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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Let’s Fly

How to survive air travel. In brief: Get there early, bring a face-mask and ear-plugs. “Authorities recommend arriving two hours before international flights. I say four. Get there four hours before your flight. Your friends laugh at you. Have patience. You are hacking the airport by arriving early, knowing that all the work you could have done at home — the emails or writing or photo editing — can be done at the airport” (1,280 words)

Choosing A Driving Plan Pick of the day

The recommendation goes to the whole collection of articles on this site, which tells the story of the coming hundred years by describing the products and services which will be invented during that time. Driving plans are just like mobile phone plans, but for driverless car networks. Do you want fixed pricing or dynamic pricing? Miles or minutes? Low minimum and expensive overage, or high minimum? (1,070 words)

The State Of The American Dog

In defence — yea, in praise — of pit bull terriers. They are widely hated, feared, demonised. Yet there is nothing in their DNA to distinguish them from other dogs. Any dog can behave badly if it has been neglected or exploited. If you have a fondness for pit bulls, prepare to be enthralled. If not, then this may come across as an outrageous piece of special pleading. Either way, it will stir you in the way that good writing should (6,500 words)

Smartwatches Make Google Glass Obsolete

“Google Glass is obsolete. Android Wear on a smartwatch does nearly everything Glass can do and then some, and it comes in a package that is significantly more ergonomic, convenient, cheap, and socially acceptable. Android Wear has almost all the positives of Google Glass and none of the negatives. You aren’t pointing a camera at people 24/7. You can normally go about your day while wearing a smartwatch” (1,790 words)

How You Will Get Organised

Experts speculate about the future of personal-information technology. Mitch Kapor, Lotus founder, sees the greatest opportunities lying with audio: “There has been a lot made of Google Glass, but they may be dealing with the wrong human sense. The ubiquitous device may be something that whispers in your ear, a kind of reading glass for the ear that tells you what you need to know” (1,400 words)

Slumdog Millionaire Architect

Profile of Hafeez Contractor, Mumbai-based superstar Indian architect, who specialises in huge luxury projects — campuses, new towns, shopping malls — where richer Indians can live and work insulated from the “chaos of their homeland”. Inside his high-rises, “several million dollars buys not only granite countertops and Arabian Sea views but also electricity that never goes out and water that always runs” (Metered) (5,440 words)

The Google Career Path

Part three of a series; this post on performance reviews and promotions. “Job levels reflect the impact you’re having, not the other way around. You get promoted based on what you have accomplished — you don’t get promoted and then take on some big task. If you want to get promoted, start acting like someone at the next level up. Eventually they’ll realise you’re not being paid enough and will promote you” (1,100 words)

Nightmare On Connected Home Street

Satire; or futurology; you decide. “I wake up at four to some old-timey dubstep spewing from my pillows. My house has a virus again. Technically it’s malware. But there’s no patch yet, and pretty much everyone’s got it. Thankfully this one is fairly benign. It sets off the alarm with music I blacklisted decades ago on Pandora. It takes a picture of me as I get out of the shower every morning and uploads it to Facebook. No big deal” (770 words)

Service With A Smile

Life as a San Francisco barista. “Whimsicality was the name of the coffee-making game. It disarmed angry or brusque customers. It endeared you to them by summing you up in a palatable way – you were dependably off-kilter and smiley; people looked forward to seeing you. They thought of you as their special barista, and the more charmingly odd you acted, the more you occupied this nook in their brain” (3,660 words)

Scout’s Honour

An Eagle Scout returns in adulthood to a Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, and comes away with divided feelings. “The children in scouting are wonderful children. The culture is inspiring and compelling. But what repels me is the harm and disgrace repeatedly committed by the elders who remain in charge. If the Boy Scouts don’t outgrow their governors, they may not grow at all” (9,824 words)

The Laid-Back Art Of Tubing

Summer in Louisiana feels like “being locked in a sauna for three months” wearing “a body stocking made of warm, honey-soaked cotton balls”. The only comfortable place to be outdoors is lazing in the river. Which makes tubing the perfect summer sport: “It is sloth ingeniously disguised as adventure. The only equipment you need is spiritual: respect for the river, an instinct for meditation, and a high regard for inaction” (1,725 words)

