Lunch With My First Love, 20 Years Later

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I twist the band on my left ring finger. I never know what to do with my hands, especially when I’m nervous.

I’m at McDonald’s. I see him at the door before he sees me. I watch him look around the room. My heart is beating so fast it’s making me dizzy. The whole scene freezes.

I am transported back 20 years: surrounded by Gothic architecture on our East Coast college campus. Our backpack straps around both shoulders on a crisp day, our hands in each other’s jacket pockets as we met up briefly between classes — a kiss, a hug, a quick story. We were a brochure for young love. We made it look good; we made it look easy. And it was good and easy, for a very long time.

Now, I see him see me and his face lights up. I know that face by heart. I look away, pretend to dig through my purse. I can feel any and all sense and rationality leaving my body.

How many times have I imagined this meeting in the past decade? How many versions have played through my mind — the angry, the passionate, the blasé version — now that we’ve both moved on, married other people, and had kids?

Fabulous bit of writing. Unlike most of the commenters, I don’t even care whether or not the story is genuine; I just like that it exists.

‘Boring and normal’: the new frontier of polyamorous parenting

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by Zosia Bielski

Sometimes Stephanie Weisner doesn’t know how two-parent families do it all, without a Mike in tow.

Weisner, 38, has been in a polyamorous relationship with her husband, Ian Hubbard, and her work colleague, Mike Wissink, for eight years. The three adults all live together in one home in Moncton, alongside Weisner and Hubbard’s two children, who are seven and nine years old.

The family keeps a joint e-mail account to sort out their household logistics. While Weisner and Wissink, 49, work shifts at their airline industry jobs, Hubbard, 47, home-schools the children. Wissink often cooks and cleans while Weisner does the groceries. All three pitch in with bedtimes and shuttling the kids to their various activities. This winter, the whole family’s going to Disney World.

“We’re very boring and normal,” said Weisner. “We’re not swinging from chandeliers.”

Sometimes somebody will ask me about my polyamorous relationships and they often have a preconception that Ruth, JTA and I’s lives are incredibly interesting and exciting (usually with the assumption on the side that we’re particularly sexually-adventurous). But like virtually any other decade-plus long relationship and especially with children in tow, we’re really quite ordinary and domestic. That there’s an additional adult around is basically the only thing that stands out, and we’re each individually far more-interesting and diverse than we are by the product of our romantic lifestyle.

This article pleased me somewhat because of the symmetries between us and the family depicted by it, but especially because they too seem to have to spend time reassuring other that they’re just regular folks, beneath it all. There’s a tendency to assume that if somebody’s a little different from you then everything else must be different too, and articles like this help to remind us that we’re all a lot more-alike than we are different. Even we weird polyamorous people.

If Doggerland Had Not Drowned

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by Lee Rimmer

Doggerland

As well additional land around our familiar coastlines, the lower sea level reveals a low lying 9,000 square mile landmass called Doggerland – named after Dogger Bank, the large sandbank which currently sits in a shallow area of the North Sea off the east coast of England (dogger being an old Dutch word for fishing boat).

Doggerland had a rich landscape of hills, rivers and lakes and a coastline comprising lagoons, marshes and beaches.  It had woodlands of oak, elm, birch, willow, alder, hazel and pine.  It was home to horses, aurochs, deer, elks and wild pigs.  Waterfowl, otters and beavers abounded in wetland areas and the seas, lakes and rivers teemed with fish.  It was probably the richest hunting and fishing ground in Europe at the time and had an important influence on the course of prehistory in northwestern Europe as maritime and river-based societies adapted to this environment.

I love a bit of alternative history fiction, and this is a big one, going all the way back to prehistoric times. What if the period of global warming that took place thousands of years ago, “sinking” Doggerland and separating the formerly-connected British Isles from one another and from the European mainland? The potential impact is massive, affecting geography, history, and politics indefinitely, and it’s fun to think – and read – about.

