The New York City Subway Map as You’ve Never Seen It Before

I love interactive stories like these. This story, was written by Antonio de Luca and Sasha Portis at the New York Times. It begins here:

In 1979, responding to complaints from riders that the subway map was difficult to use, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hired the Manhattan design firm Michael Hertz and Associates to create a new map.

That map. The problematic Massimo Vignelli (RIP) subway map designed in 1972, and it was cool-looking but wow, was it unusable:

No wonder Vignelli’s map only lived 7 years. It’s pretty difficult to find these lying around anymore, but you can find them for sale on eBay. You used to be able to even find them at old subway stations, still plastered up on waypoints or platform corkboards.

Portis and de Luca did an outstanding job on this interactive Times story. If you enjoy trains or even New York history, you’ll love this story. Read it here.

Texas: The Big State

I have a deep love for The Lone Star State. Every inch of Texas feels like home to me. I was born in Texas, and I would prefer to be buried there.

It’s a place that is seemingly boundless in resources, kindness and wholesome kinships (for those unaware, the state motto is simply, friendship). I advise everyone to take a road trip sometime through the heartland of Texas via its highway arteries: I-35, I-30, I-20, I-45 and I-10 and befriend some Texans in far-away places. There are so many treasures that dot the landscape in pretty much any direction. Buc-ee’s, Whataburgers, kolaches, and breweries and all! Texas has thick forests, wide canyons, rocky mountains, wild rivers, deserts, beaches, thousands of gigantic lakes, farms, big cities, sleepy towns, historic sites and BBQ like you wouldn’t believe.

Texas also has a history unlike any other state in the union. One might say that turmoil, drama, oil, entertainment and entrepreneurship are the tenets of Texan culture. Speaking of entertainment — enter Dallas SMU’s G. William Jones Film & Video Collection. It has a remarkable video/film archive. Within its vast collection are film prints, tapes, reels, and television tapes. The archive was originally known as the Southwest Film/Video Archives, but was later renamed after its founder Dr. William Jones. Yesterday, they posted a new video, highlighting Texas treasures and culture from 1952:

This film in particular is interesting. It was produced by The Dudley Pictures Corporation. The motion picture company takes its name from the esteemed and legendary travelogue producer, Carl Dudley. The company completed a number of remarkable and charming travelogues which have been compiled into a handy YouTube playlist here. The playlist description reads:

Carl Dudley was best known for his 1958 production of Cinerama’s South Seas Adventure, but throughout his career produced more than 300 “travel adventures” as he preferred to call travelogues. Dudley was born in 1910 in Little Rock, Arkansas aboard his father’s Ward & Wade Minstrels Show train. In 1935, inspired by seeing the film Mutiny on the Bounty, he traveled to Tahiti, Australia and India, supporting himself by working on film crews. He landed back in Hollywood in the late 1930’s and worked briefly as a screenwriter. In 1944 he started Dudley Pictures Corp which produced the series This World of Ours and This Land of Ours for theatrical and educational distribution. He died of a heart attack in Hong Kong on September 2, 1973.

Without further distractions, here’s Texas: The Big State (skip to 13:18 for Fort Worth and TCU)

The Mask of Sorrow

Image via Wikipedia, Сергей Ковалев

From Wikipedia:

[The Mask of Sorrow] is a monument perched on a hill above MagadanRussia, commemorating the many prisoners who suffered and died in the Gulag prison camps in the Kolyma region of the Soviet Union during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. […]

It consists of a large concrete statue of a face, with tears coming from the left eye in the form of small masks. The right eye is in the form of a barred window. The back side portrays a weeping young woman and a headless man on a cross. Inside is a replication of a typical Stalin-era prison cell. Below the Mask of Sorrow are stone markers bearing the names of many of the forced-labor camps of the Kolyma, as well as others designating the various religions and political systems of those who suffered there.

Lost at 15

From SyFy Wire:

What separated Lost from the pack is that it had compelling characters, a great cast, and an enticing mystery that invited fans to solve it. Lost was one of the first shows to embrace AR storytelling, which has now become ubiquitous. Other networks, and even ABC itself, tried to recreate Lost‘s magic formula … and have yet to find a way to recapture that lightning in a bottle.

But all good things come to an end, and that’s the biggest problem some people have with Lost: the ending. It must have been impossible to craft a conclusion that would please everyone, but the Lost finale was unusually divisive. Some even claimed that it retroactively ruined the show for them. We wouldn’t go that far. If the Lost finale had truly been that bad, we wouldn’t still be talking about the show’s beautifully convoluted mythology a decade and a half later.

LOST was monumentally epic (just read through some of the comments on this forum thread at MacRumous, classic). It had a mythology that captivated millions (and continues to do so to this day). It was ahead of its time, inspired countless sci-fi series, horror anthologies, films, and kicked Bad Robot Productions into override to produce sleeper hits such as, 10 Cloverfield Lane. It led Abrams to the directorial helm in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Lastly, until HBO’s Game of Thrones, LOST previously held the contrarian title of worse series finale ever.

LOST was and continues to be so important to me. I think I might be overdue for a re-watch. We have to go back…

Passports Were Never Supposed to be Forever

Unpslash: @nicolegeri

Once upon a time, it was once the opinion of world leaders that passports should be abolished. Nearly a century ago, passports were a framework established to identify citizenship during times of war. It served a specific purpose, to install restrictions on freedom of movement. The consensus after the Great War, was to abolish passports and return back to pre-war conditions:

During the conferences that followed, several resolutions again highlighted the goal of abolishing passports, but concluded that the time was not yet right. In 1924, the International Conference of Emigration and Immigration in Rome maintained that “the necessity of obtaining passports should be abolished as soon as possible” but in the meantime advocated other measures to facilitate travel. These measures included an increase in the number of offices delivering passports, allowing emigrants to save time and money.

