Link: The most unbelievable things about life before smartphones

Matt Ruby opines at length on the world before smartphones. It is a lovely chunk of nostalgia, and the whole piece will have a specific age group nodding along in agreement.

News was not breaking and I was not alerted. Being elite was a good thing and being a Nazi frowned upon. Scientists were trusted and conspiracy theories were for tinfoil kooks. The only content users generated was letters to the editor.

I consumed news once a day by reading a paper that stained my hands. I stumbled upon random articles I would never have selected based on the headline. The ads I saw were untargeted shotgun blasts. Quizzes were just for students and I did not know which ice cream flavor matched my personality, who should play my BFF in a movie of my life, or which Disney prince I should have a threesome with. I rarely got to feel outraged by the words of people I’d never met. For that, I had to rely on family.

I could use a lot more offline in my life.

Link: The most unbelievable things about life before smartphones

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

This article in Slate is an excellent guide to spotting the signs that someone is drowning, which looks nothing like you think it does.

I nearly drowned as a child. More than once, actually (I am that dumb). I went too far under with a snorkel and breathed in a lung full of water. My body went into full panic mode, and I couldn’t get myself back to the surface. Luckily, a bystander knew how to spot the signs and I’m alive to tell the tale.

Link: SLATE | Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

Sunisa Lee in the New York Times

Fantastic work from the dev team at the New York Times, showing the extraordinary talent of gymnast Sunisa Lee.

Lee got into gymnastics when she was 6 years old, after watching videos on YouTube. “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop,” she said. “It looked so fun, and I wanted to try it myself.”

I keep scrolling up and down and thinking ‘how on earth can someone even do that?’

Link: New York Times

The 2021 iPhone Photography Awards

Some lovely photos here, and quite a few taken with older models.

La vue des filles, by Valerie Helbich-Poschacher

There’s that saying: ‘the best camera is the one that you have with you’ - and it’s true. I can tell the difference between a shot taken with my iPhone and one taken with my Sony NEX, but the iPhone (or any other phone) is good enough, and it’s always with me.


Tens of thousands

There are interesting philosophical discussions around whether the costs associated with locking down the economy can be offset by the number who then do not die of COVID-19. The answer is probably no, but that’s a tough sell.

Somewhere in the bowels of government, someone (or some people) has determined that a certain number of deaths is the pill that has to be swallowed to allow the economy to open up again. They’ve been pretty cagey about what that number is. Prof Andrew Hayward, the head of the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care at University College London, says that it is in the ‘low tens of thousands’ - if we are cautious.

In the last 24 hours, more people tested positive for COVID in the UK than in any other country.

The Tent Peg

Zac, at The Tent Peg blog, is writing beautiful essays about his various walks around nice bits of the UK.

I’ve bookmarked some for later in the year. It feels like such a long time since I’ve walked up a big hill.

Link: The Tent Peg

The Terror

The Terror is now streaming on BBC iPlayer, three whole years after the US release. I watched the first two episodes tonight and it’s every bit as good as I hoped it would be.

It’s based on the novel of the same name by Dan Simmons which tells a fictionalised account of Sir John Franklin’s expedition to find the North-West Passage. It’s terrifying, but one of my favourite books.

HMS Erebus in the Ice - Francois Musin. 1846.

HMS Erebus in the Ice - Francois Musin. 1846.

The real story of the expedition is a good tale on its own. Michael Palin has done as good of a job as anyone in putting it down on paper in ‘Erebus’, which is well worth a read too.