The Sum of All Beards

Beards used to mean something.

Anyone with a beard was within 60 days of a Phish show at any given time. They owned guitars. At least one acoustic that sat next to their couch for couch strumming. Their girlfriends made hemp jewelry and drank green tea. Maybe kombucha. This was also when green tea and kombucha meant something. They drank craft beer before anyone else knew that there was more than two styles of beer. They were going to watch some friends at an open mic later that night if you wanted to join.

Their dad made you stand at attention when Sgt. Peppers came on the hi-fi during dinner.

Those were simpler times.

Then, like a fungus, beards began to spread. Hippie? Prep? Rich guy? Lawyer? Athlete? Ironic? Non-Ironic? There’s no telling who it is that’s hiding under there. Or what beard oil they prefer.

And why?

Well, just as the space race gave us Tang and silly putty, The New Republic reports that the US led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought us more than fast-casual Mediterranean chains: We are a nation drunk on ”tacticool” culture. 

Beards are Tacticool.

Don’t fight it.

Breath it in.

Let it wash over you.

Let it intoxicate you.

Let it become you.

And consider this:

Duck Dynasty was fashion-forward.

How to Measure Ghosts – A Newsletter About the History of Audience Measurement

This seems promising:

The last 100 years have been a journey to see how to measure ghosts – how to measure the invisible audiences at the end of technological distribution networks. With every decade, these ghosts have come more and more into focus, ending with a the last ten years of social media and digital advertising that has created unimaginable amounts of data about everything we see, read, click and like.

This’ll be right up the alley of anyone who is sufficiently nerdy.

It’s right up my alley.

I’m giving the free tier a spin. If it’s as good as Stratechery, the only other paid newsletter I subscribe to, I might go all in.

One Guy Walked Around with a Parrot on His Shoulder

Good read about some early GUI design at Xerox. The origin of the hamburger icon that is practically everywhere. The thought process behind creating icons for a graphical interface that would be meaningful to people who had never seen a graphical interface before … which was everyone. A nod to random decisions made without much thought at 8:30 on a Tuesday that end up putting a tiny dent in the universe.

But also, this:

I learned very quickly that I don’t wear a three-piece suit to PARC: it was t-shirts and shorts, kilts … one guy walked around with a parrot on his shoulder. Everyone had bean-bags in their office, and neon signs, and incense. Think California in the 1970s.

The Route in Your Mind

Every driver should own and use the Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas. Get the one with the laminated pages so when you spill your coffee you can wipe it off. It’s the best fifty-nine dollars you’ll ever spend. Forget about online systems, and don’t rely on the voice. It can be useful as a backup, but your primary guide needs to be a map. You need to visualize the route in your mind. Willie Joyce told me that since they started using GPS, drivers get lost or confused three times more than when they used road maps.

From The Long Haul: A Trucker’s Tales of Life on the Road” by Finn Murphy