- A Complete Guide to the Handful of Proper Nouns Anna Wiener Uses in Uncanny Valley
It is necessary to have such a guide. While not naming the software companies, brands, apps etc is perhaps a way to get to the point without the baggage of labels, sometimes the curiosity just gets to me and I end up guessing / searching the internet. But I do wonder, if it were me, how many words would I use to describe Facebook?
We are now getting articles about the downsides of working from home.
It ought to be clear that it has its pros and cons, and no one is saying WFH has no downsides. So there is no need to take the extreme end of any argument. I hope employers truly structure in more autonomy and flexibility, because that is for the greater good in the longer term.
I Replaced my Phone and Laptop with an iPad Mini. Here’s How it Went
Sometimes a half-assed, likely-lousy idea pops up in your head, and you can definitely count on there being a YouTube who has thought it, tested it and made a video on it.
- The Photos app in iOS 17 is apparently able to read your laundry labels. Sweet.
Japanese firm develops solution to eradicate mosquitoes without insecticides
I am looking forward to the day we can open the doors and windows without a care for dengue.
Lonely people see the world differently
“Our results suggest that lonely people process the world idiosyncratically, which may contribute to the reduced sense of being understood that often accompanies loneliness”. For all the misunderstood people out there… I hope you find someone who you feel understands you.
I used to read one book at a time. But in the last few years, coincidentally with my weaning myself off physical books, I began to read more than one book at a time. Sometimes, I had 2 or 3 books I consider myself to be actively reading. Perhaps it became necessary because borrowing e-books sometimes requires one to wait for the book to be released.
I also decided to read 1000-page things (Russian epics; WWII) and series (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings), and decided these efforts would be better aided by having physical books. So I ended up between e-books (mostly on Libby, sometimes on Kindle or the Books app) and physical books. And in a way, I am glad that I moved on from single-mindedness to this … flexibility. Sometimes you just want something different. And sometimes, in the midst of battling a big tome, you need a break.
For the past 5 years, I finished 32.8 books per year on average. I have 84 “currently reading” titles on Goodreads (I started tracking my reading in late-2017). Which seems about right, because I “touch” around 50 books a year. I used to try to finish books I started, but then decided life’s too short to finish books you don’t care to finish.
Already this year is shaping up to be different from the past 5 years. It is the end of June, and I have already finished 33 books. Perhaps it’s because of a confluence of: a stronger urge for reading this year; lowered running volume; a less busy year at work.
PS. I cannot believe we are “in the early 2020s”.
Blurb: In The Trackers, singular American writer Charles Frazier conjures up the lives of everyday people during an extraordinary period of history that bears uncanny resemblance to our own. With the keen perceptions of humanity and transcendent storytelling that have made him beloved for decades, Frazier has created a powerful and timeless new classic.
I have never read Frazier before, so the fact that I was holding a signed copy did not mean that much to me. I had wanted to read it because I was in the mood to be transported, and this book was set in Depression-era America. It was also a nice souvenir, since I was visiting Seattle and the Elliott Bay Book Co made book-buying rather irresistible.
I enjoyed the book, loved how the scenery and the scene were depicted (mostly of the west, plus Florida), and felt the wistful sense of longing that every character had. Everyone is always missing something.
“You know,” she murmured, “we’re all heading straight to hell.”
“Yes,” said Masako, giving her a bleak look. “It’s like riding downhill with no brakes.”
“You mean, there’s no way to stop?”
“No, you stop all right – when you crash.”
I finished this book in two days, or perhaps two and a half, because I read a good part of it on a plane flying from Seattle to Singapore.
The characters are all gloomy and messed up, and the details (of the scene, of the inner dialogue, of the dialogue…) are many, but the plot moves along, and you cannot put this book down. So, please make sure you have the time for it, because this book is so delicious, sucked in at one go.
Literary realism at its best. Artfully grisly? Because we all have dark impulses, and how do you know how you would act, if you were put in that situation? Despite the brutality, you feel sympathy for the downtrodden protagonist, and hope that somehow she finds some peace.
- “Quiet luxury is new age minimalism,” Elle magazine wrote. “It’s less austere than minimalism but more polished than ‘normcore,’” said Vogue.
A $1,700 merino sweater, a $300 t-shirt? Thankfully, I never knew luxury.
The Journey, Mary Oliver
Sometimes, reading poetry helps soothe me. Especially when the universe throws you something incomprehensible.
The Internet Isn’t Meant To Be So Small
I wonder how many of us miss the internet as it was in the late 90s. Perhaps if you are a Gen Z, this weird version of the internet that we all love to hate is the only version you know. And you have very little expectations of it being a tool for discovery, just a place for you to build your brand, game the algorithm, spread your truth…
‘Washington’ or ‘DC’? Social Media Erupts After Associated Press Picks a Side
I don’t understand how people stop calling it Washington DC. There is a whole state on the West Coast that you are confusing the world about.
