All links from In Focus

To get more like this, subscribe to the The Weekly Filet. The five best links of the week, every Friday. Making sense of the big issues of our time (with a healthy dose of serendipity and nerdiness). Brought to you by journalist David Bauer. Trawling the web for hidden gems since 2011.
Learn more

Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth

The Guardian

The very substance that much of the world as we know it is built with is a threat to the future of this planet. The Guardian has a long, in-depth profile of concrete, so packed with jaw-dropping facts that it’s hard to pick out a particular one. The piece is from early 2019, but obviously hasn’t lost any of its relevance.

Published in Weekly Filet #283

The shadow commander

The New Yorker

«Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today, and no one’s ever heard of him.» That’s what a senior CIA official once said of Iran’s top security and intelligence commander Qassem Suleimani, who US forces have killed yesterday. I have to admit: I indeed haven’t heard of him. Yet his killing might prove to be highly consequential on a global scale. One expert has compared it to the killing of a Vice-President. If you’re interested in hot takes of what will happen next, Twitter has them aplenty. For now, I recommend this older New Yorker profile which will help you understand who Suleimani was.

Published in Weekly Filet #283

    Pitchfork’s Best of the Year Over the Decade

    Road to Larissa

    On a lighter note: What year produced most of the «best songs of the decade»? And which songs were never among the «best of the year», but now among the «best of the decade»? And for the dataviz people among you: a nice exhibit how not too rarely a table is the best form of visualisation.

    Published in Weekly Filet #283

    A Decade of Urban Transformation, Seen From Above

    The New York Times

    A fascinating piece from The Upshot that shows how urban areas have changed over the past ten years, using satellite images. My favourite: How growing ethnic diversity can be seen from space (take a moment to guess what it could be). Have a look at it now. Just as interesting as the final piece is the process of how it came about (in short: an algorithm trained to spot relevant differences in satellite images over time).

    Published in Weekly Filet #283

      The dystopia that wasn’t

      Helsingin Sanomat

      I don’t speak a word of Finnish, but the beauty of visual journalism is that if it’s done well, it works even without words. In this case: What a hellish car-centered nightmare Helsinki might have become had plans from the 1960 been realised. Helsingin Sanomat has dug up those old plans and visualised them in stunning manner (that first animation: 🤯). Check out the original first (and let Google Translate be your friend afterwards – some of the visual elements don’t work in the translated version)

      Published in Weekly Filet #282

      The consolations of rail travel

      The New Statesman

      An ode to train travel in the age of flight shame – and a reminder: Going by train should not be seen as a compromise or sacrifice, but as a genuinely rewarding experience in its own right. It ends with a call to train operators, employers and governments to make train travel even more attractive and accessible.

      Published in Weekly Filet #282

      The silent «sixth» sense

      Close your eyes and touch your nose with your left hand. That was probably easy – when we close our eyes, our sense of the world and our body’s place in it doesn’t disappear. For some people, though, it does. When they close their eyes, they are quite literally lost in space. The fascinating story of proprioception, our ability to locate our own body in space.

      Published in Weekly Filet #282

        How we know global warming is real

        The Washington Post

        A new piece from the Washington Post’s great «2°C: Beyond the limit» series. A history of weather stations and a visual explanation of their role in understanding climate change. The piece it centered around one station in Austria, and almost personifies it, as a devoted perfectionist who now faces an ironic fate.

        Published in Weekly Filet #282

        Eine Reise in die arabische Welt


        [For speakers of German only, sorry] As the «Arab Spring» of 2011 is reduced to just another distant memory in decade-in-review pieces, this series is very timely. The six-part reportage shines light on the current and recent uprisings Iraq, Sudan and Egypt. «Are we seeing the next Arab Spring?», the reporters ask themselves as they travel the Middle East. You can listen to it for free, the text version beyond the intro is only available to members of Republik (I have some 2-week-memberships to share – reply to this email and if you’re quick enough, I can invite you).

        Published in Weekly Filet #282