Aside

The Roundup for September 17-23, 2018 Edition

Remember by Christopher Parsons

One of the things that I’ve struggled to accomplish over the past several years is to aggressively avoid buying things for the purpose of just satisfying other people. I want the things that inhabit my life to bring me joy, first and foremost, with others’ considerations a distant second or third (or ninth!) priority. For a trip that I’m embarking on there were some purchases that I had to make: some new pants and shirts that I’d put off buying for a few months. So after a suitable amount of research (and discovery of appropriate sales) some new menswear came into my life.

But at the same time, I’ve wanted a new messenger/briefcase/camera bag for some time. The one that I’ve been using remains functional but it’s starting to show it’s age. There are a few places where the canvass is wearing. Ideally whatever I replace it with would be ever-so-slightly larger and maybe even be better suited to carrying a camera and a lens. Oh! And it’d be great to be able to carry a couple small books, or a lunch, plus a mobile computing device. And something that looked a little ‘nicer’ would probably be great to take on this upcoming trip.

With these requirements in mind I’ve been casually looking for a different messenger for about a month or so. I’ve visited numerous shops and held, and lifted, and filled different bags. None have quite hit the mark. Now, maybe it’s the case that there simply isn’t a bag that meets my preferred criteria! And that’d be annoying but fine. But what I kept almost doing is just buying a new messenger/briefcase so that I’d have something that would look a bit different — present me a bit differently — to others, even if I wasn’t happy with the purchase.

Ultimately, I avoided the temptation, despite there being numerous messengers that looked pretty nice. And so while I’m a bit disappointed that I haven’t found what I’m looking for, yet, I’m also pretty happy with myself that I’ve managed to resist spending money just to satisfy others. Ultimately, whatever I come home with needs to satisfy me, first and foremost, with all others a distant second, third, or ninth.


I have an iPad as well as an iPhone 7. The fact that Apple has different gestures between the devices is driving me nuts; I keep gesturing in the wrong place to pull up the control centre on my phone. Also, I’m not so certain that the long press of the space bar to enable the cursor is all that great. I keep getting into situations where I run out of scrolling space or, worse, where the cursor doesn’t activate and instead iOS detects a lot of keyboard presses.


Inspiring Quotation of the Week

The hardware is and has been for a long time, meat-limited. What makes the difference is the operational experience, the haptic-tactile experience, and just how much the damn camera makes you want to go out and take pictures with it.

Great Photography Shots

I’ve been looking at all the neat ways that Apple has improved their computational photography capabilities in the newest versions of the iPhones. While I don’t expect that I’ll be upgrading this round Apple’s specialized imaging circuitry, again, reminds me that mobile photography can lead to pretty amazing images. So for this week I wanted to recognize some pretty great smartphone shots of skies that were featured at Mobiography.

Stormy backdrop‘ by @KallyKlick
Slightly broken, but nevertheless full of hope‘ by Seamus Smyth
Reach for the sky‘ by Laurence Bouchard

Music I’m Digging

  • The Prodigy – No Tourists (Need Some1) // The new Prodigy album doesn’t drop until November 2, but their track ‘Need Some1’ is classic: it immediately has me wanting to jump up and dance, like all of the band’s best works. I cannot wait for the rest of the album.
  • Coins – Daft Science // This is an album of Beastie Boy remixes, using Daft Punk samples. Released in 2014, it remains one of my favourite remix albums, and is right up there with the Grey Album as far as I’m concerned.

Neat Podcast Episodes

  • The Current – Laws to suppress black vote in U.S. are being drafted with ‘horrific efficiency,’ says author // Anna Maria’s interview with Carol Anderson is both a chilling history lesson of how American states have historically sought to prevent African-Americans from voting while, also, demonstrating how the effects of repealing the Voter Rights Act had significant impacts on the ability for minorities to vote in the 2016 American elections. It’s a great overview of just how much is wrong with the contemporary ‘free and equal’ elections in the United States.
  • The Current – Minimalism: Upper-class luxury or liberating lifestyle? // While the title suggests that there would be some kind of a knock-out debate in the episode, all the panelists agree that living a minimalist lifestyle is better considered as a mindset that is crafted for each given person/couple/family. Core to this mindset is that we should only purchase or acquire things that we need, will use, and bring us happiness in our lives. Maintaining this mindset doesn’t mean not buying things but, instead, just being very deliberate in the consumer goods that we do actually spend out money on.

