I need to use my 15-minute bus commute more wisely. It comes to mind to devote it to poetry. In 15 minutes, according to Isaac Asimov’s estimate in Measure of the Universe, an averagely educated adult can read 4500 words. Suppose it takes three times as long to read poetry—1500 words, then. Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn runs under 400 words and would make a fine afternoon’s or evening’s accomplishment as a reading. So might many of Mark Wood’s selections.
Here’s somebody talking about e-books read aloud at 400 wpm.
Holy crap. Via Esther Dyson’s blog comes a zoom-able, click-able map interface for the whole U.S. (here’s Portland, Oregon).
To get: New earphone pieces, keyboard/workstation cleaning supplies.
In HTML format, using MS Word as my email editor, em dashes import recognizably into TextEdit. Hallelujah.
Think about energy flows; seriously, spend some time, some measured time in hours, thinking about how much energy is needed to do certain amounts of work, such as to keep a human body going in good condition for a day, as compared with, say, the amount of energy required to power a 100-watt light bulb for a day. Think about where that power must come from. This is an effort of comparisons, an effort that can take the form of a short essay.
Among other things, a simple Google search on Noel Perrin’s Giving Up the Gun, which from its copyright page I knew had been printed in The New Yorker in 1965, yielded box 603 of manuscripts “run & killed” by The New Yorker between 1959 and 1966, as archived at the New York Public Library.
I’m reading a little book by James Elkins called What Happened to Art Criticism? It’s orienting me in a world almost totally unfamiliar to me, though it’d be even more helpful if its references were hyperlinked. A Globe and Mail review (Google cache) of the publisher behind Elkins’ book—Prickly Paradigm Press—notes the existence of blogs as comparable with the series, and the Creative Commons folks, and Cory Doctorow’s and Larry Lessig’s early examples, give me hope for a convergence phenomenon, where stuff of limited appeal can widen its appeal by being freely available in an ephemeral, less-produced format, such as MP3 or phosphor dots or LED, but also available in permanent, library-friendly, printed pages between tough covers.
The important things in the world may well not be the useful things; the distinction may be hell to make; but I feel an urge to do so. The important things may be history; it’s difficult to say, but they may be. History packs the world and unpacks it. History—the stories we tell ourselves—makes whatever sense of the world we can make. Distinctions are history’s job, its raison d’être.
The important things may be the useful things. There may be no distinguishing between them. If you can use it maybe it must be useful; if it’s useful, maybe it must be important.
History’s no help but its stories are all we have except imagining and even then we only imagine other history, tell other stories.
Michael McDonough’s “The Top 10 Things They Never Taught Me In Design School” from Design Observer.
I’ve decided more or less to get over the extra space around the em dash section-separators. More important, I need my paragraphs to be less than “the width of two alphabets” or “10 to 12 words per line”. That’s the next tiny project to tackle at Improv.
Part of the plan—and it’s admittedly half-assed—now involves writing these Outlook Musings in a Textile-convertible format, so words I emphasize get before-and-after single-space underlines, as “emphasize” just did; special characters such as the currency symbol (¤) or the multiplication sign (×) appear thus, using Microsoft Word as my email editor, since Outlook on its own refuses to countenance such high-tech tomfoolery; and superscripts (1.4 × 1015) or subscripts (H2O) do likewise.
My section divider (see above) is an em dash on its own line; it may morph into the more traditional §, should a need arise.
I’ve abandoned tabbed indents for individual paragraphs, as Textile and HTML more generally seem not to understand them, going with blank lines as separators for some reason, perhaps web-based readability? Dunno.
David Pescovitz is one of the digerati, or at least among the folks who comprise that terrific entity, the blogosphere, and he writes about some stuff that interests me, such as memory habits passively monitored.