JUST LEARNED THERE ARE 16 OUNCES IN A POUND

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by @innesmck

 

JUST LEARNED THERE ARE 16 OUNCES IN A POUND AND I AM FUCKING LIVID
SIXTEEN???
WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF NUMBER IS THAT

i have had no reason to actually look into imperial measurements until now and frankly i immediately regret it finding this out it makes some sense though because a pound is defined as being 7000 grains so that makes each ounce a nice round…

437.5 grains

and then, oh my word, oh my fucking actual god
GUESS HOW MANY POUNDS THERE ARE IN A STONE
you’ll never get it, it would be fucking impossible to guess this
THERE ARE FOURTEEN POUNDS IN A STONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THAT’S A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FUCKING NUMBER! FYI!!!!
THERE’S LITERALLY NO WAY TO KNOW HOW MANY OUNCES ARE IN A STONE!! NO-ONE CAN KNOW THIS “but innes you can just multiply up the fourteen by sixteen and you’ll g-“
NO
MATHS HAS CLEARLY ABANDONED US. NUMBERS MEAN NOTHING AT THIS POINT
WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF ANTIQUATED JOKE SYSTEM ARE PEOPLE WORKING WITH
my mum: wow count yourself lucky you only need to learn your 10 times tables, when i was a kid we had to go up to 12
me, a child: oh, for weights and stuff?
mum, a liar: sure
TURNS OUT NO-ONE ON THE PLANET IS TRAINED TO WORK WITH THESE FUCKED UP NUMBERS. THEY JUST MAKE STUFF UP. NO-ONE KNOWS HOW MUCH A POUND IS BECAUSE IF THEY’D EVER USED THIS BULLSHIT SYSTEM THERE WOULD BE RIOTS
and then how many ounces go in a cup?
WHICH FUCKING CUP, AMERICA

HOW DO YOU ALL OWN THE SAME SIZE OF CUP

WHO HAS A MONOPOLY ON THE ONE GOOD CUP SIZE

PRESUMABLY THIS IS JUST STRAIGHT UP BULLSHIT TOO TO COVER FOR THE FACT THAT NO-ONE KNOWS HOW MANY ANY QUANTITY OF ANYTHING IS

me: so, the recipe calls for 2 lbs 3 oz of flour, you got that?

you: uhhhh, sure. yeah. that’s like… 3 cups, probably. this is a great system.

AND THEN

THEN WE HIT THE BIG NUMBERS

PRESUMABLY. I ASSUME THAT’S THE ORDER WE’RE GOING IN
though judging from american dates IT IS KINDA HARD TO TELL
so what’s heavier, a ton of feathers or a ton of gold?
IT’S THE TON OF GOLD BECAUSE UNDER IMPERIAL MEASUREMENTS THESE ARE COMPLETELY FUCKING DIFFERENT SCALES
SEE ALSO: WOOL, COINS, MYSTERY ENGLISH ILLEGAL POUND, MISCELLANEOUS
THE ONE JOKE WHICH MAKES IT CLEAR THAT MASS IS A UNIVERSAL METHOD OF COMPARISON REGARDLESS OF MATERIAL HAS NO BEARING ON THE FUCKED UP BIZARRO WORLD OF YESTERDAY THAT IS THE IMPERIAL SYSTEM
I AM 30 YEARS OLD
I’VE GONE MY WHOLE FUCKING LIFE BELIEVING THE IMPERIAL SYSTEM WAS DIFFERENT, SURE, BUT I THOUGHT IT HAD AT LEAST SOME GROUNDING IN REALITY
but NO
I AM SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW
I CANT UNDERSTAND WHY YOU’VE DONE THIS TO ME

go on

say it

but if anyone tells me anything other than one hundred here I am tearing this entire fucking place to the ground

oh my sweet jesus

OF COURSE

OF FUCKING COURSE IT DOES

WHY WOULD WORDS MEAN ANYTHING ANY MORE

I HATE ALL OF THIS, AND I HATE ALL OF YOU FOR MAKING ME KNOW IT

THIS IS WHY IM NOT TAKING ANY OF YOUR SHIT WHEN YOU TRY AND TELL ME FAHRENHEIT IS A MORE LOGICAL SYSTEM
HOW MANY FAHRENHEIT ARE IN A CUP
i cant take this right now im going for a fucking walk
everyone is just saying terrible number conversions at me i hate this
no-one has even mentioned oxgangs though so you’re all fired
trying to get to sleep but all i can hear is your voices chanting “pints a pound the world around” over and over in my brain
Pints A Pound The World Around
i still don’t entirely know what it means but I am 100% fucking sure it’s not even true
im not sure anything is true any more

German chat app slacking on hashing fined €20k

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by Richard Chirgwin (The Register)

German chat platform Knuddels.de (“Cuddles”) has been fined €20,000 for storing user passwords in plain text (no hash at all? Come on, people, it’s 2018).

