The Notices

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  1. Hello hello! I'm back! And, um, this week’s Notices seem to have taken a turn for the Really Quite Nerdy. Hey ho. Let’s go.
  2. Over the summer, I noticed that festivals and venues have started describing a ‘small bag’ as ‘no bigger than an A4 piece of paper’. I find this really pleasing – I’ve always felt that ‘A’ paper sizes were an under-used common-size reference. Designer-types are often a bit snobby about A4’s proportions (it’s almost as far as its possible to be from the aesthetic pinnacle of the ‘golden ratio’). Which is all simply to say that this piece – ‘Why A4? On the Mathematical Beauty of Paper Size’ is peak.
  3. (Yes, I did go to a rock festival and mainly focussed on an obscure detail about paper-sizing. What of it?)
  4. Serendipitous nation-in-mourning-related thing: last week, Rob Is Typing wrote about grief as the experience of ‘your body literally trying to re-wire itself to cope with the new order of things, and that takes time’. That’s such a good way of putting it.
  5. As languages change, who wins out – speakers or listeners? Now, there’s a question that hadn’t even occurred to me. I love Aeon’s whistlestop tour of the subject. (Tl;dr: as speakers, we like ambiguous words with multiple meanings and nuances. As receivers, it’s helpful when words have precise meanings. This tension is kind of a big deal.)
  6. Ba ba ba, ba. Ba!
  7. (That’s a joke for those who read the thing on language evolution.)
  8. Kinda related: a beautiful stop-frame animation of words and language and letters coming to life, creating new life, and fighting for survival. 
  9. Love this Morgan Housel piece on ‘big beliefs’. It captures really nicely what I like about the process of learning new stuff – the pleasure of figuring out what the ‘underlying principles' of the new thing are. It'd also be interesting to follow his example and write out what one’s own ‘big beliefs’ are.
  10. You know that thing when you’re in a restaurant and there’s too much background noise and everyone has to talk really loudly, which in turn creates more background noise… turns out that self-deafening phenomenon has a name: the Lombard Effect. Japanese composer Ryuchi Sakomoto found it was spoiling his favourite restaurant (Kajitsu, in New York) so much he offered to re-do their background music. And yes, you can listen to the playlist. It’s lovely.
  11. How do storms get their names? I feel like someone writes about this every few months. But after reading John Elledge’s explainer, turns out all I knew was how America named its hurricanes. UK storms are a bit different. Contains lots of pleasingly geeky detail – plus a list of all the names pre-agreed for 2023’s storms. So we can play ‘i-spy escalating climate emergency’ and tick them off as they appear. Fun.
  12. It’s the time of year when the excellent Arts Emergency is looking for mentors. They pair folks from the creative industry with young people from under-served backgrounds. Fancy it but not sure you’re ‘experienced’ enough? Don’t worry, you are. If you’re in or near London, Merseyside, Manchester or Brighton – find out more here.
  13. Quick own-trumpet blow: so, I did a set of doodles for the new edition of Rob Poynton’s book, ‘Do Improvise’. It’s all about using ideas from improv in everyday life. (I created the drawings using the principles from the book.) The book is really good. The pictures are OK too.
  14.  That’s all, folks! See you next time.
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