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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Babies For Sale: The Secret Adoptions That Haunt One Georgia Town, by Matthew Steven Bruen, Narratively

On a humid August day in the small mountain town of McCaysville, Georgia, Sandy Dearth stands in front of the building where, 53 years ago, a nurse secretly and illegally handed her out a back window to a pair of eager and nervous adoptive parents. Sandy, who has not been back here since that day in 1963, is holding her husband Bill’s hand tightly. A lifetime of searching has led her to this moment.

The building she faces is divided into several units: at one end rests a BBQ joint, at the other a pizza place. In between, poison ivy grows along the peeling painted brick walls and a faded FOR RENT sign hangs in the window. This forlorn space is where the Hicks Community Clinic once operated. In addition to providing standard healthcare for members of this declining mining town, the clinic offered clandestine abortions and adoptive services to desperate girls and young women. Sandy’s biological mother was one of them.

The Strange Second Life Of String Theory, by K.C. Cole, Quanta Magazine

String theory today looks almost fractal. The more closely people explore any one corner, the more structure they find. Some dig deep into particular crevices; others zoom out to try to make sense of grander patterns. The upshot is that string theory today includes much that no longer seems stringy. Those tiny loops of string whose harmonics were thought to breathe form into every particle and force known to nature (including elusive gravity) hardly even appear anymore on chalkboards at conferences. At last year’s big annual string theory meeting, the Stanford University string theorist Eva Silverstein was amused to find she was one of the few giving a talk “on string theory proper,” she said. A lot of the time she works on questions related to cosmology.

Even as string theory’s mathematical tools get adopted across the physical sciences, physicists have been struggling with how to deal with the central tension of string theory: Can it ever live up to its initial promise? Could it ever give researchers insight into how gravity and quantum mechanics might be reconciled — not in a toy universe, but in our own?

How America’s First Popular Comic Shaped The 19th Century Newspaper Wars, by Erik Shilling, Altas Obscura

Whatever their content, the comics were so popular that by 1896, Hearst came calling, and in the fall of that year Outcault took his act to the Journal. There was only one problem, though—Outcault didn't have the copyright, meaning that Pulitzer and his World could keep producing their own rival versions of the Yellow Kid. They did just that, hiring George Luks—who would later establish himself as a painter—to keep the World's version of Hogan's Alley going.

"Do not be deceived," Outcault took to signing some of his comics, "none genuine without this signature."

As Amazon Arrives, The Campus Bookstore Is A Books Store No More, by Arielle Dollinger, New York Times

This summer, Stony Brook, part of the State University of New York, announced a partnership with the online retailer Amazon, now the university’s official book retailer. Students can purchase texts through a Stony Brook-specific Amazon page and have them delivered to campus.

In the campus store where the textbooks used to be, there are now adult coloring books, racks of university-branded polos and windbreakers and three narrow bookshelves displaying assorted novels. The rest of the store is a vibrant collage of spirit wear and school supplies: backpacks and baseball caps; pompom hats and striped scarves; notebooks and correction fluid. There will soon be a Starbucks.

A New Story Collection Offers Windows Onto Intimate Moments, by Alexandra Kleeman, New York Times

“When Watched,” Leopoldine Core’s first collection of short stories, dwells in the realm of the sparkling mundane, the type of human matter that is invitingly recognizable, the type of matter that you yourself have participated in or observed. Written exclusively in the third person and unfolding almost in real time, Core’s stories have a voyeuristic quality, like peering through the windows of a ground-floor apartment as you walk by.

I Want Crab. Pure Maryland Crab., by Bill Addison, Eater

I moved away from Maryland over 25 years ago, but if I don't make it back to the state at least once a year for steamed crabs, I'm like a bird whose migration pattern has been disrupted. I'm unsettled in the world.

But now I'm here, which is as it should be. I'm planted in front of a pile of swimmers, their raw blue shells turned brushfire-red in the steamer pot, a marvel of pigment and biochemistry. Ryan Detter, who covers restaurants for the Baltimore City Paper and writes the occasional Baltimore-themed Heatmap for Eater, sits across the table from me. This is our first meal together. We've met up to spend a few days gorging on classic Baltimore eats — especially crab, because it is high summer, and absolutely nothing tastes better on a sweltering day than buttery crabmeat zapped by the sharp spices that rubbed off on your fingers while handling these critters. Maryland's official crab season runs from April to December, but late summer and early fall is when crabs are at their heaviest, sweetest, and most plentiful.