Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.
Back in September, Annie Brown of The California Sunday Magazine wrote this fascinating story about Ear Hustle, a podcast recorded by San Quentin inmates Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams — with help from Bay Area artist Nigel Poor — that was submitted to Radiotopia’s Podquest competition:
Radiotopia’s executive producer, Julie Shapiro, said she initially had reservations about a podcast made inside a prison. The media lab has no access to the internet, which stunts communication. The team can’t work the late nights its competitors can. On top of that, everything must go through a media gatekeeper, Lieutenant Sam Robinson, before leaving the prison. But when Radiotopia opened its decision process to a group of superfans, “Ear Hustle was far and away the runaway favorite,” said Julie.
Go read the full story, they’ve got audio footnotes and some history about prison radio I hadn’t known about before. Super interesting stuff.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, Ear Hustle eventually won the competition! The show’s outside collaborator, Nigel Poor, had this to say about the announcement:
We are beyond excited to be Podquest winners. My hope is that Ear Hustle can help show that people inside and outside the prison system can work together as colleagues. We want to lead by example, and demonstrate that people with different backgrounds and experiences can actually come together and produce important work. Ear Hustle is not just a creative project. It is actually teaching men viable skills and showing the world the effect of rehabilitation, and that change is possible. I hope our project shows the potential for a different story about people who are incarcerated.
Here’s the audio trailer for Ear Hustle, which will debut its first 10-episode season on Radiotopia sometime in 2017 (there is some NSFW language):
I can’t wait to hear this show.
It’s no secret at this point that YouTube has a large community of people who enjoy posting and watching videos of things that are oddly relaxing, whether it’s 30 minutes of ironing and folding clothes, or multiple-angle footage of a large model train set, or a domino-toppling world record attempt.
Napflix is a repository of these sorts of delightfully snoozy things, created by Victor de Tena and Francesc Bonet of Spain. Go there, play anything, and simply chilllllll a while. Keep it bookmarked.
This game by Max Kreminski is sort of a text-based, procedurally generated version of The Fermi Paradox. The game continually tells you that you’ve discovered new civilizations somewhere in the universe, and lets you “interfere” with each one every 30 seconds by teaching them some secret (with options like toolmaking, agriculture, astronomy, and so on).
As time goes on, some of the civilizations start their own religions, or begin exploring the stars, or growing important new crops, or domesticating certain creatures, or whatever else. Some last longer than others, but sooner or later, they seemingly all perish in the end. Each one is like a miniature sci-fi story that you get to help write. There’s a lot to tinker with and explore here.
- If you’d like to check out the game’s source code, Max published it here.
J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats shows you how, with a little science and technique, you can make the greatest roast potatoes you’ve ever tasted:
The boiling and roughing-up steps are the real key. They create a thin slurry of mashed potato that clings to the surface of the potato chunks, which ends up crisping beautifully in the oven as the potatoes roast. It’s the technique I use for the Ultra-Crispy Roast Potatoes recipe I published back in 2011, and the technique I use for pretty much every holiday.
(Video has NSFW language.)
John Roderick, frontman and songwriter for The Long Winters and co-host of one of my favorite podcasts, gave this charming talk at XOXO 2016 about the myth of “no-effort” success. The fact that he extemporized most of this is a testament to how good a storyteller he naturally is.
Back in February 2015, explorer and filmmaker Sam Cossman, along with a cross-disciplinary team of experts, journeyed to the depths of one of the world’s most active volcanoes to generate the first-of-its-kind 3D model of a volcanic lava lake:
Video technology and science converge on an active volcano in Vanuatu, where explorer Sam Cossman operated camera-mounted drones to capture high-definition images of the spectacular yet dangerous Marum Crater. Cossman and his team piloted the drones over the 7.5-mile-wide (12-kilometer) caldera while confronting toxic gases and boiling lava. Although two drones succumbed to the harsh environment, the team was able to bring back video and photos that will help scientists learn more about the volcano and the life around it.
You think you know how to build a great sand castle, but no, you don’t. Your castles suck. They should bow down to the geometric cubist/brutalist masterpieces of Manhattan-based artist Calvin Seibert. Look upon his creations and feel the inferiority wash over you like a… er, beach wave.
Okay, terrible hyperbole aside, these sand castles are pretty great. Here’s Seibert’s own description of his castles from the Flickr album:
Building “sandcastles” is a bit of a test. Nature will always be against you and time is always running out. Having to think fast and to bring it all together in the end is what I like about it.
I rarely start with a plan, just a vague notion of trying to do something different each time. Once I begin building and forms take shape I can start to see where things are going and either follow that road or attempt to contradict it with something unexpected.
In my mind they are always mash-ups of influences and ideas. I see a castle, a fishing village, a modernist sculpture, a stage set for the oscars all at once.
When they are successful they don’t feel contained or finished. They become organic machines that might grow and expand. I am always adding just one more bit and if time allowed I wouldn’t stop.
- Seibert was also profiled by The New York Times in 2015, so there’s that.
Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.