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an aural noise

word salad: Jule has been in love with music since her early childhood days. In the mid-90s, she started composing pop, rock, and acoustic songs, and in 2006 Jule discovered the world of electronic music. In 2008, she released her first chillout album on Blue Pie Records (Australia), which was followed by another album in cooperation with Mikle Maaß & Hanz S., as well as several techno house/techno tracks on various record labels. In 2012, Jule released her first ambient album, Earth Feelings, on Beats & Pieces Records (Israel). It was well received and reached #34 in the Beatport-Genre-Album Charts.

The music by Jule Grasz is emotional and full of elegant melodies. The tracks radiate joy and happiness, and the gripping musical dramaturgy immerses the listener into magical realms.

The album Far North evokes magnificent pictures of Northern nature through masterfully designed soundscapes. The tracks waft the fresh air of the frozen wild beauty of the North, represent majestic fjords, huge snowdrifts, and ice-cold rivers that shimmer in the flickering of the Northern Lights. The synth samples are finely balanced, the musical modes are emotionally diverse, the tracks are imbued with vivid ambient pads. The beautiful melodies elaborate smoothly through the album together with the growing bass lines, carrying you away into the realm of joy and freedom.

Turn on Far North by Jule Grasz and let the music take you on a sonic journey to the North, experience the happiness of freedom and love for our planet together with Microcosmos Records.

some of the things I read while eating breakfast in antisocial isolation

The World’s Most Remote Triathlon Involves Bird Eggs, a Volcano, and Bananas

Tau’a Rapa Nui continues to fight for its place against shifting tides.

The triathlon in Rapa Nui brings back traditions that were repressed for hundreds of years. Embiggenable.

A CLUTCH OF RAFTS FLOATS on the ocean horizon, just visible from the shore of Rapa Nui. It’s hard to determine from this distance, but they vaguely define the starting point of one of the island’s most anticipated events: an annual triathlon. But this is no ordinary triathlon.

Spectators on shore point with outstretched fingers to the nearing athletes as they furiously raft towards land. Paddling past the numerous sea turtles that glide around the bay, Tumaheke Durán Veri Veri arrives first. He heaves his hand-woven raft onto the sand and runs barefoot up to the island’s main road. He then hoists a 44-pound bundle of bananas over his shoulders and begins to run.

This is the Tau’a Rapa Nui; a demanding sporting event that honors the Rapa Nui’s ancestral tradition. It begins with the rafting, called Vaka Ama; followed by the banana-weighted run, the Aka Venga; and ends with a bodyboard-type paddle race: Natación con Pora. Durán Veri Veri returns to the bay on foot, grabbing a second, smaller raft and launching once more into the ocean. He maintains his lead for the last lap, passing the finishing line comfortably in first place.

Today’s event may seem simple enough, if challenging. But the inspiration for the triathlon traces back to a dangerous competition involving bird eggs and, at one point, a volcanic crater.

The Man Comes Around

An answer to my own prompt

I’m twenty miles east of Jackson, Mississippi on Highway 80, having just rolled through a town so small it didn’t even have a name, when I see the cop’s lights in my rear-view mirror. I briefly consider outrunning him — I’m driving a 1969 Dodge Super Bee after all and would easily leave him in the dust — but then I remember my daddy always said that while you can outrun a cop’s car, you can never outrun his radio. If I’d stopped for a cup of coffee and some pie in Vicksburg like I originally planned, he’d probably have been off duty when I passed through here. And it had been such a beautiful day until now.

Resisting the urge to bolt, I ease the car onto the shoulder of the highway and kill the engine, just in case my restraint wanes when the cop gets out of his car. He eases his cruiser up behind me and then, as they always do, sits there for an infuriatingly long stretch, waiting to see if I’ll do something stupid. With small town cops, any suspicious move can get you busted and in Mississippi it took very little for you to end up on a prison chain gang.

When the cop finally appears at my window, the first thing I see is his badge: Rankin County Deputy Sheriff. Deputy sheriffs are always a pain in the ass, always trying to prove they’re not Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show.

“Do you know why I stopped you, son?” the officer asks.

Because you haven’t hit your ticket quota for the month, I think but dare not say.

