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Required Ideology in College Admissions

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The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has added a new test to their admissions process. Prospective students are more likely to be admitted to the school if they prove that they are “confident” that they can “control” their own fates:

Students who answer in ways that suggest that they are confident they can control their fates—or who have a “locus of control” to use the psychological term—will get an edge in admissions decisions.

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Don’t Fear the Reaper

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At The Hairpin, Caitlin Doughty, mortician and author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory, talks about death positivity, women in the funeral business, zombies, and why she thinks the recent move toward alternative burial practices is more than just a trend:

I don’t want to say it’s a trend because that makes it seem like it’s going to be a fad for a couple of years and then go away… like artisanal pickles or something .

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An Inconvenient Fiction

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Invoking his new play, Buzz, Benjamin Kunkel writes in the New Yorker about how “few imaginative writers have dealt with the present-day experience of global warming in a direct and concentrated way” and why this might be the case:

If climate change has, to date, proved hard to write about, that’s because it exists for most of us, to date, as something that afflicts different neighborhoods, distant cities, or future times.

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Reviving Tongva

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Pamela Munro on reviving a language no one speaks:

It’s hard to find information on Tongva. There are no audio recordings of people speaking the language, just a few scratchy wax cylinder recordings of Tongva songs. There are additional word lists from scholars, explorers, and others dating from 1838 to 1903, but Harrington’s notes are the best source of information on the language.

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Reading Recs: Man vs. Machine

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At Co.EXIST, Jessica Leber pits the algorithms of digital giants Amazon and Goodreads against the ultimate recommendation engine: librarians. Leber details her experience with the Brooklyn Public Library’s BookMatch program, in which real librarians respond to patron’s requests for reading recommendations based on other books they’ve enjoyed.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Late Night Football Strategy Sessions

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A century ago, Princeton University was a premiere football school. As a freshman, F. Scott Fitzgerald was cut from the team after just one day. But that didn’t stop him from calling the famed football coach Fritz Crisler in the middle of the night with crazy football strategies, one of which might very well have been fielding separate teams for offense and defense.

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Skewed Standards

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The YA battle rages on at Flavorwire, where Sarah Seltzer responds to Rebecca Mead’s New Yorker essay pondering the effects of supposedly lowbrow children’s lit:

We have to interrogate our basic assumption that writing skills possessed by educated white people are the best skills around…Humor, action, relatable language, and plotting are not lesser tools in a writer’s toolbox, but equally necessary ones.

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Summer Camp for Book Nerds

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For the burgeoning field of Critical Bibliography, “the study of the physical characteristics of books and the process of bookmaking,” Rare Book School is the highlight of the year. The Paris Review’s Benjamin Breen reports from the annual conference out of UVA, where old-school book enthusiasts gather to share in the examination of woodcuts, medieval manuscripts, and specimens like a gold-edged copy of Encyclopédie with Diderot’s handwritten notes in the margins.

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Pride, Prejudice, Repeat

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Jane Austen has been blowing up these days, with hundreds of fan-fictional responses to Pride and Prejudice gracing the dusty corners of bookstores and the Internet. Over at Flavorwire, Sarah Seltzer wonders why we’re still so eager to return to Pemberley:

Because Austen doesn’t overload us with sensory details about her characters, but merely depicts them walking around in the world, talking, judging, and making mistakes, we project a lot of our own experience and imagination into our reading, and this makes us feel personally acquainted with them.

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