Battery life, Kenny G, meta-design, the Iron Curtain green belt, experiments in parenting

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1. Phone battery life should be longer. Battery innovation is hard, though, so maybe phones should be thicker.

"Take the latest iPhone. Let’s do a thought experiment, starting with what has changed between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 6. In four years, Apple’s engineers made the iPhone 2.4 millimeters (0.094 inches) thinner, or about the thickness of three credit cards. Despite giving it a much larger screen, they also shaved off eight grams, or about the weight of a packet of ketchup. Given the size of its current battery, a little back-of-the-envelope math reveals it’s more than reasonable that if the iPhone 6 were as thick as the iPhone 4, the iPhone 6 could have double its current battery life."

2. A shockingly deep essay about Kenny G and listening and a world that "is always selling us an idea of itself."


"I had a friend in college who was from the Connecticut suburbs. We’d often drive to his mom’s lavish home on weekends and hang out in the jacuzzi. During one such outing, he signaled toward the tree line at the edge of the property and pointed out to me that Kenny G lived there. Not knowing a lot about Kenny G, other than what he looked like and his maligned reputation as an easy-listening saxophonist, I sat there imagining this man, 100 yards away from me in the still of the night, having some kind of super-weird Bergman-esque domestic meltdown, leading to him on his back deck indulging in some kind of improvisatory saxophone ritual. Pat Metheny notoriously ripped on Kenny G in a diatribe about how he’s not real jazz, but on this night Kenny G would have channeled Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage via competing layers of multiphonic skronk, juxtaposed with a tenderness far beyond even Metheny’s lyrical cooing. I scanned Kenny G’s Brazilian Nights for messages that would help me make sense of that night in Connecticut. Besides the title of the second track, 'Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars),' there is really nothing to go on."

3. On meta-design.

"So what is meta-design? In a traditional design practice, the designer works directly on a design product. Be it a logo, website, or a set of posters, the designer is the instrument to produce the final artifact. A meta-designer works to distill this instrumentation into a design system, often written in software, that can create the final artifact. Instead of drawing it manually, she is programming the system to draw it. These systems can then be used within different contexts to generate a range of design products without much effort."

4. The story of turning the Iron Curtain into a green belt.

"Twenty-five years earlier, in 1989, the man in front of me had hatched a plan to transform the former no-man’s land that separated Western Europe from the Eastern Bloc into an eco-corridor running through the heart of Europe. It was a preposterous idea. The Iron Curtain had been just that—a series of steel-reinforced barriers. Electrified fences, razor wire, land mines, trip lines, and machine guns: If it could stop, maim, or kill you, the Soviets put it there. Not exactly 'eco.' What’s more, the corridor would bisect one of the most heavily settled and fully domesticated continents on earth. Central Europe’s ecosystems have been so thoroughly reduced that locals don’t even bother hanging window screens."


5. Parenting, the great uncontrolled experiment.

"Daytime temperatures this winter in Stockholm have regularly dropped to -5C (23F) but it's still common to see children left outside by their parents for a sleep in the pram. Wander through the snowy city and you'll see buggies lined up outside coffee shops while parents sip on lattes inside. And if you are visiting friends and your child needs a nap, you may be offered the garden or balcony instead of a bedroom. 'I think it's good for them to be in the fresh air as soon as possible,' says Lisa Mardon, a mother-of-three from Stockholm, who works for a food distribution company."


On Fusion: I riff on why I think YouTube is a defining cultural achievement of our times. Let's just hope that Google keeps it around. (Some people have well-founded doubts because Google isn't in the forever business.)

Today's 1957 American English Language Tip

diarchy. Government by two rulers. Diarchy is to monarchy as dioxide & disyllable are to monoxide, monosyllable, & other mono words. For the government in the Indian provinces from 1919 to 1937, Webster gives dyarchy('of less etym. authority' — OED)


The Credits:  1. 2. / @GODMODEINTERNET 3. 4. / @edyong209 5. / @tedherman

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