As one South African journalist put it on Twitter, this tale is worthy of Aesop: It starts on a South African highway on Thursday. A truck is transporting two giraffes and as you might imagine, it creates a great buzz among drivers.
Pabi Moloi, a well-known TV and radio host, snaps a picture that portends trouble:
The truck zooms through the underpass and Moloi tells South Africa's ENCA-TV that she heard a loud thump; so loud, her cousin who was driving asked her if it was a gunshot.
Tragically, what happened is that one of the giraffes, which was blindfolded, smashed its head against the overpass.
As Agence France-Presse reports, The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is taking this incident seriously. It is launching an investigation and "may lay criminal charges against those involved in transporting the animals."
Rick Allan, of the organization, told the paper: "Our investigations so far showed that the transport used was inadequate and incorrect. There are lots of projectiles flying around on the highway (and) especially leaving an animal with its heard sticking out blindfolded, is looking for problems."
But back to Aesop. The lesson, wrote Gus Silber on Twitter: "Don't think laterally, think vertically."
This story reminds us of:
Images, GIFs and emojis — particularly the latter — have morphed into ways we express our feelings. They've quickly replaced words and sentences in our texts, tweets and emails.
So, what is this emoji? (As I'm writing this, it's consistently been the 25th most-tweeted emoji, according to the real-time emojitracker.) On Thursday, a report from a local Philadelphia TV station re-ignited a debate and got people all up in arms. (Or should I say, up in hands?)
An anchor suggests it's someone praying. "What we've discovered is the intention of this emoji is to represent a high-five," he says. "But a lot of people really, truly believe it's someone praying." (How they've "discovered" such a claim is unclear.)
And if you want to play by the book, turn the question to your iPhone: Highlight the emoji and prompt your iPhone to "Speak" it. It'll tell you that the emoji is "hands folded in prayer." And if you think of how folks usually high-five one another — using opposite hands, with thumbs crossed — this makes sense.
The Emojipedia doesn't choose one meaning, but says it varies depending on the cultural context. In Japanese culture, it says, it can mean "sorry" or "thank you."
I tossed the question to folks on Twitter:
When we think about emojis and what they mean, we have to consider how these symbols have evolved into their own language. Emojis aren't quite a universal form of communication; their meanings are malleable and often develop in unique ways as we build relationships with the people we're texting or tweeting. I assign different meanings to the same emojis based on inside jokes with friends, moods and specific situations.
Jessica Bennett wrote for The New York Times:
"There's also a certain subjective quality to the sequences. Depending on whether you think the little face with the teardrop on his forehead is sweating or crying, your friend may have either just been dumped or been to SoulCycle. 'I think it's clear that a rough grammar exists for emoji, or is at least emerging,' said Colin Rothfels, a developer who maintains a Twitter feed, @anagramatron, that collects tweets (and thus emoji) that are anagrams."
But if I had to choose one meaning for the hands-pressed-together emoji, I'd probably go with this one:
Fresh from relinquishing his House majority leader position in the wake of a stinging primary defeat, Rep. Eric Cantor now says he will give up his Virginia congressional seat months before his term expires, to make room for his replacement.
"[It] is with tremendous gratitude and a heavy heart that I have decided to resign from Congress, effective Aug. 18," Cantor, 51, said in a guest column in The Richmond Times-Dispatch. "During this time of transition for me and my family, it is my foremost desire to ensure that representation is maintained for the people of the 7th District. For this reason, I have asked Gov. McAuliffe to hold a special election on Election Day, at no additional cost to taxpayers, so my successor can be sworn in immediately in November."
Cantor, who lost to Tea Party-backed Dave Brat in a surprising June primary, tells the Dispatch that he wants "to make sure that the constituents in the 7th District will have a voice in what will be a very consequential lame-duck session of Congress."
Brat, who is heavily favored to win the special election in the conservative district, thanked Cantor for his seven terms and service to the state.
"The time one has to sacrifice to be an elected official is enormous, and he has sacrificed a great deal to serve the people. I also want to thank him for his endorsement. I wish Eric and his family the best in their future endeavors," Brat said in a statement, quoted by The Associated Press.
Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Growing Up.
About Jennifer Senior's TEDTalk
Journalist Jennifer Senior says the goal of raising happy children is so elusive it has put modern, middle-class parents into a panic. She says there's no right way to parent.
About Jennifer Senior
Jennifer Senior is a contributing editor at New York Magazine, where she writes profiles and stories about politics, social science, and mental health. Her first book, All Joy and No Fun was published in 2014.
Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Growing Up.
About Lemn Sissay's TEDTalk
Poet Lemn Sissay was raised by the state. He talks about the empty space where his family should have been.
About Lemn Sissay
Lemn Sissay is the author of a series of poetry collections. His poems can be found at London's major landmarks, from the site of the 2012 Summer Olympics to The Royal Festival Hall.
Sissay shared his story in the BBC TV documentary Internal Flight, and the BBC radio documentary Child of the State. His play Something Dark charts his quest to find his family.