Hello everyone. I hope you've enjoyed the summer! There was no newsletter last month but here's some stuff I've been reading in past few weeks, between holidays and hard work.
Wikipedia is the best website
- Plastiglomerate is the name of a stone held up entirely by molten plastic from campfires agglutinated with organic grains and debris. They may survive as future fossils and have been proposed as a marker of the Anthropocene.
- An email storm (“also called a reply allpocalypse”) is the formal name for a spike of reply all responses on a large email distribution list. The article lists notable instances crashing systems or resulting in inane amounts of replies (including a test email to everyone in the NHS resulting in an estimated 500 million email messages sent within one hour, or within the NYT).
- A list of the largest monoliths.
- The fur-bearing trout is a legendary hairy fish purportedly existing in Iceland and Northern America. Bonus points for the illustration.
- An article over the tradition of removing shoes in the home across the world, and where.
- Winter is a computer programmer most widely known for, uh… attempting to visit every single Starbucks location in the world (currently at 14,985) since 1997, and it's surprising he's not dead considering he insists on drinking at least a sample of caffeinated drink in every store.
- Frestonia was a short-lived commune on Freston Road in West London that attempted to secede from the United Kingdom in 1977, not unlike current Christiania in Copenhagen.
- The Guardian has a few photos in a retrospective. The description of punk band Miss Nazi, “They made little pretence of musical ability, but were cutting-edge when it came to upsetting people”, reminded me of Italian punk band Skiantos: “Skiantos participated in the Bologna Rock punk rock and new wave festival, where their performance attracted much publicity. The band brought on stage a kitchen, a table, a TV and a fridge, boiled some spaghetti and then ate it, without playing anything; the audience protested, and Antoni responded ‘You do not understand a fucking thing: this is avant-garde, you piece-of-shit audience.’”
- The BED or Banana equivalent dose is a nonstandard unit of ionising radiation equal to roughly 0.1 microsieverts, used to inform and help understand natural radioactivity.
- Friendly Floatees were a brand of plastic bath toys primarily known for helping oceanographers model ocean currents, as they observed the progress of a spillage of 28,800 of these toys in a 1992 cargo accident and looking at where they were recovered. The team had already began that model by tracking a loss of 61,000 Nike shoes in a 1990 cargo accident. Eek.
- There is a book about this which is, obviously, called Moby-Duck.
- An article about crime in Antarctica which notably includes why chess games were banned in Soviet/Russian stations.
- Bone apple tea! There is a name for substitutions of phrases by nonsensical homophones: an eggcorn (for acorn). It's like a pun, but by accident. The Eggcorns database and BoneAppleTea subreddit list prime examples in the wild (pre-Madonna, singing Acapulco, for all intensive purposes, the zombie a pack of lips, allah cart, and the classic Italian permission cheese).
- There is a brand of condoms called Dipper marketed by Tata Motors to purely promote safe sex amongst truck drivers in India. It worked mainly around marketing, from reusing a slogan understood by truckers (“use dippers at night” = use your headlights to be seen) and a pretty rad design (“truck art, in creative parlance”), and was apparently a successful campaign to prevent STIs!
- I found that article by searching for “turkey dippers”, my bf is convinced it's a brand of turkey nuggets (that apparently taste like Quorn) but I can't find a trace of it online, if anyone has ever heard of those let! me! know!
- A few months ago I posted an article about places where it's illegal to die. I completely missed the wild spot of Longyearbyen in Svalbard, where there is nowhere to bury the dead since 1950, “when it was discovered that the bodies of residents who had died as a result of the 1918 flu pandemic had not begun to decompose. Today, scientists fear that the corpses, having been preserved by the permafrost in which they were buried, may still contain live strains of that same virus that killed 5% of the world's population in the 20th century.” Good thing we don't have any climate warming at the mo.
- Due to its unique location, the town however has other odd laws like “a ban on cats, a restriction on how much alcohol an individual can purchase on a monthly basis, and a requirement that any individuals venturing outside carry a rifle for protection against polar bears”.
- The China National Highway 110 traffic jam lasted two weeks, where some people got stuck for up to five days.
- Resusci Anne is the most kissed woman in the world.
- The Babylonokia is an art piece that became against its will a hoax exemplifying out-of-place artefacts (OOPArts), objects which are found in unusual contexts and appear technologically “too advanced” for the time they were built at — widely used as proofs by all sorts of creationists, conspiracy theorists and pseudoscientific paranormal enthusiasts who gladly overlook the more rational evidence. Only the Antikythera mechanism remains somewhat of a mystery.
Me pretending to keep doing sport
A collection of memes
I've tagged and put my memes collection online to find it more easily. Truly sorry for most of them.
Work! Tech! Design!
- Big big fan of Liz Jackson's talk Honoring the Friction of Disability: calm down with the empathy, calm down with the co-design sessions, just let disabled people design things.
- The Real Dark Web is a nice writeup to recognise and celebrate all the teams who don't get to work on the latest super cool technologies, and just have to ship. And to remember that those who dominate conversations about tech aren't always the ones that lead everything forward.
- The Hidden Costs of Automated Thinking comes back on the intellectual debt that comes with going too fast with machine learning.
- Don't know much about security? OWASP have released great cheat sheets.
- A nice detailed guide that explains Alpha Compositing for dummies (I still don't understand it but I love it)
- ReallyGoodUX is a collection of, well, really good UX. Nice for inspiration and well commented to rationalise and explain why it's good, or even what could be improved.
- Hiring in tech is broken (surprise surprise), but here's a good breakdown of everything right and wrong and why there's no silver bullet.
That's it for this summer. See you in September!