Good Reads for the Week

  • The Untold Story of NotPetya, the Most Devastating Cyberattack in History // Andy Greensburg has provided the most accessible, and comprehensive, account of how devastating the NotPetya attack was. The key thing I took away from the article was this: we now live in a world where accounting software in the Ukraine can unintentionally shut down global businesses and cost billions of dollars. National borders are decreasingly relevant to the consequences of cyber activities and that, save for a small handful of transnational intelligence-based operations to mitigate such activities, the world is largely vulnerable to the next likely equally devastating attack.
  • Quantum Computing and Cryptography // Bruce raises an interesting set of questions: what if it turns out that number theory, upon which we have developed our public key algorithms, is just a temporary and erroneous area of math that in fact does not hold the promise we thought that it does? What if, instead, all cryptography fundamentally has to return to information theory — such as what underlies the security properties of one-time passwords — given the factoring potentials of quantum cryptography? While we may never attain quantum devices capable of decrypting all public key systems the very potential that an entire line of mathematics may be consigned to the dustbin of history is a provocative thesis.
  • I Came of Age During the 2008 Financial Crisis. I’m Still Angry About It // This opinion piece in the Sunday Review does a good job of capturing the frustration and anger that the millennial and post-millennial generation has about the aftereffects of the financial collapse: by merit of when we happened to be born and emerge into adulthood, we were condemned to managing higher debt loads than those before us, with little access to capital, and little expectation that we would access capital needed to purchase homes or otherwise follow the ‘normal’ timelines of our parents and grandparents. Worse, because social welfare systems were pillaged before us, we’re in a situation where we are more responsible for those around us while simultaneously having fewer resources to support our aging family members and communities. Regardless of how ‘effective’ the recovery has been, or even how ‘sheltered’ Canada was from the financial collapse, it’s left a permanent scar on many workers’ lives that will continue to breed resentment and distrust in core institutions, likely to the continued detriment of social cohesion.
  • What Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner and Neil Irwin Don’t Get // This piece by Ed Walker nicely summarized what the New York Times has just totally failed to account for in their coverage of ten years after the financial crisis. In short, the “crimes, fraud, cheating, or corporate wrong-doing” been not been substantively taken up in the Time’s articles and, as a result, the broader rationales for public fury were largely elided. The story that elites tell themselves about the recovery, versus that which is shared at dinner tables and living rooms and bars by those most affected by the crisis, misses the point entirely. Never forget: money and economics is emotional, first, political, second, and rational when lucky.
  • iOS 12: The MacStories Review // Continuing the tradition, Federico Viticci has done a masterful and comprehensive job accounting for the changes in iOS 12, and summarizes what matters to end users and why. I appreciated his very significant deep dive into Siri shortcuts but remain curious and confused by the addition to the operating system. There are some things I want to automate but still have challenges wrapping my head around how to do so, despite deep dive explorations of the feature by people like Federico.
  • A History of Badgelife, Def Con’s Unlikely Obsession with Artistic Circuit Boards // It’s amazing just how a relatively self-organizing community can make such cool, beautiful things.
  • The Effectiveness of Publicly Shaming Bad Security // Troy’s analysis of why public shaming of companies’ bad practices correlates with discussions I’ve had with senior executives working at social media companies and internet service providers. Quite often there are people who want to fix bad practices but need advocates on the outside to be given the resources to actually make shame happen.
  • It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs // There’s a whole body of literature called technological determinism that critically interrogates the extent to which technology itself drives history. Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of what is regarded as such determinism is, in fact, a normative shifting of the economy by key decision makers; technology isn’t doing anything but facilitating or being used to implement a particular groups’ decisions. It’s nice to see an opinion piece in the New York Times recognize that what we often see ascribed to ‘technology’ is, in fact, the product of decisions made by elite decision makers.
  • Josh Ginter – Toronto Travel Log // I have this dream of making travel logs that are as succinct as what Josh has put together. While I had the bones of such a log for a past trip to Central America it just never came together. Hopefully I can find the time to do something like this the next time I’m travelling somewhere for vacation.
  • Inside the eight desperate weeks that saved SpaceX from ruin // A lot of the information covered in this story has been told before in Musk’s biography, but never with such specific and personal detail. Musk, himself, is a mixed bag — just like Steve Jobs, with whom he’s often compared — but what he drives smart people around him to accomplish is genuinely spectacular.

