Dear Tiny Desk,
I don't know if you remember me, but I used to work maybe 20 feet from you. Before that, I worked about 10 feet from you, but people used to come stand behind me and breathe their miscellaneous lunch smells on my neck while you were entertaining guests, so I moved.
When I saw our new building, it was so open that I assumed I would still be able to hear everything, even though I'm in an entirely different part of the floor from you. But as it turns out, the acoustical geniuses have given me the quiet place to work that I've been dreaming about ever since that one band (I'm sorry; I don't remember who it was) took five zillion years to warm up because the guy wouldn't stop playing '80s classics in the style of smooth jazz as he figured out how to drop himself into The Zone. (I'm assuming that's what he was doing. I know how musicians are about The Zone.)
Now, I don't get lunch smells breathed on my neck, nor do people idly drum their fingers on the back of my chair or pick up things off my desk on the mistaken assumption that I won't smack their hand like Mrs. Cunningham in the Happy Days credits. Nor do I have the opportunity to try to calculate how many people can squeeze into a single space with limited ventilation before its official odorific classification goes from "room-comma-work" to "room-comma-locker."
I find that I miss you a little.
It's not that my affection has been secret. I remember the day Stephen sneaked up behind me at work, looked over my shoulder at my computer, and realized I was watching The Avett Brothers, again — a show that had taken place about six feet from me (I crawled over into the corner for that one, because I am no fool). I saw him, closed the window, snatched off my headphones, and spun around in my chair. "This is like catching you watching [prurient adult content]," he observed.
I loved this one too, although heaven knows I've been heard on this topic before. Same deal, basically. I appreciate it. My little heart appreciates it. My swoon reflex appreciates it.
And I won't lie: when Chris Otepka (The Heligoats) came, I kept telling people that the funniest thing I'd ever seen him do was tell a story about eating a bike chain, and when he actually told the story and people finally absorbed it, with the giggle floating through a room full of generally very low-key folks, I was in heaven.
For the most part, my love was pure and true. I sat close to Jimmy Cliff and felt myself slipping into a reverie. And what could be better than Bettye Lavette, coming in and sitting on the edge of the desk and wanting us to close the blinds? Oh, my. (Best dressed Tiny Desk ever, by the way: Raphael Saadiq.)
Sometimes, I appreciated you because you brought into my life precisely whatever song I was obsessed with at the moment. When Kishi Bashi came, I was deeply into my "Bright Whites" fixation, as was Microsoft. (But that wasn't why! I promise! I liked that song way before Windows 8 did!)
Sometimes, you were ahead of the curve. Adele came before she was quite the monstrous phenomenon she became in 2011. She was the perfect example of the fact that in my experience, it was always the incredibly awesome people who were the best at coming in, doing their thing, and getting on their way with a minimum of fuss. She even forgot to take her gloves off! I thought of these as the Incredibly Polite Genius shows.
See also: Nick Lowe.
I loved the fact that sometimes, unexpected things happened and people really did keep going. David Wax Museum broke their standing bass almost as soon as they started using it, but they kept going and were hurt not at all.
Sometimes, it was the combination of the music and the moment — I'm not sure I could have loved Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars as much at any other time as I did on a Friday afternoon.
It's not that I can't enjoy you anymore from a distance. I always had to enjoy some of your delights on video. I wasn't there for K'Naan, for instance.
I think I missed Miguel, too.
You kept passing along beautiful stuff until we left — one of the last ones I fell for was The Lone Bellow, only weeks before the move.
I'm not going to lie: we had our days together, you and I. The day that featured both [incredibly huge band] and [ensemble that played especially challenging genre] felt a tiny bit long. Not bad! Just long. And a little bit loud. And I like Dirty Three — I even have a Dirty Three record! — but I cannot disagree with your own description of it as "one of the loudest performances ever captured in the NPR Music offices."
It was an embarrassment of riches, really. Where else was I going to hear "the world's reigning pipa virtuoso"? Nowhere. Where else was I going to become a huge fan of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis?
