It has been widely reported that the people of Sweden get to read this lot on Sunday, but I can assure you that is not the case
- The Stoner Arms Dealers - How two Americans in their twenties ended up supplying huge arms shipments to Afghanistan on behalf of the US Government: ”Packouz was baffled, stoned and way out of his league. ‘It was surreal,’ he recalls. ‘Here I was dealing with matters of international security, and I was half-baked. I didn’t know anything about the situation in that part of the world. But I was a central player in the Afghan war — and if our delivery didn’t make it to Kabul, the entire strategy of building up the Afghanistan army was going to fail. It was totally killing my buzz. There were all these shadowy forces, and I didn’t know what their motives were. But I had to get my tulip together and put my best arms-dealer face on.’”
- America's Television Graveyards - What happened to all those old CRT televisions? Turns out the free market wasn’t very effective at dealing with them: ”For years, daily truckloads of CRTs arrived at Closed Loop's facilities in Columbus, Ohio, and Phoenix, Arizona. The company recycled only a fraction of a percent of the televisions it collected… There are at least 25,000 tons of glass and unprocessed CRTs in Arizona, and much of it is sitting in a mountainous pile outside one of the warehouses. The Ohio facility is considerably larger, with several former employees and auditors I've spoken to suggesting there could be as much as 100,000 tons of potentially hazardous waste stored in two warehouses there.”
- 4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump - "Trump’s younger supporters know he’s an incompetent joke; in fact, that’s why they support him." Excellent account of the rise of 4chan, and how its users moved on from trolling Scientologists to changing the world (and not for the better).
- I Was a White Guy for Rent in a Chinese Ghost City - "A filmmaker shares his experience in the once-lucrative business of hiring foreigners to lure homebuyers in China’s building boom." It’s one way of making a living
- These tiny beetles have evolved to ride ants like horses - When army ants go marauding through Costa Rica, these beetles go along for the ride: ”Researchers Christoph von Beeren and Alexey K. Tishechkin just identified a tiny beetle they've named Nymphister kronaueri that keeps up with the army ants' endless march in an unusual way. N. kronaueri clamps onto an army ant's back with its mandibles, as if it were a soldier going into battle on the back of the most magnificent steed in the world.”
- 9 Pretty Baby Names Inspired By Real British Witches - "Your sweet baby daughter needs strong role models. Have you thought about some of Britain’s fiercest independent women, the medieval witches of yore?" Probably not appropriate to call it a Christian name
- Here's What TfL Learned From Tracking Your Phone On the Tube - "At the end of last year, between 21st November and 19th December, Transport for London carried out an intriguing trial: It was going to track your phone on the London Underground." Interesting data; I wonder how the analysis would have coped with the time I went all the way round on the Circle Line just to pass the time while I waited for my train from St Pancras.
- The Starchitect’s Hall: High-Risk Concert Halls in the Gehry Age - Kate Wagner (of McMansion Hell fame) on the importance of acousticians to grandiose civic projects: ”For [Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics] and the rest of the field of architectural acoustics, high-budget, high-profile halls have been even more risky than they are for the architecture world… In the case of projects (like Paris) where the architecture is considered to be unsuccessful, the legacy of the project rests solely on the acoustician.”
- What Mirrors Tell Us About Animal Minds - Ed Yong on how well we can judge an animal’s (including a human’s) level of self-awareness: ”Gallup’s mirror test is one of the most famous and controversial techniques in the study of animal intelligence. It has been administered to dozens of species… Among these failures from the intelligentsia of the animal kingdom, perhaps none have been more surprising than humans.”
- Finding the Lost City of the Lukachukais - "Lost cities don’t exist. They are confined to the bottoms of oceans and 19th-century jungles… I had dismissed any notion that there were lost remnants of civilizations out there. But in the fall of 2009, I discovered there are still blank spots on the map (relatively undocumented throughout history) when a group of us found one of them in, of all places, Arizona.”