Why aren't there any fireflies in California?
"You can find fireflies in California if you go out of your way and know where and when to look. But most Californians either are never going to see them or won't notice them when they do."
firefly  StraightDope  california 
23 days ago
New firefly found in SoCal—Wait, we have fireflies?
A never-before-seen species of firefly was just discovered in the Santa Monica mountains, in Topanga.

It's just a little guy — about half a centimeter long. It does glow, but faintly. Experts say it has nothing on its beaming East Coast cousins that light up lawns on warm summer evenings.

In general, fireflies prefer wet habitats that better support snails, their favorite food. Those few species that have been discovered in Southern California have been found mostly by springs, seeps and streams.

If you'd like to go firefly hunting yourself, your best bet is to head for a natural water source on a summer night and turn off your flashlight so you have a better chance of seeing a glow.
firefly  california  article  LATimes 
23 days ago
Branding Crafted Taste
HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE SUBSCRIPTION BOX
Boxes  gifts  subscription 
6 weeks ago
Investigating Pennsylvania’s Very Particular Penchant for Potato Chips
THE SMALL, CENTRAL-EAST PENNSYLVANIA TOWN of Hanover is, like much of Pennsylvania, very normal on the surface, and incredibly weird just below.

Hanover, and a few counties surrounding it, is the biggest producer of America’s favorite guilty pleasures. It is tempting to be scornful of any place that calls itself the “capital of the world” of any particular product, but it’s hard to argue with Hanover’s claim on this one: more potato chips (and pretzels, candy, ice cream, and chocolate) are produced over these few counties than anywhere else on Earth.
Pennsylvania  potatochip  AtlasObscura 
6 weeks ago
Postcards from the Edge
East Germans seem to have had a thing for postcards. During its roughly forty years of existence, the GDR generated well over 30,000 (!) unique postcards, a rather remarkable number for a country which was never the most popular tourist destination.
DDR  GDR  Postcards 
6 weeks ago
The Soviet Military Program that Secretly Mapped the Entire World
The U.S.S.R. covertly mapped American and European cities—down to the heights of houses and types of businesses.
Soviet  maps  coldwar  article  NationalGeographic 
8 weeks ago
Rocket Slides and Monkey Bars: Chasing the Vanishing Playgrounds of Our Youth
For children, playgrounds are where magic happens. And if you count yourself among Baby Boomers or Gen Xers, you probably have fond memories of high steel jungle gyms and even higher metal slides that squeaked and groaned as you slid down them. The cheerful variety of animals and vehicles on springs gave you plenty of rides to choose from, while a spiral slide, often made of striped panels, was a repeated thrill. When you dismounted from a teeter-totter, you had to be careful not to send your partner crashing to the ground or get hit in the head by your own seat. The tougher, faster kids always pushed the brightly colored merry-go-round, trying to make riders as dizzy as possible. In the same way, you’d dare your sibling or best friend to push you even higher on the swing so your toes could touch the sky. The most exciting playgrounds would take the form of a pirate ship, a giant robot, or a space rocket.
playground  history  CollectorWeekly  article 
9 weeks ago
FF Cst Berlin East
For decades, two different styles ruled the streets of divided Berlin. West Berlin street signs were made using a sans serif style that dated back to the 1930s, at least. Meanwhile, street signs in East Berlin made use of a narrow, router-based sans serif, which was probably developed during the 1950s.

After German reunification, it was unclear what would happen to these competing street sign styles. Two Berlin-based designers – Ole Schäfer and Verena Gerlach – took to the streets to document as many of the signs as they could, before anything might happen to them. Based on their documentation of the street signs themselves, rather than on the technical patterns from which the signs were actually made, Gerlach and Schäfer created the FF City Street Type series for FontFont.
berlin  typography  font 
9 weeks ago
City Street Type Berlin Ost
To keep the remembrence of Berlin’s two streetsign systems Ole Schäfer and I started the City Street Types project. We digitized the two distinctly different alphabets and designed a small family of text fonts based on these letterforms.

The history of the Berlin West streetsign typeface actually starts in the 1930s, as it was used for the whole city, the former “Greater Berlin“. From the 1930s on, streedsigns, made of weather resistant enamal, were produced to replace the old ones and give the gloomy city a contemporary appearance. As typeface, a variation of Erbar Grotesk (from Jakob Erbar, 1926) was used.