Man, you were loud sometimes. And crowded. And sweaty. And sometimes people gave me the stink-eye for working during the music, all clackety-clackety on the keyboard because I couldn't stop every time and listen. I'm thrilled to be wrong about figuring the sound would carry all around the new building, because let's face it: not everybody would love hearing that Chris Otepka eat-a-bike-chain story in the middle of a workday as much as I did.
But one of these days, you'll see my head poking around the corner. Breathing on your neck.
Irish banking officials should have known there were problems with the controversial 10-euro coin commemorating James Joyce, according to Ireland's RTE News. The coin misquotes the author's Ulysses, and bears an image of Joyce that his estate did not approve.
Newly released documents from Ireland's Central Bank include at least two mentions of possible conflicts with Joyce's estate, RTE reports, along with a mention of previous "difficulty" the government met with after putting Joyce on a 10 pound bill.
Krishnadev reported on the silver proof coin for The Two-Way last month, along with the outrage it prompted on Irish news sites after Joyce fans realized a sentence on the coin — "Signatures of all things that I am here to read" — contains an erroneous that.
The bank has insisted that the coin was intended as "an artistic representation" of Joyce and his work, not "a literal representation."
After its April release, Joyce's grandson and literary executor, Stephen Joyce, called the coin "one of the greatest insults to the Joyce family that has ever been perpetrated in Ireland," The Irish Times reported. He added that he wasn't consulted about the image it bears, calling it "the most unlikely likeness of Joyce ever produced."
The documents also suggest a disagreement over the choice of Joyce in the first place, RTE reports. Officials also considered Jonathan Swift and William Butler Yeats for the coin, part of a series honoring European writers.
Despite the difficulties surrounding it — or perhaps because of them — the Joyce coin became an instant collector's item. Just one day after it went on sale, the central bank announced that it had sold all 10,000 of the coins it minted. It also thanked customers "for their unprecedented interest in the coin."
Even before the coin kerfuffle, Joyce's literary estate had a reputation of being contentious. The expiration of the European copyright on Joyce's work in 2012 merited an article in The New Yorker titled, "Has James Joyce Been Set Free?"
Two men were arrested and removed from a Pakistan International Airlines passenger jet Friday. It had been on its way from Lahore to Manchester when something that happened aboard led authorities to scramble Royal Air Force fighter jets and divert the passenger plane to London Stansted Airport.
Reuters and the BBC say the men were arrested on suspicion of "endangerment of an aircraft." Little is known, though, about what they allegedly did or what led to the decision to scramble the fighters and divert the flight.
Britain is on alert, of course, after Wednesday's brutal murder of a British soldier on a busy south London street. The men arrested for that attack were heard and recorded by witnesses saying that they had acted in retaliation for the deaths of Muslims during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Stansted airport tweets that "flights are operating as normal @STN_Airport following an earlier incident with an aircraft."
Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Memory Games.
About Joshua Foer's TEDTalk
Some people can memorize thousands of numbers, the names of dozens of strangers or the precise order of cards in a shuffled deck. Science writer and U.S. Memory Champion Joshua Foer shows how anyone can become a memory virtuoso, including him.
About Joshua Foer
In 2005, science writer Joshua Foer went to cover the U.S. Memory Championship. A year later he was back — as a contestant. A year of mental training with Europe's top memorizer turned into a book, Moonwalking with Einstein, which is both a chronicle of his immersion in the memory culture and an informative introduction to the science of memory.
Much more surprisingly, that year of training also turned into a first-place victory at the national competition in New York and the chance to represent the U.S. at the World Memory Championship. Foer's writing has appeared in National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times and other publications. He is also the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura, an online guide to the world's wonders and curiosities, and the design competition Sukkah City.
Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Memory Games.
About Daniel Kahneman's TEDTalk
Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman goes through a series of examples of things we might remember, from vacations to colonoscopies. He explains how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently.
About Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman is an elder statesman in the field of behavioral economics. In the mid-1970s, with his collaborator Amos Tversky, he was among the first academics to pick apart exactly why we make "wrong" decisions.
Their work treated economics not as a perfect or self-correcting machine, but as a system prey to quirks of human perception. The field of behavioral economics was born. Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Memorial prize in 2002 for his work with Tversky, who died before the award was bestowed.