🖼 the art of money laundering.

welcome to sam’s brain drain, a weekly collection of thumb-stopping things to tap, read, & watch.

estimated reading time: 4m 10s.

⏰ 23 days until 2020.

i’m flying back to san francisco today.

next month, i’ll be taking my longest trip to date: 30 hours of flying to australia (via qatar). spending 15 hours at a time sitting will definitely be a test for me & my overactive mind.

it’s like the equivalent of two kids in the back shouting arewethereyetarewethereyet.

interestingly enough, australia is almost ireland’s antipodal point - such that a straight line connecting the two would pass through earth's centre. these points are as far away from each other as possible.

i’m bloody excited to go on an adventure.


on the agenda this week: the art of money laundering, & opening every letter to santa claus.

⚡️ tag me on instagram or twitter if you enjoy this week's brain drain!


👂 earworm: baynk.

“chasing feelings, pacing back and forth
what are all the empty places for?”

one of new zealand’s hottest producers, baynk is a true success story that never seems to end. jock nowell-usticke, the mastermind behind baynk, earned a degree in chemical engineering years ago, but now he’s performing to some of the biggest crowds at notable music festivals like lollapalooza, hard, and life is beautiful.

not only does baynk fully produce his own impressive discography, but he also takes it upon himself to program his own thrilling show lights and direct all artwork designs.

ones to watch.

stream now:
listen to baynk on spotify or on apple music.


📚 word of the week:

“vicissitudes”.

successive, alternating, or changing phases or conditions, as of life or fortune; ups and downs.

the marble faces, which stand innumerable along the walls, and have kept themselves so calm through the vicissitudes of twenty centuries, had no sympathy for his disappointment.

nathaniel hawthorne, the marble faun, 1860.


🤪 mildly humorous:

outtakes from the twitter-sphere.


🧠 brain candy:

🖼 the art of money laundering.

the sale of a $120,000 banana (that was subsequently eaten, bizarrely) at art basel last weekend reminded me of this article.

when you sell your home the paperwork details the sale, including your name, and the title search lists the names of the people who owned the property before you. but when someone sells an artwork at auction — even something worth $100 million, much more than your house — the identity is typically concealed.

oh, the paperwork might identify the work as coming from “a european collection.” but the buyer usually has no clue with whom he or she is really dealing. sometimes, surprisingly, even the auction house may not know who the seller is.

secrecy has long been central to the art world. anonymity protects privacy, adds mystique and cuts the taint of crass commerce from such transactions. but some experts are now saying this sort of discretion — one founded in a simpler time, when only a few wealthy collectors took part in the art market — is not only quaint but also reckless when art is traded like a commodity and increasingly suspected in money laundering.

read more via the new york times.

🎄 every letter.

séamas o’reilly is a brilliant writer, infamous for his story of how he ended up alone in a room with the president of ireland whilst high on ketamine.

“when i was a 22-year-old student in dublin - dirt poor, heartbroke and overly fond of acid - i somehow found myself spending christmas 2007 opening each letter to santa sent by every child in ireland. this is that story.”

like working in the media or writing for a living, opening children’s letters to santa is one of those jobs that feels better to tell people about than to actually do. so, i told everyone. i regaled tables at parties about how i was the sole person on earth allowed, legally or ethically, to open any envelope containing those children’s innermost wants, and i described the toys, bicycles and boys they so desired.

i told everyone how any letter addressed to santa claus, even if it just had santa, with no address, and no stamp, would find its way to me. it sounded heartwarming – it was heartwarming – that any which had a return address would get a personal reply from santa, sealed with a lapland watermark and a north pole stamp. the bulk of the letters i got were clearly sent in batches by teachers who’d received templates from an post and coached their class through their letters, before packaging them together, with neatly appended addresses for each child.

but there were still some mavericks among the clade, those who had clearly gone out on their own and assembled their own letters off their own bat, who wrote long, fiddly messages in barely readable handwriting, screeds that went on for pages and pages and finished with a hopeful, but fundamentally useless, “micky, aged 8”.

read more via totally dublin.


