July 31, 2015

Written by

Chris Gonzales


Andrew Phillips

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.

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Photo: Mike Clark/AFP/Getty

Photo: Mike Clark/AFP/Getty

How to Stay Safe When the Big One Comes »

Rarely does a news story make such waves (ugh, sorry) through my internet circles as the recent New Yorker piece about the earthquake that will devastate Seattle (which I promptly included in that week’s Quality Linkage column).

Kathryn Schulz, the author of that piece, is back with a followup article showing that, while readers’ fears about the earthquake’s effects are still well-founded…

So a better analogy than toast is this: the Cascadia earthquake is going to hit the Pacific Northwest like a rock hitting safety glass, shattering the region into thousands of tiny areas, each isolated from one another and all extremely difficult to reach.

…there are proactive steps people in the region can take to prepare themselves effectively:

Realistically, given all that vulnerable infrastructure and the huge scale of the problem, is there anything individuals can do to protect themselves?

Absolutely, and most of it is simple and inexpensive or free.

For example:

Redecorate your home with an eye to gravity. Computers, blenders, vases, houseplants, your daughter’s soccer trophies, your TV: everything you are accustomed to thinking of as home décor will be requisitioned as a weapon during the Cascadia earthquake. Your job is to prevent that, and you can do so in a couple of hours and at essentially no cost.

Whether you live in the area or plan on visiting (which my wife and I had considered prior to hearing about all this earthquake business) Kathryn’s tips are worth heeding. Her final say on the matter:

I’m still scared for the region, but I am not scared in it. Take some basic steps to protect yourself, work to draw attention to those issues that demand collective action—do that, and you need not be overly scared either.

A World Without Advice »

Back in March, Paul Jarvis pondered what would happen if all the advice in the world simply vanished:

I got to thinking about all the times I’ve been happy with accomplishing something. Every single time it happened because I just wanted to try something and thought, “What the hell, let’s do this!” I didn’t ask anyone first. I didn’t consult a mentor, advisor, oracle, or listicle. I just jumped in head-first. […]

Experts aren’t necessarily better than people starting out, they just know how things work and can do some tasks without thinking. They are able to think several steps ahead. If I asked a carpenter how she would build a house, she would only be aware of steps she has to think about. Not the thousands of steps her skill takes over and does for her subconsciously.

Many (myself included) are guilty of sitting around and consuming advice, getting little dopamine rushes and feeling like we’ve accomplished something even as we immediately dive into checking our inboxes and feeds for the 100th time today.

“Oh, I’ll definitely use that information later.” Except you never do, because you’re too busy binging on the internet instead of working. The one real piece of advice I keep coming back to is that nothing beats honest-to-goodness taking action if you want to succeed or do anything of worth.

Will you?

Photo: Cory Staudacher

Photo: Cory Staudacher

What It’s Like to Be a Professional Instagrammer »

Alex Heath, reporting for the just-launched Tech Insider:

A billboard or print ad in a magazine can only go so far in reaching a certain kind of person. Brands are willing to pay handsomely for getting their products seen by the Instagram demographic, often to the tune of thousands of dollars per post.


[Liz] Eswien has sent Instagram photographers on assignment to locations like Spain, Thailand, Namibia, and Iceland. She tells Tech Insider that famous Instagammers are “making a very viable living off of this industry.”

I’ve heard of similar things happening at Vine and Snapchat.

Speaking of Vine, Tech Insider also profiled Logan Paul, a 20-year-old who wants to translate his Vine success into an entertainment career. (He’s got a lot of growing to do first, it seems.)

Photo: Gianluca Fabrizio/Getty

Photo: Gianluca Fabrizio/Getty

Cool at 13, Adrift at 23 »

Jan Hoffman, The New York Times:

“The fast-track kids didn’t turn out O.K.,” said Joseph P. Allen, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia. He is the lead author of a new study, published this month in the journal Child Development, that followed these risk-taking, socially precocious cool kids for a decade. In high school, their social status often plummeted, the study showed, and they began struggling in many ways.


“To be truly mature as an early adolescent means you’re able to be a good, loyal friend, supportive, hardworking and responsible,” Dr. Allen said. “But that doesn’t get a lot of airplay on Monday morning in a ninth-grade homeroom.”

(via Lee Unkrich, whose comment is perfect: “Kids: Own your nerd-ness. Things work out.”)

Photo: Bryan Derballa

Photo: Bryan Derballa

Up in the Air: Meet the Man Who Flies Around the World for Free »

Ben Wofford, Rolling Stone:

It’s been 43 exhausting weeks since he slept in a bed that wasn’t in a hotel, and he spends an average of six hours daily in the sky. He has a freewheeling itinerary, often planning his next destination upon hitting the airport. Just last week, he rocketed through Dallas, Dubai, Oman, Barcelona and Frankfurt. Yet for all his travel, it would be a mistake to call Schlappig a nomad. The moment that he whiffs the airless ambience of a pressurized cabin, he’s home.


In April 2014, at the end of his lease, he walked into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. He hasn’t come down since.

I love traveling and all, and the guy does use some interesting methods to earn free flights, but an entire lifestyle living on planes and in airports does not sound appealing to me in the slightest. To each their own?

Illustration: Justin M. Maller

Illustration: Justin M. Maller

Helmetica »

Artist Justin M. Maller has created a sweet gallery of what he calls “busts of digital heroes.” There are 12 images in all, my favorite being the one of Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) above. They’re all available for download as hi-res wallpapers.

How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain »

Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times, reports on a new study showing that getting out into natural environments can be an immediate mood-booster for city dwellers, who are disproportionately likely to develop depression compared to those outside of cities:

Immediately after completing their walks, the volunteers returned to the lab and repeated both the questionnaire and the brain scan.

As might have been expected, walking along the highway had not soothed people’s minds. Blood flow to their subgenual prefrontal cortex was still high and their broodiness scores were unchanged.

But the volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk.

One Bright Dot »

“A little light rises from the deep sea.”

I’ll end today’s column with this charming animated short by Clément Morin, which follows a stream of light particles as they race across a variety of landscapes, lighting up everything they touch. My 3yo son digs it, and so do I.

A few still images from the video can be found here.

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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.