What I Learned By Being Outed

Former BP chief executive describes his experience of being outed as gay by the “Daily Mail”. His first response was to seek a high court injunction; when the story finally broke, he resigned; then he discovered that nobody really minded, and most had already guessed. “Thousands of supportive letters poured in from around the world … Had I known then what I know now, I would have come out sooner” (835 words)

Good Dog, Small Dog

Confessions of a chihuahua owner. “Before I got Edie, I’d have said that a fair definition of an insane person is somebody who takes out a cash advance to pay for exploratory liver surgery for a dog. I did that three years ago. But when you get accustomed, every night, to a warm gentle presence stretching herself across your clavicle and easing you into sleep, it becomes as dire a habit as barbiturate abuse” (1,400 words)

London’s Buried Diggers

When archaeologists excavate the foundations of present-day central London, they will find 1,000 mechanical diggers entombed in concrete. Note to the future: These are not sacrifices to some mechanical god, but the by-product of a fashion among the rich for adding basement swimming pools and media rooms. When the digging is done, the digger is stuck. You’d need a crane to get it out. Cheaper to wall it up and write it off (920 words)

Heart Of The Emerald Triangle

A season among the marijuana growers of Humboldt County, California. “Ethan’s goal was to sell more pot than last year but not so much that the feds took notice. Minus overhead — labour costs, the note on his property, raw materials, equipment maintenance, fuel, food — Ethan stood to clear well over a million dollars. This for six months’ work, and for assuming the sort of risk that might win him half a lifetime in federal prison” (7,020 words)

App Store Review Guidelines

Strong, handsome, lucid prose. Perhaps one day the iTunes Terms and Conditions will rise to this standard. “If your App looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you’re trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don’t want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour” (4,290 words)

So, Where Are My Robot Servants?

They may not be far away. Components are getting better and cheaper. Research and investment is booming. “The robots that will really change things will perform multiple tasks. They won’t do everything right out of the box. They’ll come equipped with attachment points for new accessories and standard interfaces that allow new third-party software to add functions, much like apps on phones” (2,580 words)

Poundland Conquers The British High Street

Hard discounters crack Britain’s class code. Aldi and Lidl are “deliberately catering to middle-class tastes”. Poundland “boasts that a quarter of its shoppers are from the AB social group. Its most profitable stores are located in wealthier towns, such as Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Guildford and Bath”. Brand-name manufacturers supply products in £1 sizes. Irony may play a part. “It’s cool to be cheap” (2,520 words)

Let’s, Like, Demolish Laundry

Joyous portrait of Bay Area start-up. Washio picks up your laundry at the shake of an iPhone. The founders paged through online markets for casual help and spotted high demand for personal laundry service. Über for washing was born. “The brightest minds of a generation have taken the knowledge acquired at our most august institutions and applied themselves to solving increasingly minor First World problems” (7,820 words)

The Gigolo

Notes from an evening at home in which the writer and her friends, “the All-Too-Real Ex-Housewives of Pasadena, decked out in slinky partywear”, entertain a celebrity gigolo. “At precisely 6pm — $400-an-hour escorts are punctual — the doorbell chimes. Standing before us is Vin, a 195-pound, 6-foot-2-inch-tall glass of water, wearing tight jeans and a collared shirt. He enters the kitchen as if on oiled ball bearings” (1,948 words)

Glassholes At Work

“In a workplace where Google Glass is a standard part of the company uniform, every employee would become a security camera. Managers will determine how workers talk to each other, how hard they work, how many bathroom breaks they take. The Glass-inflected workplace would become a perfect panopticon, where the boss has the ability to see every employee through the eyes of every single other employee” (950 words)

Saddam’s Tailor Sews On

Smart potentates buy their suits from Recep Cesur of Istanbul, who learned tailoring in his home town of Diyarbakir, Turkey, opened a shop in Baghdad, and snagged a prize client: Saddam Hussein. Saddam bought 80 suits, including the one worn at his trial. “His shoes were 11.6, his trousers 54, his jacket 56”. The custom did him no harm. Cesur has also sold suits to Perez Musharraf, Hamid Karzai and Nelson Mandela (1,120 words)

Game Of Thrones

How airlines design cabins and seats to charm first- and business-class passengers. The Stradivarius of the flat-bed seat, James Park, honed his skills restoring train carriages for the Orient Express. “There are certain little events you experience as you progress through this promenade up to the plane. They should climax in your vision of the seat”. Bonus fact: the inflight entertainment system costs $10,000 per seat (5,200 words)

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