Reads: Donna Tartt, Parkinson's & More

[A wrap up of some of the interesting reads from across the Web.]

It's Tartt—But Is It Art? - Vanity Fair
Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is a curious book. It's been a runaway best-seller despite its intimidating size (well.. I intend to start on it very soon despite having postponed reading it several times!) and walked away with the Pulitzer Prize for the best fiction. But is it a literary accomplishment? Or are authors in general dumbing down to cater to more mainstream audiences? The tussle between as to what constitutes serious artistic writing and popular fiction continues. >>

The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed - Wired
These days we live in the comfort of Facebook, Twitter and endless YouTube videos to catch up on our friends, follow our likes, voice our opinions, and while our time in general, but with more and more of us connecting to social media than ever before, the multi-billion dollar industry is increasingly grappling with pornography, racist slurs, beheading videos and what not. And that means employing a horde of people as content moderators, letting them flag and take down the worst of such content and make the social media experience palatable and addictive for us audiences. Wired magazine takes an insightful look at what goes behind and the devastating emotional and psychological toll it takes on them. >>

Why Americans Call Turkey 'Turkey' - The Atlantic
The word 'Turkey' has a 'tangled' history. It's in fact a 'geographic mess'. Turkey is a bird. Also a popular delicacy in the United States during Thanksgiving. So named as they were originally thought to have come from the country of Turkey. Only that Turkey in itself had no native species of Turkey, and called the bird hindi, because they thought it possibly came from India, and hence by extension kalkoen in Dutch, 'which, as a contraction of Calicut-hoen, literally means "hen from Calicut'". Trust me it gets even better! 'So what is the bird called in India? It may be hindi in Turkey, but in Hindi it’s ṭarki.' A mess indeed! >>

The Disturbing Way Some Teens Are Really Using Instagram - Mic
Photo-sharing social network Instagram has of late become the new go-to place, the "it" destination where teens and adults alike turn to share their utmost personal moments (selfies, usies, you name it!), their intimate feelings, thoughts and insecurities, while receiving in return 'an easy, public and quantifiable way... to measure their self-worth and popularity against their peers.' Just like how your Facebook popularity is judged based on the likes and comments your status update generates (one of the main reasons I left Facebook for good three years back). 'In the four years since its creation, Instagram has become a welcome mat for sexual predators, the result of a perfect storm: validation-hungry teenagers who distribute sexualized images publicly and lecherous adults who know that showering them with likes and follows is the best way to lure them closer.' >>

Did Grief Give Him Parkinson's? - Nautilus
Jack and Jeff Gernsheimer are identical twins and for almost all of their 68 years, they have lived no more than half a mile apart. Yet what makes their case so interesting is that it's only Jack, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, and not his twin brother Jeff despite both leading a similar lifestyle, if exactly not the same. 'Beginning on the day in 1968 when Jack was drafted and Jeff was not, Jack suffered a series of shifts and setbacks that his brother managed to avoid: two years serving stateside in the military, an early marriage, two children in quick succession, a difficult divorce, and finally, in the biggest blow of all, the sudden death of his teenage son. After these key divergences in their lives, Jack went on to develop not only Parkinson’s but two other diseases that Jeff was spared, glaucoma and prostate cancer.' Is there a connection between grief, stress and the disease? Or is it just fate? >>

‘Everyone was calling me Sebastian, but I knew I was a girl’ - The Guardian
Six year old Sebastian was born a boy, but he loves dressing up like a girl, playing with his Barbies, and for his parents, he was never Sebastian. She was Camille. 'For me, I just see it [surgery] coming,' says Eduardo, 32 [her father]. 'Because the way she acts whenever she gets undressed and gets into the shower, it's like she hates it [her penis]. She hides it. She doesn't want us to see it. She's embarrassed of it.' Gender dysphoria (or alternatively called gender identity disorder), where people experience profound dissatisfaction (dysphoria) with the gender they are assigned at birth, is no easy thing to cope up with. Finding your physical self to be at constant war with your opposite psychological gender identity can be depressing and emotionally taxing, and it's great to see that parents of such children are understanding enough when they say they have been born into the wrong body and want to change sex. Having said that, are these children too young to make such mature decisions for themselves? Will they harbour a wish to go back to their original sex at a later stage in their lives? >>