Anatomy of a Midwesternism:

“Honestly, ope is barely a word, and more of a guttural reaction; it almost sounds like a tiny heave. It effectively translates to, “I don’t mean to bother you or anyone around me, ever, but I’ve noticed…” Ope is less of a word, and more of a reflex. It can communicate excitement or awkwardness or surprise or an apology or even urgency. It’s an interruption in the most discreet way possible. Where the Italians have prego as their linguistically fluid go-to word, we have ope.”

(Grace Perry, Chicago Magazine)

Horowitz on intellect, heart, and technique

For me, the intellect is always the guide but not the goal of the performance. Three things have to be coordinated and not one must stick out. Not too much intellect because it can become scholastic. Not too much heart because it can become schmaltz. Not too much technique because you become a mechanic. Always there should be a little mistake here and there—I am for it. The people who don't do mistakes are cold like ice. It takes risk to make a mistake. If you don't take risk, you are boring. These youngsters who win a competition are like the assembly line. Every trill is so perfect but everyone is the same and in 10 minutes you will be bored and go home.

—Vladimir Horowitz, 1978

The first piece of AI-generated art to come to auction

Art made by The Discriminator and CAN artificial intelligence agents

‘I am surprised by the output every time I run it,’ says Elgammal. ‘An interesting question is: why is so much of the CAN’s art abstract? I think it is because the algorithm has grasped that art progresses in a certain trajectory. If it wants to make something novel, then it cannot go back and produce figurative works as existed before the 20th century. It has to move forward. The network has learned that it finds more solutions when it tends toward abstraction: that is where there is the space for novelty.’

Making = Letting, Making vs. Letting

From the Evasion-English Dictionary by Maggie Balistreri:

Technology doesn’t make me do anything, it lets me do anything. It enables me to see someone face-to-face and it spares me from seeing someone face-to-face. It lets me connect or avoid. . . . Half the people in my life have never used a keyboard. They aren’t necessarily better at conversation than the rest of us are.

Stan Carey's commentary on the above:

This discussion comes in the chapter making = letting, which then offers a series of choice examples: ‘Social media is making us become self-obsessed narcissists’; ‘The availability of online shopping is making people shop less in brick-and-mortar stores’. Inviting us to replace one word with the other – the evasive with the evaded – is a fun way to illustrate and reinforce the point.


The surprising saturation of parking lots in cities

The Atlantic discussed SimCity with Stone Librande in the summer of 2013: 

Geoff Manaugh: While you were making those measurements of different real-world cities, did you discover any surprising patterns or spatial relationships?

Librande: Yes, definitely. I think the biggest one was the parking lots. When I started measuring out our local grocery store, which I don't think of as being that big, I was blown away by how much more space was parking lot rather than actual store. That was kind of a problem, because we were originally just going to model real cities, but we quickly realized there were way too many parking lots in the real world and that our game was going to be really boring if it was proportional in terms of parking lots.

Manaugh: You would be making SimParkingLot, rather than SimCity.

Librande: [laughs] Exactly. So what we do in the game is that we just imagine they are underground. We do have parking lots in the game, and we do try to scale them -- so, if you have a little grocery store, we'll put six or seven parking spots on the side, and, if you have a big convention center or a big pro stadium, they'll have what seem like really big lots -- but they're nowhere near what a real grocery store or pro stadium would have. We had to do the best we could do and still make the game look attractive.

Is there a crisis of reproducibility in contemporary science?

As seen at Undark and Wired Magazine, a report from unlikely sources regarding a foundational aspect of scientific research:

"David Randall and Christopher Welser are unlikely authorities on the reproducibility crisis in science. Randall, a historian and librarian, is the director of research at the National Association of Scholars, a small higher education advocacy group. Welser teaches Latin at a Christian college in Minnesota. Neither has published anything on replication or reproducibility. But when a report the two men wrote, “The Irreproducibility Crisis of Modern Science,” was published by the National Association of Scholars on Tuesday afternoon, it received a Congressional reception. The launch took place in a House office building on Capitol Hill. The Texas Republican Lamar Smith, chairman of the House science committee and one of the most powerful science policymakers in Washington, spoke at the event. In a statement to Undark, he described the NAS report as an 'important study.'"

Norman Mailer on the hipster (1957)

Norman Mailer for Dissent -- "It may be fruitful to consider the hipster a philosophical psychopath, a man interested not only in the dangerous imperatives of his psychopathy but in codifying, at least for himself, the suppositions on which his inner universe is constructed. By this premise the hipster is a psychopath, and yet not a psychopath but the negation of the psychopath for he possesses the narcissistic detachment of the philosopher, that absorption in the recessive nuances of one’s own motive which is so alien to the unreasoning drive of the psychopath."