Monday, June 21, 2021

Solstice Links

  • In a life that increasingly requires planning, reservations, and permission to do so many things, wandering through the forest and stopping as the spirit moves me, releases pent up energy and frees the spirit from the constraints of quotidian life. There is no sense of time out there, not necessarily even a destination, just freedom. [terrapintales]
  • Every waterman needs (at least) two boats.  One that you can throw on the roof of a car for a quick dunk and another for hauling out friends or going on an expedition.  So far, I’ve kept my fleet to that rule. Boat one is Terrapin, an Adirondack guideboat. For sailing and taking a crew there’s Row Bird, an Arctic Tern, sail and oar boat designed by Iain Oughtred. [terrapintales]
  • One of the reasons I love small boats is because they are so well suited for cruising in shallow water, for skating the edge where the best of land and sea come together. That edge is where fascinating marine creatures thrive: feathery sea anemones, purple starfish, darting oystercatchers. Waves and tide make dramatic shifts here, changing from hour to hour, and the deep greens of salal bushes along with the cedar trees’ bronze bark contrasting elegantly with the blues and silvers of the water. For me, open water far from shore has limited appeal—its just water. Breathtaking in its immensity and attractive in its lack of human encroachment, the open water always causes a foreboding deep in my gut. Making a crossing in a small, motorless boat always takes resolve. Even if I can see where I’m going, once I’m a few hundred feet off shore, I might as well be miles away; if I run into trouble, I’m on my own. Nobody is looking for, nor expecting, a small boat in a big body of water. [Bruce Bateau]
  • Andorra's mountainous, 120 km border with France and Spain was fixed in a feudal charter signed on 8 September 1278, making it the oldest remaining border in the world. [visualcapitalist]
  • I published my first long article laying out the substantial evidence that the global Covid outbreak might have been due to an American biowarfare attack against China (and Iran), and that article got very strong early traffic, with more Facebook Likes in the first few days than anything I had previously published. But about ten days after it ran, our website was suddenly banned by Facebook. A few days later, our entire website was deranked by Google, so that all our web pages would appear near the very bottom of Google searches and almost no one would see them. [Unz]
  • The man and the machine have become inseparable to me. My father has always been a man who owned and drove a BMW 5-series. Muscular straight-sixes. Grunty V-8s. Always rear-wheel-drive. Never an M-car, but always something a bit special. He read a review somewhere and a term stuck with him. “It's the boulevard strafer,” he'd always joke. [RaT]
  • Walker estimated the inner ring of the family – which includes his brother and several other extended members of the Walker tribe – was worth approximately $150 million. That family worth once stood at $200 million nearly three decades ago, but Marcus Walker, the great grandson of founder C.J. Walker, challenged the management of the bank to split the stock, increase dividend payouts and purchase his shares. In 2008 – right as the Great Recession began – the bank settled a lawsuit with Marcus Walker in Orange County Superior Court by purchasing his 5,827 shares at $7,300 each. The payout was part of a larger settlement for $42.5 million with the Donald P. Walker family. Other investors who piggybacked in the suit and owned 14,720 shares, were paid $107.5 million for their shares, Dan Walker explained. Marcus Walker was Dan Walker’s first cousin and son of his uncle, Donald Walker, who was his father’s brother. “It is sort of comical that the whole thing took place,” said Dan Walker. “They got their distribution, paid capital gains and taxes, and put it into the market, which then collapsed. I don’t know if they were better off or not.” [link]
  • The two realities that are fundamental to understanding the headlines of 2021 are that, on average, blacks and (to a lesser extent) Hispanics are more crime-prone and less smart than whites (much less Asians). Lately, though, these facts seem inconceivable to most conformist Americans. Still, lying is bad for the soul. So is losing because you are too cowardly to tell the truth. In his section on IQ trends since The Bell Curve 27 years ago, Murray briefly notes the decline of the once-dominant centrists who assumed that any gaps between whites and blacks could be eliminated with whatever their favorite one weird trick was. [Sailer]
  • A book where you can enter “sport” and end up with “a diversion of the field” — this is in fact the opposite of what I’d known a dictionary to be. This is a book that transmutes plain words into language that’s finer and more vivid and sometimes more rare. No wonder McPhee wrote with it by his side. No wonder he looked up words he knew, versus words he didn’t, in a ratio of “at least ninety-nine to one.” Unfortunately, he never comes out and says exactly which dictionary he’s getting all this juice out of. But I was desperate to find it. What was this secret book, this dictionary so rich and alive that one of my favorite writers was using it to make heroic improvements to his writing? I did a little sleuthing. It wasn’t so hard with the examples McPhee gives, and Google. He says, for instance, that in three years of research for a book about Alaska he’d forgotten to look up the word Arctic. He said that his dictionary gave him this: “Pertaining to, or situated under, the northern constellation called the Bear.” And that turned out to be enough to find it. [James Somers]
  • James Somers thinks you should switch to the Websters 1913 dictionary, and he cites John McPhee's composition method of looking up synonyms for problematic words as the key to his peerless prose style. Somers makes a great case for the romance of historical dictionaries, but for my money (literally — I spent a fortune on this one), the hands-down best reference for synonyms and historical language reference is the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, whose magnificence cannot be overstated. [link]
  • The beauty of a typewriter is that it propels you through a piece of writing. You can’t tinker with phrases, so you get used to laying down paragraphs. Your mind, relieved from the micromechanics of language, applies itself to structure, to the building of sections and scenes and arguments. When you’re done you end up with something whole, even if it’s imperfect: a draft that reads from start to finish and that you can hold in your hands. [James Somers]
  • He also created video games and the long-running TV show ER. In 1995 he achieved a breathtaking pop-cultural moment when he had the nation’s No. 1 best-selling book (The Lost World), the No. 1 movie (Congo), and the No. 1 TV show (ER), a trifecta he repeated in 1996 with Airframe, Twister, and ER. No one has topped that—not Stephen King, not John Grisham, not J. K. Rowling. At the height of his career, Crichton was reportedly earning $100 million a year. His cultural ubiquity was such that a New Yorker cartoon showed a woman in a bookstore asking, “What can you recommend that’s not by Michael Crichton?” [Vanity Fair]
  • Good books are almost fractally deep: you find whole worlds wherever you look, and no matter how far in you zoom. Breaking a book into multiple meetings makes the most of this fact. It gives you space to dwell — on a page, even on a single word — without feeling like you’re wasting anyone’s time. No: that’s what a book club is for, not to sum up what you’ve read but to live inside it. I don’t know why more people don’t run book clubs this way. I think part of it is that they’ve never tried; the very concept of a book club seems to imply a one-book-per-meeting structure. Others hear the idea of meeting weekly and think who has the time? [James Somers]

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