Completely silent computer built

There's an art and craft to building fanless computers that can do fancy things (like play games), but the one Tim made is housed in the attractive Streacom DB4 and makes no noise at all. Zero decibels. Tim had to research motherboard clearances to the fraction of a millimeter to make sure he picked the right one to work with its heatpipe kit.

This computer makes no noise when it starts up. It makes no noise when it shuts down. It makes no noise when it idles. It makes no noise when it’s under heavy load. It makes no noise when it’s reading or writing data. It can’t be heard in a regular room during the day. It can’t be heard in a completely quiet house in the middle of the night. It can’t be heard from 1m away. It can’t be heard from 1cm away. It can’t be heard — period. It’s taken nearly 30 years to reach this point, but I’ve finally arrived. The journey is over and it feels great.

The full-size Streacom DB4 is $300 at this site; a miniature version is available on Amazon for some obscene sum but you won't be building anything with much grunt in it. Read the rest

Quakers release podcast of silent meeting

A young Quakers group in Nottingham, England released this 30-minute podcast of a silent meeting, complete with the ambient room sounds. John Cage would be proud. From The Guardian:

Quakerism was founded in the 17th century by the dissenter George Fox during the years of Puritan England. The group’s meetings are characterised by silence, which is occasionally broken when someone present feels the urge to speak, say a prayer or offer a reading.

The idea for the silent podcast first came from Tim Gee, a Quaker living in London, who was inspired by the BBC’s season of “slow” radio, which treated audiences to – among other things – the sounds of birds singing, mountain climbing and monks chatting.

Gee said he had wanted to “share a small oasis of calm, and a way to provide a moment of stillness, for people on the move”.

The Young Quaker Podcast: "#4 - Silence Special" Read the rest

Calling politicians on their bullshit in West Virginia will get you dragged away

You know that thing where politicians take money from big companies and then try to pass bills that represent the interests of those big companies? Well, some of that shit went down in West Virginia last Friday when a bill was brought into the legislature that would allow oil companies to drill for black gold on a piece of land, provided 75% of the land are cool with it. I'm not huge on math, but it seems to me that this would seriously screw the last 25% of the land's owners who don't want their land messed with.

Lissa Lucas, a Democrat who's running for a seat in the state's House of Delegates, thought so too. Also, she has a serious issue with the strangle hold that energy companies have on West Virginia's politics and, in turn, West Virginian politicians. Giving voice to her beef, Lucas stood up and attempted to read, on camera, the names of all of the politicians who were voting on the bill who happened to have also received political donations from oil companies.

For her troubles, she was hauled out of the legislature faster than shit pours through a goose. Did I mention that the whole thing was caught on video? Welp, here we are.

The Intercept's  spoke with Lucas about the incident, earlier today. If you've got a few minutes and care about the right of citizens to have their say over what their government does, and why, it's worth a read. Read the rest

The man who seeks the sound of silence

Gordon Hempton is an "acoustic ecologist" and field recording artist who seeks out the places on Earth that are free of noise pollution. The episode below of the Generation Anthropocene podcast features Hempton's story and some of his favorite recordings of the natural environment. For more from Hempton, check out his book "One Square Inch of Silence: One Man's Quest to Preserve Quiet."

(top photo by Richard Darbonne) Read the rest

David Byrne on silence

Talking Heads co-founder David Byrne's new book, "How Music Works," is a combination personal artistic memoir and cultural/scientific exploration of music -- what it is, how it's made, and what it means. (Cory's review of the book is here.) Smithsonian has posted a fascinating excerpt from "How Music Works" that includes a riff on the beauty of silence (photo by Bart Nagel):

In 1969, Unesco passed a resolution outlining a human right that doesn’t get talked about much—the right to silence. I think they’re referring to what happens if a noisy factory gets built beside your house, or a shooting range, or if a disco opens downstairs. They don’t mean you can demand that a restaurant turn off the classic rock tunes it’s playing, or that you can muzzle the guy next to you on the train yelling into his cellphone. It’s a nice thought though—despite our innate dread of absolute silence, we should have the right to take an occasional aural break, to experience, however briefly, a moment or two of sonic fresh air. To have a meditative moment, a head-clearing space, is a nice idea for a human right.

John Cage wrote a book called, somewhat ironically, Silence. Ironic because he was increasingly becoming notorious for noise and chaos in his compositions. He once claimed that silence doesn’t exist for us. In a quest to experience it, he went into an anechoic chamber, a room isolated from all outside sounds, with walls designed to inhibit the reflection of sounds.

Read the rest

Video: The Pinky Show, "The Desert is Quiet"

[Video Link] Hard to explain this web series, and this particular episode. Cats. Philosophy. Emptiness. Best to just watch. (via Andrea James) Read the rest