• Origin of Essay

    The word “essay” comes from the French verb “essayer” which means “to try”. An essay, in the original sense, is something you write to try to figure something out.

    • Paul Graham Hackers and Painters
  • Vacationland

    Just arrived in Maine. I love it here.

  • Biological Boot Loader

    Elon Musk wrote this earlier this week after mentioning Nick Bostrom’s new book.

    I’ve often wondered the same thing, but never summed it up so cleverly. Now I am really excited to read Superintelligence.

    I’m not sure if Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweet today is related, but I sure hope he’s right.

  • Tsekeleke by Nozinja →

    Warp Records have signed Nozinja, the father of Shangaan Electro. ‘Tsekeleke’ is his first single. It’s awesome.

  • Who was the me that did that? →

    Sasha Frere-Jones profiles Brian Eno for The New Yorker:

    “I have a trick that I used in my studio, because I have these twenty-eight-hundred-odd pieces of unreleased music, and I have them all stored in iTunes,” Eno said during his talk at Red Bull. “When I’m cleaning up the studio, which I do quite often—and it’s quite a big studio—I just have it playing on random shuffle. And so, suddenly, I hear something and often I can’t even remember doing it. Or I have a very vague memory of it, because a lot of these pieces, they’re just something I started at half past eight one evening and then finished at quarter past ten, gave some kind of funny name to that doesn’t describe anything, and then completely forgot about, and then, years later, on the random shuffle, this thing comes up, and I think, Wow, I didn’t hear it when I was doing it. And I think that often happens—we don’t actually hear what we’re doing. . . . I often find pieces and I think, This is genius. Which me did that? Who was the me that did that?”

  • Bittersweet Reminiscences of The Life Aquatic →

    In this new, online-exclusive video for Criterion, Wes Anderson, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, and Willem Dafoe reminisce about the challenging conditions under which they made The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

    Man I love The Life Aquatic. Check out Criterion’s behind the scenes photos from the set.

  • You Should Embrace Surveillance, Not Fight It →

    Kevin Kelly for Wired:

    A massively surveilled world is not a world I would design (or even desire), but massive surveillance is coming either way because that is the bias of digital technology and we might as well surveil well and civilly.

    And then it gets really interesting.

    But if today’s social media has taught us anything about ourselves as a species it is that the human impulse to share trumps the human impulse for privacy. So far, at every juncture that offers a technological choice between privacy or sharing, we’ve tilted, on average, towards more sharing, more disclosure. We shouldn’t be surprised by this bias because transparency is truly ancient. For eons humans have lived in tribes and clans where every act was open and visible and there were no secrets. We evolved with constant co-monitoring. Contrary to our modern suspicions, there wouldn’t be a backlash against a circular world where we constantly spy on each other because we lived like this for a million years, and — if truly equitable and symmetrical — it can feel comfortable.

    There is no question that a “massively surveilled” world is coming. I would argue it’s already here. I too am nervous about it. KK giving it (ancient) historical context is both fascinating and oddly reassuring.

  • Someday World - Brian Eno and Karl Hyde →

    Someday World is collaborative record between Brian Eno and Underworld’s Karl Hyde. Warp records is releasing it on May 5th, but in the meantime you can stream it on NPR.

    I’ve listening to it twice so far. While I like it, I much prefer the harder, more krautrock instrumental jams that they feature in this studio film.

  • Raster-Noton is an Avant-Garde Institution →

    If you can get past the cringe-worthy introduction, “Vibe: Like you’re a few hours into a Ritalin high”, there are some interesting tidbits about the origins of Raster Noton in this VICE interview with Olaf Bender.

    Also check out the two albums they picked tracks from. Both are excellent.

    Super.Trigger by Frank Bretchneider
    Recur by Emptyset

  • Wes Anderson's Artful World →

    Sotheby’s interviews British artist Michael Taylor who painted Boy with Apple for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

  • It's All Too Much By Peter Walsh

    I hesitated to read “It’s All Too Much” because I figured it was for people with very serious clutter problems. I spend a lot of time battling clutter and generally win. But while my house usually appears clean and straightened I secretly manage several caches of papers to scan, magazines to review, and clothes to donate. My hope was that this book would offer up some strategies for dealing with those last bits of clutter. Unfortunately it didn’t.

    The first chapter presents a quiz to determine the reader’s position on a clutter scale. There are a possible 20 points. Your score places you into one of three clutter groups.

    00-02 points - Clutter free
    03-09 points - Clutter Victim
    10-20 points - Hard Core Hoarder

    I scored a 10. That’s right, according to Peter Walsh I am a “Hard Core Hoarder”. That my friends is absurd.

    Instead of closing it right then, I was actually encouraged by Peter Walsh’s outrageous mis-categorization of me. Surely as a “Hard Core Hoarder” I would find some useful information to help me deal with my sickness, right? Nope.

    Walsh spends most of the book describing his interactions with people who sound like borderline if not actual hoarders. He describes people who haven’t used their dining room table to eat dinner in decades. People who have trouble sleeping in their beds because they are filled with their kids toys. People with serious problems. Not only were his strategies for dealing with those problems worthless to me, but I was now really offended to be in the same clutter group as these people.

    I also took issue with Walsh’s ambivalence toward recycling or reusing all the junk he helps people remove. He touches on recycling and reuse but notes that most shelters could use cash instead of items. Of course they could. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to keep as much of your junk out of the waste stream as possible. I can understand not wanting to complicate the removal process for people who have real issue detaching. But he never mentions listing things for free on Craigslist which has been an excellent strategy for me. I’ve had lamps, furniture, clothing, books, all picked up within an hour of listing. Plus once you’ve agreed to give the item to someone else it’s gone. I think it’s irresponsible to just throw everything out.

    While I didn’t get much from the book it wasn’t entirely useless. Walsh touches on some of the issues I’ve started dealing with now that I have kids. For instance it’s hard for me to recycle my daughter’s artwork even thought I know I can’t keep everything. So I’ll scan it all right? Then it piles up. Then I get a goddamned 10 out of 20 on the test even though the drawings are in a neat pile in my office. These are real issues.

    Thinking about my (hopefully normal) emotional attachment to those drawings made me feel really bad for actual hoarders. It must be horrible to feel the same way about junk mail as I do about my daughter’s drawings.

    Hopefully this book is helping people with very serious issues. The kind of people whose possessions are limiting the way they can live their lives. But if you’re like me and already fairly conscientious about what comes into your house and what you choose to keep, I doubt you’ll find any groundbreaking revelations here.

    Also this book doesn’t have a index. It should have an index. ALL BOOKS NEED AN INDEX.