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Letter of Recommendation: Spider Webs
Magazine|Letter of Recommendation: Spider Webs
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Letter of Recommendation
Credit…Artwork by Vija Celmins/Matthew Marks Gallery
By Henry Wismayer
I can still vividly recall the first spider web I watched being spun in earnest, in the unlikely setting of an industrial estate in Central London. While taking a break from a tedious data-entry job, I stepped outside onto a fire escape to find a dun-brown spider dangling at eye level from the wrought iron. Ordinarily I would have swatted it away with a wave of the arm. But something about this creature persuaded me to stop and observe as she traversed back and forth between stair and balustrade, constructing an elaborate death trap. From frame to completion, the spider’s labor took about an hour, and I scrutinized the whole thing, entranced — which might help explain why I was sacked later that week.
Now, on long summer days, if I find myself with a few spare minutes, I go into my scrap of South London garden to scour the borders and branches for telltale strands of spider silk. And, if luck brings me into contact with a spider at work, I pull up a chair and watch. If you’re one of the many people who fear spiders, I appreciate that this may sound like an inexplicable choice of hobby. Perhaps you’d prefer to imagine that spiders don’t exist, or at least that they never cross your path. But they do. And it’s actually the same alien qualities that compel many of us to abhor spiders that lend web-building its mesmerizing quality.
Examining a web up close, you cannot help marveling at the ethereal quality of the silk, a substance of such incredible tensile strength and elasticity that humans have spent more than 50 years trying to synthesize its properties. You wonder too at the genius of the radial lines, a scaffolding more intricate than the most advanced suspension bridge. But most of all, you watch the legs, the rear ones tugging silk from the spinnerets on the abdomen, others delicately gauging the distance between the anchor points. The extraordinary eight-legged motion — so creepy when you see it on your bedroom wall — becomes a thing of wonder when you look harder.
For the time it takes to build a web, the legs tug, sever, glue and measure, unless the builder senses a serious disturbance, in which case it will rappel to safety, legs akimbo in kung-fu readiness. Some naturalists speculate that spiders, like the octopus, have limbs that operate with a degree of autonomy. Indeed, they work with such piston-like coordination that it is hard to conceive of one poppy-seed-size brain controlling them all.
The most virtuosic example of spider architecture is the orb, built by the family Araneidae, whose species are common all over the world. Unlike cobweb spiders, which tend to construct their tangled traps in ceiling crevices, an orb-weaver’s handiwork appears in more conspicuous places, often along garden borders, where prey is abundant. The best time to catch spiders establishing their foundations is at dawn or dusk, from late summer through early fall, when they send out gossamer strands, which, deployed onto a breeze, enable them to parasail across chasms in search of a hunter’s vantage. If you spot these threads, the web-building process will not be far behind.
My favorite time to seek out webs is in the early hours, when spider silk is at its most splendid, often glistening with dew. On busy days, my web-watching might comprise little more than a brief reconnaissance of my garden before I start work: here a web dotted in fresh prey, its owner happily sated by its breakfast of liquefied aphid innards; there one damaged by some nocturnal disturbance, its owner half-concealed on a stem of honeysuckle, already busy planning a replacement. By mentally mapping the shifts in the local webscape over each 24-hour cycle, I’ve found that the spiders’ relentless industry provides a shot of inspiration for the day ahead.
We are increasingly advised, by writers and wellness gurus, to seek sanctuary from our hyperdigitized lives in nature. For years, working as a travel writer, an inconsistent line of work that served as shallow cover for a flâneurial pursuit of spectacular things, I took this imperative to extremes. If my feet itched for experiential refreshment, my first recourse would be to switch off my phone and flee the city to go somewhere with hills, forest, beasts — the wilder the better. It is a source of no small rapture, then, with a young family requiring a more sedentary life, to discover a surrogate for this impulse in something so ignored and ubiquitous, often within a few feet of my door.
So much of the meditative and aesthetic communion we seek in nature finds expression in these miniature coliseums. In design, their gratuitous beauty humbles us into reflections on the divine; in cruelty of purpose, they are a memento mori, a symbol of ineluctable fate embodied in the futile wriggling of an ensnared fly. Perhaps a web’s most poignant allegory, however, lies in the disdain with which we tend to treat them — the appreciation that most of us, whether through overfamiliarity or revulsion, think nothing of obliterating that which required such balletic artistry to build. In this way, spider webs betray the tragedy of our indifference when we are too busy to see.
Henry Wismayer is a writer based in London.
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A version of this article appears in print on , Page 20 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: Spider Webs. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
Black Spider’s Letters What Prince Charles’s Correspondence with Politicians Says — Meduza
Photo: Tim Rooke / REX / Vida Press
government of Tony Blair. The heir to the British throne wrote to high-ranking officials on issues ranging from the war in Iraq to alternative medicine to the fate of the Patagonian toothfish, and was often quite obsessive about his opinions. Meduza has read the correspondence and tells what The Guardian has been fighting for for so long.
A total of 27 letters written in 2004-2005 have been published, all printed from Charles’s handwritten notes and provided with his handwritten additions and comments. Even before publication, the archive was dubbed the «black spider letters» by the press because of Prince Charles’ characteristic handwriting.
