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Irrational Attraction

I’m not a hunter or a hiker. I don’t ski. I run on roads, not in the woods. But I’m crazy about outdoor gear – the jackets, the clothes, the shoes, the little camp stoves, the insanely-packable tents and chairs, utility knives. I just want to buy it all.


AI Song Mastering

Landr, a website that uses AI to master songs, can now master music in multiple sonic styles. The new options allow musicians who use Landr’s AI to have their songs polished in a variety of different sonic styles. Before, it was a one-size-fits-all approach.

Subscribers to Landr can now pick between three different types of mastering sounds. “Warm” is described as having vintage warmth and being thick and smooth; “Balanced” has a focus on balance, clarity, and depth; and “Open” is more modern, with attention to making the audio more punchy and present.

Offering different styles should make the service appeal to a wider variety of musicians, as different genres require different mastering approaches. What might work for a bass-heavy dance song, for example, might be completely wrong for an acoustic singer-songwriter track. Also, outside of genres, musicians simply might have personal preferences about whether they like a brighter sound or something fatter and bass-heavy.

ATCQ had this working 26 years ago.

A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders 01 (Intro)

Soundproof the World

A team of Boston University researchers recently stuck a loudspeaker into one end of a PVC pipe. They cranked it up loud. What did they hear? Nothing.

How was this possible? Did they block the other end of the pipe with noise canceling foams or a chunk of concrete? No, nothing of the sort. The pipe was actually left open save for a small, 3D-printed ring placed around the rim. That ring cut 94% of the sound blasting from the speaker, enough to make it inaudible to the human ear.

Finally, a way to silence all those noisy tubes I’m surrounded by.


I’m not seeing any.

I noted that if you wear designer glasses, there’s a very good chance you’re wearing Luxottica frames.

The company’s owned and licensed brands include Armani, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Persol, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Valentino, Vogue and Versace.

Along with LensCrafters, Luxottica also runs Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut and Target Optical, as well as the insurer EyeMed Vision Care.

And Italy’s Luxottica now casts an even longer shadow over the eyewear industry after merging last fall with France’s Essilor, the world’s leading maker of prescription eyeglass lenses and contact lenses. The combined entity is called EssilorLuxottica.

Everything, it turns out, affects everything.

If a group of time-traveling economists were to visit from the year 2000 and wanted to know how the economy had changed since their time, what would you tell them?

You might mention that economic growth has been slower than it used to be across much of the advanced world, and global inflation and interest rates have been lower. An aging population is changing the demographics of the work force. Productivity growth has been weak. Inequality has risen. And the corporate world is more and more dominated by a handful of “superstar” firms.

The time-traveling economists would find that list rather depressing, but also would tend to view each problem on the list as discrete, with its own cause and potential solutions. “What terrible economic luck,” they might say, “that all those things happened at the same time.”

But what if those megatrends are all the same problem?

Maybe, for example, inequality is contributing to weak growth and low rates because the rich tend to save money rather than spend it. Maybe productivity has been weak not by coincidence, but because weak growth has meant companies haven’t been forced to innovate to meet demand. Perhaps industry concentration has left companies with more power to set wages, resulting in more inequality and lower inflation.

Those theories may not be definitively proven, but there is growing evidence supporting each. Much of the most interesting economic research these days is trying to understand and prove potential connections between these dysfunctions.

Stalin’s Granddaughter

She’s got her dedushka’s eyes — but this gun-toting, punk-rocking gal is as American as apple pie, although she does love to cook borscht. Tattooed Chrese Evans, 44, of Portland, Oregon — a Buddhist who runs an antique shop — is far removed from her notorious grandfather, Joseph Stalin, the former Soviet Union’s ruthless “man of steel.”


Star Wars Land

This sounds so cool.

This “waiting area” just happens to be the main section of the Millennium Falcon, expertly crafted like it was in the movies. Dejarik table, computers, all of it is there for fans to interact with and explore as they wait for their chance to fly the Falcon. Finally, your boarding group is called and everyone goes into the cockpit.

There are several amazing things about this cockpit. One is that it feels like it’s the only cockpit. (Obviously, it’s not. If it was, it would be a very long wait.) We think there’s some kind of mechanism inside rotating the rooms from one hallway entry point but how Disney achieved that effect, they specifically would not say. Either way, it’s cool.

The other amazing thing about the cockpit is that being inside it is damn near a religious experience.

Every button and switch works. The handle you pull down for lightspeed has a nice weight to it. You’ll probably have to divert power to specific deflector shields. It’s glorious. But, like I said, there are six of you, and the way the ride works is two people are pilots, two people are gunners and two people are engineers. Pilots fly, gunners shoot, and engineers repair. And while it may seem like you’d really only want to be a pilot, working together ensures a more exciting ride and the ride’s designers assured us all three stations are equally fun and rewarding. (Then again, just touching the controls as a pilot gave me chills up and down my arms.)

Take my money, please.