🦶 footer:

that’s all for this week.

😌 see you next monday!

did you know that word of mouth is the only way something like this grows?

tell one of your colleagues what they’re missing out on 😈.

they can sign up here.

you can also share this on facebook or tweet about it.

🚨 if you post a screenshot to instagram stories of your favourite part of the email & tag me (@sam.travel), i’ll repost the best ones.


🎉 get social:

instagram: @sam.travel

twitter: @sammcallister

email me: smcallis[at]gmail.com

website: sammcallister.me


👋 read one of my last 5 posts:

💰 plaster saint.

🏡 cul de sac.

🌙 rising waters.

👂silence speaks volumes.

📈 smarter, not harder.

or click to see them all.

💰 plaster saint.

welcome to sam’s brain drain, a weekly collection of thumb-stopping things to tap, read, & watch.

estimated reading time: 3m 30s.

⏰ 30 days until 2020.

what’s top of mind for you ☺️?


on the agenda this week: the first modern disaster, escalators & hypocrites.

⚡️ tag me on instagram or twitter if you enjoy this week's brain drain!


👂 earworm: sebastian paul.

“stuck inside a thought
dreaming 'bout our talks.”

sebastian paul is carving out a path all his own. raised in a military family and currently finding himself between los angeles and colorado, paul claims no specific home. this sense of constant transition fuels his expansive sophomore ep.

this is one of those rare projects that simply demands your attention. an artist clearly not too keen to linger on any singular moment for far too long, paul’s sophomore outing is rife with unexpected twists and turns, which only unfurls to give way to further unexpected developments. the result is intoxicating.

ones to watch.

stream now:
listen to sebastian paul on spotify or on apple music.


📚 word of the week:

“postprandial”.

after a meal, especially after dinner: postprandial oratory; a postprandial brandy.

the father alone did nothing, but still rested on his couch, perhaps indulging in a postprandial nap.

w. h. hudson.


🤪 mildly humorous:

outtakes from the twitter-sphere.


🧠 brain candy:

🌊 the first modern disaster.

on the morning of november 1, 1755, an earthquake rocked lisbon, the portuguese capital and a bustling port city of roughly 275,000 people. as buildings collapsed, flames from hearths and candles ignited a massive fire that burned for a week, devouring much of what the quake itself had spared. meanwhile, not long after the last tremors ended, a tsunami—the largest in history, reaching speeds of up to fifty miles per hour—engulfed the ruined city.

when it was all over, as many as 40,000 people had perished in lisbon and its environs, though some contemporary estimates of the death toll were much higher. thousands more died in nearby spain and northern africa. rumbles from the earthquake and its aftershocks were felt throughout europe, as far north as scandinavia.

the cultural impact of the lisbon earthquake was nearly as extraordinary as the physical wreckage it caused. often called the first modern disaster, the great lisbon earthquake gave rise to vigorous investigations of its causes, with empirical observations and scientific knowledge informing the ambitious rebuilding of the ruined city that was undertaken and financed by portugal’s royal government. the horrific and widely publicized lisbon disaster also led to the first international relief effort in world history.

read more via lapham’s quarterly.

🚶‍♂️ uneven escalators.

a study in london found 74.9 per cent of people choose to stand instead of walking, especially on the longer ones. with this ‘stand on the right, walk on the left’ rule, we’re giving up 50 per cent of the space on our escalators for roughly 25 per cent of our commuters.

look for this problem next time during rush hour where the “standing” side of the escalators ends up with a line of people trying to get on. it may seem counterintuitive, but people who are walking up escalators to save seconds off their commute are actually slowing everyone else down.

efficiency aside, there’s another reason why walking on escalators might be a bad idea—safety. escalator accidents are much more common than you think.
a cbc investigation found that escalator accidents happen every second day in the montreal metro. in the u.s., about 10,000 escalator-related injuries end in emergency room visits every year.

read more via cbc.

