Inside one of America’s last pencil factories
“A pencil is a little wonder-wand: a stick of wood that traces the tiniest motions of your hand as it moves across a surface. I am using one now, making weird little loops and slashes to write these words. As a tool, it is admirably sensitive. The lines
16 days ago
The inside story of Labour’s election shock
Through a gruelling seven weeks of spats and leaks, Corbyn, widely viewed within his own party as an electoral millstone, went from barely being able to fill his own front bench in parliament to packing out town squares and car parks up and down the country with ardent fans, while his team of leftwing outriders burst into the mainstream of Britain’s political debate.
Article  Politics 
12 weeks ago
Someone typesetting mathematics is less a “typist” and more an artist attempting to render abstract data on a two-dimensional surface. Mathematical symbols are themselves a language, but they are fundamentally a visual representation of human-conceived knowledge—knowledge that would be too inefficient to convey through verbal explanations. This brings the typesetting of mathematics closer to a form of data visualization than regular printed text.
october 2017
A Story of Slavery in Modern America - The Atlantic
Her name was Eudocia Tomas Pulido. We called her Lola. She was 4 foot 11, with mocha-brown skin and almond eyes that I can still see looking into mine—my first memory. She was 18 years old when my grandfather gave her to my mother as a gift. My parents never paid her, and they scolded her constantly. She wasn’t kept in leg irons, but she might as well have been.
september 2017
Essence of a Review
It takes time to write fewer words, because to do so something magical has to happen. What is that magic though?
Mac  Writing 
september 2017
Buy Experiences, Not Things - The Atlantic
Forty-seven percent of the time, the average mind is wandering. It wanders about a third of the time while a person is reading, talking with other people, or taking care of children. It wanders 10 percent of the time, even, during sex. And that wandering, according to psychologist Matthew Killingsworth, is not good for well-being. A mind belongs in one place. During his training at Harvard, Killingsworth compiled those numbers and built a scientific case for every cliché about living in the moment.
Article  Psychology 
september 2017
Playboy Interview: Steve Jobs
A computer is the most incredible tool we’ve ever seen. It can be a writing tool, a communications center, a supercalculator, a planner, a filer and an artistic instrument all in one, just by being given new instructions, or software, to work from. There are no other tools that have the power and versatility of a computer. We have no idea how far it’s going to go. Right now, computers make our lives easier. They do work for us in fractions of a second that would take us hours. They increase the quality of life, some of that by simply automating drudgery and some of that by broadening our possibilities. As things progress, they’ll be doing more and more for us.
Article  Apple 
september 2017
Franz Kafka Says the Insect in The Metamorphosis Should Never Be Drawn; Vladimir Nabokov Draws It Anyway Open Culture
If you’ve read Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis in English, it’s likely that your translation referred to the transformed Gregor Samsa as a “cockroach,” “beetle,” or, more generally, a “gigantic insect.” These renderings of the author’s original German don’t necessarily miss the mark—Gregor scuttles, waves multiple legs about, and has some kind of an exoskeleton. His charwoman calls him a “dung beetle”… the evidence abounds. But the German words used in the first sentence of the story to describe Gregor’s new incarnation are much more mysterious, and perhaps strangely laden with metaphysical significance.
march 2017
The Glass Box And The Commonplace Book – stevenberlinjohnson
Scholars, amateur scientists, aspiring men of letters — just about anyone with intellectual ambition in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was likely to keep a commonplace book. In its most customary form, “commonplacing,” as it was called, involved transcribing interesting or inspirational passages from one’s reading, assembling a personalized encyclopedia of quotations. It was a kind of solitary version of the original web logs: an archive of interesting tidbits that one encountered during one’s textual browsing. The great minds of the period — Milton, Bacon, Locke — were zealous believers in the memory-enhancing powers of the commonplace book. There is a distinct self-help quality to the early descriptions of commonplacing’s virtues: in the words of one advocate, maintaining the books enabled one to “lay up a fund of knowledge, from which we may at all times select what is useful in the several pursuits of life.”
march 2017
How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book”
A commonplace book is a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do.

Some of the greatest men and women in history have kept these books. Marcus Aurelius kept one–which more or less became the Meditations. Petrarch kept one. Montaigne, who invented the essay, kept a handwritten compilation of sayings, maxims and quotations from literature and history that he felt were important. His earliest essays were little more than compilations of these thoughts. Thomas Jefferson kept one. Napoleon kept one. HL Mencken, who did so much for the English language, as his biographer put it, “methodically filled notebooks with incidents, recording straps of dialog and slang” and favorite bits from newspaper columns he liked. Bill Gates keeps one.
march 2017
Security and the Internet of Things
We no longer have things with computers embedded in them. We have computers with things attached to them. The internet is no longer a web that we connect to. Instead, it's a computerized, networked, and interconnected world that we live in. This is the future, and what we're calling the Internet of Things.

We're building a world-size robot, and we don't even realize it.
Internet  Security 
february 2017
Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency - The New Yorker
The morning after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Barack Obama summoned staff members to the Oval Office. Some were fairly junior and had never been in the room before. They were sombre, hollowed out, some fighting tears, humiliated by the defeat, fearful of autocracy’s moving vans pulling up to the door. Although Obama and his people admit that the election results caught them completely by surprise—“We had no plan for this,” one told me—the President sought to be reassuring.

