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.

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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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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.

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September 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.

Tsundoku

All Those Books You’ve Bought but Haven’t Read? There’s a Word for That

A person’s library is often a symbolic representation of his or her mind. A man who has quit expanding his personal library may have reached the point where he thinks he knows all he needs to and that what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him. He has no desire to keep growing intellectually. The man with an ever-expanding library understands the importance of remaining curious, open to new ideas and voices.

Fajita People

The Fajita Effect

The restaurant chain didn’t do fajitas first or best, but it did them loudest. It even put the sizzling sound in its first TV ad. While other restaurants tried to make fajitas that tasted better or looked fancier than the competition’s, Chili’s kept the recipe simple and relied primarily on the sizzle to not only turn heads but also trigger a barrage of senses: you hear them, then you notice the smoke and smell the aroma. Add up all of that, and you don’t just taste or see a neat-looking dish with Chili’s sizzling fajitas. You experience it.

Chit Chat

Good conversations have lots of doorknobs

Givers think that conversations unfold as a series of invitations; takers think conversations unfold as a series of declarations. When giver meets giver or taker meets taker, all is well. When giver meets taker, however, giver gives, taker takes, and giver gets resentful (“Why won’t he ask me a single question?”) while taker has a lovely time (“She must really think I’m interesting!”) or gets annoyed (“My job is so boring, why does she keep asking me about it?”).
[…]
Neither givers nor takers have it 100% correct, and their conflicts often come from both sides’ insistence that the other side must convert or die. Rather than mounting a Inquisition on our interlocutors, we ought to focus on perfecting our own technique. And the way to do that, I think, is by adding a bunch of doorknobs.

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August 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.

Over the Line!

‘You can’t be the player’s friend’: inside the secret world of tennis umpires

Using a network of six or more high-speed video cameras positioned around the court, the system generates an image of the ball’s path and the spot where it lands. To keep matches fast-flowing, human line judges usually continue to call when a ball is out. However, up to three times per set (plus one more if it goes to a tie-break), players can request a review if they don’t agree with the human call. In 2020, more tournaments began using Hawk-Eye Live, a newer version of the technology that makes automated line calls in real time. Not only does it remove the need for players to make a challenge, it has removed the need for line judges altogether. With Hawk-Eye Live, the only official on court is the chair umpire. However, the technology is expensive, and at present it is only used at the top-tier events, and only on hard courts.

Where does this leave the umpire? Earlier this year, in one of his scathing post-match appraisals of Bernardes in Miami, Kyrgios expressed a view that is gaining ground: “By the way, it’s all electronically done now. So you’re actually doing nothing apart from calling the score, which any tennis fan could do. Sit in the chair and just say ‘15-love’, ‘Game Kyrgios’, ‘Game Sinner’. That’s all he has to do.”

But that, it turns out, isn’t quite right.

One Winner

The Secret Art of the Family Photo

Let’s say a family of four is going on a weeklong vacation to Hawaii. One of the adults is taking a good-quality dedicated camera, and everyone else will be snapping away with their smartphones. How many pictures should the family aim to end up with?

Consider the possibility that a reasonable number is eight. Why so few? Because life is full, and pictures accrue. The events of life come tumbling along, and the photos pile up, like the days and the hours do. The more family pictures you amass over time without editing or “organizing” them—without keywording, without making the hard decisions about which are the best and most essential—the more chaotic, dispiriting, disorganized, unlabelled, unsearchable, and jumbled the great mass will be, and the less well any given one of them will function for its purpose. Surfeit adds up to failure; selectivity leads to success.

This isn’t to say that you should take only a few pictures. On the contrary, an open secret of photography is that good photographers shoot more and show less. You might have to take five hundred pictures in Hawaii to get eight truly good ones—and, even then, getting those eight good ones won’t be easy. You can’t just shoot indiscriminately—pursuing the strategy photographers call “spray and pray”—and get what you want. You’ll have to be purposeful as you collect the raw material for your later edit. This requires being alert to opportunities and sensitive to what family members will really want to remember. You also have to be perceptive about what makes your experience distinctive. Mindless snapping of “the sights” isn’t going to hack it. Dozens of images of marine life beneath a glass-bottomed boat won’t make up for missing the zip line that was the highlight of your ten-year-old’s trip.

The same principle applies when you’re not on vacation. It’s tempting to take—and keep—many photos of birthday parties, picnics, athletic competitions, and so on. But numerous events can be commemorated with a single picture. It just has to be a good one, and to tell enough of the story.

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July 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.

“The majority thereby substitutes a rule by judges for the rule of law.”

We Dissent

As an initial matter, note a mistake in the just preceding sentence. We referred there to the “people” who ratified the Fourteenth Amendment: What rights did those “people” have in their heads at the time? But, of course, “people” did not ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. Men did. So it is perhaps not so surprising that the ratifiers were not perfectly attuned to the importance of reproductive rights for women’s liberty, or for their capacity to participate as equal members of our Nation. Indeed, the ratifiers — both in 1868 and when the original Constitution was approved in 1788 — did not understand women as full members of the community embraced by the phrase “We the People.” In 1868, the first wave of American feminists were explicitly told — of course by men — that it was not their time to seek constitutional protections. (Women would not get even the vote for another half-century.) To be sure, most women in 1868 also had a foreshortened view of their rights: If most men could not then imagine giving women control over their bodies, most women could not imagine having that kind of autonomy. But that takes away nothing from the core point. Those responsible for the original Constitution, including the Fourteenth Amendment, did not perceive women as equals, and did not recognize women’s rights. When the majority says that we must read our foundational charter as viewed at the time of ratification (except that we may also check it against the Dark Ages), it consigns women to second-class citizenship.

The High Five

30 for 30 Shorts: The High Five

When Dusty Baker hit his 30th home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977, the first man to greet him at home plate was his friend and teammate, rookie Glenn Burke. Overcome with happiness, Burke did the first thing that came to mind — he put his hand straight in the air and had Baker slap it. Welcome to the birth of the high five. From there, our short follows Burke’s story as he became a victim of bigotry and then a local hero for social change.

Freeze Your Credit Scores

Quick and easy to do and to undo.

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June 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.

Gig Economy

The Real Yacht Rock: Inside the Lavish, Top-Secret World of Private Gigs

But alongside the world of corporate parties and retreats, a far more shadowy parallel world has been flourishing: the super-private gig. In that universe, stars in classic rock, hip-hop, and pop have been pulling in sizable fees for playing at weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, and other personal-life milestones, all for those wealthy enough to afford it. The festivities allow performers to walk away with yacht-loads of cash and make one-percenter hosts feel like insiders and stars themselves. But along with the sizable paydays come sometimes dicey political issues that the artists have to navigate (or, sometimes, ignore).

Cowboy rides into town on Friday, stays 3 days, leaves on Friday. How did he do it?

An oral history of ‘Little Big League’

Tony Todd (Mickey Scales, 2B): I crashed the audition. I never acted before. I was coming home with a friend of mine, and we passed by a park where we used to play. There were easily 250 people out there on that field. I got out of the car and I went over there to see what was going on, and they said they were casting movies. I said, by the looks of things, and I’m not tooting my horn, I’m probably better than anyone you got out there. And they said, “Yeah, we’ve been hearing that all day.” I said, alright, well, give me a shot and I’ll show you.

Scheinman: The casting director goes, “What’s your name again?” Todd goes, “Mickey Scales.” He just walks up and says “Mickey Scales.” He knew exactly what he was doing. We just didn’t know about him.

Todd: They put the L-screen up. They gave guys 10 swings; they gave me five. Four of them go to the fence and the last one I hit off the wall. They told me to run to first base. And, you know, brothers can run. So, I didn’t stop at first and decided to run all the way around and do a little slide at home.

Scheinman: He got people’s attention because his personality is larger than life. Boy, he was an athlete. He just jumped out when he was at the tryout.

Todd: Later, I show up at the studio for a reading. I get halfway done and they tell me to stop. They asked me if I’d ever been to Minnesota. I said, nope, but I know Kirby Puckett’s there! They said, “Well, that’s great because you’re going to Minnesota and you’re going to play the part of Mickey Scales.” I went berserk. I started high-fiving everyone.

The horse’s name is Friday.

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May 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.

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Bop it, Pull it, Twist it

MIT engineers introduce the Oreometer

Curiously, when they mapped each cookie’s result to its original position in the box, they noticed the cream tended to stick to the inward-facing wafer: Cookies on the left side of the box twisted such that the cream ended up on the right wafer, whereas cookies on the right side separated with cream mostly on the left wafer. They suspect this box distribution may be a result of post-manufacturing environmental effects, such as heating or jostling that may cause cream to peel slightly away from the outer wafers, even before twisting.

Bless you, Dylan

Meet The Guy Who Spends Just $150 A Year To Eat All His Meals At Six Flags

It all started on the first day of his internship in 2014, when Dylan noticed the rollicking coasters of Six Flags Magic Mountain from the windows of his new office. Fresh out of college and something of a coaster-fanatic already, Dylan was perusing the options for Six Flags’ annual pass when he stumbled upon what might be the deal of his lifetime — for a one-time fee of $150, he could eat two meals a day, every day at the park for an entire year. Since his office was just a five-minute drive away, it was a no-brainer.

Smells Like

I would like to be paid like a plumber

In November of 1992, shortly before they formally agreed on his involvement, Albini wrote to Nirvana and laid bare his philosophy in a pitch letter that is fascinating from start to finish.

Fiks/Fish, Maks/Mask, Ask/Aks

The ‘ax’ versus ‘ask’ question

The first thing to understand is that, for black people, “ax” has a different meaning than “ask.” Words are more than sequences of letters, and “ax” is drunk in from childhood. “Ax” is a word indelibly associated not just with asking but with black people asking. That sentiment alone is powerful enough to cut across conscious decisions about what is standard or proper.

“Ax,” then, is as integral a part of being a black American as are subtle aspects of carriage, demeanor, humor and religious practice. “Ax” is a gospel chord in the form of a word, a facet of black being — which is precisely why black people can both make fun of and also regularly use “ax,” even as college graduates.

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April 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.

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The Third Man

The forgotten Black Power hero

Smith and Carlos had already decided to make a statement on the podium. They were to wear black gloves. But Carlos left his at the Olympic village. It was Norman who suggested they should wear one each on alternate hands. Yet Norman had no means of making a protest of his own. So he asked a member of the U.S. rowing team for his “Olympic Project for Human Rights” badge, so that he could show solidarity.

“He came up to me and said, ‘Have you got one of those buttons, mate,’ ” said U.S. rower Paul Hoffman. “If a white Australian is going to ask me for an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge, then by God he would have one. I only had one, which was mine, so I took it off and gave it to him.”

The three men walked towards their destiny. The medals were handed out before the three turned towards the flags and the start of the Star Spangled Banner.

Lots of Lines

‘Bizarro World’

“It’s funny,” I told Flewin. “We have an old Nintendo Game Boy floating around the house, and Tetris is the only game we own. My wife will sometimes dig it out to play on airplanes and long car rides. She’s weirdly good at it. She can get 500 or 600 lines, no problem.”

What Flewin said next I will never forget.

“Oh, my!”

After I hung up the phone, I went to the bedroom and woke my wife, Lori.

