Welcome to this week’s edition of our 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.
📷🤯: It has come to my attention that MIT engineers have created a camera lens material that can focus with zero moving parts???
The lens is made not of solid glass but of a transparent “phase-changing” material that, after heating, can rearrange its atomic structure and thereby change the way the material interacts with light.
The researchers etched the material’s surface with tiny, precisely patterned structures that work together as a “metasurface” to refract or reflect light in unique ways. As the material’s property changes, the optical function of the metasurface varies accordingly. In this case, when the material is at room temperature, the metasurface focuses light to generate a sharp image of an object at a certain distance away. After the material is heated, its atomic structure changes, and in response, the metasurface redirects light to focus on a more distant object.
The researchers say that a metalens could be potentially fabricated with integrated microheaters to quickly heat the material with short millisecond pulses. By varying the heating conditions, they can also tune to other material’s intermediate states, enabling continuous focal tuning.
This is pure sci-fi stuff right here.
🎭: Astounded at the intricate level of detail in Patrick Cabral’s paper masks. His Instagram page is something to behold as well.
⌚️: Here’s a pretty cool tutorial by web designer/developer Lachlan Campbell for using Toolbox Pro for Apple Shortcuts (plus a JSON viewer/editor called Jayson) to export your Apple Watch data and render it as fitness rings on a website.
🦾🤖: For this nerd who grew up on ’90s anime, this love letter to Japanese mecha animations — created by directors/designers Ash Thorp and Maciej Kuciara, motion designer/animator Alasdair Willson, and composer AEPH — just hits the spot in ways I can’t describe:
I could watch that all day, man.
According to an Instagram post by AEPH, the video was commissioned by YouTube design lead Jason São Bento, and there will apparently soon be a full 10-minute countdown version available for people doing YouTube Premieres.
🏖🏠: I don’t typically like to spend much time contemplating the mansions of celebrities. They usually just make me mad with their terrible, gaudy excess. But Jason Statham’s beach house in Malibu is (almost) everything I want: minimal yet tasteful. A bit more color wouldn’t hurt though 😁
💡🤔: This 2019 piece on ‘the art of decision-making’ by New Yorker ideas editor Joshua Rothman seems to be a few pieces in one, but mainly I’d call it a meditation on entering parenthood for the first time. Whatever you personally get out of it, it’s a great Sunday-morning-coffee read.
📖: Sumana Ray’s essay on the need to revise the postcolonial literature syllabus enlightened me about a phenomenon that I, a privileged American white man, have never noticed nor had to notice:
[A crowd of white writers, primarily male, squatting on syllabi for decades] had written about things that struck their fancy: elephants, women, mountains, wars, a cup of tea, a day in the life of an unremarkable person. The syllabus-makers had legitimized their wandering. It was all right, the white writer could write about anything.
The expectation of the non-white writer was different. They were to be spies and tourist guides for their cultures, burdened with satisfying the intellectual curiosity of the white world.
As Amit Chaudhuri wrote in his essay “I am Ramu,” published in n+1, “The important European novelist makes innovations in the form; the important Indian novelist writes about India. This is a generalization, and not one that I believe. But it represents an unexpressed attitude that governs some of the ways we think of literature today. … The American writer has succeeded the European writer. The rest of us write of where we come from.”
Think about your favorite novel by an overseas author, if you have one. Is it a tale you read for the sake of the story alone, no matter where it’s set or who it’s about, or do you feel it gives you a window into some far-flung culture and that this makes you more “worldly”? Something to think about.
🎸🎤🥁📺: As I mentioned in a June 2019 Quality Linkage column, I’m a diehard fan of The Dear Hunter and continually canNOT believe they don’t have the mainstream success they deserve. You can’t just make nine EPs full of songs themed on the color spectrum — which was done as a passion project between their main albums — and remain in obscurity… right?
Sigh. Anyway, they did a live recreation of the entire album/project, start to finish (it’s almost three hours long), and it’s as impressive as it sounds:
The sheer musicianship on display here is *chef’s kiss*.
+ If you want to dive further into the TDH catalog, I recently put together an Apple Music playlist of my absolute favorite tracks, spanning nearly five hours of playtime. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while and only now got around to. I think it says something that even the songs I excluded from this list are still good, if you happen to go looking for them.
Neat Stuff We’ve Published Recently
- This might be the softest hoodie you’ve ever worn. Seriously.
- Get the family together this weekend and have the cleanest food fight you’ll ever be part of with this Bob’s Burgers board game.
- An heirloom-quality carabiner for keeping your keys in a tidy row.
- A hip-hop opera set to the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack, created by Mega Ran and released by GameChops? Folks, nerdcore doesn’t get any better than this.
- A steel tongue drum like this is easy to play and meditative to hear.
- Claire Saffitz’ Dessert Person cookbook is a celebration of baking and pastry and all things sweet.
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.