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4 September

In the headlines

The full list of schools affected by potentially unsafe concrete will be released later this week, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan told the Today programme. She said that all parents of children at the 104 schools identified as needing emergency repair work had been notified, but that another 1,500 schools hadn’t yet responded to surveys to identify at-risk buildings. Rishi Sunak will overturn the ban on building new onshore wind farms, says The Daily Telegraph. The decision, made to stave off a rebellion from backbench MPs, will reverse the Cameron-era law under which “an objection from just a single resident can prevent a wind farm from being built”. Britain could enjoy its warmest day of the year this week, says the Daily Star, with temperatures potentially hitting 33C by Wednesday or Thursday. “Scorchio.” ☀️😎️


British photographer Levon Bliss is known for his macro images of “nature’s smallest lifeforms”, says the Gods and Foolish Grandeur blog. His study of the eggs laid by different species of stick insect – typically measuring no more than 3mm in length, each with a unique shape and look – comprises examples from over 70 species. See more of his work here.

On the money

One unlikely beneficiary of the artificial intelligence revolution is Anguilla, says Bloomberg. The tiny Caribbean island has the rights to the “.ai” domain name, which has become hot property for companies trying to get in on the AI trend. Registrations of websites ending with those two letters have effectively doubled in the past year, to 287,432, with fees in 2023 expected to reach as much as $30m, roughly 10% of the country’s entire GDP.


The latest James Bond novel, On His Majesty’s Secret Service by Charlie Higson, turns 007 into a “centrist dad”, says the Evening Standard. In the book, which follows Bond as he tries to foil a right-wing plot to disrupt the coronation of “King Charles the Woke”, the spy puts his own politics firmly in the centre. “He disliked anybody, and any movement, that was too ‘far’ in any direction,” Higson writes. “If that made him bourgeois, if that made him dull and mainstream, then so be it.”


A 1994 scene from The Simpsons, in which an embarrassed Homer retreats into a bush, has become a “beloved meme”, says My Modern Met. Now it’s been immortalised in shoe form: Adidas has released a pair of Stan Smiths which feature the disappearing dad on the heel, surrounded by a fuzzy, bush-like fabric. Get yours here.


This year’s Edinburgh Fringe was “obsessed with dying”, says Kevin Toolis in The Spectator. Shows had “catchy morbid” titles like Death Suits You, When We Died, You are All Going to Die, The Last Show Before We Die, Hello Kitty Must Die, and Dead Dad Show, all in proud defiance of “the usual theatrical sales logic that death is a stinker”. There were so many death shows that Death on the Fringe, an outcrop of the Scottish Palliative Care Association, which normally curates a “mini-death festival” at Edinburgh, gave up counting them. Organiser Mark Hazelwood reckons Covid has put death on the brain.


It’s a cooling vest, says Wired, a bit of kit that’s becoming increasingly necessary for physical work in a warming world. Some are filled with ice or equipped with fans, as above; others use “phase change materials”, which soak up heat as they melt, or pump chilled water around the wearer’s torso. One Tennessee manufacturer says it completely sold out “as heat waves erupted in the US and Europe” this summer. One big market is Scandinavia, where people simply aren’t used to high temperatures.


Quoted 4.9.23

“What the world needs is more geniuses with humility; there are so few of us left.”

American pianist Oscar Levant