🔗 The best links of 2020

The best articles and most interesting websites I stumbled upon in 2020

Below are a bunch of websites and articles that I found this year that really blew me away.

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If you enjoy this collection, I would suggest subscribing to this weekly newsletter where I share the best links I find every week online, as well as the best art, videos, and music.

General Websites

Humans of New York

Free Studio Ghibli Artwork

Chess Tactics Explained

Street View, but it’s 1940’s New York City

The Oldest Company in Basically Every Country

Grayscale font by Charli Marie

Interface in Game: A detailed look at UI design in video games

Scrunthorpe Sans: A font that automatically censors your potty language

The Whimsical Web: A collection of really fun websites.

Dark Age of the Web

The best wildlife photos of the year

Articles

The health care scare

In my prior life as an insurance executive, it was my job to deceive Americans about their health care. I misled people to protect profits.

[…]

While it’s true that Canadians sometimes have to wait weeks or months for elective procedures (knee replacements are often cited), the truth is that they do not have to wait at all for the vast majority of medical services. And, contrary to another myth I used to peddle — that Canadian doctors are flocking to the United States — there are more doctors per 1,000 people in Canada than here. Canadians see their doctors an average of 6.8 times a year, compared with just four times a year in this country.

Forgotten Map Types

So, I slowly amassed a more complete list. And here it is. Most of these map types are silly or unusual, not forgotten. Many of them are even deliberately taken out of context to highlight their wackiness and how easily maps can be misread (I sure misread them all the time!).

The Art of the Possible - John Siracusa

Apple’s App Store rules need to change not (just) because developers don’t like them. They need to change because time and experience have shown that there is no viable path to Apple’s goal state given the existing rules. The details of any particular App Store controversy can often distract from this larger reality. A hardline stance will not sway hearts and minds, and it has proven unable to change developers’ business models without sacrificing the user experience. Apple needs to decide if it wants to be “right,” or if it wants to be happy.

Is Population Density the Key to Understanding Voting Behavior?

At about 800 people per square mile, people switch from voting primarily Republican to voting primarily Democratic. Put another way, below 800 people per square mile, there is a 66% chance that you voted Republican.Above 800 people per square mile, there is a 66% chance that you voted Democrat. A 66% preference is a clear, dominant majority.

Moment.js & The Selflessness of Developers

I would argue that the main motivation is selflessness. Developers want to help other developers. They want to contribute to the common good. What a beautiful thing. With one piece of code, a developer can help people around the world now and for years to come. But then when something new comes along that better serves the common good, it is time to graciously and selflessly step aside.

This is what the maintainers of Moment.js did this week. We should congratulate them not just on their great work but also admire them for their ability to put the community before themselves.

Metal Gear Solid 2 Retrospective: Be Careful What You Wish For

The initial technological threat in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is Metal Gear RAY. It is an “anti-Metal Gear,” a mech designed to destroy what came before. It is singularly focused on destroying the past, and so is Metal Gear Solid 2. This game is the anti-Metal Gear game. It is the great deconstruction that many fans consider the series’ greatest betrayal. Players wanted to be Solid Snake again, but instead, this game showed them how different they really were from Snake.

Dear Mom, Dad, Uncle, Auntie: Black Lives Matter to Us, Too

But I hope you can consider this: the American Dream cannot exist for only your children. We are all in this together, and we cannot feel safe until ALL our friends, loved ones, and neighbors are safe. The American Dream that we seek is a place where all Americans can live without fear of police violence. This is the future that I want — and one that I hope you want, too.

How Eminem Conquered Black Music (and White Privilege) With ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’

The album is a masterful confluence of punk, bluegrass, and subterranean hip-hop that gave life to a singular brand of Americana rap. It gave a voice to voiceless rap lovers who fancied Vicodin and lived in blue-collar cities where Black people were a rarity (think Columbine, Colorado). By the dawn of the aughts, Slim Shady had unearthed his own demographic.

Why Saying 'All Lives Matter' Is a Problem

We do believe that all lives matter. But we don’t live in a world where all lives matter, so that kind of response really puts on display the very issues we’re trying to address. There’s a part of our country that believes that people are suffering because of their own lack of individual initiative. Then there are a whole bunch of people saying, ‘Yeah, it’s not about the fact that I’m lazy. It’s about the fact that my community’s infrastructure is crumbling. It’s about the fact I can’t drive down the street without being harassed or targeted by law enforcement.’