In Geneva in 1926, Polish delegate, Franciszek Sokal, opened proceedings by bluntly asking the parties to adopt “as a general rule that all States Members of the League of Nations should abolish passports”.

Obviously, that never happened, as Word War II began to take shape and changed world history forever. Now, sadly we all have to keep papers to maintain our “freedom of movement.”

Ancient Greece, Funerals Rites and the Evolution of Celery

Anne Ewbank at Atlas Obscura writes:

Back then, it was a very different celery. Native to the Mediterranean and Middle East, wild celery has thin stalks and a bitter flavor. It was only later that farmers bred celery to have sturdy ribs and a sweeter profile. Its strong smell and dark color struck ancient Greeks as positively chthonic: that is, associated with the Underworld and death.

As a result, celery became an essential part of burials. In ancient Greece, celery covered graves, and the dead were often crowned with it. We know this, writes classicist Robert Garland, because the first-century Greek writer Plutarch referred to celery as the most common plant used for the purpose. Historians have floated various theories as to why the dead needed to be garlanded. Perhaps they had faced life with courage, and deserved to be buried as heroes. Garland rejects this in favor of another theory: that the dead were given heroic crowns “to add dignity and lustre to the proceedings.” Other writers, such as the Roman Pliny the Elder, considered celery off-limits as an everyday food, since it was prominent at funeral banquets.

Wow! Who would’ve thunk? Now I have an elevated level of respect for the unfortunate celery stem that swims in my next Bloody Mary. Here’s to life, death, and to celery 🌱

The 1619 Project

The year is currently 2019. This marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved peoples to American soil. The virginal wharfs America’s first slaves arrived on were likely shallow and crude. The ships were packed, grueling and nightmarish. America’s fledgling colony began here, in Virginia on the backs of slave-trading and cotton. The ironic state motto, entombed 150 years later in 1776 by George Mason at the Virginia Convention became (and still unchanged), Sic Semper Tyrannis, roughly meaning, death to tyrants or down to tyrants.

400 years later, and Black Americans are still battling for the equality they deserve. The phenomenon of equality and protected freedoms may have been only ink on paper in 1776. But, Black Americans have fought to make it a reality. We owe Black America gratitude and thanks, and instead they are met with slavery, brutality, whitewashed history and often, violence.

The introductory essay details an excellent cross-section of the four centuries of inequality, written by the project’s lead, Nikole Hannah-Jones:

This ideology — that black people belonged to an inferior, subhuman race — did not simply disappear once slavery ended. If the formerly enslaved and their descendants became educated, if we thrived in the jobs white people did, if we excelled in the sciences and arts, then the entire justification for how this nation allowed slavery would collapse. Free black people posed a danger to the country’s idea of itself as exceptional; we held up the mirror in which the nation preferred not to peer. And so the inhumanity visited on black people by every generation of white America justified the inhumanity of the past.

The 1619 Project has a single focus. A mission to arm all Americans with the truth. Reframe America’s textbook-whitewashed history with the truth and honesty they deserve. Add context and proper attribution to the Black Americans who have previously been left out of America’s founding narrative.

The project is led by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a seasoned reporter at The New York Times. Over the coming weeks and months, The Times will be adding more stories, essays, poems and works to continue the discourse.

You can visit and read all of the essays here.

Yet Another Asteroid Narrowly Misses Earth

From NBCNews:

An asteroid bigger than the Eiffel Tower hurtled past Earth early on Saturday at a speed of 10,400 miles per hour, missing us by 4.6 million miles — not quite a close shave, but not so far in astronomical terms.

Had the fast-moving space rock, dubbed 2006 QQ23, been following a different trajectory, it could have slammed into our planet with an explosive force of up to 500 times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. To be clear, this happens a lot. Plenty of orbital objects follow a trajectory that is hard to track, and many are invisible until the celestial objects are close, and even more are invisible until they’ve passed. Basically, if an objects geometry is directly in-line or obfuscated by solar activity, it flies invisible. This is because our largest array of telescopes are on Earth. From the ground, we can only track asteroids, and other celestial bodies at night. We are at the whims of third-dimensional space. Space telescopes however, do not have this problem.

The most notable and well-known photographed object to enter Earth’s atmosphere was last seen in Chelyabinsk, Russia. It was a superbolide, sized at around 20m. It produced a very large flash and vapor trail:

For comparison, the Tunguska Event was likely caused by a 65m meteoroid. The asteroid that missed us is called 2006 QQ23. The diameter of 2006 QQ23 is approximately 250–570m. A collision with that type of orbiter would level a large city and decimate the surrounding area — devastation never before seen.

It and others like it, are called Aten asteroids. To be brief, this means the asteroid follows an arc that crosses Earth’s orbit within close proximity. It is only luck that keeps life afloat on Earth. The universe we live in is very efficient at extinguishing life. We should all be thankful and celebrate this meteoroid missed us… this time.

Every New York Times Frontpage Since 1852

If you know me personally, you know how much I love The Times. It’s a wonderful newspaper I fell in love with in college. I’ve consistently held a subscription in one form or another since then. It has prestige, integrity and a wide breadth of reporting. From real estate musings, to the incredible science pieces. It’s the standard candle, few papers can emulate. It has growth rings and battle-scars like the great Redwoods in California:

Update: speaking of frontpages of the New York Times, they really missed the opportunity on a proper headline to capture the racist-filled mass murdering that took place over the weekend. A total of 31 were left dead:

Really really bad.