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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Building An Impossible Clock, by Shayla Love, The Atlantic

The 18th-century horologist John Harrison claimed that he could make the world's most accurate pendulum clock, but his methods were scorned for hundreds of years—until someone proved him right.

How Larry Page’s Obsessions Became Google’s Business, by Conor Dougherty, New York Times

Three years ago, Charles Chase, an engineer who manages Lockheed Martin’s nuclear fusion program, was sitting on a white leather couch at Google’s Solve for X conference when a man he had never met knelt down to talk to him.

They spent 20 minutes discussing how much time, money and technology separated humanity from a sustainable fusion reaction — that is, how to produce clean energy by mimicking the sun’s power — before Mr. Chase thought to ask the man his name.

“I’m Larry Page,” the man said. He realized he had been talking to Google’s billionaire co-founder and chief executive.

The Value Of The Novel By Peter Boxall Review – Will Self Is Wrong, The Novel Is Thriving, by Lara Feigel, The Guardian

Now Peter Boxall has set out to defend the novel against Self’s charges in terms that draw partly on Lawrence. Boxall claims that the novel is ideally suited to capturing 21st-century life. He argues convincingly that Self ignores the fact that, historically, the novel is a genre that has derived its power precisely from its precariousness, from the tremulations described by Lawrence.

The Secret Meaning Of Ghost Stories, by Hephzibah Anderson, BBC

When we think of supernatural yarns we think also of HP Lovecraft, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Oliver Onions and others, all of them male. In recent months, a series of books by female authors have been published to challenge this. Gillian Flynn’s novella, The Grownups, tells the story of a sham psychic, a troubled child, and a house that seems to be home to a malevolent spirit. Reading it is like having an icicle dropped down your back. Lorna Gibb’s debut novel A Ghost’s Story fictionalises the life of a Victorian séance staple, Katie King, and Catriona Ward’s Rawblood tells a gothic tale of a cursed family.

The Cult Of Marie Kondo, by Penelope Green, New York Times

Now 31, KonMari, as she’s known, exhorts you to ask yourself, “Do your things spark joy?” If not, you must thank them for their service, and send them packing.

It’s a liberating manifesto, though in practice it can take months. (This reporter once lost an entire weekend to the KonMari method.) Handle each object to properly gauge whether it truly thrills. Ms. Kondo suggests giving your clothes a hug, and mimed doing so as the audience gently applauded.

Venus Flytraps Are Even Creepier Than We Thought, by Ed Yong, The Atlantic

If you accidentally get transformed into a fly, and get caught in a Venus flytrap, here is some valuable advice: Don’t panic.

“If you just sit there and wait, the next morning, the trap will open and you can leave,” says Ranier Hedrich from the University of Würzburg. “It you panic, you induce a deadly cycle of disintegration.”

The Secret Life Of Commuters, by Don Harris, Washington Post

True confession: I covertly photograph fellow Metro passengers during my daily commutes. Crowded buses and subways are my venues of choice, where I shoot mainly from the hip with my point and shoot camera.

Transmission, by Rachel Richardson