Monday, February 19, 2018

pneumatics in The Post

It happens in the climactic scene. The Washington Post has decided to go ahead and print a story that could potentially ruin them. The articles are typed frantically in the editor's living room, while the editor's daughter sells them lemonade. The articles are rushed to the copy editor, and then, the moment comes, are shot through the pneumatic tube system to the printers.

And so pneumatic tubes appear at a pivotal moment in yet another movie, this time The Post.

The Washington Post review of the film is unsurprisingly favourable:
"Few will be immune to the romance that lies at the center of a movie that takes as much delight in pneumatic tubes, linotype machines and telexes trailing like bridal veils as it does in temperamental opposites finding common purpose in the institution to which they’re both truly, madly and deeply devoted. 'The Post' works on many levels, from polemic and thinly veiled cautionary tale to fun period piece and rip-roaring newspaper yarn. But at its most gratifying, it’s a love story, from the lede to the kicker."
The Post indeed could be read as a romantic eulogy to technologies lost or dying. Although, as we know, pneumatic tubes are alive and well. They just aren't rushing copy to the printers anymore, just as those newspapers are no longer thudding on our doorsteps on Saturday mornings.

Some useful glossary that might help with the above, from inside my recently purchased Field Notes Reporter's Notebook:

Lede: "an attention-grabbing first graf, summarizing the 'who, what, when, where, and why' of an article. Don't 'bury' this!"

Kicker: "a final graf that ties up a piece with wit and flair"

Graf: "abbreviation of 'paragraph'"

Image from the New Zealand Herald Manual of Journalism, first in my blogpost "In the Newsroom". For more on pneumatics in newsrooms, see my other post "Reporting on the Pneus"

Monday, February 5, 2018

buying bitcoins

It might be the biggest bubble in history, but one thing is for sure, it is hard to avoid talk about cryptocurrency at the moment.

How to buy the magic coins? Pneumatic tube!

This is an except from one of my favourite podcasts, Gimlet's Reply All (dubbed by The Guardian as “‘A podcast about the internet’ that is actually an unfailingly original exploration of modern life and how to survive it.), from the most recent episode no. 115 called The Bitcoin Hunter, where the hosts of the show attempt to track down Jia's lost bitcoins.
LEX: So, can you explain to me, to the best of your memory, like exactly the process of buying the bitcoin and then buying the drugs?
JIA: Yes, OK. Uh, there are gonna be big holes here. (laughs)
ALEX: (laughs)
JIA: OK. So I downloaded Tor…
And then I looked at the Silk Road, and I said, “OK, I’m gonna try and get some bitcoin and make an account and do this.”
And then I remember taking my boyfriend’s car to the Bank of America drive through, putting like, you know, what I think might have been $80, in a little pneumatic tube, it getting sucked up the pneumatic tube—
ALEX: Wait a minute, you deposited money–
JIA: Yeah.
ALEX: Cash, American, US dollars.
JIA: Absolutely, absolutely.
ALEX: Via pneumatic tube–
JIA: Yeah, yeah I did.
ALEX: At a normal bank–
JIA: Yeah, is that? I think that’s what I was supposed to do.  
ALEX: I think that was actually just her putting money in her bank account. Either way, she goes home, gets on the internet, just like, the regular internet, not the dark web, and she goes to this thing called a bitcoin exchange, think of it as a bank.
Head to the link above to listen to the rest of the podcasts, it is truly fascinating stuff ...

Bank drive thru pneumatic tube image from Derek Dysar's Flickr account, used under the Creative Commons lisence.