Required Reading

This week, the Calibri typeface’s controversies, finding lost languages, the missing Native American bodies of the Effigy Mounds National Monument, Malcolm Gladwell hates McDonald’s fries, and more.

Photographer Derrick Lin recreated Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawk” (1942) using everyday office supplies and tiny figures. (via Colossal)

Essentially, engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers. If someone told you that engineering was a field where you could get away with not dealing with people or feelings, then I’m very sorry to tell you that you have been lied to. Solitary work is something that only happens at the most junior levels, and even then it’s only possible because someone senior to you — most likely your manager — has been putting in long hours to build up the social structures in your group that let you focus on code.

All of these traits which the manifesto described as “female” are the core traits which make someone successful at engineering. Anyone can learn how to write code; hell, by the time someone reaches L7 or so, it’s expected that they have an essentially complete mastery of technique. The truly hard parts about this job are knowing which code to write, building the clear plan of what has to be done in order to achieve which goal, and building the consensus required to make that happen.

Of course the guy is claiming he “isn’t sexist.”

  • The violence in Charlottesville yesterday against counterprotest demonstrators should send a chill down your spine. This photo by @RyanMKellyPhoto was the most shocking of those circulating last night:

It was particularly chilling to find out there’s a right-wing meme titled “All Lives Splatter” that shows the same thing this person did.

  • The Calibri typeface as been at the center of various controversies in the last few years, including recently in Pakistan, where it embroiled members of the government in a major scandal (no, really). The designer of the Calibri responds:

De Groot dismissed the critics who attack Calibri as boring, arguing that its “neutrality” belies its underlying precision: “If you’re eating soup, you shouldn’t remember the shape of the spoon.” He listed Calibri’s virtues: it doesn’t try to mimic what already exists (“Courier is an ugly old typewriter font”); it’s stripped of old-fashioned serif embellishments (“Compared to Calibri, Times New Roman looks outdated”); and it’s playful, with its rounded corners, but not frivolous (“Comic Sans doesn’t work”).

Over five years, the researchers gathered 30 terabytes of images from 74 palimpsests—totaling 6,800 pages. In some cases, the erased texts have increased the known vocabulary of a language by up to 50 percent, giving new hope to linguists trying to decipher them. One of the languages to reemerge from the parchments is Caucasian Albanian, which was spoken by a Christian kingdom in what is now modern day Azerbaijan. Almost all written records from the kingdom were lost in the 8th and 9th century when its churches were destroyed.

“There are two palimpsests here that have Caucasian Albanian text in the erased layer,” says Michael Phelps, the director of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library and leader of the project. “They are the only two texts that survive in this language … We were sitting with one of the scholars and he was adding to the language as we were processing the images. In real time he was saying ‘now we have the word for net’ and ‘now the word for fish.’”

  • Every movie poster the renowned designer and filmmaker Saul Bass created.
  • A podcast about the monument, which was created to protect the mounds created during Native American burials. But in 2011, a new superintendent discovered that the remains of 41 Native Americans had disappeared. This is the story.

  • And the Clintons were at one of these odd tribal ceremonies where the ultra-rich inbreed. As Vanity Fair (via New York Magazine) reports:

… Hillary Clinton, her husband Bill, and her caftan attended the Sunday wedding of billionaire hedge-fund manager and major Clinton-campaign donor Marc Lasry’s 24-year-old daughter Sophie Lasry to 25-year-old Alexander Swieca, the son of a different billionaire hedge-fund manager, Henry Swieca. The nuptials went down at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, and guests also included Huma Abedin, Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, and most importantly, Real Housewife Dorinda Medley.

Vera further pointed out that the lack of paid opportunities on Capitol Hill is a relatively recent problem: For two decades, the Lyndon Baines Johnson internship program allocated funds to congressional offices to hire one two-month intern every year. That program was cut so abruptly in 1994, according to a Washington Post report, that offices were left scrambling to come up with funds to pay interns they’d already hired for the summer season.

Since then, paid internships have dried up: One congressional staffer, who asked to be unnamed to protect his job and employer, jokingly called Capitol Hill the “best place in the world for free labor.”

Mike Pence likes to watch movies.
Mike Pence carries a tri-fold wallet in his right back pocket.
Mike Pence has won seven (7) penmanship awards.
Mike Pence has a “Family RV” a “Personal RV” and a “Permanent RV” aka his house.
As a young adult, Mike Pence voted for Jimmy Carter after a catchphrase he coined, “I’m a Carter Supparter,” went semi-viral.
Mike’s favorite part of the American flag is the bars.

Before you rush out and declare him un-American, though, realize he means well. Gladwell opens the podcast by telling listeners that “McDonald’s betrayed me so many years ago” when it stopped frying potatoes in beef tallow, so his ultimate goal is to help the fries return to their former glory. But his personal vendetta is woven into the far more interesting story of Phil Sokolof, the drywall magnate who spent millions crusading against saturated fat and cholesterol, and convinced McDonald’s to swap the beef fat for vegetable oil.

  • A fantastic (and funny) Che Guevara costume:

hmmm from hmmm

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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