Links for June 11, 2016

For World’s Newest Scrabble Stars, SHORT Tops SHORTER

Prince Anthony Ikolo was the first to glimpse the potential of the shorter-word strategy. In the late 2000s, the university mathematician had two apps—Quackle and Maven—that let him simulate tens of thousands of possible game scenarios that would result from a given move. The data showed how often a long word would leave the player vulnerable to a counterstrike or a series of bad draws. Using those analytics, his team came up with a secret list of the five-letter words that are hardest for opponents to utilize, code-named “ajuwires,” Nigerian slang for an intern. “If you know your five-letter words you can beat people playing seven-, eight-, nine-letter words,” he said.

Letter-Writing Manuals Were the Self-Help Books of the 18th Century

Like all human communication, exchanging handwritten notes is a confusing, anxiety-producing and socially fraught endeavor. And, at one time, it was a new technology. Letter-writing manuals had been around since the 1500s, but the 18th century was the golden age for these publications.... Ultimately, letter-writing manuals weren’t just concerned with instilling good grammar and a flair for narrative—like modern self-help books, they aimed to inspire people to live satisfying and morally luminous lives.

Lightning Storm Recorded at 7000 Frames Per Second