Blurt!Commonplace Book

“The lone teenager carrying the toddler cut across that route at a right angle. At least three times, mammoths crossed the teenager’s trail, obscuring the small human footprints with their own massive feet. The teenager stepped in some of those fresh mammoth tracks on their way back south-southeast.”

posted Mar. 27, 2021, 9:18pm

“I knew before the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests that my mustache made me look like a bougie race man: a professional, seemingly humorless middle-class Negro, a moderate, who believes that presentation is a crucial component of the ‘advancement’ part of the NAACP mission.”

posted Mar. 27, 2021, 9:11pm

“Properly understood, even the simplest conversation is an astonishing feat of interpersonal coordination. The remarkable thing is not that turn-taking so frequently goes wrong on Zoom, but that it ever goes right at all.”

posted Mar. 27, 2021, 8:09pm

“In a famous anecdote in the Confessions, Augustine describes seeing Ambrose of Milan reading on his own without making a sound. Ambrose was not the first person in history to read silently, but his quiet, private reading was unusual enough to make an impression.”

posted Mar. 27, 2021, 8:00pm

“Former New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris says that the style editor was on the verge of changing his mind on the diaereses back in 1978, but then he died, and ‘no one has had the nerve to raise the subject since.’”

posted Mar. 26, 2021, 10:05pm

“What happened is that Seattle used to be perfect but has now been dying constantly for 50 years, according to the same people who keep floating a theory that Seattle can be fixed if illness and poverty become crimes.”

posted Mar. 26, 2021, 9:56pm

“The reverberation time lasted about 0.6 seconds inside [Stonehenge’s] circle for mid-frequency sounds—ideal for amplifying human speech, or the sounds of musical instruments like drums.”

posted Mar. 26, 2021, 9:48pm

“Using the neural-net tool Artbreeder, Photoshop and historical references, I have created photoreal portraits of Roman Emperors.”

posted Mar. 26, 2021, 9:43pm

“Cattle with the painted eyes on their rumps were significantly more likely to survive than those cattle that had crosses painted on their butts and those that weren’t painted at all.”

posted Mar. 26, 2021, 9:23pm

“They wanted to add some custom hardware to an iPod and record data from this custom hardware to the iPod’s disk in a way that couldn’t be easily detected. But it still had to look and work like a normal iPod.”

posted Mar. 26, 2021, 9:17pm

“The researchers started rolling d20s: they set primordial black holes to an arbitrary low number and then concluded that capturing a black hole is about as likely as capturing a wandering planet.”

posted Mar. 26, 2021, 9:11pm

“Flint-knapping in bed is probably an even worse idea than eating crackers in bed, but it’s a delightfully human thing to find traces of. Grains of red and orange ocher also mingled with the bedding layers, and Wadley and her colleagues say the grains had probably rubbed off from someone’s body art.”

posted Mar. 25, 2021, 9:48pm

“The researchers conclude the South American DNA was introduced in the Marquesas, a group of islands northeast of Tahiti, shortly after 1100 CE. Over the next hundred years, it spread south from there and eventually on to Rapa Nui.”

posted Mar. 25, 2021, 9:38pm

“The Okmok II eruption lasted from 43 BCE to 41 BCE, but its effects on the other side of the world lasted more than a decade. Ancient writers describe crop failures and famine in northern Italy and northern Greece from April 43 BCE through 36 BCE.”

posted Mar. 25, 2021, 9:29pm

“I did consider running the Peanuts text through a GPT2 text generator, allowing the system to write the words as well — novel words, in the style of Peanuts. Would this take me closer to committing a crime? If the resulting output becomes indistinguishable from original works, is the model guilty, or am I?”

posted Mar. 25, 2021, 9:26pm