Category Archives: Quotes

This Is Rape

Wolfram Burner, Flickr

Do you remember me? you type. I have some questions. I would be grateful if you might be willing to answer them.

Why did you hurt me? is your question, the only one, but you do not write this.

Of course I remember you! he replies, almost immediately. I will give it my best to answer any questions you have. I hope you are doing good.

You ask if he might be willing to share his memory of that day at the mall. Your point of view would be helpful for my own closure, you say, no matter what that may be. You ask if he has ever thought of it again, if the experience ever held any weight for him. You tell him there are no right answers, because you believe this is true.

Gil responds from a different email address. His personal one.

Let me really think about it, he says, so I can give you my best recollection.

I want to help you, he says, in any way that I can.

You never hear from Gil again.

In Guernica, T Kira Madden tells the story of her rape, confusion, and redemption to show us what rape culture really looks like in this country. To help foster the transparency and responsibility necessary to combat it, Madden holds her own sexual assault and her assailants up her for all of us to see.

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The Scientific Language of Cooking

Warren In The Weeds, Flickr

“He wanted to know if there was such a thing as a ‘Fart Chart’ of different kinds of beans,” McGee said. “And if he used a different kind of beans, could he maybe eat a couple more servings? He also wondered if there was something he could do to the beans ahead of time.”

The next day, McGee went looking for answers. At the Yale biology library, he discovered that plenty of food-science research had been published by and for the food manufacturing and packaging industries, but little of it had been shared with chefs or home cooks.

“I spent hours in that library because I had never seen anything like it,” McGee told me. “Poultry science and agricultural and food chemistry. I would just flip through random volumes and see microscopic studies of things I eat every day. It seemed so cool and unexpected. It took more than a day to home in on the right sources about beans, but not only did I find out what’s in them and what you can do about it, but there is a fart chart and there are things you can do to lessen your suffering.  Most of the research in the field of flatulence was funded by NASA. If you think about it, it makes good sense — these were still the days of capsules.”

In the California Sunday Magazine, Daniel Duane eats with the unassuming culinary celebrity Harold McGee, to find out how the failed academic’s popular first book changed the way we talk and think about cooking.

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What Happens When a Tribe Cuts Ties with 306 of Its Own Members

Photo by rick_leche

In more than 30 years of membership, Annie’s descendants became interwoven in the life of the tribe. They married other Nooksacks and had kids; those kids had kids. But once the disenrollment process began, people chose sides. “It was just like a light switch,” Elizabeth Oshiro, one of the 306, told me. People she knew for years “all of a sudden had a different heart.” …

On the reservation, Michelle Roberts found that people who babysat for her as a child or attended her wedding would no longer make eye contact with her. “The most important thing isn’t friendship,” says Diane Brewer, who no longer speaks to her former best friend, one of the 306. “The most important thing is the tribe.”

In the New York Times Magazine, Brooke Jarvis chronicles the legal battle over the “Nooksack 306,” members of the tribe who were disenrolled over questions about their identity.

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‘Continue Panicking’: Samantha Bee’s Interview with Journalist Masha Gessen

“Really it’s the nuclear holocaust I’m worried about.”

One of my essay selections for Longreads Best of 2016 was by Masha Gessen, the Russian-American journalist and author of 2016’s The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, whose “Autocracy: Rules for Survival” in the New York Review of Books revealed in stark terms what happens when an autocrat takes power.

Gessen’s back in a new interview with Samantha Bee that is both funny and terrifying, as she predicts what happens next — and what she fears in terms of worst-case scenarios.

‘Not Too Much, Not Too Little’: Programming Luck Into Video Games

reflection-pad-gaming-gamepad

In fully digital video games, luck is even more deeply baked into the experience, and must be actively simulated. When the soccer ball sails past the goalkeeper in FIFA, or when, inexplicably, a herd of race cars slows down to allow you to catch up, a game designer’s hand has just acted to provide some ghostly rigging. The effect of this manipulation is to flatter you and thereby keep you engaged. But it’s a trick that must be deployed subtly. A player who senses that he’s secretly being helped by the game will feel patronized; after all, luck is only luck if it’s truly unpredictable.

Which is where the problems begin.

— At Nautilis, Simon Parkin examines the responsibilities and challenges of engineering luck into video games.

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‘We Have a Lot of Firepower — and We Will Persevere’: California vs. Trump

golden gate bridge-california-san francisco

The journalist and historian Carey McWilliams once called California “the great exception.” McWilliams was writing in the 1940s as he tried to make sense of the first 100 years of the state’s turbulent history. But McWilliams’s idea that California is a singular place, a nation-state unto itself, has never felt truer than it does now.

On the same night that Americans narrowly elected Donald Trump, Californians voted overwhelmingly in favor of his rival, Hillary Clinton. They sent 39 Democrats to the House of Representatives out of 53 seats. They elected Kamala Harris, a liberal Democrat whose father is Jamaican and whose mother is Indian, to the U.S. Senate. They gave Democrats supermajorities in the state Legislature. They passed ballot propositions to legalize recreational use of marijuana, raise the tobacco tax, ban high-capacity magazines, relax parole rules for nonviolent felons, increase transparency in the legislative process, repeal the decades-old limits on bilingual education, and extend higher income taxes on the wealthy. Elsewhere in the country, the Democratic Party lay in tatters. In California, it was dominant.

