Watch, Blast, Finch, Wine, Sea

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The Case For Better Watch Typography

Liz Stinson | Hodinkee | 18th March 2021

Watch makers spend too little time thinking about fonts. Instead of designing bespoke numerals for this small space, most just modify or squeeze in a typeface that can be found in Microsoft Word. One historic Swiss brand has even "replaced the custom lettering on its watches with a stretched version of Times Roman". When creating a luxury timepiece, it’s a bizarre corner to cut (1,271 words)

Why I Planted The Brighton Bomb

Patrick Magee | Jacobin | 21st March 2021

Moving extract from a new memoir by the IRA member who planted the bomb at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, in 1984. Decades later, after his release under the Good Friday Agreement, the bomber met with the daughter of a Tory MP who died in the blast. "I told her that I was sorry that I killed her father; that 'I want to help in any way I can.' Then Joanna — Jo — said: 'I’m glad it was you'" (4,123 words)

Bad Birds In Quarantine

Kimon de Greef | Guernica | 10th March 2021

Tour of the finch smuggling trade. Captured in Guyana and imported to the US, these birds compete in "bloodless cockfighting" that revolves around their song. "Customs agents at New York airports have come across finches drugged with rum and tucked inside hair curlers; sometimes the tiny birds wake in transit and begin singing. One man was caught with finches in his pants" (3,421 words)

Audio of the Week: Nice Tipple

Episode: "Decanter Or Not?" | Podcast: A Good Drop | 26m54s

Alcohol podcast hosted by two genial Australians. Subject matter and format varies widely on this feed. Sometimes they devote an entire episode to one bottle of wine, while at other points they zoom out to look at the varied uses of a single cocktail ingredient or the history of a movement like prohibition. This one is about the virtues of decanting wine before drinking it. In addition to some scientific background, they conduct an on air taste test to determine if decantation really improves the flavour of a drink (26m54s)

Book Of The Week: The Boundless Sea

by David Abulafia | Courtesy of Five Books

The entire history of humanity from the point of view of the oceans. Migrants and traders are the key historical figures; even the maps look different. The Lapita (not a name they used themselves) emerge as early heroes, island-hopping across thousands of miles in the prehistoric Pacific. “The Polynesian navigators proved that one can solve some challenging problems without any technology at all, just the super-computer of the human brain” (908 pages)

Editor's note: An exceptional Browser Zoom Conversation awaits us this coming Sunday, 28th March, when Lord Martin Rees, cosmologist and scholar of existential risk, will be talking to Anatole Kaletsky, co-founder of GaveKal economic advisors, about the future of humanity, the nature of the Universe, and the limits of science. The conversation begins at 6pm London time, which is 1pm in New York and 10am in San Francisco. It will last for 50 minutes, and it is free to all. Please register to attend at

"A compromise is an agreement between two men to do what both agree is wrong"
Lord Edward Cecil

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