Reading Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto Watched Page Eight (2011)

Highlights

These are interesting excerpts I’ve clipped from articles online. If you want to see what’s in my queue to read next, I’ve got the articles I’ve saved to Pocket mirrored here. I also have the articles I’ve favourited in Feedbin and a directory of links (not necessarily articles) that are worth returning to.

The prison inside prison

2021-01-08

Uvalle went into solitary confinement in 1993, when he was 21 years old. Now, at 47, he’s been in solitary for 26 years—more than half his life.

The Prison Inside Prison, Michael Baranjas in The Texas Observer

This is not the apocalypse you were looking for

2021-01-08

The right, of course, has never had a monopoly on catastrophist fever dreams. The idea of a cleansing armageddon that instantly erases all the awkward parts of modernity, all the weary years of work and compromise between where we are and where we’d like to be, is universal, and universally childish. I’ve spent far too much time listening to drunk hipsters with retro-Soviet facial hair tell me there’s no point in feminism or anti-racism, because all of that will be fixed after the giant, bloody workers’ revolution that is absolutely on the way, so really it doesn’t matter how we treat each other in the present. You can hear the same gleeful anticipation in the rhetoric of “dark-green” eco-fundamentalist groups, which right now are outpacing religious extremists in their rush to claim the coronavirus as nature’s revenge on humanity. If you are really so keen to be punished, there are websites for that. If you find yourself eager to see the whole species punished, that’s not a fetish, that’s fascism.

This is not the apocalypse you were looking for, Laurie Penny in WIRED

Local power and the social order

2020-12-30

But very few of my classmates really belonged to the area’s elite. It wasn’t a city of international oligarchs, but one dominated by its wealthy, largely agricultural property-owning class. They mostly owned, and still own, fruit companies: apples, cherries, peaches, and now hops and wine-grapes. The other large-scale industries in the region, particularly commercial construction, revolve at a fundamental level around agriculture: They pave the roads on which fruits and vegetables are transported to transshipment points, build the warehouses where the produce is stored, and so on.

Gentry classes are a common feature of a great many social-economic-political regimes throughout history. Pretty much anywhere you have a hierarchical form of social organization and property ownership, a gentry class of some kind emerges: the local civic elites of the Roman Empire, the landlords of later Han China, the numerous lower nobility of late medieval France, the thegns of Anglo-Saxon England, the Prussian Junkers, or the planter class of the antebellum South. The gentry are generally distinct from the highest levels of a regime’s political and economic elite: They’re usually not resident in the political center, they don’t hold major positions in the central administration of the state (whatever that might consist of) and aren’t counted among the wealthiest people in their polity. New national or imperial elites might emerge over time from a gentry class, even rulers - the boundaries between these groups can be more or less porous - but that’s not usually the case.

American Genry, Patrick Wyman in Perspectives: Past, Present, and Future

Ellen More

2020-12-03

James IV arrived in Edinburgh, and came to Holyrood Palace by 18 November, where on 22 November he rewarded a man who had brought animals with 20 gold crowns, these animals had been with the African women, the “More lasses”, at Inverkeithing. They included a Portuguese horse with a red tail, and a civet or “must cat”. On 26 November he gave the woman who brought the “More lasses” from Fife 4 shillings. On 27 November James IV ordered that two suspected plague victims, who had been excluded from Dunfermline town, should have 14 shillings.

Ellen More, Wikipedia

This candle doesn't smell of anything

2020-12-03

After Terri Nelson noticed people complaining online about a lack of scent from newly purchased scented candles, Kate Petrova analyzed Amazon reviews for candles from the past three years and found a drop in ratings for scented candles beginning in January 2020 (compared to a smaller ratings decline for unscented candles).

The hypothesis is that some of these buyers have lost their sense of smell due to Covid-19 infections and that’s showing up in the ratings.