Around 1950, new signs with a more industrial look were invented in East-Berlin. The sign itself was made of plastic: a sandwich with a white shell and a black core. The letters were drilled in by a millcut: a typical engineer’s constructed alphabet along the lines of DIN Engschrift. There are two versions of the original typeface: In one, only one head for the millcut was used, the other one was done with two heads beside each other. The result are two kind of ends of the letters. One round, the other one straight.
berlin  typography  font  street 
9 weeks ago
Maritime Topics On Stamps: The Great Bitter Lake Locals !
In June of 1967, a convoy of 14 freighters was underway in the Suez Canal, northbound, when war broke out between Israel and Egypt. The canal was officially closed and the ships had to anchor in the Great Bitter Lake. Within three days it became clear that the canal was going to be blockaded for an indefinite amont of time due to the deliberate sinking of vessels. The hostilities entered history books as the Six-Day-War. For the ships it meant almost eight years of forced isolation, imprisoned in the Great Bitter Lake.
Stamps  Ships  SixDayWar  SuezCanal 
10 weeks ago
Berlin Los Angeles
Are Berlin and Los Angeles a good pair?
Absolutely!

The two cities are known to ignite a spectrum of emotions from frustration to euphoria. They are emotional and creative playgrounds for us to think and express ourselves without restrictions. The cities pave their own path with little regard to traditional norms, resulting in redefined standards. Berlin and Los Angeles continue to be the backdrops for creatives and innovators to revolutionize the arts, sciences, and technology industries.
berlin  losangeles  Events 
10 weeks ago
L.A.’s palm trees are dying and it’s changing the city’s famous skyline
Like so many things in Southern California_ the palm tree was an import from somewhere else that over time became inextricably symbolic of its adopted home. But trees_ identified with sun-splashed excitement Los Angeles_ are facing a decidedly darker fate. They dying fatal fungus and under threat invasive insects parks along streets. for most part_ city has chosen to replace them not new palms native trees more drought-tolerant shadier_ said Leon Borodinsky_ surgeon department Recreation Parks.palm LosAngeles Article LATimes
palm  trees  losangeles  LATimes  from iphone
10 weeks ago
Inside The Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns
There's no telling how many guns we have in America—and when one gets used in a crime, no way for the cops to connect it to its owner. The only place the police can turn for help is a Kafkaesque agency in West Virginia, where, thanks to the gun lobby, computers are illegal and detective work is absurdly antiquated. On purpose. Thing is, the geniuses who work there are quietly inventing ways to do the impossible.
Guns  politics  government  ATF  article  GQ 
september 2017
Attacked by Rotten Tomatoes
Some in Hollywood believe that Rotten Tomatoes, which boils down hundreds of reviews to give films a “fresh” or “rotten” score, has become too influential with the public
RottenTomatoes  Cinema  reviews  film  article  nytimes 
september 2017
How science found a way to help coma patients communicate
After suffering serious brain injuries, Scott Routley spent 12 years in a vegetative state. But his family were convinced that he was still aware – could a pioneering ‘mind-reading’ technique prove them right?
coma  MRI  article  TheGuardian 
september 2017
The Wende Museum Uses Graphic Ephemera and Material Culture to Challenge Misconceptions of Life Behind the Berlin Wall
While our understanding of the Cold War is often dominated by static dates and facts in history books, or by Hollywood’s long line of cloak and dagger thrillers and pulpy spy fantasies like the recent Atomic Blonde, the Wende provides a rare view into the lived experience of people behind the Iron Curtain through its everyday objects.
DDR  Wende  Museum  Article  AIGA 
august 2017
This Enormous 100-Year-Old Map of Rome is Still the City's Best
A 1901 map of Rome is arguably the best map ever made of the most mapped city in human history. The map, created by archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani, documents the city in meticulous detail from its ancient past through the end of the 19th century.
Rome  maps  Italy  NationalGeographic 
august 2017
The Loveliest Living Fossil
But the best and most active of these living fossils is a personal favorite: it’s the Numero, known to us by the monogram Nº.
Typography 
august 2017
The Mammoth Pirates
With the sale of elephant tusks under close scrutiny, “ethical ivory” from the extinct woolly mammoth is now feeding an insatiable market in China. This rush on mammoth ivory is luring a fresh breed of miner – the tusker – into the Russian wilderness and creating dollar millionaires in some of the poorest villages of Siberia. On condition that he not reveal names or exact locations, RFE/RL photographer Amos Chapple gained exclusive access to one site where between bouts of vodka-fueled chaos and days spent evading police patrols, teams of men are using illegal new methods in the hunt for what remains of Siberia's lost giants.
Russia  ivory  mammoths  photography  article  RadioFreeEurope 
august 2017
Riding the Cassiopeia night train through Japan
And what a beautiful train it is - all shiny and silver and clean, and a perfectly matched set. It hearkens back to the days of streamliners in the United States.

