Category Archives: philosophy

Music Is the Breath of Life

Washington Avenue Pier

Music is the sound of consciousness breathing.

Like a runner out of breath or a contentedly sleeping child, the music emanating from Earth is the whistling sound of life.

Breathe in: babies are born, bees pollinate, cities grow, birds migrate, farms prosper, a new species is discovered!

Breathe out: clashes of might and power strike individuals to the ground, forests are destroyed, vehicles spout poison, people die.

Tragedy or bliss, the music plays on.

iPhone 5s vs Galaxy S5: Why I Lasted 5 Days on Android (and You Should Too)


After six years with various iPhones, I lasted all of five days trying out my first Android smartphone. But I’m not mad about the $50 restocking fee I had to give the AT&T store to give the Galaxy S5 back. It was a worthy experiment that made me realize what I do like about iOS and what I want out of a phone in general, plus helped me break some less than stellar habits. Here’s what I learned.

1) I want my text messages pushed to me.

I’m not a big fan of push notifications — I have pretty much all of them turned off — but I rely on push for accessing texts quickly and easily. It’s something that defines the medium (for me, but obviously not for everyone). I used to get miffed/mystified when my Android-using husband didn’t get my texts right away, but now I know why. Continue reading

It’s Alright to Die

If someone dies and you want to tweet about it, go for it. You’re doing them a favor.


Last week, New York Observer editor Peter Kaplan died. I didn’t know him, I didn’t even know of him, by name. But I felt like I should’ve.

While I was sad to hear of a brilliant man’s relatively early death (he was 59), I was grateful for the flood of tweets memorializing him. Peter Kaplan was a person worth remembering, but also a person worth discovering.

These days, even minor celebrities’ fame explodes when they die. Instead of dismissing the surge as a symptom of pop-culture obsession, consider it an opportunity to learn about one more human and extend whatever impression they made on the world just a little bit further. Continue reading


When I really want to remember something, I write it down where it could disappear at any moment.

An unsaved, unnamed notepad document, open on my screen. Its analog equivalent might be a scribble on a piece of tissue so light it could be blown away by the slightest window breeze. Continue reading

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee with an AeroPress

“Something no more miraculous than a cup of coffee is enough transcendence for one day.”
My Dinner with André

I’ve written before about the AeroPress as the pinnacle coffee-making method. One of its best features is how amazingly easy it is to use, but it can seem daunting at first. All the specifics—how much water to use, how to grind, how and when to pour and press—are left to personal choice.

As a starting point, I present below a step-by-step guide to my brewing process (which I act out every single morning). Tweak the measurements to your taste to create the best cups of coffee you’ve ever had.

Continue reading

In Defense of Likes and Faves: Doodling in the Margins

What does it mean to like or favorite something on the internet today?

The Backstory

The above is a riff on a line from Robin Sloan’s recent coup d’app, Fish. His tap essay explores the difference between liking something online and actually loving something online. Robin posits that in the overwhelming stream of great posts, articles, pics and videos, something we love on the internet is something come back to, something we read or visit at least twice. Fish is a beautiful essay with a strong point; it’s innovative, well-designed and touching, and I am a big fan.

However, I don’t quite agree with the disparagement of liking, faving (and even +1-ing) that helps form the essay’s underlying thesis. According to Sloan, when you deign to spend a click on one of these actions, (emphasis his):

“You’re saying to your friends or followers: This is worth your time. (But me, I’m on to the next thing.)”

Continue reading

Greatest Universe Ever Sold

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (presented by Pom Wonderful) is proof that we have beaten bin Laden. Or at least, provides hope for the future of the American way. Morgan Spurlock (who you might remember from fast-food takedown Super Size Me) faces commercialization and product placement head on, and in exposing it, finds positives. He finds sponsors that understand where he’s going with the film and are fully behind the idea. They’re in on the joke, and that‘s a great selling point. It’s also good for the consumer.

Greatest Movie examines the effects of self-awareness on advertising, and finds the two are not mutually exclusive. This is a good thing. Advertising is not going to disappear any time soon; it has become part of our global culture. And even if it could, would we really want it to? Marketing and advertising are effective methods of disseminating information. What we don’t need is false advertising. The more enlightened companies are – in terms of what goes into making their products and what their customers are looking for – the more progress we can make as a society.

One of the major goals of humanity – of existence, in general – should be to become more self-aware. To explore the boundaries of awareness, as beings in this universe (as part of this universe). How much can we realize about the “now,” the present? How far does our perception extend, and what factors are influencing it, in real time? Continue reading

It’s a Longshot

A group of media folk will coalesce over New York City this weekend, landing in borrowed Manhattan offices for an intense, caffeine-fueled 48-hour session. For a full day, they’ll reach into the bottomless magician’s top hat that is the internet and tease forth original articles, stories, photographs, visualizations and videos from creative people around the world. After a frenzied period of sorting, editing, designing and coding, they will birth a magazine. And you can take part.

It’s the third go-round for Longshot Magazine (née 48 Hour Magazine), which launched in 2010 as the brainchild of Sarah RichMat Honan and Alexis Madrigal. If you follow these folks at all, or read their writing, you’ll recognize them as some of the brightest minds – and coolest personas – of the online community. It’s no wonder they garner over a thousand submissions for each call, even though contributors only have 24 hours to produce once the issue’s theme is announced.

It’s not an easy gig to score, with many nationally known contributors vying for a page, and when you look at the ratio of published vs. total submissions (last time it was near 50/1000), it’s hard not to appreciate the magazine’s new title. Formulating a good piece takes time, and the effort can feel futile and frustrating if it doesn’t emerge triumphant through the narrow selection process. But, that’s not at all the case if – as David Lang poignantly points out – the process is the best part. Groups of like-minded, smart people, working as teams, in conjunction with worldwide social networks, in real time, around a common theme? Sounds like an exercise society should be praticing as early and often as possible.

Added incentive to contend for placement: this time, Longshot set up a (very successful) Kickstarter campaign, and will actually be paying contributors. They’ve also just put out the carrot of a $2,000 windfall (“That’s rent money!”) for the author of a longform cover story – enough to get anyone’s mental motor revving.

We want to meet the other people here who are inspired by this project, so we’re setting up a Longshot satellite office  this weekend at Independents Hall, thanks to the generosity of the patron saint of coworking, Alex Hillman. While we won’t be riding on a sleep-deprived high like the good peeps in New York (though Gawker’s offices are probably riddled with champagne-spewing Jacuzzis, who are we kidding), we will be holding down a corner of IndyHall at the time of the theme announcement on 3 PM (EDT) Friday (and will be there until around 6 or 7 PM), and will be around again all day on Saturday, from 9 AM to 6 PM or later. We may or may not get our works published, but we will have fun doing it.

If you’re reading this, and you want to submit or get involved, you’re already ahead. Hit me up on G+ or email me to get in the loop (I see G+ as key; we can take advantage of the real-time communication tools to make this into a whole new kind of collab).

And, some last minute pre-gaming:

1/ Forbes scored some good tips from Sarah on what is likely to get play [last paragraph]:

“We’ve found a lot of good submissions are either direct reporting that’s been conducted during the 24-hour submission period (someone goes out into their city and explores and the reports on something), or some kind of investigation that draws on history or pop culture or news. We’ve had great photo essay submissions, excellent historical narratives. The things that tend to be weakest are the deeply personal, diary-style essays that lack a contextual framework for general interest.”

2/ The Moodbook has clues about what this year’s theme will be, give it a spin.