physiological tolerance for elevated cortisol levels, among other things. B6’s odyssey is also a triumph of the remarkable mechanical properties of some of the most easily recognized yet enigmatic structures in the biological world: feathers. Feathers kept B6 warm overnight while it flew above the Pacific Ocean. Feathers repelled rain along the way. Feathers formed the flight surfaces of the wings that kept B6 aloft and drove the bird forward for nearly 250 hours without failing.

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A bar chart race visualization of the most popular desktop operating systems from 1985 to the present. Just overwhelming dominance by Microsoft — but an impressive comeback from Apple in the 2010s.

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The hidden potential of bicycles. “Bicycles have been used for so long as children’s toys and exercise equipment that we forget what useful technology they represent. They multiply our bodies’ speed and efficiency many times over.”

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The Fruitluck

fruitluck1.png
I’m really interested in fruit, especially ones I’ve never tried, and I’ve loved following Florida Fruit Geek, aka Craig Hepworth, on Instagram, where he posts photos and info about the unusual fruits he grows (in Gainesville). Hepworth recently hosted a “fruitluck,” where gatherers shared…

…half a dozen varieties of loquat, four kinds of mulberry, carambola/starfruit, sweet oranges, Seville oranges, grapefruit, jackfruit, guava, grapes, apples, sweet tamarind, dried jujube, strawberries, blueberries, Mysore bananas, Rajapuri bananas, Cavendish bananas, green coconuts, homegrown pineapple, dried carambola, tangerine, dried sweet cherries, pomelo and more.

I’d love to have a fruitluck! Maybe I need to make a trip to Florida.

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“Onboard the Nautilus, Things Were Not as They Seemed…”

[Voiceover]: The Nautilus had no heat or insulation — nothing but bare metal separated them from the frigid Arctic waters. The crew were constantly sickened with food poisoning and dosed with lead from the soldering in the submarine’s pipes. Attempting the pole this late in the season would be extremely dangerous, and without exception everyone wanted to turn around and head home. Everyone except Wilkins.

I “enjoyed” this stressful mini-documentary, from the Mustard Channel, about the ill-fated (but — spoiler? — not THAT ill-fated) 1931 attempt to reach the North Pole by submarine. [via The Browser]

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If you’re looking for more newsletters to read, here’s One Newsletter I Always Make Time to Read from Inbox Collective. OTOH, what I really want is a list along the lines of One Newsletter I’m Glad I No Longer Read.

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I Just Wasn’t Very Good

I’ve been thinking about something I posted last week — in an excerpt from his new book The Work of Art, former New York magazine editor Adam Moss described the art he makes as bad: “When I left my job, I began to paint more seriously,” he wrote. “That was the beginning of my torment: I just wasn’t very good.” Or as he put it to The New Yorker: “I kind of just wasn’t any good.” Or to Vanity Fair: “I really wanted to be a good painter. What a fucking idiot I was.” Or on NPR, “I really wanted to be good, and it made the act of making art so frustrating for me.”

The book is mostly about how other artists make their work, but I’m currently more interested in what Moss has to say about himself and his art.

Later in the VF and NPR interviews, Moss says that the main lesson he learned from making the book is that with art, it’s the journey not the destination — or, “the making, not the made” (“It’s the most banal observation”) — but of course I still went looking for his paintings online. I want to see them! I didn’t find anything (per the VF article, he hasn’t shared anything publicly yet), but to Moss I say: Show them! Maybe it doesn’t matter if they’re not good. Maybe the worse, the better.

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TFW you find a Neanderthal jaw in your parents’ new travertine tile…

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Diary Comics, Dec. 11-13

Here are some more journal comics from this past December when I was guest-editing the site.
dec10intro.jpg
dec10.jpg
dec11.jpg

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This Beaver Dam is So Huge, You Can See It from Space

A family of beavers in Canada has built a dam that’s twice as wide as the Hoover Dam. This huge dam is kind of a click-baity promotion (it worked!) but the essence of the video is how beavers can help make landscapes more resilient to effects of climate change.

It’s so big it can be seen from outer space. But that’s not the only reason NASA is interested in this architecturally minded species… Increasing diversity and resilience, not to mention creating wetlands, are just some of the impacts beavers can have on their surroundings. What does this mean for the wider environment? And how can we humans learn from it?

See also Unleashing Beaver to Restore Ecosystems and Combat the Climate Crisis.

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You still don’t see the link? It’s right there on the bottom of the Slack thread from yesterday about which shared drive folders link to Dropbox folders that contain all the shared PDFs.” (This is why I work, primarily, alone.)

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The strange and turbulent global world of ant geopolitics. “There are roughly 200,000 times more ants on our planet than the 100 billion stars in the Milky Way.” And they are amazingly talented at spreading.

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Helsinki Bus Station Theory of Creativity

Several years ago in the Guardian, Oliver Burkeman wrote a piece called This column will change your life: Helsinki Bus Station Theory. It’s about how difficult it can be as a creative person to find your way to making work that feels like it’s uniquely yours.

There are two dozen platforms, Minkkinen explains, from each of which several different bus lines depart. Thereafter, for a kilometre or more, all the lines leaving from any one platform take the same route out of the city, making identical stops. “Each bus stop represents one year in the life of a photographer,” Minkkinen says. You pick a career direction — maybe you focus on making platinum prints of nudes — and set off. Three stops later, you’ve got a nascent body of work. “You take those three years of work on the nude to [a gallery], and the curator asks if you are familiar with the nudes of Irving Penn.” Penn’s bus, it turns out, was on the same route. Annoyed to have been following someone else’s path, “you hop off the bus, grab a cab… and head straight back to the bus station, looking for another platform”. Three years later, something similar happens. “This goes on all your creative life: always showing new work, always being compared to others.” What’s the answer? “It’s simple. Stay on the bus. Stay on the fucking bus.”

(via phil gyford)

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Wired’s Steven Levy on how 8 Google Employees Invented Modern AI. (They developed the pivotal “transformer” idea…you know, the “T” in “GPT”.)

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Letter from the editors of Scientific American: We Need to Make Cities Less Car-Dependent. “We can design or redesign streets to make people drive more slowly or to discourage driving altogether. We can invest in better public transit…”

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CCTV Footage Cross-Stitch

cross-stitch embroidery of a CCTV camera image

cross-stitch embroidery of a CCTV camera image

Oh man, I don’t think this could be any more in my wheelhouse: cross-stitch embroideries of CCTV camera images by Francine LeClercq. I’ve always had a soft spot for cross-stitch — it’s the ur-pixel art — and to see low-res, compressed, B&W security camera footage done in embroidery is just a real treat. There’s not much on LeClercq’s site about the work, but check out these posts at Colossal and designboom for more information and photos.

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PodcastAP allows you to follow podcasts and music feeds in the fediverse. (So when Ezra Klein or On Being drops a new episode, you’ll get it right in your Mastodon feed.)

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I don’t really know how to describe this but here goes: Tavi Gevinson wrote a 76-page zine called Fan Fiction: A Satire about her relationship with & to Taylor Swift and her work.

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This sounds really good: astrophysicist Katie Mack and curious person John Green collaborate on A Podcast About The Entire History Of The Universe.

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