Defiant Sloth

As an admitted bandwagoner, it’s been an absolute pleasure watching the Minnesota Timberwolves navigate through the NBA playoffs.

A menagerie of Minnesota Timberwolves images

Love this quest to make a mass-manufactured paper bottle (alc bev brands Diagro and Pernod Richard, along with CPG giant P&G, lead the way). Biggest hurdles have been shedding a plastic lining, leaks and retaining carbonation, and weight issues during transportation.

Worthwhile, fun article on the very talented actress Sarah Paulson, whose performance in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story as lead prosecutor comes to mind as most memorable next to her work in AHS. It’s unfortunate I’m not near Broadway to see her award-nominated play.

Love that this is the example of how LLMs working together as teams, called multi-agent systems (mas), hallucinate in an altogether nuttier level.

Screenshot of article quote that states: “There are downsides. llms sometimes have a propensity for inventing wildly illogical solutions to their tasks and, in a multi-agent system, these hallucinations can cascade through the whole team. In the bomb-defusing exercise run by darpa, for example, at one stage an agent proposed looking for bombs that were already defused instead of finding active bombs and then defusing them.”

I just received the email about Five Dials closing shop after a wonderful 16-year run. It’s been a great digital literary magazine, curating a variety of writers for travelogues, reporting, interviews, and stories. Luckily, they posted their entire archive for perusing.

Jason Fried is finding his niche with the Once software` portfolio that 37signals is building out. This recent post of his exemplifies the catalyst for them to do it, to the backdrop of horribly over-priced parking software:

[bad, overpriced software] is a deep well that keeps on providing.

Declaring it here: Dragon Quest IX has the best battle music in the series.

Scene from the Nintendo DS game Dragon Quest IX depicting a split screen with the upper one of the hero character attacking a slime, the lower one the stats of the battle

Zippers Deserve a Holiday

I’m not usually one for randomly invented holidays, but if today is ‘Zipper Day’, I’m here to celebrate. I’ve written, shall we say, extensively on zippers in my bag reviews and my posts on zipper pulls here and here.

My fixation with zippers is mostly about functionality and the usability experience of the mundane: zippers are an intrinsic part of any ‘thing’ they’re attached to, and so, quality zippers are important, and the tactility of using good ones makes a product much more enjoyable and long-lasting. You know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, here’s one of my favorite types of zippers, the YKK #5RC with DWR finish, featured on the Evergoods Civic Access Pouch 0.5 Liter.

Enjoy your zipping today.

close up photo of a black nylon accessory pouch and a steel YKK zipper

The absolute disregard of reasonable proportions in the wedge salad at Manny’s Steakhouse is perfection.

A wedge salad with an absurd amount of thick cut bacon bits next to a water glass and martini.

8BitDo Micro Controller is a Super Portable Wonder

With the new Delta game emulator out for iOS, I decided to invest in a super portable controller to use with a majority of 2D, non-joystick games. Always liked 8BitDo’s work, but never had much of a reason to purchase their controllers.

But I found their Micro controller impossible not to try, and subsequently enjoy:

  • At $20, it’s an easy buy.
  • It comes in two jolly colors
  • Has a battery that lasts an alleged 12 hours on a charge via USB-C
  • Thing measures just around the size of an AirPods Pro case
  • Shockingly, it’s not cramped to hold and use, and the buttons are very good for such a light, small housing

While it says on most of the product pages it doesn’t explicitly work with iOS, it absolutely does. Set it in Switch ‘S’ mode and add it like you would any other controller via the Bluetooth setting (it’ll show up as a ‘Pro Controller’). Works great with Delta, but haven’t tried it with other iOS games yet.

In summary, a recommended little buy.

A small rectangular controller in a shade of purple-blue sitting on a dark wooden surface

Every time I land…. feeling in good hands with Delta. Something about this airline is reassuring from take off to deboarding.

A Delta plane docked with bridge at an airport during sunset.

A warm day here in St. Paul to kick off the weekend. Enjoyed a scooter ride up and into Como Park, a walk through the Japanese garden, and some book reading under park trees. Perfect afternoon.

Manicured Japanese garden with rocks, water, and trees.

The Atlas Ankle Sock Review - Simply the Best, Probably

Socks are such a standard attire item that we don’t talk enough about them. But they are some of the the most important things you put on your body (nearly?) everyday, and keep you comfortable during any kind of foot travel.

So let me tell you something — I’ve gone through a lot of different socks and brand over the years, mostly trudging through them with sneakers, fitness shoes, boots, and zero-box shoes. The most comfortable, well-cushioned, and resilient ones I’ve come across (and now use exclusively as a daily driver) are Ministry of Supply’s Atlas Ankle Sock.

image of a socked foot raised over a natural wood floor

While these probably look fairly basic to the eye, these are extremely well-engineered.