I've been taking long-distance trains all my life in the States - I love it, though I never lived through those glory years. I do have some built-in expectations from that Amtrak experience. In a lot of ways, it was surprising how similar riding Cassiopeia was to riding any of Amtrak's long-haul trains. Of course, like everything else in Japan, in other ways it was a different world.
railroad  passenger  train  japan 
july 2017
The Rise and Fall of Sears
How the retail store that taught America how to shop navigated more than a century of economic and cultural change
Sears  history  DepartmentStore  Smithsonian  article 
july 2017
Minutes widget: Good things come in small packages
Minutes, by designer Kei Sasaki, is the smallest widget on my Dashboard. It’s so small, it makes the default clock look like it’s squandering pixels. It’s also one of the most feature rich widgets on my Dashboard.

Minutes is a countdown timer that allows you to execute certain actions like playing iTunes playlists, opening files, or putting your Mac to sleep, when that timer reaches zero. What’s amazing in this widget, is that its design is so well perfected, that you can’t imagine having it any other way. The smooth slider lets you wind the timer on the gorgeous pulsing dial. The buttons on the side allow you to switch between different actions, and flipping the widget reveal the context sensitive settings. Kei Sasaki has done a truly fantastic job on bringing it all together.
Widget  mac  dashboard  timer 
july 2017
Minutes
Minutes is a simple and colorful timer. For example, it can be used for the time left until a meeting begins, the time to walk the dog, or the time to go pick up your child. Give it a try. See how the small, close-at-hand timer works for you when your schedule is packed and you may forget something. You can make Minutes into a little friend on your Mac for those important times in your busy life.
dashboard  Widget  timer  mac  app 
july 2017
Dennis Hastert May Have Chosen the Absolute Worst Way to Buy Someone’s Silence
The US financial system offers a host of creative—and legal—options for untraceable payoffs.
money  art  law  MotherJones  Article 
july 2017
What Was the Greatest Era for Innovation? A Brief Guided Tour
We’re in the golden age of innovation, an era in which digital technology is transforming the underpinnings of human existence. Or so a techno-optimist might argue.

We’re in a depressing era in which innovation has slowed and living standards are barely rising. That’s what some skeptical economists believe.

The truth is, this isn’t a debate that can be settled objectively. Which was a more important innovation: indoor plumbing, jet air travel or mobile phones? You could argue for any of them, and data can tell plenty of different stories depending on how you look at it. Productivity statistics or information on inflation-adjusted incomes is helpful, but can’t really tell you whether the advent of air-conditioning or the Internet did more to improve humanity’s quality of life.
nytimes  Progress  history  invention 
july 2017
Canada Is Turning 150. Oh, to Be 100 Again.
For Expo 67, this usually modest and frugal country spent vast amounts of money to create islands within the St. Lawrence River and build an array of huge buildings, all to show off Canada to the world.

But even if uncharacteristic, the fair was a coming out for a new Canada. And in 1967, it defined the country’s celebration of its 100th birthday (or, more accurately, the centennial of its current political structure) in a way that no single event will mark the 150th on Saturday.

