2020-05-25 3 min read


Notes, 2020-05-25.

Drew here, back for another guest edit. I hope you’re staying safe and making the best of this strange time.

The most clicked link from last week's issue (~16% of opens) was interpretive maps of life under shutdown.

Architecture & Urbanism.


  • As Southern California faces a glut of unused vehicles that continue arriving at its ports despite plummeting new car sales and rentals, the excess inventory has filled the region’s large parking lots, especially at sports stadiums. Aerial photos of the lots create the illusion that major events are still happening, but it’s just automobile storage.
  • Lockdown has turned the nation’s highways into speedways. Citations for driving more than 100 miles per hour doubled in California during the first month of quarantine, suggesting that a broad decline in traffic may have encouraged those still driving to increase their speed (although increased traffic enforcement does not necessarily indicate a corresponding increase in the behavior itself). Another side effect of less travel is that traffic reporters have nothing to talk about. “One of the most exciting moments for Mike Inouye, of KNTV...was when he got to alert viewers to the report of a wooden pallet on a near-empty freeway.”

Energy & Climate.

  • A thread listing real-time indicators of oil demand, ranging from Apple’s Mobility Trend Reports to NASA’s daily snapshots of NO2 emissions to TSA passenger screenings (this doc at the end of the thread compiles all of the resources).
  • An old interview with Will Wright, the creator of SimCity, in which he describes a never-released SimRefinery game he helped prototype for Chevron. “It wasn't so much for the engineers as it was for the accountants and managers who walked through this refinery every day and didn't know what these pipes were carrying.” You can read a more thorough description of SimRefinery here, and that post’s author has also tracked down a floppy disk containing the game.

Distribution & Logistics.


Preserving ancient fortresses in the Uzbek desert.

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