“Honey,” I said. “You’re not going to believe this, but I just got off the phone with a guy who’s in charge of video game world records, and he said the world record for Game Boy Tetris is 327 lines, and he wants us to go to New Hampshire this spring so you can try to break the world record live in front of the judges at the world’s largest classic video game tournament.

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March 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.

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OB$E$$IVE

The moral calculations of a billionaire

His choice: 12 more hours anchored to the chair in his office, monitoring the market and calling in to his trading desk again and again as the sun reflected off the swimming pool outside his window. The market fell. The market rose. He bought $3 million in distressed bonds. He gave another $5 million away to charity. He was $18 million up for the day. He was $6 million down. He was beating the market again by mid-morning, losing at lunch, winning an hour later, and then losing again. “Does it make any sense?” he asked himself, watching the numbers change on his screen. “To sit inside all day in front of a machine, making money I don’t need so I can give it to someone I don’t know?”

AL-most Famous

The Weirdly Enduring Appeal of Weird Al Yankovic

The connection is so deep that it is more like a merging, and after a while it struck me that Weird Al has spent basically his whole life making his music for exactly these people, which is to say for his childhood self. For many decades, he has been trying to delight Alfred Yankovic, the bright, painfully shy kid who grew up alone in his tiny bedroom. For the benefit of that lonely boy, he reshaped the whole world of pop culture. His ridiculous music sent out a pulse, a signal, and these were the people it drew: the odd, the left out. A crowd of friends for that lonely kid. As I watched him with his fans, sometimes I felt as if Weird Al was multiplying all around me, multiplying inside of me. We were one crowd, united in isolation, together in a great collective loneliness that — once you recognized it, once you accepted it — felt right on the brink of being healed.

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February 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.

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“I would like to go on the roof”

The Banality of Genius: Notes on Peter Jackson’s Get Back

A good song or album – or novel or painting – seems authoritative and inevitable, as if it just had to be that way, but it rarely feels like that to the people making it. Art involves a kind of conjuring trick in which the artist conceals her false starts, her procrastination, her self-doubts, her confusion, behind the finished article. The Beatles did so well at effacing their efforts that we are suspicious they actually had to make any, which is why the words “magic” and “genius” get used so much around them. A work of genius inspires awe in a lesser artist, but it’s not necessarily inspiring. In Get Back, we are allowed into The Beatles’ process. We see the mess; we live the boredom. We watch them struggle, and somehow it doesn’t diminish the magic at all. In a sense, Paul has finally got his wish: Let It Be is not just an album anymore. Joined up with Get Back, it is an exploration of the artistic journey – that long and winding road. It is about how hard it is to create something from nothing, and why we do it, despite everything.

Drive to Thrive

Learning About Work Ethic From My High School Driving Instructor

Bob notices things that I suppose only a long-time driving instructor could notice, like how you could tell that a driver was from Hoboken by the way the screws framing their license plates are scratched and worn from having parked so many times in the city’s tight, unmarked spaces. He has an uncanny memory for driving situations. He is constantly telling these insanely detailed and tedious stories, like the one about a student who back in 2006 took the curve too fast on Summit Avenue just north of Hillcrest — Bob said the student had a tendency to accelerate into turns — and nearly skidded off the road, but managed to stick it out because the town council had recently repaved the street with an expensive grippy top-coating. There are no climaxes in these stories. In fact they’re not so much stories as nerdy shoptalk, the thinking-out-loud of an intensely interested man.
[…]
One incident stands out in particular. We were about an hour into the lesson and had just graduated from the backroads of the student’s hometown to a two-lane street with steady traffic. The car in front of us had slowed down, signaled, pulled over toward the shoulder, and made a smooth right turn into a shopping complex. Bob was impressed. “See how nicely he positioned that car?” He explained to the girl that that was exactly how it was done. And then a while later, long after the moment had passed, he said quietly, more to himself than to either of us, “I really liked the way he did that.” It had the ring of nostalgia to it.

Dookie

Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field

Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the North–South axis under calm magnetic field conditions. This directional behavior was abolished under unstable magnetic field. The best predictor of the behavioral switch was the rate of change in declination, i.e., polar orientation of the magnetic field.

Wordle

These may spoil your fun:

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Clay

January 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.

My Media Stats from 2021

  • 406 podcast episodes totaling over 457 hours
  • 58 movies totaling over 112 hours
  • 21 books
  • 18 television seasons

About a Roy

On “Succession,” Jeremy Strong Doesn’t Get the Joke

Kendall is the show’s dark prince, a would-be mogul puffed up with false bravado. He is often ridiculous in his self-seriousness, especially when he’s trying to dominate his indomitable father. Strong was perfectly cast: a background player who had spent his life aspiring, and often maneuvering, to fill the shoes of his acting gods. “Kendall desperately wants it to be his turn,” Strong said. Last year, he won an Emmy Award for the role.

Strong, who is now forty-two, has the hangdog face of someone who wasn’t destined for stardom. But his mild appearance belies a relentless, sometimes preening intensity. He speaks with a slow, deliberate cadence, especially when talking about acting, which he does with a monk-like solemnity. “To me, the stakes are life and death,” he told me, about playing Kendall. “I take him as seriously as I take my own life.” He does not find the character funny, which is probably why he’s so funny in the role.

Mall Rats

Everything Must Go: Why we’ll never stop mourning the American mall

For most of my life, the shopping mall was the symbol of the capitalist experiment. Everything about it celebrated consumerism and the illusion of plenty, and fueled the suburbanite’s need for a real-world simulacrum—one that could replace scary diverse downtowns with “safe,” artificial Disneyland-ish approximations that substituted commerce for community. The choices in a mall were simultaneously endless and extremely constrained: You could try on every shoe in the world. Eat six different kinds of foods at the food court. Watch one of five movies. Maybe there was a fountain or a carousel. The actual activities you could do were limited, but there were so many products to choose from that it felt—to lame teenage me, certainly, covered in zits and longing to belong—like a place where rehearsals of glamour and independence and self-fashioning were possible (even if I never quite managed to access them myself). And yet, they’re dying. A 2017 report by Credit Suisse predicted that 1 in 4 malls would close by 2022. That was before the pandemic. How are these castles to consumerism crumbling while the system they so ably represented lives on?

If It’s Brown…

Why Does Coffee Make Me Poop?

This communication between the stomach, brain and colon, called the gastrocolic reflex, is a normal response to eating. But coffee seems to have an outsize effect; one study published in 1998 found that eight ounces of coffee stimulated colonic contractions similar to those induced by a 1,000-calorie meal. Researchers have hypothesized that coffee’s gut-brain messaging is likely caused by one or more of coffee’s many chemicals, and perhaps mediated by some of our own hormones that play important roles in the digestive process, like gastrin or cholecystokinin — both of which can spike after coffee drinking.

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Clay

December 2021

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.

‘But, like, what is money, man?’

How Credit Cards Make Money

Payments are deceptively complicated—everyone has used them and thinks they have good intuitions for how they work. However, payments require coordination of a dance between different parties who have extremely different incentives, both on a transaction-by-transaction basis and what they get out of participating at all.

Taking a Step Back

Underrated Reasons To Be Thankful

That humans didn’t evolve under strong alpha selection, meaning that 99% of us don’t get eaten by birds in our first moments of life as we crawl down the beach towards the ocean, which is nice.

Rich Uncle Pennybags

Monopoly’s Origin and The Landlord’s Game

Today, the “real story” behind the invention of Monopoly, America’s most iconic board game, is well-known. But, as the game’s popularity began to intensify, executives at Parker Brothers wanted to keep the origin of Monopoly a secret. LeRoy Howard, a game designer and developer at Parker Brothers, advised George S. Parker about purchasing Monopoly from Charles Darrow in 1935. During the acquisition, Parker Brothers learned that Darrow’s commercially-produced version of the board game was based on Elizabeth M. Phillips’s previously-patented creation, The Landlord’s Game. In the end, Parker Brothers purchased the original patent from Phillips for $500. The document, titled “The Origin of the Game of Monopoly,” includes a handwritten annotation that reads “Not for Publication, L.H.” and was originally marked “Confidential.”

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Clay

November 2021

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.

The Big Rick

IoT Hacking and Rickrolling My High School District

On April 30th, 2021, I rickrolled my high school district. Not just my school but the entirety of Township High School District 214. It’s the second-largest high school district in Illinois, consisting of 6 different schools with over 11,000 enrolled students.

This story isn’t one of those typical rickrolls where students sneak Rick Astley into presentations, talent shows, or Zoom calls. I did it by hijacking every networked display in every school to broadcast “Never Gonna Give You Up” in perfect synchronization. Whether it was a TV in a hall, a projector in a classroom, or a jumbotron displaying the lunch menu, as long as it was networked, I hacked it!

No Time to Die

An in-depth analysis of James Bond’s exposure to infectious agents

Global travelers, whether tourists or secret agents, are exposed to a smörgåsbord of infectious agents. We hypothesized that agents pre-occupied with espionage and counterterrorism may, at their peril, fail to correctly prioritize travel medicine. To examine our hypothesis, we examined adherence to international travel advice during the 86 international journeys that James Bond was observed to undertake in feature films spanning 1962–2021. Scrutinizing these missions involved ∼3113 min of evening hours per author that could easily have been spent on more pressing societal issues. We uncovered above-average sexual activity, often without sufficient time for an exchange of sexual history, with a remarkably high mortality among Bond’s sexual partners (27.1; 95% confidence interval 16.4–40.3). Given how inopportune a bout of diarrhea would be in the midst of world-saving action, it is striking that Bond is seen washing his hands on only two occasions, despite numerous exposures to foodborne pathogens. We hypothesize that his foolhardy courage, sometimes purposefully eliciting life-threatening situations, might even be a consequence of Toxoplasmosis. Bond’s approach to vector-borne diseases and neglected tropical diseases is erratic, sometimes following travel advice to the letter, but more often dwelling on the side of complete ignorance. Given the limited time Bond receives to prepare for missions, we urgently ask his employer MI6 to take its responsibility seriously. We only live once.

Drowning in Genres

Every Noise

Every Noise at Once is an ongoing attempt at an algorithmically-generated, readability-adjusted scatter-plot of the musical genre-space, based on data tracked and analyzed for 5,676 genre-shaped distinctions by Spotify as of 2021-10-26. The calibration is fuzzy, but in general down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier.

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Clay

October 2021

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.

Nuclear Octagon

Rebranding Chernobyl

Chernobyl is just a two-hour drive north of the Banda design agency’s offices in Kyiv, Ukraine. When it came time to organize a company picnic in the summer of 2019, 20 graphic designers from the agency decided to pile into a bus and head straight for the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident. The HBO historical drama about the disaster had just been released, piquing curiosity around the world, including locally. The tour of the site was the first time many of Banda’s young designers had thought much about the radioactive legacy all around them and the gravity of what transpired at the former nuclear power plant.

Moved by what they saw, Banda representatives reached out to the Ukrainian government agency responsible for managing the 19-mile-radius Exclusion Zone around Chernobyl with an unusual proposal: a visual brand for Chernobyl and its legacy. At a time when Ukraine’s government has struggled to gain the world’s attention amid a seven-year war with Russia, an unresolved refugee crisis, a suppressed economy, an embarrassing supporting role in the first impeachment of Donald Trump, Carpathian mudslides, and forest fires near Chernobyl, authorities jumped on the opportunity for a free rebranding.

