Video and Photography:
I posted a new video last Monday about Air batteries. I had planned on exploring them more but left my lab in Idaho before I could get into it. It’s an interesting concept, even though it’s clearly very hard to make it work well. I’m very grateful to Dipak Koirala (co-author on several papers) who previewed it and caught a few mistakes.
I’ve been taking more photos lately. The top photo was a strange thing. I was working in the lab when I looked out the window and saw this guy floating by in his balloon. It was a totally random rainy Thursday. Maybe he was trying out an unconventional commute.
I took this train track vanishing point photo on a walk through a local park. It’s amazing how wild some places look around here despite the fact that I’m in a much bigger city than I have been used to.
This one took a lot of work. I hiked up to Lake Twenty-Two in the Cascades. I’m not in my best shape so the hike was a little challenging. I hiked maybe 6 miles in total, but there’s a good slope for the whole route. It was a gorgeous place and totally worth it.
Stuff I’ve been reading:
How Did Smallpox Anti-Vaxxers Compare to Those Today? | Discover Magazine – Some things never change.
The Warded Man (AKA The Painted Man) – by Peter V. Brett – I read this years ago and I was in the mood to read it again. It’s the brain candy I’m craving right now for some reason. Violent, predatory demons rise from the ground every night. Humans have some protection behind magical sigils called wards. Is there some deeper symbolism? I don’t think so, I think it’s just fun.
Abortion: Is It Possible To Be Both “Pro-Life” And “Pro-Choice”? – by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan – Scraps from the loft ; originally (I think) from PARADE MAGAZINE, p. 4-5, 7-8, 22 April 1990. It’s a thoughtful take, and nuanced, and is from an era before Twitter.
Penny Arcade – News – Same As it Ever Was – there’s always a moral panic, always a villain scheming to corrupt the youth. Tycho shares that not very long ago it was the penny dreadful pulp novels.
More wisdom from Tycho at the Penny Arcade – “The Internet we have now is an arms race of algorithms designed to make war out of every distinction. One of the outputs of this system is ad revenue. The other is, well, War.” That feels like a perfect summary of the State of the Internet. Could we have had a subscription-supported internet, had we gone that direction early? I wonder.
The Penny Arcade has been making comics and blogging for more than 20 years. I have been reading them for half my life. They have created something I really admire.
How to Fight Presidents by Daniel O’Brien – The chapter on Chester A. Arthur is really interesting to me. He was a corrupt insider who initiated public service reform and shut down the corrupt system that made him president. A very rare story.
Stuff I’ve been watching/listening to:
Dune (2021): The Royal Houses Featurette – YouTube – I’m excited about the new Dune movie. I’ve been re-reading the book to refresh my memory.
What Caused the Worst Year in the History of Humanity? – YouTube – I didn’t know this bit of history. I read about some of the misery of this time, but I had no idea it was so widespread.
Your Undivided Attention – The Power of Solutions Journalism – I’ve been trying to articulate something for a while and this said it better than I could. We need critical, thoughtful coverage of actual solutions to problems. Too many ‘think pieces’ articulate a well-formed opinion about some topic/social problem and then… nothing. What should we do, given the facts? It’s left to the reader. What if journalists went the next step and asked “who is solving this problem? What’s working? What isn’t?” That’s Solutions Journalism and I want to read more of it.
Have You Checked Your Butthole – Tom Cardy (@tomcardy) on TikTok – YouTube – This is juvenile, but it’s funny. I shared it with my mom, who noted that “There was a time I tried to be helpful with finding things for people. But I absolutely don’t anymore.”
Kiki’s Delivery Service: More Relevant than Ever I absolutely agree with this. The movie is charming and the point is relevant to our time.
Hundreds of Ways to Get S#!+ Done—and We Still Don’t | WIRED – This is relevant. Sometimes I imagine myself becoming a productivity guru. Everyone’s different and everyone wants help and there are no wrong answers. That’s a field ripe for anyone to capitalize on personality and spectacle.
Answering the Techno-Pessimists, Part 4: Science Slowdown? – by Noah Smith – Noahpinion – This paper cites the ITIF regarding R&D spending. And spending as a portion of GDP is stagnant. Federal basic research (the kind with the biggest long term benefits and the kind I wanted to do all my life) has shrunk to less than a quarter of its peak. Hypothesis: this graph explains why we have algorithmic stock trading instead of mars colonies.
Chernobyl, Edith Finch, and the Power of Abandoned Places – YouTube – I have not yet watched Chernobyl, but I did play Edith Finch. I agree that abandoned places had a strange mystique. I guess that’s why there’s reddit.com/r/AbandonedPorn/
The Great Highs and Extreme Lows of Rick and Morty Season 5 – YouTube – Good summary of a strange season. I agree: the good was good but some was vapid.
The Top 10 Micro-Photos of 2021 – YouTube – It’s very cool that Hank Green got to help judge the Nikon Small World competition. I check it out every year. Maybe someday I’ll have something to enter.
Music (maybe not new, but new to me):
Don’t Speak – No Doubt (‘60s Style Cover) ft. Haley Reinhart – YouTube
I Try // Macy Gray // POMPLAMOOSE – YouTube
Ken Ashcorp – Absolute Territory – YouTube