💰 plaster saint.

a favourite headline from this week: “professor who wrote book on drug crime is accused of money laundering.”

a miami professor who’s an expert on drug trafficking and organized crime was charged by the u.s. with laundering money from venezuela, skimming more than $250,000 for himself.

bruce bagley, 73, a professor of international studies at the university of miami, was the co-editor of the 2015 book “drug trafficking, organized crime, and violence in the americas today” as well as a contributor to various journals on the topic.

but on monday prosecutors in manhattan charged bagley with laundering about $2.5 million into the u.s., money that foreign nationals embezzled and got from bribes and other corrupt schemes. bagley pocketed about 10% of the money, according to prosecutors.

read more via bloomberg.


that’s all for this week.

i hope you hold me accountable to keep this interesting 😝.

😌 see you next monday!


🦶 footer:

did you know that word of mouth is the only way something like this grows?

tell one of your colleagues what they’re missing out on 😈.

they can sign up here.

you can also share this on facebook or tweet about it.

🚨 if you post a screenshot to instagram stories of your favourite part of the email & tag me (@sam.travel), i’ll repost the best ones.


🎉 get social:

instagram: @sam.travel

twitter: @sammcallister

email me: smcallis[at]gmail.com

website: sammcallister.me


👋 read one of my last 5 posts:

🏡 cul de sac.

🌙 rising waters.

👂silence speaks volumes.

📈 smarter, not harder.

☄️ burnout.

or click to see them all.

🏡 cul de sac.

welcome to sam’s brain drain, a weekly collection of thumb-stopping things to tap, read, & watch.

⚡️ happy monday.

i’m learning to think slower, and to talk more. what’s your plan this week?


as an aside: tesla’s new cybertruck is hideously ugly. however, i’m a huge fan of those who dare to break the mould. following the status quo kills innovation. it may not be pretty but it’s refreshing & that’s what matters most.


on the agenda this week: a new vision for neighbourhoods, deafened dolphins & the eradication of smallpox.

estimated reading time: 3m 35s.

⚡️ tag me on instagram or twitter if you enjoy this week's brain drain!


👂 earworm: ato.

“i like to be alone
too much some would say
voices in my head, running relay
mood moving like, a ballet duet
beautiful for you i reckon.”

ato has just dropped his latest album, ep3:

leeds rapper ato has made his own lane in music: detailed anecdotes that are relatable, like almost missing a flight because you wanted to spend an extra hour with someone. and they're laid over lush production that ranges from james blake-esque layered tracks to club ready rhythms.

the fader.

stream now:
listen to ato’s new album on spotify or on apple music.


📚 word of the week:

“copacetic”.

fine; completely satisfactory; OK.

the united states of the 1960s experienced many social upheavals. but in one realm, all was copacetic.

new york times.


🤪 mildly humorous:

outtakes from the twitter-sphere.


🧠 brain candy:

🌳 cul de sac.

my friend lama & her team have just launched a new business focused on fundamentally improving real estate & life at large, it seems. the first car-free neighbourhood built from scratch in the u.s.

how we move determines how we live, and how we move is changing.

we’re undergoing the first major shift in transportation since the interstate highway system. private car ownership is giving ground to transportation that is on-demand, shared, and (on average) more environmentally friendly. that 1-mile trip to get ice cream is increasingly happening on shared bikes, electric scooters, or on foot. lyft shared and uber pool make daily trips more affordable. and there is a renewed interest in public transit investment, including the expansion of the light rail in phoenix.

people have responded by making different personal choices. in 1983, 46% of 16-year-olds had licenses. today, it’s just 24%.

fewer cars, less roadway, far less parking. new possibilities for how we live.

we’re building the first car-free neighborhood from scratch in the u.s. and we’re proud to say it will be in our hometown. culdesac tempe will have 1000 people and 0 private cars.

read more via culdesac.

