Blurt!Commonplace Book

“The innovation that Johannes Gutenberg is said to have created was small metal pieces with raised backwards letters, arranged in a frame, coated with ink, and pressed to a piece of paper, which allowed books to be printed more quickly. But Choe Yun-ui did that—and he did it 150 years before Gutenberg was even born.”

posted Feb. 20, 2020, 8:38pm

“What’s maddening about Pinker’s body of recent work is that it attacks the very people who are doing the most to address the problems he says he cares about.”

posted Feb. 20, 2020, 8:31pm

“Uber has no hope of expanding its transport services beyond taxis. Uber’s costs are higher than traditional cab operators, and nothing in Uber’s IPO prospectus offers any clue as to how it could ever reduce its costs to the point where they became competitive with mass transit or private cars.”

posted Feb. 20, 2020, 8:18pm

“Clericalism, with its cult of secrecy, its theological misogyny, its sexual repressiveness, and its hierarchical power based on threats of a doom-laden afterlife, is at the root of Roman Catholic dysfunction.”

posted Feb. 19, 2020, 9:01pm

“About a week into the walk, I told an old woman about my schedule and she asked me, ‘Is this an ascetic practice?’ I laughed in the moment, but then for weeks as I walked, I turned her question over and over in my mind.”

posted Feb. 19, 2020, 8:53pm

“The children seem to have scooped up clay-rich mud from the floor and smeared it on a stalagmite against the far wall, then drew curved, sinuous shapes in the wet clay with their fingers. Today, visitors to the cave can see those fluted finger-tracks, which clearly mark the heights of the three young children.”

posted Feb. 19, 2020, 8:43pm

“A client would come in to work out a billing procedure, and after Jackson had put the relevant numbers on a sheet — in light pencil, so erasures could be easily made — various questions would come up. For example, if the billing procedure was based on a 15 percent interest rate, what would happen if the rate went up to 18 percent? To find out, the whole sheet would have to be redone. Each figure would have to be punched into a hand calculator and then checked by one of Jackson’s employees.”

posted Feb. 19, 2020, 8:32pm

“These random angry people are merely asking us to keep our promises. We told them 20-some years ago that we’d try to abolish government and bring a world of plenty. We told them we’d make them powerful, that we’d open gates of knowledge and opportunity.”

posted Feb. 19, 2020, 8:27pm

“While not entirely free of bias — opportunities for discrimination by postal workers and Sears employees were still possible — the Sears ordering process was essentially a blind retail transaction, a screen placed between the store and black customers.”

posted Feb. 19, 2020, 8:18pm

“[The flood] had to happen quickly enough that the iridium layer hadn’t been laid down yet. It also had to take place before the heavier material—the shocked minerals and glasses—had fallen out of the sky. This creates a likely window of between 15 minutes and two hours after the [Chicxulub] impact.”

posted Feb. 19, 2020, 7:55pm

“[Gen-Z kids] are imbued with an aggressively off-center sensibility infused with an often shocking amount of absurdity and abstraction married to an equally shocking and profound strain of nihilism and cynicism.”

posted Feb. 14, 2020, 8:18pm

“Racist, sexist, transphobic, anti-union, pro-War on Drugs, hawkish, authoritarian, plutocratic, and in favor of taxing the poor: Michael Bloomberg offends every single ‘Democratic’ value.”

posted Feb. 10, 2020, 8:42pm

“Once you internalize the possibility that you’re being manipulated by some hidden hand, nothing can be trusted. … By the time the information ecosystem collapses under the weight of all this cynicism, you’re too vigilant to notice that the disinformationists have won.”

posted Feb. 10, 2020, 8:37pm

“If you can’t get in touch with Bezos through your personal networks, you shouldn’t worry about the 10,000-Year Clock. They wouldn’t say it so bluntly, but this art installation isn’t for you. You have more pressing concerns in the here and now.”

posted Feb. 4, 2020, 8:58pm

“[A] new report published in The Lancet describing 41 early cases in the outbreak indicate that the earliest identified person sickened had no epidemiological links to the [Wuhan animal] market.”

(Added November 2022: This was the first thing I posted about the plague, and the first thing that really made me think it might be something that would affect my family.)

posted Jan. 28, 2020, 10:26pm