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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Racing The Storm: The Story Of The Mobile Bay Sailing Disaster, by Matthew Teague, Smithsonian

A false start cost another half-hour, and the boats were still circling at 10:45 a.m. when the NWS issued a more dire prediction for Mobile Bay: “Thunderstorms will move in from the west this afternoon and across the marine area. Some of the thunderstorms may be strong or severe with gusty winds and large hail the primary threat.”

Garner said later, “We all knew it was a storm. It’s no big deal for us to see a weather report that says scattered thunderstorms, or even scattered severe thunderstorms. If you want to go race sailboats, and race long-distance, you’re going to get into storms.”

The biggest, most expensive boats had glass cockpits stocked with onboard technology that promised a glimpse into the meteorological future, and some made use of specialized fee-based services like Commanders’ Weather, which provides custom, pinpoint forecasts; even the smallest boats carried smartphones. Out on the water, participants clustered around their various screens and devices, calculating and plotting. People on the Gulf Coast live with hurricanes, and know to look for the telltale rotation on weather radar. April is not hurricane season, of course, and this storm, with deceptive straight-line winds, didn’t take that shape.

How A Napping Subway Commuter’s Brain Knows When It’s Their Stop, by Stephanie Bucklin, New York Magazine

Perhaps you’ve seen them, those mysterious people who can fall asleep on the bus or the train and then, somehow, rouse themselves exactly at their stop. Perhaps you’re one of them. It’s as if the subway napper’s brain can sense exactly where and when it is in time and space, rousing the sleeper so she can exit at the right time.

How is this possible?

A Brief But Potent Scare In ‘You Should Have Left’, by John Williams, New York Times

The new book by the German-Austrian author Daniel Kehlmann, “You Should Have Left,” is a minor trick for him, but a neat one. This mind-bending novella about a writer losing his marbles contains images that startle and linger.