Architecture & Design.
- Kate Wagner on why we fetishize ruins, and how that practice has evolved alongside industrialization itself as a way of facing the latter's consequences. A great history of ruin porn, from its Gothic origins to "concrete clickbait."
- A compelling argument for why the Tesla cybertruck isn't actually brutalist. "The truck is consumerist, whereas brutalism’s monumentality is civic. The truck’s boldness serves the bravado of an individual, whereas brutalism’s visual power was meant to project the shared dignity of the public realm."
- A fun list of the eight most beautiful subway stations in the United States. Three of them are in Los Angeles!
- In northern Norway, "an entrance to a massive underground road tunnel network, sort of hidden on the ground floor of a building. Like a scene from a Murakami novel."
- Beautiful photos of the extensive greenhouse infrastructure that supports high-density agriculture in the Netherlands.
Distribution & Logistics.
- How the tiny town of Roundup, Montana became a hub in Amazon's supply chain, despite Amazon having no official presence in the town. A cluster of "prep centers" has arisen in Roundup, repackaging merchandise for third-party sellers according to Amazon's requirements and enabling those sellers to avoid sales taxes in the process. An interesting examination of the arbitrage taking place within Amazon's ecosystem and the logistical inefficiencies it creates, with lots of inventory traveling back and forth between fulfillment and prep centers before reaching an end customer.
- Grubhub has an experimental program in which it lists restaurants without their permission or cooperation. "Delivering food from restaurants without their knowledge is challenging, it turns out, especially when many of those places aren’t equipped for delivery at all. Grubhub staff need to figure out, case by case, whether it’s possible to call in an order, or whether a driver should, say, go in and order take-out themselves."
Crime & Surveillance.
- Chinese criminals used the country's outbreak of African swine fever to manipulate pig prices, spreading rumors about the virus and even dropping infected items onto farms via drone. The gangs bought these distressed pigs at heavy discounts before smuggling them elsewhere and selling them at much higher prices.
- U.S. authorities have discovered the longest smuggling tunnel ever found on the Southwest border, extending more than three quarters of a mile from Tijuana to San Diego. The tunnel lies 70 feet below ground on average and features a rail and cart system, forced air ventilation, an elevator, and a drainage system. Federal law requires these tunnels to be filled with concrete on the U.S. side once found.
- How Ring doorbell cameras and front-porch surveillance have come to mediate relationships between neighbors (in partnership with law enforcement, of course). See also: Paul Ford's classic essay, The American Room, about how domestic spaces are reframed as digital content.
- Avocado demand spikes as the Super Bowl approaches, and so does avocado crime.
- The principle of least astonishment in software and user interface design: A component of a system should behave in a way that most users expect it to behave, rather than surprising them. "If a necessary feature has a high astonishment factor, it may be necessary to redesign the feature."
- In Miami last week, the National Weather Service issued a falling iguana warning due to unusually cold weather.
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