54- The Colour of Money (R)03/25/15
United States paper currency is so ubiquitous that to really look at its graphic design with fresh eyes requires some deliberate and focused attention. Pull a greenback out from your wallet (or look at a picture online) and really take … Continue...
157- Devil’s Rope
In the mid 1800s, not many (non-native) Americans had ever been west of the Mississippi. When Frederick Law Olmstead visited the west in the 1850s, he remarked that the plains looked like a sea of grasses that moved“in swells after … Continue reading →
156- Coin Check
The United States Military is not known for being touchy-feely.There’s not much hugging or head-patting, andsuperiors don’t always have the authority to offera servicemana raise or promotion. When a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps,...
155- Palm Reading
Reports of palm theft haveappeared in LA,San Diego, andTexas; palm rustlingalsogets a mention in Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief. To understand why someone would want to steal a palm tree, we need tounderstand their value—which has a lot to do …...
154- PDX Carpet
Portlanders have a tradition when visiting their airport: taking a picture of their feet. It’s not to show off their shoes, but rather, what’s under them. They are documenting the famous PDX airport carpet. Julie Sabatier from Rendered has the …...
153- Game Over (R)
A few months before the end of the world, everyone was saying their goodbyes. The world that was ending was The Sims Online, an online version of The Sims. Even though The Sims was one of the most popular computer … Continue reading →
152- Guerrilla Public Service
At some point in your life you’ve probably encountered a problem in the built world where the fix was obvious to you. Maybe a door that opened the wrong way, or poorly painted marker on the road. Mostly, when we … Continue reading →
151- La Mascotte
The idea of the mascot came to America by way of a popular French opera from the 1880s called La Mascotte. The opera is about a down-on-his luck farmer who’s visited by a girl named Bettina; as soon as she … Continue reading →
150- Under The Moonlight
In 1885,Austin, Texas was terrorizedby aserial killer known as the Servant Girl Annihilator.The murdererwas never actually found, but he claimedeight victims, mostly black servant girls, all attacked in the darkof night. The very, very dark night...
149- Of Mice And Men
If you are looking at acomputer screen, your right hand is probably resting on amouse. To the left of that mouse (or above, if you’re on a laptop) is your keyboard. As you work on the computer, your right hand … Continue reading →
148- The Sizzle
The first trademark for a sound in the United Stateswas issuedin 1978 to NBC for their chimes.MGM has a sound trademarkfor their roaring lion, as does 20th Century Fox for their trumpet fanfare. Harley Davidson tried to trademark the sound … Continue...
147- Penn Station Sucks
New Yorkers are known to disagree about a lot of things. Who’s got the best pizza? What’s the fastest subway route? Yankees or Mets? But all 8.5 million New Yorkers are likely to agree on one thing: Penn Station sucks. … Continue reading →
As you probably know, 99% Invisibleis a show about the built world, about things manufactured by humans. We don’t tend to do stories about animals or nature. Butourfriend Jon Mooallemwrites brilliant stories about the weird interactionsbetween animals...
If you want to follow conversation threads relating to this show on social media—whether Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, Tumblr—you know to look for the hashtag: #99pi. In our current digital age, the hashtag identifies movements, events, happenings,...
144- There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Hanging in the garage of Fire Station #6 in Livermore, California, there’s a small, pear-shaped light bulb. It is glowing right now. This lightbulb has been glowing, with just a couple of momentary interruptions, for 113 years. You can see … Continue...
143- Inflatable Men
You see them on street corners, at gas stations, at shopping malls. You see them at blowout sales and grand openings of all kinds. Their wacky faces hover over us, and then fall down to meet us, and then rise … Continue reading →
142- And The Winner Is
There’s a little trophy shop called Aardvark Laser Engraving down the street from our office in Oakland. Its small but bustling, and its windows are stuffed to the brim with awards made of all kinds of materials and in any … Continue reading →
141- Three Records from Sundown
This week on the show we’re presenting one of our favorite radio features, “Three Records from Sundown,”about singer Nick Drake. The documentary, by producer Charles Maynes, retraces the roots of Drake’s legend through interviews with Drake’s...
Vexillologists—those who study flags—tend to fall into one of two schools of thought. The first is one that focuses on history, category, and usage, and maintains that vexillologists should be scholars and historians of all flags, regardless of their...
139- Edge of Your Seat
“A Chair is a difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier.” —Mies van der Rohe. The chair presents an interesting design challenge, because it is anobject that disappears when in use. The person replaces the chair. So chairs need to … Continue...
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