December 2022

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Key Change

The Death of the Key Change

As hip-hop grew in popularity, the use of computers in recording also exploded too. Whereas the guitar and piano lend themselves to certain keys, the computer is key-agnostic. If I record a song in the key of C major into digital recording software, like Logic or ProTools, and then decide I don’t like that key, I don’t have to play it again in that new key. I can just use my software to shift it into that different key. I’m no longer constrained by my instrument.

Ive-y League

Jony Ive on Life After Apple(Archived)

One surprising thing about Ive’s approach is that conversation, rather than sketches, is how he often begins a project. Thinking—and then speaking about that thinking—is the raw material he works with. “Language is so powerful,” Ive says. “If I say I’m going to design a chair, think how dangerous that is. Because you’ve just said chair, you’ve just said no to a thousand ideas.
[…]
“This is where it gets exciting,” he says. “You have an idea—which is unproven and isn’t resolved, since a resolved idea is a product—and the only tangible thing about the idea are the problems. When someone says it’s not possible, and all you are being shown is why it’s not possible, you have to think and behave in a different way. You have to say, from a place of courage, I believe it is possible.

Pie and Goodbye

Love, Marriage, Loss, and Apple Pie

And, I can now say, losing both parents feels like losing your footing altogether, as you must move on without any tangible human proof—beyond yourself, of course—of how you came to be. To lose them is to lose the gods of your universe, if not that universe itself, and this stark eventuality will cleave your life in half, with one part encapsulating them and the other grappling with their absence: being of them but without them. You will become a strange, new person, unfamiliar with your former self.

Inside the NBA Bubble

How Black Players Performed Better without Fans

In the NBA, predominantly Black players play in front of predominantly non-Black fans. Using the ‘NBA bubble’, a natural experiment induced by COVID-19, we show that the performance of Black players improved significantly with the absence of fans vis-`a-vis White players. This is consistent with Black athletes being negatively affected by racial pressure from mostly non-Black audiences. We control for player, team, and game fixed-effects, and dispel alternative mechanisms. Beyond hurting individual players, racial pressure causes significant economic damage to NBA teams by lowering the performance of top athletes and the quality of the game.

Links

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

November 2022

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Leave Some Space

William Shatner: My Trip to Space Filled Me With ‘Overwhelming Sadness’

I continued my self-guided tour and turned my head to face the other direction, to stare into space. I love the mystery of the universe. I love all the questions that have come to us over thousands of years of exploration and hypotheses. Stars exploding years ago, their light traveling to us years later; black holes absorbing energy; satellites showing us entire galaxies in areas thought to be devoid of matter entirely… all of that has thrilled me for years… but when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold …all I saw was death.

I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness. It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing. I turned back toward the light of home. I could see the curvature of Earth, the beige of the desert, the white of the clouds and the blue of the sky. It was life. Nurturing, sustaining, life. Mother Earth. Gaia. And I was leaving her.

Everything I had thought was wrong. Everything I had expected to see was wrong.

[…]

It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered. The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness. Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna… things that took five billion years to evolve, and suddenly we will never see them again because of the interference of mankind. It filled me with dread. My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral.

Father Time, Online

The Thorny Problem of Keeping the Internet’s Time

To solve the problem of time synchronization on the arpanet, Mills built what programmers call a protocol—a collection of rules and procedures that creates a lingua franca for disparate devices. The arpanet was experimental and capricious: electronics failed regularly, and technological misbehavior was common. His protocol sought to detect and correct for those misdeeds, creating a consensus about the time through an ingenious system of suspicion. Mills prided himself on puckish nomenclature, and so his clock-synchronizing system distinguished reliable “truechimers” from misleading “falsetickers.” An operating system named Fuzzball, which he designed, facilitated the early work. Mills called his creation the Network Time Protocol, and N.T.P. soon became a key component of the nascent Internet. Programmers followed its instructions when they wrote timekeeping code for their computers. By 1988, Mills had refined N.T.P. to the point where it could synchronize the clocks of connected computers that had been telling vastly differing times to within tens of milliseconds—a fraction of a blink of an eye. “I always thought that was sort of black magic,” Vint Cerf, a pioneer of Internet infrastructure, told me.