“This is not the apocalypse,” Obama said. History does not move in straight lines; sometimes it goes sideways, sometimes it goes backward. A couple of days later, when I asked the President about that consolation, he offered this: “I don’t believe in apocalyptic—until the apocalypse comes. I think nothing is the end of the world until the end of the world.”
Politics  USA 
november 2016
It's Nice That | The New Look: Looking back at Roundel’s 1980s identity design for British Rail’s Railfreight
This focus on quality and coherence, of the architecture, interior and graphic design being co-ordinated and driven by not only profit but pride seems archaic in the current climate of embedded or threatened privatisation. "Since privatisation the focus has moved towards marketing and commercial enterprise. Centralised control seems outdated and inflexible because it’s all changed. But now though we have lost much of the design clarity and visual cohesion that made for an integrated network,” says John Bateson. “Centralised control seems spooky now, because it’s all changed.”
Design  Railway 
november 2016
The (hard) link between Photos and iPhoto - Six Colors
Mac users are probably more familiar with the concept of soft links, also known as “symbolic links.” Mac users would recognize the idea of a soft link from the long-time Mac concept of aliases. In both of these cases, there’s something that looks like a file or folder/directory that’s actually just a reference to the real version of that file somewhere else in the filesystem.

Hard links aren’t like that. The best way to think of a hard link is that the contents of a file appear to exist in more than one location. If a file has two hard links, and you delete one, the file isn’t deleted—because it’s still linked to from another location.

That’s what the iPhoto import inside Photos does: It creates hard links to the contents of your iPhoto library inside the Photos library. If you delete your iPhoto library, the files that were hard-linked from the Photos library still exist in the Photos library and aren’t deleted. For Mac users used to the a-file-is-a-file approach of the Finder, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher.
Photography  Mac 
november 2016
Presidential Election 2016: An American Tragedy - The New Yorker
The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.
Politics  USA 
november 2016
Gossip, rumours and lies
Definitions first. I define a staff meeting as the correct collection of leadership gathered together to represent a team, product, company, or problem. Lot of words. A simpler and perhaps more immediately applicable version is, ‘a meeting of your direct reports.’

There are ongoing, compounding, benefits to a regular well-run staff meeting. Team building, efficient information dissemination, and healthy debate are three.
november 2016
Barack Obama and Doris Kearns Goodwin: The Ultimate Exit Interview | Vanity Fair
His presidency is winding down. A contentious election—fought largely over his rec­ord and legacy—is about to be decided. With that in mind, Barack Obama recently invited the presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to the White House for a long, personal, open-ended conversation. The meeting, arranged by Vanity Fair, took place in the president’s private dining room, just off the Oval Office.

Barack Obama is looking back—at the legacies of his predecessors, as well as his own—and forward, to the freedom of life after the White House.
october 2016
Death of our best and brightest
Caricatured as nice but dim and hiding miles from the front line, public school officers during the First World War have had a bad press. As John Lewis-Stempel reports however, their chances of surviving were scant and their bravery unquestionable
september 2016
Helping students deal with Islamophobia
Muslim youth are experiencing high levels of stress and feelings of alienation and marginalisation. While some stress is due to the natural demands of growing up, or the pressures newcomer students may face, socially induced trauma can be a significant factor. Most students are aware of the rise of Islamophobia and the subsequent exclusion they may experience.

This Guide, produced by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, is an attempt to help teachers and guidance counsellors in the assessment, assistance and support of students dealing with grief, fear and confusion as a result of Islamophobia and geopolitical issues. This Guide will assist educational professionals in understanding the impact of hate, war trauma, secondary trauma and terrorism.
september 2016
On the Goodness of Unicode
Whether you're doing business or academic research or public service, you have to deal with people, and these days, it's quite likely that some of the people you want to deal with come from somewhere else, and you'll sometimes want to deal with them in their own language. And if your software is unable to collect, store, and display a name, an address, or a part description in Chinese, Bengali, or Greek, there's a good chance that this could become very painful very quickly.
Fonts  Unicode 
august 2016
On Average - 99% Invisible
In many ways, the built world was not designed for you. It was designed for the average person. Standardised tests, building codes, insurance rates, clothing sizes, The Dow Jones – all these measurements are based around the concept of an “average.

Whether it’s the equipment, or the whole work environment, design must accommodate more people who are outside the average because in reality no one is actually average.
august 2016
The Write Stuff: How the Humble Pencil Conquered the World
Pencils aren't just for the SATs. It is the go-to drawing tool of the carpenter and the architect, the cartoonist and the painter. We used pencils when we learned math in elementary school, and a graphite-filled piece of wood remains the implement of choice for anyone who needs to make a mark that is not permanent.

