All posts tagged: gold standard

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

This past December, I threw a party to celebrate a major milestone in my life: the 1,000th day of my New York Times crossword-solving streak. My friends, none of them fellow cruciverbalists, poured in wearing their black-and-white best, armed with outsize praise for my presumed intelligence: How smart I must be to complete the Times puzzle every day! Their comments affirmed that the crossword—and particularly the Times one—carries a certain mystique. For 1,000 consecutive days, I had passed this bourgeois aptitude test, proving my linguistic and cultural acumen in my guests’ eyes. Since its invention in 1913, the modern American crossword puzzle has undergone something of a reputational shift, from frivolous distraction to status symbol. In reality, the crossword is many things: a site of play, a cultural forum, a daily pleasure. And, because it traffics in language—the stuff people use to form identity, signal belonging, and ostracize others—it’s also a political entity. The writer and crossword constructor Anna Shechtman knows that casting such a pastime as political might sound ridiculous. As she writes in …

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

This past December, I threw a party to celebrate a major milestone in my life: the 1,000th day of my New York Times crossword-solving streak. My friends, none of them fellow cruciverbalists, poured in wearing their black-and-white best, armed with outsize praise for my presumed intelligence: How smart I must be to complete the Times puzzle every day! Their comments affirmed that the crossword—and particularly the Times one—carries a certain mystique. For 1,000 consecutive days, I had passed this bourgeois aptitude test, proving my linguistic and cultural acumen in my guests’ eyes. Since its invention in 1913, the modern American crossword puzzle has undergone something of a reputational shift, from frivolous distraction to status symbol. In reality, the crossword is many things: a site of play, a cultural forum, a daily pleasure. And, because it traffics in language—the stuff people use to form identity, signal belonging, and ostracize others—it’s also a political entity. The writer and crossword constructor Anna Shechtman knows that casting such a pastime as political might sound ridiculous. As she writes in …

One of Biden’s Big Climate Bets Follows an Old Logic

One of Biden’s Big Climate Bets Follows an Old Logic

In a way, the story of American natural gas is a particularly American story, one of entrepreneurial hustle, booms and busts, and a will to find opportunity where nobody’s looked. Of resourceful self-preservation for the sake of self-preservation alone. Of supply needing demand, and of manufacturing that demand through the means at hand, even if the logic is sometimes tough to follow. Natural gas has fueled American homes, American electricity, and, more recently, American plastics, an industry more usually fed by oil. As the grand ambitions for that last endeavor have begun to show signs of waning, the industry has once again pivoted, this time to embrace its potential as part of America’s climate future. When the Biden administration announced this year that its build-out of facilities for hydrogen—a fuel that could help reduce emissions from heavy industry—would have a starring role for natural gas, it was hardly a surprise: The industry appears to have worked hard to ensure its place. The gas industry has had plenty of practice making a case for itself. A …

Ferrets Could Unlock How Flue Spreads in Day Cares

Ferrets Could Unlock How Flue Spreads in Day Cares

At the start of 2022, as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus blazed across the United States, Seema Lakdawala was in Pittsburgh, finalizing plans to open a brand-new day care. She had found the perfect facility and signed the stack of paperwork; she had assembled a hodgepodge of plushies, puzzles, and toys. It was the perfect setup, one that “I’ve been dreaming about for years,” Lakdawala, a virologist at Emory University, told me. She couldn’t help but swell with pride, later that spring, when she ushered in her establishments’ first attendees: five young ferrets—including one deliberately infected with the flu. Over the next several months, Lakdawala and her colleagues watched several cohorts of ferrets ping-pong flu viruses back and forth as they romped and wrestled and frolicked inside of a shared playpen. The researchers meticulously logged the ferrets’ movements; they took note of the surfaces and other animals that each one touched. Their early findings, now being prepared for publication in a scientific journal, could help researchers figure out how flu viruses most efficiently spread …