🐬 dolphins in the ganges.

india’s ganga is a noisy river.

there’s the churning of sediment, the hums, grunts and growls of fishes and turtles. there are the cacophonous stretches of cities and industries breathing and dumping their waste into the river. then there’s the constant din of boats and ships, and the clamour of heavy machinery dredging the riverbed.

the gangetic river dolphins are effectively blind; they don’t really have use for eyesight in the shallow, sediment-rich, murky waters of the rivers they inhabit. instead, the mammals see with sound.

they produce ultrasonic clicks, and use this echolocation to find food, avoid ships and chart their way around the waters. they also modulate their clicks to talk to each other. but what does a dolphin do when its underwater home gets increasingly cacophonous?

read more via qz.

💉 smallpox, the speckled monster.

smallpox was one of the worst diseases humanity has ever faced & remains the only infectious disease to have ever been eradicated.

the reason? the world’s first iteration of a vaccine.

smallpox had one blessing, which people noticed long ago: if you survived it, you would never get it again. this even led to a theory that the cause of the disease included some innate seed, present in everyone; some poison in the blood that could be activated by the wrong trigger, but then expelled from the body for good.

which led to a simple, “so crazy it just might work” idea:

why not give yourself smallpox on purpose and just get it over with?

that was the idea of smallpox inoculation: deliberately communicate a mild form of the disease in order to confer immunity.

inoculation began as a folk practice. the inoculator, in one version, took contagious matter from the pocks of an infected person, put the liquid on a needle, and pricked the skin of the patient. they developed the fever in 7–9 days and passed through all the symptoms in a few weeks.

no one knew why, but the disease contracted in this way seemed to be milder and less deadly. (the best modern theory is that the body has a more effective immune response if the virus enters through the skin rather than the respiratory system).

read more via roots of progress.


that’s all for this week.

i hope you hold me accountable to keep this interesting 😝.

😌 see you next monday!


🦶 footer:

did you know that word of mouth is the only way something like this grows?

tell one of your colleagues what they’re missing out on 😈.

they can sign up here.

you can also share this on facebook
or tweet about it.

🚨 if you post a screenshot to instagram stories of your favourite part of the email & tag me (@sam.travel), i’ll repost the best ones.


🎉 get social:

instagram: @sam.travel

twitter: @sammcallister

email me: smcallis[at]gmail.com

website: sammcallister.me


👋 read one of my last 5 posts:

🌙 rising waters.

👂silence speaks volumes.

📈 smarter, not harder.

☄️ burnout.

🎲 growing old.

or click to see them all.

🌙 rising waters.

welcome to sam’s brain drain, a weekly collection of thumb-stopping things to tap, read, & watch.

🙌 happy monday.

i’ve just had my visa approved for a trip to a very. exciting. country. any guesses?

on the agenda this week: unfilled spaces, ‘acqua alta’, & how airplanes once appeared a distinct impossibility.

⚡️ tag me on instagram or twitter if you enjoy this week's brain drain!


👂 earworm: fka twigs.

“calling my name, calling my name
taking the feeling of promethazine away.”

to paraphrase pitchfork:
‘magdalene’ (fka twigs’ first album in four year) is a fucking revelation.

i never thought heartbreak could be so all-encompassing.

i never thought that my body could stop working to the point that i couldn’t express myself physically in the ways that i have always loved and found so much solace.
i have always practiced my way into being the best i could be, but i couldn’t do that this time, i was left with no option but to tear every process down.

but the process of making this album has allowed me for the first time, and in the most real way, to find compassion when i have been at my most ungraceful, confused and fractured. i stopped judging myself and at that moment found hope in ‘magdalene’. to her i am forever grateful.

- fka twigs.

stream now:
listen to fka twigs’ new album on spotify or on apple music.


📚 word of the week:

“lacuna”.

an unfilled space; a gap.

attending to the mundane and the momentous, they punch in on the dark side of the clock, bridging the quiet lacuna between rush hours.

david montgomery, "all in a night's work," washington post.


🤪 mildly humorous:

outtakes from the twitter-sphere.


