Tedium
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Popular email clients, particularly Gmail, have a tendency to cut emails off after a 102-kilobyte limit. Why the heck is that—and whose fault is it, anyway?

There are a handful of things I love — writing long articles, telling bad jokes, and obsessing over random bits of code.

This is probably why I run an email newsletter, which is about a week away from hitting its sixth anniversary.

But as a newsletter writer who reads other newsletters, I notice things, and one of the things I noticed recently involved Platformer, a tech newsletter by former Verge journalist Casey Newton. …


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Today’s GIF comes from Jürgen Henn of 11foot8.com. More on him and his wonderful site in a second.

Why low overpasses are often so damaging to trucks, RVs, and other large vehicles — and why the ensuing crashes are so fun to watch.

To start off, I just want to offer a shoutout to the folks who have managed to ride out the pandemic in an RV. It apparently has been a booming industry, per CBS Sunday Morning.

“It’s nice knowing that we can control the environment that we’re living in and not have to worry if something was sanitized or not,” one permanent RV resident told the outlet.

I’ve always been fascinated by RV culture — I have a fully written intro to a planned Tedium issue about RVs in which I honor Casey Neistat’s 2011 RV adventure. (It will never see…


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For decades, it was easier to get a bottle of vodka in Iceland than a pint of beer. The reason says more about Iceland’s politics than its temperance movement.

Of all the things that can get you through this weird time in our lives, one of the most obvious is beer.

Beer is a beverage that should be had in moderation, of course, but these are not moderate times, so it’s understandable if you find yourself enjoying your virtual happy hours more than usual.

But what if your country prohibited beer — specifically, beer, not wine or liquor? How would that change things? This is not a theoretical situation. …


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“Canned laughter,” a controversial element of most television comedy, feels unnerving in its quarantine-era absence. Its initial creation is downright fascinating.

As our life has been thoroughly disrupted twelve days from Tuesday in ways too numerous to count, I’ve thought about the small ways that this disruption has shown itself.

Perhaps one of the most subtle has been the loss of the live studio audience on late-night TV, the laugh tracks that have come to define that kind of comedy.

Early pandemic episodes of the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon were shot in front of the show’s staff, and soon, after Last Week Tonight With John Oliver set the stage for everyone else…


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This was a product that predated the AIDS crisis by more than 40 years, but was taken off the market as a result of it.

The surprisingly true story of Ayds, a diet suppressant candy that was incredibly successful until its name became forever associated with something else. Fans of Corona beer may see the parallels.

The recent COVID-19 health crisis has put a lot of attention around branding concerns, particularly around Corona beer, whose maker recently announced it was stopping production temporarily.

Stories like these create easy parallels that one can look towards in the past.

A few years ago, for example, the wireless industry thought it could win a potentially lucrative game — that of the mobile wallet, which was just starting to get off the ground thanks to the smartphone.

They had all the elements in place to pull it off, including support of most of the major wireless providers. …


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How the milk crate, a commonly stolen type of container, became the target of tough legal regulations — and how those regulations have started to backfire.

Sometimes, it’s possible to create something that’s too useful, that is designed for a niche purpose but is so well-attuned to that purpose that it attracts other people, who find a similar value but different use case than was intended.

And because of the sheer prevalence of said useful tool, it suddenly is everywhere — finding purpose as a cheap alternative to a trip to the local department store. If you’re the maker of that too-useful something, whaddya do?

Well, in the case of the dairy industry, you use your political influence to try to ban all those college students…


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Pondering the way that the creative process is often directed by rules which, in many cases, stifle creativity. Sometimes, you just have to throw the rules out.

Back in college, possibly the most important book I read during the entire time I was there was extremely short and very opinionated. It wasn’t even long enough to be a novella. But it was compelling nonetheless. It was a short book about design and typography called The Mac is Not a Typewriter.

A svelte style manual in the vein of William Strunk’s The Elements of Style, it basically laid out the essential elements of layout and typography in a way that was simple to understand and forced you to think about what was said. …


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Today’s GIF comes from the inaugural landing of the first commercial flight in St. Helena, which took place in 2017.

Two years ago, a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean got its first airport — perhaps the world’s most obscure airport. It was expensive, but can St. Helena thrive?

Your average flight from Washington, D.C. to St. Helena Island, located in one of the most remote parts of the world, would be a very arduous affair, a flight that would take nearly two full days, and at least three distinct layovers along the way — first in Ghana, then in Johannesburg, then a refueling stop in Namibia — before you got to your destination.

If there’s a delay at any of the three stops, it might compromise the entire trip, because if you don’t make your connecting flight, you’re screwed. And once you’re there, you’re not leaving for a…


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From the Night Music intro, as the show was called during its second season.

Saturday Night Live might have had the laughs, but its short-lived offshoot Sunday Night (aka Night Music) may have been the greatest music TV show ever made.

There’s always something to admire about a well-considered touring bill, where the bands on the lineup fit together so well that it makes you want to drop everything and go. (Case in point: Father John Misty and Jason Isbell, two serious musicians who have reputations for being very funny, are co-headlining a summer tour together.)

It’s not easy to put this kind of lineup together in a non-Coachella-style environment, and it’s even harder to have such lineups appear every single week. Not just one great musician. Four or five. …


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A clip of a baby playing with a bell, from a child-development film produced by Dr. Arnold Gesell in 1945. Gesell’s work plays an important part in this story.

Pondering the unusual association serious electronic composers had with children’s music in the 1960s — especially Raymond Scott.

It may be the greatest song that most people have heard but are completely unaware has a name.

You’ve most assuredly heard it thousands of times — most likely as a child watching the Cartoon Network or Boomerang, especially during toons well into their vintage.

I promise you, you have heard this song before.

It is called “Powerhouse,” and it is by a composer named Raymond Scott. …

Tedium

A twice-weekly newsletter that hunts for the end of the long tail.

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