Why this is a good year to read the Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention

In 1787 the founding fathers were busy down at the Philadelphia Convention drafting the US Constitution. This was not an uncontentious meeting, as we all know. The best record we have of the daily debates that led to the final document is James Madison’s personal journal.

This is a like more or less daily account from mid-May to mid-September. (Fun fact: they kept the windows of Independence Hall closed despite Philadelphia Summer because they were afraid of people eavesdropping from the street.)

A fun thing you can do any year is to read these in real time, every day’s entries on that day. (The length is manageable, and in any case, you can always skim?)

The fun thing about 2018 is that the days of the week line up, so if you’re reading the entry from Monday, May 28th, you’ll be reading it on Monday, May 28th.

Find the notes here.

What’s up with movie theaters?

sony projectorIt’s absolutely terrible. When I went to see the the new Woody Allen movie last week, I noticed as soon as the previews that the projection was out of focus. (The previous ads and trash were projected with something else, and looked just fine. Irony. Whatever.) I went out side to complain, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I found a guy in the lobby with a suit and a gold name tag, and explained the problem. He said he’d have them refocus, and got on his walkie talkie as I hustled back to my seat.

A few more previews rolled by, with no change. I figure, maybe they’re going to fix it when the main feature starts? Now, Midnight in Paris opens with a bunch of static shots of the city, and of course still shots are where you can the focus most clearly. And it was just terrible. Anyway, to make a long story short, I went out and complained to the same guy again, and it still wasn’t fixed. The movie was watchable, but it sure detracted from it. I’m going to be keeping an eye on Regal Cinema South Beach in the future (this was in auditorium #4), and I’m not putting up with that crap again.

I was reminded of this when I read Roger Ebert’s column about crappy movie projection yesterday. His biggest complaint is how dim many movies look today. Turns out the culprit is the misuse of the Sony 3D projector (pictured above). The double lens is supposed to be attached only for 3D movies, but many theaters leave it on for all features, because it’s a pain for them to swap in and out. The thing is, this lens blocks 50% of the light even for 2D movies. You’re supposed to look for a double beam of light, one stacked on top of the other. If you see that, you’re being shown an inferior picture, and you should complain. (More information here from a conscientious theater operator.)

It’s all pretty crazy given how expensive movies are, and how easy they are to pirate. Theaters should be trying to disincentivize people from piracy by providing the best possible experience, yet they seem to be moving in the direction of doing the exact opposite.

The good news in all this is that, at least here in Miami, a number of new independent cinemas have cropped up. There’s the upgraded and moved Miami Beach Cinematheque, Miami-Dade’s Tower Theater, and the Coral Gables Art Cinema. (I saw the Herzog 3D movie there a few weeks ago, so I’m going to keep an eye on them with that too. But presumably “Art Cinema” in the title = people who care about movies.) Luckily these places show a lot more of the films I actually want to see, and while the Regal South Beach is pretty good about keeping the small-audience features in rotation, one more experience like the one with Midnight in Paris and I’m not going back.

Weekendly clickables XXII

  • You love Paul Krugman, right? You should read the profile of him (and his wife! Who pretty much co-writes his columns with him it turns out!) in the New Yorker. And check him out on Charlie Rose in 1999, sort of predicting our current economic crisis (tho he’s predicting it for 2002, not 2008). He’s been on Charlie Rose 20 times in all.
  • Should babies be allowed in bars?
  • TheAwl post of the day: The Five Kinds of Appeal to Authority You Meet on the Internet.
  • To the Best of Our Knowledge on alcoholism and other addictions. (I’ve no idea why TTBOOK is still doing Real Audio… you’re much better off finding the episode on iTunes.
  • Recently discovered audio interview with Malcolm X.
  • David Byrne writes about being on TED.
  • Dylan Fareed’s “We Are So Good Together” print. As of this writing there are 345 of the 11×14” left for $50, and you will kick yourself if you don’t get one before they sell out.
  • The Last Resort Letters. On board each of the UK’s 20 nuclear submarines, there’s safe. And inside the safe, there’s another safe. And inside that safe, there’s a HAND WRITTEN letter from the current prime minister, instructing the captain of the submarine what to do in case a nuclear attack has destroyed Britain. Nobody knows what the letters say (they’re destroyed, unread, each time a new prime minister is sworn into power), but presumably they tell the captain to not bother launching a retaliatory attack, because what would be the point? A topic deserving of some unpacking, which Ira Glass does in this episode of TAL.
  • Learn guitar in 10 minutes with Nashville Pussy (via Klosterman’s Twitter).
  • I haven’t been watching Saturday Night Live regularly for a long time, but as far as I can tell yesterday’s was maybe the best episode in like a decade and a half. Also, Hulu has whole episodes as of recently. So, Saturday Night Live with Zach Galifianakis. And, regardless of how you feel about the Vampire Weekend issue, they are great on this.

