We all know the feeling. You're sleepless in the sad hours of the night or stumbling around early on a hazy weekend morning in need of something to read, and that pile of unread books just isn't cutting it. Why not take a break from the fire hose of Twitter and RSS and check out our weekly roundup of essential writing from around the web about technology, culture, media, and the future? Sure, it's one more thing you can feel guilty about sitting in your Instapaper queue, but it's better than pulling in vain on your Twitter list again.
Grab the entire list as a Readlist.
Joshua Brustein tells the ugly story of the breakup of the Hoefler&Frere-Jones type foundry.
Businessweek: Joshua Brustein - Font War: Inside the Design World's $20 Million Divorce
Hoefler had all of Frere-Jones’s design chops, but also had the ability to propel Frere-Jones to prominence in a way he couldn’t have done on his own. Business partnerships rarely last forever, says Essl, and when they end, it’s often ugly. "Van Halen isn’t going to be Van Halen forever," he says. "Someone is going to leave."
Russell Shorto writes about how Dutch strategies for dealing with flooding are being applied in the US.
The New York Times: Russell Shorto - How to Think Like the Dutch in a Post-Sandy World
With the increasing threat caused by climate change, Dutch engineers have developed strategies that go beyond simply trying to keep water out. The city of Rotterdam, for instance, is building floating houses and office buildings and digging craters in downtown plazas that will be basketball courts most of the year but will fill up with runoff during high-water periods, taking the strain off the surrounding streets.
On the KiraVan
Brian Raftery writes about the incredible truck built by the former head of R&D for Disney Imagineering.
Wired: Brian Raftery - The Most Insane Truck Ever Built and the 4-Year-Old Who Commands It
What if he built an all-new, bigger and better expedition vehicle? No, more than that, what if he made the ultimate adventure truck, the very platonic ideal of such a thing—which he could outfit for a family of three? He started to envision a vehicle that could take Kira nearly anywhere on earth without limitation—a mix of high-powered machinery, bomb-shelter self-sufficiency, and luxe-life accoutrements. It would be a mobile, malleable five-star fortress.
Kathryn Schulz writes a beautiful short essay on the history, evolution, and use of the word "ping."
New York: Kathryn Schulz - The Meaning of Ping: Electric Signals and Our Search for Connection
What is a ping? As a word, it already seems partial, like a suffix: beeping, keeping, hoping, gaping, dropping, stopping, ___-ping, ping. In fact, though, it is an onomatopoeia; it has no linguistic origins, no etymology but noise. It comes from the sound of things that go ping. In recent years, those things have mostly been electronic, and we now use the word to mean, basically, "get in touch via gadget": "Ping me in the morning."
On toy guns
Mark Wilson reports on Mattel's efforts to revolutionize the toy gun industry and toy designer Scott Derman's new Boom.co blasters.
FastCo.Design: Mark Wilson - Mattel's 3-Year Quest To Make A Better Toy Gun
For decades, Hasbro’s Nerf has been the gold standard in what the toy industry deems the "blaster" category. And despite loads of competitors like BuzzBeeToys, Xploderz, AirHunterz, and Vapor, Hasbro’s dominance, with 75% of the marketshare, remains relatively unchallenged--maybe because the only real potential competition, fellow toy titan Mattel, has historically stayed out of the gunfight, selling Matchbox cars and Barbies instead.
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Have any favorites that you'd like to see included in next week's edition? Send them along to @thomashouston or share in the comments below.