Weekend Reading

Dearest reader, I can confirm that this week, Weekend Reading is a Trump free zone. I dunno about you but I can’t handle any more of that, so I thought I’d avoid inflicting it on anyone else.*

  • The Secret History of the First Cat in Space
    On October 18th, 1963, the Centre national d’études in France was set to send a small cat named Félix into space. After lagging behind its Soviet and American competitors, France was eager to stake its claim in the space race—with cats, for some reason.
    Can you imagine it? A cat, in a confined space with lots of blinking lights. CARNAGE!

  • 6-Year-Old Girls Already Have Gendered Beliefs About Intelligence
    They’re more likely to avoid games meant for “really, really smart” children. “There are lots of people at the place where I work, but there is one person who is really special. This person is really, really smart,” said Lin Bian.
    This kind of thinking is so ingrained it’ll take decades to reverse, presuming it can be at all.

  • The Real-World Locations of 14 Sci-Fi Dystopias
    In some science fiction cinema, the future looks pretty bleak, with dystopic visions of a world struggling with overcrowding, high crime, pestilence, and the aftermath of war.
    Adds to travel bucket list (see/hear also the 99% Invisible episode about THAT hotel used in Blade Runner).

  • Two Generations of Syrian Resistance: What Bravery Looks Like
    One thing I’ve been thinking about, in this new era of US politics, is what I learned from my Syrian host family about the power of multiple generations, and how sometimes one generation works so that another can give voice. I lived in Syria between 2005 and 2008, before the revolution.
    I live a very privileged, sheltered, life. Articles like this are must reads.

  • How Culture Became a Powerful Political Weapon
    Nato Thompson’s new book explores the history of how music, TV, games, and advertising have been used to influence consumers. When it comes to living in a democracy, Nato Thompson argues, nothing affects us more directly and more powerfully than culture.
    I’m just glad we got past the ‘ironic’ spelling of kulturr… *shudder*

  • The secret taxonomy behind IKEA’s product names, from Billy to Poäng
    Reading strange-sounding Swedish words is part of the joy of shopping at IKEA. Within the labyrinth of stylish flat pack furniture is a pänoply of ödd, åccented pröduct nämes, printed on hang tags, walls and banners.
    Wait until you see the Gordon range (thick, sturdy, ugly, but useful for holding things)

  • Adult swaddling
    The latest fad in Japan takes you right back to your mother’s womb. Otonamaki, which literally means “adult wrapping,” is a new form of therapy used by new mothers to relieve the stress of birth. Adults are swaddled in cloth then rocked back and forth.
    I’ll just leave this one alone

  • How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Doomsday Clock
    We are all going to die. Most of the time, we try and push this thought to the back of our minds. But year after year, the faithful Bulletin of Atomic Scientists chimes in with its annual reminder of humankind’s mortality.
    Tick Tock… or as it is probably running these days tictoctictoctictoc

  • A Computer Just Clobbered Four Pros At Poker
    About three weeks ago, I was in a Pittsburgh casino for the beginning of a 20-day man-versus-machine poker battle.
    Another article in the ongoing series about how the computers are going to rise up at slay us all

  • Scientists have discovered why modern tomatoes taste like nothing
    Over the past few decades, commercially grown tomatoes have gradually lost almost all their flavor. And scientists can now prove that’s no accident.
    Maybe just eating them the wrong way? Try smashing them atop a dough base, cover in cheese and your favourite toppings… bake… DELISH!

  • The psychological benefits of giving up on cleaning and embracing the mess
    We keep trying to tidy up. We declutter our closets, organize our schedules, carefully file our email, and meticulously plan our vacations. As an economist, I think this is a mistake.
    Ummmm *twitch* … NOPE! CANNOT!

  • ‘Tinder for orangutans’: Dutch zoo to let female choose mate on a tablet
    In a four-year experiment it has called “Tinder for orangutans”, the Apenheul primate park in Apeldoorn will show Samboja, an 11-year-old female, pictures of possible partners from an international great ape breeding programme.
    I swear to god, if an Orangutan has more luck than me on Tinder….

  • Alphabet’s Boston Dynamics is working on a robot that its founder calls “nightmare inducing”
    Boston Dynamics now has a long history of viral videos showing off its latest terrifying robots. Apparently its latest creation takes things even a step further.
    OK. This + AI madness… I’m moving to a cave in the Highlands.

  • The man who sold his back to an art dealer
    Tim Steiner has an elaborate tattoo on his back that was designed by a famous artist and sold to a German art collector. When Steiner dies his skin will be framed – until then he spends his life sitting in galleries with his shirt off.
    Interesting idea, shame the art is… meh

  • Michael Jackson Is Worth More Than Ever, and the IRS Wants Its Cut
    Seven years after Michael Jackson’s fatal overdose of propofol and lorazepam in 2009, the statute of limitations on gossiping about the deceased is, apparently, over.
    Damn IRS, will no-one think about the children! Sorry, I mean, will no-one think about Bubbles?!!

  • Shambling corpse of 3D TV finally falls down dead
    It’s been a walking corpse for the last couple of years, and now 3D TV finally looks dead.LG and Sony, the last two major TV makers to support the 3D feature in their TVs, will stop doing so in 2017.
    About. Damn. Time.

  • Gen Z Is Too Busy to Drink or Do Drugs
    Growing up in southwest London in the 1980s, my alcohol and drug use was not abnormal. I must have started drinking at 14, because it was at that age I got a criminal record for causing a road accident after too many lagers.
    Too busy … snapchatting and Instagramming? I fear we may be focusing on the wrong things here guys!

  • Thermostat controls in hotel rooms are often placebos
    PLACEBOS are everywhere. Drugs firms sell red pills because customers are convinced that they are stronger than white ones. Pressing the button at some pedestrian crossings makes no difference to when the green man appears, but makes us feel proactive.
    I KNEW IT!!

  • Not to say that we all shouldn’t know, protest, fight, stand up, and generally do everything we can to stop the rise of hatred across Europe and the US, just that I need to take a little break.