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Strangers on a train wittgenstein.it

Ognuno dei coinvolti era mosso dall’affermazione di sé, dall’intolleranza delle rispettive umiliazioni e frustrazioni, dall’insofferenza per alcuni dei presenti, dall’indisponibilità ad “accettare lezioni“, e ricondurre il modo in cui si stava comportando e le cose che stava dicendo al loro senso originario avrebbe avuto probabilmente bisogno di qualche secondo di elaborazione.

Via wittgenstein.it

The Hidden Melodies of Subways Around the World nytimes.com

Via nytimes.com

It is obscene chimamanda.com

There are many social-media-savvy people who are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion, who can fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness but are unable to actually show kindness. People whose social media lives are case studies in emotional aridity. People for whom friendship, and its expectations of loyalty and compassion and support, no longer matter. People who claim to love literature – the messy stories of our humanity – but are also monomaniacally obsessed with whatever is the prevailing ideological orthodoxy. People who demand that you denounce your friends for flimsy reasons in order to remain a member of the chosen puritan class. People who ask you to ‘educate’ yourself while not having actually read any books themselves, while not being able to intelligently defend their own ideological positions, because by ‘educate,’ they actually mean ‘parrot what I say, flatten all nuance, wish away complexity.’ People who do not recognize that what they call a sophisticated take is really a simplistic mix of abstraction and orthodoxy – sophistication in this case being a showing-off of how au fait they are on the current version of ideological orthodoxy.

Via chimamanda.com

All This Time ftrain.substack.com

One of my rules in life is that every person added to a group subtracts two percent from the collective intelligence of that group. A group of ten is operating at 80 percent capability; a group of twenty is only 60 percent smart.

Via ftrain.substack.com

DreamBank dreambank.net

Welcome to The DreamBank, a collection of over 20,000 dream reports

Via dreambank.net

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State newyorker.com

Scholarly estimates of the size of Xinjiang’s internment drive fall in the neighborhood of a million extrajudicially detained people, a figure disputed by the Chinese government. An internal report by Xinjiang’s agriculture department, taken at the height of the internment drive, lamented that “all that’s left in the homes are the elderly, weak women, and children.” It is likely the largest internment of ethnic and religious minorities since the Second World War. After leaving the camps, some detainees are forcibly transferred to farms and factories, or kept under house arrest. [...] More than a million civil servants have been placed into the homes of minority families in Xinjiang in order to “Visit the People, Benefit the People, and Bring Together the Hearts of the People,” according to one government slogan. The cadres are Party members, usually ethnic Han, sent to monitor and assess Turkic and Muslim families, instructing them in political ideology and Han cultural norms. Muslim men and women are pressured to drink and smoke.

Via newyorker.com

The American Abyss nytimes.com

Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true. [...] America will not survive the big lie just because a liar is separated from power. It will need a thoughtful repluralization of media and a commitment to facts as a public good.

Via nytimes.com

How Billionaires See Themselves currentaffairs.org

Much of the behavior we see from billionaires comes from what I’ve come to call “the bifurcated philosophy of accumulation and distribution.” Or, less obnoxiously: it’s okay to be a sociopath when you’re getting the stuff so long as you’re a saint after you’ve got it. The idea is that the world of business is dog-eat-dog and you can be as Machiavellian as you like and don’t need to think about the consequences for anybody’s lives. But then you have to do philanthropy afterwards, because greed is bad. [...] Their justifications for their success crumble when touched. It’s interesting that the ruling class, with all of its resources, cannot mount any kind of persuasive defense of its own position. But to anyone who is secretly insecure, and wonders whether perhaps the people at the top are smarter and better and more hardworking, you will be reassured to know that they are not. You don’t have to take my word for it. It’s right there in their books.

