donschaffner / Don Schaffner

Doing science, podcasting… you know, as you do.

There is one person in donschaffner’s collective.

Huffduffed (171) activity chart

  1. Delight is in the Details — Matt Alexander Interview Segment

    Practical advice, insight, and inspiration to help you reach for excellence and refuse to settle on good enough work.

    —Huffduffed by donschaffner

  2. Delight is in the Details — Cameron Moll Interview Segment

    Practical advice, insight, and inspiration to help you reach for excellence and refuse to settle on good enough work.

    —Huffduffed by donschaffner

  3. Clean Trains | 99% Invisible

    In just about every movie set in New York City in the 1970s and 80s there’s an establishing shot with a graffiti-covered subway.

    Saturday Night Fever

    That graffiti was like illegible technicolor hieroglyphics—a language that even most New Yorkers couldn’t read. It gave you a sense that the subways controlled by wild gangs of teenagers. And they kind of were.

    For city officials, train graffiti was a sign that they had lost control. So, starting in the early 70s, mayors of New York vowed to eradicate graffiti. First, Mayor John Lindsey formed the first anti-graffiti task force.  He also re-classified graffiti from a nuisance, like littering or loitering, into a crime.

    Still, subway graffiti persisted. For two decades, the MTA failed miserably in its attempts to fix the problem, sometimes, laughably. Like the time they decided to repaint 7,000 subway cars white.  They called it “The Great White Fleet.” Of course, this only provided a fresh white canvas for the graffiti writers and then before you knew it, the fleet was covered in spray paint again.

    The graffiti-resistant white paint was not as graffiti-resistant as the MTA had hoped. From

    Then there was Mayor Ed Koch’s “Berlin Wall” method. Koch surrounded the train yards with two fences topped with barbed wire and guarded by German Shepherds. This worked until graffiti writers realized they could distract the dogs with food and cut through the fences.

    Credit: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork

    In 1984 David Gunn became President of the New York City Transit Authority.

    Courtesy of Amtrak

    David Gunn had already cleaned up subways in Boston, Philadelphia, DC, Toronto, and also headed up Amtrak for a while, too. Yet even Gunn was intimidated by the state of New York’s subways; he called the job a “suicide mission.”

    For decades, authorities treated subway graffiti like it was a sanitation issue.  Gunn believed that graffiti was a symptom of larger systemic problems. After all, trains were derailing nearly every two weeks. In 1981 there were 1,800 subway car fires—that’s nearly five a day, every day of the year!

    When Gunn launched his “Clean Trains” program, it was not only about cleaning up the trains aesthetically, but making them function well, too. Clean trains, Gunn believed, would be a symbol of a rehabilitated transit system.

    Systemically, train line by train line, Gunn took the subways off the map for graffiti writers. While they were fixing it, they didn’t allow any graffiti on it. If graffiti artists “bombed” a train car, the MTA pulled it from the system. Even during rush hour.

    May 12, 1989 was declared the official day of the city’s victory over train graffiti.

    But of course train graffiti has never stopped.

    Courtesy of CETE

    There is still subway graffiti—it just never leaves the train yards. Artists—many of them from abroad—paint subway cars knowing full well that they will get cleaned before they’re ever seen by the public.

    Courtesy of CETE

    The only place most people can see NYC subway graffiti is on social media.

    The primary place New York City subway graffiti lives today: #cleantrain on Instagram

    Given that graffiti artists won’t have their work seen as widely as they once did by painting the trains—and with a substantial risk of jail time and severe fines—subway graffiti in New York may be dying out.

    And if it did, how would we even know?

    Credit: Alexis Janine

    Reporter Ann Heppermann spoke with artist Caleb Neelon; former NYC Transit Authority director David L. Gunn; Vincent DeMarino, Vice President of Security the MTA and New York City Transit; and graffiti artist CETE (which stands for “Clean Trains”).

    Recently, CETE was arrested by the Vandal Squad (the NYPD anti-graffiti unit). CETE was charged with more than 180 counts of misdemeanor counts including “Possession of a Graffiti Instrument,” plus a few felony charges. CETE took a plea deal and agreed to pay nearly $19,000 in restitution fees. He is now on probation.

    Production help provided in this episode by Robie Flores.


