Today, I was reminded of Thomas Lynch’s excellent book The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade. Lynch is an undertaking by profession, but an excellent, excellent essayist. I first came across his writing while in graduate school, and I found them incredibly moving. I find myself going back to this book at least once a year, and always find great joy in reading his words.
“Chuck Feeney is the James Bond of philanthropy. Over the last 30 years he’s crisscrossed the globe conducting a clandestine operation to give away a $7.5 billion fortune derived from hawking cognac, perfume and cigarettes in his empire of duty-free shops. […] Few living people have given away more, and no one at his wealth level has ever given their fortune away so completely during their lifetime.”
While Liz and I were driving to Michigan for her birthday roadtrip, I remember seeing a sign along the highway advertising an upcoming show by Huey Lewis and the News. I was surprised to see that the band was still around, and still playing venues (though the venues seemed to be smaller ones). Even after all this time, after all…
For years [Roth] went on ambulance calls all over New York City, and found that a life in the music business was good preparation for rushing to the aid of grievously injured people in the less picturesque corners of the city. “My skills were serious,” he says. “Verbal judo, staying calm in the face of hyper-accelerated emotion. Same bizarre hours. Same keening velocity.”
The Guardian interviewed 15 different people about their respective careers, with each person speaking anonymously about their occupation, what people think of them, and what their jobs are really like. The jobs range from priest to dominatrix to brain surgeon, and covers a pretty wide spectrum.
Wright Thompson’s article Michael Jordan Has Not Left the Building is a really interesting, behind-the-scenes look at what Jordan has been up to, as he approaches 50. I’m not sure what kind of access he was granted, the the whole article feels like you’re shadowing Jordan, able to look into his personal life, standing a few feet behind the guy.
But the article isn’t all trivia-focused. Seal winds up tracing the history of how the film came to be – descrbing the roles of various actors, movie studios, and producers along the way. One of the more pleasurable elements of reading about the film’s history is in imagining a different cast – hearing about other actors who could have potentially played one of the major characters (sidenote: I’d love to see a movie featuring Matt Dillon with Tarantino’s dialogue).
I was obsessed with figuring that [joke] out. The way I figure it out is I try different things, night after night, and I’ll stumble into it at some point, or not. If I love the joke, I’ll wait. If it takes me three years, I’ll wait.
One of the first things that Robbins ever explained to me was his observation that the eye will follow an object moving in an arc without looking back to its point of origin, but that when an object is moving in a straight line the eye tends to return to the point of origin, the viewer’s attention snapping back as if it were a rubber band.
Here’s a crazy fact: in 2011, two Stanford professors (Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun) taught an online course called Introduction to Artifical Intelligence. Of the 160,000 students who signed up, only about 23,000 completed it. And while the success rate isn’t so great, the sheer number of students they were able to educate in one pass is absolutely staggering. Looking back, Thrun said: “Peter and I taught more students AI, than all AI professors in the world combined.”
“The GPS guided me to a part of town that I had never seen before, and my heart sank. It looked abandoned and seedy. Run down warehouses, not that well lit, and the kind of place where in the US, I would stay away from after dark and even during the day. I made up my mind that I would drive by the address and then just turn around and drive home.”
In one compact, teachable verse (Verse 2), the song forces us to think about traffic stops, vehicle searches, drug smuggling, probable cause, and racial profiling, and it beautifully tees up my favorite pedagogical heuristic: life lessons for cops and robbers
This video is one of those things where, once you start watching… you can’t pull away. I don’t speak Korean, and have no idea what the lyrics mean. Still, my brain tries to put some kind of narrative to the visuals I’m seeing, piecing the disparate sequences into some kind of coherent whole.
I started reading the first few pages, and then the storyline took an odd little turn. And then it took another odd little turn, and made me wonder where things were headed. I went a few more pages in, and another turn… and before I knoew it, I had lost maybe nearly half an hour, reading through a ton of the story.
Don Johnson is a blackjack player who’s done well for himself. He’s done really well for himself, actually. He’s made nearly $15 million from three Atlantic City casinos (and won nearly $6 million in one night at the Tropicana).