The Sunday Post for March 20, 2016

Using Nature as Inspiration, Architects and Designers Are Building Seattle's Biofuture

Kelton Sears on those giant Amazon balls downtown, and why they're both cooler than you probably think, and part of a new architectural movement that is not just about crazy architecture for its own sake.

Plenty of eye-catching dome-shaped conservatories exist in the world. But if you’ve ever been inside a conservatory, as pleasant as they are, you wouldn’t want to work in one. As ball-shaped structures go, conservatories are among the hot and sweaty variety. If you spent a couple hours on your laptop in one, the salty puddle dripping out of you would likely fry your computer. So, while Amazon presented NBBJ with an unprecedented opportunity, they also presented the firm with a heretofore unsolved problem.

For the answer, NBBJ again turned to nature.

“The solution was really pretty simple,” Alberda says, “It’s called the diurnal cycle.”

The diurnal cycle is a fancy name for a climate pattern that occurs during one full rotation of the Earth. For 12 hours a day the temperature inside the spheres will be kept at 68 to 72 degrees and the humidity just slightly higher than the Seattle average of 62. At night the temperature goes down to 55, and the humidity can go up 85 to 90 percent to be “a truly plant environment.”

The Journalist and the Troll: This Man Spent Two Years Trying to Destroy Me Online

Dune Lawrence on being harrassed by a very aggressive, and ethically promblematic, businessman, and the absolute nothing she can do about it.

I saw the photo first, me in a bloody wash of red with “RACIST” pulsing over my face. A couple of clicks brought me to this:

“In the darkest shadow of Bloomberg’s glossy office building in Manhattan, you may find a woman by the name of Dune Lawrence—a ‘journalist’ who has built a career on writing salacious articles about China.”

That was my introduction to TheBlot, a website I hope you’ve never heard of. The article went on and on: I’d been kicked out of China for poor job performance and eked out a living on minimum wage. My appearance was ravaged by “years of consuming hormone-packed fried chicken and stressing over money.” Now, I’d found a way to save my sinking career by writing negative articles about China and taking kickbacks from short sellers. In a cinematic scene set at Kentucky Fried Chicken, this Internet version of me laid out a strategy: “ ‘Bashing the Chinese could be a profitable niche for me,’ Lawrence said to a source while biting off a juicy chicken leg quarter at KFC. ‘The Chinese don’t vote, the Chinese don’t sue people, they just sit there taking the s---. How much better can it get? I am making a living out of it!’ ”

The Violin Thief

This is a crazy story by Geoff Edgers, about a stolen violin, and one suspect, who played the instrument in public, and got away with it.

He is dying, Q-tip elbows poking through a baggy shirt. Friends visit, spooning him ice cream and playing music. His daughters are around as well, stopping in after school, too young to process the grim scene. And there, carefully placed in the closet, out of view in the room his ex-wife has set up, is the Stradivarius.

Philip Johnson’s fingers are no longer strong enough to play any violin, never mind one so unforgiving. So he keeps the Strad in a plastic crate. The instrument is the only thing he has of value. It is also his biggest secret.

The Case Of The Missing Perpetrator

The one-and-only Rebecca Solnit on gender, passivity, and lack-of-clarity in language, where it counts the most.

In a detective novel, you begin in a state of ignorance and advance toward knowledge, clue by clue. The little indicators add up at last to a revelation that sets the world to right and sees that justice is done, or at least provides the satisfaction of a world made clear in the end. If detective fiction is the literature of disillusion, then there’s a much more common literature of illusion that aspires to deceive and distract rather than clarify.

A perfect recent example is the Center for Disease Control’s new and widely mocked guidelines to drinking. They are like a detective novel run backward—if you read them with conviction, you’d become muddled about what a woman is and how violence and pregnancy happen and who is involved in those things. On the other hand, if you read more carefully, you might know why the passive tense is so often a cover-up and that the missing subject in a circumlocutionary sentence is often the guilty party.