Via currentaffairs.org

Classic Cafes classiccafes.co.uk

Often dismissed as 'greasy spoons', Classic Cafes are actually little gems of British vernacular high street design. This site celebrates their ambience and architecture with over 130 vintage London Formica caffs (and many others around Britain) reviewed, revealed & reappraised. But as Time Out Restaurant Guide noted, the site isn't simply: "a set of recommendations... it's a whole aesthetic!"; an immersive re-exploration of a cultural phenomenon that is fading all too fast.

Via classiccafes.co.uk

What Happened? kieranhealy.org

They thought things would go as protests outside the Capitol usually go, and as their rallies usually go. The crowd would serve as a loud prop. The really dangerous people would be diluted by the rank and file and kept out by the Capitol Police in any case. There would be a great deal of immediate drama and a great deal immediately at stake. Trump loves his crowd, but he has no tolerance at all for the individuals who make it up. As soon as they got inside the building and resolved once more into identifiable individuals, Trump was reportedly and unsurprisingly grossed out by all the “low class” stuff he was seeing. What he envisioned, I think, was a mass of adoring supporters at the very gates of the Capitol, expressing their love and loyalty for him, and together, they would make Congress capitulate to their will.

Via kieranhealy.org

Why Life Does Not Really Exist blogs.scientificamerican.com

Recently, however, I had an epiphany that has forced me to rethink why I love living things so much and reexamine what life is, really. For as long as people have studied life they have struggled to define it. Even today, scientists have no satisfactory or universally accepted definition of life. While pondering this problem, I remembered my brother’s devotion to K’Nex roller coasters and my curiosity about the family cat. Why do we think of the former as inanimate and the latter as alive? In the end, aren’t they both machines? Granted, a cat is an incredibly complex machine capable of amazing behaviors that a K’Nex set could probably never mimic. But on the most fundamental level, what is the difference between an inanimate machine and a living one? Do people, cats, plants and other creatures belong in one category and K’Nex, computers, stars and rocks in another? My conclusion: No. In fact, I decided, life does not actually exist. [...] Life is a concept that we invented. On the most fundamental level, all matter that exists is an arrangement of atoms and their constituent particles. These arrangements fall onto an immense spectrum of complexity, from a single hydrogen atom to something as intricate as a brain. In trying to define life, we have drawn a line at an arbitrary level of complexity and declared that everything above that border is alive and everything below it is not. In truth, this division does not exist outside the mind. There is no threshold at which a collection of atoms suddenly becomes alive, no categorical distinction between the living and inanimate, no Frankensteinian spark. We have failed to define life because there was never anything to define in the first place.

Via blogs.scientificamerican.com

What If You Could Do It All Over? newyorker.com

Their mere presence in our minds may reveal something about how we live: “Unled lives are a largely modern preoccupation,” Miller writes. It used to be that, for the most part, people lived the life their parents had, or the one that the fates decreed. Today, we try to chart our own courses. The difference is reflected in the stories we tell ourselves. In the Iliad, Achilles chooses between two clearly defined fates, designed by the gods and foretold in advance: he can either fight and die at Troy or live a long, boring life. (In the end, he chooses to fight.) But the world in which we live isn’t so neatly organized. Achilles didn’t have to wonder if he should have been pre-med or pre-law; we make such decisions knowing that they might shape our lives.

Via newyorker.com

The Cube Rule cuberule.com

Identify any food purely by the location of structural starch.

Via cuberule.com

To determine if a hot dog is a sandwich, you must first define your boundary conditions twitter.com

Importantly, though, these taxonomies are all useful in different places. Most people, remember, will use the Pornographic Razor. If they ask you for a sandwich, and you give them vanilla pudding between two tortilla chips, you are a madman.

Via twitter.com

Rats love driving tiny cars, even when they don’t get treats arstechnica.com

Explaining the idea of a steering wheel and pedals to rats was probably too difficult, so the controls were three copper wires stretched across an opening cut out of the front of the bodywork and an aluminum plate on the floor.

