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Monday, January 18, 2016

The Living Dead, by Peter Andrey Smith, New York Times

Medical examiners can often deduce cause of death based on an autopsy, but the exact time of death is hard to determine. At best, this evidence comes from an attending physician or, lacking that, an eyewitness. “But let’s say that a body was dumped in an alley or one of Detroit’s many empty lots,” Schmidt said. “And that’s all you know about the case. Let’s say it’s August and it’s 90 degrees. And the body is flaccid and lividity is fixed. So, has that body been there for less than 24 hours or more than 24 hours? The answer is: Who knows?”

Which was why Schmidt had teamed up with a group of scientists — Heather Jordan, a microbiologist in Mississippi; and Eric Benbow and Jennifer Pechal, two entomologists in Michigan — to systematically swab bodies during routine death investigations. They hoped to gather testimony from an unusual set of witnesses: the microbes that live after we die.

Humanizing The Humanities, by Lara N. Dotson-Renta, The Atlantic

In John Rassias’s classroom, language was an experience of the mind and body, meant to be lived and breathed.

Are Cities The New Countries?, by Sean Coughlan, BBC

Are there meaningful comparisons between cities such as New York, London and Shanghai, rather than between nation states?

That is the suggestion of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Such mega-conurbations have bigger populations and economies than many individual countries - and the think tank argues that they face many similar challenges, whether it is in transport, housing, security, jobs, migration or education.

Why I Taught Myself To Procrastinate, by Adam Grant, New York Times

Normally, I would have finished this column weeks ago. But I kept putting it off because my New Year’s resolution is to procrastinate more.

I guess I owe you an explanation. Sooner or later.

Getting Older Does Not Suck., by Amy Selwyn, Medium

In honor of this big day, I sat down and wrote out 57 things I now know to be true . If I’m lucky and I get to 58 next year, I’ll add another observation to the list. I’ll keep going for as long as I keep going. Aimin’ for a long, long list.

Never A Dull Moment, by Charles Baxter, New York Review of Books

What kinds of narratives fit comfortably into the short-story form? An impossible question: at no time has there been any general consensus about how to answer it, and anyone who tries to formulate such an answer usually becomes the victim of critical potshots. But the issue is worth raising, because even a partial explanation might tell us what short stories actually do, what part they play in our culture, and why writers go on stubbornly committing them to print.

Review: In ‘The Narrow Door,’ Paul Lisicky Opens A Window On Friendship, by Jennifer Senior, New York Times

Almost all of us have friends who don’t submit easily to categorization. They’re our life’s towering originals, the difficult ones who infuriate us and exhilarate us in equal measure. And if we met them in our late adolescence or early adulthood, forget it — their significance is almost indescribable. We were still jelly in those years. Quivering, impressionable. How on earth to convey their outsize influence, the overlarge hand they had in molding who we became?

Joyce Carol Oates’ The Man Without A Shadow Is A Provocative, Uneasy Love Story, by Ryan Vlastelica, AVClub

Memory is the battleground of Joyce Carol Oates’ The Man Without A Shadow, a novel that’s twisty and heartrending in equal measure, never allowing you to feel just one thing in response to each plot development.

Book Review: 'City On A Grid' Shows One Thing New York, Roanoke Have In Common, by Michael L. Ramsey, The Roanoke Times

Koeppel puts us in touch with our financial and cultural roots by following the birth of urban planning and providing a glimpse into how New York’s urban planning became a blueprint for cities across the nation.

An Ordinary Misfortune, by Emily Jungmin Yoon