The Man in the MTA’s Money Room

Nearby, chunky steel boxes, each about the size of a toaster oven, are lined up on long tables. They’re the currency vaults from the MetroCard machines, and they arrive from the stations locked. “When you pull them out of the machine, they self-seal, and the only key exists here.” A couple of clerks are methodically opening them up, stacking the bills into little plastic racks and then feeding them into a bank of huge bulk counting machines. “Eighty thousand notes per hour,” Putre says. “It’s going to authenticate, then count, then sort, then strap, all in one step. What four people can do in this room used to take 12 people before we had this machine. Before the pandemic, we’d run two, three machines every single day. Now we run a couple of days a week.” It’s satisfying to encounter the mechanical whir of it all, especially this year: bills and coins, paper and metal, notes and specie instead of ones and zeroes.

This was a delightful look at the operation required to count all the money that flows through New York’s public transit system.


The FBI of the National Park Service

The elite special agents assigned to the ISB—the National Park Service’s homegrown equivalent to the FBI—are charged with investigating the most complex crimes committed on the more than 85 million acres of national parks, monuments, historical sites, and preserves administered by the National Park Service, from Alaska’s Noatak National Preserve to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Three are exactly 33 brave women and men who are part of the Investigative Services Branch, tasked with protecting our national parks.


How ski lifts are installed: Vail's new Chair 5

I'm a sucker for learning how things are made, and this video certainly changed my impression of how ski lifts are installed.

Which, admittedly, made me realize that I even had an impression of of how ski lifts are installed.

Anyway, the ingenuity of this whole operation just made me smile. It made me think of Gus and Charlee working with those new Lego blocks at the Children's Museum last weekend. We humans really like building things, don't we?


The Depths She'll Reach

This is an incredible piece of storytelling.

Professionally speaking, the use of parallax and "scrolljacking" generally irritates me. In this instance, the techniques are really well implemented and meaningfully improve the story's impact.

Personally speaking, the mental health struggles Alenka overcame are inspiring. Her zen-like approach to both free diving and life in general is one worthy of adapting.

Load this one on your laptop. I promise it'll be worth it.


Long feedback loops

In the best case scenario, we create routines to hypnotize ourselves into repetition. We have loved ones and mentors who tell us to keep going, and help us figure out when we’re on the wrong track. We look for signs that we’re getting better, but we also understand that the process of getting really, really good at something sometimes just feels like a incoherent slog. If we’re lucky and resourceful and creative, we’ll eventually break through the membrane and find ourselves on the other side we’ve been clawing towards for so long.


Arnold Schwarzenegger Is No Longer the Governor of California. Right?

None of this, he said, is about ever running again for public office. “Elderly statesman” is how he describes his role now.

“When you leave office, you realize — well, I realized — that I just couldn’t cut it off like that,” he said. “Just because I’m finished with this job that is only kind of a temporary job, does it mean that I have interest only in a temporary way? No! It’s like sports, with the follow-through.”

A tremendously well-written profile on one of my lifelong idols.

My hunch is that Arnold’s enduring popularity lies somewhere in the mixture of his incredible work ethic, his proclivity to address societal problems with “common sense”, his unique upbringing, his charismatic personality, and his boundless ambition.

Is Arnold perfect? Of course not. But he’s the voice that the right wing of politics deserves. Get back to focusing on solving problems, not winning at all costs.



John Swartzwelder, Sage of The Simpsons

Many of my favorite Simpsons episodes of all time, including “Homer at the Bat” and “Bart Gets an Elephant”, were written by John Swartzwelder.

This article is a rare interview with a notoriously reclusive guy, and as someone who was practically raised at the altar of this show, getting a closer look at one of their disciples was a treat.


Favorable Conditions Never Come

We are always falling in love or quarreling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.


How raising children can change a father’s brain

Consider a man who leaves his menopausal wife and family to start a new family with a younger, fertile woman. Or think of certain high-status, married fathers who spend considerable time and money on girlfriends, mistresses and even prostitutes. Yet, many other men choose to forego these pursuits. They override impulses that evolution has programmed into their brains, impulses that evolved because they enhanced the reproductive success of their ancestors. They do so out of love and respect for their partners and their children, and out of respect for social and cultural norms. But how do they do what males of other species seem incapable of?

The answer, I believe, is that they rely on the crowning achievement of human brain evolution: the prefrontal cortex. Not only is the human brain three times larger than the brain of our closest living primate relatives, the great apes, but the human prefrontal cortex is also larger than expected for our brain size. Our prefrontal cortex is what allows us to override ancient, evolved impulses in the service of honouring commitments, abiding by social norms, and exercising our moral responsibilities. We are privileged to have this remarkable organ, and we fathers would all do well to make use of it.