Giraffes, Poetry, 1066, Fire, Legibility


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How Necking Shaped The Giraffe

David Barash | Nautilus | 20th October 2016

Why do giraffes have seven-foot necks? The prevailing evolutionary hypothesis is called “necks-for-sex”, and it contends that the giraffe with the longer neck wins in male-on-male combat for mates. “Male giraffes are less cuddly and more ornery than they appear. During the rut, they go at each other using their heavy, bony heads at the end of their long flexible necks roughly like a medieval ball-and-chain weapon, or flail. And the longer the neck, the more force behind each blow” (2,400 words)

The Poet At Work

O.T. Marod | The Point | 3rd October 2016

“How should a poet make money? This is a terrible question, and has no satisfactory answer. The poet knows what ought to happen. What ought to happen is that the poet ought to be able to walk every Sunday down to the end of a hot and windswept road, where there should be a hideous tree with fifty-dollar bills fluttering in its thorns. And the total amount should cover the poet’s rent, food and incidental expenses. In lieu of that? There is Rimbaud’s legacy: a poet may work as a gunrunner” (2,600 words)

What If The Normans Had Lost In 1066?

Alyxandra Mattison & Charles West | New Statesman | 14th October 2016

The Battle of Hastings was a close-run thing. If Harold had won, we might remember him now “as one of England’s greatest warrior kings, on a par with Richard Lionheart and Edward I, and indeed Æthelstan”. But equally, Harold might have fallen a few years later to infighting with other Anglo-Saxon claimants, whereas William “could start almost from scratch, creating a new aristocracy that owed everything to him”. The Norman conquest may have “saved the country that it also brought to its knees” (845 words)

A Talent For Sloth

Philip Connors | Lapham's Quarterly | 17th September 2011

On working as a fire look-out in New Mexico. “A new fire often looks beautiful, first a wisp of white like a feather, a single snag puffing a little finger of smoke in the air. I see it before it has a name. Like Adam with an animal before him, I will give it one. We try to name the fires after a nearby landmark, but there is often a touch of poetic license involved. Say a fire pops up in Railroad Canyon, but there’s already been a Railroad Fire that year. Something like Caboose Fire would be acceptable” (3,100 words)

How The Web Became Unreadable

Kevin Marks | Backchannel | 19th October 2016

It isn’t just you. Web pages are becoming less readable. Once upon a time the standard was black on white. Now it’s all pastel colours and shades of grey. “As screens have advanced, designers have taken advantage of their increasing resolution by using lighter typeface, lower contrast, and thinner fonts. However, as more of us switch to laptops, mobile phones, and tablets as our main displays, the ideal desktop conditions from design studios are increasingly uncommon in life” (1,400 words)

Video of the day: The Stutterer

What to expect:

Winner of the 2016 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. Greenwood, the stutterer, is a young London typographer (13’04”)

Thought for the day

Most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one
Flannery O'Connor

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