They don't build cities like they used to—which is, to say, by simply backfilling and constructing on top of older architecture, leaving behind a layered time machine just ripe for adventure. The idea that some very old cities, like Rome, are three stories taller than they originally were—that the ground you walk on today is not really, precisely, the ground at all—is still completely mind-blowing to me. Even after I've been below, and seen the buildings-built-atop-buildings with my own eyes.
That's why I love stories like this one from NPR, where professional explorer Erling Kagge accompanies amateur adventurer Steve Duncan on a 25-mile journey through the sewers of New York City. It's no Golden Palace of Nero, but there are some little historical thrills. The photo above, for instance, taken by Duncan, which shows THE canal for which Canal Street was named. Bricked over in 1812—you can see the line between the different stages of brickwork—it's now a sewer. And a clogged one, at that.
The story even includes a short interview with one of the so-called Mole People—homeless people who have figured out how to live more comfortably below ground than on the street.
One of them, Brooklyn, lives in an "igloo," as she put it -- a sort of dump beneath the tracks, which were lined with mural after mural of intense, weird graffiti.
"What do you think people above ground do wrong in life?" Kagge asked her.
"It's called appreciate what you got," Brooklyn said. "And hold on to it. And don't lose it. I don't know why people are miserable -- they got everything that I don't have. And I'm happier than them."
Soon, she burst into Sister Sledge's "We Are Family."
Via Christopher Ryan
In November, Bruce Sterling published “Pirate Utopia,” a dieselpunk novella set in the real, historical, bizarre moment in which the city of Fiume became an autonomous region run by artists and revolutionaries, whose philosophies ran the gamut from fascism to anarcho-syndicalism to socialism.
Randal Munroe nails it again in an XKCD installment that expresses the likelihood that your houseguests will be able to connect to your wifi (I confess to having been the “firmware” guide — but also, having been reminded to do something about my own firmware when other difficult houseguests came to stay).
Rainey from EFF writes, “EFF just launched a new video about its efforts to encrypt the web. It features bestselling author Baratunde Thurston explaining why encryption matters and two simple ways to ensure the web we love is encrypted.”
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