Oil fields of Catan

If you play Settlers of Catan and/or if you're interested in the hard decisions we have to make about energy, you'll likely be as excited as I am about this new (free!) scenario for the classic board game. Catan: Oil Springs allows you to develop faster by collecting black gold—at the expense of short-term and long-term safety risks. (Via Audubon Society and Jeremy Hsu) Read the rest

"Headless" Post-man Put to Pasture

Last year, the killer who inspired the famous New York Post headline "Headless Body in Topless Bar" was denied parole. This year, the author of that (frankly fabulous) headlne retired. (As a side note, the author of my favorite headline, "Foot Heads Arms Body", is Martyn Cornell, former subeditor of the London Times.) (Via Maryn McKenna) Read the rest

The questionable birth of Times New Roman

Here's some interesting history for font-heads*.

Times New Roman has, as we know, become the default type for everything from school term papers to magazines. It's usually attributed to Stanley Morison, who "oversaw" the design for The Times of London newspaper in the 1930s. (Their previous font was, appropriately, Times Old Roman.)

But there has long been evidence that Times New Roman was either one of those good ideas that was had by more than one person around the same time period, or Morison picked up the font from another source and had nothing to do with the design at all.

Evidence found in 1987 — drawings for letters and corresponding brass plates — suggests that the real father of the font wasn’t a typographer at all, but a wooden boat designer from Boston named William Starling Burgess.Burgess is famous in his field for having designed inventive, beautiful yachts (including three that won the America’s Cup), planes for the U.S. Navy and Wilbur and Orville Wright, and some experimental cars.

But before he accomplished any of those things, Burgess — in 1904, when he was only 26 — had a brief and brilliant flirtation with typography. He wrote to the U.S. branch of the Lanston Monotype Corp. requesting that a font be made to his specifications. He planned to use it on company documents at his nascent shipyard in Marblehead, Mass. He penciled letters and mailed them in. Some work went into creating the font on the corporation’s end — a few brass plates of the letters were cut — but then Burgess abandoned the project to partner with the Wright brothers.

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