Notes

Interesting and/or cool stuff I've come across from art, design, technology, photography, movies I've watched and liked and, occasionally, my thoughts.

Noted, November 2021

Collected bits and pieces I've noticed this month.

The text K is reciting for his baseline check in Blade Runner 2049 (“interlinked, within cells interlinked”), is from a 999 line poem/novel “Pale Fire” by Vladimir Nabokov.

Tom Whitwell published the 2021 issue of his annual 52 things learned this year list.
via Kottke

In “Why a toaster from 1949 is still smarter than any sold today”, Sean Hollister of The Verge profiles a toaster with some super clever and actually smart design choices. This reminded me of “How Not To Make Coffee” by Albert Burneko, on how the pursuit of making everyday things “smarter” and “technologically superior”, often ends up making everything worse. Much worse.

Related to the above, “The worst gadgets we’ve ever touched”, also from The Verge.

From The New Yorker, on the difficulty and very long timelines of getting to nuclear fusion: “Can Nuclear Fusion Put the Brakes on Climate Change?”.

Related, on the dirty dirty business mining cobalt for batteries in The Democratic Republic of Congo: “A Power Struggle Over Cobalt Rattles the Clean Energy Revolution”.

Also related, on the consequences of years and years of nickel mining and neglect in Norilsk: “In the Russian Arctic, One of the Most Polluted Places on Earth”.

On a happier note, quote from a GQ interview with Jason Sudekis of (lately) Ted Lasso fame:

“There’s a great Michael J. Fox quote,” Sudeikis told me later, trying to explain the particular brand of wary optimism that he carries around with him, and that he ended up making a show about: “ ‘Don’t assume the worst thing’s going to happen, because, on the off chance it does, you’ll have lived through it twice.’ So…why not do the inverse?”

Jeremy Keith on the widespread tracking of users on the web that many regard as acceptable simply because it’s widespread:

“I’ve been reading the excellent Design For Safety by Eva PenzeyMoog . There was a line that really stood out to me:
The idea that it’s alright to do whatever unethical thing is currently the industry norm is widespread in tech, and dangerous.“
via CSS Tricks

Noted, October 2021

Collected bits and pieces I've noticed this month.

One Day—And One Night—In the Kitchen at Les Halles

Anthony Bourdain describes one day—and one night—in the kitchen at Les Halles, his retaurant in New York City. I've read this numerous times and it's always a treat. It's also, always, a reminder to stop myself from entertaining any ideas of restaurateurship (is that a word?).

The Nash equilibrium

In game theory, the Nash equilibrium is the most common way to define the solution of a non-cooperative game involving two or more players. In a Nash equilibrium, each player is assumed to know the equilibrium strategies of the other players and no player has anything to gain by changing only their own strategy.

It is named after the mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. who, among his other notable achievements, pretty much willed himself to function despite suffering from schizophrenia by deciding that the hallucinations caused by the illness were not worth his attention.

The Clearview AI horror show goes on

From Wired:

Some of Clearview’s new technologies may spark further debate. Ton-That says it is developing new ways for police to find a person, including “deblur” and “mask removal” tools. The first takes a blurred image and sharpens it using machine learning to envision what a clearer picture would look like; the second tries to envision the covered part of a person’s face using machine learning models that fill in missing details of an image using a best guess based on statistical patterns found in other images.

May spark further debate? You don't say! How is this horror show still allowed to operate?

via Pixel Envy

The Start menu

Lukas Mathis briefly on the Windows 10 full-screen start menu being killed in Windows 11. I always liked the full-screen menu too.

Spell'd

Marcin Wichary shares a neat little text utility from his days at Medium.

We're getting some flavour of this with tools like Grammarly (alternative wording and tone suggestions), but it's not exactly as lightweight and elegant and natural feeling. I do miss having the definitions + spelling features available for any text I select, regardless of what app I'm in. Or maybe I just don't know how to invoke it?

Also, I... dislike it when people who tweet often bulk-delete their tweets, leaving odd gaps in the thread.

...

Everybody's favourite typeface website I Love Typography now has a store.

...

Frank Chimero is a designer who writes, this time, about colour:

"Late day, late August, ocean front, looking out: wine dark sea, red ochre sky, and at the boundary? From nowhere: chartreuse."