If you’re not reading waitbutwhy.com then you really should be. Funny and informative and loads of stuff about Elon Musk and his plans to save humanity. Highly recommended
This is a great blog on horrible American houses. Entertaining and very informative on the architectural reasons why something looks terrible.
This is a fantastic BBQ site run by a guy called Meathead Goldwyn. It describes itself as being “all about the science of barbecue, grilling and outdoor cooking”. The fact that it separates barbecue from grilling tells you something already, and then he goes further to differentiate outdoor cooking as well.
The real appeal to me about this site though is the rigorous application of the scientific method to BBQ. Meathead is not afraid to show you graphs of pork temperatures, and will test methods and tell you which works best. eg searing steaks first, vs his reverse sear method – contrary to popular belief, searing does not seal in juices and is best done at the end of cooking.
In the US, barbecue is a competitive activity and this site is a perfect example of the sharpening focus of competition. The food is always going to taste good, but when you are competing you have that impetus to go further and really understand how to make it even better. Meathead reports back on the knowledge gained for competition, so that you can make much better barbecue at home. In particular buying a digital themometer will make a big difference to your cooking and the namesake amazing ribs are truly amazing.
The site is very US focused which makes things more difficult for someone in the UK who does not have access to 4 different cuts of ribs, but there is loads of good stuff here. You will however end up feeling pretty superior to anyone who suggests boiling ribs first, or cooking them in the oven for 30 min before finishing on the barbecue. Ribs take 4 hours, there are no shortcuts.
This recommendation is an antidote to the reductive good vs bad approach to news reporting and culture generally. Adam Curtis is an incredible documentary maker who has made a number of fantastic documentaries for the BBC such as The Century of the Self and All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace .
His documentaries make extensive use of archive footage which is then weaved together into a coherent story. On his blog he continues this approach but working in both text and video and for a more committed audience he is able to go into more detail on items for which there is not video, and also show videos which perhaps wouldn’t make it into a TV documentary.
The result is a fascinating series of long-form articles which go deep into particular stories. The series on Afghanistan and Congo are absolutely engrossing. I really like the contrast you get from looking at old news reports of an event, and comparing to current reporting: it’s a great reminder of the limitations of the media and that we are always looking at events through a narrow, blurred lens.
Separate to the quality of his articles, I have great sympathy with the world view he expresses and his dismay with the cult of TINA or (There Is No Alternative). I don’t believe that how we organise our society is optimal (no matter what you are optimising for) but we seemed to have stopped looking for alternatives and accepted as fundamental the primacy of the market. There must be alternatives, given the failings of our current system. Opposition parties need to be providing big ideas to deal with severe and rapid changes that are occuring, not proposing to do more of what they did last time they were in power.
The link is below, I highly recommend spending some quality time there:
This post is going to start with a fairly long digression, please go with it and I promise we’ll get to the point eventually.
The first car I owned for a significant period of time was a 1985 Mark II VW Golf. It had a 1.3 litre engine and cost £350. I owned it for 3 or 4 years and then sold it for £350. Maybe everyone loves their first car and the freedom it provides, memories of driving it to 18th birthday parties sleeping in the front and then driving home. I did get to know the lady from Green Flash pretty well and I do remember spending not small amounts of time on the side of the road with it, but there were 2 characteristics of this car that made me prefer it to cars I’ve driven since:
- I was a better driver than the car was a car – I could drive with my foot fully down on roads I knew. After the Golf I drove a Ford Probe in which putting your foot down had you making very rapid progress. Maybe I’m just not a very good driver but I didn’t find it as fun having to be very careful with the accelerator
- Stuff that went wrong with it was pretty straightforward to diagnose, understand and fix being purely mechanical.
So while working in a tech company and appreciating progress and innovation, I have a lot of sympathy with www.lowtechmagazine.com and the view that not every problem with a high tech solution.
Not all innovation is progress. A great example of this is the TV industry where you see companies fervently trying to sell new, more useless innovations and features. 3D TVs are a great example, that Philips one which glowed around the edge, the new curved ones which look ridiculous etc.
These people are having loads of fun:
Low Tech Magazine publishes a limited range of long-form articles examining how older technologies may still enrich our lives today. Favourites of the magazine are trolleybuses and cargo bicycles. A post I particularly enjoyed was on living in the solar envelope – how town planners of old understood how to make their built environment most comfortable for all. The example of Barcelona as planned and then how that plan is being destroyed by a desire for greater density is very interesting.
The sister site No Tech Magazine is also good and updates more regularly, but Low Tech Magazine is the one to start with.
If you have any interest at all in the media industry, or technology, or startups or the world around us and the people in it then you should subscribe to this newsletter. Every day it provides a list of interesting longer form articles on a variety of topics from publishers including:
- The Guardian
- Pando Daily
- The Atlantic
- The Verge
Also, if you’re in the UK timezone then it’s currently arriving around 12.30 so perfect for something to read over lunch.
The website is www.mediaredefined.com but just go on there to subscribe to the newsletter.
He has another one, FashionREDEF which is also good but I’m not as interested in fashion so don’t tend to read that many articles from it. Also I’ve usually spent a fair amount of time reading the MediaREDEF articles first so can’t commit the same time to FashionREDEF.
Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools site is one of the inspirations behind this site. It is updated daily with recommendations of tools which are the best for their particular job. A lot of the time these tools are for jobs that I have no intention of doing but it is still interesting to read about what makes a particular tool the best of its kind, and also about what jobs people do with these tools. It’s pretty US focused but I have got some great ideas from here.
The book is even better but the website is where I started.
Update: There are a lot of reviews and suggestions of coffee paraphernalia on this site, the comments of which often lead to pretty heated arguments