Super-early risers describe why 4 am is the most productive hour →

Hilary Potkewitz, The Wall Street Journal:

Peter Shankman, a 44-year-old entrepreneur and speaker based in New York City, is usually out of bed a few minutes after 4 a.m. Twice a week he meets a buddy for a 10-mile run in the dark around lower Manhattan.

The city’s streets are usually deserted, providing a nearly distraction-free space for thinking. “If I’m busy dodging people or noticing who’s passing me, my ideas won’t come,” Mr. Shankman says.

By 7 a.m., he claims he is “showered, fed, watered and sitting at his desk” answering emails, writing or working on Faster Than Normal, a podcast focused on harnessing the advantages of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The flip side is that he is in bed by 8:30 p.m. “I’m exhausted, but in a good way, which means I won’t have the energy to do something stupid like eat two gallons of Ben & Jerry’s at 10:30 p.m.” He also says the early start gives him time to make his 3-year-old daughter an omelet for breakfast.

This is tempting. I like the idea of having a couple of hours to get started before the demands of the world crash in. 4 am wakeup seems extreme, but an hour or two earlier than I now awaken? Sure, why not?

Right now I feel like I rush into work on too little sleep and I’m already behind once I’m at my desk. That’s a problem with doing journalism for an international industry while based in the West Coast. Likewise, on days off it feels like I’m sleeping the day away.

Looks like the on-again off-again Forever War movie is off again →

David Frese, The Kansas City Star, interviews our friend Joe Haldeman, author of “The Forever War” and a couple of dozen other fine novels:

Q: Whatever happened to the “Forever War” movie?

A: Well, it’s still flitting around. Every now and then you see something. The money has been invested at this very preliminary level, which is to say I’ve made plenty of money off of it by people buying the rights.

But that doesn’t make a movie happen. We have seven scripts, I understand, but that doesn’t mean much. I can write a script in two months — and I’m slow. I have a pile of scripts in my office here, but nobody’s beating down the door to get to them.

The interviewer notes that “The Forever War” was published in 1974 and begins during an interstellar war in 1997. He asks what aspects of the future haven’t met expectations.

A: It seems we should be well on our way to colonizing Mars by now. Which is what we thought back in the ’70s. What went wrong? Well, the world went wrong. I have to face the fact that space travel is not the most important thing on everybody’s agenda, and most people hardly ever think about it. That’s just reality.

Q: What has exceeded your expectations of the future?

A: I never thought there’d be a black president. I didn’t see that coming in my lifetime. So there’s one good thing that happened. There’s a demonstration that America isn’t a totally racist, backward country.

In fact, I think we’re all pretty good people, and it’s nice when we do something as a group that demonstrates that to people outside the United States.

The internet and mobile computing have exceeded expectations. You can access virtually all the information in the world from an inexpensive pocket sized device. Few if any of the science fiction writers whose work I devoured as a teen in the 70s (who included Joe) predicted that would happen in my lifetime.

Joe’s next book is “Phobos Means Fear,” which is an outstanding title for a science fiction/horror story.

For centuries, Japanese have erected “tsunami stones” to warn descendants of danger →

The 99% Invisible podcast:

Residents of Aneyoshi, Japan, heeded the warnings of their ancestors. They obeyed directions and wisdom found on a local stone monument“Do not build any homes below this point,” it reads. “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants. Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis.” When the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, this village sat safely above the high water mark.

Admirable foresight.

Much of what we know about Bauhaus design comes from photographer Lucia Moholy →

Lucia Moholoy joined her husband, László Moholy-Nagy, when he was hired to teach at the Bauhaus school in 1923. She was a trained photographer, and took pictures of buildings where designers worked, the things they made, and the people who made them, especially the buildings designed by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. The 99% Invisible podcast tells Moholy’s story.

The Bauhaus sought to combine design and industrialization, creating buildings, furniture, tools, and other artifacts that were beautiful, useful, and that could be mass-produced to improve society that had been ravaged by World War I.

Moholy abandoned her hundreds of photographic plates when she fled the Nazis in 1933, and Gropius essentially stole them. They were published in books around the world, and she didn’t get credit. When she discovered what Gropius had done, she spent the rest of her life trying to reclaim them.

Who owns an image of a building? Intellectual property law on photography has evolved over the years, and still varies by country. Still, some rules of thumb that apply in many cases and places.

Generally, if someone takes a picture of a copyrighted two-dimensional object (like a painting) , the photographer has no claim to the ownership of that image. However, if one photographs a three-dimensional object, especially one viewable in public space (like a building), the photographer is clearly making decisions about composition, position, angle, lighting, framing—therefore, the photographer in this case is generally afforded more legal claim to the photograph’s copyright (though various caveats do apply).

In any case, right or wrong, Gropius kept making prints from Moholy’s negatives, kept publishing them, kept circulating them, and kept telling the story of the Bauhaus through her camerawork.

In many ways, architecture is understood and consumed through photography. For the most part, we don’t see the most iconic buildings in person—we see pictures. This turned out to be especially true of the Bauhaus buildings, because after the start of the Cold War, the West’s access to the Bauhaus campus was cut off by the Iron Curtain.