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The best writing of the week, January 27

The best writing of the week, January 27


Your Sunday reads

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read lead 1020

We all know the feeling. You're sleepless in the sad hours of the night or stumbling around early on a hazy weekend morning in need of something to read, and that pile of unread books just isn't cutting it. Why not take a break from the fire hose of Twitter and RSS and check out our weekly roundup of essential writing from around the web about technology, culture, media, and the future? Sure, it's one more thing you can feel guilty about sitting in your Instapaper queue, but it's better than pulling in vain on your Twitter list again.

Grab all of these as a Readlist.

On love

Claire L Evans considers the difficulties of love — and breakups — in the digital era, complete with a note on The Verge's own Paul Miller.

Luddite love: Claire L Evans - Luddite love

Before the social web, surviving a breakup meant tossing out mementos and looking over your shoulder at parties. Now it means perusing invite lists, haunting status updates, watching tiny circles of green turn orange, then red, before fading to offline grey. It is easier than ever to self-punish through voyeurism, of course, but now tactics for avoidance are so similar to strategies for stalking, so equal in the all-seeing indifference of the web, that even average heartbreak can take on sinister dimensions.On Samsung

Michal Lev_ram digs into the history of Samsung and how the South Korean firm built its now thriving global consumer electronics business.

CNN Money: Michal Lev-Ram - Samsung's road to global domination

In the late 1960s Samsung officially entered the electronics business. In the early years the company was known for cheap televisions and air conditioners. That all changed in 1995, when its chairman (and the elder Lee’s son), Kun-Hee Lee, paid a momentous visit to the company’s plant in Gumi, a factory town in south-central Korea. Legend has it that the younger Lee had sent out the company’s newest mobile phones as New Year’s presents and was horrified when word came back that they didn’t work. Later, at Gumi, he made a giant heap of the factory’s entire inventory and had it set on fire.On Google

Farhad Manjoo looks at Google's internal HR department, which does things in its own very Google way. People Operations, or POPS for short, approaches HR like a lab, parsing and analyzing a huge amount of employee data to make decisions on everything from how often to send 401k reminders to the optimum wait times in Google's famed cafeterias.

Slate: Farhad Manjoo - The Happiness Machine

The tables should be long, so workers who don’t know each other are forced to chat. And, after running an experiment, Google found that stocking cafeterias with 8-inch plates alongside 12-inch plates encouraged people to eat smaller, healthier portions.On McDonald's

Jeb Boniakowski proposes a massive, multi-leveled, hyper-globalized McDonald's be built in the middle of Times Square.

The Awl: Jeb Boniakowski - We Must Build An Enormous McWorld In Times Square, A Xanadu Representing A McDonald's From Every Nation

How much difference really is there between McDonald's super-processed food and molecular gastronomy? I used to know this guy who was a great chef, like his restaurant was in the Relais & Châteaux association and everything, and he'd always talk about how there were intense flavors in McDonald's food that he didn't know how to make. I've often thought that a lot of what makes crazy restaurant food taste crazy is the solemn appreciation you lend to it.On a shared calendar

Olivia Hudson writes in the Opinion Pages about how she and her brother used a shared Google Calendar to record their aging father's health, eventually creating a conversational journal that embraced simple medicinal notes, day-to-day observations and minutiae, and a chart of his "relentless physical decline".

The New York Times: Olivia Judson - The Last Calendar

But the calendar had other, more subtle effects, too. It was, in essence, a journal kept by two people who read each other’s entries, and so it gradually became a conversation between the two of us as well as a straight-up record of events. One day, he’s infuriating my brother with speculations about two friends’ having an inappropriate affair: "I said I thought he was being outrageous and that it was none of his business, even if his wild speculations were true. I hope he has the sense not to say anything to anyone else about his unfounded, wild, no evidence claims."On bones

Paige Williams explores the oddly exciting world of black market fossils, and the legal battles over a preserved bipedal T. bataar dinosaur from Mongolia.

The New Yorker: Paige Williams - Bones of Contention

"The Gobi’s getting hammered," Mark Norell told me in July, just before leaving for Mongolia. He helped reopen the Gobi to Westerners after Communist rule ended, in the early nineteen-nineties, and since then has dug there at least twenty-two times. "My sites in Mongolia have been clobbered by these slimeballs," he said of poachers, adding, "People follow you. There’s nomads living out there. You’ll see guys on motorcycles, and guys a kilometre away, looking at you through binoculars."On 'Star Wars'

With news that Abrams will be directing the next Star Wars film, take a look back at this fantastic 2009 Harper's piece about fans that scour the world to excavate old Lucasfilm sets.

Harper's: Jon Mooallem - Raiders of the Lost R2

Jad poured water over his head and handed me his video camera. He was hoarse, and exhausted from the heat, but as he signaled me to start filming he somehow projected a clear, upbeat voice. "Hi," he said. "I’m Jad, and I probably have heat stroke, and I’ve nearly lost my voice because I’m so excited to be in Buttercup Valley in Imperial Sand Dunes National Monument in California. And the reason this place is so special is because we’re in the exact place where Lucasfilm set up and filmed the Sarlacc pit and sail barge for Return of the Jedi. Have any favorites that you'd like to see included in next week's edition? Send them along to @thomashouston or share in the comments below.