Don’t O-Zzzzz

Melatonin: Much More Than You Wanted to Know

0.3mg.

“But my local drugstore sells 10 mg pills! When I asked if they had anything lower, they looked through their stockroom and were eventually able to find 3 mg pills! And you’re saying the correct dose is a third of a milligram?!”

Yes. Most existing melatonin tablets are around ten to thirty times the correct dose.

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Clay

September 2021

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.

Clock Wise

Why Clocks Run Clockwise

The first thing most of us notice about clocks and watches when we learn to tell time, is that the hands turn clockwise – the habit of perceiving clockwise motion as a representation of the forward movement of time is deeply ingrained; so much so that once having learned it, most of us cease to notice it at all. Imagine you are standing on the center of a watch: in any direction you face, the hands will appear to pass from left to right. Theoretically, we could just as easily tell time if they went from right to left, so why do clock and watch hands overwhelmingly have rightward, or clockwise, motion? Why is there no period in history where anticlockwise and clockwise rotation competed for supremacy?

Click Here

Why are hyperlinks blue?

The internet has ingrained itself into every aspect of our lives, but there’s one aspect of the digital world that I bet you take for granted. Did you ever notice that many links, specifically hyperlinks, are blue? When a co-worker casually asked me why links are blue, I was stumped. As a user experience designer who has created websites since 2001, I’ve always made my links blue. I have advocated for the specific shade of blue, and for the consistent application of blue, yes, but I’ve never stopped and wondered, why are links blue? It was just a fact of life. Grass is green and hyperlinks are blue. Culturally, we associate links with the color blue so much that in 2016, when Google changed its links to black, it created quite a disruption.

But now, I find myself all consumed by the question, WHY are links blue? WHO decided to make them blue? WHEN was this decision made, and HOW has this decision made such a lasting impact?

I turned to my co-workers to help me research, and we started to find the answer. Mosaic, an early browser released by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina on January 23, 1993, had blue hyperlinks. To truly understand the origin and evolution of hyperlinks though, I took a journey through technology history and interfaces to explore how links were handled before color monitors, and how interfaces and hyperlinks rapidly evolved once color became an option.

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Clay

August 2021

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.

His Name Was Emmett Till

His Name Was Emmett Till

In 1955 an all-white, all-male jury, encouraged by the defense to do their duty as “Anglo-Saxons,” acquitted J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant. Because the defendants couldn’t be tried again, they got paid to make a confession to a national magazine—a heavily fictionalized account stage-managed by their lawyers—and Leslie Milam and his barn were written out of the story. Ask most people where Till died and they’ll say Money, Mississippi, the town where Till whistled at Bryant’s wife outside the family’s store. An Equal Justice Initiative monument in Montgomery says Money. Wikipedia does too. The Library of Congress website skips over the barn, which is just outside the town of Drew, about 45 minutes from the store.

I learned about the barn last year and have since made repeated visits, alone and with groups, once with members of Till’s family. Over and over, I drove from my home in the Mississippi hill country back into the gothic flatland where I was born. The barn’s existence conjures a complex set of reactions: It is a mourning bench for Black Americans, an unwelcome mirror for white Americans. It both repels and demands attention.

Wright Thompson’s story-telling is enviable.

Kim + Im

Two South Korean golfers will play these Olympics with everything to lose

In the pyramid of professional golf, these two 20-somethings enjoy the view from tip-top. Their careers are the envy of countless grinders out there clawing for a breakthrough. And yet, in the eyes of the South Korean government, Im and Kim are but two able-bodied men with an unpaid debt to their country.

This week, both Im and Kim will be reunited with avoidance pressure of the highest order. In anticipation of perhaps the most important tournament of their lives, both men took the extraordinary step of skipping the Open Championship to devote their entire focus to the Olympics. Can you blame them? A medal would exempt them from mandatory military service. A fourth-place finish or worse—well, they’d prefer not to think about that.

“I don’t know how…”

A Round with Tiger: Celebrity Playing Lessons – Jada Pinkett Smith

This is some weird cross between a date, an interview, a golf lesson, and motherly wisdom. Tiger’s discomfort and Jada’s conviction in explaining what his story means is freaking awesome.

Tiger leaning forward and saying, “I don’t know how…” to see that people find his journey inspiring.

Don’t miss:
– 2:23-3:20
– 9:52-11:00
– 17:57-19:35

Penniless

Why a Victoria man has gone two decades without money

His last purchases — beer, cigarettes, pot — occurred 18 years ago, he says, on his 31st birthday. He claims he hasn’t spent any money since. It’s true, his friends have told me. No money at all.

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Clay

July 2021

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.

Why do we like what we like?

The Lottery of Fascinations

But the thing is, I couldn’t choose to be interested in sports any more than I could choose to be interested in math or a huge sports fan could choose to be interested in psychology or a gay person could choose to be interested in women. I mean, there’s probably some wiggle room, maybe if I put a lot of effort into finding the most interesting sports and learning everything about them I could appreciate them a little. But would I have comparative advantage over the kid who memorized the stats of every pitcher in both leagues when he was 8? Barring getting hit by some kinda cosmic rays or something, I don’t think that’ll ever happen.

Lord of the Roths

How Tech Mogul Peter Thiel Turned a Retirement Account for the Middle Class Into a $5 Billion Tax-Free Piggy Bank

Open a Roth with $2,000 or less. Get a sweetheart deal to buy a stake in a startup that has a good chance of one day exploding in value. Pay just fractions of a penny per share, a price low enough to buy huge numbers of shares. Watch as all the gains on that stock — no matter how giant — are shielded from taxes forever, as long as the IRA remains untouched until age 59 and a half. Then use the proceeds, still inside the Roth, to make other investments.

Owning Artists

Would You Buy Shares in Your Favorite Musician?

The notion of selling shares in an artist in band raises many intriguing possibilities—too many to deal with here. But let me list some of them.

1. A band could sell shares in its music, with potential for spinning off ownership of individual musicians as separate tokens in the case of a breakup. One day you own shares in the Beatles, and after the band dissolves, you still control those tokens, but now receive (in a tax-free spinoff) rights to John, Paul, George and Ringo.

2. Artists could do mergers. So Beyoncé and Jay Z decide one day to issue a combined token. They both enjoy some diversification benefits, and help cement their relationship at the same time.

3. Artists would be free to issue new shares, provided the cash or benefits received are shared equably among current owners. The end result would be like different stages in venture capital financing. I can already imagine the conversations on Sand Hill Road: “Hey, our firm got into Olivia Rodrigo in the first round, for ten cents a token—and we’re now issuing new tokens at two bucks.”

4. When artists run into career problems, they could turn to their powerful billionaire owners for help in resolving them. Consider it as the digital age equivalent of Johnny Fontaine in The Godfather, who gets Don Corleone to make an “offer that can’t be refused” to a stubborn movie mogul. In fact, the whole relationship between Frank Sinatra and the Mafia might be considered as a prototype for the artist tokenization business.

5. Fans would have endless opportunities for demonstrating their loyalty. In the old days, they could buy every album by a favored artist, but in a tokenized world the bar is raised considerably. Even accumulating, say, a 1% stake in second-tier musician might take years of scrimping and saving.

6. Artists would face the complex financial trade-offs all corporations need to address. Do they give away earnings as dividends to token holders, or invest the money in future projects? The older the musician, the greater the pressure to distribute the profits.

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Clay

June 2021

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.

Have you had enough pi?

How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?

For JPL’s (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) highest accuracy calculations, which are for interplanetary navigation, we use 3.141592653589793. Let’s look at this a little more closely to understand why we don’t use more decimal places. I think we can even see that there are no physically realistic calculations scientists ever perform for which it is necessary to include nearly as many decimal points as you present.

[…]

[Earth] is 7,926 miles in diameter at the equator. The circumference then is 24,900 miles. That’s how far you would travel if you circumnavigated the globe (and didn’t worry about hills, valleys, obstacles like buildings, rest stops, waves on the ocean, etc.). How far off would your odometer be if you used the limited version of pi above? It would be off by the size of a molecule. There are many different kinds of molecules, of course, so they span a wide range of sizes, but I hope this gives you an idea. Another way to view this is that your error by not using more digits of pi would be 10,000 times thinner than a hair!

Hold the Booze

The Economics of Non-Alcoholic Spirits

One big reason for the higher price? Even though water is cheaper than alcohol, it’s less effective at carrying flavors. Ethanol is an exceptionally good solvent for capturing aroma compounds. These get released when poured into a glass, sipped or mixed with ice or a cocktail, which is what enables the sensory intensity and complexity of distilled spirits.

Alcohol offers so many advantages for flavor extraction and retention that many, if not most non-alcoholic spirits use it at some point in the process, either as a base of distillation that is later removed or as a tincture added in trace amounts to the nearly finished product.

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Clay

May 2021

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.

RIP Yahoo Answers

‘How Do You Get Spaghetti Stains Out of Underwear?’: An Ode to Yahoo Answers

We enter and leave this world alone, but spend the time in between seeking connection. It’s the human experience. But when we’ve strayed too far from the pack, when we’re at our most ashamed, our most lost, our most … too high, Yahoo Answers was there to lead us back home.

The McElroy brother’s podcast, My Brother, My Brother, and Me is fantastic — pick any episode. I’m not sure how they do it but the brothers somehow have new listeners clued in to all the inside and running jokes within an episode or two.

Tell Tale

The Honor System

Until Bakardy came along, Teller had never needed his copyright filings to stake a claim. “It’s not like good manners and generosity are inappropriate ways to behave in the world,” he says. When he has contacted light-fingered magicians in the past, they have always apologized and stopped performing the trick. For instance, he does a trick in which he spills handfuls of coins into a tank filled with water, and they somehow turn into living, breathing goldfish. It’s a throat-catching effect, and a magician in Sweden, who had seen Teller performing the trick on TV, studied the tape and finally lifted it. After Teller called him, the magician said sorry, boxed up his props in a crate, minus the fish, and shipped them to Las Vegas.

This time around, Teller offered to pay Gerard Bakardy several thousand dollars for the time he spent working on the Rose & Her Shadow. He had to promise only that he would stop performing and selling the trick. Bakardy, after asking whether Teller might help him bring Los Dos de Amberes to America, countered with a higher price. No one will confirm exactly what that amount was, but it was allegedly more than $100,000. “It really wasn’t possible for me to come to any terms,” Teller says. “It ended up having certain elements that reminded me of a kidnapping.”

Teller, who had already persuaded YouTube to take down the offending video, asked Bakardy whether his demands were firm. Bakardy said they were.

Teller had a decision to make.

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Clay

April 2021

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.

Getting Paper

The Article About Paper Sizes You Didn’t Know You Needed

ISO 216 specifies the dimensions of the A-series of paper. It begins at A0 and gets progressively smaller up to A8. Part of the specification is that the ratio between the length and width of each paper size is always √2-to-1. This gives the series a unique characteristic: When you fold a piece of paper width-ways, the halves have the same aspect ratio as the original. That means if you need to shrink a printout to half its size, you can perfectly fit two pages onto the original-sized paper — which as far as paper technology goes, is basically witchcraft.