🧠 brain candy:

🇮🇹 acqua alta.

venice—a city that is particularly close to my heart—is flooding with increasing frequency & severity.

earlier this week, venice faced another monumental “acqua alta,” or “high water,” this time coming just inches shy of the 1966 record. dispatches from the scene described people tromping around in cheap rain boots as they walked single-file on footbridges elevated over flooded piazzas or waded through knee-high water. an estimated 70 percent of the city was submerged, and venetians endured another exceptional tide sunday, the ap reported.

“the disaster that struck venice is a blow to the heart of our country,” italian prime minister giuseppe conte said in a statement wednesday. “it hurts to see the city so damaged, its artistic heritage compromised, its commercial activities on its knees.”

michael oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at princeton university who has traveled to venice extensively, warned that if venice doesn’t complete its already-delayed coastal defense system as sea levels rise, the city will become useless as a place for people to live and to enjoy its cultural splendors.

read more via the washington post.

📖 five lessons from history.

lesson #4: progress happens too slowly for people to notice; setbacks happen too fast for people to ignore.

there are lots of overnight tragedies. there are rarely overnight miracles.

on january 5th, 1889, the detroit free press pushed back against the long-held dream that man could one day fly like a bird.

airplanes, the paper wrote, appear impossible: “the smallest possible weight of a flying machine, with the necessary fuel and engineer, could not be less than 300 or 400 pounds … but there is a low limit of weight, certainly not much beyond fifty pounds, beyond which it is impossible for an animal to fly. nature has reached this limit, and with her utmost effort has failed to pass it.”

six months later, orville wright dropped out of high school to help his brother, wilbur, tinker in their backyard shed to build a printing press. it was the brothers’ first joint project. it would not be their last.

if you had to make a list of the most important inventions of the 20th century, the airplane would be at least top five, if not number one. the airplane changed everything. it started world wars, it ended world wars. it connected the world, bridging gaps between cities and rural communities; oceans and countries.

read more via morgan housel.


that’s all for this week.

i hope you hold me accountable to keep this interesting 😝.

😌 see you next monday!


🦶 footer:

did you know that word of mouth is the only way something like this grows?

tell one of your colleagues what they’re missing out on 😈.

they can sign up here.

you can also share this on facebook
or tweet about it.

🚨 if you post a screenshot to instagram stories of your favourite part of the email & tag me (@sam.travel), i’ll repost the best ones.


🎉 get social:

instagram: @sam.travel

twitter: @sammcallister

email me: smcallis[at]gmail.com

website: sammcallister.me


👋 read one of my last 5 posts:

👂silence speaks volumes.

📈 smarter, not harder.

☄️ burnout.

🎲 growing old.

🌪 a whirlwind.

or click to see them all.

👂silence speaks volumes.

welcome to sam’s brain drain, a weekly collection of thumb-stopping things to tap, read, & watch.

✨ good morning.

on the agenda this week: the sounds of extinction, suckerfish & how maps affect how we view the world around us.

⚡️ tag me on instagram or twitter if you enjoy this week's brain drain!


👂 earworm:

“oh the only cardio we know is
running out of luck.”

maxime trippenbach, a.k.a. maxime., is an electronic-turned-indie-pop artist from ottawa, canada. max is soon self-releasing his debut album, whatevernowiscalled – an expansive project whose soundscapes perfectly capture max’s genre-blending appeal.

who is maxime (formerly known as maxd)? give us some short info about yourself.

i’m color blind, i like beer, my favourite color is yellow, i don’t quite know what i’m doing with my life just yet, and i’m ok with that.

pineapple on pizza! yay or nay?

if you don’t like pineapple on pizza it’s just because your taste buds haven’t fully developed yet. it’ll come. that being said, plain cheese pizza is by far the king of ‘zza.

where do you see yourself in ten years?

10 years from now? that’s a while. man, i can’t imagine i’d not still be doing music. i think the coolest thing in the world would be if i could do this stuff full-time. but whatever happens, i know i’m gonna keep making music no matter what.