The pencil's journey into your hand has been a 500-year process of discovery and invention. It began in the countryside of northern England, but a one-eyed balloonist from Napoleon Bonaparte army, one of America's most famous philosophers, and some of the world's most successful scientists and industrialists all have had a hand in the creation and refinement of this humble writing implement.
Design  Pencil 
august 2016
Researchers orbit a muon around an atom, confirm physics is broken | Ars Technica
Although tiny, a proton takes up a finite amount of space, enough to fit three quarks, a host of virtual particles, and their associated gluons. The size of a proton's radius is determined by these particles and their interactions, and so is fundamentally tied in to theories like the Standard Model and quantum chromodynamics.
august 2016
I was thinking a bit about my motivation for loving photography as much as I do and I had the realization that photography is very much part of me now. Not necessarily part of who I am, as in I always have a camera with me so its part of my life, it’s grown beyond that. After all these years of shooting I feel the act of making photographs has somehow grafted onto my emotional core as a means to communicate things that words and memories alone can not always dictate well enough.

Captivating images come from beyond a mechanical knowledge of how to make a great image. Photo hobbyist geeks can wax poetic about the finer points of lens design or the importance of sensor sizes, but creating something beautiful with a camera involves much more than the technology created to capture it which pales in the light of the emotional connotations of the process. The creation of a timeless photograph comes from somewhere deeper than the part of your brain that simply remembers how something works. It’s not like rebuilding an engine, programing an alarm clock, or filling out paperwork.
july 2016
I have lately wondered how it is we stand our day to day lives, addicted to frivolous information, constantly peering through one screen or another. The foreground of our attention in need of stimulation it feels as though there is always an itch we are unable to reach and once that feeling is satisfied it creeps in again somewhere else. We are information junkies, always wondering whats behind the next refresh. Lust for attention finds even the most humble of us trying to think of ways to get more followers, more attention, more, more, more. Peace is harder and harder to feel comfortable being around and silence is going to end up an urban legend as our ears become numb to the joyous emptiness open spaces can give us.
july 2016
At Trakke, we make products for the everyday adventurer – the seekers of the route less travelled. We create equipment that is durable, versatile and timeless – equipment that blurs the line between “kit” and “companion”.

Our simple, understated designs use materials and components that are time-tested and reliable to create bags that thrive out in the wild – wherever your wilderness may be.
july 2016
Creation Myth
In late 1979, a twenty-four-year-old entrepreneur paid a visit to a research centre in Silicon Valley called Xerox PARC. He was the co-founder of a small computer start-up down the road, in Cupertino. His name was Steve Jobs.

A visitor to PARC, taking in that view, could easily imagine that it was the computer world’s castle, lording over the valley below—and, at the time, this wasn’t far from the truth. In 1970, Xerox had assembled the world’s greatest computer engineers and programmers, and for the next ten years they had an unparalleled run of innovation and invention. If you were obsessed with the future in the seventies, you were obsessed with Xerox PARC—which was why the young Steve Jobs had driven to Coyote Hill Road.
Apple  Computer 
june 2016
Why It's Time to Repeal the Second Amendment | Rolling Stone
I teach the Constitution for a living. I revere the document when it is used to further social justice and make our country a more inclusive one. I admire the Founders for establishing a representative democracy that has survived for over two centuries.

But sometimes we just have to acknowledge that the Founders and the Constitution are wrong. This is one of those times. We need to say loud and clear: The Second Amendment must be repealed.
Article  Politics 
june 2016
Why It’s Time to Repeal the Second Amendment | scot hacker's foobar blog
Orlando is kind of a perfect storm of American hot-buttons. Terrorism, homophobia, racism, politics, mental health, and guns all in one monumental tragedy. The gay issue is complicated by the fact that there are so many homophobes on the right who are secretly (or not so secretly) happy to see gay people slaughtered. The Islam issue is complicated by the fact that the shooter is an American. The mental health issue is complicated because so many people “on the verge” aren’t identified even by those closest to them. The gun issue is complicated because it always is. There is an element of exhaustion – we’ve all been down the Mass Shooting road too many times, and all of our arguments are all worn out. We each rant and plead in our own ways, but nothing ever changes. And this time, we’re having ten different arguments at once. But we can’t stop talking, because the alternative is apathy.
Article  Politics 
june 2016
Whistleblowing Is Not Just Leaking — It’s an Act of Political Resistance
One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency, who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint. They learn to live not just with untruths but with unnecessary untruths, dangerous untruths, corrosive untruths. It is a double tragedy: What begins as a survival strategy ends with the compromise of the human being it sought to preserve and the diminishing of the democracy meant to justify the sacrifice.

The individuals who make these disclosures feel so strongly about what they have seen that they’re willing to risk their lives and their freedom. They know that we, the people, are ultimately the strongest and most reliable check on the power of government. The insiders at the highest levels of government have extraordinary capability, extraordinary resources, tremendous access to influence, and a monopoly on violence, but in the final calculus there is but one figure that matters: the individual citizen.
Politics  Article 
may 2016
The $2 Trillion Project to Get Saudi Arabia’s Economy Off Oil
For 80 years oil has underwritten the social compact on which Saudi Arabia operates: absolute rule for the Al Saud family, in exchange for generous spending on its 21 million subjects. Now, Prince Mohammed is dictating a new bargain.