Process People

Effort

People like to say that lives on social media look unattainable and perfect, but whenever I see something that’s beautifully curated all I can see is the sweat: the money expended, the surgery and fillers, the workouts, the interior designers, the carefully selected objects, the hours spent setting up and filming and taking photos. I think the effort is what’s most interesting. I like people who try very hard, and I like people who attempt to conceal their effort, but I especially like people who let all their effort show. We are all Frankenstein monsters—patchwork quilts of past experiences—trying to pass ourselves off as whole and cohesive things.

[…]

But this post isn’t about how to get good at things. It’s about how people always assume I’m interested in the end result—the wonderful thing they’ve made—when what I’m really interested in is the process. How did you get this way and why? I’m curious about the ugliness of trying, the years and years of wanting and hoping and working. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by craft. I think it’s because it requires such a sustained tenacity. Like Michelangelo saying that he just chips away at everything that didn’t look like David: a hundred thousand little motions to reveal the underlying beauty.

Formula to Thrive

The Formula Won

Formula 1 did not develop this show with Netflix out of the goodness of its heart: The sport needed a kick-start. Ratings were falling in key countries as distribution and audience attitudes were changing. Drive to Survive is based on the personalities of the drivers and the team principals, the people in charge of the drivers’ teams who function as a sort of general manager/coach. The show revolves around type-A alphas staring directly into the camera like Jim Halpert from The Office and bluntly saying whatever they mean about their boss or coworker. The team principals are walking, talking Tom Wolfe novels; the drivers are all rich, look like models, and still have a lot to complain about. These are the pillars of the show: The principals try to outflex each other as masters of the universe while the drivers navigate HR dramas and try to race as fast as they can. It is the most chaotic possible mashup of Hard Knocks, Gossip Girl, James Bond, and Game of Thrones. It is perfect television.

Topsy Turvy What’s a Fermi

The Fermi Paradox

You are probably familiar with The Fermi Paradox, or have at least heard of it. It might ruin the night’s sky for you but it is “fun” to think about. Tim Urban summarizes our place in the universe and beyond by saying…”We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re fucked.”

In the search for additional intelligent life the portion of speculation that eats at me is, ‘There are scary predator civilizations out there, and most intelligent life knows better than to broadcast any outgoing signals and advertise their location.’

It does seem rather…Earthly (specifically, American) to be the ones to show up on the galactic stage blarring noise from our giant megaphone.

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March 2021

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.

Like, Super Random

Randomness 101: LavaRand in Production

LavaRand is a system that uses lava lamps as a secondary source of randomness for our production servers. A wall of lava lamps in the lobby of our San Francisco office provides an unpredictable input to a camera aimed at the wall. A video feed from the camera is fed into a CSPRNG, and that CSPRNG provides a stream of random values that can be used as an extra source of randomness by our production servers. Since the flow of the “lava” in a lava lamp is very unpredictable,1 “measuring” the lamps by taking footage of them is a good way to obtain unpredictable randomness. Computers store images as very large numbers, so we can use them as the input to a CSPRNG just like any other number.

“I shot myself, but I killed my ego.”

San Francisco Giants outfielder Drew Robinson’s remarkable second act

Being a professional baseball player isn’t only about playing baseball better than everyone else. It’s accelerated adulthood. It’s an 18-year-old paying bills, managing disappointment, navigating politics, forging relationships — figuring out how to live in a universe designed to weed out the weak.

Goldberggggg

Hockey Has a Gigantic-Goalie Problem

Particularly intriguing is to watch them position their body when the action is to one side of their net, near the goal line. On their knees, one leg extended to the bottom far corner, the top of that leg pad filling the five-hole, their upper body crammed up against the post, their shoulders shrugged upward to take away the top corners, all of their body parts coming together so seamlessly. It is like watching an origami master in action, constructing not a paper crane, but a perfect wall.

Understanding Efficacy

What does 95% COVID-19 vaccine efficacy really mean?

It is imperative to dispel any ambiguity about how vaccine efficacy shown in trials translates into protecting individuals and populations. The mRNA-based Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines were shown to have 94–95% efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19…It means that in a population such as the one enrolled in the trials, with a cumulated COVID-19 attack rate over a period of 3 months of about 1% without a vaccine, we would expect roughly 0·05% of vaccinated people would get diseased. It does not mean that 95% of people are protected from disease with the vaccine—a general misconception of vaccine protection…

A 95% vaccine efficacy means that instead of 1,000 COVID-19 cases in a population of 100,000 without vaccine we would expect 50 cases.

I couldn’t really wrap my mind around how this math worked out. Or rather, I hadn’t found anyone who could explain it well enough for me to explain to someone else. This NY Times exercise really helped.

Should you take a less efficacious vaccine or wait for a more efficacious vaccine?

Don’t fail to wear your seatbelt today because your next car may have airbags.

Please keep in mind,

All three vaccines were 100% effective at preventing severe disease six weeks after the first dose (for Moderna) or seven weeks after the first dose (for Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, the latter of which requires only one dose). Zero vaccinated people in any of the trials were hospitalized or died of COVID-19 after the vaccines had fully taken effect.

Covid-19 Vaccine Efficacy Page

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February 2021

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.

Wonderwall

Washington’s Secret to the Perfect Zoom Bookshelf? Buy It Wholesale.

Another force at work, however, was the rise of the well-stocked shelf as a coveted home-office prop. When workplaces went remote and suddenly Zoom allowed co-workers new glimpses into one another’s homes, what New York Times writer Amanda Hess dubbed the “credibility bookcase” became the hot-ticket item. (“For a certain class of people, the home must function not only as a pandemic hunkering nest but also be optimized for presentation to the outside world,” she wrote.) And while Roberts makes an effort not to infer too much about his clients or ask too many questions about their intent, he did notice a very telling micro-trend in orders he was getting from all across the United States.

Grab Your Cauldron

Exploring the Supply Chain of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines

I’ll start with the bad news: Nobody will be making an mRNA vaccine in their garage any time soon.

And from The Washington Post:

Step one is to generate lots of genetic material.

Scientists use a buzz of electricity to create holes in the cellular skin of E. coli bacteria to let a ring of DNA slip in, carrying the blueprint for the coronavirus spike protein. Those cells grow in large stainless steel vats, allowing the bacteria — and the DNA blueprint of the spike protein inside — to multiply over about four days. At the end of the process, scientists kill and break open the cells, using a purification process that takes about a week and a half to strain out a ring of DNA, called a plasmid, that codes for the spike protein.

Le Sigh

Why We Sigh

Research from the University of Oslo found that most people associated sighs with negative emotions like disappointment, defeat, frustration, boredom, and longing. But the primary physical function of a sigh is for the benefit of your lungs. Sighs keep the tiny air sacs in the lungs, the alveoli, from collapsing, and maintain the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, said Silvia Pagliardini, an associate professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Alberta.

Healthy adults sigh about once every five minutes. If you don’t sigh and re-open the alveoli, you could become hypoxic and die. People died when using the earliest iron lungs because designers didn’t account for sighing, which modern ventilators now do. When mice are genetically engineered to not be able to sigh, they eventually die of major lung problems.

Historically, the sigh was considered to be like a reflex, Pagliardini said. “The lungs collapse, they send some input to the brain, and the brain makes a sigh,” she said. In the past few decades, we’ve learned that sighs are programmed by the brain to occur no matter what signalling is coming from the lungs.

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Clay

January 2021

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.

Announcement

Tending this website keeps me sane. I think of it as a digital garden, a kind of sanctuary. I recognize this in Ethan Marcotte’s eloquent suggestion that we “let a website be a worry stone.” And if my site is a kind of garden, then I see myself as both gardener and architect, in so much as I make plans and prepare the ground, then sow things that grow in all directions. Some things die, but others thrive, and that’s how my garden grows. And I tend it for me; visitors are a bonus. — Simon Collison

  1. I’d invite you to check out the redesigned website. I suppose the only real excitement is the timeline. For some time now, and increasingly in the future, I have been and will be tracking movies, tv shows, books, quotes, thoughts, photos, and travels (RIP *sobbing*).

    I think the details behind the timeline are kind of cool. I use Airtable and Zapier to create new posts. All I have to do is update the spreadsheets I already use to track everything and a new post is created on the site.

    If you see something weird or that doesn’t look right, please let me know. I’ll add it to my list.

  2. The newsletter is moving from being self-hosted to Mailchimp. You might see a welcome or confirmation email, or if things go horribly (horribly, horribly) wrong you might need to opt-in again. We’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.

And now, as we were…

“…rip your individual cells apart” * blink, blink *

What Would We Experience If Earth Spontaneously Turned Into A Black Hole?

In order to approach the actual event horizon itself, you’d have to somehow shield yourself from these tidal forces, which would rip your individual cells apart and even the individual atoms and molecules composing you before you crossed the event horizon. This stretching effect along one direction while compressing you along the other is known as spaghettification, and it’s how black holes would kill and tear apart any creature that ventured too close to an event horizon where space was too severely curved.

As spectacular as falling into a black hole would actually be, if Earth spontaneously became one, you’d never get to experience it for yourself. You’d get to live for about another 21 minutes in an incredibly odd state: free-falling, while the air around you free-fell at exactly the same rate. As time went on, you’d feel the atmosphere thicken and the air pressure increase as everything around the world accelerated towards the center, while objects that weren’t attached to the ground would appear approach you from all directions.

But as you approached the center and you sped up, you wouldn’t be able to feel your motion through space. Instead, what you’d begin to feel was an uncomfortable tidal force, as though the individual constituent components of your body were being stretched internally. These spaghettifying forces would distort your body into a noodle-like shape, causing you pain, loss of consciousness, death, and then your corpse would be atomized. In the end, like everything on Earth, we’d be absorbed into the black hole, simply adding to its mass ever so slightly. For the final 21 minutes of everyone’s life, under only the laws of gravity, our demises would all truly be equal.

Ob-ey-I

The Modern World Has Finally Become Too Complex for Any of Us to Understand

The captain of the container vessel would regularly receive automated emails telling him to slow down the ship. It’s impossible to know why the shipping company’s algorithms decided this was for the best — the captain himself didn’t know. But he could speculate: Maybe the staff or systems at the terminal ahead reported delays with off-loading, or a mechanical hitch. Or maybe the algorithm saw the delays coming in advance because the GPS trackers on other containers showed delivery trucks stuck in gridlock outside the port. Maybe it decided to slow everything down because a customer de-prioritized their order. Or that a change somewhere else in another link of the supply chain meant that getting their shipment from another source became a cheaper or quicker option. Or the cost of oil fluctuated just enough that burning it at the ship’s current rate became inefficient. Or maybe it was all of these reasons simultaneously, or none of them. The point is that we don’t know, the captain of the ship itself didn’t know, and that nobody may know — but that didn’t stop the decision being made.

“McDonald’s is the place we eat when we’re taking a break from being virtuous.”

My Hunt for the Original McDonald’s French-Fry Recipe

My hunt for the lost McRecipe took me up the corporate ladder and to obsessive corners of Reddit. I spoke to fast-food experts, super-fan museum curators, and a 79-year-old former employee of the very first McDonald’s. After weeks of digging, I procured a recipe for the original fries that one fast-food historian believes to be the real deal, one I recreated several times to ensure its legitimacy. I sweat over hot tallow, bled from cutting perfect shoestrings, and literally got pulverized salt in those wounds. But according to at least one expert, I have reason to believe the recipe I’ve uncovered is authentic.

