“I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else.” So said E.B. White, a man who deserves to be anyone’s hero. Here’s a great read on a visit to the man’s chosen home of Brooklin, Maine.
It’s stuff like this that makes me feel like we’re living in the future.
You can’t usually hear it with your own ears, but the electrical grid hums at a frequency around 50Hz, with minute fluctuations here and there. Any audio recording made within earshot of a wall outlet or a lightbulb can pick it up, however minutely – ask any audio engineer to hear a lament about this.
It turns out that for the past seven years, at a forensic lab in south London, the Metropolitan Police have been continuously recording of this hum and its fluctuations. Why? So they can determine with absolute certainty whether an audio recording has been edited.
If an audio recording made in London during the past seven years is intact (and if it wasn’t taken in the wilderness, away from electrical mains), the police will be able to match up the fluctuations in its electrical hum with the ones they recorded on a particular date and time, precisely indicating when the recording was made. And if the hum doesn’t sync up exactly with the police’s version, it’s a sure bet that someone has tampered with it.
If life were like it is on Star Trek: The Next Generation, I think they’d be calling this a “temporal signature.”
A few months ago, physicist Harold White stunned the aeronautics world when he announced that he and his team at NASA had begun work on the development of a faster-than-light warp drive. His proposed design, an ingenious re-imagining of an Alcubierre Drive, may eventually result in an engine that can transport a spacecraft to the nearest star in a matter of weeks – and all without violating Einstein’s law of relativity.
I think I read this article five times today. It blows my mind.
What really gets me: It now looks entirely plausible – even likely – that one day, people will smirk at how we thought this faster-than-light business was impossible. Einsteinian might never sound as derisive as Lamarckian does to us today, but you never know.
The president was reelected last night. Here are the front pages of the newspapers waiting on the world’s doorsteps.
We’re hiring for a brand-new position at Lincoln Center. The title is “Direct Marketing Manager,” but that doesn’t really do it justice – it’s primarily a data-mining and business intelligence job. We’re looking for an all-around analytical thinker who can be creative about using whatever tools (Access, SQL, R, probably stuff I’ve never heard of) are needed to get at the human trends that are really behind the data.
Who buys X performance but not Y performance? Are our performances in discrete groups that tend to be purchased together with little overlap? What does a typical buyer for Z series look like? How many tickets did that brochure sell? Is there any segment of our audience that only buys shows that, say, feature an oboe, or include minor-key works?
It should be a really fun job for the right person. Lots of room to think creatively; not much day-to-day muck to get in the way.
If you’re interested, send us a note at email@example.com.
Rain Room, the newest work by digital art collective Random International, consists of an indoor space in which it rains continuously everywhere except the very spot you’re standing. The raindrops, controlled by computers, just barely miss you.
Also see this great photo gallery on Co.Design. It’s on now through March 3 at the Barbican, Lincoln Center’s English counterpart. I’m dying to see it.
Seth Godin advises:
Now that information is ubiquitous, the obligation changes. It’s no longer okay to not know.
If you don’t know what a word means, look it up.
If you’re meeting with someone, check them out in advance.
If it sounds too good to be true, Google it before you forward it.
I might add:
If you don’t know the name of the product, look at the manufacturer’s website.
(Hint: Adobe makes no application called “PhotoShop” and Apple has never produced anything called an “iTouch.”)
Let’s throw out all the U.S. currency and start over. There’s a lot we’re doing wrong:
There’s too much paper. Notes only last for a couple of years, but coins regularly stay in circulation for as long as 40 years. Printing all those notes adds up – ditching even just the $1 bill could save us more than $5 billion over the next 30 years.1
Our coins are worthless. The median wage is about $17 per hour, meaning most Americans earn a penny roughly every two to three seconds while they’re on the job. Even if doing away with them meant that every merchant rounded their prices up, the seconds we spend fussing with pennies are literally not worth our time.
Today I stumbled across a document called “Toponymic Guidelines for Map and Other Editors – Estonia,” and spent an unduly long time reading it.1
I think it fascinates me because it reminds me a bit of J.R.R. Tolkien’s descriptions of the etymology and place-names of Middle-Earth, except that Estonia actually exists. I am also delighted beyond reason that there exists something called the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographic Names, let alone that there have apparently been seven such conferences.
In my defense, I was actually doing work, trying to figure out how to correctly pronounce the name of the Estonian conductor Tõnu Kaljuste for the benefit of WQXR’s announcers. (Still no definitive answer.)↩
Back before William Faulkner was the William Faulkner, he was a clerk in the post office at the University of Mississippi, where, by all accounts, he was a terrible employee. When a postal inspector came to check up on him, he chafed, promptly resigning in this terse letter:
As long as I live under the capitalistic system, I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.
This, sir, is my resignation.
He was the same age that I am now. I love this so much. (Via @openculture.)