“No sir,” I say instead. “I do not. I know I wasn’t speeding.”

“No, you weren’t,” he admits, “which with this car surprises me some. You were, however, violating the county’s noise ordinance and thus disturbing the peace.”

5 Real-Life ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ Situations

Making the news rounds today is the story of a Brazilian woman who toted an unusual bit of additional documentation to the bank for a loan — in the form of her dead uncle. Is the idea of cramming a deceased man into a taxi and then guiding his lifeless hand through the paperwork to take out a loan in his recently vacated name unpleasant? Of course it is. The fact is, though, that it’s simply the latest entry in humans’ long history of corpse desecration for monetary gain. Grave robbers are the O.G.s in the practice, but nowadays, with gold teeth at the pawn shop more likely to raise eyebrows, many people have looked for a more white-collar form of corpse puppetry. Frequently, for loans, or to collect the deceased’s pension.

Here are five other recent examples of people flopping around dead relatives for a paycheck…

5. A Bernie-Worthy Bank Withdrawal Attempt


“Hey, why does your card smell like a dead man’s wallet?”

For the first entry, we don’t even have to turn more than a page or two back in time. Only a month ago, in March, a dead man was driven to a bank in an attempt to withdraw money from his account. Karen Casbohm and Loreen Bea Feralo of Ohio, I’m sure after some very heartfelt mourning, propped up the dead body of Douglas Layman in their car and hit a bank drive-thru window. It turns out bank drive-thru cameras aren’t hi-res enough to establish aliveness of all passengers, so they were able to withdraw an undisclosed amount of money. I get that estate distributions take a while, but waiting also doesn’t get you charged with “gross abuse of a corpse.”

Your Fast Food Is Already Automated

The founder of Chipotle wants to reinvent lunch using robots. Is that really a reinvention at all?

Moments after receiving my lunch order, the robots whirred to life. A clawlike contraption lurched forward, like a bird pecking at feed, to snatch dishes holding a faux-chicken cutlet and potatoes, then inserted them onto a metal track that snakes through a 650-degree-Fahrenheit oven. Seven minutes, some automatic food dispensers, and two conveyor belts later (with a healthy assist from human hands), my meal was sitting on a shelf of mint-green cubbies. It was a vegan fried-chicken sandwich, a cucumber salad, crispy potatoes, and a smattering of other sides.

This is Kernel, a fast-casual venture that opened its first store, in Manhattan, this February. Its founder, Steve Ells, kicked off the lunch-bowl boom when he started Chipotle in 1993. Now, he told me during my visit, he is betting that machines will trigger a “reinvention of how a fast-food or fast-casual restaurant can run.” Robots, he prophesied, will bring faster and more accurate service at lower overhead costs. Plenty of chains have tested out semi-automated cooking, with mixed success—including deep-frying robots at Jack in the Box and robotic bowl assembly at Sweetgreen and Chipotle. But Kernel has been built from the ground up for robots. Just three employees are needed in the restaurant at any time, compared with the dozen required for a typical fast-casual restaurant. Soon many more people may be eating robot-prepared vegan chicken: Ells has raised $36 million and hopes to expand quickly, starting with several more locations throughout New York City this year.

But robots may represent less of a fast-food revolution than the obvious next step in its evolution. For more than a century, technology has made fast food more efficient—and, in particular, more automated. That’s what turned McDonald’s into a giant 60 years ago. Such restaurants can be considered “sort of mini-factories,” Dave Henkes, a food-industry analyst at Technomic, told me, and have always used “automation to drive speed and convenience.” And, like the simpler cooking technology before them, today’s robots are speeding up humans’ work without fully replacing them. For now, Kernel is no different.

