Coincidentally, 445 is the exact number of days since the ambient temperature was last bearable; or, at least, it seems like that

  • Sky High: Among the Pyros at One of the Biggest Fireworks Competitions in the World - Duncan Murrell learns how to put on a fireworks display: "My fellow students and I treated one another as colleagues: There was the one man who used to set off pyro for England’s The X Factor; a gem hunter from Yorkshire who hoped to learn enough to avoid burning down his cricket club during its annual display; one insurance adjuster; two Scottish hardware-store owners looking to get in on the big weddings-at-castles fireworks business back home; a rock-show designer with a brand-new Iron Maiden tattoo on his forearm; and a young man expert in the theatrical flight systems that carry Peter Pan across stages worldwide. They were all, to a person, professionally or personally obsessed with spectacle and the means by which humans dazzle and mystify one another, even the one who was, categorically, the coolest insurance adjuster in the world."

  • Why haven’t we found aliens yet? - "A new paper on the Fermi paradox convincingly shows why we will probably never find aliens." A new statistical analysis of the Drake equation suggests that the likelihood we're alone in the universe is higher than we thought

  • Parasite of the Day: Dicroceolium dendriticum (revisited) - "The lancet fluke (Dicroceolium dendriticum) is one of the most well-known and oft-cited example of parasite host manipulation. But in most people's mind, it often gets mixed up with the Cordyceps zombie ant fungus…" Big mistake, as this article clearly explains.

  • The iconic Fountain (1917) is not created by Marcel Duchamp - How could one of the most noted works of the Dadaist school have been wildly misattributed for so long? "In 1982 a letter written by Duchamp came to light. Dated 11 April 1917, it was written just a few days after that fateful exhibit. It contains one sentence that should have sent shockwaves through the world of modern art: it reveals the true creator behind Fountain – but it was not Duchamp. Instead he wrote that a female friend using a male alias had sent it in for the New York exhibition." Ah, it was actually by a woman: that's how

  • Modernist Britain - "A collection of fifty illustrated profiles of some of the best Modernist buildings in Great Britain and Northern Ireland." Some lovely buildings in here, including several cinemas I've been in. I saw Tron and Aliens here, among other films over the years

  • I toured some of the nicest prisons in the world and they couldn't be more different from what we have in America - Baz Dreisinger visits the Norwegian prison system: "Our guys are into, pardon my French, some heavy tulip. Drugs and violence. And the truth is, some have been problematic in other prisons but then they come here and we find them easy. We say, ‘Is that the same guy you called difficult?' It's really very simple: Treat people like dirt and they will be dirt. Treat them like human beings and they will act like human beings."

  • How a California Banker Received Credit for His Unbreakable Cryptography 130 Years Later - "Frank Miller was a banker, which makes it surprising that he made an important contribution to cryptography. Now credited as the first person to invent the one-time pad, a simple yet effective way to encrypt a message by shifting each letter by a random number of positions to a new letter in the alphabet, Miller’s achievement would have been lost if it hadn’t been for some fortunate circumstances."

  • Chimpanzees Can’t Tell Us Much About Being Human - "Do we gain insight by comparing President Trump to a chimpanzee? Can we learn something useful about gender-based violence among humans by studying other primates? Can observing chimpanzees or bonobos tell us why humans go to war or how we can get along better?" “No” seems to be the answer to these questions, and the first is clearly insulting to chimpanzees

  • Pulling Music Out of Thin Air: An Interview with Leon Theremin - Interviewed by none other than synth developer Robert Moog, and musicologist Olivia Mattis: ”The idea first came to me right after our Revolution, at the beginning of the Bolshevik state… I showed [Lenin] and his colleagues the control system of my instrument, which I played by moving my hands in the air… After all this applause, Vladimir Ilyich said that I should show him, and he would try to play it himself.”

  • “A Double Diamond Works Wonders” – Photos of London Pubs in the 1970s - And a bunch of old TV ads for booze mixed in. Most of these look like right dives, as a good pub should. This is the Duke of Clarence on Borough Road

Happy invoicing!