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Clay

December 2020

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.

Colorado’s 697 Sides

Colorado is a rectangle? Think again.

Accordingly, the state has not just four sides, but a total of 697 sides. So if Colorado is not a rectangle, what is it? Well, not a pentagon, (Greek for 5-sider), hexagon (6-sider) or a heptagon (7-sider), but a — hold on to something — hexahectaenneacontakaiheptagon (697-sider).

James Bond Shooting

Casino Royale’s poker scene was as elaborate as a James Bond stunt

The script for Casino Royale worried director Martin Campbell. This was his second reboot of the James Bond franchise, and on the cusp of production, he realized the movie’s centerpiece — a showdown between 007 and the blood-eyed villain Le Chiffre — took place around a quiet poker table. Loosely adapting Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel of the same name, screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis had replaced the author’s original game of baccarat with three big rounds of Texas hold’em. The card game, they believed, made for better drama — it was known more widely, required more skill and delivered higher stakes. But for Campbell, who had never picked up a deck, it looked like a snooze.
[…]
Ultimately, only three hands matter in Casino Royale, and they all feature showdowns between Bond and LeChiffre, providing a three-act structure to the heart of the movie. The first watches Bond muck his cards and intentionally lose to discover LeChiffre’s tell; the second watches LeChiffre dupe Bond and eliminate him from the table with quad jacks; and the third watches Bond return to the tournament to redeem himself with a straight flush. In between, Bond spends a drink break by suffocating two assassins in a stairwell and, at a later intermission, survives a poisoned drink after Vesper (Eva Green), his British accomplice, defibrillates him with his life hanging in the balance.

Yak Bak

Don’t Shave That Yak!

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do.

“I want to wax the car today.”

“Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I’ll need to buy a new one at Home Depot.”

“But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls.”

“But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor’s EZPass…”

“Bob won’t lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though.”

“And we haven’t returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it.”

And the next thing you know, you’re at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

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Clay

November 2020

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.

99.3%

According to this article by The Ringer, no Umpire has ever called a perfect game behind home plate.

Preliminarily, John Tumpane was considered too have called 135/135 pitches correctly in Game 2 of the 2020 ALCS between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays. However, after postgame processing it was determined that Tumpane missed a strike one call to Austin Meadows in the bottom of the 2nd inning by 0.1 inches.

Noting this is really just an excuse to share Tumpane’s story of saving a women’s life in Pittsburgh in 2017.

Sim City

Do We Live in a Simulation?

Plug all these into a Bayesian formula, and out comes the answer: the posterior probability that we are living in base reality is almost the same as the posterior probability that we are a simulation—with the odds tilting in favor of base reality by just a smidgen.

These probabilities would change dramatically if humans created a simulation with conscious beings inside it, because such an event would change the chances that we previously assigned to the physical hypothesis. “You can just exclude that hypothesis right off the bat. Then you are only left with the simulation hypothesis,” Kipping says. “The day we invent that technology, it flips the odds from a little bit better than 50–50 that we are real to almost certainly we are not real, according to these calculations. It’d be a very strange celebration of our genius that day.

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Clay

October 2020

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.

Earn Your Participation Trophy

Step 1: Click here to get 5 random dates between January 20, 2017 and January 20, 2021 (gotta future-proof, y’know).

Step 2: Match the month and day with the Catalog of Trump’s Worst Cruelties, Collusions, Corruptions, and Crimes and/or, if you would prefer, the Washington Post’s False and Misleading Claims page.

(I highly recommend just using Cmd+F or Ctrl+F to search the page. Otherwise, you will be scrolling until November 3.)

Step 3: VOTE.

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Clay

September 2020

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.

Egg-cellent

Always on the Side of the Egg

Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.

Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be?

What is the meaning of this metaphor? In some cases, it is all too simple and clear. Bombers and tanks and rockets and white phosphorus shells are that high, solid wall. The eggs are the unarmed civilians who are crushed and burned and shot by them. This is one meaning of the metaphor.

This is not all, though. It carries a deeper meaning. Think of it this way. Each of us is, more or less, an egg. Each of us is a unique, irreplaceable soul enclosed in a fragile shell. This is true of me, and it is true of each of you. And each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, is confronting a high, solid wall. The wall has a name: It is The System. The System is supposed to protect us, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own, and then it begins to kill us and cause us to kill others — coldly, efficiently, systematically.

The Egg: Andy Weir

“So what’s the point of it all?”
“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”
“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.
I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”
“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”
“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”
“Just me? What about everyone else?”
“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”
You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”
“All you. Different incarnations of you.”
“Wait. I’m everyone!?”
“Now you’re getting it,”

“Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

iPoDoE

The Case of the Top Secret iPod

It was a gray day in late 2005. I was sitting at my desk, writing code for the next year’s iPod. Without knocking, the director of iPod Software—my boss’s boss—abruptly entered and closed the door behind him. He cut to the chase. “I have a special assignment for you. Your boss doesn’t know about it. You’ll help two engineers from the US Department of Energy build a special iPod. Report only to me.”

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Clay

August 2020

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.

How Low Can You Go

What would Tiger Woods shoot on your home course?

For the past 25 years, we’ve watched Tiger dominate on some of the toughest courses in the world. If you’re anything like me, you’ve asked yourself, “How good would Tiger be at my course from my tees?”.

Recently, a good friend asked me an interesting question: “If tour players entered their scores just like we do, what would their USGA handicap index be?” I ran the numbers and it was eye-popping.

And I quote, “A fucking bitch”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Responds to Rep. Ted Yoho

And so what I believe is that having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man, and when a decent man messes up as we all are bound to do, he tries his best and does apologize. Not to save face, not to win a vote, he apologizes genuinely to repair and acknowledge the harm done so that we can all move on.

Lastly, what I want to express to Mr. Yoho is gratitude. I want to thank him for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost women. You can have daughters and accost women without remorse. You can be married and accost women. You can take photos and project an image to the world of being a family man and accost women without remorse and with a sense of impunity. It happens every day in this country. It happened here on the steps of our nation’s Capitol. It happens when individuals who hold the highest office in this land admit, admit to hurting women and using this language against all of us.

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Clay

July 2020

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.

Black Lives Matter

You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument

I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.

If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument.

Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge

But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.

Adrian Brandon: Stolen

I use time as a medium to define how long each portrait is colored in. 1 year of life = 1 minute of color…So for each of these portraits I played with the harsh relationship between time and death. I want the viewer to see how much empty space is left in these lives, stories that will never be told, space that can never be filled. This emptiness represents holes in their families and our community, who will be forever stuck with the question, “who were they becoming?”

8:46 – Dave Chappelle

We’re not desperate for heroes in the black community. Anyone who survives this nightmare is my god-damned hero.

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Clay

June 2020

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.

Times Like These

The Day the Live Concert Returns

In today’s world of fear and unease and social distancing, it’s hard to imagine sharing experiences like these ever again. I don’t know when it will be safe to return to singing arm in arm at the top of our lungs, hearts racing, bodies moving, souls bursting with life. But I do know that we will do it again, because we have to. It’s not a choice. We’re human. We need moments that reassure us that we are not alone. That we are understood. That we are imperfect. And, most important, that we need each other. I have shared my music, my words, my life with the people who come to our shows. And they have shared their voices with me. Without that audience—that screaming, sweating audience—my songs would only be sound. But together, we are instruments in a sonic cathedral, one that we build together night after night. And one that we will surely build again.

Want to Dance

”The Last Dance” – The 10 part documentary chronicles the untold story of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty.

“Look, winning has a price,” says Jordan. “And leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn’t want to be pulled. I challenged people when they didn’t want to be challenged. And I earned that right because my teammates who came after me didn’t endure all the things that I endured. Once you joined the team, you lived at a certain standard that I played the game. And I wasn’t going to take any less. Now if that means I had to go in there and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that. You ask all my teammates. The one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn’t fucking do. When people see this they are going say, ‘Well he wasn’t really a nice guy. He may have been a tyrant.’ Well, that’s you. Because you never won anything. I wanted to win, but I wanted them to win to be a part of that as well. Look, I don’t have to do this. I am only doing it because it is who I am. That’s how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don’t want to play that way, don’t play that way. Break.”

Quote Video Source

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May 2020

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.

Pruned

My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore?

For the past 10 years I’ve been staring wide-eyed and with alarm as the sweet, gentle citizen restaurant transformed into a kind of unruly colossal beast. The food world got stranger and weirder to me right while I was deep in it. The “waiter” became the “server,” the “restaurant business” became the “hospitality industry,” what used to be the “customer” became the “guest,” what was once your “personality” became your “brand,” the small acts of kindness and the way you always used to have of sharing your talents and looking out for others became things to “monetize.”

The work itself — cooking delicious, interesting food and cleaning up after cooking it — still feels as fresh and honest and immensely satisfying as ever. Our beloved regulars and the people who work so hard at Prune are all still my favorite people on earth. But maybe it’s the bloat, the fetishistic foodies, the new demographic of my city who have never been forced to work in retail or service sectors. Maybe it’s the auxiliary industries that feed off the restaurants themselves — the bloggers and agents and the “influencers,” the brand managers, the personal assistants hired just to keep you fresh on “Insta,” the Food & Wine festivals, the multitude of panels we chefs are now routinely invited to join, to offer our charming yet thoroughly unresearched opinions on. The proliferation of television shows and YouTube channels and culinary competitions and season after season of programming where you find yourself aghast to see an idol of yours stuffing packaged cinnamon buns into a football-shaped baking pan and squirting the frosting into a laces pattern for a tailgating episode on the Food Network.

And God, the brunch, the brunch. The phone hauled out for every single pancake and every single Bloody Mary to be photographed and Instagrammed. That guy who strolls in and won’t remove his sunglasses as he holds up two fingers at my hostess without saying a word: He wants a table for two. The purebred lap dogs now passed off as service animals to calm the anxieties that might arise from eating eggs Benedict on a Sunday afternoon. I want the girl who called the first day of our mandated shut down to call back, in however many months when restaurants are allowed to reopen, so I can tell her with delight and sincerity: No. We are not open for brunch. There is no more brunch.

Shoot, [No] Score

Why Sports Aren’t Coming Back Soon

Athletes, Jenga, Coaching Staff, Jenga, Interpreters, Jenga, Medical Staff, Jenga, Reporters, Jenga, Broadcasters, Jenga, Grounds Keepers, Jenga, Maintenance Workers, Jenga, Bus Drivers, Jenga, Hotel Staff, Jenga, Security Personnel, Jenga, Delivery People, Jenga.

No Worse Nightmare

The Devastating Decline of a Brilliant Young Coder

What makes you you? The question cuts to the core of who we are, the things that make us special in this universe. The converse of the question raises another kind of philosophical dilemma: If a person isn’t himself, who is he?

Countless philosophers have taken a swing at this elusive piñata. In the 17th century, John Locke pinned selfhood on memory, using recollections as the thread connecting a person’s past with their present. That holds some intuitive appeal: Memory, after all, is how most of us register our continued existence. But memory is unreliable. Writing in the 1970s, renowned philosopher Derek Parfit recast Locke’s idea to argue that personhood emerges from a more complex view of psychological connectedness across time. He suggested that a host of mental phenomena—memories, intentions, beliefs, and so on—forge chains that bind us to our past selves. A person today has many of the same psychological states as that person a day ago. Yesterday’s human enjoys similar overlap with an individual of two days prior. Each memory or belief is a chain that stretches back through time, holding a person together in the face of inevitable flux.

