Hobo Code

The problem is: all this information came from hobos, a group that took pride in their elusiveness and embellished storytelling. The truth is, there really isn’t any evidence that these signs were as widely used as the literature suggests.


Related #longread: Twilight Of The Hobos (Buzzfeed):

Minnesota Jim, meanwhile, seems a little confused by the proceedings. His victory seemed, at least in part, based on his age. At 83, he’s one of the few surviving bridgers — hoboes that rode on both steam- and diesel-powered trains during their time — and winning seemed to be a kind of lifetime achievement award. But he cautiously told the local paper that kids today shouldn’t ride the rails. “The trains show no mercy.”

Jack doesn’t give a fuck

One of my core learnings about Twitter over the last couple of years:

They are totally fine with a user being a cunt, but will suspend your ass for calling that user a cunt.

The Unknowns: Mystifying UFO Cases

While the US government may dismiss these ‘unknowns’ as mere statistical anomalies, the fundamental questions remains: What did people see?

I’m a huge fan of sci-fi and unknown phenomena, but also a complete skeptic when it comes to the theory that UFOs are ‘alien’ in nature. The culture around UFO ‘believers’ is fascinating to me, but I perk up even more when I see legitimate open-minded skepticism, analysis and investigation.

Once you’re done with the video, you can view all the research material here.

Console kicks

In February 2018, Nike dropped the Paul George X PlayStation crossover kicks.

And now at E3 2018 it seems a bunch of “Xbox spokespersons and key influencers” have been rocking custom Xbox Jordan 1’s.

Both look a bit better than the old Air Force One PlayStations, although some of these Nintendo Vans are pretty dope.

A Buddhist Funeral Service for Robot Dogs

James Burch for NatGeo:

Hiroshi Funabashi, A-Fun’s repairs supervisor, observes that the company’s clients describe their pets’ complaints in such terms as “aching joints.” Funabashi realized that they were not seeing a piece of electronic equipment, but a family member.

And [former Sony employee] Nobuyuki Norimatsu came to regard the broken AIBOs his company received as “organ donors.” Out of respect for the owners’ emotional connection to the “deceased” devices, Norimatsu and his colleagues decided to hold funerals.

A LeBron Theory

LeBron purposely decimated his own team through internal pressure so his eventual trip back to the finals appears all the more impressive, giving further fuel to the “Jordan or LeBron” dialogue.

“It’s all part of the plan.”

TANK

Stu Maschwitz made this super-rad short film. The short is great (watch it full screen with your headphones way up), but the making-of is even more fascinating – full of in-depth After Effects minutiae, and filmmaking methods and processes.

The way I made TANK is a little crazy. I made it entirely in Adobe After Effects, with equal parts animation elbow grease and nerdy expressions madness. This video is part behind-the-scenes, part After Effects tutorial, and part therapy session.

We haven’t found red

The Quest for the Next Billion Dollar Color:

Mas Subramanian, the biggest celebrity in the uncelebrated world of pigment research, glances at a cluster of widemouthed jars containing powders in every color of the rainbow, save one.

During his nine-year sojourn into the strange, finicky realm of color, Subramanian, a materials science professor at Oregon State University at Corvallis, has grown infatuated with a form of chemistry that he, like many of his peers, once considered decidedly low-tech. His renown derives from his accidental creation, in 2009, of a new pigment, a substance capable of imparting color onto another material. YInMn was the first blue pigment discovered in more than 200 years.

It isn’t only the exotic blueness that has excited the color industry, but also the other hues the pigment can generate. Subramanian soon realized that by adding copper, he could make a green. With iron, he got orange. Zinc and titanium, a muted purple.

Scanning these creations, scattered across his workbench like evidence of a Willy Wonka bender, he frowns. “We’ve made other colors,” he says. “But we haven’t found red.”


Listen to the story here.


More long reads here.

The Orchestra Hit

Ear Worm is an excellent series, but this episode is just outright completely fucking rad. Learn about how the “ORCH2/ORCH5” stab became so popular by way of a modern music history lesson.

1984 Dave Letterman losing his shit watching someone program a sequencer with a light-pen on a CRT display? I’m in.

Online ads are stuck in the ’90s

The Outline’s Josh Topolsky waxing eloquent on Recode Media podcast:

The TV ad works because it’s good for TV. The magazine ad works because it’s good for magazines. You know what Instagram and Snapchat and Facebook (to some degree) and Pinterest figured out? There’s an internet ad that works really well, it just isn’t the box that is on every website.

