Category Archives: Uncategorized

All of this is true

“All of this is true” was written neatly in black dry-erase marker on the glass of the sliding door. Beyond it, the balcony, the railing, the street, and the big corner gas station with the floodlights that never went off (much to my irritation). Assorted traffic passing at appropriate speeds, low buildings across the street, a big chunk of sky — an urban tableau streaming in through the glass. Every glance out that aperture made a frame for the time-lapse video of my memory of this place. And every frame was pre-captioned: “All of this is true.”

It was a reminder. I was in the habit, in those angry days too, of peering out over the railing to see some fat, greasy neighbor move down the block and thinking something like “I can’t believe people can live like that.” Or, in the middle of the night, moonlighting as an insomniac and blaming my plight on the blazing bulb across the street: “They shouldn’t be leaving that on! What is wrong with people??”

At night, the words projected their shapes onto the backside of the pale curtains. But vibrations — whether from the choppers at the Dominican biker club across to the street, or subtler forces — occasionally altered the light’s refraction through the glass, casting new shadow messages onto the cloth.

Things could be different, but they’re not,” it said once, flickering. “Accept that and go from there.”

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Changes in the works

It’s been 2+ years since the previous post, and rather than fret about what the “perfect” topic to reinaugurate the space with, I’m just going to break the ice and offer some information:

  • dukeofearle.com has been remapped from flavors.me/ephduke to here. I’m probably going to get rid of that service. I think I can get all the functionality I need from WordPress.
  • I’m leaving on a voyage to southeast Asia a week and a half. Thoughts, stories & pictures from that will be posted here. Knowing me it’ll probably be heavy on thoughts.
  • I’ll probably buy a nice theme for the page—I can’t work in an uncomfortable space!

Keep that breath bated.

Invasion

My brother went to the Invasion Festival 2010 in Russia. He had this to say about it:

A bit like being in a Hieronymus Bosch or Pieter Bruegel the Elder (thank you ARTH 101) painting. I’ve never seen the human body being abused, demented, and spoiled in so many ways — sleep deprivation, drugs, sex, disgusting food, sunburns, mosquito bites, loud music, paint, prolonged standing, dehydration, not showering. Beer sloshed, sunny bodies fat and thin, white skin, scraggly beards, glassy eyes, abused grass, hippies sleeping in sewage drains, mohawked punks lounging in heaps of garbage, girls covering their nipples with corporate logos, and everywhere flags flags — nationalist flags, army flags, musical group flags, regional flags, spongebob flags, flags of unclear meaning and origin flying with unflappable gusto. tents. the occasional lost child.

Advanced email tactic!

As an Inbox Zero fan, I am thrilled to have stumbled across the Monotypic Inbox, an email processing tactic from Study Hacks.

Basically, an email inbox is duotypic—it has two types of messages: Unread and Read. For the Inbox Zero user this distinction is useless, because you fully process your inbox when you check your email, and you check your email on your schedule (not your email’s schedule). The Unread type is distracting, and can disrupt your schedule discipline by luring you with the promise of new and exciting things. If you remove the Unread type, this phenomenon is eliminated. To do this, simply set up a filter that marks all new messages as “Read”.

I would be different person today if I’d discovered Study Hacks in college. Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn how to get different types of things done, so I’ve been reading up on the field I didn’t learn (and learned to think I didn’t need) when, in fifth grade, I was put in Advanced Reading instead of Study Skills.

Sex & Typography

Brilliant ad for Durex by Andrej Kraneh!

Type Sex

Designer has an awesome site too.

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Getting scammed on craigslist

Some dude just sent me the following email regarding a piece of furniture I’m selling on craigslist:

Hello,
Thanks for your prompt responds, However, i will need your name and
address for payment,As am only able to make payment by money order at
this time b/c i am away on assignment. It will be nice if you can send
me more pictures. It will take about 7days for payment to get to you.
As per pick-up, I will make arrangement for the pick-up after payment
has been received by you. I don’t mind adding thirty dollars so you
can keep it in my favor.Please take the posting off Craigslist today
and consider it sold to me, Include your phone number.
Expecting to hear from you soon.

Riiight. Just to be sure I checked the craigslist scams page.

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You mock, sir

One of the most transcendent New Yorker cartoons I’ve ever seen:

You mock, sir -- you mock a sport storied and beloved. I, sir, pity you.

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The News & Van Gogh’s Ear

One of the reasons I love the New Yorker is that its writers place their subjects in broad context. Many (most) news outlets exaggerate the importance of every issue under consideration, like each is the MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD. Viewing the world thus presented is like running around tearing your hair out over constant self-created crises. Very taxing; very stupid. For the New Yorker, no article is an island. Every topic is related to many other topics, and those relationships are explored. As a result, it respects the relative importance of things, keeping things in perspective and presenting a coherent worldview. When this is done particularly well, it’s such a relief that I want to cry.

Adam Gopnik’s piece “Van Gogh’s Ear” in last week’s issue did this to me yesterday with its last paragraph:

It’s true that moral luck dramatized by modern art involves an uncomfortable element of ethical exhibitionism. We gawk and stare as the painters slice off their ears and down the booze and act like clowns. But we rely on them to make up for out own timidity, on their courage to dignify our caution. We are spectators in the casino, placing bets; that’s the nature of the collaboration that brings us together, and we can sometimes convince ourselves that having looked is the same as having made, and that the stakes are the same for the ironic spectator and the would-be saint. But they’re not. We all make our wagers, and the cumulative lottery builds museums and lecture halls and revisionist biographies. But the artist does more. He bets his life.

(“Moral luck,” here, is “making something that no one wants in the belief that someone someday will.”)

And this is just a book review! But it indicates a deep understanding that the meaning of a book is its relationship to all the other stuff out there in the world, not just the words on the pages.

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Romance for Guys: A Primer

60% of the time it works every time. And it fails spectacularly.

The Flowchart of Romance

Vampire-resistant no more

I’ve reflexively avoided the Twilight series, for the same silly reason I avoided Harry Potter and many other awesome things—because they’re popular they can’t possibly be good. It’s a lame principle, but I haven’t been able to abandon it, even though it fails frequently.

Last night, John Granger dispelled my resistance with his recent essay in Touchtone (“A Journal of Mere Christianity”). It’s a lengthy, well-crafted piece that maps out the very solid relationship between, on the one hand, the books’ characters and plot, and on the other hand, the author’s defenses and criticisms of her Morman faith.

I suggest that the Twilight series is something for thoughtful people to be aware of and to think seriously about, first, because of its remarkable hold on the imagination of American readers and movie-goers, but second, and more important, because of the reason these books are so popular: They meet a spiritual need.

(via clusterflock)