Weekendly clickables XXI

Weekendly clickables XX

Weekendly clickables XIX

Weekendly Clickables XVIII

  • Ritual cleansing of child soldiers in Sierra Leone.
  • David Hanson is spending three months canoeing the Chattahoochee River.
  • Choire finds some gems in the coming auction of the Lehman Brothers art collection.
  • Having a pet can be as bad for the environment as an SUV
  • The 10 worst food trends, DEBUNKED.
  • When is the film better than the novel? Maybe when it’s one of these. But I think there’s a distinction to be made between movies made from classic literature, and movies made from pulp thrillers. I’ve never read Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty, but I think comparing its quality to the (pretty great!) film is a much less interesting exercise than comparing, say, the film and book versions of Catch 22.
  • I am not sure if I believe Slate’s battery tips. Keeping your laptop unplugged while using it? Trying to stay between 20% and 80% at all times? FISHY.
  • So, I gave in and paid the $5 for Brushes, the famous iPhone app, and let me tell you it is great. Doodling and painting, together like never before.

Weekendly clickables XVII

  • “Engineers, medical people, scientific people, have an obcession with solving the problems of reality, when actually most problems, once you reach a basic level of wealth, are actually problems of perception.” — Rory Sutherland.
  • Jonathan Safran Foer on vegetarianism.
  • Blackberry-vanilla infused vodka.
  • I think YOU should learn to play the concertina this winter. You can pick one up cheap here (or get a nice one), and read up on how to play. Not easy!, but you will be feared and respected like this guy.
  • Shrink Pic detects when you’re emailing large photo files and automatically scales them to a preset size.
  • There is a massive debate going on about chapter 5 of Superfreakonomics, which you can read here.
  • Damien Hirst’s new paintings.
  • The frankencamera — an open-source camera you can re-program to do “anything,” although none of the examples they cite sound that compelling (except changing the focus after taking the picture, of which — skeptical, right?).
  • “Lawrence Lessig is against transparency in government?!
  • Audio analysis of the Beatles’ multitrack masters.
  • David Byrne has a book out about traveling around the world with his bicycle.
  • An optophonic lunaphone might be a device that makes music from the stars.
  • The mattress wallet.
  • Kreamy ‘Lectric Santa have a new album out. Listen, buy.
  • Life without cable. Easy.
  • Taken in totality, the Vigilant Citizen site sounds lunatic. But it’s a guarantee that whatever article you read first will be a little mind blowing.
  • Photographs of Lima.
  • Virtual Windows, a probably not profound toy for experimenting with different viewers, windows, and images?

Down and out in London


8 hours in London. Mission: (1) get from Heathrow into the city, (2) check out the Tate Modern, (3) get fish and chips and a pint, and (4) wander around and get semi-lost. For to your future reference, the best way to get from the airport into the city is the Heathrow Connect, not the Heathrow Express, which costs twice as much and takes 10 minutes (that’s $56 for a 15 minute trip—but who’s counting!).


So, they drive on the left side in London. THE LEFT SIDE. This does not sound like nearly the tourist-life-threatening clusterfuck that it in fact is. Consider that London is a medieval tangle of roads of varying narrowness, many of which are one-way and many of which are motor-vehicle-prohibited, and also that some of which have these friendly “LOOK RIGHT” indicators, and realize that after one or two of those pints, where these indicators are missing your road-crossing instincts are all bass-ackwards and your life is in peril.


So! the Tate Modern. I got told to not take pictures after this one (Next: Museums In Paris Allow Photography, Which is Super-Annoying), but the TM houses several completely primo and ass-kicking Francis Bacons (one of which had a cute girl planted on the floor in front of it making a pretty good sketch (the girl)(of the Bacon)) and a completely brain-popping room with 6 Gerhard Richter squeegee paintings. Also the requisite Picassos, Miros, etc., and the Jackson Pollock that pretty well marks his transition from Miro-esque abstraction to his mature drippiness.


A tres-artsy pedestrian bridge leads from the TM back across the Thames.


Success w/r/t the fish and chips. Also plus a Timothy Taylor Landlord, which would be my beer recommendation if you ever find yourself in a London pub.


Here’s the London pub in which I found myself. I was unable to judge the Disnification (or, perhaps, ‘Fridays-ification’?) level of this particular establishment, but ‘moderate’ is a fair guess. I’m still not sure what the proper ordering/paying/tipping procedure is for GB, but half-assing it worked for a half-day excursion.


Of course all of Europe is cycling-friendly, but did you know that in London they have Bicycle Ambulances?


If they keep building bridges maybe eventually the whole of the Thames will be paved over. Anywho. London: a nice place to visit, and not as expensive as you’d have thought, but still pretty darned expensive, yeah? (Next up: Paris.)