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Monday, May 1, 2017

Soul Of A Molecular Machine, by Venki Ramakrishnan, Edge

How do we as a science community grapple with this and communicate to the public a sense of what science is about, what is reliable in science, what is uncertain in science, and what is just plain wrong in science? How do we live with uncertainty? Scientists live with uncertainty. We know that no matter how confident we are in our theories, it is possible that we're wrong, that our ideas may be wrong, and we always have to be prepared for that. That isn't to say that our ideas lack merit and that they shouldn't be taken seriously.

This is a problem in many fields. Climate change, for example, is a classic field where uncertainties in the consensus opinion are pounced on by people who don't like the idea of climate change and therefore oppose it. These are real long-term issues that we need to grapple with.

7 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Writing, by Hala Alyan, Literary Hub

It took me a long time to stop pretending and, looking back, I realize it might have been out of sheer exhaustion rather than any particular epiphany. But once I did, I sought refuge in the intersection of difference and writing. This is the blessing and curse of difference; in day-to-day life, it can be sapping, but in art, it becomes its own currency. For many of us, hearing from those that history has silenced (and often tried to erase) is nothing short of sustaining.

So, little Hala: take what makes you different and tell that story. The people who need to read it will resonate and those that don’t, well, they weren’t going to sit next to you in the cafeteria anyway.

19th Century Princess And Cookbook Author Was Also Georgia's First Feminist, by Giorgi Lomsadze, NPR

Jorjadze's book, Georgian Cuisine and Tried Housekeeping Notes, has long been a prized household possession. While its more elaborate recipes have been forgotten, the book's simpler dishes have retained currency through nearly 150 years of cataclysmic changes. Two centuries, two world wars, and two empires (Tsarist and Soviet) later, Georgians still make a holiday dish of satsivi, with turkey in a walnut puree-thickened gravy, pretty much the way Jorjadze instructed in 1874.

'I'd Die For You' Gives A Glimpse Into F. Scott Fitzgerald's Writing Life, by Heller McAlpin, NPR

The 18 "lost stories" in I'd Die For You — all previously unpublished or uncollected — provide a sobering example of how difficult it is to deliver the goods when life is going against you. Most were written in the 1930s, the last decade of Fitzgerald's life, when his wife Zelda was expensively institutionalized after her mental breakdown, and he was beleaguered by financial pressures, alcoholism, and failing health. Fitzgerald's star had lost its shine, and his stories channel his desperation.

My Beijing: The Sacred City, by Ian Johnson, New York Times

In 1994, I returned to China to work for seven years as a journalist, first for The Baltimore Sun and later for The Wall Street Journal. I ended up moving into one of the diplomatic compounds and the neighborhood became my home. Again, I was drawn to the Temple of the Sun.

Back then the park had an entrance fee that kept it relatively empty, especially in what was now a crowded, bustling city. It cost only 50 cents to enter, but China was still relatively poor and people weren’t inclined to spend their time on exercise. You worked, you went home, you rested. Parks were for special occasions. It was possible to walk the roughly one-mile perimeter path and encounter only a few people, often diplomats from the nearby embassies or spooks keeping an eye on things.

The Temple of the Sun wasn’t just empty of people but looked barren. This was a time when Chinese parks rarely had grass. Instead, the hard-packed dry earth of arid Beijing was raked by crews every few days. It was odd but had an austere beauty that set off the ginkgo and persimmon trees that lined the paths.