Commentary & Analysis
Around the Web: Inside the NYT Printing Plant. Semantic Satiation. NYC’s LED Barge. The Infinite CVS Receipt. Rebuild Your Business. Are App Users Happy? “Harvesting Garfields.”
“The craft, precision, and unexpected beauty of the newspaper printing process.” Rebirth of a paper mill. Keyless in New York. The 14th-Century Mappa Mundi. “Alien”: The Play. Garfield phones storm the beaches. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: March 29, 2019
“The Beauty of the Newspaper Printing Process”
The New York Times Magazine takes us inside the Times’ printing plant. “[P]hotographer Christopher Payne spent two years shooting The Times’s printing plant in College Point, Queens. He captured the craft, precision, and unexpected beauty of the newspaper printing process.”
Also in the Times, a Midwest paper mill’s renaissance. “‘No one is shocked when a paper mill closes anymore,’ said Kyle Putzstuck, the president of Midwest Paper Group, which bought the Combined Locks mill soon after it was shuttered. ‘The shocking thing is when one reopens.’”
All thanks to ecommerce.
Is There a Term for...
Semantic satiation is a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener.— Quite Interesting (@qikipedia) March 23, 2019
LED Billboard Barges Into NYC Waters
Over at the Gothamist, New Yorkers’ war on a “hideous” LED billboard boat:
The controversial barge was first spotted in the city's rivers in October, and has since attracted plenty of scorn from New Yorkers partial to a waterfront view that does not include an aggressively bright, 60-foot screen blaring ads for beer and private helicopter rides. After the Mayor's Office deemed it "hideous" earlier this year, the Law Department sent a letter to the company behind the boat, Ballyhoo Media, giving them a two-week deadline to demonstrate compliance with a local zoning resolution that prohibits advertising on local waterways.
But more than two months later, the ad-boat is still making frequent voyages around Manhattan, and it's unclear whether any official enforcement action has been taken.
If you were trying to commute in Atlanta one morning last week, you may have had to endure a few delays—because a tractor-trailer containing 5,500 gallons of printer ink overturned on I-285.
We told you it would leave a mark! Here’s what it looks like when a big rig crashes & dumps 40k lbs of printer ink! I-285/sb before MLK Jr Dr. @wsbradio #skycopter @wsbtv #captncam pic.twitter.com/bdzhWc1XcS— Mark McKay (@mckayWSB) March 20, 2019
This is not how we would recommend you print asphalt graphics. But then at least it wasn’t toner.
In 2011, Berlin held the first annual Hipster Olympics whose programme included such events as horn-rimmed glasses throwing, skinny jeans tug-o-war, vinyl record spinning and canvas bag jumping race.— Quite Interesting (@qikipedia) March 27, 2019
The KeysApp to the Kingdom
The New York Times raises an interesting question in this looming age of the Internet of Things and mobile door key apps: do apartment renters have the right to a physical key?
A lawsuit filed in October in Housing Court in Manhattan by the couple and three other tenants of the West 45th Street building demands that the landlord give them access to all the entryways without having to use a keyless entry system.
But it also has opened a wider debate over privacy, ageism and renter’s rights that has inspired new legislation in Albany.
At the heart of the dispute is a keyless entry system designed by the company Latch that has been installed in more than 1,000 buildings across the city.
Founded in 2013, the New York-based company saw a need for tenants and landlords to share access with guests, such as visiting family members, the electrician or a delivery person.
Users download the app, create a profile and can unlock doors via their phone or a key card or by punching in a code on the device’s numeric keypad. In some cases, the mechanism is compatible with an ordinary metal key.
What could possibly go wrong?
Unlocking your €100,000 car is now easier than ever pic.twitter.com/3hSs9pswoO— Alex+ ?? (@somospostpc) March 26, 2019
CVS: The Infinite Receipt
The CVS receipt has been deservedly well-mocked for its often absurd length, but as long as some CVS receipts are, they aren’t infinitely long. Right? Well, over at Boing Boing, Garrett Armstrong has developed a simple CVS Receipt Generator that can actually generate an infinitely long CVS receipt.
Don’t give them any ideas!
Over at the BBC, take a tour around the Mappa Mundi, one of the oldest, largest, and most curious medieval maps in the world. Drawn circa A.D. 1300, it is a meticulously detailed 1.59 by 1.34 meter-wide map depicting the history, geography, and religious understanding of the then-known world. It features more than 500 ink drawings on a single sheet of calf skin, and “offers a fascinating glimpse into the mindset of the ancient Christian world.”
Over at Venture Beat, some advice on why businesses should “rebuild” themselves as often as possible.
Rebuilding isn’t an option; it’s the only way forward. It’s how we adapt to market conditions, client requirements, and employee needs. A rebuilding mentality drives forward-thinking practices and ultimately ensures that we stay not just relevant but ahead of the curve.
Are there five rules for doing this? Of course there are! (Aren’t there always?) Click through to find out what they are.