Early last year, at a royal encampment in the oasis of Rawdat Khuraim, Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia visited his uncle, King Abdullah, in the monarch’s final days before entering a hospital. Unbeknown to anyone outside the House of Saud, the two men, separated in age by 59 years, had a rocky history together. King Abdullah once banned his brash nephew, all of 26 at the time, from setting foot in the Ministry of Defense after rumors reached the royal court that the prince was disruptive and power-hungry. Later, the pair grew close, bound by a shared belief that Saudi Arabia must fundamentally change, or else face ruin in a world that is trying to leave oil behind.

On April 25 the prince is scheduled to unveil his “Vision for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, an historic plan encompassing broad economic and social changes.
april 2016
Cyclists! Why do they ride in the middle of the road?
Why do cyclists ride in the middle of the road? Because they're allowed to: a poster from the Department for Transport advises "Cyclists. Ride central on narrow roads."

See those potholes? Not good for your suspension, are they? To cyclists, they're not just inconvenient; they're lethal. The cyclist up ahead might be in the middle of the road for a few seconds in order to avoid a big gash in the ground. Cyclists are expert pothole - spotters. Use this inside knowledge to prevent costly damage to your car's suspension.

Cyclists are road users. Please treat them the same as any other road user. I.e. give them space. I. e. treat them as cars. Even if u have to drive a but slower. So what!! They are people on a more fragile form of transport. Respect!!
april 2016
40 Years Later: Apple 3.0 | Monday Note
We are the Homo Faber, the tool-making species, and thus began a long procession of computing, storage, and communication devices, from the abacus to electro-mechanical devices and on to big, expensive computers called mainframes. Electronics moved from tubes to transistors to integrated circuits, propelled by our unquenchable thirst for symbol manipulation. In the early 70s, 8-bit microprocessors appeared and the personal computer revolution started.

Apple, born on April 1st, 1976, wasn’t the first personal computer company, there was a plethora of early entrants such as Ohio Scientific, Victor, Commodore, Eagle, Tandy, Altair… Apple just managed to create a clean, simple design, thanks to Steve Wozniak, ex-Intel Mike Markkula, and a tireless, inspired and inspiring promoter, Steve Jobs.
Article  Mac 
march 2016
43 Words You Should Cut From Your Writing Immediately
When you’re revising any piece of writing — a novel, a news article, a blog post, marketing copy, etc. — there are certain words you should delete to make the text stronger and cut your word count. When I’m writing a novel, one of my last drafts focuses on cutting these useless words. Removing them helps speed up the pacing of both action and dialogue, and makes your work more polished and professional. While this might not be the ultimate list of all words you should remove, these are the ones I look for when I’m doing revisions, so I thought other writers out there would find this helpful! Also, my examples below might be exaggerated, but I hope they get the points across.
march 2016
The girl who gets gifts from birds
Lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it's rare for that affection to be reciprocated. One young girl in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden - and they bring her gifts in return.

Eight-year-old Gabi Mann sets a bead storage container on the dining room table, and clicks the lid open. This is her most precious collection.

"You may take a few close looks," she says, "but don't touch." It's a warning she's most likely practised on her younger brother.
Corvid  BBC 
january 2016
At exactly fifteen minutes past eight in the morning, on August 6, 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in the plant office and was turning her head to speak to the girl at the next desk. At that same moment, Dr. Masakazu Fujii was settling down cross-legged to read the Osaka Asahi on the porch of his private hospital, overhanging one of the seven deltaic rivers which divide Hiroshima; Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, a tailor’s widow, stood by the window of her kitchen, watching a neighbor tearing down his house because it lay in the path of an air-raid-defense fire lane; Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German priest of the Society of Jesus, reclined in his underwear on a cot on the top floor of his order’s three-story mission house, reading a Jesuit magazine, Stimmen der Zeit; Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, a young member of the surgical staff of the city’s large, modern Red Cross Hospital, walked along one of the hospital corridors with a blood specimen for a Wassermann test in his hand; and the Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church, paused at the door of a rich man’s house in Koi, the city’s western suburb, and prepared to unload a handcart full of things he had evacuated from town in fear of the massive B-29 raid which everyone expected Hiroshima to suffer. A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. They still wonder why they lived when so many others died. Each of them counts many small items of chance or volition—a step taken in time, a decision to go indoors, catching one streetcar instead of the next—that spared him. And now each knows that in the act of survival he lived a dozen lives and saw more death than he ever thought he would see. At the time, none of them knew anything.
Hiroshima  New_Yorker  Article  History  from instapaper
january 2016
The Website Obesity Crisis
Beautiful websites come in all sizes and page weights. I love big websites packed with images. I love high-resolution video. I love sprawling Javascript experiments or well-designed web apps.

This talk isn't about any of those. It's about mostly-text sites that, for unfathomable reasons, are growing bigger with every passing year.
Web  Article 
january 2016
Vapour Trails: A Scots Quair
The world described in A Scots Quair is crumbling as we read. Social change is taking wing, the First World War flares up and, towards the end we can feel the rumbling of the Second World War. It is becoming harder and harder for small crofters to make a living from the land and there is a drift towards the towns and cities. The second book, Cloud Howe, sees the action move into a small town and in Grey Granite the setting is largely urban, as the name suggests.