    Music: “Subway Theme” – DJ Grand Wizard Theodore; “Theme from ‘The Warriors’” –  Barry De Vorzon; “Five Fingers” – Aesop Rock; “Dark Heart News” – Aesop Rock; “Orem Owls” – OK Ikumi; “Scythian Empire (live)” – Andrew Bird; “Cavern” – Liquid Liquid; “None Shall Pass” – Aesop Rock; “Try” – OK Ikumi; “Theme De Yoyo” – Art Ensemble of Chicago; “South Bronx Subway Rap” – Grandmaster Caz; “Vazgone”- Melodium


    —Huffduffed by donschaffner

  4. David Foster Wallace on The Connection with Chris Lydon, February 1996 | Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon

    “You ask the scary old guys How AA Works and they smile their chilly smiles and say Just Fine. It just works, is all; end of story. The newcomers who abandon common sense and resolve to Hang In and keep coming and then find their cages all of a sudden open, mysteriously, after a while, share this sense of deep shock and possible trap; about newer Boston AAs with like six months clean you can see this look of glazed suspicion instead of beatific glee, an expression like that of bug-eyed natives confronted suddenly with a Zippo lighter. And so this unites them, nervously, this tentative assemblage of possible glimmers of something like hope, this grudging move toward maybe acknowledging that this unromantic, unhip, clich\aed AA thing–so unlikely and unpromising, so much the inverse of what they’d come too much to love– might really be able to keep the lover’s toothy maw at bay. The process is the neat reverse of what brought you down and In here: Substances start out being so magically great, so much the interior jigsaw’s missing piece, that at the start you just know, deep in your gut, that they’ll never let you down; you just know it. But they do. And then this goofy slapdash anarchic system of low-rent gatherings and corny slogans and saccharin grins and hideous coffee is so lame you just know there’s no way it could ever possibly work except for the utterest morons … and then Gately seems to find out AA turns out to be the very loyal friend he thought he’d had and then lost, when you Came In. And so you Hang In and stay sober and straight, and out of sheer hand-burned-on-hot-stove terror you heed the improbable-sounding warnings not to stop pounding out the nightly meetings even after the Substance-cravings have left and you feel like you’ve got a grip on the thing at last and can now go it alone, you still don’t try to go it alone, you heed the improbable warnings because by now you have no faith in your own sense of what’s really improbable and what isn’t, since AA seems, improbably enough, to be working, and with no faith in your own senses you’re confused, flummoxed, and when people with AA time strongly advise you to keep coming you nod robotically and keep coming, and you sweep floors and scrub out ashtrays and fill stained steel urns with hideous coffee, and you keep getting ritually down on your big knees every morning and night asking for help from a sky that still seems a burnished shield against all who would ask aid of it–how can you pray to a `God’ you believe only morons believe in, still?–but the old guys say it doesn’t yet matter what you believe or don’t believe, Just Do It they say, and like a shock-trained organism without any kind of independent human will you do exactly like you’re told, you keep coming and coming, nightly”

    —Huffduffed by donschaffner

  5. 5by5 | Home Work #108: A Chat with Dave Seah

    Aaron Mahnke and Dave Caolo talk about work, home, freelance, business, telecommute, caolo, mahnke, and start up.

    —Huffduffed by donschaffner

  6. The Harmful Effect of Smartphones | Inside Higher Ed

    Smartphones are certainly convenient. But is the use (and overuse) of these technological marvels also having harmful side effects? 

    In today’s Academic Minute, Michigan State University’s Russell Johnson analyzes the negative consequences smartphone use may have on human psychology and physiology. Johnson is an associate professor at Michigan State’s Eli Broad College of Business. Find out more about him here. A transcript of this podcast can be found here.

    —Huffduffed by donschaffner

  7. A 1 Minute Talk on Giving a 1 Minute Talk | Inside Higher Ed

    Is there a formula for delivering an effective speech? In today’s Academic Minute, Case Western Reserve University’s William Doll outlines a few  rules for crafting an engaging oration. Doll, a visiting fellow at Case Western, is a lawyer with a doctorate in sociology. Find out more about him here. A transcript of this podcast can be found here.

    —Huffduffed by donschaffner

  8. Thinking in Distance | Inside Higher Ed

    Whether you realize it or not, we use distance metaphors every day. In today’s Academic Minute, Dartmouth College’s Thalia Wheatley explores the way humans use figurative language to convey abstract ideas. Wheatley is an associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth. Find out more about her here. A transcript of this podcast can be found here.

    —Huffduffed by donschaffner

  9. Measuring Self-Control | Inside Higher Ed

    Is there a measurable limit to the amount of self-control each person possesses? In today’s Academic Minute, the University of Toronto’s Michael Inzlicht seeks to debunk a popular theory regarding the now widely studied topic. Inzlicht is an associate professor of psychology at Toronto. Find out more about him here. A transcript of this podcast can be found here.

    —Huffduffed by donschaffner

  10. Decline of Memory Resolution | Inside Higher Ed

    The clarity of one’s memories is referred to as memory resolution. In today’s Academic Minute, Vanderbilt University’s Phillip Ko explores the sharpness of memory to better understand the aging of the brain, memory loss and diseases like Alzheimer’s. Ko is a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt Univeristy in cognitive psychology and vision sciences. Find out more about him here. A transcript of this podcast can be found here.


    —Huffduffed by donschaffner

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