Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.
Not sure how I missed this news until now.
Back in August, Phil “Bad Astronomer” Plait wrote for Slate about the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) discovery of an Earth-mass world in orbit around Proxima Centauri, a red swarf that happens to be the closest star to our sun (4.25 light-years away, compared to the Alpha Centauri binary star system’s 4.37):
The planet, called Proxima Centauri b or just Proxima b […] orbits Proxima every 11.2 days. It has a mass of no less than 1.3 times the Earth’s, so if it’s rock and metal like Earth it’s only a bit bigger. It’s a mere 7.3 million kilometers from the star—a lot closer than Earth’s distance from the Sun of 150 million kilometers!—but Proxima is so faint and cool it receives about two-thirds the amount of light and heat the Earth does. That means that it’s in Proxima’s habitable zone: It’s possible (more or less) that liquid water could exist on its surface.
Mind you, we know nothing of its composition, or even its size. It may be completely uninhabitable, or it might be Eden. There’s no way to know. So be cautious here: It’s likely to be Earth-size, but we don’t know if it’s Earth-like.
The ESO put together this 6-minute video about how the discovery was made:
So, so cool.
You read that right: Casey’s not going to be doing his surprisingly well-produced daily vlog anymore. In this final video, he explains how his success and the “formula” of the vlog have both led to a sort of easy complacency, which has been keeping him from taking the kinds of creative career risks he so craves.
I’m sad about the vlog ending, but looking forward to whatever he does next. He says he’ll still be posting to the channel often, at least.
For the past few years, the makers of the Cards Against Humanity game have put on an annual “Holiday Bulls**t” promotion, where you’d typically pay to receive mystery daily gifts over the course of about a week. It’s been a big enough deal that a dedicated subreddit was created for it.
This year, they decided to do something different. It’s called the “Holiday Hole”, and basically they’re digging a big hole in the ground until they run out of donations. Seriously, that’s it. They’re digging a hole, and you’re paying for it.
The amount of digging time increases based on how much money you donate (though the seconds-per-money ratio seems to be going down as more money comes in), and you can watch the live stream of the hole being dug as donations scroll along the bottom:
This whole thing is hilarious to me. As I write this, the highest donation is $1,001 and the “dig time remaining” clock has about 33 hours on it. What a time to be alive.
Paul Jarvis is part of a BCC list run by his local farm, which gets sent out every Friday to only a handful of people in the area. It’s also the best thing he gets in his inbox each week:
I love this newsletter so freaking much.
It’s an example of perfection in email marketing. The woman who writes it isn’t a best-selling author, isn’t a marketer, and probably spends very little time online because she’s busy being a full-time farmer. But still, even though writing newsletters isn’t her “job” she makes sure it happens consistently every week—even though the list consists of only 20 people.
So you see, cultivating an eager mailing list and a captive audience isn’t all about software, funnels, fancy tips and tricks. It’s about sending interesting and useful content to the people that need it, with consistency. You don’t have to wait until your audience is massive, or until you have something to sell. You just have to engage with people in a way that benefits both you and them, with a little bit of your personal flare.
I kinda want to be on that BCC list.
But there a few reasons why I’m sad about the decline of independent blogging, and why I think they’re still worth fighting for.
Ultimately, it comes down to two things: ownership and control.
Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure, breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.
Now that DF has achieved a modicum of popularity, however, what I tend to get instead aren’t queries or complaints about the lack of comments, but rather demands that I add them — demands from entitled people who see that I’ve built something very nice that draws much attention, and who believe they have a right to share in it.
For this video, Wired brought in dialect coach Erik Singer to analyze the accents of some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Fascinating to see which ones are truly accurate.
Singer offers some good insight at the end:
Look, this stuff isn’t easy. Good or bad, these actors all took some serious risks, for an hour[‘s] entertainment.
Big asterisk here: When an accent doesn’t go right, it’s usually not the actor’s fault. It’s usually a combination of actor, coach, and production, and often is about not having enough time to prepare before shooting starts.
If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that accent is a crucial layer of storytelling.
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.