The gist, then, is that someone is “himself” because countless mental artifacts stay firm from one day to the next, anchoring that person’s character over time. It’s a less crisp definition than the old idea of a soul, offering no firm threshold where selfhood breaks down. It doesn’t pinpoint, for example, how many psychological chains you can lose before you stop being yourself.

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April 2020

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.

I Spy a Marmot

For Decades, Cartographers Have Been Hiding Covert Illustrations Inside of Switzerland’s Official Maps

But on certain maps, in Switzerland’s more remote regions, there is also, curiously, a spider, a man’s face, a naked woman, a hiker, a fish, and a marmot. These barely-perceptible apparitions aren’t mistakes, but rather illustrations hidden by the official cartographers at Swisstopo in defiance of their mandate “to reconstitute reality.” Maps published by Swisstopo undergo a rigorous proofreading process, so to find an illicit drawing means that the cartographer has outsmarted his colleagues.
[…]
Many maps also contain intentional errors to trap would-be copyright violators. The work of recording reality is particularly vulnerable to plagiarism: if a cartographer is suspected of copying another’s work, he can simply claim to be duplicating the real world— ideally, the two should be the same. Mapmakers often rely on fictitious streets, typically no longer than a block, to differentiate their accounts of the truth

Barenaked Ladies + U2 = ?

The Case of the Missing Hit

This is the best episode of any podcast I have ever heard.

A man in California is haunted by the memory of a pop song from his youth. He can remember the lyrics and the melody. But the song itself has vanished, completely scrubbed from the internet. PJ takes on the Super Tech Support case.

Listen to the episode before checking out this interview with one of Reply All’s hosts, P.J. Vogt

P.J. Vogt on Reply All’s Instantly Legendary Episode 

H-E-B, P-P-P-P-P

Inside the Story of How H-E-B Planned for the Pandemic

We did not see runs on toilet paper as one of the first things to go out of stock. That was something we still kind of have a hard time understanding.

Covid-Corner

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March 2020

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.

Ready for your close up?

Your Visitors Deserve to Know They’re on Camera

I briefly spoke about this over email with Elizabeth Joh, a University of California, Davis, School of Law professor, who reminded me: “You never just ‘buy’ a new surveillance device. You’ve adopted a worldview about privacy, anonymity and autonomy — whether by conscious choice or accident.”

Quoted law professor Elizabeth Joh also co-hosts the tremendously educational podcast, What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law.

Pro-Am Pageantry

The joy, fear, and occasional humiliation of playing as an amateur in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

On a Saturday in late October, my cell phone rang and it was Bill Perocchi, the CEO of Pebble Beach Company, and he asked me if I could play. If you ever get one of those calls, yes is the answer. Yes, sweet mother of pearl, yes. Then a leather-bound invitation arrives in the mail with Clint Eastwood’s signature. You send in your check and you’re in.

Swiss Cheese

‘The intelligence coup of the century’

For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret.

The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software.

The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.

But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.

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February 2020

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.

Transcendent

Roger Federer as Religious Experience

The metaphysical explanation is that Roger Federer is one of those rare, preternatural athletes who appear to be exempt, at least in part, from certain physical laws. Good analogues here include Michael Jordan, who could not only jump inhumanly high but actually hang there a beat or two longer than gravity allows, and Muhammad Ali, who really could “float” across the canvas and land two or three jabs in the clock-time required for one. There are probably a half-dozen other examples since 1960. And Federer is of this type — a type that one could call genius, or mutant, or avatar. He is never hurried or off-balance. The approaching ball hangs, for him, a split-second longer than it ought to. His movements are lithe rather than athletic. Like Ali, Jordan, Maradona, and Gretzky, he seems both less and more substantial than the men he faces.

“Does it Do Anything?” “It Tells the Time.”

The Watches Of James Bond

And what of James Bond’s watches? From a few clues in Fleming’s novels, we learn that 007 wears a “heavy Rolex Oyster” of some sort, with a luminous dial and expanding metal bracelet. It was possibly an Explorer, the watch of the author himself, who no doubt wore it on his spearfishing excursions from his Jamaican beach villa. This was the 1950s, when steel Rolex sports watches were in their infancy and Bond treats his like the tool it was, not the luxury accessory or status symbol it would become. In the novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he brandishes it as a “knuckle duster”, wrapping it across his fist to render a henchman unconscious in the ski room of a mountaintop hideout. Upon later reflection, Bond decides he can get his shattered watch replaced with a stipend from MI-6, and will probably get another Rolex, which Bond feels no particular affection for, but likes because they’re heavy and easy to read. No more, no less.

Just a Bit Outside

How does MLB check the accuracy of pitch tracking at ballparks?

The ground truth method relies on the frame-synchronized filming of a ball passing over the plate by two high-speed cameras. WSU uses Phantom cameras which operate at 2500 frames per second (fps). These 1920×1200 cameras are focused down to a field of view (FOV) of 5 x 3 ft on the space surrounding the strike zone as in Figure 2. This yields a spatial resolution of about 0.03 inches/pixel within the camera’s field depth. Exposure times of 50 µs allow still images from video with a motion blur of less than 80 thousandths of an inch (\< 0.080”) as shown in Figure 3.

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January 2020

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.

Track Attack

One Nation, Tracked

We are living in the world’s most advanced surveillance system. This system wasn’t created deliberately. It was built through the interplay of technological advance and the profit motive. It was built to make money. The greatest trick technology companies ever played was persuading society to surveil itself.

Younger Guns

A week behind the scenes with two college golf powerhouses

With an effortless motion, Davenport hits soaring rifle-shot irons that land like warm dumplings. Watching elite college athletes smash 6-irons and launch drives on gravity-defying lines is a mystifying experience. The speed, sound and sense of compression seem to defy physics. Most elite Division I players arrive on campus with all of this figured out, their swings more or less grooved to the current technology and requirements of modern tournament golf. They come to places like Vanderbilt and Texas because they want to compete and win titles, but also because they know the coaches there can help them realize their dream—a professional career—which is on the mind of virtually every college player, at least initially. They choose programs because there’s evidence of this, rosters of former players on the PGA Tour. The job of Limbaugh, Fields and their brethren, therefore, is to help these kids round out their games, to develop their competitive character and situational awareness. College coaching is largely, on a fundamental level, teaching course management and honing instincts beyond shooting yardages and firing at pins, which is what all exceptional 17-year-olds do.

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December 2019

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.

In the Event of an Apollo 11 Disaster

The Moon Landing: An Undelivered Nixon Speech

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace…In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

The MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality has taken audio and video of Nixon and created a fake film of William Safire’s speech in the event of an Apollo 11 disaster.

Related: For All Mankind on Apple TV+ has been very solid to this point.

Houston TrAstros

A medley of stories and videos about the Astros use of video to steal and relay signs:

And for good measure, let’s not forget the disgusting behavior by both the Astros and (former) assistant general manager Brandon Taubman.

“Need tickets?” “Need tickets.”

Sinners, Scalpers and the Search for God: One man’s descent into the underworld of sports

The fans who needed tickets stood out. We called them “straights” because they stand straight up in a crowd protecting the cash they’re unused to carrying, hands stuck in their pockets, and you could make a few thousand dollars in a couple of hours if you knew how to spot them. The game was to sell your tickets for as much cash as the straights could cough up.

I had 30 tickets left with 20 minutes to kickoff. If I didn’t sell them they’d be worthless — deadwood. But with undercovers swarming the stadium, the risk of arrest swelled with every sale. Ticket scalping in Brazil carried a multi-year prison sentence, and I couldn’t speak Portuguese, so I had to be careful. Avoiding capture meant closing deals quickly and moving every five minutes. These were techniques my mentors taught me on street corners, outside the track at the Kentucky Derby, in the parking lots bordering the Masters, the hotel lobbies by the Super Bowl.

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Clay

November 2019

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.

Code Red

The Lines of Code That Changed Everything

To shed light on the software that has tilted the world on its axis, the editors polled computer scientists, software developers, historians, policymakers, and journalists. They were asked to pick: Which pieces of code had a huge influence? Which ones warped our lives? About 75 responded with all sorts of ideas, and Slate has selected 36. It’s not a comprehensive list—it couldn’t be, given the massive welter of influential code that’s been written. (One fave of mine that didn’t make the cut: “Quicksort”! Or maybe Ada Lovelace’s Bernoulli algorithm.) Like all lists, it’s meant to provoke thought—to help us ponder anew how code undergirds our lives and how decisions made by programmers ripple into the future.

Some personal favorite: The Apollo 11 Lunar Module’s BAILOUT Code, The One-Line Virus, The HTML Hyperlink, The Code That Made a T-Shirt Illegal, RSS, The Lost Mars Climate Orbiter

Words, Words, Words

Can a Machine Learn to Write for The New Yorker?

To understand how GPT-2 writes, imagine that you’ve never learned any spelling or grammar rules, and that no one taught you what words mean. All you know is what you’ve read in eight million articles that you discovered via Reddit, on an almost infinite variety of topics (although subjects such as Miley Cyrus and the Mueller report are more familiar to you than, say, the Treaty of Versailles). You have Rain Man-like skills for remembering each and every combination of words you’ve read. Because of your predictive-text neural net, if you are given a sentence and asked to write another like it, you can do the task flawlessly without understanding anything about the rules of language. The only skill you need is being able to accurately predict the next word.

Money Buys…

What Really Happens When You Become an Overnight Millionaire?

Peter Rahal, the 33-year-old energy bar impresario who sold RxBar to Kellogg for $600 million and became something of a consumer products legend in the process, stands in the gigantic, spotless kitchen of his new Miami Beach mansion. Behind him, floor-to-ceiling windows revealed his pool, his outdoor bar, and Sunset Harbour. Throughout the house are expensive-looking modernist metal chandeliers. The kitchen drawers are filled with gold utensils.
[…]
Rahal prides himself on struggle and says that’s how he built RxBar into a breakout success. Yet now he exists in a rich person’s wonderland, where workers appear and disappear on some imperceptible schedule to clean the pool or fix the elevator, where the kitchen’s surfaces are entirely smooth and glossy. The many contradictions now swirling in Rahal’s daily existence are not lost on him. “As life moves forward,” he says, “an easier life isn’t always a better life.”

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October 2019

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.

A Burst Bubble

The Balloon Boy Hoax—Solved!

It’s not difficult to piece it together: With a video camera rolling, Richard would launch the balloon and freak out. He’d call the FAA and get the balloon tracked. There’d be a tearful reunion when Falcon emerged from the basement, where he’d been told to hide. Richard would call back and say his son wasn’t in the basket. They’d make sure the Fort Collins newspaper knew about the stray saucer and the drama behind it. The story might go nationwide. With publicity in full force and a recording of every moment, networks would fight over the Heenes’ story.

