‘This Is Why You Shouldn't Interrupt a Programmer’

Spectacularly accruate!

‘My Mother’s Garden’

Kaitlyn Greenidge, writing for the New York Times:

My mother had decided to go back to school for a master’s degree. She did not want us to stay in this housing project forever. But, as she told me, the housing project administrators argued that her scholarships to graduate school should count as her income and that even though she was also working, being a full-time student meant she could not live in public housing.

There were other strange rules, too. My father unexpectedly sent a desktop computer instead of back payments for child-support. But the housing project forbade personal computers, because they used up too much electricity. My mother made a quick calculation — hours and gas spent driving back and forth to the university computer lab to work on papers versus the cash she could get if she sold it. She decided to keep it. The computer sat hidden under piles of bedsheets, far from any windows, in a dark corner of my mother’s room, a ghost of our need.

The absurdity here is infuriating.

‘No Time for Bullies: Baboons Retool Their Culture’

Natalie Angier, writing for the New York Times:

The new work vividly demonstrates that, Putumayo records notwithstanding, humans hold no patent on multiculturalism. As a growing body of research indicates, many social animals learn from one another and cultivate regional variants in skills, conventions and fashions. Some chimpanzees crack open their nuts with a stone hammer on a stone anvil; others prefer wood hammers on wood anvils. The chimpanzees of the Tai forest rain-dance; those of the Gombe tickle themselves. Dr. Jane Goodall reported a fad in one chimpanzee group: a young female started wiggling her hands, and before long, every teen chimp was doing likewise.

Great piece overall, but I found this particular learned dynamic most fascinating!

‘What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About ‘the Deal’’

Adam Davidson, writing for the New York Times:

Manhattan real estate development is about as far as it is possible to get, within the United States, from that Econ 101 notion of mutually beneficial transactions. This is not a marketplace characterized by competition and dynamism; instead, Manhattan real estate looks an awful lot more like a Middle Eastern rentier economy. It is a hereditary system. We talk about families, not entrepreneurs. A handful of families have dominated the city’s real estate development for decades: Speyer, Tishman, Durst, Fisher, Malkin, Milstein, Resnick, LeFrak, Rose, Zeckendorf. Having grown up in Manhattan myself, I think of these names the way I heard Middle Easterners speak of the great sheikhs who ran big families in Jordan, Iraq and Syria. These are people of immense power and influence, but their actual skills and abilities are opaque. They do, however, make ‘‘deals.’’

An authoritarian rent-seeker. Sounds like a great dictator.

‘An Artist Who Hunts, Emilie Clark Gets Her Gun, Then Her Dutch Oven’

Ligaya Mishan, writing for the New York Times:

She turned out to be a good shot, which surprised her. But she soon realized that hunting wasn’t about chalking up kills. “Going out in pitch dark, watching the sun come up, feeling the temperature change,” she said. “I had the strange sensation that my physical presence was void, with all this incredible activity around me.”

Fascinating.

‘What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team’

Charles Duhigg, writing for the New York Times:

Most of all, employees had talked about how various teams felt. ‘‘And that made a lot of sense to me, maybe because of my experiences at Yale,’’ Rozovsky said. ‘‘I’d been on some teams that left me feeling totally exhausted and others where I got so much energy from the group.’’ Rozovsky’s study group at Yale was draining because the norms — the fights over leadership, the tendency to critique — put her on guard. Whereas the norms of her case-competition team — enthusiasm for one another’s ideas, joking around and having fun — allowed everyone to feel relaxed and energized.

For Project Aristotle, research on psychological safety pointed to particular norms that are vital to success. There were other behaviors that seemed important as well — like making sure teams had clear goals and creating a culture of dependability. But Google’s data indicated that psychological safety, more than anything else, was critical to making a team work.

‘‘We had to get people to establish psychologically safe environments,’’ Rozovsky told me. But it wasn’t clear how to do that. ‘‘People here are really busy,’’ she said. ‘‘We needed clear guidelines.’’

A truly fascinating piece.

I’ve struggled to identify the differences between teams I’ve liked and teams I haven’t — psychological safety really is a huge piece of it.

One imagines that these results apply to many collaborative endeavors, including families, relationships, classrooms, etc!

‘The Wreck of Amtrak 188’

Intense and saddening.

‘In Search of Japan’s Hidden Culinary Revolution’

Eli Gottlieb, writing for the New York Times:

Why has this fish been elevated to the very top spot among sashimi lovers? Because kanburi uniquely fuses two qualities that are almost never found in the same animal. Take maguro, the tuna whose sashimi is most recognizable to Americans. There’s the red meat, or akami, version, with its firm texture and relatively mild flavor, and the pinker version known as otoro that is filled with delicious oils and fats. The problem is that the tasty otoro has a crumbly, falling-apart texture in the mouth likened disdainfully by Bob to “eating sashimi marshmallows.” Because texture, along with temperature and flavor, are part of the “mouth moment” of Japanese cuisine, the challenge is to find a firm fish that is also rich in oil.

Enter kanburi, which for that brief, miraculous period every winter, is both those things. The fish, in thick slabs, now lay fanned out on the plate before me, glistening with oil — oil that had leached out of it because the Master had intentionally let the fish “rest,” or cure for a day or so. Mind you, fish oil like this has nothing “fishy” about it. The kanburi was silky, pliant, yielding and tasted of a distilled, superclean essence of the sea. It seemed to exemplify everything that was best about Japanese cuisine, and mouthful by mouthful it put me into a kind of trance.

Beautiful!

‘Many See I.R.S. Penalties as More Affordable Than Insurance’

Spectacularly depressing.

‘How to get rich in tech, guaranteed.’

Startup L Jackson:

But, as far as I know, startups are the only way to get 20 years of experience in five. The reason to join a startup is because you are awesome, you’re willing to work hard, and you don’t want to wait 20 years to be making decisions that impact the business. And if you go in with this mentality, even when startups fail, you succeed. If you put five years into building a company and team, you will end up with a great network of talented and motivated people, lots of first-hand experience, and often some management experience as well. Worst case, your next step could be going into Google at the VP level it would’ve taken you 15 years to get to joining out of college to “inject some startup DNA,” and catch up on salary within a few years. Unless this internet thing is a fad, that job will always be there for you. But for all that is good and holy, don’t join a startup for the fucking money.

100% spot-on fucking advice right here.

‘Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves’

Teddy Wayne, writing for the New York Times:

But in our digital conversion of media (perhaps buttressed by application of the popular KonMari method of decluttering), physical objects have been expunged at a cost. Aside from the disappearance of record crates and CD towers, the loss of print books and periodicals can have significant repercussions on children’s intellectual development.

I believe this will prove to be a bigger issue than presently considered.