Ise Shrine

This shrine is made of ephemeral materials like wood and thatch, but its symbiotic relationship with the Shinto belief and craftsmen has kept a version of the temple standing since 692 CE.

Long-term Building in Japan

The Long Now has a nice account of the rebuilding of the Ise Shrine, somewhat close to where I used to live in Japan. I often use this shrine as an example that the ‘realness’ of a object can extend beyond the physical.

The shrines are rebuilt every 20 years and yet have also existed for 1400 years.

Language is a limited technology. The language that I use to describe something that is “new” or “old” or anything else, can only be directed at certain aspects of that thing. Seen from another interpretation, what is commonly considered new can be thought of as old.

Bonus at the end of this article is a description of some of the shrines in Nara. It’s a nice read.

Japan as They Saw It

Lately, I’ve also been exploring the Internet Archive’s rich collection of books written by British and American visitors to Japan in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Until the 1850s, Japan had been shut off nearly completely from the rest of the world for more than two hundred years, and people elsewhere were eager to learn about the mysterious country.

The most recent email from the Internet Archive highlights a book being written about the impressions of long ago foreign visitors to Japan had on that country. A fascinating idea, that showcases the usefulness and entertainment value of old books.

The website for the book is here.

On the Outer Side of Places

But we live near the Oakland end of the Bay Bridge, whose other end is in San Francisco, and it happened that on the anniversary we walked along it in the rain. The bridge is divided into west and east spans by Yerba Buena Island, which it tunnels through. The eastern span was badly damaged in the 1989 earthquake, and after many delays and overruns, its replacement opened two years ago. It’s the widest bridge segment in the world, with five lanes of traffic in either direction on one level. And on its south edge, an eleventh lane, for cyclists and pedestrians.

Charlie Loyd is a person with a tinyletter, and the most recent delivery of this newsletter is a fantastic read.

I once visited the bay area, and was impressed as rode a rented bicycle across the Golden Gate bridge. However, it was when I peddled over to the Bay Bridge, that I was stopped in my tracks. I was stunned at the scale of it. It was like standing at the base of the CN Tower, trying to imagine that humans could have constructed such an object.

The piece of writing jumps from the Bay Bridge to Hokkaido tunnels, to Polaroid cameras, and it then enters into deeper matters of large human endeavors. Enjoyable read.

Time Lapse Galaxy


I love time lapse videos. My favorite part in this one is at 1:42 when I can see the movement of clouds sped up. I understand clouds a whole lot more from this image.

Mass Mediated

Tsuyoshi Anzai’s Distance adopts an optical illusion inducing a media anachronism. He conceived a New Video Player which induces the viewer to perceive a video, even if it is just an object nearby projected through the “camera obscura” mechanism. The resulting dualism of visibility/invisibility of the object is then a perfect analogue analogy to the digital screen.

An art exhibit about mediation, with an accompanying video that gives a more powerful sense of being mass mediated without all of the distractions of everyday life. This feels like an updated version of “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.

artist’s website:



I Don’t Know

My trouble is usually not that I think otherwise, but that I don’t entirely know what I think. And not knowing what to think is itself sometimes cast as shameful.

Just passing this one along to promote the act of saying “I don’t know” more often than I normally do.

What I’ve Been Reading, Playing, and Listening to – End of Year 2018

It’s been a while since I catalogued one of these, so I’ve probably forgotten quite a bit.


  • The Four – Hidden DNA of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google
  • Capitalist Realism – Excellent book about where we are today
  • Net Smart – Howard Rheingold
  • Essay in Aesthetics – Jose Ortega y Gasset
  • Lord of The Rings: Fellowship of the Ring – read for the first time with my kids, they were enchanted
  • Technically Wrong – Sara Wachter-Boettcher
  • The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin
  • Grant – Ron Chernow


  • Overwatch
  • Minecraft
  • Tokaido – beautiful board game that is slow and not overly competitive
  • Starbound – beautiful and deep pixel game in the style of Stardew Valley


Listening, Spoken

  • King Arthur: History and Legend
  • Great Minds of the Medieval World
  • Understanding the Inventions that Changed the World
  • The American Civil War
  • Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, Scandals
  • Great Explorations
  • How Conversation Works