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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rethinking The Work-Life Equation, by Susan Dominus, New York Times

It takes more than just policies to make a workplace truly flexible. The whole office culture has to change.

Consciousness Creep, by George Musser, Aeon

But who’s to say machines don’t already have minds? What if they take unexpected forms, such as networks that have achieved a group-level consciousness? What if artificial intelligence is so unfamiliar that we have a hard time recognising it? Could our machines have become self-aware without our even knowing it? The huge obstacle to addressing such questions is that no one is really sure what consciousness is, let alone whether we’d know it if we saw it.

All Good Science Fiction Begins This Way, by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Los Angeles Review of Books

Three days before the wedding, when I was riding my bike to pick up my wedding dress, a car door opened in front of me. The thing I most recall about the accident is not the moment of impact but just after. How I imagine my brain — coiled and white — pitching forward in fluid. How I sit up and hold my head as if to stop my brain from hitting the cranium. How when I break my eyes open, there is a man in glasses next to me pulling me to my feet. He is the same man who flung his car door in front of me causing me to crash, so I brush his hands away and say, I am fine, I am going to ride away now. I straddle my seat and push my feet on the pedals but the wheels do not move. The man lurches up to me. He avoids my eyes. He pins the front wheel between his knees. He yanks the crooked handlebar back into place.

Next, I am a reveler, walking along the city sidewalk, trailing my bike behind me as people in business suits and winter hats brush past me inflamed with purpose. Then I stand still at the corner, mesmerized by the street signs — Madison, Halsted — because not only do I not recognize the names, it suddenly dawns on me: I have no idea where I came from or where I was going, what city I am in, what my name is, and I do not even know the year.

Review: ‘Pandemic’ Explains How To Host The Perfect Pathogen Party, by Jennifer Senior, New York Times

Sometimes, the best approach to a book about deadly pathogens is to read it in a slightly dissociated state — it allows you to marvel at the cunning adaptability of microbial life, rather than contemplate the far creepier possibility of your own doom. In her introduction to “Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond,” Sonia Shah, a science writer whose previous books include “The Fever” and “The Body Hunters,” does not seek shelter in euphemisms or shy away from scary numbers. Instead, she cites a study in which 90 percent of epidemiologists say they believe a global pandemic will sicken one billion and kill up to 165 million within the next two generations.

When Fiction Meets Dentistry, by Patrick McAleer, Los Angeles Review of Books

Imagining Stephen King as a doctor of dental surgery may seem strange at first, but it’s an image that is easy to conjure — King is, after all, the Master of Horror, and few things provoke more fear and anxiety than a trip to the dentist. The idea of King donning scrubs and latex gloves while fiendishly grinning at a helpless patient is perhaps a metaphorical stretch with respect to how his writing is received by his Constant Reader, but King’s latest collection of short stories, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, gives gruesome life to this illustration.

Adventures In The Strand By Mike Ashley Review – Arthur Conan Doyle Beyond Sherlock Holmes, by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Guardian

Whereas most biographers tend to focus on Doyle’s creation of Holmes, treating his other characters as a crowd of literary extras, Ashley sets out to describe the shape of his whole career. From the early manuscripts that Doyle called “paper boomerangs”, because they were returned to him so quickly, to his later fame and riches, the writer who emerges from this account is a restless figure who both enjoyed and slightly resented his most famous creation. Like many writers who hit a public nerve, he seems to have been surprised by his success, before spending the rest of his life trying to prove that it wasn’t a fluke.

How An Eight-year-old Boy Invented A New Word, by Julian Miglierini, BBC

"Petaloso" is now well on its way to becoming an official Italian word thanks to an eight-year-old's imagination - and the power of social media.

, by Chan Hanson