Much like today, 1967 was a time when Canada was reimagining itself. Its now iconic maple leaf flag was only two years old, and a committee was recommending that “O Canada” succeed “God Save the Queen” as the official anthem.
Expo67  Montreal  Canada  nytimes 
june 2017
Post Mortem on the Dan Plan
Sadly, the Dan Plan is over. I analyze what happened and what we can learn from one man's adventure.
10000hours  practice  golf  blog  expertise 
june 2017
Inside Walt Disney's Ambitious, Failed Plan to Build the City of Tomorrow
Walt Disney called it the "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow," and he wanted it yesterday. After opening Disneyland in July 1955 in Anaheim, California, the visionary conceived of a city that would bring his patented magic to life. Of course, that was easier said than done, the defining characteristic of most Disney projects. But logistics didn't faze him. He was a student of aesthetic, technology, and workflow. Whatever he couldn't crack himself, he threw to his elite Imagineers.
Disney  WaltDisney  EPCOT  article  Esquire 
june 2017
Constructed Country Generator
Inspired by S. John Ross' Medieval Demographics Made Easy:
"Fantasy worlds come in many varieties, from the "hard core" medieval-simulation school to the more fanciful realms of high fantasy, with alabaster castles and jeweled gardens in the place of the more traditional muddy squalor. Despite their differences, these share a vital common element: ordinary people. Most realms of fantasy, no matter how baroque or magical, can not get by without a supply of ordinary farmers, merchants, quarreling princes and palace guards. Clustered into villages and crowding the cities, they provide the human backdrop for adventure.
Of course, doing the research necessary to find out how common a large city should be, or how many shoemakers can be found in a town, can take up time not all GMs have available."
Country  Generator  internet  tools  Medieval 
june 2017
The founder of Pinboard on why understanding fandom is good for business
Subscription-based bookmarking site Pinboard is a one-man operation, founded and maintained by former Yahoo engineer and slightly eccentric Silicon Valley figure Maciej Cegłowski. Last week, it managed to acquire its longtime rival, Delicious, for a paltry $35,000, in what appeared on its surface to be a standard story of dog-eat-dog. But behind every boring story is a smaller, more interesting story. Delicious may be largely lost to the internet, but it leaves behind a valuable lesson on understanding users — specifically those that belong to a massive online subculture.
Pinboard  article  TheVerge 
june 2017
Meet the Companies Literally Dropping ‘Irish’ Pubs in Cities Across the World
The Auld Dubliner — small, dark, and convincing, with a flat, matte, unassuming facade (red and yellow lettering over black paint, on wood) — rests between a heavily illuminated branch of T-Mobile and a “dueling piano café” on a street approximately 5,000 miles from the place invoked in its name. Almost every part of the bar the eye falls on — from the stocky tables and the upholstered chairs to the floor tiling and the mock oil lamps dangling from the ceiling — were railed into the unit in Long Beach, California, from a 40-foot container that spent between three and five weeks at sea.
Irish  bar  Ireland  article  eater 
april 2017
Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria
Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them.
GoogleBooks  books  article  TheAtlantic  from iphone
april 2017
The trees that make Southern California shady and green are dying. Fast.
The trees that shade, cool and feed people from Ventura County to the Mexican border are dying so fast that within a few years it’s possible the region will look, feel, sound and smell much less pleasant than it does now.

