From kottke.org

  • RIP Paul Allen

    Tech titan Paul Allen died yesterday at the age of 65 of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates remembered his friend in a short piece called “What I loved about Paul Allen”.

    Paul foresaw that computers would change the world. Even in high school, before any of us knew what a personal computer was, he was predicting that computer chips would get super-powerful and would eventually give rise to a whole new industry. That insight of his was the cornerstone...


  • The Wrong Color Subway Map

    From the orange 123 line to the green ACE to the purple 456, the color designations on the NYC subway lines on the Wrong Color Subway Map will mess with your head. Get the print here. From the folks who brought us the One-Color Subway Map. (via @khoi)

    Tags: maps   NYC   remix   subways


  • The Death of a Loved One from Opiate Addiction, Plainly & Honestly Told

    From an independent newspaper here in Vermont, the heartbreaking and brutally honest obituary of Madelyn Linsenmeir, a 30-year-old mother who died from a drug addiction to opiates that lasted for more a decade.

    When she was 16, she moved with her parents from Vermont to Florida to attend a performing arts high school. Soon after she tried OxyContin for the first time at a high school party, and so began a relationship with opiates that would dominate the rest of her life.

    It is impossible to...


  • The Twerking Robot

    Hot off the heels of their video showing a humanoid robot casually doing parkour, Boston Dynamics has made a clip of their robot dog doing a hip hop dance routine to Uptown Funk.

    While the robot in the parkour video looked distinctly un-human at times, I have to say that this dog robot is a much better and more fluid dancer than I expected — it’s got better moves than most of the people I’ve seen dancing at Midwestern weddings. The robot does what looks like the running man and then twerks...


  • How the Sears Catalog Undermined White Supremacy in the Jim Crow South

    Sears has filed for bankruptcy protection and plans to close hundreds of stores in an effort to keep the company afloat. The Sears catalog is perhaps one of the most important and under-appreciated innovations in American life. Starting in 1888 with a mailer advertising watches and jewelry, Sears introduced millions of Americans to in-home shopping by using the growing networks of the railroad and US Postal Service, much like Amazon and other retailers would using the internet decades...


  • The Gerontocracy is Driving America into the Ditch

    As Eric Levitz writes in a piece called Millennials Need to Start Voting Before the Gerontocracy Kills Us All, younger Americans are under-represented in American political life.

    The United States, circa 2018, looks like a place run by people who know they’re going to die soon.

    As “once in a lifetime” storms crash over our coasts five times a year - and the White House’s own climate research suggests that human civilization is on pace to perish before Barron Trump — our government is...


  • The Microscopic Fabric of Butterfly Wings

    Chris Perani takes macro photographs of the delicate microscopic makeup of butterfly wings. When you look at the thumbnails on his site, you almost can’t tell they aren’t woven rugs. The detail on these are incredible…here’s a closeup of the top photo:

    (via colossal)

    Tags: butterflies   Chris Perani   photography


  • Keep Going, a Guide to Staying Creative in Chaotic Times

    Austin Kleon, whose previous books Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work you may have seen prominently displayed in book shops around the world, is coming out with a new book this spring: Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad.

    The world is crazy. Creative work is hard. Whether you’re burned out, starting out, starting over, or wildly successful, the question is always the same: How do you keep going?

    In my previous books — the New York Times bestsellers Steal Like An...


  • How the Mercator Projection Distorts the True Sizes of Countries on Maps

    Data scientist Neil Kaye made this map to show how much the popular Mercator projection distorts the sizes of many countries, particularly those in the Northern Hemisphere.

    The distortion in the animated version is even clearer. Key takeaway: Africa is *enormous*.

    See also the true size of things on world maps.

    Tags: maps   Neil Kaye


  • Nationalism Isn’t Patriotism

    At a time when fascism & authoritarianism are creeping into the global politics of the developed world, it’s useful for us to reacquaint ourselves with the difference between nationalism and patriotism. In the wake of World War II, George Orwell wrote an essay called Notes on Nationalism (available in book form here). The first two paragraphs define nationalism and contrast it with patriotism:

    Somewhere or other Byron makes use of the French word longeur, and remarks in passing that though...


  • The Bounty of the Public Library

    Wonderful writer Susan Orlean1 is out with a new book called The Library Book, which is specifically about a 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library and more generally a love letter to libraries. The New Yorker recently published an excerpt.

    Our visits were never long enough for me — the library was so bountiful. I loved wandering around the shelves, scanning the spines of the books until something happened to catch my eye. Those trips were dreamy, frictionless interludes that promised I...


  • Two Great Podcasts About Inanimate Objects

    I love things, material objects in all their haecceity, or irreducible thingness. I also love how inanimate things can unspool whole histories of entire worlds.

    There are two podcasts I’ve been enjoying that each take things as their focus, but come at them in strikingly different ways. They’re each (so far) just six episodes long.

    The first, Articles of Interest, is an offshoot of 99 Percent Invisible, the design podcast, hosted/created by Avery Trufelman. Articles of Interest (or AOI) is...