The Play’s the (Alien) Thing
A North Bergen, N.J., high school production of “Alien: The Play”—yes, based on the movie—has gone viral:
The 1979 sci-fi film was adapted into a stage production, “Alien: The Play,” by drama students and teachers at North Bergen High School. A student playing a xenomorph expertly creeped about on stage and in the audience in the style of the titular alien. The student wore a costume made from donated foam, a plastic skeleton from the clearance aisle, and other materials, Entertainment Weekly reported. Other characters were photographed wearing spacesuits. And the sets were reportedly crafted from donated and recycled items, including old egg-carton boxes to create a computer lab.
Maybe the next step is to make it a musical. (“Love Song of the Chest Burster” perhaps?) and it could be the next Broadway sensation. Not since Carrie...
Are You Appy?
The Center for Humane Technology recently ranked how often people used various mobile apps, and how happy or unhappy they felt about all that screen time. Users of Calm and Google Calendar appeared to be the happiest, while users of Grindr and Candy Crush Saga seemed to be the unhappiest. At a quick glance, though, it seems that the people who seem the unhappiest spend the most time on apps in general. Perhaps it’s not the apps themselves, but just the waste of time...
Blogger Maneesh Sethi hired someone to slap him in the face every time he used Facebook at work. His productivity went from 38% to 98%.— Quite Interesting (@qikipedia) March 28, 2019
Not since D Day has the French coast seen this kind of invasion: for 35 years, plastic Garfield telephones have been washing up on the Iroise coast of Britanny. (That’s the cartoon cat Garfield, not former U.S. President James A. Garfield, which would be only slightly less weird.) After three-and-a-half decades, the mystery has been solved: a lost shipping container, blown overboard, ended up in a secluded sea cave, from which it has been egesting its kitschy kitty cargo ever since. The orange Garfield phone has thus become a French symbol of plastic pollution. Best line of the BBC story: “local officials say they will continue to harvest Garfields from the coastline.”
In 1997, 62 shipping containers full of 4.8 million LEGO pieces fell off a boat and have since been washing up on UK shores. Coincidentally, many of the lost LEGO were nautically themed.— Quite Interesting (@qikipedia) March 23, 2019
This Week in Printing, Publishing, and Media History
1811: Percy Bysshe Shelley is expelled from the University of Oxford for publishing the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism.
1881: Hungarian pianist and composer Béla Bartók born.
1925: American short story writer and novelist Flannery O’Connor born.
1939: American screenwriter and producer D. C. Fontana born.
1957: United States Customs seizes copies of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” on obscenity grounds.
1995: WikiWikiWeb, the world's first wiki, and part of the Portland Pattern Repository, is made public by Ward Cunningham.
1484: William Caxton prints his translation of Aesop’s Fables.
1812: A political cartoon in the Boston Gazette coins the term “gerrymander” to describe oddly shaped electoral districts designed to help incumbents win reelection.
1830: The Book of Mormon is published in Palmyra, N.Y.
1859: English poet and scholar A. E. Housman born.
1874: American poet and playwright Robert Frost born.
1911: American playwright, and poet Tennessee Williams born.
1931: American actor Leonard Nimoy born.
1845: German physicist, academic, and Nobel Prize laureate Wilhelm Röntgen born.
1836: German-American brewer and founder of the Pabst Brewing Company Frederick Pabst born. (Did they sponsor the Hipster Olympics?)
1842: First concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Otto Nicolai.
1868: Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright Maxim Gorky born.
1999: Animated comedy TV program Futurama debuts.
1871: Royal Albert Hall is opened by Queen Victoria.
1886: John Pemberton brews the first batch of Coca-Cola in a backyard in Atlanta.
1943: English actor and comedian Eric Idle born, looking on the bright side of life.
1999: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above the 10,000 mark (10,006.78) for the first time, during the height of the dot-com bubble.
1853: Dutch-French painter and illustrator Vincent van Gogh born.
1880: Irish dramatist, playwright, and memoirist Seán O'Casey born.
1945: English guitarist and singer-songwriter Eric Clapton born.
1596: French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes born. (Apparently he thought.)
1685: German organist and composer Johann Sebastian Bach born.
1732: Austrian pianist and composer Joseph Haydn born.
1809: Ukrainian-Russian short story writer, novelist, and playwright Nikolai Gogol born.
1889: The Eiffel Tower is officially opened. (Not everyone in France was a fan; author Guy de Maupassant ate lunch every day at the tower’s base restaurant, because, he said, “inside the restaurant was one of the few places where I could sit and not actually see the Tower!”)
1906: The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (later the National Collegiate Athletic Association) is established to set rules for college sports in the United States. (Before that it was all just madness...)
1918: Daylight saving time goes into effect in the United States for the first time and, unfortunately, not the last.
1930: The Motion Picture Production Code is instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in film, in the U.S., for the next 38 years.
1951: Remington Rand delivers the first UNIVAC I computer to the United States Census Bureau. (And they’re still using it today.)