“We’re witnessing a transition to a post-oasis landscape in Southern California,” says Greg McPherson, a supervisory research forester with the U.S. Forest Service who has been studying what he and others call an unprecedented die-off of the trees greening Southern California’s parks, campuses and yards.
california  plants  trees  article  LATimes 
april 2017
The Long, Lucrative Right-wing Grift Is Blowing Up in the World's Face
Donald Trump is 70 years old. He has always, clearly, been an incoherent thinker, contradictory and prone to self-gratifying delusions. But if, for much of his life, he was able to pass as an intelligent and well-informed man, it was probably just because he religiously read newspapers, especially the New York Times. That was and is a decent way to sound like a smart person, at least for a few minutes, which is long enough to impress most rich people. Now, though, Trump is older, his thinking more rigid, his favored media outlets less trustworthy and more likely to reinforce reactionary tendencies. Cable news has largely replaced newspapers as his primary source of information about the world. He has also taken to reading conspiratorial websites run by kooks and con artists. Perhaps, if you have a white parent or grandparent over 60, this sounds familiar?
Trump  politics  media 
april 2017
How Your Historical Plaque Sausage Gets Made
Us plaque lovers walk a little slower than the rest, and we’ll stop at a moment’s notice to read some shiny brass that’s been stuck in a wall. At the amazing podcast 99% Invisible there’s a motto for us: “Always read the plaque.” But just how do these plaques get made? And who guards their accuracy?
Plaques  article  PacificStandard 
march 2017
L.A.’s mayor wants to lower the city’s temperature. These scientists are figuring out how to do it
As part of a sweeping plan to help L.A. live within its environmental means, Garcetti has pledged to reduce the average temperature in the metropolis by 3 degrees over the next 20 years.
LosAngeles  environment  planning  cities  article  LATimes  from iphone
february 2017
How Uber could become a nightmarish monopoly
What if every time you took a taxi, you were charged the absolute maximum you could afford?
Uber  monopoly  article  theWeek  from iphone
february 2017
Against Normalization: The Lesson of the “Munich Post”
THE TRUMP-HITLER COMPARISON. Is there any comparison? Between the way the campaigns of Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler should have been treated by the media and the culture? The way the media should act now? The problem of normalization?
Hitler  trump  LARB 
february 2017
Californians are paying billions for power they don’t need
We're using less electricity. Some power plants have even shut down. So why do state officials keep approving new ones?
Electricity  California  article  LATimes 
february 2017
Finding North America’s lost medieval city
Cahokia was bigger than Paris—then it was completely abandoned. I went there to find out why.
USA  history  article  ArsTechnica  mounds 
december 2016
Where to hate daylight saving time and where to love it
If you want consistent morning daylight, you should be as far southeast in your time zone as possible. I recommend the Big Island of Hawaii. If, like me, you’re all about evening sun, hop the border to the southwest part of the next time zone. But remember that’s for consistency, not total daylight. The farther north you go, the longer days will be in the summer—but the shorter they’ll be in winter.
DaylightSavingsTime  time  USA  maps  from iphone
november 2016
Daylight saving time ends Sunday. It ought to go on forever.
Switching between daylight saving time and standard time doesn’t save energy, it decreases the amount of daylight office workers see in the winter, it possibly puts a damper on sales, it discourages kids from exercising, and it may cause some auto accidents. So why keep changing the clock?
Time  DaylightSavings  politics  government  article  vox  from iphone
november 2016
How Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey Lost Its Way
The near-extinction of America’s oldest brands and the death of a spirits category.
Rye  liquor  whiskey  article  dailyBeast 
october 2016
The rise of American authoritarianism
A niche group of political scientists may have uncovered what's driving Donald Trump's ascent. What they found has implications that go well beyond 2016.
Politics  authoritarianism  USA  article  Vox  from iphone
october 2016
PENN STATION REBORN
Decades ago, New York lost one of its grand entryways. What if a new one were hiding in plain sight?
nytimes  editorial  PennsylvaniaStation  train  amtrak  NYC 
september 2016
God Tier: Facebook moms run the meme game
The advice meme as we knew it (original characters captioned in Impact) is dead. But while the internet cultural vanguard moved on, a newer class of internet user, the well-connected mainstreamer, reinvented it. We live in the age of the post-meme.
meme  advice  mom  facebook  essay  medium 
august 2016
See Maps of Fantasy Worlds Created by Bots
A fantasy-novel inspired Twitter bot generates a new map of fictional lands every hour
Maps  algorithms  generated 
august 2016
Of Thee I Read: The United States in Literature
Reporters and editors on the National Desk of The New York Times were asked to suggest books that a visitor ought to read to truly understand the American cities and regions where they live, work and travel.
There were no restrictions — novels, memoirs, histories and children’s books were fair game. Here are some selections.

Boston - “Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families” by J. Anthony Lukas

Maine - “One Morning in Maine.” Robert McCloskey

South - “The Militant South,” John Hope Franklin

New Orleans - “The Accidental City” by Lawrence N. Powell

Midwest - “Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen,” Bob Greene

Southwest - “Blood and Thunder” by Hampton Sides

Pacific Northwest - James Lyons, “Selling Seattle: Representing Contemporary Urban America”

California - “Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water,” Marc Reisner

