Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-06

Two of the finds this week are longer reads, but I found them worth the time investment. The third is food for thought for attracting, and keeping, women into the STEM fields. Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-05-06.

  • In Walking the Tornado Linemagazine journalist Justin Nobel goes on a walking journey in Alabama and Tennessee following the path of a mile-wide monster tornado on April 27, 2011 chewed up everything in its path for 132 miles. But the piece is more than a mere chronicle of the people and places impacted and tally of things destroyed. As he collects the stories from people who lived through it, and relays his own walking journey through Alabama during tornado season, his writing style conjures up clear and haunting imagery in the imagination. There is an underlying sense of dread, never feeling safe in the elements, like a great suspense novel or movie. I didn’t realize how I take for granted the lack of tornados in the places I’ve lived, until I read this.

    On the fourth night of my journey I camp in woods owned by a Baptist deacon named Sammy Swinney. It was here in the rolling hills of northern Alabama where the April 27, 2011, tornado roared through at sixty-five miles per hour, a black cloud the width of twenty-five city blocks with winds stronger than any hurricane. And it was here in the sleepy farming community of Oak Grove that the tornado morphed into something truly unfathomable, and did things few people knew tornadoes could do: ate large brick homes straight through to the foundation, spawned side tornadoes that flanked the main like evil henchmen, climbed a mountain and rattled down a steep valley on the other side, turned an entire forest to spindles, and carried away cars and cows and people, too.

  • The update of the health curriculum in Ontario where I live has garnered a lot of debate and controversy over the sexual education component of it. Full disclosure: I am totally in support of all the changes, which is why I get so frustrated with those protesting against it…but that’s going to be another post. It’s in this climate that this essay published in the Globe and Mail grabbed my attention. Yes, her own backstory is lurid, but her wading through the challenges of educating her teenaged son about sexual health hit on so many of the points that I’ve been worried about when it comes to the impact of online pornography.

    Sierra Skye Gemma survived unthinkable childhood abuse. Now the loving mother of a teenaged son, she finds herself on a deeply personal journey to teach him a healthy attitude to sex in the age of online pornography.

  • This op-ed in the New York Times has a really interesting approach for positioning engineering to be attractive for women to study and pursue careers in: provide the socially beneficial context in which the engineering work will affect changes. On a surface look, it makes a lot of sense: making things for the sake of making the thing better/stronger/more featured than before is not so attractive to me. However, using engineering skills to help solve a problem in society? That is a better sell. Does it harken back to the days of my youth when much of the pretend play was about building a family and making sure everyone was taken care of? Maybe.


<—previous finds of the week