Happy New Year! Welcome to the first edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column for 2017 🎉
Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.
For the eighth and final time, chief White House photographer Pete Souza has shared a collection of his favorite photos he and his team captured in 2016. Most of them have great stories attached, like this one:
Dec. 16, 2016 — When I first posted this photograph and told the story about the prank in moving four snowmen so they were peeking into the Oval Office, some took this to mean that I had been the one to execute the prank. But it was not me, and as I previously wrote, the staff that pulled this off will remain nameless, unless Brian decides he wants to come forward with saying who helped him. Whoops.
Seth Godin on fighting back against anti-intellectualism and the dumbing-down of our media:
The economics seem to be that the only way to make a living is to reach a lot of people and the only way to reach a lot of people is to race to the bottom, seek out quick clicks, make it easy to swallow, reinforce existing beliefs, keep it short, make it sort of fun, or prurient, or urgent, and most of all, dumb it down.
Turn the ratchet. We can lead our way back to curiosity, inquiry and discovery if we (just a few for now) measure the right things and refuse the easy option in favor of insisting on better.
My friend Patrick Rhone said it best:, “Seth Godin is bringing the fire with this post.”
I recently discovered Top Gear alum James May’s BBC series, The Reassembler.
The premise is that he takes the disassembled parts of some household design classic — whether it’s a classic train set (which is the video above), an electric guitar, an old lawnmower, or a food mixer — and tries to put them back together into their original (and hopefully functional) selves, without missing a single screw, in whatever amount of time it takes. Along the way, he tells funny stories and shares random bits of useful information about whatever he’s working on.
This is perfect “slow” TV, and it’s just delightful to watch. I find it very relaxing.
- Note: None of the YouTube clips I’ve linked here were officially uploaded by James May or BBC, so they could disappear at any time. Some of them don’t even play through to the ends of their respective episodes, which is mildly irritating but they’re worth watching nonetheless.
Angus Hervey of Future Crunch offers this collection of uplifting news stories from 2016 to combat the “If it bleeds, it leads” tide of depressing information that dominates our modern lives. Here are several of my favorites:
20. Harvard scientists created a new platform for antibiotic discovery that may help solve the crisis of antibiotic resistance. GEN
27. World hunger reached its lowest point in 25 years. New York Times
43. Global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels did not grow at all in 2016. It’s the third year in a row emissions have flatlined. Scientific American
54. In October, the International Energy Agency reported that half a million solar panels were installed each day around the world in 2015. It also drastically increased its five year growth forecast for renewables. IEA
62. In April, a new report revealed that for the first time ever, the death penalty has become illegal in more than half of the world’s countries. Amnesty International (← I changed this link to be from the original source rather than The Christian Science Monitor. —Chris)
67. Good science and simple economics have started a reversal in overfishing in the United States. New York Times
89. In September, giant pandas became the latest species to be taken off the endangered list. Guardian
The video above is just about movie-quality footage, almost like something out of Lord of the Rings — or for you Disney World fans, the Soarin’ ride in Epcot — except that it was made with $700 of custom drone equipment rather than a helicopter and a Hollywood budget.
And here’s what he saw in his video goggles while flying the drone:
I love these wallpapers, which Apple had commissioned for the Chinese New Year later this month:
Discover and enjoy new interpretations of traditional Chinese New Year Nianhua folk art. Using Apple products with various apps, five young Chinese artists reinvent classic motifs to deliver new year blessings with a contemporary twist.
Each wallpaper has a short description and artist bio, but what’s even neater is that they listed which Apple devices and 3rd-party apps were used in the making of each one.
In Japanese culture, people have a lot of appreciation towards nature and it is very important to be polite towards others. That politeness and the nature appreciation reflected on to its language and created some beautiful words that are not translatable to English.
I already knew some of these words, but a few were new to me, like yūgen (which Marie spells as “yuugen”):
“Yuugen” is an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses that are too mysterious and deep for words.
On his Just Think of It blog, David R. Woolley describes yūgen thus:
When I wake up early enough to see the sunrise, if I keep still and watch for a few minutes I can actually perceive the movement. At these times I become vibrantly aware that I am here, standing at this particular spot on the surface of this particular world; and this world is turning, turning, turning this part of its face toward the star we call the sun, 93 million miles away. And half of this world is at this moment experiencing this very same sun along with me, while the other half is in darkness.
These are my moments of yūgen.
Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.