Two Brothers, Two Earthquakes

Longreads

Jesus Jimenez | Longreads | October 2017 | 13 minutes (3,155 words)

September 19 started out as a tranquil, but eerie day in Mexico City. The sun rose at 7:24 a.m. over the Popocatépetl volcano and onto the homes and offices and workplaces of the city’s nearly 8.9 million residents.

That Tuesday morning, commemorations were being held throughout the city. It was the 32nd anniversary of the 8.1 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people in Mexico’s capital in 1985, causing 412 buildings to collapse and more than $3 billion in damages. Mexican law states that all schools and public institutions are required to hold earthquake safety drills every September 19. Some places choose to practice their safety drills earlier in the morning to avoid interfering with their work or school days, while others participated in the national earthquake drill scheduled for 11 a.m.

Just after 1 p.m., my…

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The Nigerian, Feminist Designer who Flouts Convention

Longreads

For the New Yorker, author Alexis Okeowo profiles Nigerian fashion designer Amaka Osakwe, whose delicate yet adventurous creations from the line Maki Oh have been worn by Michelle Obama, Solange, and Lupita Nyong’o. Nigeria, a massive country with bustling metropolises, an expanding middle class, and a fashion-forward cadre of cosmopolitan “repats,” is still on the whole conservative about sexuality and female agency. Osakwe’s work pushes hard against those old mores while still embracing some of the country’s traditions in textiles and dressmaking.

Her first collection, that same year, was inspired by a coming-of-age ceremony called dipo, undertaken by girls of the Krobo ethnic group in Ghana. In the ceremony, girls are sent to the house of a chief priest, where they undress, have their heads shaved, and are given cloths to wear around their waists; strips of raffia are tied around their necks. During the next few…

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The Woman Who Smashed Codes: America’s Secret Weapon in World War II

Longreads

  Jason Fagone | The Woman Who Smashed Codes | Harper Collins| October 2017 | 9 minutes (2,295 words)
 

Below is an excerpt from The Woman Who Smashed CodesJason Fagone’s riveting new book chronicling the work of Elizebeth Smith Friedman and William F. Friedman, a pair of “know-nothings” who invented the science of codebreaking and became the greatest codebreakers of their era. Their contributions continue to influence the U.S. intelligence community to this day. Our thanks to Jason Fagone and Harper Collins for allowing us to share a portion of this book with the Longreads community.

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Sixty years after she got her first job in codebreaking, when Elizebeth was an old woman, the National Security Agency sent a female representative to her apartment in Washington, D.C. The NSA woman had a tape recorder and a list of questions. Elizebeth suddenly craved a…

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The Secret Women’s Organization Providing for Black Communities

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At a moment when there’s so much distressing news about bad men, it’s a relief to read an article about some inspiring women.

At Lenny Letter, novelist Kaitlyn Greenidge writes about her weekend in Chesapeake, Virginia for the 150th anniversary of the United Order of Tents, a somewhat secret society of black women established just after the end of the Civil War, which has long provided financial and other kinds of support to black communities.

The organization was founded by two former slaves, Annetta M. Lane and Harriet R. Taylor. Lane had been a nurse on the plantation where she was enslaved, and over the years, that has influenced the group’s makeup and mission.

Tents members are from all social classes — Lodis Gloston was a school principal before she retired; others work in government or real estate, and some are working class. In the past, Tents members…

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His First Real Camera

Rob Moses Photography

I gave my 6 year old son Cameron his first real camera today. He had been asking me for one for the past 6 months and he was very clear he wanted one like mine with a proper viewfinder, so no point and shoots would do. I told him I would be keeping my eye out for a good deal on a camera for him and today was the day. Cameron is now the happy owner of a good old Canon 20D! A camera I have a lot of experience with, as I shot one for a very long time back in the 20D days. He loves the camera and I think it will suit him just fine while he dips his toes into the wonderful world of photography.

When I gave Cameron the camera he was super excited and happy! I quickly showed him the basics and he ran…

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Immature Architects Built the Attention Economy

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A cadre of young technologists at Google, Twitter, and Facebook admit it: they didn’t think making smartphones addictive would make smartphones this addictive. Come to think of it, any negative consequences of the persuasive design they concocted in their twenties never really occurred to them.

Take Loren Brichter, the designer who created pull-to-refresh (the downward abracadabra swipe that prompts new app content to load). Brichter was 24 when he accidentally popularized this ubiquitous 2D gambling gesture. Of course, analogies between pull-to-refresh and slot machines are only clear to him now — in retrospect, through the hindsight bestowed upon him by adulthood.

“Now 32, Brichter says he never intended the design to be addictive,” Paul Lewis reports in the Guardian‘s latest special technology feature. Yet even the tech whiz behind the curtain has since fallen prey to some of his old design tricks. “I have two kids now,” Brichter confesses, “and…

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A Moveable Feast: A Brief History of the Revolving Restaurant

Duck Pie

Image from Patent 3,125,189 (March 7, 1964). Source: US Government. Image from Patent 3,125,189 (March 7, 1964). Source: US Government.

On August 15, 1961, Seattle architect John Graham filed patent 3,125,189 for “a restaurant of novel construction, which is to be erected at a considerable elevation on a supporting structure on the top of a building or on a tower built for the purpose.” So the customers could enjoy the view, the dining area was to feature “a rotating annular floor equipped with tables and chairs and having its outer edge lying close to the outer wall.” The result was the Eye of the Needle (later renamed SkyCity), the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. During the 1962 World’s Fair, twenty thousand visitors a day waited more than two hours for a chance to eat in the restaurant. Even Elvis ate there in It Happened at the World’s Fair.

The world’s first revolving restaurant…

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He Seemed Like the Real Thing, Until He Wasn’t

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Journalist Christopher Goffard of The Los Angeles Times may be the bard of crime in Orange County, California. Last year, his six-part series “Framed” told the story of fear and loathing in an Irvine PTA. His 2017 opus is “Dirty John,” a seven-part series — and podcast — that unravels the life of a con man as he takes on his final victim.

When Debra Newell met John Meehan for a first date, she thought he was handsome and kind, but shabbily dressed and a little strange. He said he was a doctor, an anesthesiologist; he always wore medical scrubs but he never seemed to go to work. When they married in Las Vegas less than two months later, she kept her family in the dark. It was only after she learned about his past that she began to fear for her life, and the lives of her children.

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How The Golden State Warriors Signed Kevin Durant

Longreads

Erik Malinowski | Betaball: How Silicon Valley and Science Built One of the Greatest Basketball Teams in HistoryAtria Books / Simon & Schuster | 8 minutes (1,846 words)

Kevin Durant’s joining the Golden State Warriors — thereby creating a modern-day super-team — was not just feasible but seemed to make sense. In two years with Steve Kerr at the helm, the Warriors’ offense was a juggernaut, and Durant (standing in for a departed Harrison Barnes) would only magnify their proficiency. The Death Lineup pick-and-roll with Steph Curry and Draymond Green? Swap in Durant for Green as the roll man and now you’ve got defenders guessing how to guard the two best pure scorers in the NBA on one play. Curry’s spot-up jumper or Durant’s iso dominance? And what about a Thompson catch-and-shoot, Andre Iguodala corner three, or Green cutting to the hoop? At their best, the Warriors, with…

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