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How to Make a $1500 Sandwich in Only 6 Months / How To Make Everything (YouTube)
How to Make a Formal Suit from Scratch / How To Make Everything (YouTube)
How to Make Eyeglasses from Scratch / How To Make Everything (YouTube)
How to Make $1700 Chocolates From Scratch / How To Make Everything (YouTube)
Turning Corn into Candy Corn / How To Make Everything (YouTube)
As some of you know, I tend to prefer articles to videos (I usually don't have the patience for videos). But this may well be a YouTube channel I could watch forever. It's incredible. I spent more than an hour watching these in rapt fascination.
I spent 6 months and $1500 to completely make a sandwich from scratch. Including growing my own vegetables, making my own salt from ocean water, milking a cow to make cheese, grinding my own flour from wheat, collecting my own honey, and killing a chicken myself.
In a new remixed video, we revisit one of my earliest and most challenging projects to date: attempting to make a formal suit from scratch. For it I travel to Colorado for hemp, Texas for cotton, raise my own silkworms, sheer a sheep and alpaca, spin all the fibers and weave, knit, felt and sew everything into my attempt at a formal suit.
In my next quest, I’m attempting to make a pair of prescription eyeglasses for myself, starting from their natural sources. With some guidance from Dr. Lewis Dartnell, I collected sand, limestone, and hardwood ashes to melt down into the glass. Then I figured out how to grind the lenses down to the correct curvature to match my prescription. I also made the frames for them out of a tree.
To explore what goes into making chocolate, I travel to Mexico and partake in every aspect of making it: from picking raw cacao pods and sugar cane, to fermenting and roasting, to turning it into actual chocolate.
I take a stab at trying to make one of my favorite processed fall candies: candy corn, starting from actual corn.
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Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow / Rolling Stone
Is there anything new to be said about Elon Musk? Apparently so...
In the process, he's managed to sell the world on his capability to achieve objectives so lofty that from the mouth of anyone else, they'd be called fantasies. At least, most of the world. "I'm looking at the short losses," Musk says, transfixed by CNBC on his iPhone. He speaks to his kids without looking up. "Guys, check this out: Tesla has the highest short position in the entire stock market. A $9 billion short position." His children lean over the phone, looking at a table full of numbers that I don't understand. So his 13-year-old, Griffin, explains it to me: "They're betting that the stock goes down, and they're getting money off that. But it went up high, so they lost an insane amount of money." "They're jerks who want us to die," Musk elaborates. "They're constantly trying to make up false rumors and amplify any negative rumors. It's a really big incentive to lie and attack my integrity. It's really awful. It's..." He trails off, as he often does when preoccupied by a thought. I try to help: "Unethical?" "It's..." He shakes his head and struggles for the right word, then says softly, "Hurtful." [...] Musk discusses the breakup for a few more minutes, then asks, earnestly, deadpan, "Is there anybody you think I should date? It's so hard for me to even meet people." He swallows and clarifies, stammering softly, "I'm looking for a long-term relationship. I'm not looking for a one-night stand. I'm looking for a serious companion or soulmate, that kind of thing." I eventually tell him that it may not be a good idea to jump right into another relationship. He may want to take some time to himself and figure out why his previous relationships haven't worked in the long run: his marriage to writer Justine Musk, his marriage to actress Talulah Riley, and this new breakup with actress Amber Heard. Musk shakes his head and grimaces: "If I'm not in love, if I'm not with a long-term companion, I cannot be happy."
Book Review: Legal Systems Very Different From Ours / Slate Star Codex
Medieval Icelandic crime victims would sell the right to pursue a perpetrator to the highest bidder. 18th century English justice replaced fines with criminals bribing prosecutors to drop cases. Somali judges compete on the free market; those who give bad verdicts get a reputation that drives away future customers. “Anarcho-capitalism” evokes a dystopian cyberpunk future. But maybe that’s wrong. Maybe we’ve always been anarcho-capitalist. Maybe a state-run legal system isn’t a fact of nature, but a historical oddity as contingent as collectivized farming or nationalized railroads. Legal Systems Very Different From Ours, by anarcho-capitalist/legal scholar/medieval history buff David Friedman, successfully combines the author’s three special interests into a whirlwind tour of exotic law. [...] In Seeing Like A State, ordinary people living their daily lives blunder into highly advanced systems for doing whatever it is they do. Primitive farmers will know every tiny detail about exactly when to plant which crops, and how to exploit microvariations in soil quality, and know ridiculous tricks like planting fish heads in the ground as fertilizer. Ordinary city-dwellers will organically build houses and stores and streets in exactly the right fractal patterns to maximize some measure of quality of life. Scott dubs this “metis”, an evolved intuitive sense of practical wisdom that often outperforms seemingly more scientific solutions. Many of the societies Friedman profiles in Legal Systems Very Different From Ours seem to operate on metis. Most don’t know who developed their legal system; in a few of them, it is explicitly declared to have been the work of God. Most don’t really know why their legal system works – in some cases, Friedman only gives an economic analysis of why some rule might exist after admitting that previous scholarship (both modern academic, and within the society in question) has failed to come up with answers. And a lot of them are too brilliant, and need too many weird interlocking parts, to be the work of any single person.