The Guardian’s battle to publish the letters, the existence of which became known to the newspaper’s journalist Rob Evans, lasted ten years. At first, the authorities flatly refused to publish the letters, then the information disclosure commission agreed to make them public, but this decision was vetoed by the Prosecutor General’s Office. In the meantime, the letters became known to the general public; public discussion began that Prince Charles could lobby for his political interests. For British society, accustomed to the maximum neutrality of the monarch over the past 60-odd years of the reign of Elizabeth II, such suspicions are a rather loud accusation. During the litigation, they even managed to change the information disclosure law in order to prevent this from happening in the future: now the publication of letters is allowed 25 years after they were written or five years after the death of the author.
But in the story of Charles’ correspondence, the journalists still won. In March 2015, the Supreme Court of the country invalidated the decision of the former British Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who forbade the publication of letters — and thus allowed Charles’s correspondence with seven ministers of the Blair government, including the prime minister himself, to be made public. According to The Daily Mail, the government’s struggle to keep the correspondence secret has cost British taxpayers £400,000.
Letter from Prince Charles to Environment Minister Elliot Morley
The correspondence sheds light on the behind-the-scenes relationship between the royal family and the authorities, which in the eyes of the public is limited to ceremonial functions. As follows from Charles’s letters, the prince tells ministers in some detail about his concerns on various issues — from socio-political to such exotic ones as alternative medicine, the number of badgers and the situation of the Patagonian toothfish (illegal fishing for toothfish can hit the albatross populations that he patronizes). heir to the throne).
“I especially hope that the illegal fishing of Patagonian toothfish will be high on your list of priorities: until it is stopped, there is little hope left for the good old albatross for which I am campaigning …” — from Charles’ letter to the Minister of Environment Elliott Morley.
Charles’ most extensive correspondence is with Prime Minister and Labor Party leader Tony Blair, who led the government from 1997 to 2007. It is mainly devoted to agricultural issues: the prince invites the prime minister to support the Buy British program, asks to deal with badgers that suffer cows, and calls opponents of the reduction of the badger population «intellectually dishonest» people. He also proposes a candidate for one of the posts in the agricultural industry and, in general, appears as an extremely knowledgeable person in these matters. Separately, the prince draws Blair’s attention to the EU directives regarding herbal medicine, which harm the British segment of alternative medicine — in a response letter, the prime minister thanks him for his appeal and promises to take action.
In 2004, Charles wrote to Blair about the poor equipment of the British troops in Iraq and the ineffectiveness of one of the aircraft in the heat of the Middle East, thus demonstrating an extremely broad outlook. Finally, ten years ago, Charles actually predicted the likelihood of a scandal involving the publication of letters.
“It was a pleasure to see you, as always, I was glad to have the opportunity to discuss a large number of issues with you. You benevolently offered to state all the questions in a letter — and this despite the act of disclosure of information!
At the end of each letter, Charles invariably spills the beans and apologizes for the length of the message. He looks like an extremely nice Briton — polite, but at the same time confident in his innocence. And incredibly persistent. In a letter to the Minister of Health about the fate of one of the hospitals, Charles, for example, writes: “At the risk of becoming completely bored with this, I ask with all my heart that we can discuss these issues more fully until irreversible decisions nullify all long-term benefit.»
Prince Charles is upset by the publication of the correspondence. According to The Guardian, Charles insists it is his duty to report on all the concerns of the citizens he meets while traveling the country. The publication of letters did not bring any serious damage to his reputation — their content is not much different from his public speeches. The British public did not learn anything new from them, except perhaps about the prince’s love for the Patagonian toothfish, as well as about the very fact of the existence of this species of fish. Why the British authorities spent nearly half a million pounds protecting these secrets is not clear.
Pre-orders for Spider-Man 2 for PlayStation 5 are open — PS Store prices, Russian-language cover and game description
Spider Man 2
Marvel’s Spiderman 2
Games in material
Sony has opened pre-orders for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 . The new PlayStation 5 exclusive from Insomniac Games is available in two editions: standard and enhanced digital.
The base edition in the Turkish PS Store is asking for 799 lira , while the extended edition costs 899 lira and includes ten unique costumes for Peter Parker and Miles Morales, additional photo mode items and two skill points along with the game.
Pre-ordering any edition will give players early access to the Web Knight for Peter Parker and Spider Ninja for Miles Morales costumes with three alternate color schemes each, early access to the web lasso, and three extra skill points.
Along with this, a description and localized Russian-language covers of appeared on the network. The game will receive a full translation of the text and voice acting.
«Peter Parker and Miles Morales face the ultimate test of not only their superhero powers, but their will as they save the city, each other, and their loved ones from the monstrous Venom symbiote. Explore the vast New York City with even faster web travel and new gossamer wings and instantly switch between the two heroes on an open-world adventure to experience different stories, master epic new abilities and acquire high-tech gear.Use Peter’s symbiotic abilities and Miles’ bio-powers to fight new supervillains, including the original version of the Venom symbiote, the merciless Kraven the Hunter, the elusive Lizard, and more from the pantheon of Marvel villains.»
On the Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 page in PS Store it is also indicated that , in addition to the previously confirmed Brooklyn and Cuins, will also offer other new areas of New York, including Kono-Alend . Declared support for tactile feedback, adaptive triggers and three-dimensional sound.
Spider-Man 2 will be released on October 20, .
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