The books manage to express a love for this disappearing world without in any way ignoring the harsh, bleak lives that it contained. Death, bigotry, rape, grinding poverty are to be found here, but they are counterbalanced by some wonderful, admirable characters and a neat line in humour, particularly in Cloud Howe. But it the language that most beguiles, as Gibbon brings the local dialect to the page in such a way that it sings.
Books  Scotland 
december 2015
What ISIS Really Wants
Within the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.

I could enjoy their company, as a guilty intellectual exercise, up to a point. In reviewing Mein Kampf in March 1940, George Orwell confessed that he had “never been able to dislike Hitler”; something about the man projected an underdog quality, even when his goals were cowardly or loathsome. “If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon.” The Islamic State’s partisans have much the same allure. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden.
Article  ISIS  Islam 
december 2015
Fountain Pen Aesthetics
My pen was excellent in many ways: the design was magnificent, the materials and construction flawless, the piston operated smoothly and firmly, the rhodium nib was beautiful, and it fit comfortably in my hand. It was, in every way, the pen I had wanted and yet it was also deeply disappointing. Yet despite thinking about it for hours on end, despite watching and reading every M805 review online, I could not put my finger on what was wrong.

It was an issue that worried me. If I couldn’t understand what was wrong with the M805, then how would I know if the next purchase would suit me? How could I know that any pen was right for me? It made me wonder if maybe I was starting to lose interest in fountain pens. The questioning (and the worry) threatened to become an existential crisis.

Eventually, I forced myself to think through the problem logically. It wasn’t a physical or mechanical problem with the pen. I continued to use (and love) my other pens, so it probably wasn’t a problem of lost interest. The only explanation was that it was something about the pen and my reaction to it: the problem was something aesthetic.
Fountain_pen  Design 
december 2015
General relativity: 100 years of the most beautiful theory ever created
Many people are familiar with the famous theory of general relativity in the sense they’re familiar with any celebrity. But what makes the theory tick isn’t always so well-known. Perhaps the best approach to the general theory of relativity is by way of Isaac Newton and his theory of gravity. Newton’s gravity (in concert with his laws of motion) accurately predicted the motions of the heavenly bodies for over 200 years. It was the first great unification in physics, connecting our terrestrial experience with falling apples directly to the force that binds the solar system together. Newton’s work is the beginning of modern science, and the best way to begin to understand relativity is to try to understand what Einstein found unacceptable in Newton’s model of the universe.
Science  Article 
december 2015
After 60 Years, B-52s Still Dominate U.S. Fleet
The B-52 is an Air Force plane that refuses to die. Originally slated for retirement generations ago, it continues to be deployed in conflict after conflict. It was the first plane to drop a hydrogen bomb, in the Bikini Islands in 1956, and laser-guided bombs in Afghanistan in 2006. It has outlived its replacement. And its replacement’s replacement. And its replacement’s replacement’s replacement.
Military  Design  History 
december 2015
How to Turn an Ordinary Routine Into a Spirit-Renewing Ritual | The Art of Manliness
Much of our life is spent going through the motions of mindless routines, tackling a swarm of endless to-dos, putting out “urgent” fires, and surfing from website to website and social media feed to social media feed in a spaced-out haze. Rituals bring you back to the present moment, renewing your awareness of that which is before you, and directing your focus to certain objects, physical sensations, and thoughts. You must concentrate on what you’re doing, and act with care and deliberation.
Article  Ritual 
december 2015
Put ‘Save As’ back on the file menu
This is such a useful tip if you miss the original ‘Save As...’ behavious from applications.
Computer  Mac 
november 2015
HP Calculator collection
For more than 20 years I'm working with the HP-32SII, a fantastic RPN calculator. Although this calculator still works fine, I started looking for a spare. During my search I discovered a lot of interesting calculators.

Early 2006 I started to collect Hewlett Packard pocket calculators. For the time being my collection of handheld calculators is restricted to all models from Hewlett Packard and RPN models from other brands.

This web site is my personal attempt to a structured storage of a lot of information and links that I gathered along the years. It gives a nice overview of my collection and a lot of additional information about HP pocket calculators in general.
Design  Calculator  HP 
september 2015
A Life Apart: The Toll of Obesity — Lisa Krantz
Hector Garcia always felt judged for being overweight—people rarely stuck around to get to know him. “Where else do you see people getting ridiculed and allowed to get away with it if it’s not over a fat person,” he said. “Food’s the only thing I could ever do that wouldn’t ridicule me, that wouldn’t give me a hassle, it was like my friend and it became a crutch and before you know it, it became disastrous.”

Krantz spent four years working with Garcia and his family on what she initially thought would be a weight loss story. It turned out to be a much more in-depth story about Garcia’s struggle, his relationship with his family, bouts with depression, a desire to inspire other people to try to lose weight, and, ultimately, his death.
august 2015
Were there alternatives to the atomic bombings?
As we rapidly approach the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there have been all sorts of articles, tributes, memorials, and so forth expressed both in print and online. I’ve been busy myself with some of this sort of thing. I was asked if I would write up a short piece for Aeon Ideas about whether there were any alternatives to these bombings

The point of the piece, I would like to emphasize, is not necessarily to “second guess” what was done in 1945. It is, rather, to point out that we tend to constrain our view of the possibilities generally to one of two unpleasant options. Many of those who defend the bombings seem to end up in a position of believing that 1. there were no other options on the table at the time except for exactly what did occur, and 2. that questioning whether there were other options does historical damage.
History  Article 
august 2015
Web Design - The First 100 Years
Today I hope to persuade you that the same thing that happened to aviation is happening with the Internet. Here we are, fifty years into the computer revolution, at what feels like our moment of greatest progress. The outlines of the future are clear, and oh boy is it futuristic.

