Beetle byte (2 November 2013 edition)

A day late, but surely all the better for it…

Also late for Hallowe’en… but still fascinating

Perhaps it’s just the old, faded photos but it seems to us from looking at these vintage photographs that Halloween costumes used to be much much creepier and weirder than it is now.


Seamus Heaney’s last poem

Heaney was invited by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, to contribute to a memorial anthology marking the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war. She asked poets to respond to poetry, letters and diary entries from the time.

Heaney chose Edward Thomas’s great poem, As The Team’s Head Brass, which he wrote in 1916 shortly before he asked to be posted to the front – a decision that led to his death at Arras the following year.

In response Heaney wrote In a Field, completed in June, two months before his own death and now published for the first time.


Don’t expect human service at restaurants in the near future

As if struggling actors didn’t already have it hard enough. In Japan, changing times have given rise to a new breed of mercilessly efficient automated restaurants that can easily service an entire busy day’s worth of hungry patrons without the need for a staff of waiters, chefs or even dishwashers.


And don’t bother talking to anyone while eating either

If you typically spend your nights alone at home digging into a bowl of hot ramen noodles while wishing you had someone to hang out with, then we’ve got some good news. You never again have to eat your noodles in solitude thanks to an ingenious new product! The anti-loneliness ramen bowl (that’s the actual name) comes with a built-in iPhone dock so you can browse your social networks, watch videos, or listen to music while enjoying your favorite cheap dinner.


Yes, I’ve been editing all week

Some people seem to think love for language means memorising the longest possible list of grammar rules and style shibboleths. This is too often coupled with smug self-congratulation. But a real understanding of language acknowledges which rules are truly ironclad, which ones are in dispute and which ones are mere style choices.


Please get me this calendar for Christmas

In collaboration with photographers Charlie Naebeck and Jordan Matter, creator of the New York Times bestseller “Dancers Among Us,” we’ve produced a 2014 wall calendar featuring 13 powerful portraits of climate scientists and their research.