In the modern world we’re never more than a glance away from a digital display of today’s date or the time to the nearest second. The use of GPS devices in cars or even in our own pockets with smartphones has all but eroded the art of map-reading and navigation. This is all exceedingly convenient, of course, but I think that many of us in developed nations are feeling increasingly disconnected from the fundamental principles and processes that support our lives, sensing that our basic skills are atrophying and perhaps feeling anxious of being a little too reliant on the magic of modern technology.
You remember Cody the screaming dog, no doubt, that viral dog video from last summer. (If you don't… get ready.) Cody screams. Screams as if all of life is endless torture. Maybe you didn't look very closely though. That's right. Maybe you were just looking at Cody. Not the spaces between.
Aren't there any other black presidents who win historic elections against old white rich guys? No? Well then, Barack Obama is the Person of the Year, according to TIME, which is not even trying anymore now that Newsweek is gone. Obama was chosen because, let's see, "We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Barack Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America. In 2012, he found and forged a new majority, turned weakness into opportunity and sought, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union."
If taking our guns away and taxing the Koch Brothers at [...]
I recently attended a wedding, and it was, as weddings are wont to be, an almost transcendentally beautiful occasion. It was held on the grounds of a giant sandstone Federation house (who can honestly call something with guest quarters off-site a house?) sitting on miles of pristine green acreage. Fairy lights in the shape of love-hearts hung from the trees. The air smelled of freshly cut grass. Butlers stood with umbrellas armed for the possibility of rain to escort you the few feet to the bathrooms. The food was unlike any food I’d ever tasted. The country estate on which is was held, several hours outside of Sydney, was [...]
There are only 16,777,216 colors that can be represented on the web (under our current system). The Tumblr that celebrates them, Pretty Colors, has posted 1077 of those colors since January. That means this Tumblr can only exist (if it continues posting at the same rate) for another 10,433 years before it runs out of colors. If my math is right. Which it may not be. But it'll have run out of "pretty" colors long before then, most likely. How many of the colors that can exist online can also be considered pretty, even with an open mind? I'd give that Tumblr about another 3000 years. I look forward [...]
"We do not run this story or show this image either in support of the U.S. war effort or in opposition to it." That's Time editor Rick Stengel on his new cover story…. which is coverlined "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan," and has a portrait of a woman brutalized by the Taliban. The story contains this: "As the war in Afghanistan enters its ninth year, the need for an exit strategy weighs on the minds of U.S. policymakers. Such an outcome, it is assumed, would involve reconciliation with the Taliban. But Afghan women fear that in the quest for a quick peace, their progress may be [...]
I'm as trouble as most folks by the overwhelming scientific evidence about the damage concussions do to football players and how I can continue to enjoy the sport in light of that fact. And this Time article (and its sidebar) does a good job of explaining the situation. But, REALLY, did no one look at the links appended to various paragraphs? Because they're kind of appalling.
A few months ago, at the stroke of midnight, I found myself—quivering, and naked but for sturdy running shoes—in the hallway of my college library. I was surrounded by two of my best friends and twenty or so acquaintances; we held bags of candy and bags of our clothes, waiting for the signal. Our leader raised her hand.
"T-B-I!" she cried out. "Y…T…B!" we answered in unison1. And then, loudly, we were off, down six flights of stairs to confront the inevitable spectators.
College campuses, as places, as settings, are these arrested works of beauty, where faces, festivals, and feelings change, but, fundamentally, the state of things remains the same. [...]
So there's a movie that's like having a child and watching it grow up, but without actually having to have the child, and the watching it grow up part takes less than three hours? Sounds pretty perfect to me.
"SCIENTISTS say time is gradually slowing down and will eventually grind to a halt, freezing everything in an instant. But the change is so subtle it is undetectable to human senses and would only become noticeable over billions of years, when the Earth is long gone." —I guess this is a kind of "good news/bad news" type deal.
Mr. King: If you could go back and stop Hitler or something like that, you would, wouldn’t you?