But we're running into physical and economic barriers that aren't worth crossing.

We're starting to see that putting everything online has real and troubling social costs.

And the devices we use are becoming ‘good enough’, to the point where we can focus on making them cheaper, more efficient, and accessible to everyone.

So despite appearances, despite the feeling that things are accelerating and changing faster than ever, I want to make the shocking prediction that the Internet of 2060 is going to look recognizably the same as the Internet today.
Design  Article  Pinboard  Internet 
july 2015
No, a “checklist error” did not almost derail the first moon landing | Ars Technica
In the years between 1969 and 1972, 12 human beings walked on the surface of the moon: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Al Bean, Alan Shepard, Ed Mitchell, Dave Scott, Jim Irwin, John Young, Charlie Duke, Jack Schmitt, and Gene Cernan. Each Apollo landing by necessity leapfrogged the previous by some notable amount, because even as Apollo 11 was preparing to lift off it was obvious that the money wasn’t coming and Project Apollo might be the only chance to visit the moon—perhaps for a long, long time.

Even though Apollo 10’s "dress rehearsal" had taken NASA through all but the final phase of the lunar landing two months before, there were still a large number of unknowns in play when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin separated Eagle from Columbia, leaving Michael Collins to watch his crewmates descend to the lunar surface—perhaps to stay there forever.
Article  Space 
july 2015
Nanami Paper | Notebooks, Journals, Paper Pads, Letter Sets, Envelopes, Pens and Pencils from Japan
Our focus is on high-quality, hard-to-find stationery items from Japan - mainly notebooks, pads, letter sets, and some pens, pencils and general office supplies. Most of our product is sourced wholesale, some of it is manufactured by our partners in Japan, and we also travel to Tokyo on occasion to look for one-of-a-kind, unusual and new items.
Paper  Pens  Stationery 
july 2015
How and why to keep a commonplace book
A commonplace book is a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do.

Some of the greatest men and women in history have kept these books. Marcus Aurelius kept one–which more or less became the Meditations. Petrarch kept one. Montaigne, who invented the essay, kept a handwritten compilation of sayings, maxims and quotations from literature and history that he felt were important. His earliest essays were little more than compilations of these thoughts. Thomas Jefferson kept one. Napoleon kept one. HL Mencken, who did so much for the English language, as his biographer put it, “methodically filled notebooks with incidents, recording straps of dialog and slang” and favorite bits from newspaper columns he liked. Bill Gates keeps one.
june 2015
Fountain Pen Ink - Glenn's Pens
The ink you use in your pen plays an important part in the writing experience.

Frist, there is the visual impact of writing with ink itself. Receiving a card or letter written with a fountain pen is very different from that produced with a ball point pen. And way better than an email! There is also the option for colour of ink - another way to add a very personal aspect to your writing.

But ink impacts more than just the visual appearance of the written message. It can impact the actual performance of the fountain pen itself. Inks have different flows properties and performance characteristics.
Fountain_pen  Ink  Pens 
may 2015
Why We Buy
Buying is ultimately good. It allows people to acquire the things they need, indulge in the things they want, and use their talents to create value for other people while supporting themselves and their families.

Where problems arise is when buying is used as a remedy to a deep-seated problem, one thats symptoms might be temporarily alleviated by the thrill of consumption, but which cannot be solved by it. This might be called mindless consumption or hoarding or retail therapy, and it is a disorder of the mind and soul.
Buying  Materialism 
may 2015
User forum for the 1Password application. 1Password is a full-featured password and identity manager. Thanks to a powerful desktop client and mobile applications designed for iPhone, iPod touch, and Palm devices, 1Password gives you a more secure, convenient online experience no matter where you are.
1Password  Encryption  Forum  Mac  Security  Software  Utility 
may 2015
The unique CONID Bulkfiller is designed by Fountainbel and completely made in our machine shop KOMEC Helsen situated in Antwerp, Belgium
Fountain_pen  Pens 
april 2015
Leather clothing UK - Aero Leathers, Scotland, UK
Aero Leather Clothing Ltd, based in Scotland, have been manufacturers and sole distributors for the world famous Aero leather jackets since 1983, although it took a couple of years after we made the first Aero jacket in 1981. The current Aero company is a family buisness which was founded by Ken & Lydia Calder who still help to run the company and are still the major shareholders. The roots of Aero, however, dates back to 1975, founded as a trading company specialising in original WWII flying jackets and vintage US work wear leather jackets. Our jackets have featured in many top blockbusters and are worn by many top Hollywood stars and celebrities.