Except Falcon didn’t hide where he was told to. He hid in the garage attic, not in the basement. He played with his cars and he fell asleep. The FAA said Richard needed to call 911. Deputies showed up. Neighbors began searching for Falcon. And then that silvery balloon was careening across our television screens. That’s why Mayumi’s reunion with Falcon was so believable: For a few hours, she and Richard honestly worried their son had been swept away.

Chess-t Day

The Grandmaster Diet: How to lose weight while barely moving

In 2004, winner Rustam Kasimdzhanov walked away from the six-game world championship having lost 17 pounds. In October 2018, Polar, a U.S.-based company that tracks heart rates, monitored chess players during a tournament and found that 21-year-old Russian grandmaster Mikhail Antipov had burned 560 calories in two hours of sitting and playing chess — or roughly what Roger Federer would burn in an hour of singles tennis.

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September 2019

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.

A Case of the Monday’s

Meet the Man Unearthing the Triumphs (and Tragedies) of Monday-Qualifier Life

Every Monday the PGA Tour holds a “small” tournament to get into the week’s “big” tournament. Four spots are up for grabs and there are often over 100 vagabonding golfers trying to play their way in.

“I think golf is thought of as so elitist, epically pro golf — private jets and big money and handing out gloves — so I don’t think people knew this side of it existed,” French says. “They know minor-league baseball because everyone’s been to a minor-league baseball game. It’s organized. Monday qualifying is just so fractured. I don’t think people knew it existed, at least your casual golf fan didn’t. They didn’t realize there were people grinding out there sleeping in cars, and I think that’s the human interest of it.”

My favorites of French’s tweets are the tweets that summarize the level of play so simply.

Brains Are Weird

What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick?

And after a quarter-century of hard work, they have abundant evidence to prove it. Give people a sugar pill, they have shown, and those patients — especially if they have one of the chronic, stress-related conditions that register the strongest placebo effects and if the treatment is delivered by someone in whom they have confidence — will improve. Tell someone a normal milkshake is a diet beverage, and his gut will respond as if the drink were low fat. Take athletes to the top of the Alps, put them on exercise machines and hook them to an oxygen tank, and they will perform better than when they are breathing room air — even if room air is all that’s in the tank. Wake a patient from surgery and tell him you’ve done an arthroscopic repair, and his knee gets better even if all you did was knock him out and put a couple of incisions in his skin. Give a drug a fancy name, and it works better than if you don’t.

You don’t even have to deceive the patients. You can hand a patient with irritable bowel syndrome a sugar pill, identify it as such and tell her that sugar pills are known to be effective when used as placebos, and she will get better, especially if you take the time to deliver that message with warmth and close attention. Depression, back pain, chemotherapy-related malaise, migraine, post-traumatic stress disorder: The list of conditions that respond to placebos — as well as they do to drugs, with some patients — is long and growing.

Screenshot Graveyard

Version Museum

Much like walking through a real-life museum, Version Museum aims to illustrate the visual, tangible elements of various versions of technology, rather than just the written history behind it. Wikipedia and other sites already do a fantastic job of detailing the story behind websites, apps, and everything else. This site focuses on observable changes over time. If you’re a longtime user of a certain product, there’s probably going to be some nostalgia as you look at all the previous iterations of it over the years.

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August 2019

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.

“The (C)Rapture”

On Pooping in the Dark—No Lights, No Phones, No Distractions

I used to DM during every BM. Then, one afternoon a few years ago, I slipped into a poop portal. Backpacking through remote wilderness in searing heat, I felt the telltale pang. Coffee, eggs, chorizo, and water were all rushing—screamingly—to the exits. At the nearest rest stop, I dashed into a bathroom so single-mindedly I didn’t turn on the lights and collapsed onto the toilet. The immediate release, shrouded as it was in shadow, was cosmic, like waking up from a nightmare, realizing it’s Christmas, I’m 5 years old, and can fly. Though I haven’t yet been able to recreate every condition, to this day I try to dump in total darkness: no lights, no phone, the gulf between mind and body quaked shut.

Ring, Ring

Amazon Requires Police to Shill Surveillance Cameras in Secret Agreement

Amazon’s home security company Ring has enlisted local police departments around the country to advertise its surveillance cameras in exchange for free Ring products and a “portal” that allows police to request footage from these cameras, a secret agreement obtained by Motherboard shows. The agreement also requires police to “keep the terms of this program confidential.”
[…]
People often buy and use Ring doorbell cameras under the premise that they’re making their individual homes safer. But these people aren’t just making choices for themselves. They’re consenting to surveilling everyone in their neighborhood and anyone who comes in the vicinity of their home, including friends and family, delivery workers, and anyone else.

Head out on the Highway

Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It

Further entrenching automobile supremacy are laws that require landowners who build housing and office space to build housing for cars as well. In large part because of parking quotas, parking lots now cover more than a third of the land area of some U.S. cities; Houston is estimated to have 30 parking spaces for every resident. As the UCLA urban-planning professor Donald Shoup has written, this mismatch flows from legal mandates rather than market demand. Every employee who brings a car to the office essentially doubles the amount of space he takes up at work, and in urban areas his employer may be required by law to build him a $50,000 garage parking space.

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Book ‘Em

Golf Architecture: Economy in Course Construction and Green-Keeping

A good golf course is a great asset to the nation. Those who harangue against land being diverted from agriculture and used for golf have little sense of proportion. Comparing the small amount of land utilised for golf with the large amount devoted to agriculture, we get infinitely more value out of the former than the latter. We all eat too much. During the Great War the majority were all the fitter for being rationed and getting a smaller amount of food, but none of us get enough fresh air, pleasurable excitement, and exercise. Health and happiness are everything in this world.
– Dr. Alister MacKenzie

Get a copy here. Cost: $3, 1 hour – easily a worthwhile exchange.

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Clay

July 2019

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.

Ow

The Underground Art of Prison Tattoos

Prisoners take apart beard trimmers or CD players to get at the tiny motor, which they can adapt to make the tattoo needle go up and down quickly enough.

The needle itself is often made from a metal guitar string split in two by holding it over an open flame until it snaps in half, creating a fine point. The springs inside gel pens can also flatten into needles.

One former prisoner who now runs a tattoo shop said he used to make black ink by trapping soot in a milk carton placed over a burning pile of plastic razors or Bible pages. He would mix the leftover ash and soot with a bit of alcohol (for hygienic purposes).

Go, No Go

Apollo 11 in Real Time

This website replays the Apollo 11 mission as it happened, 50 years ago. It consists entirely of historical material, all timed to Ground Elapsed Time–the master mission clock. Footage of Mission Control, film shot by the astronauts, and television broadcasts transmitted from space and the surface of the Moon, have been painstakingly placed to the very moments they were shot during the mission, as has every photograph taken, and every word spoken.

Public Service Broadcasting – Go!

Pitch Perfect

Living with Perfect Pitch and Synaesthesia

That car horn beeps an F major chord, this kettle’s in A flat, some bedside lights get thrown out because they are out of tune with other appliances…bath taps squeak in E, this person sneezes in E flat. That printer’s in D mostly. The microwave is in the same key as the washing machine.
[…]
When I taste things, I also hear music, mainly chords – sugar and desserts almost always in major key and chocolate and coffee are particularly complex sounds, with overtones and harmonics. I love broccoli and cauliflower which are a cycle of fifths. Sushi tastes like power chords on an acoustic guitar. Lemon meringue pie is a concoction of A major chords and inversions, 7ths and minors.

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Clay

June 2019

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.

Bob, Why a PDF?

A Technical and Cultural Assessment of the Mueller Report PDF

Everyone knew that the US Department of Justice and Attorney General Barr would release the Mueller Report as a PDF file.

In fact, it’s safe to say that AG Barr never considered delivering anything else. No one would have even suggested a Word file, or a set of TIFF images, or a website, or an XPS file, or EPUB, or plain text. It’s 2019, but it seems safe to say that they simply assumed they’d use PDF.

If you are like most people, you simply assumed it would be a PDF as well.

Why?

The Lows of Colonial’s 2019 Champion

The Complicated Kevin Na: A Case Study in the Frailty of a Golfer’s Psyche

On every swing a battle raged between his technical proficiency and mental fragility. He would stand over the ball, his mind jumbled with swing thoughts. His hands strangled the grip, his arms were knots of tension. The seconds would tick by, and he felt powerless to lift the club. Then the uncertainty would ebb just long enough to allow him to start his swing, and the resulting shot would be flawless.

Seriously painful to watch: “Pull the trigger!

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Clay

May 2019

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.

Lego Tower

Analysis: How many stacked Lego’s would it take to destroy the bottom Lego

I don’t understand any of this analysis so I’ll spoil it; It would take 454,159 Legos stacked one on top of the other to destroy the bottom brick. That is 2.7 miles of Legos…halfway up Everest.

Sunday Red

Tiger and Time

From the unique perspective of Golden Bell:

And the roars for him were unlike those even for Arnie and Jack. I think that’s because Tiger wasn’t adored like Arnie, and he wasn’t lionized like Jack. No there was something else about him, something more aspirational. I am not sure I can describe it — I am no poet, I am the subject of poetry — but as I understand it, Tiger offered to take the crowd to a place where golf had never gone. He was an astronaut. He hit shots no one had ever hit. He saw possibilities where others saw tree branches and double bogeys. He brought order to a disorderly game.

Anyway, that’s how I have heard it described.

Then, one day, something with Tiger Woods changed. One hears things, but I am not one to partake in rumors. But I could see that Tiger no longer commanded the game the way he had. The crowds still shouted for him, but their cheers were less confident and more nervous. He grew older. He seemed to have a different swing every time I saw him. And then, some years, he did not show up at all.

Strike Three

Time for Robo-umps?

This human element of the game adds color but it comes at a high cost: too many mistakes. In 2018, MLB umpires, made 34,294 incorrect ball and strike calls for an average of 14 per game or 1.6 per inning. Many umpires well exceeded this number. Some of these flubbed calls were game changing.

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April 2019

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.

M68

An Exclusive Look at an Original iPhone Prototype

Apple had developed the iPhone in secret over those two and a half years, and for many inside the company, the device had only been known by the codenames “M68” and “Purple 2.” Apple was focused on surprising everyone with the iPhone, and that meant that many of the engineers working on the original handset didn’t even know what it would eventually look like.

To achieve that level of secrecy, Apple created special prototype development boards that contained nearly all of the iPhone’s parts, spread out across a large circuit board. The Verge has obtained exclusive access to the original iPhone M68 prototype board from 2006 / 2007, thanks to Red M Sixty, a source that asked to remain anonymous. It’s the first time this board has been pictured publicly, and it provides a rare historical look at an important part of computing history, showing how Apple developed the original iPhone.

80658175170943878571660636856403766975289505440883277824000000000000

52 Cards Shuffled

Summarized:

  • Set a timer to count down 52! seconds (that’s 8.0658×1067 seconds).

  • Stand on the equator, and take a step forward every billion years.

  • When you’ve circled the earth once, take a drop of water from the Pacific Ocean, and repeat.

  • When the Pacific Ocean is empty, lay a sheet of paper down, refill the ocean and carry on.

  • When your stack of paper reaches the sun, take a look at the timer.

The 3 left-most digits won’t have changed. 8.063×1067 seconds left to go.

  • Repeat the whole process 1000 times to get 1/3 of the way through that time.

5.385×1067 seconds left to go. To kill that time you try something else.

