I love these surprise orchestras popping up in busy public places.
You know it's recent, because of all the people holding smartphones recording the event. In past decades or centuries, people would have just gathered and enjoyed the music and not had to worry about concentrating on the recording of it. Something is lost when we can't go anywhere without surveilling the whole world. It's also a little spooky to contemplate how many people were in on the video and audio recording of this, and the planning and coordination that had to go into it.
But none of that matters. Beethoven's music wins in the end. Enjoy.
It's that good.
By two talented musicians. It's kind of sad they have to resort to talent-show gimmicks but it is attention-grabbing.
And now for something completely different.
I always enjoy finding master musicians who create unexpected sounds out of an instrument.
With the Edward Snowden affair exploding onto the news today, along with his 12-minute video interview, comes a new phrase that attracted the attention of some viewers who have been retweeting it: "turnkey tyranny".
Turns out that phrase was used nearly 200 years ago, in a political magazine, The Cap of Liberty published in London. Copies of it are available in Google Play for free. You can also find it searching Google Books.
A few lines of the article stand out:
But we are weary of combating absurdities, and will therefore turn from the subject of religious fanaticism, to one which requires the energy of every patriot in the nation to counteract its dangerous effects. Despotism, in every form and shape, is assailing us---Public Meetings are to be forcibly dispersed by the sword---the Liberty of the Press, which has been attacked by the Attorney-General, must now have to combat with a phalanx of M.P.'s, within the walls of St. Stephen's.
It is now become the duty of every man to rally round the banner of his Country's independence, and swear that with it he will either stand or fall. . . . . It is the duty of a patriot to brave death in every shape, to render a service to his Country; and surely no Country in the world stands at this moment in so much need of the assistance of her children as does England . . .
Here is the page that mentions that phrase:
It's from an article regarding the fact that someone was returning the bones of none other than the late Thomas Paine from the United States to England. Paine had been born in England.
Occam's Razor would say, and I would agree, that this is just an odd historical coincidence. But it is remarkable that a whistleblower might use a phrase that happened to be printed in a political tract from nearly 200 years ago regarding Thomas Paine, attacks on first amendment rights, and patriotic duty.
Oh this is painfully funny. So, so accurate.
As mentioned by various participants on the Tesla Motors Club web forum this weekend, it has come to light that on Friday, tucked away on page 38 of the company's 10-Q filing with the SEC, the company mentioned this intriguing tidbit:
Other factors that may influence the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles, and specifically electric vehicles, include . . . our capability to rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such swapping, which do not currently exist but which we plan to introduce in the near future . . .
Imagine for a moment what this might mean. You're driving from San Diego to Silicon Valley. Instead of just using Tesla's SuperCharger stations along I-5, you swing into one of their battery swap stations (located at their SuperCharger stations? or located inside the facilities of a partner company? or entirely new facilities built and operated by Tesla?), pull up, some robot arms reach under your Model S, unscrew the battery pack, pull it out, store it away for recharging, fetch another freshly-charged battery pack, position it into place, mount into the bottom of your car, zip zip zip, all tightly bolted on, presto, you're on your way in less time than it takes to fill a tank of gas. Which, funny thing, is exactly what Elon Musk just claimed was coming in one of this recent tweets:
Perhaps Tesla's also cooking up a new scheme for how to buy the car? You buy the car but not the battery. You pick out your Model S the way you want it, and then you "lease" a battery. So suddenly the price of the car drops from say $85,000 to say $45,000 or $50,000. And you essentially have a "subscription" to batteries, which you can recharge on your own at home or at any of the growing number of places including Tesla SuperCharger stations, or, you pull into one of the swapping stations and just swap it out for a quick in-n-out change.
Which makes me think Tesla ought to cut a deal with In-n-Out Burger. You drive in, get your food, and they ask, in addition to "would you like fries with that?", they ask, "would you like a fresh battery with that?"
The next month or two are gonna be interesting . . .
Saw this car on I-5 in the LA area on a recent trip.
Best use of those ubiquitous Apple stickers I've seen yet.
Forgot about this photo I took of a February 2013 issue of The New Yorker that arrived in a US Postal Service plastic bag marked with a "WE CARE" message (I am reminded of the "Let Us Try" motto of the Corps of Engineers). "We sincerely regret the damage to your mail during handling by the Postal Service," the message began.
Damage? Oh yes. A good third of the front of the magazine was turn up, in the upper left hand corner. The funny thing is, the actual cover of this issue depicts a skiier who's "tearing up" the snow, which happens to be the cover, revealing pages within! It's as if USPS looked at that and said, "we can do better." They sure did. Thanks, USPS!
Noticed this BoingBoing artlcle today entitled "Writer Clive Thompson describes his work routine" which quoted a Lifehacker article on Thompson entitled "I'm Clive Thompson, and This Is How I Work" which among other questions and answers contained an answer to the question "What apps/software/tools can't you live without?"
Clive's answer was interesting and got me thinking about how I'm writing my book on the history of the PLATO system. At first glance, his answers made what for him I'm sure is a lot of sense, but as I thought about it more, I thought how much I have tried to avoid getting stuck with any particular tool.
