A year ago yesterday, the sky over San Francisco was an unearthly color. It was very difficult for our simple human minds to comprehend - we’re used to all sorts of stuff going on up there but a sunless, cloudless, glowing orange firmament was a new one for everyone except for the hardcore Deakins-heads. The weirdest thing, I think, was that the air quality was actually not so terrible - the whole reason that the sky looked like that was that the wildfire smoke was parked at altitude, high above us, blocking out the sun. It blanketed the upper atmosphere, but hadn’t sunk to ground level. Even though it wasn’t particularly unhealthy to go outside, however, the light, filtered through the horrible air, felt alien and unsettling and I, along with almost everyone else in the area, sat huddled inside, trying to figure out if we were seriously expected to just go on as normal while the world literally burned. (Spoiler: we did, albeit not very productively.)
It was really a watershed moment, leading some to flee the Bay Area for months (or for good), and the rest of us to wonder if we should be seriously considering doing the same. But then the next day everything seemed back to normal (other than the smoky air, now at ground level, making it extremely unhealthy to go outside - while the ongoing pandemic made it equally unhealthy to be inside), and most of us just kind of went back to what we had been doing before - perhaps with a little more anxiety and stress.
A year later, here’s what things looked like in Lake Tahoe a few weeks ago, as more wildfires raged in places they’ve rarely been before, with no signs of slowing or stopping and no drastic action taken to do anything about it.
Anyway, I’m sure it’ll be fine! Here’s this week’s set of unimportant stuff to check out:
Item 1: a link
On code, early neural networks, and once discredited AI pioneers
[Candidly, I have had the browser tab for this page open and unread for at least a month now and am hoping that putting it in the newsletter will be the impetus I need to sit down and read it. I'm pretty sure I remember whoever linked to it said it was fascinating so... let's hope my memory, and the person who I recall saying that, are both correct - ed]
Item 2: a list
Zodiac signs, ranked knowing nothing about astrology, astronomy, tarot, Greek mythology, or zodiac signs generally:
Item 3: a media recommendation
"Worth It" is (or possibly was - it's either on hiatus or done for good) a BuzzFeed YouTube show where two guys (plus a camera operator, who is also a guy) and sometimes another person (who is often not a guy) go around trying a food (or similar foods) from multiple purveyors at two or three different price points. This is a two hour compilation of a bunch of different episodes featuring food they tried in Japan (my personal favorite of these is probably $1 Eggs Vs. $89 Eggs). It's not particularly sophisticated but it's fun and a lot of the food they try looks really good. Particularly at a time when the prospect of actual world travel seems tenuous at best, this is good escapist fare. Also, I'm pretty sure the restaurants comp them for most of this stuff so whoever came up with the concept is an evil genius.
Item 4: a photograph
Thanks for reading. See you next week!
(PS, if you’re a California voter please vote “no” on the gubernatorial recall on or before September 14, so I don’t have to be morose about that in a future issue.)