The 'Coffeesheds' of San Francisco

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1. MIT geographers map the coffeesheds of San Francisco

"This map shows the location of every independent coffee shop in San Fracisco and the walking-shed community associated with it... In the final map the colored areas represent a region which is walkable to a specific coffee shop (within one kilometer or 0.7 miles). The intensity of color at each point indicates its distance from its corresponding coffee shop."

+ There's also one for Cambridge.

 

2. If you have never heard of Numbers Stations, you are in for a delightful lesson about the weirdness of the world. For everyone else: recordings.

"Shortwave Numbers Stations are a perfect method of anonymous, one way communication. Spies located anywhere in the world can be communicated to by their masters via small, locally available, and unmodified Shortwave receivers. The encryption system used by Numbers Stations, known as a one time pad is unbreakable. Combine this with the fact that it is almost impossible to track down the message recipients once they are inserted into the enemy country, it becomes clear just how powerful the Numbers Station system is."

 

3. FOMO: A machine that publishes algorithmically generated magazines out of live events!

"FOMO will use voice recognition software, combined with information scraped from online data including tweets and instagram activity using the hashtag #OnTheFlyMilan, to automatically generate a PDF document. This is will then be published on the FOMObile – a roving publishing press with its own built-in power generator and solar-powered wi-fi hotspot. The press will print each PDF, which will be saddle stitched on the spot before being distributed for free."

 

4. Chart the rise of exurbia for fun and profit.

"National Land Cover Database 2011 (NLCD 2011) is the most recent national land cover product created by the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium. NLCD 2011 provides - for the first time - the capability to assess wall-to-wall, spatially explicit, national land cover changes and trends across the United States from 2001 to 2011."

 

5. How cars killed fairies: a fascinating argument about technology, landscape, and the supernatural

"So what killed off the little people? No one seems to know for sure, but I’m thinking: it was the automobile. Not that fairies were run over by careless drivers, then left on the roadsides like limp squirrels. Nor is it that they moved deeper into copses and vales, or wherever it is they flee. (Iron was reputedly their Kryptonite.) Part of the die-off was no doubt due to the elimination of habitat. Fairies appear to need a quiet landscape, and prefer the sort of terrain for which we have even lost the vocabulary — copse, thicket, holt, boscage... It appears that one must be out on foot, traveling at a walker’s pace, to witness the supernatural. (Hitchhiking dead teenagers excepted.)"

 

Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

banjo. Pl -os is given first in most dictionaries.

What could be the alternative to banjos? Banji? Banjus? No. BANJOES. Ban Joes: good band name for a bunch of guys named Joe. They could open for 5 Guys Named Moe, an ensemble my middle school band teacher played in.

 

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Copse, Thicket, Holt, Boscage

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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