Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles good for slow consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.
Pilot Mark Vanhoenacker’s description of the invisible landmarks used to map the sky is two years old, but we plead special dispensation — this is the time of year when Seattle’s skies are gloriously clear and bright, and the entire city’s in a dream of summer. How can we resist an article by and about the lucky few who spend their days navigating those (almost) cloudless fields of blue?
Word lovers will particularly enjoy the conventions that name Sonoma’s waypoint SNUPY, honoring Charles M. Schulz and his pilot pup, and Hannibal’s TWAIN, among many other suprisingly quirky choices.
From a plane, even a wide modern road can look as slow and old-fashioned as an ancient bridleway. The plane slides like an eye over the page, like a finger across a map, over everything the road and the drivers on it must turn to avoid — towns, mountains, lakes — features so low they appear nearly smooth from above. Waypoints, though invisible, remind us that while pilots are not nearly as constrained by the sky as drivers are by roads, neither is our path always as free as it appears.
What if everything in the world were captured on camera, all the time, and one photographer pored through endless reels of film and pulled out the most evocative shots to share with the rest of us?
Jacqui Kenny more or less fits that description, and Andrea DenHoed’s profile includes a gorgeous selection of images from Kenny’s Instagram portfolio. Shaped by Kenny’s agoraphobia, the images are spare, and somehow at once wide open and controlled. A short read but one worth a long look.
Sometimes, she has difficulty going to aisles of the grocery store that are too far from the exit, and getting on a plane is a huge ordeal. To go to her sister’s wedding, in New Zealand, she told me, required months of therapy beforehand. The Street View project has become a way for Kenny to visit places that she could never go to herself—the more remote, the better, she said. It’s also a practice that involves a tension between control and surrender: she has the ability to parachute into anywhere in the world, but her views and angles and lighting are in Google’s hands.
#amediting is a-Twitter this week over the New York Times’ decision to eliminate its copydesk and adjust the balance between people-who-write-copy and people-who-edit-it. The letters by the copydesk editors and the Times’ executive and managing editors, published by Poynter.org, are excruciating to read.
The Times is a stronghold for those who believe passionately in editorial standards, and this is another crack in the foundation — making similar shifts more likely across the industry and threatening the livelihoods of an entire class of professionals. It may not be wrong (may not), but it hurts, badly.
We are living in a strange time when routine copy-editing duties such as fact checking, reviewing sources, correcting misleading or inaccurate information, clarifying language and, yes, fixing spelling and grammar mistakes in news covfefe are suddenly matters of public discourse. As those in power declare war against the news media, as deliberately false or lackadaisical reportage finds its way into social media feeds, readers are flocking to our defense. They are sending us pizza. And they are signing up for Times subscriptions in record numbers because they understand that we go to great lengths to ensure quality and, most important, truth.
As SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) becomes METI (messaging extraterrestrial intelligence), the twenty-first century is making its first serious addition to a long line of attempts to talk with aliens. Steven Johnson’s examination of the challenges and ethics associated with contacting other life is characteristically precise. But it’s hard to think your way around the romance and terror associated with the subject, as displayed in this stellar quote from the first attempt — 1974’s Arecibo message.
Not just “malevolent,” note, but “malevolent or hungry.” Yikes.
Within days, the Royal Astronomer of England, Martin Ryle, released a thunderous condemnation of Drake’s stunt. By alerting the cosmos of our existence, Ryle wrote, we were risking catastrophe. Arguing that ‘‘any creatures out there [might be] malevolent or hungry,’’ Ryle demanded that the International Astronomical Union denounce Drake’s message and explicitly forbid any further communications. It was irresponsible, Ryle fumed, to tinker with interstellar outreach when such gestures, however noble their intentions, might lead to the destruction of all life on earth.
Just a boy, his guitar, and 30+ years of rock history. A “making of” story by arts critic Geoff Edgers that captures the nostalgia and geeky glory of a high school kid’s fascination with the guitars of the greats.
You can do a lot with an abandoned Supro, especially if you’re a chubby 14-year-old with a gap between your front teeth and a very questionable collection of Jams. Buy a cheap amplifier and go to Pete Woodward’s. He’s got the drum set in the basement. Learn three chords — G, C and D — and bash out a simple version of “Wild Thing.” Then record it on a Maxell tape, slap it into your Walkman and listen to all 43 minutes of instrumental glop over and over again. Suddenly, you’re a band.