• McPhee has built a career on such small detonations of knowledge. His mind is pure curiosity: It aspires to flow into every last corner of the world, especially the places most of us overlook. Literature has always sought transcendence in purportedly trivial subjects — "a world in a grain of sand," as Blake put it — but few have ever pushed the impulse further than McPhee. He once wrote an entire book about oranges, called, simply, "Oranges" — the literary cousin of Duchamp's urinal mounted in an art museum. In 1999, McPhee won a Pulitzer Prize for his 700-page geology collection, "Annals of the Former World," which explains for the general reader how all of North America came to exist. ("At any location on earth, as the rock record goes down into time and out into earlier geographies it touches upon tens of hundreds of stories, wherein the face of the earth often changed, changed utterly, and changed again, like the face of a crackling fire.") He has now published 30 books, all of which are still in print — a series of idiosyncratic tributes to the world that, in aggregate, form a world unto themselves. [NY Times]
  • I believe that in hindsight — and I realize this sounds kind of crazy, as if I've binge-inhaled all of the Leica Kool-Aid at once — the Leica Q will be seen as one of the greatest fixed-prime-lens travel photography kits of all time. Fire up the percolator, pour over another single-origin, steep some English Breakfast, or just grab a flask of rye and your pitchforks and let's deconstruct this beautiful thing. [Craig Mod]
  • Warren Buffett once observed that this kind of arms race is not unlike a parade where one spectator, determined to get a better view, stands on their tiptoes. It works well initially until everyone else does the same. Then, the taxing effort of standing on your toes becomes table stakes to be able to see anything at all. Now, not only is any advantage squandered, but we're all worse off than we were when we first started. Such is the world of user acquisition in tech today: as growth becomes increasingly expensive, somebody must be footing the bill for all of this wasteful spending. But whom? It's not who you think, and the dynamics we've entered is, in many ways, creating a dangerous, high stakes Ponzi scheme. [Social Capital]
  • He opened Pizza Strada in 2011, right after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, amid rolling blackouts and fears of a full nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. Since then, I've ushered at least a dozen New Yorkers over to the shop to eat his marinara pie. Most put up a fuss on the way in ("But we're in Japan."). Nobody complains after their first bite. Several returned on their own the following day to eat it again. [Craig Mod]
  • Historically, 600mm lenses have been useless except to those with excellent camera support technique. Alligator. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. SW Florida By adding an image stabilizer (the "IS" in this lens's model number), Canon has brought the fun of 600mm photography to the lazy and unwashed. The image stabilizer consists of a set of accelerometers that measure actual camera shake. The movement of the camera/lens is compensated out by laterally shifting an internal optical lens element. All of the measurement and compensatory jiggling is accomplished elecronically, with power derived from the camera body battery. [Phil G]
  • It seems like Jiro is an aberration. Nobody could possibly care about anything else like Jiro cares about his sushi. The joy in exploring Japan is you quickly realize Jiro is not an aberration. Perhaps his skills are, but his ethos isn't. That ethos pervades. And what a joy it is to witness, unexpectedly, on the fourth floor of a new building, in a smoke filled café. [Craig Mod]
  • If there is a Mount Rushmore of great world cities, O.K.C. is nowhere near it; it's more like the discount parking lot in the next town, with intermittent shuttle service. The place sits way out in the middle of the Great Plains, profoundly landlocked, 1,300 miles from both Los Angeles and Washington. It is home not to the Getty or the Smithsonian but to the American Banjo Museum. If someone tells you she is from Oklahoma City, your brain will process that information in the same area it uses to process different shades of brown socks or clouds that almost look like something but don't. Even the name "Oklahoma City" sounds like something a panicked kid would make up on a pop quiz about state capitals. [NY Times]