End of the Line

“I knew I was going to hit him, and I knew he was going to die.”

“You see a trespasser near the tracks. You have no way of knowing whether he’s going to wave at you or jump in front of your train,” he says. “Even if they see someone standing or lying on the tracks, they are unable to do anything but blow their warning horns. Imagine that happening dozens of times a day. And some of these guys have been doing the same route for 30 years.”

Even though I thought I knew what this article was going to be about when I started reading it, it packed a wallop.

(source: Los Angeles Magazine: End of the Line, by Charles Fleming – via The Feature)

Did you know?

In disasters not involving fire, panic is rarely the cause of fatalities, and even when fire is involved, such as in the 1977 Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, in Southgate, Kentucky, research has shown that people continue to help one another, even at the cost of their own lives.
That and other useful/interesting/unsettling tidbits about what happens when crowds (unintentionally) become dangerous.

“I am Paolo Di Lauro, and I am a shopkeeper.”

I’m not sure why this sort of thing is such a constant source of fascination for me, but it is:

In the summer of 2005 there was such quiet on the northern front that Neapolitans assumed Di Lauro was back in charge. This was good news rather than bad. People did not know about his loss of power, and they could not have imagined that such a man would ever have surrendered. A few months later, on September 16, 2005, he was found by the police in the simple apartment of a humble old woman who had been sheltering and feeding him for a fee. He did not resist the police or make any comment when they walked in. He seemed to have been expecting the event. When he was taken outside, he kept his head down to foil the photographers. He did not strut. He did not cower. At the station, when asked, he said no more than he had said before. “I am Paolo Di Lauro, and I am a shopkeeper.” He then fell silent, as he has been ever since.

“The Camorra Never Sleeps”
by William Langewiesche, in Vanity Fair

Also quite interesting, the excellent (if uneven) Gomorrah, by Roberto Saviano (made into an equally unsettling, bloody quasi-documentary of the same name).

Shorter “Six degrees of aggregation”

It’s the network.

Taken together, the badgeholders serve as voluntary traffic wardens for what truly makes Huffington Post so valuable to a company like AOL: Not brand. Not content. But access to the HuffPost network.

(Six degrees of aggregation: How the Huffington Post ate the Internet)

Family Redwood

Ambitious. Clever. Topical? Well, I suppose that depends. But a pretty excellent literary undertaking, on the whole.

The simply-named Lord of the Rings Project attempts a family tree of every character mentioned by J.R.R. Tolkien.

(via Coudal Partners Blended Feed, if you know what I mean. Oh. You don’t? Er, here: coudal.com)

OccupyWriters.com, an excerpt by Lemony Snicket

It’s hard to pick favorites, but I’m going to go with #8 (on this particular list):

Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.

A collection of interesting statements, lists, observations, manifesti. OccupyWriters.com. Ursula K. LeGuin, George Lakoff, Barbara Kingsolver, and many (some) more.

Violence down, claims Pinker the thinker


The “thinking man’s Malcolm Gladwell” is actually pretty unfair to Gladwell who is an essayist rather than someone with pretensions to being a major academic. Even thinking people can appreciate the occasional apercu by Gladwell, however annoying he can sometimes be.

Text Editors in The Lord of the Rings

A thought-sparking exhibition which I revisited more than I ought to have when reconsidering my text editor of choice:

Prompted by a passing thought about TextMate, I thought I’d make a comprehensive, accurate, unbiased, and irrefutable survey of text editors by way of comparison to locations in The Lord of the Rings.

(via Crooked Timber)


Posters of Fortune

Fortune-cookies-as-typographic-art. Rad.

A Beautified Apached Index – h5ai

Like this idea. Not sure I have an application for it (yet), but I approve of the concept.