- I am an expert at cracked heels, and hydrocolloid plaster manufacturers don’t advertise this on their packaging, and so I had to check how long you can leave them on for.
Mr Bean says no.
Rowan Atkinson tells you why electric vehicles are not the panacea they claim to be.
You cannot google for this, and have to scour through various blog posts and/or go down to different libraries to find it out for yourself, but finally, because this was asked in Parliament, there is now a list of book exchange corners in Singapore’s public libraries.
I wonder if the fact that there was no list has got to do with the piles of unusable/ obsolete material one tends to find at libraries’ book exchange corners, or the enterprising men who target these places and collect books to sell.
I was reading Nelson’s blog, and then I came across a post on ambient music.
I too was trying to avoid “gormless electronica and “earth fart” recordings that fail to inspire” and was glad for a worthy recommendation.
How to beat desk rage
I don’t think The Economist has a solution, but well, it does a good job of describing a very particular agony of modern life.
I Bought a CO2 Monitor and It Broke Me
I loved this piece. It is a reminder that there are many things one can measure, but really, what are you going to do with the information?
These Microsoft wallpapers are awesome.
I love Clippy.
“Billions of tiny cocoons hang woven into its threads, a lizard lying in the sun, a burning house, a dying soldier, everything dead and everything living. Time is big, yet it has room for new cocoons. A grey and relentless net, in which every second of my life is captured. Perhaps that’s why it seems so terrible to me, because it stores everything up and never really allows anything to end.”
This story is morbid, disturbing and I loved it. It had me in a soft but firm grip, and there are no chapters, just a breathless report stretching 238 pages. The main character goes off for a holiday in the mountains and finds herself the sole survivor behind a transparent wall. The book follows her as she undertakes the task of surviving – cutting wood, planting crops, milking a cow… The narrative skips between the past and present, and that required processing but also made the read even more engaging. Even as it was clear that things would not generally go well, I was engrossed in the details, trying to guess what happens next.
This is not a fast-paced science fiction novel. It is an ode to the natural world and the human spirit. It is a simple story, told in beautiful prose. But as to whether the protagonist truly finds equanimity, I do not know.
[The book was first published in 1963, and I have never heard of the author. I am so pleased I chanced upon it at the bookstore.]
“But if time exists only in my head, and I’m the last human being, it will end with my death. The thought cheers me. I may be in a position to murder time. The big net will tear and fall, with its sad contents, into oblivion. I’m owed some gratitude, but no one after my death will know I murdered time. Really these thoughts are quite meaningless. Things happen, and, like millions of people before me, I look for a meaning in them, because my vanity will not allow me to admit that the whole meaning of an event lies in the event itself.”
- What walking from Washington to New York reveals about America
To me, walking is a good thing. Maybe one day I will take a 26-day walk.
Nepo babies have never been bigger. So why are the Windsors and the Roys so unhappy?
Sometimes I try to read about why rich people become so unhappy, as a mind-expanding exercise. I appreciate that suffering is part of the human condition but I also appreciate details about the devastating effect of being wealthy.
Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse review
I had the chance to test it, and got it at a good price. I am new to this customise-all-the-damn-buttons-on-your-mouse train, but I do like the size and look of the Surface Precision. It is slightly smaller than the Logitech G604 that I already have.
10 Seattle bookstores you’ll never want to leave
When we saw the photo of Twice Sold Tales, I knew we had to go there. We spotted a few cats and met a couple who was there trying to spot all the cats.
- Sometimes you get nice tips on Lifehacker, and sometimes you scratch your head at articles like this: How Library Book Requests Can Keep You From Impulse Shopping
- I am told that the 90s is back and Outdoor Research’s retro gear are really cute.
Turn off your email, get the packing right – and never, ever play Monopoly: 15 tips for a happy holiday
Ha, the hate that Monopoly gets. I played Monopoly Deal (a card game) on a trip and it was quite fun.
- Downs–Thomson paradox
The equilibrium speed of car traffic on a road network is determined by the average door-to-door speed of equivalent journeys taken by public transport; improvements in the road network will not reduce congestion and improvements in the road network can make congestion worse if the improvements make public transport more inconvenient or if they cause disinvestment in the public transport system.
GPT models are actually reasoning engines not knowledge databases
“Even though our AI models were trained by reading the whole internet, that training mostly enhances their reasoning abilities not how much they know. And so, the performance of today’s AI models is constrained by their lack of knowledge.”