- edm

stream now:
listen to maxime. on spotify or on apple music.


📚 word of the week:

“remora”.

an obstacle, hindrance, or obstruction.

the great remora to any improvement in our civil code, is the reduction that such reform must produce in the revenue.

- charles caleb colton, lacon; or, many things in few words, vol. 1, 1820

as an aside, remora are also fish that attach themselves symbiotically to sharks.

their front dorsal fins evolved over time into an organ that sits like a suction cup on the top of their heads. this organ allows the remora to attach to a passing shark, usually on the shark’s belly or underside. sometimes they even attach to whales, manta rays, and the occasional diver.


🤪 mildly humorous:

outtakes from the twitter-sphere.


🧠 brain candy:

📈 the sounds of extinction.

a chilling sentence to hear from a man who has dedicated his life to recording nature:

“over 50% of my recorded habitats are now silent.”

soundscape ecologist bernie krause used to go into the wild to record the chorus of nature. now, he has become an expert in the sound of extinction. his term for the sounds of all living organisms in the world’s habitat is “biophony.”

you have recorded more than 5,000 hours of sounds from different habitats, both marine and land, and more than 15,000 animal species. what are the greatest changes you have noticed over these five decades?

sadly, the greatest change is the overwhelming loss of density and diversity of species almost everywhere i go these days. in some places, like northern california, where i and my wife, katherine, live, we experienced the first completely silent spring (2015) i can ever remember in the nearly 80 years of my life. there were many birds, but they weren’t singing; it was the fifth year of the historic drought that descended on our section of the continent.

what is our culture losing by distancing itself from natural sounds?

in the end, before the forest echoes die, we may want to listen very carefully to the diminished but remaining voices of our world. we’ll quickly discover that we humans are not separate. instead, we’re a vital part of one fragile biome.

what is our culture losing by distancing itself from natural sounds?

in the end, before the forest echoes die, we may want to listen very carefully to the diminished but remaining voices of our world. we’ll quickly discover that we humans are not separate. instead, we’re a vital part of one fragile biome.

read more via the huffington post.

🗺 misleading maps.

when ian wright launched the brilliant maps twitter account and website back in 2014, to share his favourite cartographic finds, he had little inkling that it would prove such a hit. five years later, with almost 100,000 social followers and millions of annual visitors, he is left in little doubt about the universal appeal of a good map.

the vast populations of china, india and indonesia are strikingly demonstrated in the map above. canadian-born wright believes the fascination with maps lies in their ability to “very quickly and simply convey a huge amount of information.”

but he warns that maps can easily be used to mislead. “for example, the mercator projection, which remains among the most popular choices for creating maps, makes northern countries (especially those in europe) look much bigger than they actually are, while africa looks much smaller,” he says. “this subtly feeds into the idea that the larger northern countries are somehow more important.”

read more via the telgraph.


that’s all for this week.

i hope you hold me accountable to keep this interesting 😝.

😌 see you next monday!


🦶 footer:

did you know that word of mouth is the only way something like this grows?

tell one of your colleagues what they’re missing out on 😈.

they can sign up here.

you can also share this on facebook
or tweet about it.

🚨 if you post a screenshot to instagram stories of your favourite part of the email & tag me (@sam.travel), i’ll repost the best ones.


🎉 get social:

instagram: @sam.travel

twitter: @sammcallister

email me: smcallis[at]gmail.com

website: sammcallister.me


👋 read more of my posts:

📈 smarter, not harder.

☄️ burnout.

🎲 growing old.

🌪 a whirlwind.

⛔️ don't take it for granted.

🤖 i did not write this.

🌚 crime in space?

👁 an eye for an eye in hong kong.

🚦 green means go.

🚶‍♂️ everywhere, everywhen.

🇺🇸 a note on death.

🧠 life's ebb & flow.

😏 new emoji?

⚡️ the power of aligned incentives.

⏰ 176 days to the year 2020.

💡 rising from the ashes, again.

🎉 something new.

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