Los Angeles - “Songs in the Key of Los Angeles,” Josh Kun
nytimes  article  literature  books  USA 
august 2016
The Blackbird
The Mill BLACKBIRD® which sets out to transform the way automotive advertising is made – it’s a car rig that can be shot at any time, in any location, without the need to rely on a physical car. The Mill BLACKBIRD® is able to quickly transform its chassis to match the exact length and width of almost any car. Powered by an electric motor, it can be programmed to imitate acceleration curves and gearing shifts and the adjustable suspension alters ride height, rigidity and dampening to replicate typical driving characteristics.
CG  advertising  ComputerGraphics  Car  Automobile 
august 2016
Brexit Blues
The ‘Overton window’ is a term from political science meaning the acceptable range of political thought in a culture at a given moment. It was the creation of Joseph Overton, a think-tank intellectual based in Michigan, who died in 2003 at 43 after a solo plane accident. His crucial insight, one which both emerged from and was central to the work of the think tank Right, was that the window of acceptability can be moved. An idea can start far outside the political mainstream – flat taxes, abolish the IRS, more guns in schools, building a beautiful wall and making Mexico pay – but once it has been stated and argued for, framed and restated, it becomes thinkable. It crosses over from the fringe of right-wing think-tankery to journalistic fellow-travellers; then it crosses over to the fringe of electoral politics; then it becomes a thing people start seriously advocating as a possible policy. The window has moved, and rough beasts come slouching through it to be born.
Brexit  essay  LondonReview 
july 2016
The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel
Who can imagine New York City without the Mission burrito? Like the Yankees, the Brooklyn Bridge or the bagel, the oversize burritos have become a New York institution. And yet it wasn’t long ago that it was impossible to find a good burrito of any kind in the city. As the 30th anniversary of the Alameda-Weehawken burrito tunnel approaches, it’s worth taking a look at the remarkable sequence of events that takes place between the time we click “deliver” on the burrito.nyc.us.gov website and the moment that our hot El Farolito burrito arrives in the lunchroom with its satisfying pneumatic hiss.
Burrito  infrastructure  fiction 
may 2016
Miniacs Live in a Small, Small World
Apparently, it really is a small world, and it’s getting progressively smaller, thanks to young artists working in 1:12 scale, which is the traditional ratio for miniatures, dollhouses and dioramas. Instead of dreamy young schoolgirls adorning pint-size Victorian mansions, today’s miniaturists are creating perfect parallel universes in the vein of the Thorne Miniature Rooms on permanent exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago
Miniature  article  NYTimes  from iphone
may 2016
The Amateur Cloud Society That (Sort Of) Rattled the Scientific Community
Frankly, a person too dull to look up at the sky and see a parade of tortoises or a huge pair of mittens or a ghost holding a samurai sword is not a person worth lying in a meadow with.
Clouds  Article  Mooallem  NYTimes 
may 2016
What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?
Rather than concern itself with managing myriad social welfare and unemployment insurance programs, the government would instead regularly cut a no-strings-attached check to each citizen. No conditions. No questions. Everyone, rich or poor, employed or out of work would get the same amount of money. This arrangement would provide a path toward a new way of living: If people no longer had to worry about making ends meet, they could pursue the lives they want to live.
Money  income  government  taxes 
may 2016
Here's what it would take for the US to run on 100% renewable energy
It is technically and economically feasible to run the US economy entirely on renewable energy, and to do so by 2050. That is the conclusion of a study last year in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, authored by Stanford scholar Mark Z. Jacobson and nine colleagues.
Power  of  energy 
may 2016
Designing with LEDs
Blog about LED lighting
LED  lights  blog 
april 2016
Keeping America’s Oldest Weather Station Humming
After 130 years of daily reports, still taking measurements
Weather  history  Massachusetts  GreatBlueHill 
april 2016
Planet Earth as a living machine
This series presents visually spectacular tours of the seven continents as it makes connections between our solar system and Earth's oceans, climate, and mineral and energy sources. It unifies Earth science, astronomy, and comparative planetology into an integrated discipline that relies on common scientific methods. A flexible instructional resource,Planet Earth provides course material for nonscience students and science majors. Produced by WQED/Pittsburgh in association with the National Academy of Sciences. 1986.
Science Earth PlateTectonics WQED 1980s PBS
>  from iphone
april 2016
'Consumer Reports' in the Age of the Amazon Review
This delay in adapting also allowed for the emergence of digital-first competitors that draw on some aspects of Consumer Reports’s technique. The sister websites The Wirecutter and The Sweethome, for example, publish reviews that mix expert opinion, a fluency in online culture, and creative, if sometimes unorthodox, experiments—like when The Sweethome had bike thieves help evaluate bike locks. Tellado’s proposed solutions are standards of print-first magazines seeking to attract new audiences online: rebuilding the Consumer Reports website, rethinking its paywall strategy, producing more videos, distributing more mobile-friendly content, and investing in its social-media presence. “As we dig in a little harder on the digital and start to look at the data, I think you’re going to see a heck of a lot of experimenting,” said Tellado.
