The Science Museum Group’s Never Been Seen collection. Fun idea. I was the first Internet person to lay eyes on this dental stopper, for example.
Samo Burja on why civilization is older than we thought. Göbekli Tepe, Sumeria, and more.
vfoley on making reasonable use of computer resources. Data-oriented design has now snagged my curiosity. I think about this overall topic fairly often, though I still haven’t done anything about it. Also in this vein: Craig Mod’s essay on fast software.
Robin Sloan on having newsletters live on the web and just emailing out a link instead of the full thing. My own newsletter has been sadly dormant for the past several months, but when I revive it I plan to do this.
Josh W. Comeau on how styled-components works. This was good.
Tauri looks like an interesting lightweight alternative to Electron. Quill is the only Electron app I’m still actively using, but it’d still be nice to reduce its footprint a bit.
Ada Palmer on the Renaissance. Better than the Middle Ages? Doubtful. (Also, there was so much more plague over the centuries than I’d realized. Goodness.)
Robin Rendle on redesigning his personal site. The latter half of the post is what resonated most with me. Sometimes I feel like my site has gotten perhaps a bit too focused on smoothly delivering projects, at the cost of some character. I hope to restore some of that character over the next year.
Bartosz Ciechanowski explains internal combustion engines. His interactive diagrams are superb as always.
Donald G. McNeil, Jr., on the end of Covid. A fairly measured take, I thought. My wife and I are both fully vaccinated now, by the way, but we can’t unquarantine until the kids get their shots (mid-to-late fall is our current loose expectation on that).
Iain Bean on system fonts. I didn’t realize Charter is now a system font. (In macOS, it was apparently added in High Sierra.) That’s great.
Thomas Dimson’s This Word Does Not Exist. Words generated and defined by machine learning. It’ll be interesting to see how machine-generated content affects culture going forward.
Samuel Arbesman on Newtonian anagrams. Fascinating historical tidbit, and I’m interested in reading that Newton bio, too.
Hannah Ritchie on the drop in land use if the world switched to a plant-based diet. I’m not a vegetarian (though I was for a time when I was younger), but if plant-based meat substitutes get tasting good enough, I’d have no problem dropping meat from my diet. (I am shallow.)
Hynek Schlawack on the limitations of semver. Good points with some good advice.
Enjoyed Anne Ewbank’s article on the invention of the rice cooker.
For the last year or so I’ve been rereading some of my old journals each day, to remind myself of my past. My memory tends to focus almost entirely on recent personal history — the last year or so — and if it weren’t for this ritual, I honestly don’t know that I would really ever think about my life before that, except for when my kids ask me stories about my childhood.
I’m learning some things about myself I’d completely forgotten about — apparently I was very interested in art right after my mission, for example, and even almost majored in it. (I’d thought I didn’t really get into art until ten years ago. Whoops.)
The other thing I’ve noticed is that the parts of my journal that mean the most to me now are the little bits about the other people in my life, friends and family, particularly those I don’t much interact with anymore and those who’ve passed on. It’s almost magical to me how fondness from the long ago past can be resurrected with a mere word or a phrase.
Lately I’ve been reading a history of the Borgias, taking place in the late 1400s. In reading about some of the people who died young back then, I got to thinking about death (which if I’m honest is something I think about often — memento mori and all).
Separation of spirit and body aside, the main sting of death seems to be the separation from loved ones. For me, anyway, that’s what would hurt most. Sure, there are a lot of things I still want to do and a lot of books I still want to read, but I wouldn’t be devastated if I had to give that up. But not being there to help my wife raise our children? Utterly awful. (And the same goes for losing my wife or any of our kids.) I know there would be some measure of divine peace given, but I also know there would also be a deep, unavoidable flood of sorrow.
A mildly comforting thought I had while reading the Borgia book, though, was this: that particular sting only lasts up to roughly a hundred years. Past that point, everyone I knew and cared about in life will have also died. No more separation (at least not based on living vs. dead). Less devastation. Lots of happy reunions on the other side.
A hundred years is a long time, of course, but it’s also finite. And hopefully the Second Coming happens long before then. (That said, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it’s still more than a hundred years off.)
This history of steel from Popular Mechanics is fascinating. Highly recommended.