Every Aero garment is individual - a classic in its own right - each made by one highly skilled leatherworker taking a pride in his or her finished garment, not made on a time and cost saving production line.
Clothes  Design 
march 2015
Tinderbox User
The Tinderbox Forum and Tinderbox Wiki host ongoing discussions and tutorials. and bring Tinderbox users together to share ideas and to explore Tinderbox with the developers in person.
Forum  Support 
march 2015
The Rescued Film Project
The Rescued Film Project is an online archive gallery of images that were captured on film between the 1930's and late 1990's. Each image in our archive was rescued from found film from locations all over the world, and came to us in the form of undeveloped rolls of film. We have the capability to process film from all era's. Even film that has been degraded by heat, moisture, and age. Or is no longer manufactured.

Why do we rescue film?
Every image in The Rescued Film Project at some point, was special for someone. Each frame captured, reflects a moment that was intended to be remembered. The picture was taken, the roll was finished, wound up, and for reasons we can only speculate, was never developed. These moments never made it into photo albums, or framed neatly on walls. We believe that these images deserve to be seen, so that the photographer's personal experiences can be shared. Forever marking their existence in history.

Film is an organic material that degrades over time. We are committed to rescuing as many images as possible, before they're all gone.
january 2015
BBC - Robert Burns
This website celebrates Rabbie Burns's life and achievements in poetry and song. 66 of Scotland's biggest names recorded 716 of Robert Burns's works for our collection.
Poetry  Burns  Scotland  Arts 
january 2015
All The Things
Here we are in a brand new year and what do you know, we are the same people as we were a few days ago. Always the same story with a slight variation. I may have no resolutions this year, but I do have resolve. Every new year is a reminder that time never waits for us to make up our minds, it just keeps on ticking. If anything, the new year is an excuse to reflect on how far we have come and imagine how much further we have yet to go. One step forward, a glance back, and we are on our way to any other day.
january 2015
Len Deighton’s Observer cookstrips, Michael Caine and the 1960s | Books | The Guardian
“Dump Caine’s spectacles and make the girl cook the meal. He is coming across as a homosexual.” Thus ran the furious cable from Hollywood after movie executives saw rushes of The Ipcress File, the film of Len Deighton’s blockbuster downbeat spy novel, which was being made in England.

But this was 1964. London was in full swing. Like Harry Palmer – Michael Caine’s sullen, cuisine-and-“girl”-addicted character – the British were feeling insubordinate, bolshie and confident. So, the heavy, black-rimmed glasses remained on Caine’s deadpan, alabaster face, thereby making a 60s icon; his “girl” left the kitchen work to the man; and Harry made a Spanish omelette.
Cool  Film  Writing 
december 2014
Swiss Micros
The world's smallest programmable RPN calculators ever.
Calculator  Design 
november 2014
What’s So Bad About Gluten?
Gluten, one of the most heavily consumed proteins on earth, is created when two molecules, glutenin and gliadin, come into contact and form a bond. When bakers knead dough, that bond creates an elastic membrane, which is what gives bread its chewy texture and permits pizza chefs to toss and twirl the dough into the air. Gluten also traps carbon dioxide, which, as it ferments, adds volume to the loaf. Humans have been eating wheat, and the gluten in it, for at least ten thousand years. For people with celiac disease—about one per cent of the population—the briefest exposure to gluten can trigger an immune reaction powerful enough to severely damage the brushlike surfaces of the small intestine.
Health  Diet  Gluten 
november 2014
Pure Pens
Online pen specialists selling Parker, Waterman, Sheaffer, Pelikan, Faber-Castell, Graf von Faber-Castell, Porsche Design, ST Dupont fountain pens, ballpens, pencils and rollerballs. They also stock Noodlers pens and ink.
Pens  Stationery 
october 2014
On Mindfulness and Quality
It has been said that to buy cheap is to buy often. There is much wisdom in this, as well as the opposite. Buy quality and you will find yourself not having to repeat the process. And quality items not only endure, but they also endear.
Design  Favourite 
october 2014
Engineering language - All this
Engineers are the bastard children of scientists and tradesmen. You can see this in the requirements for getting licensed as an engineer. To qualify for a license, you need a certain amount of education from an institution of higher learning, and you must pass tests that evaluate your skills in mathematics, physics, and chemistry—that’s the scientist part of your parentage. But you must also prove that you’ve spent a certain number of years working under the direction of licensed engineer, which is exactly the sort of apprenticeship a carpenter or millwright has to go through.
Engineering  Favourite  Language 
september 2014
In your bag #980 - Steve Hodgson
Steve has a case, not a bag. And a pretty awesome case it is too. Check it out.
Me  Photography 
september 2014
In your bag #207 - Steve Hodgson
Today we have a lovely bag for you from Scotland. Not only does it have several of the cameras that I own in it, but it also has a lovely wooden pinhole camera. You don’t see one of those everyday.
Photography  Me 
september 2014
Photoshop Compositing Secrets: Extracting Hair
If you want to get into Photoshop compositing, one of the first features you'll have to conquer is selections. If you've ever tried selecting people (especially people with wispy hair) from one background and placing them onto another background, you know that it can be a huge pain in the neck. But by using the Refine Edge feature and a few other tricks in Photoshop CS5, you'll start your composites out right—with a good selection. After that, making them fit into another background becomes a lot easier.
Photoshop  Photography 
august 2014
Don’t Forget To Remember This
Does a photograph always need to tell a story? Are the the only truly great photographs ones which change the world, record a decisive moment, or leave you with a sense of technical accomplishment? Is the practice and art of photography really so tightly defined that we must seek a deeper truth either in the philosophical understanding of its history or the urgency of its continued relevance in face of a seemingly larger audience?
Photography  Favourite 
august 2014
Michael Swift Clock and Watch Repairs
We are a small family business which began in Campbeltown in 1975, later moving to our present location in Rothesay on the beautiful Isle of Bute.