The Tech Industry’s Gender-Discrimination Problem / New Yorker
During the latest cycle of accusations and apologies, something about the response—in the press and in the public—has felt different. In the past, women were often criticized or made to feel ashamed for speaking openly, while alleged harassers evaded serious scrutiny. More recently, however, some of the accusations have led to swift consequences for the men accused. It may be that allegations against high-profile men such as Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, and Roger Ailes, as well as distress about President Trump’s attitude toward women (Trump has also been accused of multiple sexual assaults), has created a more receptive climate for accusations of harassment and assault. The volume and the vociferousness of some allegations have raised legitimate concerns: What are the checks on accuracy in a social-media environment designed to amplify outrage, and what recourse do the accused have to respond? Still, after years of attempting to resolve harassment and discrimination complaints through ineffectual human-resources departments, or through lawsuits kept quiet by powerful attorneys, women have found a path that produces results: gathering an unimpeachable number of witnesses and going public. According to women I spoke with in Silicon Valley, more allegations have yet to emerge. One female entrepreneur told me that, in July, “stories were flying around my women’s networks” about men who were later identified as alleged harassers in the press. “What they’ve been publicly named for,” she said, “is the tip of the iceberg.”
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Life Under Kim Jong Un / Washington Post
When Kim Jong Un became the leader of North Korea almost six years ago, many North Koreans thought that their lives were going to improve. He offered the hope of generational change in the world’s longest-running communist dynasty. After all, he was so young. A millennial. Someone with experience of the outside world. But the “Great Successor,” as he is called by the regime, has turned out to be every bit as brutal as his father and grandfather before him. Even as he has allowed greater economic freedom, he has tried to seal the country off more than ever, tightening security along the border with China and stepping up the punishments for those who dare to try to cross it. And at home, freedom of speech, and of thought, is still a mirage. In six months of interviews in South Korea and Thailand, The Washington Post talked with more than 25 North Koreans from different walks of life who lived in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea and managed to escape from it. In barbecue restaurants, cramped apartments and hotel rooms, these refugees provided the fullest account to date of daily life inside North Korea and how it has changed, and how it hasn’t, since Kim took over from his father, Kim Jong Il, at the end of 2011. Many are from the northern parts of the country that border China — the part of North Korea where life is toughest, and where knowledge about the outside world just across the river is most widespread — and are from the relatively small segment of the population that is prepared to take the risks involved in trying to escape.
Amazon's Last Mile / Gizmodo
Who delivers Amazon orders? Increasingly, it’s plainclothes contractors with few labor protections, driving their own cars, competing for shifts on the company’s own Uber-like platform. Though it’s deployed in dozens of cities and associated with one of the world’s biggest companies, government agencies and customers alike are nearly oblivious to the program’s existence.
Stitch Fix and the Senate / Stratechery
Because Ben Thompson writes just one (public) weekly post, he occasionally mashes two subjects together awkwardly; regardless, he makes pretty insightful points on both:
To that end, Stitch Fix is a more important company than it may seem at first glance: it proves there is a way to build a venture capital-backed company that is not an aggregator, but still a generator of outsized returns. The keys, though, are positive unit economics from the get-go, and careful attention to profitability. The reason this matters is that these sorts of companies are by far the more likely to be built: Google and Facebook are dominating digital advertising, Amazon is dominating undifferentiated e-commerce, Microsoft and Amazon are dominating enterprise, and Apple is dominating devices. To compete with any of them is an incredibly difficult proposition; better to build a real differentiated business from the get-go, and that is exactly what Stitch Fix did. [...] To that end, what is critical to understand about this proposed tax change is that incumbent companies won’t be hurt at all: sure, they may have to change their compensation to be more cash-rich and RSU-light, but cash isn’t really a constraint on their business. Higher salaries are a small price to pay if it means startups that might challenge them are handicapped; small wonder none of the big companies are lobbying against this provision.