I'm a pack rat when it comes to research. I like to save everything, because you never know when it'll be useful. I write primarily long-form magazine pieces and books, each of which takes months to report and sometimes years to gestate, so I often find myself realizing an interview or study I encountered three years earlier is suddently useful now. So I lean heavily on tools for finding and saving everything.
No disagreement there. I too am a packrat and have vacuumed up every shred of information I could get my hands on since 1985. Yes, my book project has been going on a while. I've got interviews I did in 1986, 1987 that form the basis for much of the book. For instance, I interviewed B.F. Skinner in 1987, at his office in the Psych dept of Harvard University. That interview has become vital to my whole project, and forms the basis of the first chapter of my book.
For face-to-face interviews, I use a Livescribe pen, which is invaluable even though the software is kind of creaky. I use Skype out for most of my phone interviews, and Call Recorder to save those files. I have a Scrivener database for my research—whenever I read anything interesting, I make a note about it and paste in any relevant passages. The note-writing is a crucial part of the task for me, because it requires me to slow down and make sense of what I’m reading, instead of just blindly clipping and saving everything. I also use DEVONthink to mirror a lot of my Scrivener notes and store the full text of the thousands of scientific papers and articles I’ve read and found worth saving.
And this is the crux of it for me. I looked at Scrivener and while it's nice and all, I don't trust it. And Livescribe is cool indeed, but I kinda don't trust that either. As for Skype, never done an interview with it yet, and for this book I've done 500+ interviews.
For interviews, I use two recording devices if I am on the road, an Olympus digital recorder and my iPhone's recording app, and if I am at the office doing a phone interview, I use those two plus I set AudioHijack to record right from the Mac's built-in mic to pick up the phone conversation. I save the files as WAV or MP3.
For notes, documents, interview transcripts, scans, images, everything under the sun, I use . . . the operating system's filesystem, MacOS X. Period. I put the raw files into folders and sub-folders. Then I take the contents of the text files and the PDFs and I drop 'em in the appropriate "slush" files, of which there is one per chapter, using Omni Group's OmniOutliner Pro software, which spews out .oo3 files which are essentially .rtf files. These "slush" files form the basis of each chapter. They're a mix of outline, notes, and found material. I then use -- reluctantly -- Microsoft Word for the book manuscript.
For interview transcript creation, I use Transcrivia and then promptly export to .rtf format when a transcript is finished.
If there's an underlying rule here, it is this: save stuff in the simplest, most basic file format possible for the media type. ASCII text, followed by Rich Text Format (.rtf), followed by PDF, when necessary, Microsoft Word format. Everything else is just left raw in the file folders.
Why am I so weird about file formats? Well, consider this. When I started doing research for this book project, the IBM AT was the machine to have for PC folks, and the Macintosh SE had just come out. DOS was at version 2.0. The 286 chip was considered all the rage, and all the cool kids used Borland programming tools. WordPerfect was the ruler in word processing software. There was no web. No PDF or MP3 formats. Everything was still emerging in 1985. When the NeXT computer came out, I moved my project to that platform, and that is when I ran into the WordPerfect problem. Until then, everything had been stored in WP files for DOS. I used FrameMaker on NeXTSTEP OS, but for notes and transcripts I settled on .rtf which NeXT made use of heavily. Since NeXT "acquired" Apple and turned MacOS into NeXTSTEP, .rtf is still around, which is good. Everything else has changed pretty much. And this is what I don't "trust" about some of Clive's tools. I simply do not trust Scrivener's company to be around forever. If they fail, they go out of business. If they succeed, they get acquired, at which point they will fail. So they fail in the end. Whereas a Unix file system has been around a while and will be around a while, and files stored in directories and subdirectories should stick around for a while. When your book project lasts 28 years and counting, being free of platform, software, and file format dependencies is a Good Thing.
To find stuff on my Mac I use EasyFind which happens to be freeware. I will not touch Apple's Spotlight. Apple doesn't know how to do search well; the user interface is a nightmare, and the user experience, including the crazy mdworker daemons that slow your machine down to a crawl, is worse. EasyFind "just works" and does exactly what I need without any muss or fuss, and nothing's indexed. It's just . . . fast. If EasyFind goes out of business or gets discontinued, which I fully expect, there will no doubt be some other free or cheap desktop search tool to replace it. Anything but Spotlight. And I often just use grep at the command line.
My Book project currently consumes about 95GB of disk space, all organized simply using the filesystem. Makes backups easy too. And I keep lots of backups at three different physical locations. (I don't trust the hardware or software at all. Nor do I trust the backup drives, so I use several.)
Everyone has a different method; everyone finds a different way to organize and be productive. My way just evolved to keep longevity in mind. ASCII and RTF for the win!
Finally, I totally agree with Thompson about E.E. Cummings. I have his Complete Poems too. Though lately I'm reading Cervantes, Homer, Shakespeare, and Melville. Oh. And Plato.
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