The Last Love Letter


He is an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day.

It is not exactly a love letter.

But in the guise of a dating profile for her soon-to-be-single husband, Amy Krouse Rosenthal pours out her unabating love for the man she has cherished for 26 years. Today’s Needull is one of those heart-wrenching love stories which cause that strange knot in throat and that odd tingle in stomach. Get ready for an emotional ride.

So many plans instantly went poof.

No trip with my husband and parents to South Africa. No reason, now, to apply for the Harvard Loeb Fellowship. No dream tour of Asia with my mother. No writers’ residencies at those wonderful schools in India, Vancouver, Jakarta.

No wonder the word cancer and cancel look so similar.

This is when we entered what I came to think of as Plan “Be,” existing only in the present. As for the future, allow me to introduce you to the gentleman of this article, Jason Brian Rosenthal.

Full Essay Here

The New York Times – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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Note: Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a renowned children’s book author and radio host, died on March 13, 2017, 10 days after this love-essay was published. You can read her obituary here.

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Why is #vanlife the latest travel fad?


If you have not heard of the latest hashtag in trend (#vanlife), please do search it now. You will be treated to beautiful Instagram pictures of old and new vans parked in beautiful locales, captioned with some quote about how to get out of our houses and start living in a van. Across the world, hundreds of youngsters, couples and loners, millionaires and homeless, are travelling in vans living a seemingly pleasant dream with its own set of nightmares. Today’s Needull, a recent article on The New Yorker, will give you a glimpse of the #vanlife of a couple named Emily King and Corey Smith.

Scroll through the images tagged #vanlife on Instagram and you’ll see plenty of photos that don’t have much to do with vehicles: starry skies, campfires, women in leggings doing yoga by the ocean. Like the best marketing terms, “vanlife” is both highly specific and expansive. It’s a one-word life-style signifier that has come to evoke a number of contemporary trends: a renewed interest in the American road trip, a culture of hippie-inflected outdoorsiness, and a life free from the tyranny of a nine-to-five office job.

Full Article Here

The New Yorker – Rachel Munroe

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Cinema Sans Color


Today’s Needull is a Youtube video from the always-so-awesome RocketJump Film School on the importance of the use of Black & White in Cinema. From the brief history of black & white movies to different forms of cinema developed due to limited technology to modern cinemas re-released in black & white, this narrative is an eye opener for anyone who thinks colours add life to movies.

Sometimes, it is the lack of them that does.

“Black and white” isn’t actually a genre of film. Rather, there are a multitude of different kinds of films that have all used black and white as a unique storytelling tool. Cinema’s history of black and white film is a rich one, filled with movies that have defined the very essence of cinema, that invite you to escape into new worlds, see things in new ways, experience the thrill and strangeness of fantasy, as well as the severity and truth of the real world. This video will explore how filmmakers have used black-and-white to the story’s advantage, and why it can be so beautiful and compelling.

Full Video Here

A Related Article by Adrienne Reid

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A Day in an Ambulance


This Needull is a simple but interesting article from across the border, as the author spends a day with an ambulance driver in Karachi. Through the article, we take a look at a nation in shambles as organisations, like Eidhi Foundation, the one which owns this ambulance, do their bit to piece it together.

Sporting red T-shirts emblazoned with bold white letters reading “EDHI”, these workers are a familiar sight at Pakistan’s all-too-common disaster scenes. Here in Karachi, a megalopolis of around 20 million people, there is no state ambulance service.

Karachi has suffered through decades of violence. Ethnic tensions have been simmering since the 1950s, ramping up as conflict and natural disasters elsewhere in Pakistan pushed more and more people into the city. For years, gang war raged in the slum of Lyari, and as terrorism increased in Pakistan in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks and the declaration of the war on terror, Karachi became a key militant operating ground. Since 2014, a crackdown led by the army has brought a semblance of calm, but violence still simmers below the surface.

Full Article Here

Mosaic Science – Samira Shackle

More about Edhi Foundation

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Girls Like Them Long


Thanks to that boring lecture on Charles Darwin in high school, most of us assume that giraffes’ long necks are to help them reach food in the tops of trees. Well, to be fair, this is indeed the most preferred hypotheses by scientists all around.

But a few scientists think the necks have more to do with something more basic – SEX.

Today’s Needull is an interesting 1996 research paper from The American Naturalist journal that I came across inadvertently.

Around 15 million years ago, antelope-like animals were roaming the dry grasslands of Africa. There was nothing very special about them, but some of their necks were a bit long. Within a mere 6 million years, they had evolved into animals that looked like modern giraffes, though the modern species only turned up around 1 million years ago. The tallest living land animal, a giraffe stands between 4.5 and 5 metres tall – and almost half that height is neck.

Most people assume that giraffes’ long necks evolved to help them feed. If you have a long neck, runs the argument, you can eat leaves on tall trees that your rivals can’t reach. But there is another possibility. The prodigious necks may have little to do with food, and everything to do with sex.

Disclaimer: The views in this paper are not accepted by all evolutionary biologists. Most still believe that giraffe necks are a result of the scarcity of food. The necks-for-sex hypothesis by Simmons and Scheepers remains highly contentious and there are also multiple published evidence for the competing-browsers hypothesis.

P.S: As suggested in comments by our reader WeggieBoy, ‘the notion of long necks evolving in giraffes is classically Lamarckian more than Darwinian’. The reason why I have mentioned Darwin is because that is exactly what is taught in most high schools.

Full Paper Here

Related Article Here

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Russia in Maps


Today’s Needull explains ‘everything’ about Russia, from Politics to Geography to Economy to History, using 10 different maps. Let’s just say that your perception about Putin’s Russia won’t be the same after these 10 maps.

Many people think of maps in terms of their basic purpose: showing a country’s geography and topography. But maps can speak to all dimensions—political, military, and economic.

In fact, they are the first place to start thinking about a country’s strategy, which can reveal factors that are otherwise not obvious.

The 10 maps below show Russia’s difficult position since the Soviet Union collapsed and explain Putin’s long-term intentions in Europe.

Full Article Here

Business Insider – George Friedman

Read similar stuff on Mauldin Economics

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Uncovering An Oily Secret


Today’s Needull is a recent classic Bloomberg article, a dose of ‘business’ with a ladle of ‘mystery story’. It shares how the oil hedging in Mexico works, where Mexican finance officials go out every year and flood a bunch of banks with orders to hedge the country’s oil production. If you have not heard of Hacienda hedge, well, get ready to be amazed and amused, as the below numbers themselves speak of what its impact is.

For its part, Mexico has shown a Wall Street-style wizardry in trading oil. It usually makes money on its hedges—sometimes a lot of money, as in 2008-09. From 2001 to 2017, the country made a profit of $2.4 billion; its hedges raked in $14.1 billion in gains and paid out $11.7 billion in fees to banks and brokers.

Full Article Here

Bloomberg – Javier Blas

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