Monday, 6 October 2014

Lobsters, political dresses, spy coffee, dressed-up dumpster living and doomed-to-fail lightbulbs

1. Consider the Lobster. This is a great article, first published 10 years ago, written by David Foster Wallace about a lobster festival in Maine - and about eating animals and tourism and all sorts of other things that Wallace could write about.

2. A political commercial comparing candidates to wedding dresses. I am very happy to sneer at the advert, but I also want to know if it works or not.

3. All about the Starbucks in the CIA headquarters. I think they need more branches: "Because the campus is a highly secured island, few people leave for coffee, and the lines, both in the morning and mid-afternoon, can stretch down the hallway. According to agency lore, one senior official, annoyed by the amount of time employees were wasting, was known to approach someone at the back of the line and whisper, “What have you done for your country today?”"

4. Living in a dumpster with a lot of bow ties. Judging by the diagrams showing the stages of development of his dumpster, with a balcony, outhouses, upper storeys and so on, the man will eventually reinvent the traditional house and then he will just be someone with more bow ties than most people. But perhaps I am being too negative.

5. There was a big lightbulb cartel that got together and made sure that lightbulbs have shorter lives. "The cartel took its business of shortening the lifetime of bulbs every bit as seriously as earlier researchers had approached their job of lengthening it. Each factory bound by the cartel agreement—and there were hundreds, including GE’s numerous licensees throughout the world—had to regularly send samples of its bulbs to a central testing laboratory in Switzerland. There, the bulbs were thoroughly vetted against cartel standards. If any factory submitted bulbs lasting longer or shorter than the regulated life span for its type, the factory was obliged to pay a fine." The writer wonders whether anything similar could happen for the new lightbulbs. I'm sure many people are divided between conspiracy and cock-up theories for the differences between advertised and actual lifespans for modern lightbulbs.

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