Mr. Morris: Would I stop Hitler? Yes.
Mr. King: Yes, sure you would.
Mr. Morris: My mother’s dead, but I think my mother would be proud of me.
Mr. King: But, of course, she wouldn’t know who Hitler was. Because he would have been totally whisked off the stage.
—And there you have it. If you don't recognize the picture of Hitler, it's because they've already done it.
"New materials with the ability to manipulate the speed of light could enable the creation of a 'space-time cloak' capable of masking events or even creating an illusion of 'Star Trek'-style transportation, according to scientists in London." Scientists: "cloak"?
"Currently, Americans watch 200 billion hours of television every year, while the total amount of time the world's Wikipedians have devoted to building the largest, most comprehensive open-source encyclopedia ever known is about 100 million hours." -Citing Clay Shirky on what we do with our time. (via)
I'm always suspicious when they announce the discovery of a new, semi-Earth-like planet mere hours before the opening of a mega space opera movie. Like, okay James Cameron, what CAN'T you manipulate? And yet there it is, announced yesterday: GJ 1214b, a planet a mere 13 parsecs away (just 247 trillion miles! I think that is like maybe a couple weeks of travel time in hypersleep, right you guys?) that is less than three times the size of earth, entirely covered in maybe-water, at a delightful surface temperature of 374Ã‚Â°F. We are all going to live there! I can't wait! With our gills and our pressure pills [...]
"I can't believe I am the loser who wasted time reading this story," writes 'Skane'. "Then wasted more time writing this comment." The story in question is this but this is one of those cases where, out of the keyboards of commenters comes a wisdom that can be applied on an almost universal basis: We are all wasting time reading stories, and some of us are even squandering more of our lives in the futile act of expressing our opinions about our improvident behavior. You [...]
"The earliest sunset really comes in the first week in December, and the latest sunrise occurs in early January. Yet December 21 really is the shortest day of the year. Why?" —Click the link to get the Science stuff on solstices and orbital curvatures and whatever; the important thing to take away here is that the days of early darkness are over! I mean, in the sky. In your own life darkness will continue to come earlier with each passing page of the calendar until you wake up in the morning to discover that it is dark in your soul already and the sun [...]
"There is an immense opportunity—maybe it’s even a business opportunity—to look at our temporal world and think about calendars and clocks and human behavior, to think about each interaction as a specific unit, to take careful note of how we parcel out moments. Whether a mouse moving across a screen or the progress of a Facebook post through a thousand different servers, the way we value time seems to have altered, as if the earth tilted on its axis, as if the seasons are different and new." —In case you haven't read this a thousand times yet.
Wait, did you see this horrifying thing on the kilogram, a measure of weight (yes, yes it is) that is actually tied to a real object? (Which affects the "pound," as the pound is now basically defined as 0.45359237 kilograms!) Familiarly known as Le Grand K and held in a vault just outside of Paris under three bell jars, it dates back to the 1880s, when it was forged by the British metallurgist George Matthey from an alloy of nine-tenths platinum and one-tenth iridium. As a metric unit, the kilogram is “equal to the mass of the international prototype,” according to the official definition. In other words, as [...]
It's helpful both for the youngs, who are impatient for their lives to start, and for the student of history, to examine things with regard to the pace at which they occurred. As a public service: the Joan Didion Timeline. N.B. Does not include some uncollected pieces such as The Case of Theresa Schiavo (2005).
"At Fortune, [former New Yorker managing editor Ralph] Ingersoll developed what came to be called the 'corporation story,' a profile of a company.' He had the idea of writing about The New Yorker…. published, anonymously, in August, 1934. It was 'The Making of a Magazine' told straight, which made The New Yorker look exactly the way Ross didn't want it to look. It also violated Ross's creed: 'I do not want any member of the staff to be conscious of the advertising or business problems of The New Yorker. If so, they will lose their spontaneity and verve and we will be just like all other magazines.' Ingersoll's story, which [...]