ConsumerReports  article  TheAtlantic 
april 2016
Model Railroad Operations SIG Industry Database
Currently there are about 40,000 industries in our directory (still being accumulated). Industries are predominantly actual companies located on prototype railroads, but we also include some industries on model railroads because some users enjoy including them in their routings. These are specifically identified, however, so those who prefer to exclude them can do so.
Railroad  history  resource  modelRailroad 
april 2016
Beyond the sea
the northern reaches of Newfoundland, near the town of St. Anthony, is the Fox Point Lighthouse. I’ve never been there, but I know it has one of the most impressive ocean views in the world. If you face perpendicular to the right bit of rocky coastline there and gaze straight across the ocean, your mind’s eye peering well beyond the horizon, you can see all the way to Australia.
Maps  oceanviews 
march 2016
The Really Big One
The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent
Earthquake  WestCoast  article  NewYorker  from iphone
march 2016
Phones Ride Amtrak Passengers On Metroliners Can Place Calls From The Trains
This is the second time Amtrak has offered telephone service between New York and Washington. The first effort was in the 1970s, with the use of microwave technology, but the telephone-equipped coach cars, which Amtrak inherited from the Penn Central Railroad, were phased out of Metroliner service by 1981. At the same time, the White House, which happened to control the microwave frequencies Amtrak used, chose not to renew the leases that the passenger-rail corporation had on them, Amtrak spokesman John Jacobsen said. Now, the 50-50 joint venture between Amtrak and Railfone Inc., a subsidiary of Airfone Inc. of Oak Brook, Ill., utilizes cellular mobile-radio telephone technology. It is the same technology used for car telephones, and the quality and ease of using the system are better than in the past, according to both Amtrak officials and rail passengers. Airfone pioneered the use of similar mobile telephones aboard airplanes.
Amtrak  history  railroad  railfone  telephone 
march 2016
Helium Dreams
Where are all the airships? he asked himself. The world needs airships.
Airships  blimps  transportation  article  NewYorker  from iphone
march 2016
The road not taken
Half a century after its heyday, the Alden StaRRcar clearly wasn’t made for its world. It looks like a white flatiron with wheels or a sleek, plastic bullet, dwarfed by the regal sedans of 1960s Detroit. It belongs in one of Buckminster Fuller’s domed cities, a vehicle for traveling under the geodesics of a bubble-topped Manhattan. Its future wasn’t one of highways, but of narrow cement tracks looping gracefully between city and suburb, connecting increasingly alienated parts of the American landscape. Once considered a key to solving urban blight, the StaRRcar was part of a public transit revolution that never was — but one that would help launch one of the weirdest and most politicized public infrastructure experiments of the 20th century. It’s an old idea that today, in an age of self-driving cars, seems by turns impractically retro and remarkably prescient.
Transportation  prt  history  article  theVerge 
march 2016
That time the Toronto Police had a talking police car
The Santa Claus Parade will once again feature an auto-riffic appearance from Blinky, the semi-retired Metropolitan Toronto Police Car who for decades has taught kids about traffic safety, inspired and terrified in equal measure.
Toronto  Police  Canada  Nightmare  History  anthropomorphic 
march 2016
The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens
That feeling when you hit a million followers, make more money than your mom, push a diet pill scheme, lose your blog, and turn 16.
Tumblr  internet  article  NewRepublic 
february 2016
New Jersey Midland Railroad Historical Society
The New Jersey Midland Railroad Historical Society, Inc. is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the railroads that have operated in New Jersey, with special emphasis on the New Jersey Midland; its successor New York, Susquehanna & Western; and other lines connected or affiliated including Wilkes Barre & Eastern; Lehigh & Hudson River; Lehigh & New England; Middletown & New Jersey; New York & Greenwood Lake; Erie; Lackawanna; and Wharton & Northern
Railroad  history  newJersey 
january 2016
Why Should Dole Own Container Ships?
Next, nearly all bananas come from plantations in Central America. Ecuador to San Diego isn’t a very active tradelane: it’s nothing close to Shenzhen—Rotterdam, the world’s most important lane for containerized cargo. Dole would find it nearly impossible to get the service required to meet the needs of complex coordination of importing produce. In addition, the countries that export the most bananas don’t have the world’s best-developed ports, in part because they don’t produce enough goods to return the investment in high-tech ports.
Dole  ships  shipping  ShippingContainers  article  Flexport 
december 2015
Wild Watusi Weekend On The Snowball Special
Union Pacific's Snowball—26 happy, headachy hours from Los Angeles to Sun Valley, Idaho—is a Stutz Bearcat in the age of supersonic aircraft. In a time when rail travel is dead it is the liveliest thing on wheels. And any skier who would fly is out of the contest. The Snowball was sold out (it is always sold out) three days after Union Pacific simply whispered on one radio spot, "There will be a Snowball Special to Sun Valley January 8," and southern California skiers came running, money in their hands. As little as $154 would guarantee them a week of wonderful mayhem, lifts and lessons at Sun Valley. But, most of all, a chance to get on that train. In the old days when the train was new, back in January 1958, Union Pacific promoted it vigorously. On the first two trips there was free beer for anyone stout enough to drink it and spend those wracking hours in sit-up coach cars. But every trip since that time has grown more expensive, more exclusive. Wilder.
