Friday 27 November, 2020

100 Not Out! — my lockdown diary — is now a Kindle book. Link

The inside cover of David Foster Wallace’s annotated copy of Don DeLillo’s ‘Players’.
Image Credit: Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

From Sue Halpern’s NYOB essay “What the iPad Can’t Do”, June 8, 2010.

Quote of the Day

”Here indeed was his one really notable talent. He slept more than other other President, whether by day or night. Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored.”

  • H.L. Mencken on Calvin Coolidge

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

O Magnum Mysterium | Morten Lauridsen | King’s College choir | Cambridge 2009 | Link

Staggeringly beautiful. What a way to begin the day!

It was new to me: many thanks to the generous reader who suggested it.

Long read of the Day

Rainbow in the Dark

Characteristically thoughtful essay by Drew Austin. Here’s how it begins…

I just finished Jonathan Crary’s excellent book 24/7, which is ostensibly about contemporary sleep and 24/7 culture but really about how capitalism expands to fill every available crevice while overriding humans’ biological characteristics—with sleep being the final impenetrable frontier. Early in the book, Crary discusses the transformational role of electric light in 19th century cities: “The broad deployment of urban street lights by the 1880s had achieved two interrelated goals: it reduced long-standing anxieties about various dangers associated with nocturnal darkness, and it expanded the time frame and thus the profitability of many economic activities.” That passage rings particularly true this November, because the onset of daylight savings time—which always catches me off guard—felt especially suffocating this year, intensified by restrictions on indoor activity and New York’s soft curfew, both of which curtailed key sources of relief and made the month feel really dark. As I observed during the spring’s heavier lockdown, cities once again feel somewhat rural now: After night falls, there’s little to do, so everyone goes home. As Crary observes, modern technology enabled us to overcome our natural rhythms and limitations, and cities became focal points of that heightened activity—but this year has forced them to cool off somewhat…

Alastair Campbell on playing football with Maradona

A side of Tony Blair’s spin-doctor I never knew. Link

Other, hopefully interesting, links

  • Digital Tools I wish existed. Perceptive and interesting list by Jonathan Borichevskiy. As someone who teeters permanently on the brink of information overload, I feel his pain. Lots of nice ideas in his post. Clay Shirky once said that there’s no such thing as information overload; there’s just filter failure. That’s too glib. Link

  • Turning the Body Into a Wire. Sounds daft, but actually a very interesting essay on IEEE Spectrum (a serious professional publication) on how to make pacemakers and other kinds of healthcare electronics kit safer from hacking. Link.

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