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Friday, September 16, 2016

Life Aboard A Renovated World War II Tugboat, by Brendan Jones, Smithsonian Magazine

The morning of our departure I woke in the dark, Rachel and the baby breathing softly beside me. An oval of light worked its way over the knotty pine of the Adak’s stateroom, cast by the sodium floodlights of a herring seiner passing in the channel.

Lying there I could see my upcoming trip projected on the ceiling above: Our World War II tugboat plying Peril Strait, coasting down Chatham, hooking around Point Gardner, then east, past Petersburg, into Wrangell Narrows. And there at the bottom, scattered like diamonds at the foot of the mountain, the lights of Wrangell—and the only boat lift in Southeast Alaska burly enough to haul our floating home from the sea.

The First Time I Bombed On Late Night TV, by Ellie Kemper, New York Times

Thanks to bombing five years earlier, I got to experience a true moment of joy: I did a stupid bit with a comedy hero — and it wasn’t boring.

Humanity's Dogged Endurance : On Alexander Weinstein's 'Children Of The New World', by Bayard Godsave, The Millions

What tends to get overlooked by utopian dreamers of Kurzweil’s ilk, what Weinstein chooses to examine head-on is that whatever technologies might emerge, and however they might propel our evolution, there will likely be someone with designs on exploiting them for profit.

Language Is Home In 'When In French', by Lauren Collins, NPR

Are you a different person when you speak a foreign language? That's just one of the questions New Yorker writer and native North Carolinian Lauren Collins explores in this engaging and surprisingly meaty memoir, about her strenuous efforts to master French after marrying a Frenchman whose name — Olivier — she couldn't even pronounce properly. When in French ranges from the humorously personal to a deeper look at various theories of language acquisition and linguistics, including the relativist position (which Collins espouses) that languages "possess and inculcate different ways of thinking."

'It's Like Hitting A Painting With A Fish': Can Computer Analysis Tell Us Anything New About Literature?, by Richard Lea, The Guardian

Instead of acting as a barrier, Piper believes these new methods are putting researchers into closer engagement with the text. “There is a myth that when you read something with a computer, you aren’t reading,” he says. “That is a misunderstanding. I read more closely now than I ever have. In order to understand how to model a problem I need a very clear understanding of what I am talking about … For me to understand nostalgia, I need to clearly define it and collect examples of it. This is the closest kind of reading.”

Why It’s OK To Play With Your Food, by Jay Rayner, The Guardian

Call me an idiot, but I suspect the dishes of India, Japan, Vietnam and the rest are robust enough to survive the efforts of less than expert cooks from somewhere else. Indeed, I’d go further. There’s a lot to be said for experiencing crappy versions of food before you get to the good stuff. It makes the moment of realisation so very much better.