Via arstechnica.com

Rebecca Solnit: On Not Meeting Nazis Halfway lithub.com

Nevertheless, we get this hopelessly naïve version of centrism, of the idea that if we’re nicer to the other side there will be no other side, just one big happy family. This inanity is also applied to the questions of belief and fact and principle, with some muddled cocktail of moral relativism and therapists’ “everyone’s feelings are valid” applied to everything. But the truth is not some compromise halfway between the truth and the lie, the fact and the delusion, the scientists and the propagandists. And the ethical is not halfway between white supremacists and human rights activists, rapists and feminists, synagogue massacrists and Jews, xenophobes and immigrants, delusional transphobes and trans people. Who the hell wants unity with Nazis until and unless they stop being Nazis?

Via lithub.com

The Digital Nomads Did Not Prepare for This nytimes.com

Americans have never been especially good at vacation. Before Covid-19, they were leaving unused hundreds of millions of paid days off. They even created a work-vacation hybrid — the workation. The idea: Travel to a nice place, work during the day and then, in theory, enjoy the scenery in the off hours. In pandemic times, the digital nomads have simply made workation a permanent state.

Via nytimes.com

100 Tips For A Better Life ideopunk.com

Keep your identity small. “I’m not the kind of person who does things like that” is not an explanation, it’s a trap. It prevents nerds from working out and men from dancing.

Via ideopunk.com

Why Not Eat Octopus? newyorker.com

The real quandary here is, when we find them, what if aliens turn out to be delicious?

Via newyorker.com

On the Pleasures of Not Reading theparisreview.org

I have for many years now actively enjoyed not reading Charles Bukowski. I want to say with conviction that Bukowski is not so much a voice from hell as a voice from Hell-Lite™, a kind of flimsy, adolescent imitation of true misanthropy—but I have no evidence to furnish in my case against him. How could I? I’ve never read him. All I know is that I’ve listened to a tepid Modest Mouse song about him; I have spoken to a stranger at a bar who told me she’d “snort his words off the page,” if she could; and I’ve sneered at the cover of Ham on Rye in a Park Slope Barnes and Noble. If you asked me to mount a cogent defense of my antipathy, I’d have to say something pretentious like “I find his role in the culture banal.”

Via theparisreview.org

How the First Gravitational Waves Were Found newyorker.com

Just over a billion years ago, many millions of galaxies from here, a pair of black holes collided. They had been circling each other for aeons, in a sort of mating dance, gathering pace with each orbit, hurtling closer and closer. By the time they were a few hundred miles apart, they were whipping around at nearly the speed of light, releasing great shudders of gravitational energy. Space and time became distorted, like water at a rolling boil. In the fraction of a second that it took for the black holes to finally merge, they radiated a hundred times more energy than all the stars in the universe combined. They formed a new black hole, sixty-two times as heavy as our sun and almost as wide across as the state of Maine. As it smoothed itself out, assuming the shape of a slightly flattened sphere, a few last quivers of energy escaped. Then space and time became silent again.

Via newyorker.com

The Depressive’s Guide to Getting Out of Bed theparisreview.org

So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?

Via theparisreview.org

The Loophole in the Hedonic Treadmill nautil.us

When Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, in The House of the Dead, that “Man is a creature that can get accustomed to anything,” he was talking about the cruelties and deprivations of life in Siberian prison camp. But the human tendency to adapt or “get accustomed” to situations is more profound than even Dostoyevsky may have realized. […] We adapt. A great pleasure, repeated often enough, becomes routine, and it takes an even greater treat to give us the same enjoyment. When we get used to having more, it takes more to please us. (Conversely, when we get used to having less, it takes less to please us.) This is the known as the “hedonic treadmill.” It’s analogous to the well-known tendency to adapt to physical stress. When you first start lifting weights, for example, a relatively light weight might be all it takes to start putting on muscle. But once the body adapts to that exercise, heavier and heavier weights will be needed to keep getting stronger.