The false promise of the 10,000 hour rule

All the study shows is that the "best" violinists had put in more hours of deliberate practice than the "good" violinists. Which is interesting but by no means a promise of expertise.

Why Japanese Web Design Is So… Different

In the mind’s eye of many people, Japan is a land of tranquil Zen gardens, serene temples, and exquisite tea ceremonies. Both traditional and contemporary Japanese architecture, books and magazines are the envy of designers worldwide. Yet for some reason practically none of this mastery has been translated into digital products, in particular websites, most of which look like they hail from around 1998.

Magic Mailboxes - A fascinating look at Apple's Mail app from someone who worked on it at Apple in the early Mac OS X days.

COVID-19 and the Failure of Swedish Exceptionalism

In April, as the pandemic raged with no end in sight, Tegnell argued against the use of face masks, contradicting nearly all international medical authorities. He also claimed in that same month that Stockholm was only a month away from reaching herd immunity. This prediction did not age well.

The women helping Hollywood shoot safer sex scenes - This is a fascinating article on what is effectively a "sex coordinator" on set (much like a stunt or special effects coordinator). I love movie-making, and this is a dive into an aspect of filmmaking that I have not seen before.

The Perfect Art Heist: Hack the Money, Leave the Painting

Thieves didn't even bother with a London art gallery's Constable landscape-and they still walked away with $3 million.

How Mitch McConnell Became Trump’s Enabler-in-Chief

Yet, as covid-19 decimates the economy and kills Americans across the nation, McConnell’s alliance with Trump is looking riskier. Indeed, some critics argue that McConnell bears a singular responsibility for the country’s predicament. They say that he knew from the start that Trump was unequipped to lead in a crisis, but, because the President was beloved by the Republican base, McConnell protected him.

I’m Working Remotely. Can I Keep Hiding My Secret Baby?

After mulling (I believe) every possible scenario for how you might proceed, I’m afraid the course with the likeliest odds of success is also the most preposterous: You’re going to have to gaslight this man.

My Body Is a Confederate Monument: Slavery, Rape and Reframing the Past

When I was 6, I innocently asked my parents why my African-American classmates were typically on average lighter skinned than my classmates whose parents were immigrants directly from Africa. They didn’t have an answer for me and shrugged. It took until I was a teenager for me to put the pieces together myself in horror.

Hey, You Free on Friday for a Meeting and a Bank Heist?

Eager for an alternative to Zoom, executives are getting together in video games, to bond, brainstorm or rampage.

How Pro-Trump Forces Work the Refs in Silicon Valley

But while it was a quintessentially 2020 exchange, the gripe voiced by Representative Greg Steube was also a classic example of a politician "working the refs" -- that is, complaining vocally about a referee’s decision in the hopes of getting a better call next time. It’s a tactic the Trump movement has revived and deftly employed against the powerful, befuddled new referees of public debate, Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Long-Concealed Records Show Trump's Chronic Losses And Years Of Tax Avoidance

The New York Times with a bombshell report with more Trump tax information than we've ever seen before (and that he has worked very hard to hide from the public). I'm no tax expert, so I highly suggest reading this and then seeking out commentary from the experts.

Right-Wing Social Media Finalizes Its Divorce From Reality

In the hours following the Arizona call, a paranoid conspiracy theory spread rapidly on Parler and in other right-wing online forums: Voters in conservative counties had been given felt-tip pens that supposedly made vote-counting machines reject the ballots that they marked for Trump. The following night, Trump supporters protesting what came to be called #SharpieGate gathered outside the Maricopa County ballot-counting facility in Phoenix. In a development previously unthinkable to liberals who have long dismissed Fox as state media for the Trump administration, the Arizona protesters began chanting, "Fox News sucks!"

Open Source Fonts Are Love Letters to the Design Community

If there's one thing I can tell you about this newsletter, is that if I find a remotely interesting article about fonts, I'm going to share it. Hell, this is the second one in this issue!

Microsoft had a secret Windows XP theme that made it look like a Mac - Oh man, it looks bad.