Railroad  Passenger  Train  UnionPacific  article  SportsIllustrated  from iphone
december 2015
Playing God
I can’t remember not wanting a miniature Christmas village. It’s like how I can’t remember when I first realized I have bad posture: some things you never have to learn about yourself but rather just have to accept
Christmas  memoir  TheWalrus  ChristmasVillage 
november 2015
The Story Behind That Mysterious Eye Emoji in iOS
What was still unclear at the time was what purpose the new emoji served. Shortly after it appeared, a designer named Erik Veland used the text-to-speech feature to discover that the emoji is described aloud as “eye in speech bubble representing anti-bullying campaign.” Mystery solved! Except … why did Apple put an anti-bullying emoji in its unreleased iOS update? How did Apple foresee people using it? And what campaign was it representing, exactly?
Apple  Emoji  Icon  Article  Wired  from iphone
november 2015
Under the Desert Sun | Boom: A Journal of California
Ivanpah is the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) installation in the world. It’s also one of the most controversial. The $2.2 billion project, which came online in January 2014, is capable of producing 392 megawatts, enough electricity to power 140,000 homes—or all of Pasadena—during peak demand. It’s one of a handful of new mega-plants—including the Topaz solar farm in San Luis Obispo County, the Desert Sunlight plant southeast of Joshua Tree National Park, and the Genesis Solar Energy Project in eastern Riverside County—that have turned California into the first state to generate more than 5 percent of its electricity from utility-scale solar. But Ivanpah has come under fire from conservationists concerned about its bird-frying capabilities, and from green-energy skeptics who accuse Ivanpah’s backers of under-delivering on what was promised.
Power  solar  California  article  Boom 
november 2015
Paul Rand + Steve Jobs - Print Magazine
In 1986 Jobs approached Rand to design the logo for his NeXT educational computer company. After obtaining permission from IBM, Jobs offered Rand a handsome sum to develop a logo for a product that was not yet public. The only thing Rand knew was that the mysterious NeXT computer was a black cube. With this scant yet meaningful intelligence, Rand developed a unique proposal book for the mark that walked the reader – Mr. Jobs – through the step by step conceptual process to the final, logical outcome.
Design  Computer  NeXT  SteveJobs  PaulRand  History  Branding  from iphone
november 2015
How Spotify’s Discover Weekly cracked human curation at internet scale
The algorithms behind Discover Weekly finds users who have built playlists featuring the songs and artists you love. It then goes through songs that a number of your kindred spirits have added to playlists but you haven’t heard, knowing there is a good chance you might like them, too. Finally, it uses your taste profile to filter those findings by your areas of affinity and exploration. Because the playlist, that explicit act of curation, is both the source of the signal and the final output, the technique can achieve results far more interesting than run of the mill collaborative filtering.
Spotify  Music  Algorithm  Technology  Article  TheVerge  from iphone
november 2015
When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?
Every generation brings a new definition of masculinity and femininity that manifests itself in children’s dress
Gender  baby  article  smithsonian 
november 2015
How The Shinkansen Bullet Train Made Tokyo What It Is Today
The world’s first high-speed commercial train line, which celebrates its 50th anniversary on Wednesday, was built along the Tokaido, one of the five routes that connected the Japanese hinterland to Edo, the city that in the mid-1800s became Tokyo. Though train lines crisscrossed the country, they were inadequate to postwar Japan’s newborn ambitions. The term “shinkansen” literally means “new trunk line” symbolically, it lay at the very centre of the huge reconstruction effort. All previous railways were designed to serve regions. The purpose of the Tokaido Shinkansen, true to its name, was to bring people to the capital.
Shinkansen  Japan  train  railroad  article  history 
november 2015
Inside Apple's perfectionism machine
Schiller is, for most people, a cipher: A highly knowledgeable Apple spokesperson who can speak as passionately about its products as his late boss, Steve Jobs. In fact, to listen to Schiller speak is to hear echoes of the visionary leader who died in 2011. It occurs to me more than once that, perhaps, many of turns of phrase we often attributed to Jobs may have actually started with Schiller.
Apple  PhilSchiller  article  Mashable 
october 2015
One Town's Big, Bold Celebration of Oil
On the scene at an oil-themed parade in Taft, California.
Oil  California  article  PacificStandard 
october 2015
Digging up the ghosts of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride
Since it opened in 1969, the hows and whys of the Mansion's story are a thing of myth and fan speculation. Did the house once belong to a bride in the attic? What about those singing ghosts in the graveyard? And just who is this Hatbox Ghost?
Disney  Disneyland  HauntedMansion  article  LAtimes  from iphone
october 2015
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