Speculation: Scented Candle Ratings Down Due to Covid-19 Loss of Smell, Jason Kottke

The New York Public Library archives

2020-11-19

But the real gem of the library, in Lannon’s view, is the stuff that you can find only in boxes like the ones now strewn across the table. “You can get a book anywhere,” he said. “An archive exists in one location.” The room we’re standing in is the only place that you can read, say, the week’s worth of journal entries in which New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal contemplates publishing the Pentagon Papers. It’s the only place where you can read the collected papers of Robert Moses, or a letter T.S. Eliot wrote about Ulysses to James Joyce’s Paris publisher, Sylvia Beach.

These collections aren’t digitized. The only way to find out what’s inside them is to ask for a particular box — often with just a vague notion of what will be in it — and to hold the old papers in your hands. “I don’t know how one could be interested in libraries and not archives,” Lannon told me. They tell you “the stories behind things,” he said, “the unpublished, the hard to find, the true story.” This, I began to see, is why someone might have been inclined to call Lannon the most interesting man in the world: it’s because he knows so many of these stories himself, including stories that no one else knows, because they are only told here.

That is the paradox of being an archivist. The reason an archivist should know something, Lannon said, is to help others to know it. But it’s not really the archivist’s place to impose his knowledge on anyone else. Indeed, if the field could be said to have a creed, it’s that archivists aren’t there to tell you what’s important. Historically momentous documents are to be left in folders next to the trivial and the mundane — because who’s to say what’s actually mundane or not?

Keepers of the Secrets, James Somers in The Village Voice

The demographics of early UNIX users

2020-11-12

But the most recurrent complaint was that it was too text-oriented. People really hated the command line, with all the utilities, obscure flags, and arguments they had to memorize. They hated all the typing. One mislaid character and you had to start over. Interestingly, this complaint came most often from users of the GUI-laden Macintosh or Windows platforms. People who had slaved away on DOS batch scripts or spent their days on character-based terminals of multiuser non-UNIX machines were less likely to express the same grievance.

Though I understood how people might be put off by having to remember such willfully obscure utility names like cat and grep, I continued to be puzzled at why they resented typing. Then I realized I could connect the complaint with the scores of “intellectual elite” (as my manager described them) in UNIX shops. The common thread was wordsmithing; a suspiciously high proportion of my UNIX colleagues had already developed, in some prior career, a comfort and fluency with text and printed words. They were adept readers and writers, and UNIX played handily to those strengths. UNIX was, in some sense, literature to them. Suddenly the overrepresentation of polyglots, liberal-arts types, and voracious readers in the UNIX community didn’t seem so mysterious, and pointed the way to a deeper issue: in a world increasingly dominated by image culture (TV, movies, .jpg files), UNIX remains rooted in the culture of the word.

The Elements of Style: UNIX as Literature, Thomas Scoville

The daily paper in e-ink

2020-11-12

Remember, the device has no buttons and is not a touch screen; it only shows the front page of the paper. But that’s enough to get the gist of what’s going on in the world, and if I want to continue reading an article that caught my attention, I use the Times app (most of the time it’s somewhere near the top of the app as well).

Every morning, I wake up to a fresh edition of the Times on my wall. I find it wonderful to hover for a bit with a cup of coffee, scanning the headlines or reading an article. Mission accomplished and I am one satisfied news junkie.

An updated daily front page of The New York Times as artwork on your wall, Alexander Klöpping

Why is there a cluster of tall buildings in the City of London?

2020-11-12

At present more than 60 City buildings exceed 75m in height and nine exceed 150m. Several more are on the drawing board. Most of the new batch are located inside an approximate triangle bounded by Liverpool Street station, Fenchurch Street station and Leadenhall Market. None are targeted for the western half of the City, nor anywhere near the river.

Why is there a cluster of tall buildings in the City of London?, in Diamond Geezer

How I became a drag king in the Scottish folk scene

2020-11-12

There is a saying that “the suit makes the man.” When I was finished dressing and looked at myself in the mirror, I felt complete. Finally, the inner persona I was projecting as a performer was reflected externally.

To Feel Right, Amanda Chemeche in Popula