Big Brass: Riding The Air Stream

The tuba, along with the flute, is “at the top of the list for instruments that take the most air to play”, three times as much as the trumpet or French horn. Players guard against hyperventilation by sucking used air back through the instrument to get more carbon dioxide. Orchestra players co-ordinate breathing: “To avoid any gap in the sound, we write into our music who gets to breathe where” (1,800 words)

Santa’s Privacy Policy

“Sharing is one of the joys of Christmas. For this reason, we share your personal information with our affiliates, non-affiliated third parties, and anyone else who has a legitimate financial stake in a successful holiday season” (980 words)

Inside The Apple Store: Product Launch

Apple weaponised product launch with the 1984 Super Bowl commercial for the Mac. Now its capacity to arouse and manage expectations means that enthusiasts will queue for a week in the street just to get their hands on an updated iPhone. Here’s what it’s like to be working in the store when a launch day comes around. “I’m walking past the line. Deja Vu. There are folding chairs, sleeping bags, coolers, and interesting smells” (2,760 words)

Lady With A Dog, Transposed From Yalta To The Internet

“A new person had appeared on his Who to Follow list: a lady with a little dog. @Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov, who had by then been a fortnight on Twitter, and so was fairly at home there, had begun to take an interest in new arrivals. Sitting in a Starbucks, surfing, he saw, on her profile page, a fair-haired young lady of medium height, wearing a béret; a white Pomeranian dog was running behind her” (6,700 words)

Inside The Apple Store

Notes from a Genius. “From behind the Genius Bar, I can check the customer queue on a laptop or on an iPod I keep holstered on my belt. The wait time hangs over everyone’s head. When customers have to wait more than five or ten minutes for their appointment, they get antsy. When the wait time pushes thirty minutes, they get murderous. Every day, in every Apple Store, people flood to customer service, when what many truly need is therapy” (2,950 words)

The Lady Or The Tire Iron?

How to avoid getting locked in the trunk of a car, and what to do if it happens: Find the safety latch, all new cars have one and it’s probably illuminated. “We also explored the options if a car doesn’t have a safety latch: How to feel around in the latch for the wires that spring the lock mechanism; how to search the spare tire well for tools or potential weapons; how to expose wiring near the taillight assembly and disable the light” (2,000 words)

America: A Review

American history recapped as if it were a television series. “It may have veered off wildly from the pilot, but America is definitely worth a look. It’s an interesting experiment in the world of primetime sovereign nations. What the characters lack in consistency, they make up for in body weight, lingering racism, and inconsistency. But it makes for a quick and easy viewing, and can often surprise you with heartfelt turns” (750 words)

An Imagined Conversation Between The Construction Workers Upstairs

Worker: It’s 6:37 AM, let’s begin hammering. Second Worker: Are we nailing anything in today? Worker: No, we’re just striking the bare, wooden floor with our hammers. Second Worker: How hard are we hammering today? Worker: Boss wants us to alternate between hammering with great force and exceptionally great force. We take breaks when the man living downstairs leaves the building” (300 words)

We’re The Uber Of Organ Transplants

Laugh. But ironically. Because you know some day this will happen. “Just open up our app and tell us your age, blood type, and what kind of organ you want. Then we’ll show you nearby transplanters who have the organs you need. Worried our transplanters aren’t totally qualified? Just check their star ratings. When transplanters give great service, our users will give them great ratings” (570 words)

Where I Left Conservatives

Yes, it’s McSweeney’s. But it’s not a funny. It’s a sad, gentle, intelligent reflection on the movement in the American right away from small-government conservatism towards Tea-Party populism, from a writer who returns home to Kansas after 15 years away and feels the change in mood. “I’m talking about the number of people who believe Obama is probably OK with Sandy Hook, or even glad it happened, because it serves his greater goal. I have no idea what those poll numbers would be, but I would be terrified to find out” (1,696 words)

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