Glass, Neanderthal, SparkNotes, Papal Fashion, Afghanistan, Fire


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The Gynecologist’s Glass House

Cody Delistraty | JSTOR Daily | 14th June 2017

Appreciation of the Maison de Verre in Paris, designed for Dr. Jean Dalsace in 1928, beautiful and functional in every detail. “A handle in the doctor’s office slides in a downward arc, which forced Dalsace to bow and stand to the side as he opened it, allowing a pregnant woman to pass through. The windows in the waiting area are high, allowing light to enter, but also arranged so that infertile women waiting for the doctor weren’t forced to see the Dalsace children playing in the backyard” (1,800 words)

Interview With The Neanderthal

Anthony Madrid | Paris Review | 14th June 2017

“Obviously we invented music. Cro-Magnons never would have come up with that. But the kids we had with the Cro-Magnons picked up on it, no problem, and everything that depends on music, especially epic poetry — that stuff arose from the blend. It’s what happens when you mix their chatter with our music. Here’s another thing we had that they didn’t. They couldn’t hold a thought. Holding a thought is pure Neanderthal. Chasing after every little puff of wind, that’s Cro-Magnon” (1,500 words)

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

Andrea Pitzer | Slate | 13th June 2017

It is part of Bob Dylan’s genius that he borrows freely from others in his writing, but even so, his Nobel Prize lecture seems to have pushed the envelope by relying on a summary of Moby-Dick from the website SparkNotes. “Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing Moby-Dick, more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the SparkNotes site. And most of the key shared phrases in these passages do not appear in the novel Moby-Dick at all” (1,170 words)

Vatican Tailors Adjust To Papal Athleisure

Claire Giangravè | Crux | 12th June 2017

The elite of Roman tailors and cobblers who dress the Vatican are “slowly adapting to Pope Francis’s penchant for simple and plain clothing”. Whereas Benedict XVI “dusted off the classic papal staples and ushered them into the new millennium”, Francis favours “papal athleisure” — and no red shoes. His dressing-down has “inspired a demand for more practical and comfortable frocks” from clergy around the world. “People want things that are much lighter, simpler and more sober” (1,890 words)

Afghanistan’s War

Aleksandra Gjorgievska | Bloomberg View | 14th June 2017

Useful backgrounder. The “longest war in American history” has been “technically over” since the US declared in 2014 that it was handing control of Afghan security back to the Afghan military. But there are still 13,400 coalition troops, including 8,500 Americans, stationed in Afghanistan to bolster the very weak Kabul government against “intensifying attacks from the Taliban”, who are gradually regaining de facto control of the provinces. Civilian casualties rose to 11,418 last year (760 words)

The London High-Rise Fire

Michael O'Hare | Reality-Based Community | 14th June 2017

Fire deaths have fallen by two-thirds in the US since 1979, one-third in the UK. What went so wrong at Grenfell Tower? There was only one escape stair; a high-rise needs at least two. There were no sprinklers, the best way to stop fire spreading. “Aside from the other terrible mistakes and oversights, it appears that the exterior cladding, an aluminum-polyethylene sandwich, is so flammable that testing in Australia was suspended after the first sample practically blew up in the lab” (1,100 words)

Video of the day: Mixed Reality

What to expect:

Amazing visual effects achieved using projection-mapped lighting. No post-production CGI (3’11”)

Thought for the day

Science is cumulative, and we live later
Richard Dawkins

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