Via nautil.us

“Writing Is an Act of Pride”: A Conversation with Elena Ferrante newyorker.com

We should teach ourselves to look deeply at this interconnection—I call it a tangle, or, rather, frantumaglia—to give ourselves adequate tools to describe it. In the most absolute tranquility or in the midst of tumultuous events, in safety or danger, in innocence or corruption, we are a crowd of others. […] The others, in the broad meaning of the term, as I said, continually collide with us and we collide with them. Our singularity, our uniqueness, our identity are continually dying. When at the end of a long day we feel shattered, “in pieces,” there’s nothing more literally true. […] When shapes lose their contours, we see what most terrifies us, as in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” and Clarice Lispector’s extraordinary “Passion According to G.H.” You don’t go beyond that; you have to take a step back and, to survive, reënter some good fiction. I don’t believe, however, that every fiction we orchestrate is good. I cling to those that are painful, those that arise from a profound crisis of all our illusions. I love unreal things when they show signs of firsthand knowledge of the terror, and hence an awareness that they are unreal, that they will not hold up for long against the collisions. Human beings are extremely violent animals, and the violence they are always ready to use in order to impose their own eternal, salvific life vest, while shattering those of others, is frightening.

Via newyorker.com

Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless thebaffler.com

Obsessive ritualization of self-care comes at the expense of collective engagement, collapsing every social problem into a personal quest for the good life. “Wellness,” they declare, “has become an ideology.” […] It would be nice to believe that all it takes to change your life is to repeat some affirmations and buy a planner, just as it was once comforting for many of us to trust that the hardships of this plane of existence would be rewarded by an eternity of bliss in heaven. There is a reason that the rituals of wellbeing and self-care are followed with the precision of a cult (do this and you will be saved; do this and you will be safe): It is a practice of faith. It’s worth remembering that Marx’s description of religion as the opiate of the masses is often misinterpreted—opium, at the time when Marx was writing, was not just known as an addictive drug, but as a painkiller, a solace when the work of survival became unbearable.

Via thebaffler.com

A Nihilist’s Guide to Meaning meltingasphalt.com

The bigger reason to separate meaning from pleasure is that pleasure is a strictly subjective experience. You can close your eyes and bliss out as hard as you like, and the pleasure you experience will be no less valid because it’s “just in your mind.” Meaning, on the other hand, is entangled with external reality, making it possible to be wrong about it. And thus the pursuit of true meaning requires an outward orientation to the world.

Via meltingasphalt.com

Immortality Begins at Forty ribbonfarm.com

You begin to experience immortality the first time you recognize the transience of experiences you thought were permanent, and more subtly, the permanence of experiences you hoped were transient. This recognition generally ruins culture for you, since culture is built around the game of a meaningful search for eternal truths, timeless values and changeless habits of prowess. And, it goes without saying, transcendence of the unpleasantly transient. […] Culture is the necessary art of perpetuating the disturbing rumor that reality is meaningful. That beneath the pain and the pleasure, the cruelty and the compassion, the estranging and the connecting, the breaking and the making, the ugliness and the beauty, the losing and the winning, the dying and the living, there is Something More.™

Via ribbonfarm.com

Joy nybooks.com

Perhaps the first thing to say is that I experience at least a little pleasure every day. I wonder if this is more than the usual amount? It was the same even in childhood when most people are miserable. I don’t think this is because so many wonderful things happen to me but rather that the small things go a long way. I seem to get more than the ordinary satisfaction out of food, for example—any old food. An egg sandwich from one of these grimy food vans on Washington Square has the genuine power to turn my day around. Whatever is put in front of me, foodwise, will usually get a five-star review. […] The persistent anxiety that fills the rest of my life is calmed for as long as I have the flavor of something good in my mouth. And though it’s true that when the flavor is finished the anxiety returns, we do not have so many reliable sources of pleasure in this life as to turn our nose up at one that is so readily available, especially here in America. A pineapple popsicle. Even the great anxiety of writing can be stilled for the eight minutes it takes to eat a pineapple popsicle.