  • Shuffle a deck of cards, deal yourself 5 card poker hand every billion years.

  • Each time you get a royal flush, buy a lottery ticket.

  • Each time that ticket wins the jackpot, throw a grain of sand in the grand canyon

  • When the grand canyon’s full, take 1oz of rock off Mount Everest. Empty the canyon and start over again.

  • When Everest has been leveled, check the timer.

There’s barely any change. 5.364×1067 seconds.

The timer would run out sometime during your 255th time through the process.

Feeding the Algorithm

The Internet Knows You Better Than Your Spouse Does

Then the investigators had the program examine the likes of other Facebook users. If the software had as few as 10 [likes] for analysis, it was able to evaluate that person about as well as a co-worker did. Given 70 likes, the algorithm was about as accurate as a friend. With 300 [likes], it was more successful than the person’s spouse. Even more astonishing to the researchers, feeding likes into their program enabled them to predict whether someone suffered from depression or took drugs and even to infer what the individual studied in school.

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March 2019

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.

Aberdeen Air

The World’s Busiest Commercial Heliport

Aberdeen’s area of responsibility over the North Sea is the same size as the entire UK landmass, approximately 100,000² nautical miles. Most of this area is ‘uncontrolled’ Class G airspace, with a number of military Danger Areas; this makes the controlling environment complex and demanding.
[…]
Tricky conditions such as strong winds, fog in summer and snow in winter provide challenges to the team in Aberdeen, with high waves around the rigs and a phenomenon called ‘triggered lightning’ (where the movement of rotor blade generates electricity between them in certain weather conditions) also affect operations, making it one of the most challenging and interested places to be an air traffic controller anywhere in the world.

NGA

Neighborhood Golf Association

For the past 10 years, street photographer Patrick Barr aka Tiger Hood has become a local legend known for bringing golf to the streets of NYC. It’s a game that requires only three items: a golf club, a newspaper-stuffed milk carton, and a crate. What was initially just a way for Barr to pass time has gained traction from major news outlets and celebrities on a global scale. However, street golf seems to overshadow his true passion… photography. Barr’s archive consists of thousands of mind blowing film photographs of NYC from the 1990’s to 2000’s. His goal was to preserve a time and place that he predicted would dissolve in the coming years. With his archive as evidence, he predicted correctly.

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February 2019

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

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“Is my brain intact?”

The Strange Brain of the World’s Greatest Solo Climber

Honnold is twice as sensation-seeking as the average person, and fully 20 percent higher than the average high sensation seeker. The most likely explanation for his flatline amygdala activation in the scanner, Joseph says, is that the tasks she set for him simply were not strong enough tea.

Honnold also scores as exceedingly conscientious, associated with the ability to concentrate, remain focused on a task, and see things through. He also surveyed high in premeditation, his typical modus operandi, and very low in neuroticism, making him unlikely to ruminate over unlikely outcomes or risks that are impossible to manage. “If you don’t have any fear to begin with,” Honnold says, “there’s a lot less to control.”

“He has the traits that enable him to be incredibly focused, and incredibly patient, but at the same time totally sensation seeking,” Joseph says.

Honnald’s most acclaimed climb is being the first free solo (climb without ropes) El Capitan. The documentary featuring this achievement, Free Solo, was recently nominated for an Oscar.

The movie is a 97 minute stress test.

Putt-Putt

Analysis: Putting with the Flagstick In

As part of the USGA’s 2019 Rule changes, there is no longer a penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits a flagstick left in the hole.

TLDR; You should leave the flagstick in.

  1. The flagstick slows the ball by a greater factor than it decreases the time the ball spends suspended over the hole.
  2. Unless you have exceptional distance control, effective capture speed can remain about the same.
  3. Hitting the ball more firmly allows for a larger margin of error. It also reduces the tendency of a slow-moving putt to “wobble” or be moved off-line due to imperfections.
  4. Players, particularly poorer putters, leave a lot of putts from 6′ to 15′ short. This change would let them be more aggressive.
  5. The situations where the flagstick should be removed (it leans too much, it’s moving around a lot in the wind) almost never occur.
  6. The flagstick offers an aid – it gives the player yet another point or two at which to aim.

Bryson DeChambeau, the most scientific player on tour (at least boastfully), says that he will almost always leave the flagstick in because of the “coefficient of restitution”. Good to know.

“Cable Guy!”

I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America.

I can’t tell you about a specific day as a cable tech. I can’t tell you my first customer was a cat hoarder. I can tell you the details, sure. That I smeared Vicks on my lip to try to cover the stench of rugs and walls and upholstery soaked in cat piss. That I wore booties, not to protect the carpets from the mud on my boots but to keep the cat piss off my soles. I can tell you the problem with her cable service was that her cats chewed through the wiring. That I had to move a mummified cat behind the television to replace the jumper. That ammonia seeped into the polyester fibers of my itchy blue uniform, clung to the sweat in my hair. That the smell stuck to me through the next job.

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January 2019

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.

Simply The Best

The Best Doesn’t Exist. 

People who are searching for good enough are not second-guessing themselves. When there’s any little imperfection, people who are searching for the best don’t say, “Well, the world has disappointed me.” They say, “I must have made a mistake.”

Barkley’s Bud

My Dad’s Friendship With Charles Barkley

I preferred the audio version to the written article, for what it’s worth.

When Charles Barkley’s mother, Charcey Glenn, passed away in June 2015, Barkley’s hometown of Leeds, Alabama, came to the funeral to pay respects. But there was also an unexpected guest.

Barkley’s friends couldn’t quite place him. He wasn’t a basketball player, he wasn’t a sports figure, and he wasn’t from Barkley’s hometown. Here’s what I can tell you about him: He wore striped, red polo shirts tucked into khaki shorts and got really excited about two-for-one deals. He was a commuter. He worked as a cat litter scientist in Muscatine, Iowa. In short, he was everyone’s suburban dad. More specifically, he was my dad.

“You know, it was obviously a very difficult time,” Barkley told me recently. “And the next thing I know, he shows up. Everybody’s like, ‘Who’s the Asian dude over there?’ I just started laughing. I said, ‘That’s my boy, Lin.’ They’re, like, ‘How do you know him?’ I said, ‘It’s a long story.’ ”

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Book ‘Em

Bill Gates’s ‘5 Books I Loved in 2018’

Three of these are definitely on my list.

  1. Educated: A Memoir
  2. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari won me over with Sapiens and Homo Deus — the past and the future. Nice of him to make his next stop the present.
  3. The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness – I’ve tried meditation and the only thing that felt like it made sense was Andy Puddicombe’s app, Headspace.

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

December 2018

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.

Au Revoir, Le Grand K

Mass of a Kilogram to be Redefined

Oddly enough, every measurement of mass made anywhere on Earth is tied back to this one cylindrical object. Known as “Le Grand K,” the cylinder, cast in 1879, is kept carefully sequestered in a secure, controlled environment outside Paris.

[…]

On May 20, 2019, Le Grand K will lose its special status, and the mass of a kilogram will be defined by a fundamental constant of nature known as the Planck constant. At the same time, other mainstays of the metric system will also be revamped: the ampere (the unit of electric current), the kelvin (the unit of temperature) and the mole (the unit for amount of substance).

One. Two. Ten!

Inside the Making of Home Alone’s Fake Gangster Movie

Reeking of authenticity, Angels with Filthy Souls is not just a uniquely persuasive parody. It’s the perfect movie-within-a-movie: a one-minute-and-20-second noir-in-a-nutshell that feels like a fleeting glimpse of a long-lost classic. Its dialogue is crisp, the characters and performances credible, the rapid escalation of its drama enthralling. Plus it culminates in not just the most memorable utterance in Home Alone but one of the great movie lines of all time: “Keep the change, ya filthy animal”.

Unintended Behaviors of AI

Mentioned in January’s newsletter, Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, has a thought experiment that goes…

Suppose we have an AI whose only goal is to make as many paper clips as possible. The AI will realize quickly that it would be much better if there were no humans because humans might decide to switch it off. Because if humans do so, there would be fewer paper clips. Also, human bodies contain a lot of atoms that could be made into paper clips. The future that the AI would be trying to gear towards would be one in which there were a lot of paper clips but no humans.

Out of Bostrom’s thought exercise came Joscha Bach’s Lebowski Theorem stating that, “No superintelligent AI is going to bother with a task that is harder than hacking its reward function.”

Victoria Krakovna has begun aggregating a list of AI who have gamed their objective or reward system.

Examples:

  • “Agent pauses the game indefinitely to avoid losing.”

  • “Agent kills itself at the end of level 1 to avoid losing in level 2.”

  • “A robotic arm trained to slide a block to a target position on a table achieves the goal by moving the table itself.”

  • “In an artificial life simulation where survival required energy but giving birth had no energy cost, one species evolved a sedentary lifestyle that consisted mostly of mating in order to produce new children which could be eaten (or used as mates to produce more edible children).”

  • “AI trained to classify skin lesions as potentially cancerous learns that lesions photographed next to a ruler are more likely to be malignant.”

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Do not hesitate to reply to this months email to share links, wisdom, or thoughts.

Thanks for reading. Have a great holiday season,

Clay

November 2018

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.

“Listen, it takes a long time to go broke buying Ferraris”

What the Hell Happened to Darius Miles?

I remember one day I was running late for practice, so I was flying down the 405. All of a sudden, I look in the rearview, and I see the flashing lights. This unmarked police truck is right up on me. Tinted windows. Big heavy-duty truck. Woop-woop.

I knew I was speeding. So I pull over, and I roll the window down, and I’m reaching over into the glove compartment to get my papers ….

… Then I hear this voice. Big, booming voice.

“WHERE YOU G’WAN, BOY?”

I’m like, Damn, they got the sergeant on me or something?

I turn to look out the window, and I can’t even see this dude’s face he’s so big. All I see is his chest.

“I SAID WHERE YOU G’WAN BOY?”

Then he bends down and looks in the window.

Big, dumbass grin on his face.

It’s Shaq.

I’m like, “Yo! I’m going to practice! You made me late!”

He don’t miss a beat. He taps side of my truck, turns around and says, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll pay your fine. Just holler at me.”

I’m looking in the rearview mirror, like, How the hell …

I built a desk once…twice actually

How One Man Made Stardew Valley

Then there’s Stardew Valley—a humble, intimate farming adventure about the monotony of domestic life, in which you spend dozens of hours parenting cabbages. Eric was a team of one. It took him four and a half years to design, program, animate, draw, compose, record, and write everything in the game, working 12-hour days, seven days a week.

When I first played Stardew Valley all I wanted was to play it on an iPad. Stardew Valley for iOS was released in late October. If you do decide to give it a shot, the Wiki is required reading as far as I am concerned.

Greenland is a Poser

The Mercator projection is a cylindrical map projection presented by the Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. It became the standard map projection for nautical navigation because of its ability to represent lines of constant course, known as rhumb lines or loxodromes, as straight segments that conserve the angles with the meridians. Although the linear scale is equal in all directions around any point, thus preserving the angles and the shapes of small objects (making it a conformal map projection), the Mercator projection distorts the size of objects as the latitude increases from the Equator to the poles, where the scale becomes infinite. So, for example, landmasses such as Greenland and Antarctica appear much larger than they actually are, relative to landmasses near the equator such as Central Africa.

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay