Monday, September 24, 2018

September 24th Links

  • "I have heard rumors of visitors who were disappointed," J. B. Priestley once said of the Grand Canyon. "The same people will be disappointed at the Day of Judgment." [NY Times]
  • Every two years, the American valet-parking industry sends its best parkers—optimistically described as athletes—to compete in a head-to-head battle known as the National Valet Olympics. True to their Athenian namesake, the games push participants to the limit. Competitors sort keys. They pack trunks. They slalom through orange cones. They sprint across parking lots. Organized into corporate teams, they also dress in the snazzy uniforms of their trade. [Atlantic]
  • LAX is a city within a city. At more than five square miles, it is only slightly smaller than Beverly Hills. More than 50,000 badged employees report to work there each day, many with direct access to the airfield—and thus to the vulnerable aircraft waiting upon it. More than 100,000 passenger vehicles use the airport’s roads and parking lots every day, and, in 2015 alone, LAX hosted 75 million passengers in combined departures and arrivals. LAX is also policed like a city. The airport has its own SWAT team—known as the Emergency Services Unit—and employs roughly 500 sworn police officers, double the number of cops in the well-off city of Pasadena and more than the total number of state police in all of Rhode Island. [Atlantic]
  • Usually, the geologists at oil companies are working with people who know either much less geology than they do or, in some cases, almost no geology at all, yet they're trying to convince these people that this is where they need to explore, or this is what they need to do next. They find these maps very useful to show what the Devonian of North Dakota looked like, for example, which is a hot spot right now with all the shales that they're developing in the Williston Basin. What they like is that I show what the area might have really looked like. This helps, particularly with people who have only a modest understanding of geology, particularly the geologic past. [Atlantic]
  • Some cities, like Flagstaff, have lighting ordinances, of course. But one of the really interesting implications in your book is that, if you think about darkness as a common resource like water or clean air, we have environmental legislation and acceptable levels for pollution for them. Or, if you think about the health side, you could make the analogy with secondhand smoke and the ways in which we regulate that. At one point you mention the phrase "light trespass," which implies we could treat darkness like property. Would any of these be effective models for preserving darkness? [Atlantic]
  • But let us not forget that it is oratory, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it! Put it into the cold words of everyday! The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — "that government of the people, by the people, for the people," should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i. e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle an absolutely free people; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and vote of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that vote was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely any freedom at all. Am I the first American to note the fundamental nonsensicality of the Gettysburg address? If so, I plead my aesthetic joy in it in amelioration of the sacrilege. [Mencken]
  • Abbott's senior brand manager Eric Ryan tells me the decision to woo adults was simple: "The beauty of the product is that the benefits haven't changed — Pedialyte is still a medical-grade hydration solution backed by advanced science. We don't endorse heavy drinking or claim to cure hangovers, but our users find confidence in having a trusted rehydration solution that works." [link]
  • Mr. Carlson-Wee now straddles the line between crypto kid and crypto king. He has pared back his time on online message boards to 15 minutes a day, from an hour or more in years past, to spend more time on the fund. He recently chopped off his mullet because being known for such an idiosyncrasy reminded him of "something a hedge-fund manager would do." [WSJ]
  • The news media silence was critical. If another news organization, particularly one with national reach, had run an obituary in 2009, we would have stood down, acknowledging that we had been napping back then and that it was way too late now to make up for the lapse. A competitive daily newspaper isn't keen on reporting something that happened seven years ago. [NY Times]
  • It would seem like a good history dissertation topic: who knew about Bletchley Park before 1974? How was a project with 10,000 people working on it, right on the main road between Oxford and Cambridge, kept a secret for so long? Did this vast conspiracy ever attract any conspiracy theorist interest or are conspiracy theorists never interested in true conspiracies? Did the KGB know in 1955? [Sailer]
  • The lack of serious attention to the nuances of gender and race is a pretty unforgivable and egregious flaw in St. John's philosophy of education. This kind of intense focus on the Westernized cannon just perpetuates Eurocentric neocolonialism. Sure— most of the mechanisms of modern globalism are based on Western thought. However, the primary reason that Western ideas are so dominant globally is because of the West's well-documented, centuries-long history of conquest, colonialism, prejudice and capitalism. Classical western thought is still prominent today, chiefly because Western nations systematically pillaged, subjugated, and otherwise murdered foreign societies and peoples who espoused alternate thoughts & philosophies. The study of marginalized people and the continuing ill effects of colonialism should not, under any circumstances, be optional. To center the Westernized cannon instead of scholarship produced by women and people of color is essentially to perpetuate white supremacy. [NY Times]
  • I like to walk places (a lot). I also prefer to avoid taking taxis or ridesharing services. At some point in college, I found myself at the Tweed New Haven airport at an odd hour, and decided to try my hand at walking downtown rather than taking a cab. I found that it was surprisingly pleasant, and the distance was not outlandish. From then on I have had a quasi-hobby of walking to/from the various airports that I fly. The general goal is to go between the terminals and the downtown of whatever city the airport serves (though I will bend those rules if convenient). Sometimes the walk is fun, sometimes it is unpleasant, but it always takes me through different parts of the city than most visitors usually see. [link]
  • One of my best vacations ever was a week spent on Nai Yang beach in Phuket, perhaps two miles from the airport terminal, which I chose because I love planes and wanted to planespot, and everything went perfectly. Photos like this were an everyday occurrence and yes, it is walkable - perhaps forty minutes from terminal to sand at a slow amble. Sitting on the beach with the FlightRadar app in one hand using the AR function to literally tell you what plane that is while drinking a cold beer? Bliss. [link]


Anonymous said...

I was at a dinner party recently with a prominent golf course architect, so I was planning a series of challenging questions for him about his design philosophy and his famously fraught relationship with his father and brother golf course architects. But then it turned out that the host seated him next to my wife, who doesn't know anything about golf course architecture other than that I like to talk about it. And it turned out that the famous golf course designer didn't want to talk about golf courses, he wanted to talk about his grandchildren, a topic upon which my wife's advice is far better than mine.

CP said...

cool Greenspun presentation on 2018 Oshkosh