Saudi Arabia, Wombats, Typography, Natural Selection, North Korea


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Saudi Arabia’s Strains

Dana El Baltaji & Glen Carey | Bloomberg | 21st June 2017

Useful primer on Saudi economy and society. “Saudis lack technical skills and many continue to view occupations such as barber, butcher or painter as beneath them. But with almost half of Saudis under the age of 25 and the size of the workforce expected to double by 2030, Saudi Arabia can no longer afford its unproductive population. At the same time, if more Saudis earn their own living and are asked to pay taxes, they could begin to demand a greater say in how their country is run” (780 words)

Up A Wombat’s Freckle

Barry Humphries | TLS | 21st June 2017

Barry Humphries reviews the Australian National Dictionary, a fair proportion of which he must have contributed himself in company with Barry Mackenzie and Edna Everage. “I’ve heard an inebriated man declare, ‘Sorry mate, I’m a bit Schindlers’ … The editors of the new Australian National Dictionary have magnificently recorded what must surely be the richest vernacular in the history of human utterance, and if you don’t believe me you can stick your head up a wombat’s freckle” (1,230 words)

The Making Of Exchange

Tobias Frere-Jones | 20th June 2017

Typographer discusses the design of a new typeface, Exchange, for the Wall Street Journal. “Through most of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, newspapers spoke in the same voice: the stern, high-contrast rhythm of the Victorian Modern. Century Expanded is a descendant of this line. It’s sometimes helpful to anthropomorphise typefaces, and I think of Century Expanded as a kind of voice coach for Exchange, getting it to speak with the calm and exact pronunciation of a TV newsreader” (1,055 words)

About Tomorrow

Bruce Wexler | e-flux | 22nd June 2017

Local environmental differences encourage diversity within species through natural selection. But the world is becoming more homogenous, especially for children, who spend more and more time, everywhere, staring at screens. “Darwinian theory posits that variability allows populations to survive in the face of significant environmental changes. How much will human variability be reduced as the shaping of the rearing environment becomes more and more centralised and mechanical?” (2,400 words)

How To Deal With North Korea

Mark Bowden | Atlantic | 21st June 2017

North Korea has 8,000 big guns just north of the demilitarised zone trained on Seoul barely 40 miles away. If a grid were laid across Seoul dividing it into three-square-foot blocks, these guns could “pepper every single one” within hours. Shells could also deliver chemical and biological weapons. Nuclear-tipped ICBMs are just the icing on the cake, “the final piece of a defensive strategy to keep Trump from doing anything regrettable after Kim Jong Un obliterates Seoul and Tokyo” (7,900 words)

Video of the day: Is Maths Discovered Or Invented?

What to expect:

Animated explainer. Did humans create mathematical concepts, or find them in the natural world? (5’10”)

Thought for the day

It is curious how one often mistrusts one’s own opinions if they are stated by someone else
Douglas R. Hofstadter

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