Read: A robot’s nightmare is a burrito full of guac

Kernel’s entirely vegan menu is limited (Ells prefers “focused”), but everything looked and tasted like it came from fine dining. That is no coincidence: Kernel’s chief culinary officer, Andrew Black, was a sous-chef at Eleven Madison Park, a three-Michelin-star restaurant with a $365 tasting menu, located a block away from Kernel. While I ate, he and Ells gave passionate spiels about each item: The marinated beets, a surprise best seller, are topped with quinoa, green hummus, and a seed crunch to make the dish nutritionally complete. For the crispy potatoes, Black specially selected a spud variety for its sugar, starch, and water content, and they’re then cooked three times—steamed, fried, baked—to achieve a shattering crunch and pillowy interior. Black and his staff dredge and fry every piece of “chicken” by hand; as I bit into my sandwich, Ells mused that they should try swapping imitation meat for a block of tofu.

Simply put, Kernel is a group of excellent chefs equipped with the world’s most high-tech toaster oven. All the food is cooked by chefs at a central kitchen about 10 minutes away, delivered hourly by a bicycle courier, and heated by a robot. That off-site preparation, Ells told me, provides at least 80 percent of the menu’s quality. The food then has to be assembled by still three other people. Human one, the “replenisher,” loads the hourly delivery of prepared food onto a shelf that the robotic arm can reach. The “assembler” puts together every sandwich and side, and a third person, the “bundler,” bags each order and places it in a cubby.

Maru successfully avoids the swing that swings right after he descends, and turns into liquid inside a slim plastic case.

Ed. マルは、彼が下降した直後に揺れ、スリムなプラスチックケースの中で液体に変わるスイングを避けます。


Wordle Starter Words for Dangerous Troublemakers

Let’s see if we can make Wordlebot cry.


IT’S wIDELY KNOWN THAT THOSE INCURABLE squares over at Wordle have never had a minute of fun in their entire lives. This is why Wordlebot (the New York Times’s constipated bureaucrat of a Wordle analyzer) recommends that prospective Wordlers choose their starter words from the feckless trio of CRANE, SLATE, and CRATE—respectively, history’s dullest long-necked bird, a tablet that old, dead people used to do their Geometry homework on, and a box to store all your dreams of color and light in the attic where they can’t get out.

Wordlebot gives each of these soporific dullards a 99 out of a possible 99 points if you use it as a starter (how convenient that Wordlebot’s own favorite words to open with should garner such a high score!), and if your goal is to please the moth-eaten automatons who staff the Wordle desk of the New York Times, you’d better paint within the rigid lines that they’ve laid out for you or prepare to suffer the consequences. But if you are willing to shun the prudish dogma of the Wordle intelligentsia and bask in the light of nature, a whole glorious world of illicit five-letter starter words will be revealed to you, and you can soar on their exquisite currents like a scarlet ibis (history’s most interesting long-necked bird) and dance the Wordle dance of the gods. Here are 11 starter words that’ll really tick Wordlebot off.

* * *

One of the three things that a nixie can be is a Germanic water sprite, which is already quite interesting. The folkloric nixie has a human top and a fish bottom much like Princess Ariel does, and it lures people into the water for the purpose of drowning them, much like Princess Ariel presumably doesn’t, though I can’t say for sure until I watch The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. The word was first introduced into English by Sir Walter Scott in the following passage from his Waverly novel, The Antiquary, which raises a lot more troubling questions about an entity called the Oak-King than it answers:

“Why performed in such a solitude, and by what class of choristers, were questions which the terrified imagination of the adept, stirred with all the German superstitions of nixies, oak-kings, wer-wolves, hobgoblins, black spirits and white, blue spirits and grey, durst not even attempt to solve.”

Via a different etymology, “nixie” can also mean “a letter whose address cannot be determined by the postal service due to bad handwriting,” and it has a related, obsolete adverbial form that means something like, “emphatically not.” This means, rather satisfyingly, that you can write a coherent but sad short story about a doomed romance between a German mermaid with bad handwriting and a British fairy with pointed ears that goes, “Did the nixie’s nixie reach the pixie? Nixie.”

Wordlebot “respectfully” thinks that NIXIE is a bad starter word.

(True to its insipid nature, Wordlebot is unfailingly polite even when it clearly hates your guts, so for the next few entries after this one, I’ll read between the lines and translate its thoughts on the score.)

* * *

Ed. More tomorrow? Possibly. Probably. Maybe. Likely, if I find nothing more barely uninteresting at all to do.

Ed., etc. I didn’t have time to do this today.


Assimilation Complete