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Things I learned this week #30

  • These no longer fictional bridges: You know the bridges on the Euro notes? There are seven of them total (notes and bridges) which represent seven different architectural styles. They were originally designed in 2002 and were (at the time) fictitious bridges which didn't exist anywhere - so that no country felt special or left out. Robin Stam, an architect from the Netherlands, has gone ahead and designed and built them all irl, for cyclists to use. The money willed these bridges into existence, which is cool. source
  • This mis-attributed quotes on 2021 coins: The Royal Mint is releasing a set of £2 and 50 pence pieces in 2021 with quotes from Lewis Carol's famous Alice in Wonderland. It turns out that the people who chose the quotes didn't check their sources, and ended up using quotes from adaptations and derived work. They went onto Goodreads and copy-pasted, so from what I can tell The Royal Mint is run by thirteen year olds who left their homework until the last minute. I support the notion that we should never let a fact get in the way of a good story, so I think this is marvellous on one level. Maybe it'll be like the bridges and a Dutch architect will come and re-write Lewis' work for us. There you go, there's your coin trivia and your callback gag - this one's a twofer. (source)
  • This Geocache: I know about geocaching, but I don't know about geocaching. I don't get it. The idea is simple: hide something somewhere (public or out of the way), then tell a select few people on the internet where to find it. You can also go find the things that people have hidden. It's like Pokémon Go but with real things (lame). One of the engineers who worked with the Perseverance rover (who has now landed safely on Mars, which is pretty cool) is into geocaching. As an homage to this, the team have printed a Geocaching tag (like a unique identifier) on the calibrating tools for the rover's equipment. When Perseverance gets to mars, it will take a picture of this equipment and send it back to earth - and that's the code people can use to tag/find/achieve (I don't know the lingo, sorry) the little cache. The question for me is if this is still geocaching, an not marscaching (marcaching?) (source)
  • This heartening panic fact: Although mass panic and hysteria did define the early reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, at least in the UK (couldn't get flour or toilette paper anywhere), panic isn't actually the common or expected response to disasters. It's fun to stereotype and be pessimistic but the social normals that have emerged during Covid have been around patience, space, and understanding. The language we use can be direct (there is a pandemic wear a mask) or indirect (things are tough at the moment), but these qualifiers are normally followed with "so let's do something good". Yeah, we all get a bit annoyed sometimes and some people can't seem to understand making the slighted accommodation for others, but if you think about it - we've done an alright job (except for the bit where we caused and then did not contain a pandemic). The interesting question here is actually why people act so generously, cooperatively, and altruistic during a disaster (like a pandemic, fire, or other natural disaster). From a purely game-theory perspective, acting in your own self interest during a crisis or resource shortage does make the most sense. Social creatures that we are, we're likely to copy these behaviours when we see then, but why are these norms short lived, not sustained? That's the interesting research angle from this crisis, I think. (source)

What I've Had on Rotation

  • Something New: Bach: The Cello Suites - Recomposed by Peter Gregson by, err Peter Gregson (2018, Classical). Bach wrote some banging cello suites, you definitely recognise Cello Suite 1 (famously in G Major). Gregson takes on the ambitious task of reinterpreting Bach's cello suites, and I don't know enough to explain why, but this album is stunning. It feels fuller, more harmonic, and less performative than the originals. Where the originals might be a spectacle, this album is immersive and surrounds me when I'm listening. It's a good album to write to, and also a wonderful way to justify any expensive headphones or speakers you've bought yourself. (links)
  • Something Old 10 Things I Hate About You Soundtrack various artists (1999, rock?). I recently re-watched 10 Things which is genuinely a really good film and everyone should (re)watch it. I was taken by much I loved the rocky soundtrack. Ugh, Barenaked Ladies, Spiderbait, Letters to Cleo... it's nostalgic and grungy. Just listen to it (Spotify playlist and YouTube Playlist)

Cool Articles

  • Brené Brown on Empathy (VIDEO). A really nicely illustrated reminder about empathy. A little ABC but also a good thing to be aware of. Be kind, y'all.
  • Taste for Makers by Paul Graham (San Francisco and Silicon Valley darling). I've been asking the questions "how do I design a good product" lately. It's a hard question to answer, and one of the fundamental (but un-actionable) points is about taste. Ira Glass' famous quote The Gap covers similar ground.

Cool Things

  • doodad.dev. If you're a software engineer or web design geek this is a very pleasing collection of utilities. I love the early Mac callback.
  • iOS Icon Gallery. A collection of iOS App Icons, for design inspiration or general perusing. Some of them are very pleasing.
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