In the first piece in a series at The California Sunday Magazine, Andy Kroll sets out to explore the relationship between California and Donald Trump’s Washington.

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Cultural Conflicts, Embodied: On Being Transgender, and Unsure

Photo by Transguyjay, (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

I don’t know that I’ll ever cross over the threshold into a true or authentic self, that I’ll ever pass as male or feel like a singular entity, rather than split. Being in a female body, being dismissed, patronized and emotionally abused in the ways women so often are, has shaped my understanding of human beings, of the ways we interact and exert control. I don’t want to become what I hate, to embody the monstrousness latent in masculinity, growing an extra layer of tissue separating me from my emotions and impairing my compassion for others in the process. I don’t want to be anything like my father.

A trans man I’ve become friends with describes his psychological state before starting testosterone, the inner chaos that rendered him absent from his own life, and the peace hormones brought him, a newfound balance due even more to neurochemical recalibration than bodily changes. I measure my vanity, my horror at the thought of being lonely and unwanted, against my health, my ability to participate in the world. I don’t know that I’ll ever stop hesitating in the wings, too shy of my own spirit, too afraid and unsure of whether I want to be seen for all of who I am.

Jason Phoebe Rusch, in Entropy, takes readers through an experience of being transgender that’s different from most of the narratives the media focuses on — different and difficult, with conflicting desires and fears that physical transition won’t solve.

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What Happened When You Invited Steve Jobs to Your Product Demo

Steve Jobs

“I think it’s coming along,” said Tim, “though we expect—” “I think it sucks!” said Jobs.

His vehemence made Tim pause. “Why?” he asked, a bit stiffly.

“It just does.”

“In what sense?” said Tim, getting his feet back under him. “Give me a clue.”

“Its shape is not innovative, it’s not elegant, it doesn’t feel anthropomorphic,” said Jobs, ticking off three of his design mantras.

You have this incredibly innovative machine but it looks very traditional.” The last word delivered like a stab. Doug Field and Scott Waters would have felt the wound; they admired Apple’s design sense. Dean’s intuition not to bring Doug had been right. “There are design firms out there that could come up with things we’ve never thought of,” Jobs continued, “things that would make you shit in your pants.”

An excerpt from the 2003 book Code Name Ginger, the story behind Dean Kamen’s Segway scooter. Steve Kemper recounts the time Kamen introduced his invention (code-named Ginger) to Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos. They immediately foresaw problems with the product. (via The Browser.)

 
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How the Blues Conquered Tokyo

Matthew Hine, Flickr

I couldn’t quite figure out why Japanese listeners had come to appreciate and savor the blues in the way that they seemed to—lavishly, devotedly. Blues is still an outlier genre in Japan, but it’s revered, topical, present. I’d spent my first couple of days in Tokyo hungrily trawling the city’s many excellent record stores, marveling at the stock. I had shuffled into the nine-story Tower Records in Shibuya (NO MUSIC NO LIFE, a giant sign on its exterior read), past a K-pop band called CLC, an abbreviation for Crystal Clear—seven very-young-looking women in matching outfits, limply performing a synchronized dance, waving their slender arms back and forth before a hypnotized crowd—and ridden an elevator to a floor housing more shrink-wrapped blues CDs than I have ever seen gathered in a single place of retail. I had been to a tiny, quiet bar—JBS, or Jazz, Blues, and Soul—with floor-to-ceiling shelves housing owner Kobayashi Kazuhiro’s eleven thousand LPs, from which he studiously selected each evening’s soundtrack. I had seen more than one person wearing a Sonny Boy Williamson t-shirt. I had heard about audiophiles installing their own utility poles to get “more electricity” straight from the grid to power elaborate sound systems. What I didn’t know was what about this music made sense in Japan—how and why it had come to occupy the collective imagination, what it could offer.

– In Oxford American, journalist Amanda Petrusich listens to a Mississippi Blues musician perform in a Tokyo club and tries to figure out why American Blues has a particular resonance with for so many in Japan.

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When Boredom Yields Treasure: The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird. Photo by Maureen Leong-Kee CC-BY SA 2.0

He also understood that the male broad-tailed hummingbird’s wings make a whistling sound, and indeed Barr had tracked the bird’s return each spring. Together with Barr’s weather and snow melt, Inouye was able to show how climate change’s impact on a single flower might mean the end of broad-tailed hummingbird migration in the region.

The hummingbird relies on nectar from the glacier lily—so much so that it synced its migration to arrive in Gothic just before it blooms. To adjust to warmer springs, however, the lily now flowers 17 days earlier than it did four decades ago. In two more decades it’s likely the broad-tailed hummingbird will completely miss the glacier lily’s nectar. This widening seasonal imbalance is called phenological mismatch, and has become a major concern as scientists learn more about climate change. In Gothic, this will impact not just broad-tailed hummingbirds, but also butterflies, bees, hibernating mammals, and the animals that depend on all those animals. These same dynamics will play out across the Rocky Mountains, and similar alpine ecosystems across the world.

At The Atlantic, J. Weston Phippen reports on Billy Barr, a man who moved into a remote part of the Rocky Mountains in search of solitude over 40 years ago. To avoid boredom, he documented snow levels, animal sightings, and the date flowers first bloomed. “…collectively his work has become some of the most significant indication that climate change is rearranging mountain ecosystems more dramatically and quickly than anyone imagined.”

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