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juin 2014

Claudia

shootingtheworld

Most of the football pictures I’ve taken in Brazil are pretty self explanatory…  there’s a kick around going on somewhere in Rio and not too much more to add. But this one troubles me a bit. The story behind it isn’t a good one. The mother of the family, Claudia da Silva Ferreira, was shot in March by police who thought she was an armed drug dealer during a shoot-out. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She later died in shocking circumstances, falling from the police van on the way to hospital. I visited their home a couple of weeks after it happened with a colleague who was interviewing Claudia’s husband and this was taken as we were leaving and the kids began playing again… a brief moment of normality at a tragic time for the family.
_MG_0364_TB_web(Credit: Interview and words by Angelica Melo /…

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Dating tips from the animal kingdom

The Raptor Lab

Got a hot date?

If it’s with a human, you’ll probably have to rely on the classic wooing strategies: flowers, chocolates, dinner and dancing, smelling good, etc.

But in the animal kingdom, courtship often has a different flavor. I combed back through the archives of New Scientist’s Zoologger, a weekly column about extraordinary animals, and turned up some unusual techniques that other creatures use to seduce their chosen mate.

Bugs stab their sweethearts in the stomach.

Male bed bugs and bat bugs use sharp penises to stab their partners in the abdomen and deliver sperm directly into the blood. Bean weevils, who have huge and spiny penises, also lacerate their mates during sex.

Koalas use a sexy voice.

Koalas bellow to attractive females in an unusually deep voice. Their mating song, which sounds “more like a series of burps and snores,” is 20 times lower than scientists would expect the little…

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The worst neurobollocks infographics on the web

NeuroBollocks

Regardless what you think of infographics (and personally, I think they’re largely a pustulent, suppurating boil on the bloated arse of the internet) there are some good, useful ones out there. However, these are vastly outweighed by the thousands of utterly ghastly, misleading, poorly-referenced and pointless ones.

Because I’ve been on holiday for the last week, my levels of rage and misanthropy have dropped somewhat from their usual DEFCON-1-global-thermonuclear-war-the-only-winning-move-is-not-to-play levels, so I thought trying to find the absolute worst neuroscience-related infographics on the web might be a good way to top the vital bile reserves back up again. And oh boy, was I right. There are some doozies.

First up is this purple and blue monstrosity titled ’15 things you didn’t know about the brain.’ Here we learn (amongst other howlers) that the capacity of the brain is 4 terabytes, men process information on the left side while women use…

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Why did this happen? Estranging myself from my mother.

katie naum .com

Why did this happen?

There is no answer to that question.

There are too many answers to that question.

If your childhood was unhappy, if there was someone who hurt you when their role was to protect you, you may never know why it was that way. It may not be possible to reconstruct how their weaknesses and angers and sorrows were weighed, over and over, against their strengths and sense of responsibility and their love for you – and why they all too often came up short. It is dead weight you will carry on your back, in your mind and your heart, without ever seeing it in full. It is dark matter pulling unseen at the stars in your sky.

If you estrange yourself from them, you will grieve this loss for years, like the death of a beloved. Giovanna Calvino, daughter of Italo, spoke of timelessly mourning…

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My end of the deal

True Story

LegoUFO

I really wanted this Lego set. It was the summer between 6th and 7th grade. UFOs was the newest theme, it spun, it turned into 4 vehicles, it came with 4 figures, and oh I wanted it so badly. For some reason my dad had taken me to Toys R Us. (I don’t know why, this wasn’t a common destination, perhaps we were waiting for the tires to change at the Costco next door.) But there we were, in the Lego aisle, and my dad struck a deal with me. « Write 10 short stories this summer, and I’ll buy you this Lego set. » Mind you, this was not a $10 small set, not the midrange $35. This was a top of the line, $70 set. This was major. Not only did my dad offer me this deal, he would buy it for me first, trusting that I would deliver later. So I did…

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Refusing to Blink: savoring the season of childhood

Untitled presentation

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.

« Enjoy every minute. »

« They’ll be grown before you know it. »

« It goes by so fast. »

In my pre-motherhood days, I thought these were just the sentimental musings of people who were either being dramatic or who couldn’t think of anything else to say and so they just made the token grandparent statements they’d heard other people make.

At one time, it even frustrated me. After being encouraged yet again not to get in a tizzy about dishes and housekeeping because I’d have plenty of time for those things when the kids grew up, I thought to myself « Lady, I am cherishing my children, okay, but I can’t just sit and look at them all day long! At some point, I HAVE to do the dishes… »

But that was just my hormones talking; if I was being more honest with…

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Mountain, Animal, Reader, Writer

digital writer in residence

Today’s short fiction experiment is brought to you by the wonders of online personality quizzes. I’ve been thinking a lot about the reader as an active participant and critic, rather than a passive victim or audience member. This morning I was chatting about this notion on Twitter, apropos yet another article about whether the internet is killing novels.

As an enthusiastic reader of both Serious Novels and the internet, these articles bug me. The novel was never a broadcast medium in the first place; it’s always invited active participation, and writers who are afraid of the internet are afraid of the subjectivity of readers. Since I made this point better on Twitter, and other writers contributed much to the discussion, I’ve Storified the conversation here.

As well as being an interesting formal challenge for me – I really didn’t know whether a story/quiz was possible – I thought that writing…

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The Cycle

Cellulite Looks Better Tan

It starts again.  The cycle.  The never ending punch in the gut, jolt to the heart, baffling cycle.

The first stage:

Denial

« Have you talked to mom? »  The question I hate to hear when one of my four brothers calls.

« Yes. »  I close my eyes before I ask, « Why? »

« She just seems,” Sigh, “Out of it. »

« No. I haven’t noticed.”  I lie.

Then I end the call and pretend it never happened.  I go about my day.  I play with my children.  We do homework.  I cook dinner for my family, a mediocre, limp mess that we call a meal.  I sit in my chair at the kitchen table, fork some food into my mouth, chew, and swallow, all the while trying to push her illness away from my reality.  I smile at my son as he tells me something really important about one of his Lego Star Wars characters…

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Rappers on bicycles

Noel Jackson

wayne_239101

As an enthusiast of both rap and cycling, I’ve been interested in rap music’s intermittent engagement with that alternative means of transportation, the bicycle. Make no mistake: in hip-hop, the car is king. Rappers have made household names of luxury brands such as Maybach and Bugatti — but what of Colnago or Cervelo?

First of all, forget road bikes and drop bars. The BMX bicycle is the conveyance of choice, sometimes slung low like Harleys with high-rise handlebars.

wale_239101

Not surprisingly, these miniature bicycles inspire considerable nostalgia in the artists who rap about them. The bicycle is associated with fond memories from childhood; Jay-Z boasts how he “[u]sed to wheelie bicycles since I was six.” The boy on a bicycle is the starting point of the rapper’s story — a boy on the come up. The bike itself becomes at times a symbol of the slender means one has moved past…

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