  • They’re very well-cushioned in all the right areas. Specifically, the reinforced cuff tab is super cushy and wraps you in comfort against any kind of rear-side of a shoe that you might be wearing. It’s genius.
  • It’ll likely sit under the ankle and just pop out slightly when wearing lower-cut shoes. Not quite invisible, but I’m not even sure that matters or is fashionable anymore.
  • They’re fairly odor-resistant even though these are made of a combo of cotton and elastane. They say it’s also infused with coffee via a recycled polyester, but I have no idea how that works other than that it does seem to deliver on the promise.

Anyway, this isn’t a paid endorsement by any means, just calling out a great everyday item. I’d imagine these work for any gender, and operate best in non-loafer types of shoes, but your usage may vary.

Jemima Kelly has an invigorating opinion piece pondering where all the admirable, virtuous role models have gone.

As the west has moved away from ethical outlooks that focus on virtue and towards a utilitarianism that emphasises the outcomes of our actions rather than the content of our characters, we are less inclined to look for exemplars of virtuousness to emulate.

Absolutely on point. There’s a generational opportunity to fill the gap here, and it’s something we can all rally in contributing towards.

This is an absolutely bonkers story detailing how a man named Mickey Barreto stayed in the New Yorker hotel for five years, paying just one night’s rate. You know, every once in a while, the NY Times nails a tale like this.

Another notch towards disinformation dystopia… Microsoft researchers warn us (as if we weren’t already concerned) about the dissemination of generative AI into video-based platforms. Honestly, video has always been a concerning format for news — it’s prone to visual biases. This doesn’t help.

Quote from linked article, with highlighted text: "Disinformation-fighters don’t yet have the tools for video-monitoring at scale or the methods to track what content algorithms are suppressing or amplifying."

Great piece from Bryan Hansel on unread books:

Unread books are a way to know that we don’t know. It’s being humble. I believe there’s a saying that’s something like this: the more you know, the less you know you know.

Aggregator Review Sites & Hints of Their Degradation

Ben Brooks has a well-appointed linked commentary up for a post by HouseFresh, detailing the bankrupt state of “genuine” product review sites. Ben (and I, for that matter), have been writing product reviews for objects of interest for over a decade, and I definitely can say that there are fewer reliable sources to cross-check and research these days.

I recommend the linked-to HouseFresh post, and then Ben’s remarks. All progressive thoughts on this space.

A few take-aways

  • Trust erosion. Can anyone take Wirecutter seriously anymore, post-NYT acquisition? Does anyone trust other sites with heavy brand collaboration, like Carryology, where inherent bias must exist? Or any heavily ad-monetized aggregation site? Like the noted air purifier in HouseFresh’s post that imploded, how is it we can trust products that are recommended or have high customer reviews when the company is peddling a poor product and can’t even sustain itself?
  • Broken visibility. There are concerns that actual review sites are surprisingly poorly ranked in search engines (though it’s unsure how large-language models will handle these — I’d hope they respect the good ones).
  • Affiliate acquisition. Ben also notes that many “conglomerate type companies have bought out once reputable brands to sell utter shit content”, which is absolutely true. This is affiliate/aggregator site M&A planning 101.
  • Review integrity. Review enshittification is certainly happening, and Ben summarizes likely what’s happening in many review industries: “a lot of people will review something after a day, without harming the item, so they can go ahead and return it from where it came and get their money back… they need the money back, it’s expensive, and they need a lot of content to publish on a frequent basis.”

Another concerning trend — 80% more people are tapping their 401(k) accounts than pre-Covid. This, plus record credit card balances, and an unexpected US inflation rise to 3.2% last month, are problematic. What are all the catalysts? This is feeling like the subprime mortgage crisis all over again.

Truly epic and inspiring achievement from Cole Brauer, the first woman to race non-stop (and complete the entire thing) around the world solo.

Casual, introspective interview with The Zone of Interest’s director, Jonathan Glazers, who I only just now realized has put out four full films during his career. Basically: “cinema should be a radical political space in this day and age.”

Quoted screenshot: "To me, cinema should be a radical political space in this day and age. That's the cinema I'm interested in.&10;Be as bold as you can possibly be, as radical as you can be, be as political as you can be. That's the opportunity. You've got 200 people in the room, you've got their attention for two hours.&10;What are you going to say? Because if you've got nothing to say, don't waste their time."

My favorite detail about the redesign is the share button at the bottom of each post is simply a shortcut action to copy the permalink. Chef’s kiss.

Nice piece on the Criterion Collection. I like the details on their approach to streaming:

Criterion made a conscious decision … to use the architecture of streaming technology differently from the way others have. Instead of an algorithm, viewers are guided to what they might want to watch through careful human curation

You could have guessed this would happen… “Ghost Kitchens Are Advertising AI-Generated Food on DoorDash and Grubhub”. Via 404 Media.

image of a steak sandwich with dripping cheese, created by DALLE-3 (AI)

Didn’t realize the Honeycrisp apple was such a delicately engineered fruit that many thought was prone to long-term economic failure:

Honeycrisps are an expensive apple to produce because they bruise easily and unlike most varieties, they require two hands to pick, which drives up labor costs.

Axios has a good local write-up on the Minneosta-architected apple today.