The data of Knuddels users was copied and published by malefactors in July. In September, someone emailed the company warning them that user data had been published at Pastebin (only 8,000 members affected) and Mega.nz (a much bigger breach). The company duly notified its users and the Baden-Württemberg data protection authority.

Interesting stuff: this German region’s equivalent of the ICO applied a fine to this app for failing to hash passwords, describing them as personal information that was inadequately protected following their theft. That’s interesting because it sets a German, and to a lesser extend a European, precedent that plaintext passwords can be considered personal information and therefore allowing the (significant) weight of the GDPR to be applied to their misuse.

Warp and Weft?

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Warp and Weft by Paul Robert Lloyd
Earlier this month I had the good fortune to attend Material, a conference that explores the concept of the web as a material and all the intrinsic characteristics that entails. The variety of talks provided new perspectives on what it means to build for – and with – the web, and prompted me to ...

What it means for something to be of the web has been discussed many times before. While the technical test can be reasonably objective – is it addressable, accessible and available – culturally it remains harder to judge. But I don’t know about you, I’ve found that certain websites feel more ‘webby’ than others.

Despite being nonspecific on the nature of the feeling he describes, Paul hits the nail on the head. Your favourite (non-Medium) blog or guru site almost certainly has that feel of being “of the web”. Your favourite API-less single-page app (with the growing “please use in Chrome” banner) almost certainly does not.

We Watched the Toy Story Porn Parody So You Don’t Have To [NSFW]

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by an author

A wise man once said “To Infinity and Beyond”, Unfortunately there’s no way of knowing who that man was or in what context it was meant to be understood, so let us instead turn our attention to the Toy Story porn parody – Sex Toy Story The XXX Parody Part 1.

It says Part 1, but I searched and there’s no Part 2. Unless they’re doing like a Toy Story 3 thing where they wait like ten years for Andy to grow up and go off to college, in which case we will have to wait with bated breath for ten years for Part 2.

Sex Toy Story title card

We open on an unnamed woman played by Veruca James (Lesbian Anal Vampires, Emo Teen Fucks at Work) getting ready to masturbate. She does so the normal way we all do, by rubbing her clothed body.

“Does it exist?”, I asked, when the conversation drifted perilously close to this topic. Well of course it exists: Rule 34, duh. I was so glad that this article existed, to spare me from having to watch it to work out how much I didn’t want to watch it. Now all I have to do is scrub the idea of this article from my mind, which is hopefully easier than the retina-burning image of the film itself would have been.

Resulting link NSFW, obviously.

When to use CSS vs. JavaScript

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by an author

CSS before JS #

My general rule of thumb is…

If something I want to do with JavaScript can be done with CSS instead, use CSS.

CSS parses and renders faster.

For things like animations, it more easily hooks into the browser’s refresh rate cycle to provide silky smooth animations (this can be done in JS, too, but CSS just makes it so damn easy).

And it fails gracefully.

A JavaScript error can bring all of the JS on a page to screeching halt. Mistype a CSS property or miss a semicolon? The browser just skips the property and moves on. Use an unsupported feature? Same thing.

