September 23 Link Roundup

Turns out the Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t what we thought, but it’s hard for people to conceptualize environmental devastation without concrete objects on which to focus.

What did our ancient predecessors look like? Have we found the gene(s) that code for permanent breasts on adult females yet? Would Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) have had breasts? (Also, they use the word “gender” instead of “sex”.)

The five-second rule is bunk! The composition of the food and the floor surface matter more than the time it’s on the floor, and bacteria transfer is immediate (although food left for longer will pick up more bacteria, there’s no escape once it’s touched the floor).

This 2013 article on how the belief that family names were changed at Ellis Island isn’t true has a fascinating report on Frank Woodhull, a woman who chose to live as a man in 1912 and America was all, sure why not?

Garment pockets are evidence of sexism in clothing.

Costica Bradatan meditates on nothingness and procrastination:

“I am lured only by what precedes me,” he writes, by “the numberless moments when I was not: the non-born.” From that perspective, he looks at the world with new eyes, and gains a deeper understanding of himself: “I have never taken myself for a being. A noncitizen, a marginal type, a nothing who exists only by the excess, by the superabundance of his nothingness.”

Was Roald Dahl an anti-Semite, a misogynist, an angry, unpleasant, and retaliatory old man forced into writing for children as his relationships with publishers diminished, as Alex Carnevale writes? Or was he anarchic, a lover of the subversive, a keen observer of human behavior, driven to writing for children due to his deep depression over his son’s illness and daughter’s death, as Lucy Mangan writes?  (Why can’t he be both? We all have multiple reasons for any decision, whether we think so or not.) I’m fascinated by the authors’ theses have influenced their opinion. Also, I’m interested in the actual reason for changing the Oompa Loompas from pygmies to hippie-aliens: was it that Dahl didn’t realise that he was being racist until it was pointed out, or was it just marketing?

Andy Sullivan’s essay on being addicted to wired connection bemoans a family all on their phones being “alone together”. But why is that a bad thing? Why do we assume that being present is the ideal at all times? Certainly if groups are always alone together there might be negative social consequences, but sometimes we need breaks, no?

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