Cang Lan Jue is a Visual Feast inspired by Hades & Persephone
I was recommended to watch this, and did not expect the high level of CGI wizardry. It was a visual treat, and a break from the overly sexualised storylines you get from most other things one watches on Netflix. Reminds me of the shows we watched as children, but with much better computer graphics.
Why EY and its rivals may eventually break up, after all
Because the audit business is in conflict with the consulting/ advice business. Amazing how the conflict of interests rules don’t apply to some professions.
To fend off creepy guys online, Chinese women gather around ‘baby solid food’
The hashtag, associated with parenting, means the algorithm pushes the content mainly to women. I am guessing there will be various other hashtags one has to use to get away from creeps.
- I was today years old when I learned about asparagus pee. (I can’t smell it.)
The Benner Cycle Predicts 100+ Years of Market Movement
Someone once told me about 11-year cycle, but in recent years, the cycles are much harder to interpret.
The Dubious Wisdom of Smart Brevity
“Personally, I cannot imagine sending a note with the brusque subject line “our chief of staff quit.” I suspect this is a gender thing: I spent much of my early professional years inserting exclamations into e-mails so as not to sound like a stone-hearted ice witch.”
We can all learn to write more concisely, but the ideology behind Smart Brevity may not be so universal, as this writer eloquently explains: “Smart Brevity is essentially a book about how to write a good e-mail. (And honestly it probably could have been a long e-mail.)”
“There were some small improvements. I now owned not one electric bicycle but a fleet of electric bicycles. In this sense, as far as I was concerned, I resembled a rock star I knew who owned a fleet of aero-planes. Yes, I had one e-bike locked up under the tree and two more in the garage. Friends came to stay from all over the world and we cycled around London together. It was a gesture towards a life I wanted, that is to say, an extended family of friends and their children, an expanded family rather than a nuclear family, which in this phase of my life seemed a happier way to live. If I wanted a spare room for every friend, my flat could not support this idea. If I wanted a fireplace in every room, there were no fireplaces in my flat. So what was I going to do with all this wanting?”
A timeless question – What have I done with my life?, sometimes interposed with a more materialistic – What do I have to show for it?
I appreciate how Levy captures the questions and how we answer ourselves, never losing a sense of optimism. I have read and adored Levy’s previous two volumes of her living autobiography. In this volume, she goes into questions about patriarchy and a woman’s place in this world, and much as one yearns for a strong message or resolution, I understand why sometimes ambivalence holds sway. We may not get the outcome we want in this lifetime, but we have to keep on trying.
Living is striving. Living is keenly observing. You may or may not have real estate to show for it.
“Yet my encounter with this rented house was a taunt, a provocation; it made me feel more alive. If I was full of desire for its ambience and grace, the fact that I did not have the means to buy it only accelerated my desire. Perhaps it was not the house but desire itself that made me feel more alive.
Maybe it is a good thing for us to keep a few dreams of a house that we shall live in later, always later, so much later, in fact, that we shall not have time to achieve it.
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space“
- There are good reasons you always feel 20 percent younger than your actual age.
One postulated that it is the age when his “major life questions/ statuses reached the resolutions/ conditions in which they’ve since remained.” This made sense to me, the “me” who sees herself as being in her early 30s.
- I’ve been listening to more electronic music lately, and googled what do DJs do, marvelled at how much the Scottish electronic music industry is worth, read about how house exploded in Scotland. Which then made me want to go back to Glasgow.
Not the traditional style, but I do like Wu Jizhen’s calligraphy.
A thumbs up to the mango.
Britain has endured a decade of early deaths. Why?
“in the early 2010s, life expectancy stalled in Britain compared with long-run trends and other countries. This slowdown in life expectancy struck all age groups, not just the elderly. And it disproportionately affected the poor.”
Gender equality will take 300 years
An eye-watering headline. And the wage gap widened in 2021.
What is the middle way?
A path in between extreme asceticism and sensual indulgence.
What is a champagne socialist?
I read it while it was used as an insult (i.e. meaning no. 2). It raises an interesting question: what is the rich egalitarian to do?
- Was finding out more about slow games, and learned about keepsake games and patient gamers. Bought The Return of Obra Dinn in the end and spent a few hours a little too engrossed.
- Ultramarathons sound very painful to me but Gary Cantrell’s use of books in race organisation amuses me:
“A master map of the locations is provided by Cantrell. To prove they’ve run the course correctly, runners must find each book and present a page from each, correspondent to their bib numbers. This is done every loop with the help of a compass. They have 60 hours to complete five.”
In my head: is the page torn, is it glued back later, oh my goodness.
More on ambient music: How Japanese Ambient Music Became a Thing in America
There are masters, and pioneers, and then there are umm, screensavers.