This exactly! If you want progressive enhancement (and you should), performance, and the cleanest separation of behaviour and presentation, the pages you deliver to your users (regardless of what technology you use on your server) should consist of:

  • HTML, written in such a way that that they’re complete and comprehensible alone – from an information science perspective, your pages shouldn’t “need” any more than this (although it’s okay if they’re pretty ugly without any more)
  • CSS, adding design, theme, look-and-feel to your web page
  • Javascript, using progressive enhancement to add functionality in-the-browser (e.g. validation on the client-side in addition to the server side validation, for speed and ease of user experience) and, where absolutely necessary, to add functionality not possible any other way (e.g. if you’re looking to tap into the geolocation API, you’re going to need Javascript… but it’s still desirable to provide as much of the experience as possible without)

Developers failing to follow this principle is making the Web more fragile and harder to archive. It’s not hard to do things “right”: we just need to make sure that developers learn what “right” is and why it’s important.

Incidentally, I just some enhancements to the header of this site, including some CSS animations on the logo and menu (none of them necessary, but all useful) and some Javascript to help ensure that users of touch-capable devices have an easier time. Note that neither Javascript nor CSS are required to use this site; they just add value… just the way the Web ought to be (where possible).

@RespectableLaw on North Sentinel Island

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by an author
There’s been a lot of talk about the missionary killed by the natives of North Sentinel Island. They’re probably so aggressive because of this weirdo, Maurice Vidal Portman. So here’s a big thread about this creep and some facts from my decade-long obsession with the island.
The Sentinelese are often described as “uncontacted,” but this not strictly true. They had a very significant contact in 1880 with Commander Portman.
Portman, the black sheep third son of some minor noble, was assigned by the English Royal Navy to administer and pacify the Andaman Islands, a job he pursued from 1880-1900 with the full measure of his own perversity.
Portman was erotically obsessed with the Andamanese, and he indulged his passion for photography by kidnapping members of various tribes and posing them in mock-Greek homoerotic compositions.
During his 20 years in a sexualized heart of darkness, Portman measured and cataloged every inch of his prisoner’s bodies, with an obsessive focus on genitals.
Just imagine being a Neolithic person spending a few weeks in this guy’s rotating menagerie.
Portman spent most of his time in the greater Andaman Islands, but in 1880, he landed on North Sentinel. The natives fled, and his party ventured inland to find a settlement which had been abandoned in haste.
But they located an elderly couple and a few children they were able to abduct. The couple quickly died, likely from ailments to which they had no immunity.
The children spent a few weeks with Portman doing god knows what, after which he returned them to the island. Portman returned on a couple occasions, but the Sentinelese hid from him each time.
The story related by the children was certainly passed down among the 100 or so inhabitants of the island, and even today, Portman’s fatal kidnapping is just beyond a human lifetime.
So when the Indian government attempted contact with anthropologists in the 1960s and 70s, the Sentinelese were understandably hostile to outsiders. The Indian government soon gave up.
In 1981, a cargo ship named The Primrose ran aground on the coral reef surrounding North Sentinel. The crew radioed for assistance and settled in for a long wait. But in the morning they saw 50 men with bows on the beach, building makeshift boats.
The crew called for an emergency airlift and were evacuated, and not a moment too soon. Rough waves had thwarted the Sentinelese in their attempts to board, but the weather was clearing.
The ship and its cargo were left at the island, awaiting discovery by Neolithic eyes. Today you can still see the gutted remains on The Primrose on Google Earth.
Imagine climbing on board that ship. A completely alien vessel filled with alien things. Imagine seeing simple machines for the first time. A hinge. A latch. A wheel. Things that would instantly make sense in a satisfying way. Others would be so incomprehensible to avoid notice.
I have never been able to find out what cargo was on The Primrose in all my years of reading. There was about 100 tons of some sort of consumer product on board, and I’m curious what it was. But even absent the cargo, think about all the things that must have been on that ship.
In the 1990s, when anthropologists returned to the island to make new attempts at contact, they were met with a different attitude. Not friendly, exactly. But they were willing to accept gifts. Many would wade into the water with smiles to accept coconuts.

