Weekend long reads – 8 Dec

Take some time this weekend to delve a bit deeper and enjoy these long reads.

Childless by choice – Various authors (The Age)

It’s too late for regrets, and they have dissipated. I have a fortunate life, a happy marriage, loving relatives and friends. I lie on the sofa reading books. And I’m glad no one will have to grieve for me as I have grieved for my mother. I’ve saved Paddy and Anna a lot of pain.

The autism advantage – Gareth Cook (The New York Times Magazine)

But intelligence, even superior intelligence, isn’t enough to get or keep a job. Modern office culture — with its unwritten rules of behavior, its fluid and socially demanding work spaces — can be hostile territory for autistic people, who do better in predictable environments and who tend to be clumsy at shaping their priorities around other people’s requirements.

Makeup for babies – Anonymous (The Alpha Parent)

These products are an excellent example of the common dichotomy in children’s toys – that boys make things, and girls purchase the things that boys make.

Atari teenage riot: The inside story of pong and the video game industry’s Big Bang – Chris Stokel-Walker (Buzzfeed)

 “I thought the game was kind of crappy,” Bushnell says. Yet people were lining up to play it, “and they were kind of having some fun. I thought, If they can have fun with this shite” — Bushnell breaks off into a hearty laugh — “if it can be turned into a real game, that’d be great.”

The Odessaphiles – A.D. Miller (More Intelligent Life)

They all came to Odessa—all the classic Russian writers I have learned to revere. Gogol came south for his health. There is a sort of shrine to him in the museum, in a shadowy alcove formed by a dark, cruciform bookshelf and an ornate, frieze-covered wall. Chekhov passed through, on his way to and from the penal colony of Sakhalin Island, and so did Tolstoy: the young writer in one of the photographs in the collection looks a lifetime away from the iconically bearded sage. At least, almost all of them came. The notable exception is Dostoyevsky, who never visited Odessa—which might explain a lot.

Of flying cars and the declining rate of profit – David Graeber (The Baffler)

It’s often said the Apollo moon landing was the greatest historical achievement of Soviet communism.

 The year in truth – Jock Given (Inside Story)

 We trust some institutions and individuals to find truth for us. Journalists ask us to trust them when they tell us stories. The courts ask us to trust them when they decide who is guilty and who is innocent. Search engines ask us to trust them when they answer our queries. For each of these, 2012 was a challenging year.

Two hundred years of surgery – Atul Gawande (New England Journal of Medicine)

 The brutality and risks of opening a living person’s body have long been apparent, the benefits only slowly and haltingly worked out. Nonetheless, over the past two centuries, surgery has become radically more effective, and its violence substantially reduced — changes that have proved central to the development of mankind’s abilities to heal the sick.

What’s a monkey to do in Tampa? – Jon Mooallem (New York Times Magazine)

 Someone spotted the monkey poking through a Dumpster around lunchtime. When a freelance animal trapper named Vernon Yates arrived, all he could make out was an oblong ball of light brown fur, asleep in the crown of an oak. It was a male rhesus macaque — a pink-faced, two-foot-tall species native to Asia. It weighed about 25 pounds.

The lie factory: How politics became a business – Jill Lepore (The New Yorker)

Campaigns, Inc., the first political-consulting firm in the history of the world, was founded, in 1933, by Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter.

Deconstructing Busytown – David Levinson (The Transportationist)

My first understanding of how places work probably came from the book What Do People Do All Day? by children’s author Richard Scarry. The Busytown in which this book (and others) are set faded from my consciousness until my son was born, and we decided to go shopping for books again. Rereading the book from an adult (and planning and transportation professional’s) point-of-view provides a new perspective on the Scarry memes that have shaped the neural networks of millions of young minds.

A bishop behind bars: Amish sect leader tells of the beard-cutting that could lock him up for life – M.L. Nestel and Jebediah Reed (the Daily)

Among his fellow inmates at Northern Ohio Correctional Center, the towering 67-year-old with wire-rimmed glasses, pudding-bowl haircut and retro facial hair is known simply as “O.G.” While the term — street shorthand for “original gangster” — was unfamiliar to Mullet, he could sense that it was a compliment bestowed from across cultural lines.

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