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Sunday, January 17, 2016

To Save Its Salmon, California Calls In The Fish Matchmaker, by Matt Ritchel, New York Times

Traditionally, the practice entailed killing fertile salmon and hand-mixing eggs and male milt, or sperm, then raising the offspring packed in containers or pools. When they were old enough to fend for themselves, they were released to rivers or sometimes trucked or ferried to release points to find the ocean on their own. This practice gave them a necessary transition before they hit saltwater and a semblance of the quintessential salmon experience of migrating to the sea and back. To that end, they eventually swam back to hatcheries, where they became the next breeders in the cycle.

While hatcheries have helped propagate the species, they have also created new problems. The salmon they produce can be inbred and less hardy through domestication, hurting their chances for surviving and thriving in the wild.

Life Is Short, by Paul Graham

Life is short, as everyone knows. When I was a kid I used to wonder about this. Is life actually short, or are we really complaining about its finiteness? Would we be just as likely to feel life was short if we lived 10 times as long?

Since there didn't seem any way to answer this question, I stopped wondering about it. Then I had kids. That gave me a way to answer the question, and the answer is that life actually is short.

How It Feels, by Jenny Zhang, Poetry

There was a girl in my middle school no one really liked. She told everyone her uncle had sexually abused her and that she had an older boyfriend who was a freshman at Yale, and yes, they did more than kiss. People said terrible things about her — that she was lying about her uncle, that she just wanted the attention, that her boyfriend was made up, that she had never seen a penis in her life, that the reason why she so frequently stared into space with her mouth hanging open was so she could remind everyone what her “blowjob face” looked like.

At the end of the year, she didn’t come to school for a few days in a row. The rumor was that she tried to kill herself with a plastic spoon (the especially cruel said it was a plastic spork she got from the lunchroom). It was officially (unofficially?) the most hilarious and pathetic attempt at suicide anyone had ever heard of. I didn’t find it funny, but I did rush home after hearing about it, grabbed a spoon from the kitchen, locked myself in my bedroom, and there, sitting on my bed, I pretended to slit my wrists with the spoon, pushing it against my vein. Is this at all meaningful? I wondered.

Don’t Feel Guilty About Buying Used Books: Writers Won’t See A Dime Of That Sale, But It’s The Long Game That Counts, by Rachel Kramer Bussel, Salon

First of all, those buying books in a used bookstore may not be able to afford a new copy. They also may not know that new copy exists because they’ve never heard of a given author before. Used bookstores can afford to be more varied in what they stock, thereby giving customers plenty of options, while shelf space is in higher demand in new bookstores. I’ve discovered plenty of series mysteries in used bookstores, then gone on to buy more in that same series at full price. As the Washington Post put it, “nothing provides a stronger pull than the experience of browsing — getting lost in the stacks, making serendipitous finds, having chance conversations with interesting people.”

The House By The Lake By Thomas Harding Review – The German 20th Century Story Told Through A Single Building, by Rebecca K Morrison, The Guardian

Harding’s purpose in revisiting the house in Groß Glienicke, a village on the edge of Berlin, shifts from a personal quest to something more all encompassing. As his knowledge of the building and its past grows, each account shared, each document perused, is another crumb along the path to a complete and very German story.

Why Does Moby-Dick (Sometimes) Have A Hyphen?, by Eric Blakemore, Smithsonian

It took Herman Melville years of whaling, writing and working to create Moby-Dick, a book that managed to make its way into the American canon despite tepid reviews and miserable initial sales. But questions about the book’s meaning and the symbolism of the its white whale pale in comparison to a debate that has endured since the book’s publication: What’s the deal with the title’s hyphen?

The Tube At A Standstill: Why TfL Stopped People Walking Up The Escalators, by Archie Bland, The Guardian

It’s British lore: on escalators, you stand on the right and walk on the left. So why did the London Underground ask grumpy commuters to stand on both sides? And could it help avert a looming congestion crisis?

The Walled Garden, by Sarah Howe