Things I learned this week #2

  • This useful thinking tool: good writing starts with observations, and moves to analysis. Making the transition is difficult. One way to spot a mental crutch is to see where you reach for words like "interestingly", "surprisingly", or "notably". These all hint at a significance or meaningfulness, but don't actually clarify it. (source)
  • This hot takeaway: Did you know that during the 1970s if you ordered a takeaway coffee it came in a styrofoam cup and a lid without a hole. If you wanted to drink your beverage, you had to take the lid off and then put it back on - can you imagine? Obviously impatient, the hardcore mobile coffee drinkers (think: taxi drivers) kept ripping holes in the lid to drink their Joe on the Go. Where there's demand, there's business and thus was born a whole field of design for designing the most safe and ergonomic way to drink coffee from a cup without having to actually take the lid off.
  • This Frank etymology: "Lingua Franca" describes a common language between a group of people. It emerged in the late 1700s and translates functionally as "Language of the Franks", with Franks being anyone broadly from Westen Europe. The original Lingua Franca was a mixture of simplified Italian, Greek, Old French, Portuguese, Occitan (a Romance language spoken around southern France and northern Italy and Spain - wiki) , Spanish, Arabic, and Turkish (source)
  • These Kinswomen: King James II had a thing for witty, plain looking mistresses. Two such mistresses were Arabella Churchill and Catherine Sedley. Arabella is described in The Ladies Dictionary (1694) as being "of no less Eminence for learning and ingenuous Parts than her Quality... she had a great facility in poetry and was a celebrated conversant among the Muses". Despite carrying four children for the man, she was later replaced by 16 year-old (yep) Catherine Sedley, who remarked of being chosen that "It cannot be my beauty, for he must see I have none... and it cannot be my wit, for he has not enough to know I have any". James, buddy - you did not deserve these women.
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