Figuring that out is the key to unlocking what advertising should be on the internet, and the key to unlocking what good advertising looks like, and very few people have done it well. Almost no one – I would say zero – publications have built a system that is holistically, like from the ground up, designed around the marriage of both interesting, digital-first content and interesting, digital-first advertising.

Nailed it.

The Outline isn’t for everyone, and that’s by design. Their content/ad strategy has been super fascinating to watch, especially in connection to the media manifesto Topolsky published in 2016. It appears to be going very well indeed.

It’s been doubly interesting to compare The Outline to the launch of The Ringer, Bill Simmons’ media company, which he spun up after breaking from ESPN. The Ringer launched on Medium first to minimise their launch runway, but moved to the Vox media stack less than a year later. The Ringer is a heavily staffed blog, and I think it can be safely argued that their written content is not particularly compelling or well presented, and there has certainly been very “bog-standard” approach to advertising (with Vox handling the ad sales after the move).

Now – all that said – in addition to the site, The Ringer has a hugely successful podcast network with Bill’s podcast alone estimated to be bringing in around $50,000 per episode. Simmons is clearly leaning heavily into podcasting (as well as experimenting with a variety of video stream/show formats), with the development of the site and it’s associated ad strategy taking a relative back seat.

None of this is zero-sum, of course. There’s room for a lot of ‘winners’ in the online media space. But watching it all unfold is a great spectator sport.


The Pod Pod is a selection of recommended single podcast episodes.

Photo Essay: Sprayfield

José Luis Martínez Limón for Vice:

The clouds part and the theme to The Simpsons plays in my head as I walk among the colorful buildings of “Sprayfield,” a neighborhood that, in recent months, has been covered with elaborate graffiti murals of the most famous yellow family on TV.

 

Google Play Music to be rolled into “YouTube Remix”

Droidlife:

When Google finally launches its rumored YouTube Remix platform this year, one of its other services will be put to rest. According to a reliable source, Google Play Music will be replaced as Google’s go-to music service with YouTube Remix. Not only that, but users will be forced off of Play Music by the end of 2018 and onto Remix.

Weird.

Obviously Play Music hasn’t gained the traction Google hoped it would; it’s routinely omitted from share-links like this one. In my experience it’s actually a very good service, and it helps that the ad-free YouTube Red is bundled in to the subscription. But for a while now it’s felt like the mobile and web apps needed an update, and now we know why that hasn’t happened yet.

That a change is upcoming isn’t what’s weird though, it’s the name of that new service… YouTube Remix. That is a terrible name for a music service. Google obviously really sees value in YouTube as a music destination, and indeed a partner for the major labels. But will users readily make the mental leap from “cat videos” to “music destination”? I’m doubtful.

Route One

New(ish) music from Sigur Rós!

on the longest day of summer 2016 sigur rós drove the whole way round iceland’s ring road, broadcasting the entire 1332km journey live on youtube. the soundtrack to this “slow tv” adventure was created using generative music software taking the multi-track stems of the sigur rós song ‘óveður’ and endlessly reinventing them to create new and unpredictable musical directions in real time. the very best moments from the 24 hour journey have now been pared down to a single album of great and reflective beauty. 8 tracks.

Get the album. (Google Play Music link here).

700 Sharks In The Dark

A single shark is too clumsy to catch even a somnolent grouper. A pack of them is more likely to flush the fish from its hiding place and encircle it. Then they tear it apart. Seen live, the attack is a frenzy that explodes before us. Only later, thanks to a special camera that captures a thousand images a second, are we able to watch the sharks in slow motion and appreciate their efficiency and precision.

Incredible pictures and story from Laurent Ballesta and his team.

Red Dead 4K: The Redemptioning

In the midst of announcing a massive drop of backwards compatible and enhanced games, Microsoft released a 500MB update to Red Dead Redemption enabling 4K on the world’s most powerful console.

This. Is. Fucking. Amazing.

Most observers reckoned 4K for RDR would never come due to the engineering of the game – many thought the resolution was baked-in for performance reasons. But it seems the Back Compat team at Microsoft are wizards indeed.

So how does it look?

Stunning.

I mean, it’s ridiculous how good it looks. The 360 version (which is also what ran on the initial Back Compat version) was noticeably blurry and shimmery, especially in motion. It still looked great though, and you did get the impression that R* had put a lot more under the hood than the hardware was capable of displaying. And now we know that’s the case.

The result is that Read Dead Redemption is now – again – a joy to play.


More recommended Read Dead:

Finding John Marsden – A wonderful short doc from Polygon about Rob Weithoff, the voice of John Marsden

In depth review (thinreaper) – One of the best game reviews/critiques I’ve ever invested an hour and a half in