Our customers are mainly in the west of Scotland, but we have also built up a large base of customers throughout the UK and Ireland, with yet more clock and watch repairs arriving from other countries around the world.
Horology  reference  Repair  Watches 
july 2014
Coudal Partners Perfect
First a note about substituting ingredients or tools. Don't. This method has been exhaustively tested and retested for excellence and the smallest variation can result in catastrophic and unintended consequences. See the "butterfly flaps its wings and causes hurricane" metaphor from Chaos Theory. There is room for personal preference and improvisation in many things. This is not one of them.
Cocktail  Drink  Recipe 
june 2014
The dead line
Once you begin drowning, your mind stops being yours in a human sense. The drowning mind shifts into a very basic mode—a state that prioritizes primitive survival protocols over any kind of higher-level reasoning. In these final moments, your mind returns to a relatively simple state. So simple in fact, you probably won’t even appear to be drowning.

I’m convinced the worst part of drowning is right now—the fear of it… the conscious mind’s simulation of the process of drowning. This uninformed, and hence fearful mind, imagines a frantic fight to stay above an infinitesimal line at which the bottom-most layer of our atmosphere sits on the top-most layer of water—that dividing line between the future, rising up infinitely high overhead and the deepest, darkest depths below.
june 2014
The dead line
Once you begin drowning, your mind stops being yours in a human sense. The drowning mind shifts into a very basic mode—a state that prioritizes primitive survival protocols over any kind of higher-level reasoning. In these final moments, your mind returns to a relatively simple state. So simple in fact, you probably won’t even appear to be drowning. I’m convinced the worst part of drowning is right now—the fear of it… the conscious mind’s simulation of the process of drowning. This uninformed, and hence fearful mind, imagines a frantic fight to stay above an infinitesimal line at which the bottom-most layer of our atmosphere sits on the top-most layer of water—that dividing line between the future, rising up infinitely high overhead and the deepest, darkest depths below.
june 2014
Iroshizuku bottled ink
Introducing Iroshizuku bottled ink for Namiki and Pilot fountain pens. The name “Iroshizuku” is a combination of the Japanese words “Iro” (colouring), expressing high standards and variation of colors, and “Shizuku” (droplet), that embodies the very image of dripping water.

Each Iroshizuku bottled ink name derives from the expressions of beautiful Japanese natural landscapes and plants, all of which contribute to the depth of each individual colour.
Ink  Pen  Pens 
june 2014
The surreal appeal of the Falkirk Wheel
Connecting two separate water ways may seem, on paper, and easy objective to achieve. What happens, though, when the two systems are twenty four meters apart? Plus, the word apart here means in terms of height. The solution? An incredible rotating boat lift that looks like something from a steampunk movie.

Or how a remarkable piece of engineering bridges the eight story gap between two waterways. The only rotating boat lift of this type in the world, the Falkirk Wheel must be seen to be believed.
may 2014
Word: Using tables more efficiently
We use tables in many of the Word documents we write. Most of the tips below refer to commands on the Table layout ribbon that allow users to work with tables more efficiently.
Word  WordProcessor  Software  Microsoft 
april 2014
Remove duplicates from OS X’s ‘Open With’ menu
Opening a file in OS X is as simple as double-clicking it, but most files can be opened by any number of applications present on a system. If you’ve used OS X’s “Open With” contextual menu at all, you’ve probably seen it act up, creating duplicate entries for applications that can be used to open the file in question. While not a serious issue, this particular bug can be rather annoying. Thankfully, it’s easy to fix with a quick trip to the Terminal.
Mac  OSX  Tips 
april 2014
The invention of the Aeropress
Among coffee aficionados, the AeroPress is a revelation. A small, $30 plastic device that resembles a plunger makes what many consider to be the best cup of coffee in the world. Proponents of the device claim that drinks made with the AeroPress are more delicious than those made with thousand-dollar machines. Perhaps best of all, the AeroPress seems to magically clean itself during the extraction process.

There’s really nothing bad to say about the device other than the fact that it’s a funny-looking plastic thingy. Then again, its inventor, Stanford professor Alan Adler, is a world renowned inventor of funny-looking plastic thingies; while Adler’s Palo Alto based company Aerobie is best known today for its coffee makers, the firm rose to prominence in the 1980s for its world-record-setting flying discs.

This is the story of how Adler and Aerobie dispelled the notion of industry-specific limitations and found immense success in two disparate industries: toys and coffee.
Design  Coffee 
march 2014
Feedbin is lightweight, you can read for hours on end and it stays out of the way. Feedbin is built for speed with an intuitive layout and keyboard shortcuts to get you where you want to be.
RSS  News 
march 2014
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