Via nybooks.com

Reasonable Person Principle cs.cmu.edu

Everyone expects everyone else to be reasonable

Via cs.cmu.edu

Susan Sontag on the Creative Purpose of Boredom brainpickings.org

We should not expect art to entertain or divert any more. At least, not high art. Boredom is a function of attention. We are learning new modes of attention — say, favoring the ear more than the eye— but so long as we work within the old attention-frame we find X boring … e.g. listening for sense rather than sound (being too message-oriented). Possibly after repetition of the same single phrase or level of language or image for a long while — in a given written text or piece of music or film, if we become bored, we should ask if we are operating in the right frame of attention. Or — maybe we are operating in one right frame, where we should be operating in two simultaneously, thus halving the load on each (as sense and sound).

Via brainpickings.org

The Power of Pettiness ribbonfarm.com

Here’s a major problem: the better you get at spotting hidden ignorance, the more you see ignorance and bullshit everywhere; you tend to lose the necessary overconfidence, the belief that you can figure things out. Your very tools turn to bullshit in your hands the closer you look at them. As you see more points of view within a scene, your ability to be horrified by wrongness decreases; the well of pettiness dries up. When you see your heroes making mistakes, you mellow out about the errors you’ve probably made. In other words, you grow up. It’s hard to remain curious, because all the processes of curiosity tend to inhibit each other; a precarious balance must be struck. Being curious requires an emotional sacrifice. That is how group values are negotiated socially, and that is what makes curiosity a virtue.

Via ribbonfarm.com

ISO 3103 en.wikipedia.org

ISO 3103 is a standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (commonly referred to as ISO), specifying a standardized method for brewing tea, possibly sampled by the standardized methods described in ISO 1839. It was originally laid down in 1980 as BS 6008:1980 by the British Standards Institution.[1] It was produced by ISO Technical Committee 34 (Food products), Sub-Committee 8 (Tea).

Via en.wikipedia.org

Reality has a surprising amount of detail johnsalvatier.org

Before you’ve noticed important details they are, of course, basically invisible. It’s hard to put your attention on them because you don’t even know what you’re looking for. But after you see them they quickly become so integrated into your intuitive models of the world that they become essentially transparent. Do you remember the insights that were crucial in learning to ride a bike or drive? How about the details and insights you have that led you to be good at the things you’re good at? This means it’s really easy to get stuck. Stuck in your current way of seeing and thinking about things. Frames are made out of the details that seem important to you. The important details you haven’t noticed are invisible to you, and the details you have noticed seem completely obvious and you see right through them. This all makes makes it difficult to imagine how you could be missing something important.

Via johnsalvatier.org

Barlow's principles of adult behaviour mail-archive.com

Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.

Via mail-archive.com

Pizza effect en.wikipedia.org

The pizza effect is a term used especially in religious studies and sociology for the phenomenon of elements of a nation or people’s culture being transformed or at least more fully embraced elsewhere, then re-imported back to their culture of origin, or the way in which a community’s self-understanding is influenced by (or imposed by, or imported from) foreign sources.

Via en.wikipedia.org

How to cook a medieval feast: 11 recipes from the Middle Ages blog.britishmuseum.org

Via blog.britishmuseum.org

Who Did J.K. Rowling Become? thecut.com

Her fantasy was to be left alone in a world where she made the rules.

Via thecut.com

Tudor Networks tudornetworks.net

The Tudor government maintained a communication network that criss-crossed the globe. This visualisation brings together 123,850 letters connecting 20,424 people from the United Kingdom’s State Papers archive, dating from the accession of Henry VIII to the death of Elizabeth I (1509-1603).

Via tudornetworks.net

COVID-19 and the Failure of Swedish Exceptionalism thedispatch.com

While there are many reasons, I believe a significant part of the answer lies in Swedish exceptionalism. Whereas American exceptionalism is about America’s unique place in the world, Swedish exceptionalism is about being immune to any disasters that may happen in the rest of the world. 