[…]

N.T.P. works by telling computers to send tiny, time-stamped messages to time-checking devices superior to them in a hierarchy. The hierarchy’s uppermost layer consists of servers that are closely connected to highly accurate clocks kept in tight synchronization with Coördinated Universal Time. The time then trickles, from strata to strata, to the machines at the bottom of the hierarchy, such as ordinary laptops. The protocol tracks the instants that elapse as a time-checking message is sent, received, returned, and received again by its original sender. All the while, a collection of algorithms—the “popcorn spike suppressor,” the “huff-n’-puff filter”—sifts through the data, singling out falsetickers and truechimers and instructing the clocks on how to adjust their times based on what the time-stamped messages tell them.

Just Be-Cause

The Art of Naming Military Operations

Churchill’s Rules:
1. Operations in which large numbers of men may lose their lives ought not to be described by code words which imply a boastful or overconfident sentiment,… or, conversely, which are calculated to invest the plan with an air of despondency… They ought not to be names of a frivolous character… They should not be ordinary words often used in other connections… . Names of living people–Ministers and Commanders–should be avoided…
2. After all, the world is wide, and intelligent thought will readily supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names which do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation called “Bunnyhug” or “Ballyhoo.
3. Proper names are good in this field. The heroes of antiquity, figures from Greek and Roman mythology, the constellations and stars, famous racehorses, names of British and American war heroes, could be used, provided they fall within the rules above.

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

October 2022

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Marching down, down, down, down

Scientists have calculated how many ants are on Earth. The number is so big it’s ‘unimaginable.’

If you have not killed the 2.5 million ants that you are responsible for, please get started.

I’m Makin’ Waffles

Waffle House

Waffle House does not care how much you are worth, what you look like, where you are from, what your political beliefs are, or where you’ve been so long as you respect the unwritten rules of Waffle House: Be kind, be respectful, and don’t overstay when others are waiting for a table. Besides, everyone who has ever stepped foot in a Waffle House has a story to tell: Perhaps it involves a late-night study session in college or a joyous pit stop on the way home from a concert or sporting event. Maybe it was a bad breakup over waffles or an early morning breakfast with your bridal party before your wedding. For me, it is the first time my son tried a chocolate chip waffle. The look on his face when he realized that chocolate and syrup taste great together was one of pure delight and discovery. Or the first time my father took me to a Waffle House around the age of 12. I sat at the counter mesmerized, watching the cooks sling hash browns and respond to shouted orders in what seemed like a secret language. These photographs require that personal relationship. I don’t set the stage for where these photographs are made so much as I witness the greater context of the interaction. Instead, the circumstances are gleaned from the viewer’s past experiences and personal relationship with Waffle House.

Flippy Floppy

We Spoke With the Last Person Standing in the Floppy Disk Business

The customers that are the easiest to provide for are the hobbyists – people who want to buy ten, 20, or maybe 50 floppy disks. However, my biggest customers — and the place where most of the money comes from — are the industrial users. These are people who use floppy disks as a way to get information in and out of a machine. Imagine it’s 1990, and you’re building a big industrial machine of one kind or another. You design it to last 50 years and you’d want to use the best technology available. At the time this was a 3.5-inch floppy disk. Take the airline industry for example. Probably half of the air fleet in the world today is more than 20 years old and still uses floppy disks in some of the avionics. That’s a huge consumer. There’s also medical equipment, which requires floppy disks to get the information in and out of medical devices. The biggest customer of all is probably the embroidery business though. Thousands and thousands of machines that use floppy disks were made for this, and they still use these. There are even some industrial companies that still use Sony Mavica cameras to take photographs. The vast majority of what I sell is for these industrial uses, but there is a significant hobbyist element to it as well.

Links

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay