You probably didn’t notice that I removed my blogroll recently. That’s not becuase I’m no longer reading other sites, but rather because I follow so many sites and my interest shifts so often that it seemed silly to call out a subset for special note.
But there’s one site that rises above the rest. Maciej Cegłowski’s Idle Words is this site. Ceglowski is a polymath polyglot and one hell of a writer. He seems partially powered by wanderlust, a tendency that gives his posts a rewarding freshness. Here are some excerpts.
Mooncakes, of course, are the exact cultural analogue of the American Christmas fruitcake, that venerable Christmas pastry of astonishing density that brings people together by uniting the giver and receiver in a shared reluctance to eat it. The Chinese have not yet advanced as far as those intrepid Americans who store a received fruitcake for a year before re-gifting it to another victim, but there are promising signs that the failure to let mooncakes overwinter may just be a function of limited apartment storage space, solvable by applying economies of scale.
On flying from North America to Asia:
If you are a package of avionics software, the North Pole is a stressful place. Depending on how close by you pass, longitude and bearing can change extremely quickly (or converge into an unlucky singularity) and most autopilots throw up their hands and enforce a special wings-level lockout flight mode within a few miles of the pole, to keep from spiraling around it like a housefly circling a light bulb.
NASA dismisses such helpful suggetions as unworthy of its mission of ‘exploration’, likening critics of manned space flight to those Europeans in the 1500’s who would have cancelled the great voyages of discovery rather than face the loss of one more ship.
Of course, the great explorers of the 1500’s did not sail endlessly back and forth a hundred miles off the coast of Portugal, nor did they construct a massive artificial island they could repair to if their boat sprang a leak. And we must remember that space is called space for a reason – there is nothing in it, at least not where the Shuttle goes, save for a few fast-moving pieces of junk from the last few times we went up there, forty years ago. The interesting bits in space are all much further away, and we have not paid them a visit since 1972.
We’re at 115th street, and the crowd has thinned considerably. My legs are much more tired than I expected, and getting stiff – I stop at a water stand, and walk a block before running again. The next five miles will be walk-and-run, trying not to let my legs seize up like they crave to do. A man with a big synthesizer is playing some easy listening jazz number. I resist the urge to trample him (must conserve energy). Who the f*** plays elevator music to motivate tired runners?
Do yourself a favor and visit the site. Ceglowski is proof that blogging doesn’t have to be quick and daily to be satisfying.