I used to buy a lot of MP3s. I don’t anymore. That’s not to say I don’t listen to MP3s. I have about 10,000 of the little guys squeezed like vienna sausages into my iTunes music folder, and I listen to them a lot. But when I buy music today I buy it on vinyl. I’m no audiophile, no retro hepcat, but my ears tell me that music sounds better on vinyl - warmer, more nuanced, less shrill - and I make it a point to listen to my ears. Also, I’ve rediscovered the pleasures of looking at the art work on record jackets. Thumbnail images are pretty weak substitutes. In fact, they suck.
But the decisive factor in the transformation of my purchasing behavior, as a marketer would say, wasn’t aesthetic. It was the decision by record companies to start giving away a free digital copy of an album when you buy the vinyl version. Hidden inside the sleeve of a new record, like a Cracker Jack prize, is a little card with a code on it that let’s you download the digital files of the songs, often in a lossless format, from the record company. So I no longer have to choose between the superior sound and packaging of vinyl and the superior mobility of digital. When I’m near my turntable, I spin the platter. When I’m not, I fire up the MP3s.
Buy the atoms, get the bits free. That just feels right - in tune with the universe, somehow.” —Rough Type: Nicholas Carr’s Blog: Why publishers should give away ebooks (via ayjay)
Such people are strictly amateur compared to, say, Harold Williams, a New Zealander who attended the League of Nations and is said to have spoken comfortably to each delegate in the delegate’s native tongue, or the American Kenneth Hale, who learned passable Finnish (one of about fifty languages he was reputed to speak convincingly) on a flight to Helsinki and allegedly learned Japanese after a single viewing of the Shogun miniseries.
The most famous hyperpolyglot is Giuseppe Mezzofanti, the nineteenth-century Bolognese cardinal who was reputed to speak between thirty and seventy languages, ranging from Chaldaean to Algonquin. He spoke them so well, and with such a feather-light foreign accent, according to his Irish biographer, that English visitors mistook him for their countryman Cardinal Charles Acton. (They also said he spoke as if reading from The Spectator.) His ability to learn a language in a matter of days or hours was so devilishly impressive that one suspects Mezzofanti pursued the cardinalate in part to shelter himself from accusations that he had bought the talent from Satan himself.” —Graeme Wood
Bon Iver, Bon Iver
First it was For Emma, Forever Ago. The soul in a refraction of icicles. A moment hanging like breath on air. And yet life – even still life – is not still. The story is not a story if it does not unravel. Your eyes you may cast backward, but the heart is locked in the chest and must beat forever forward. Bon Iver, Bon Iver is the frozen beast pressing upward from a loosening earth, one ear cocked to the echo of the ghost choir still singing, the other craving the martial call of drums tumbling, of thrum and wheeze. The desolation smoke has dissipated, cut with strips of brass. Celebration will not be denied, the cabinet cannot contain the rattle, there is meat on the bones.” —
From the bio on Bon Iver’s website.
Not only do I not know what any of this means, it’s the most pretentious, insufferable mess of writing I can remember. Who needs a drink?
Marilynne Robinson, from her new book When I was a Child I Read Books
Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”” —This is an Apple executive’s idea of what a workforce should look like so that the company can make $400,000 of profit per (non-contracted) employee. That’s some robber baron shit. (via madregale)
Two racing boats seen from the harmonic railing
of this road bridge quit their wakes,
plane above their mirroring shield-forms
and bash the river, flat out, their hits batts of appliqué
violently spreading, their turnings eiderdown
abolishing translucency before the frieze of people,
and rolled-over water comes out to the footings of the carnival.
Even up drinking coffee-and-forth in the town
prodigious sound rams through arcades and alleyways
and burrs in our teeth, beneath the slow nacelle
of a midsummer ceiling fan.
No wonder pelicans vanish from their river at these times.
How, we wonder, does that sodden undersized one
who hangs around the Fish Co-op get by?
The pert wrymouth with the twisted upper beak.
It cannot pincer prey, or lid its lower scoop
and so lives on guts, mucking in with the others
who come and go. For it to leave would be death.
Its trouble looks like a birth defect, not an injury
and raises questions.
There are poetics would require it to be pecked
to death by fellow pelicans, or kids to smash it with a stick,
preserving a hard cosmos.
In fact it came with fellow pelicans, parents maybe
and has been around for years. Humans who feed it
are sentimental, perhaps — but what to say
of humans who refused to feed a lame bird?
Nature is not human-hearted. But it is one flesh
or we could not imagine it. And we could not eat.
Nature is not human-hearted. So the animals
come to man, at first in their extremity:
the wild scrub turkeys entering farms in drought-time,
the done fox suddenly underfoot among dog-urgers
(that frantic compliment, that prayer never granted by dogs)
or the shy birds perching on human shoulders and trucks
when the mountains are blotted out in fiery dismemberment.
Such meetings enlarge the white middle term of claim
which quivers between the dramatic red and blue poles
The claim exercised by pelicans
on the riverbank lawn who tap you for a sandwich
or the water-dragon in flared and fretted display
who opened its head at me, likewise for a sandwich,
by the tiny birds who materialised and sang
when my wife sang in the sleeper-cutting forest
down Stoney Creek Road. And the famous dolphins.
Today, though, men are fighting
the merciful wars of surplus, on the battered river,
making their own wide wings, and water skiers
are hoisting the inherent white banner, making it stretch
and stream both ways at once, like children’s drawings
of ships or battle, out in front of the carnival.
wesleyhill: W. H. Auden on Kierkegaard. This quote came to mind as I was talking with my friend Noah today about how we’ve both survived grad school. A big part of our success (such as it’s been), we agreed, is owing to our making meals and sharing them with friends on a regular basis.
This is one reason why I’ve gravitated towards the study of literature over theology and philosophy. It’s too neat, too tidy to think in abstracts rather than the messy particulars of life. Which is not to say that philosophy and theology are necessarily so—it just seems to be the norm.