Cool Things

  • Skeleton Cutlery // Oki Sato has done a tremendous job in making a cutlery set as absolutely simple as possible, restricting what is present to clean lines and leaving empty those parts of the cutlery that are less immediately necessary. I admit to thinking that the design of the knife is too stark – I think that the form may be upsetting the function – but the other items in the set look divine.
Image

Views

Views by Christopher Parsons. Photo made with Olympus EM10ii and 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 E at Tommy Thompson Park on September 16, 2018 in Toronto. Edited in Apple Photos and Polaar.
Aside

2018.9.19

I’m going to be travelling for three weeks in the USA and am trying to decide on what lens(es) to bring with me. I want to travel lighter so I’m leaning towards probably just bringing a 35mm equivalent or a 50mm equivalent or a 24-84mm equivalent, but just can’t decide which is better.

The Roundup for September 10-16, 2018 Edition

Messages by Christopher Parsons

It’s been strange to spend a week preparing for Sunday, September 16. September 16 was, once, a day when I would celebrate the birthdays of two members of my family whom have both died due to serious illnesses at relatively youthful ages. I don’t have any deep insight into the experience, save that it’s one of absence. The death of my father last year, in particular, served as an important reminder that it’s important to be present in others’ lives because you never know how much longer you will have to share in experiences with one another; his death and the missed opportunities we had serve as a reminder that I carry with me, and use to guide many of my daily and weekly activities and actions and attitudes. Rather than adopting a fear of missing out attitude I’ve, instead, chosen to focus on particular persons, events, and times as best as I’ve been able, in order to be present in any given moment or place.


Inspiring Quotation of the Week

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

  • Steve Jobs

Great Photography Shots

I’ve been captivated this week by Liam Wong’s Tokyo photographs, where he’s applied his own palette to bring the city alive as though it were a kind of sci-fi video game.

Music I’m Digging

  • Orbital – Monsters Exist (Deluxe) // If I’m being entirely honest, I’m not fully in love with the entirety of this album. However, ‘Monsters Exist’, ‘Hoo Hoo Ha Ha’, and ‘The Raid’ are all solid songs that have been caught in my head since I first heard them.
  • Noname – Telefone (Mixtape) // This album was released in 2016 after rapper and poet Noname was befriended by Chance the Rapper. I found that the album blends nicely with Chance’s own work, and that her mixture of R&B and hip-hop provides a strong, and pleasant, contrast to ‘harder’ female hip hop artists. Similarly, her lyrical content and structure seems to have many commonalities with Chance’s own, lending her as a good compliment to his own body of work.

Neat Podcast Episodes

  • Planet Money – The Central (Bankers’) Question // This episode explores why the economy has become unsettled, as financial planners are unable to reliably predict the relationship between inflation and employment, and the ability for workers to seek higher wages. Spoiler alert: the nature of information economies and diminishment of collective labour agreements are likely playing a serious deleterious role in the development and unfolding of the American economy, in particular.
  • The Daily – The Spy Who Provoked Putin // In exploring the rationale for why Sergei Skripal was targeted for poisoning, experts have concluded that this is a tic of Vladimir Putin: those who have betrayed the brotherhood of spying—and especially those who do not go quietly into the night after having been caught doing so—are considered legitimate targets for serious retaliation.

Good Reads for the Week

  • Can a Thirst-Trap Selfie Lead to True Love? // I have to admit that it’s only recently that I’ve heard that Instagram is a place where relationships begin; for me, it’s always just been a place to position some of my photos, and view others’ photographs. But this personal essay by Bindu Bansinath was helpful in opening my eyes to how Instagram facilitates relationships, as well as how meeting via social media can prompt unique uncertainties and concerns.
  • The F-35 Is a $1.4 Trillion National Disaster // This comprehensive analysis of the F-35 fighter craft (and its variants) clearly demonstrates that European nations that are procuring non-F-35 fights are making clear headed and sensible decisions. The F-35 is just a massive, expensive, waste of time, money, and talent that is more likely to get pilots and those they’re tasked with supporting killed than anything else.
  • The Policymakers Saved the Financial System. And America Never Forgave Them. // Part of a series by the New York Times on the 2008 financial crisis, Irwin’s article outlines how neither the (newly emerged) far right nor left were happy with the outcome of the measures undertaken to save the American economy. This displeasure followed despite the policies being read as generally working; rather than being pleased with the result, people turned to anger at the system itself. While I appreciate the measured analysis presented in the article to rationalize why citizens should be happy with how well the recovery took place, I think that it fails to adequately recognize that the disaster was the making of the financial sector and that, for many, the harms are still being felt to this day. Anger and displeasure makes sense when the lived impact of the fallout persists, regardless of the fallout being less-bad than had been anticipated.

Cool Things