Via thedispatch.com

How Japanese People Stay Fit for Life, Without Ever Visiting a Gym kokumura.medium.com

Instead what this shows is that, like how eating healthfully doesn’t need to be eating only salads, healthful exercise doesn’t need to be only working out — the lifestyle fitness you need may just be in a bit more walking

Via kokumura.medium.com

Ignore all rules en.wikipedia.org

"Ignore all rules" (IAR) is a policy in the English Wikipedia. It reads: "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it."

Via en.wikipedia.org

Micromort en.wikipedia.org

A micromort (from micro- and mortality) is a unit of risk defined as one-in-a-million chance of death

Via en.wikipedia.org

Leaf-cutter ants are coated in rocky crystal armor, never before seen in insects nationalgeographic.com

A new study shows that one Central American leaf-cutter ant species has natural armor that covers its exoskeleton. This shield-like coating is made of calcite with high levels of magnesium, a type found only in one other biological structure: sea urchin teeth, which can grind limestone.

Via nationalgeographic.com

The Data of Long-lived Institutions blog.longnow.org

In the West, most of the companies that have survived for a very long time are basically service companies. It’s a lot easier to reinvent yourself as a service-oriented company than it is as a commodity company when that particular commodity goes out of use.

Via blog.longnow.org

La speranza della marmotta wittgenstein.it

La speranza è l’ultima a morire è una formula che siamo abituati a usare in positivo, una bella immagine promettente: quest’anno invece – dai ritardati lockdown di tutti i paesi del mondo da marzo in poi – sta assumendo il senso di una specie di mostro che non si riesce ad abbattere con la ragione, che non vuol saperne di morire. L’invincibile speranza che magari succederà qualcosa e le cose non andranno così, e non ci sarà bisogno. Che magari invece la sfanghiamo senza decisioni traumatiche immediate: è normale pensarlo, lo abbiamo già fatto otto mesi fa. È la speranza della marmotta.

Via wittgenstein.it

What A Summer Of COVID-19 Taught Scientists About Indoor vs. Outdoor Transmission fivethirtyeight.com

Because human behavior and air circulation probably matter more than the weather itself, the upcoming holiday season won’t look the same in all parts of the country, Marr said. This isn’t about getting colder, it’s about spending more time inside sealed-up buildings

Via fivethirtyeight.com

Grapefruit Is One of the Weirdest Fruits on the Planet atlasobscura.com

Citrus is a delightfully chaotic category of fruit. It hybridizes so easily that there are undoubtedly thousands, maybe more, separate varieties of citrus in the wild and in cultivation.

Via atlasobscura.com

Re-discovering three-cornered notes collation.folger.edu

After seeing so many mentions of three-cornered and cocked-hat notes in quick succession, I now know why so few examples survive in archives: unlike letters, these messages were not meant to be kept. As far as I can tell, they were never sent through the post (if you know of any examples, please comment). They were just hand-delivered notes containing informal invitations, short apologies, brief questions, little flirtations, and so on. In the 20th century, their function was taken over by the phone call, and in the 21st century, by text messaging

Via collation.folger.edu

Thingifying the world ldmce.wordpress.com

So: thingifying eliminates going-on, and at least moves in the direction of eliminating time. It re-locates what is going on in the world into the interior of things. It converts what is particular and concrete into something (sorry) abstract.

Via ldmce.wordpress.com

K: The Overlooked Variable That's Driving the Pandemic theatlantic.com

A growing number of studies estimate that a majority of infected people may not infect a single other person. A recent paper found that in Hong Kong, which had extensive testing and contact tracing, about 19 percent of cases were responsible for 80 percent of transmission, while 69 percent of cases did not infect another person. This finding is not rare: Multiple studies from the beginning have suggested that as few as 10 to 20 percent of infected people may be responsible for as much as 80 to 90 percent of transmission, and that many people barely transmit it.

Via theatlantic.com