Here is a video of one of those encounters:

And in those videos, you can see that these pre-iron age people now had metal weapons, like the knife carried by this man. They had scavenged metal from the Primrose and cold-forged it into tools.
After collecting gifts for a few minutes, a few members of the tribe would approach and make menacing gestures, signaling that it was time for the outsiders to leave. They have never lost their desire for isolation, despite the gifts.
And they remained consistent in their intolerance against intruders. In 2006, two fishermen were killed after drifting into the island when their anchor detached while they were sleeping.
The Sentinelese are lucky they were so effective at preventing contact. The neighboring Jawara weren’t so fortunate. The tribe went from 9,000 to a couple hundred from lack of genetic immunity and only forestalled annihilation due to aggressive segregation. Their future is bleak.
Yet on North Sentinel, they’ve maintained a small community for 60,000 years which is by all indications happy. There is no way to integrate them into the modern world without wiping out nearly every member of their tribe.
And their aggressiveness is not the mark of savagery. It just that their conception of outsiders is mostly framed by some foot-faced English pervert who murdered some old people and did weird things to their kids. So let’s do them a favor and leave them alone.

What Kind of Person Steals Their Co-workers’ Lunch?

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by an author

For the past month or two, my place of work (this very website) has been plagued by a relatively harmless but deeply mystifying figure: the phantom lunch thief. What’s happened since has followed a trajectory sure to be familiar to anyone who’s ever worked in an office with more than, say, 30 employees: a menacing, all-caps Post-It note was posted, instructing the thief: “PLEASE DO NOT TAKE FOOD THAT DOESN’T BELONG TO YOU.” The appropriate authorities were alerted. The authorities sent out slightly mean emails about how we’re all adults here, and even those of us who didn’t do anything wrong were embarrassed. For a few days, no lunches were stolen. But then, just when you thought it was safe to leave an Amy’s frozen burrito in the shared fridge for 12 days, the lunch thief struck again. Collectively, and publicly — all wanting to make very clear that we were innocent — my colleagues and I wondered: who does this? What kind of person steals lunch from people they work with, and why?

To find out, I had to identify one such person. First, I offered my own office lunch thief immunity (or, well, anonymity) if they came forward to tell me their life story, but nobody took me up on it. I asked Twitter, where many people expressed outrage over the very idea of lunch theft, but again, no actual thieves surfaced. I even made a Google Form about it, and nobody filled out my Google Form. I was very nearly too dejected to continue my search when I remembered: Reddit. If not there, where?

On Reddit, I found a few lunch theft discussion threads, and messaged about 15 or 20 users who indicated that they had stolen, or would steal, lunch from a co-worker, several of whom sounded very pleased with themselves. I told them I was a reporter, and asked if they’d be willing to elaborate on their experiences in lunch theft. Unfortunately, most relevant postings I found were from, like, four years ago, and again it seemed no one would come forward. But then someone wrote me back. Eventually he agreed to speak with me, and we arranged a phone call. His name is Rob, and he’s a programmer in his early 40s. Together we decided there are probably enough programmers in their 40s named Rob that divulging this amount of personal information was okay.

As a non-lunch-stealer, I’ve never understood the mentality either (I’ve been the victim once or twice at work, at more-often way back when I lived in student accommodation), and this interview really helped to humanise a perpetrator. I still can’t condone it, but at least now I’ve got a greater understanding. Yay, empathy!

This teacher had to tell her deaf students that people can hear farts. Their reaction was hilarious.

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by an author

Anna Trupiano is a first-grade teacher at a school that serves deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students from birth through eighth grade.

In addition to teaching the usual subjects, Trupiano is charged with helping her students thrive in a society that doesn’t do enough to cater to the needs of the hard-of-hearing.

Recently, Trupiano had to teach her students about a rather personal topic: passing gas in public.

A six-year-old child farted so loud in class that some of their classmates began to laugh. The child was surprised by their reaction because they didn’t know farts make a sound. This created a wonderful and funny teaching moment for Trupiano.

Trupiano shared the conversation on Facebook.

Puzzle Montage Art by Tim Klein

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Iron Horse, by Tim Klein

Jigsaw puzzle companies tend to use the same cut patterns for multiple puzzles. This makes the pieces interchangeable, and I sometimes find that I can combine portions from two or more puzzles to make a surreal picture that the publisher never imagined. I take great pleasure in “discovering” such bizarre images lying latent, sometimes for decades, within the pieces of ordinary mass-produced puzzles.