Mall Walkers, Reddit’s “Compound Perjoratives”, and How Dolphins Choose Their Names

I bring you the finest reading material in my weekly Linkfest

Clive Thompson
9 min readJul 13, 2022



One down, four to go.

Don’t knock yourself out today. Take a break — perhaps right now — with my weekly Linkfest, a collection of my finest cullings from the Intertubes.

To begin …

1) 🗺️ The beauty of LIDAR geographic imaging

Daniel Coe of the Washington Geologic Survey creates astonishing art of landscapes by starting with laser-light imaging of the terrain — taken by planes sporting LIDAR — and manipulating it with contrast and color. There’s a whole gallery of them at the High Country News.

The results look more like organic tissue seen under a microscope. Which makes sense, right? The natural world is fractal up and down the scale, and the planet is basically an organism.

They are also images of time, as Coe tells the News:

“It’s humbling, at a certain level, when you start thinking about geologic time, or even back to the last ice age. That’s a really long time from a human scale and a human perspective, but in a geologic timescale, it’s just a blip. So being able to grasp just a little bit of that deeper time is something that I really enjoy, and I like helping convey that to other people.”

2) 📖 “Fuckwaffle”: An analysis of compound perjoratives on Reddit

Colin Morris did a fascinating study of “compound perjoratives” on Reddit — i.e. words like “fuckwit”, that blend a prefix and suffix together to create a neologistic insult.

He started with a list of 70 possible prefixes and 70 suffixes, generated a list of 4,800 possible nu-insults, and then checked to see which ones Redditors had actually used.

Quite a few, as it turns out! As he wrote …

As a corpus, Reddit has the virtue of being uninhibited in…



Clive Thompson

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”.