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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Are These Birds Too Sexy To Survive?, by Richard O. Prum, New York Times

The wing songs of the club-winged manakin teach us that adaptation by natural selection does not control everything that happens in evolution. Some of the evolutionary consequences of sexual desire may not be adaptive. Rather, they can be truly decadent. Despite the ubiquity of natural selection, organisms are not always getting better at surviving. Natural selection is not the only source of design in nature.

The Joy Of Watching Sports Alone, by Nathaniel Friedman, GQ

Ultimately, sports aren’t a social contract, they’re a form of entertainment. And even if there’s a right way to do them, those of us who aren’t up to the task still deserve to have our fun.

Why Hollywood’s Most Thrilling Scenes Are Now Orchestrated Thousands Of Miles Away, by Mallory Pickett, New York Times

Movies, always the realm of fantasy, are now further removed from reality than ever. Actors do their acting in spandex suits on blank stages, delivering their lines to position markers and balls on sticks. Then an army of VFX artists transports them back in time, adds dragon companions or blows up their car. Audiences love it. Of the 25 top-grossing films of the 21st century so far, 20 have been visual-effects showcases like “Avatar,” “The Avengers” and “Jurassic World.” (The other five were entirely animated, like “Frozen.”) The typical blockbuster now spends about a third of its production budget on visual effects.

But while visual effects’ role in movie making is growing, its presence in Hollywood is shrinking. From 2003 to 2013, at least 21 notable visual-effects companies went out of business, including Digital Domain, which produced the Oscar-winning effects in “Titanic.” Rhythm & Hues finally filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013, just days before winning an Oscar for “Life of Pi,” though it has since been revived under new ownership, working largely on TV shows like “Game of Thrones.”

A Story Collection Tracks Nepal’s Highs And Somewhat Lows, by Robin Black, New York Times

There is a soothing quality to this whisper set within these raucous tales, one that if heard by the characters we encounter might calm them, curb their impulsive behaviors, settle them into more placid states. And given all the mayhem that results from their impatience, from their willingness to try anything in the service of healing themselves, that might be a very good thing for them — but given the joys here for a reader, it would surely be a terrible loss for us.