Two Stars Slammed Into Each Other And Solved Half Of Astronomy’s Problems. What Comes Next? / FiveThirtyEight
Progress, as they say, is slow. In science, this is often true even for major breakthroughs; rarely is an entire field of research remade in a single swoop. The Human Genome Project took a decade. Finding the first gravitational waves took multiple decades. So it’s hard to overstate the enormous leap forward that astronomy took on Aug. 17, 2017. On that day, astronomers bore witness to the titanic collision of two neutron stars, the densest things in the universe besides black holes. In the collision’s wake, astronomers answered multiple major questions that have dominated their field for a generation. They solved the origin of gamma-ray bursts, mysterious jets of hardcore radiation that could potentially roast Earth. They glimpsed the forging of heavy metals, like gold and platinum. They measured the rate at which the expansion of the universe is accelerating. They caught light at the same time as gravitational waves, confirmation that waves move at the speed of light. And there was more, and there is much more yet to come from this discovery. It all happened so quickly and revealed so much that astronomers are already facing a different type of question: Now what?
Emergence: how many stupid things become smart together / Kottke
A nice overview of emergence by Kurzgesagt. I continue to find the concept of emergence endlessly fascinating — order from disorder, complexity from simplicity, more is different. As a society, we tend to underestimate how much emergence plays a role in why things happen the way they do and are therefore often wrong-footed in our analysis and response.
The Bad Hair, Incorrect Feathering, and Missing Skin Flaps of Dinosaur Art / Atlas Obscura
Check this out in particular for the laughable "reconstructions" of living animals based on their skeletons (admittedly, unclear how fair these are to paleoartists):
With no living specimens to observe, it’s up to “paleoartists” who draw, paint, or otherwise illustrate the creatures of prehistory as we think they might’ve been. Their work is the reason that when we talk about velociraptors, stegosaurs, or even woolly mammoths, we have some idea of what they looked like. But since all we have to go on are fossils, deciding how a dinosaur would have looked is as much art as it is science. And there’s at least one paleoartist who thinks we might be getting things wrong.
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A mesmerizing animation of the repeating elements of a medieval cathedral / Kottke
I barely know how to describe this so maybe you should just watch it. Animator Ismael Sanz-Pena took a single image of a medieval cathedral and used the facade’s repeating elements to find the movement within, kind of like a zoetrope. (Ok, I guess that’s a pretty good description. I still think you should just watch it though.)
Temperature Preferences / xkcd
An xkcd infographic-comic with yet another reason to love London:
Where to live based on your temperature preferences
That $450 Million Leonardo? It’s No Mona Lisa. / New York Times
On Wednesday night, at Christie’s postwar and contemporary sale (in which it was incongruously included to reach bidders beyond Renaissance connoisseurs), the Leonardo sold for a shocking $450.3 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction. Worth it? Well, what are you buying: the painting or the brand? [...] Authentication is a serious but subjective business. I’m not the man to affirm or reject its attribution; it is accepted as a Leonardo by many serious scholars, though not all. I can say, however, what I felt I was looking at when I took my place among the crowds who’d queued an hour or more to behold and endlessly photograph “Salvator Mundi”: a proficient but not especially distinguished religious picture from turn-of-the-16th-century Lombardy, put through a wringer of restorations.
Shark With Head of a Snake and 300 Teeth Found Swimming Off Coast of Portugal / Slate
On Thursday, scientists trawling Portuguese waters caught one of these snake-bodied beasts. The photos are, naturally, making their way around the internet. Revered as one of the last living fossils, the spade-faced swimmer, which can grow over 6 feet long, has been floating through the fossil record for the last 80 million years.
OMG, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot can do an f-ing BACKFLIP! / Kottke
So, the jumping from box to box seemed cool. Hey, robot parkour! It seemed awfully agile for something that looks like it weighs quite a bit, but ok. But the casual gymnastics about 20 seconds in broke my brain. Holy. Crap.