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Things

At CityLab, a global survey of the finest in public transport fabric patterns. Meanwhile, shared scooters apparently don’t last long enough to need fancy hard-wearing protection – as Ali Griswold reports in her excellent sharing economy newsletter Oversharing, according to Louisville’s open data, the average scooter has been lasting around 28 days on city streets, and the subsequent cash burn of those particular startups is… not great? 

At Triple Canopy, a position description for the financially sustainable forever job of just standing around. We’re looking for someone who wants to be right there. Where the roads meet. Where they cross. Right at the crossroads. We’re looking for someone who wants to be there. Right there. You don’t hesitate. Thanks! Thanks for not hesitating! Thanks for daring! Thank you! 

An incredible, staggering, heartbreaking resource – the relaunched Slave Voyages maps 36,000 transatlantic slaving expeditions over 350 years, as well as cataloguing the personal details of 91,491 captured Africans. We don’t even know where to begin with finding something to say about this, other than that we can’t quite tear ourselves away, and that we want to see what incredible things people can do with all that open data.

We’re absolutely here for Glenn Albrecht’s neologisms for environmental despair – “solastalgia” for the deeply felt distress of the land changing in front of you, “psychoterratic” to group the mental health problems brought about by environmental change. We’re not quite sure how that’s going to extend to a full book (out in May), but you know we’re going to read it. In previewing it, Quartz is particularly enamoured with his word for environmental indifference,  “ecoagnosy”.

Meanwhile, Lake Erie has been granted the rights of a person, at least in Toledo. And in 100 years, if things go just exactly, horribly wrong, we’ll lose an entire kind of cloud? (Actually, forget the scaremongering hook – that’s actually a really fascinating piece about clouds!)

Zero-Sum Sand. The Singaporean sand beat continues in this short doc about how the countrys artificial growth comes at the expense of Cambodian lands and the ability to live off of them (a film companion to a fantastic Emergence piece we linked to a while back).

More Things

Casey Newton’s blockbuster report for The Verge on the mental health burdens and trauma of Facebook’s horribly underpaid content moderators doesn’t shed a lot of light on things we didn’t already know from previous great reporting (are people caring more because these particular moderators are in America, not overseas?), but still, it’s a horrible and sad read and a great piece of journalism about the bad blue place. Chase it with more from the excellent Shoshana Zuboff on the company’s “radical indifference.”

We can’t not link to the fake sex doctor story. Partly because you guys always click the sex links, but also because it’s such a terrific evisceration of the utterly broken world of contemporary popular science reporting. That so many mainstream outlets fell for a serial fabulist isn’t an indictment of the journalists involved, so much as it is of an entire system that’s much more hungry for sensational, salacious research on fisting and bestiality than it is on, well, anything that f’ing matters.

And, fair enough, Buckslip got caught up in Fyre Fest, Theranos, Anna Delvey, and A.J. Finn along with everyone else.  Is it more thrilling to be duped, to expose a scam in all its intricate detail, or to imagine how you would pull one off? “Perhaps scams are just easier to pull off now in an increasingly virtual world swimming with bots, fake news, and “alternative facts.” But that wouldn’t explain our fascination with scammers, nor our grudging admiration for them. The cause for that is more likely economic, rooted in yawning wealth inequality, crumbling institutions, disrupted industries, and dimmed prospects—at least (it can feel like) for those who play by the rules.”

In the LA Times, a group of South LA highschoolers critique and annotate the paper’s own reporting on killings in their neighbourhood. We love this so, so much.

So things are only as real as we agree they are. Especially money, especially in large amounts, especially when it comes to taxes, insurance, and investment. We project money through time as if we can exchange one for the other, or at least trick ourselves into a stable sense of self. Maybe UBS wasn’t just selling tax evasion; it was also selling excitement.

You know what is real? The god damn periodic table of the elements! Here’s to 150 years of the beautiful thing.

The great Mark Hollis of Talk Talk passed away this week. We’re not the first to say that the albums Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock are amongst the most perfectly crafted and moving musical works ever recorded, but we’ve been thinking about them a lot lately in our solastalgic way. Whether you’re new to Hollis, or missing him just as much as us, spend good time with Simon Reynolds’ remembrance at NPR – there is simply no better writer to guide you through what the man achieved:

The music and Hollis's voice paint a picture of a terrain and a man alone in it, with only his anguish and doubt for company. Spirit of Eden, as a title, suggests the pastoral, but this record is not about peace and quiet in a simple, restorative way, precisely because there's a man in its midst, bringing with him all his interior turmoil – the sort of ungovernable emotions and unrest of desire that expelled humanity from paradise in the first place.







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