Entries from January 2011

Fast Fish and Loose Fish

Barry Moser, "Head of the Sperm Whale"

In a famous chapter of Moby Dick, Melville explains the law governing ownership of whales at sea.

It frequently happens that when several ships are cruising in company, a whale may be struck by one vessel, then escape, and be finally killed and captured by another vessel; and herein are indirectly comprised many minor contingencies, all partaking of this one grand feature. For example,— after a weary and perilous chase and capture of a whale, the body may get loose from the ship by reason of a violent storm; and drifting far away to leeward, be retaken by a second whaler, who, in a calm, snugly tows it alongside, without risk of life or line. Thus the most vexatious and violent disputes would often arise between the fishermen, were there not some written or unwritten, universal, undisputed law applicable to all cases.…

I. A Fast-Fish belongs to the party fast to it.

II. A Loose-Fish is fair game for anybody who can soonest catch it.

…What is a Fast-Fish? Alive or dead a fish is technically fast, when it is connected with an occupied ship or boat, by any medium at all controllable by the occupant or occupants,— a mast, an oar, a nine-inch cable, a telegraph wire, or a strand of cobweb, it is all the same. Likewise a fish is technically fast when it bears a waif [ed. note: a pole stuck into the floating body of a dead whale as a marker], or any other recognized symbol of possession; so long as the party wailing it plainly evince their ability at any time to take it alongside, as well as their intention so to do.

Continue reading →

Categories: Writing    Tags: · · ·

How to give a TED talk

A short documentary about what it takes to give a TED Talk.

“The thing is not to get self-conscious. It’s just like playing the piano. If you play the piano and suddenly start looking at your fingers … the music will stop.”
— Sir Ken Robinson

Categories: Odds & Ends    Tags: · · ·

Photo of the Day

MATLAB Handle Graphics

A record groove under an electron microscope, magnified 1000 times (via)

Categories: Odds & Ends    Tags:

Face of the Day

Mug shot - Alice Cooke

Alice Adeline Cooke, criminal record number 565LB, 30 December 1922. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, New South Wales…. Convicted of bigamy and theft. By the age of 24 Alice Cooke had amassed an impressive number of aliases and at least two husbands. Described by police as ‘rather good looking,’ Cooke was a habitual thief and a convicted bigamist. Aged 24. Part of an archive of forensic photography created by the NSW Police between 1912 and 1964.” Source: Mug Shots of Australian Criminals (via).

Categories: Crime · Photography    Tags:

Penn Station, 1962

Penn Station

Pennsylvania Station, New York City. May 10th, 1962. Photograph by Cervin Robinson. (via)

Categories: Odds & Ends    Tags: · ·


Rockwell Kent - Whale Beneath the Sea

Rockwell Kent, “Whale Beneath the Sea” (1930) (via). More here.

Categories: Art    Tags: ·

Quote of the Day

The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.

Arnold Bennett (via)

Galbraith on modern conservatism

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

John Kenneth Galbraith

Categories: Odds & Ends    Tags: ·

Fuck you, Melville!

I spent ten years writing Oscar Wao, and I definitely didn’t spend the ten years being like, “I’m amazing! This has taken ten years because this much genius requires a decade!” [laughter] I spent the whole time, you know, fucked up, unhappy, really miserable and convinced that I’d ruined the whole thing, and all the stuff you get when you spend a really long time lost in the desert. I think more than anything, my basic lesson as an artist has been humility.… The crazy thing about the arts is it’s not like other stuff where you can build up muscle to help you with the next project. A friend of mine, he’s a surgeon, he’s like a combat surgeon in Iraq, and we grew up together and immigrated together, and he tells me every surgery makes you even more awesome for the next surgery. I’ve never felt that anything I’ve written has made me more awesome. So I think for me it’s going to be a struggle for whatever the next project is, and if you’re an artist and you work long enough at this, you begin to understand your rhythm, and what I’m beginning to understand is my rhythm is very slow. I felt like my first book was just an accident, but what I’m discovering now is that this is my rhythm. I take forever. Friends of mine hear this and they want to fucking throw themselves off a bridge, because the first ten years drove them crazy.… Melville wrote Moby-Dick — does anyone remember how many months it took him? Like fourteen months! Fuck you, Melville!

— Junot Díaz, interviewed by Dave Eggers in The Boston Review

Categories: Writing    Tags: ·

The Bermuda Triangle of Productivity

The Bermuda Triangle of Productivity


Categories: Productivity    Tags: