Friday Diversions: June 3

Random, unrelated miscellany, gathered in short list form:

As someone who is dependent on Canada Post for much of my social correspondence, I'm very glad they are taking transformation seriously. I'm particularly heartened by their recognition that they need to shift from a letter-first business to a parcel-first business.

Robin Weis did an analysis of when she cries, how long she cries, and why she cries. The results are fascinating. (It's somewhat shameful to admit it, but I cry a lot. Even heartfelt television commercials make me tear up.)

Remember that epic Wimbledon final between Nadal and Federer that lasted hours? I wasn't at the match, but was in London, watching it all go down with a crowd of tennis fans. I can't imagine the sport without those two giants playing in it, but we're soon going to have to face that reality.

My dear friend, Iris, gets married this evening. We're on our way to Toronto right now to celebrate with her. If you get the chance, send her your congratulations!

Don't judge a book by its cover? Well, because of the need to stand out in digital form, many new books are being designed with bold, yellow covers.

Being married to a doctor, I often hear about strange cases that are hard to diagnose. This essay by a woman whose daughter was sick and the whole medical establishment couldn't quite figure it out was harrowing and enlightening.

When we go out to eat, we're often swayed by the provenance of the ingredients. This investigative report on how "local" doesn't always mean local has made me think twice about what I read on a menu. (The article was well-deserving of a Pulitzer.)

The always amazing Zeynep Tufecki has a great piece in the NYTimes about algorithms and how they are inherently biased—people write algorithms, and as such, nothing is free from bias.

"A Polaroid, Buse argues, “like any photographic image, has a complex and vexed relation to memory and the past; but its memorializing capacities are arguably not its main attraction three minutes after it has been made.” Returning to the point, he proposes that “the act of photographing is just as important as, if not more important than, the resulting photograph…. in the process of its making there is an element of duration, a live moment.”"

The world of ice cream trucks in New York is cutthroat, violent, and dangerous. Someone needs to make a serialized television show about the ice cream truck underworld.

Yes, yes, yes: "Rather than continuing to try to maintain our content factory, whose real business is selling eyeballs by the ton, imagine instead if news were a service whose aim is to help people improve their lives and communities by connecting them not only to information, but also to each other, with a commercial model built on value over volume. Imagine if news understood its role not as a vertically integrated industry that owns and controls a scarcity — the printing press, the broadcast tower, delivery trucks, the audience, space or time in media, and lately attention — but rather as a member of the community it serves and as a player in a larger, complex ecosystem of information, data, technology, and relationships. Imagine all the ways that technology enables us to realize our true mission of informing communities, far beyond what we could do with our old, one-way, one-size-fits-all mass media of print and broadcast."

As a housewarming gift, we were given a strawberry plant; it has become my duty to make sure that the plant survives the summer, and I have been obsessed with checking in on it every single day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pomological Watercolor Collection has some gorgeous illustrations from the early 20th century of strawberries that look, hopefully, just like our berries from our plant. Fingers crossed. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pomological Watercolor Collection

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pomological Watercolor Collection

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pomological Watercolor Collection

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pomological Watercolor Collection

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pomological Watercolor Collection

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pomological Watercolor Collection

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pomological Watercolor Collection

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pomological Watercolor Collection