The story of my life in China is here.
Follow hitmaking, Grammy-nominated songwriter and music producer Oak Felder as he creates a new song. Along the way, he speaks about music production, creating his own unique sound, working with the world’s top artists, and what it means for young artists to have access to powerful technology.
Paul Graham in a 2008 essay:
Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.
The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. There are other messages too, of course. You should be hipper. You should be better looking. But the clearest message is that you should be richer.
What I like about Boston (or rather Cambridge) is that the message there is: you should be smarter. You really should get around to reading all those books you’ve been meaning to.
When you ask what message a city sends, you sometimes get surprising answers. As much as they respect brains in Silicon Valley, the message the Valley sends is: you should be more powerful.
Read the whole essay. It’s a very thought provoking. What does Munich tell you, what Shanghai, what Saigon?
Robyn Griggs Lawrence, author of Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House:
According to Japanese legend, a young man named Sen no Rikyu sought to learn the elaborate set of customs known as the Way of Tea. He went to tea-master Takeeno Joo, who tested the younger man by asking him to tend the garden. Rikyu cleaned up debris and raked the ground until it was perfect, then scrutinized the immaculate garden. Before presenting his work to the master, he shook a cherry tree, causing a few flowers to spill randomly onto the ground.
To this day, the Japanese revere Rikyu as one who understood to his very core a deep cultural thread known as wabi-sabi. Emerging in the 15th century as a reaction to the prevailing aesthetic of lavishness, ornamentation, and rich materials, wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all.
Check out the Wikipedia article for more examples and some photos.
I love fast software. That is, software speedy both in function and interface. Software with minimal to no lag between wanting to activate or manipulate something and the thing happening. Lightness.
Software that’s speedy usually means it’s focused. Like a good tool, it often means that it’s simple, but that’s not necessarily true. Speed in software is probably the most valuable, least valued asset. To me, speedy software is the difference between an application smoothly integrating into your life, and one called upon with great reluctance. Fastness in software is like great margins in a book — makes you smile without necessarily knowing why.
John Gruber comments:
One of the confounding aspects of software today is that our computers are literally hundreds — maybe even a thousand — times faster than the ones we used 20 years ago, but some simple tasks take longer now than they did then.
Too few product managers treat speed as a feature. There should be tests that make sure software stays fast (or becomes faster) when new features are addede.
Hugo, which is powering this site, is a positive example, advertising itself as “the world’s fastest framework for building websites”.
Lead developer Bjørn Erik Pedersen said in an interview with the New Dynamic:
I try to play the zero-sum game when adding new features: The processing time added by the new feature will have to be compensated by improvements in others […].
Performance bottlenecks show up in the most surprising places, so you have to benchmark. Performance gains and losses come from smaller accumulated changes over time. And speed matters. Try Hugo’s server with livereload and you will see.
New York bartender Jeff Solomon shows how to mix every cocktail.
And by every cocktail we mean not every cocktail, because that would be insane. Today we’re gonna focus on classic cocktails. These are the drinks from the nineteenth and early twentieth century that are still popular today.
Former Secret Service Agent Jonathan Wackrow, now managing director at Teneo Risk, explains how the Service protects the President and other VIPs.
Interesting to hear what they’re looking at regarding venues. I never thought about threats coming from air conditioning or light access.
New lyrics for a new time. Roy Zimmerman and friends to the melody of The Lion Sleeps Tonight:
In the White House, the mighty White House the liar tweets tonight
In the West Wing, the self-obsessed wing the liar tweets tonight
35 years ago Gert Steinbäcker wrote this hymn of all expats (my translation):
Last summer was pretty nice
I was lying at some bay
The sun like fire on my skin
You smell the water and nothing’s loud
Some place in Greece
Loads of white sand
On my back just your hand
I’m not too happy with this full translation but it gives you an idea of what the song is about.
For Sports Illustrated Emma Baccellieri portraits Jim Bintliff, the sole mud supplier for major league baseball. When someone asks him what he does on the banks of a Delaware River he tells a lie:
I’ve been sent by the Environmental Protection Agency, and I’m surveying the soil. Or: I’m helping the Port Authority, looking into pollution. Or, if it’s a group of young folks who look like they’ve only come out on the water for a good time: I take this mud, and I put it on my pot plants. They grow like trees.
It prevents anyone from exploring what he’s actually doing, which is what he’s done for decades, what his father did before him, and his grandfather before him: Bintliff is collecting the mud that is used to treat every single regulation major league baseball, roughly 240,000 per season.
Former Chief of Disguise for the CIA, Jonna Mendez, explains how disguises are used in the CIA, and what aspects to the deception make for an effective disguise.
In the second video she breaks down 30 spy scenes from shows like Alias and Bourne Identity.
“We wanted to invite U.S. media to come ask any questions on behalf of American customers,” said Catherine Chen, Huawei’s corporate senior vice president and director of the board.
VICE News took Huawei up on its offer and found out we were the only news organization that showed up.
The gigantic complex contains twelve European style towns.
Ogilvy 12th Floor created two digital billboards for British Airways:
These specific signs were located between the view of people on the street and the flight paths of planes coming and going from Heathrow Airport. Advanced technology was integrated into the display that could track planes as they flew overhead, and that’s when the magic would start.
A video would start to play that showed a child point at the airplane and run off after it. The sign would also give the flight number and location that the plane took off from, and then it would go back to a very simple display about British Airways.
What a smart way of combining traditional with digital marketing.
Emmy-Award winning actor Jeffrey Wright narrates the story of Nearest Green.
This beautifully shot short film tells the extraordinary legacy of the first known African-American master distiller. It’s a story of honor, respect, and an unlikely friendship, that would forever change the whiskey industry. Perhaps the greatest American story you never heard.
German artists Wolfgang Aichner and Thomas Huber went on a 4-week art performance, carrying an oversized pen painting a virtual rectangle over the scenic landscape of three US states.
Thomas Huber painted the Buntschwein I bought in 2014.
Saigoneer editor-in-chief Michael Tatarski explains why the water of the Mekong is brown:
“If in the future all of the planned Mekong River dams are built, 96% of sediment will be trapped, while 50% is already trapped by the cascade dams in China,” he adds. “If this happens, the coastal water will become transparent, while right now it’s chocolate-colored for 30 kilometers from shore.”
And why that’s a good thing:
Additionally, the loss of sediment would not only starve sea life of nutrients, but would also expose the delta to dangerous storms and waves, as sediment-filled water is heavier than open ocean water and absorbs wave energy.