Recent Reads 2019: 05.28 – 07.15

BBC – Earth News – Bizarre newt uses ribs as weapons
When attacked, the Spanish ribbed newt pushes out its ribs until they pierce through its body, exposing a row of bones that act like poisonous barbs. The newt has to force its bones through its skin every time it is attacked, say scientists, who have described the form and function of the barbs in detail.

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Eight ways the world is not designed for women – BBC News
“But it makes me so angry to think of all these women, living their lives, thinking there’s something wrong with them – that they’re too small or don’t fit or whatever it is.” “It’s just that we haven’t built anything for women.”

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Legends of the Ancient Web
I tell this story to reassure you that just because everything is heavy and political right now, it doesn’t mean we can’t also fight these fights on our own terms, as nerds.

The Utopian qualities that made us love the web have not disappeared, even as it’s become centralized and corporate, and we can find ways to defend and express them in our work.

The important thing is to recognize that there is a fight, and a need for individual acts of creative resilience.

We have to make sure that the powerful don’t get comfortable using our tools. And we have to find ways to dismantle the surveillance economy before it becomes a poltical weapon turned against our democracy.

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Wind Telephone – Ōtsuchi-chō, Japan – Atlas Obscura
Visitors dial in their relative’s number and catch them up on their current life or express the feelings necessary to move on. Some find comfort in the hope that their relative might hear them.

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Scientists teleported quantum data into the flawed heart of a diamond
It’s an amazing accomplishment. Especially in the Yokohama University study, where sending a photon into an inaccessible space using quantum teleportation represents the bedrock for what could eventually become a completely secure, distributed quantum computing network.

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Going Through Menopause Changed The Way I Think About Gender
I feel, instead, a new force, latent in the black expanse beneath me. There is nothing predictable or tame about this spirit. Elemental. Androgynous. Chaotic. Not found hovering ghostlike in nature, but the actual engine that drives nature. An atavistic force, the King Kong of Despentes, King Kong theory, a pregendered wildness that we lose claim to when we enter the strict binary. Tehom, the Bible calls it: the deep.

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America’s Early Female College Students Held Illicit Fudge Parties – Gastro Obscura
But for all these undergraduates, making fudge was not just an indulgence—it was a form of mild rebellion in an environment that, even as it promised empowerment, still sought to strictly control them.

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Why Did I Have Difficulty Learning React? – Snook.ca
It was difficult to come in thinking I was a senior developer and instead feeling like a junior. I often spent more time than I should have on my own just trying to understand things, frustrating myself in the process. I’d go a day or two or three of making no progress before reaching out to someone to explain something I didn’t understand but feeling like I should, feeling like I wasn’t good enough.

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Meet the Man on a Quest to Document Every Apple in North America – Gastro Obscura
An illustrated hardcover set of seven volumes, each between 500 and 600 pages long, Illustrated History is a compendium of every apple variety that has appeared in print in any North American publication in the last two centuries.

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What yo-yos taught me about being a developer – James DiGioia
Learning development is no different. You can read all the books you want, but the feedback loop of regular review of and conversations around your code can accelerate the process–no book is going to tell you implemented its pattern wrong! We have a reputation for being quiet loners, but learning is a social process. Be social!

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The Extraordinary ‘Cookbooks’ Left Behind by Prisoners of War and Concentration Camp Victims – Gastro Obscura
The package, when Stern finally mustered the resolve to open it, contained a picture of her mother with Stern’s son, a few letters, and a notebook of tattered pages, held together by rough stitching. In this notebook were recipes—of linzer torte, goulash with noodles, chicken galantine––compiled by her mother and the other women of Theresienstadt.

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Emma Thompson Gets a Shock at 60 – The New York Times
It came as a great surprise to Thompson, then, to suddenly find herself on uncertain ground occasioned by her 60th birthday in April. It was not that she balked at her age. Suggestions of “60 is the new 40!” make her eyes roll. “The denial of aging is unhealthy,” she sniffed in a recent chat. “It’s always been bollocks.” But she was flooded by discomfiting questions of her own about roles she had enthusiastically embraced throughout her life: as daughter, wife, mother, performer. She was still all of those things, but now she’s on the verge of being an empty nester.

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‘Fleabag’s’ soliloquy on menopause is the best three minutes of TV ever – Los Angeles Times
“I’ve been longing to say this out loud — women are born with pain built in, it’s our physical destiny — period pain, sore boobs, childbirth, you know. We carry it with ourselves throughout our lives,” Belinda says. “Men don’t. They have to invent things like gods and demons… they create wars so they can feel things and touch each other… and we have it all going on in here. Inside, we have pain on a cycle for years.”

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Researchers strapped video cameras on 16 cats and let them do their thing. Here’s what they found | Science | AAAS
When they were in their homes, the cats spent a lot of time following their humans around. They liked to be in the same room. A lot of my students were surprised at how attached cats were to people.

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Tech veganism | Read the Tea Leaves
I find that there’s a bit of a “let them eat cake” attitude among tech vegan boosters, because they often discount the sheer difficulty of all this stuff. (“Let them use Linux” could be a fitting refrain.) After all, they figured it out, so why can’t you? What, doesn’t everyone have a computer science degree and six years experience as a sysadmin? To be a vegan, all you have to do is stop eating animal products. To be a tech vegan, you have to join an elite guild of tech wizards and master their secret arts. And even then, you’re probably sneaking a forbidden bite of Google or Apple every now and then.

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The significance of plot without conflict – still eating oranges
What this shows is that the three-act plot, unlike kishōtenketsu, is fundamentally confrontational. It necessarily involves one thing winning out over another, even in a minor case like the one above. This conclusion has wide-ranging implications, since both formats are applied not just to narratives, but to all types of writing. Both may be found under the hood of everything from essays and arguments to paragraphs and single sentences. As an example, the reader might re-examine the first two paragraphs of this article, in which a “default position” is set up and then interrupted by a “problem” (namely, the existence of kishōtenketsu). The following paragraphs deal with the conflict between the two formats. This paragraph, which escalates that conflict by explaining the culture-wide influence of each system, is the beginning of the climax.

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