Written by

Chris Gonzales


Craig Mod

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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Daimon Gate, Mt. Kōya. Photo: Craig Mod

Daimon Gate, Mt. Kōya. Photo: Craig Mod

Kōya Bound »

Craig Mod hiked up Mt. Kōya — a Japanese mountain in Wakayama Prefecture, just south of Osaka — on New Year’s during a snowstorm, resulting in an incredible set of monochrome photos on Storehouse. We love this sort of thing.

The mysterious lights of dwarf planet Ceres.

The mysterious lights of dwarf planet Ceres.

Mysterious Pair of Bright Lights Photographed on Dwarf Planet Ceres »

Until now we honestly hadn’t even heard of the dwarf planet Ceres, which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and is the largest object in the asteroid belt. Even more interestingly, NASA recently photographed two large, bright spots on its surface.

This image was taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin.

So what’s causing the lights? Until higher-resolution images can be obtained — which will be around March 6th, 2015, when the Dawn spacecraft enters Ceres’ orbit — scientists can only theorize.

Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, says the positioning of the bright spots within the same area “may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots.” The folks at Mashable have their own theories:

The most obvious contender is ice, although ice would reflect more than 40% of all light hitting it. The difference may be accounted for by the resolution limit of Dawn’s camera at this distance. Scientists have previously detected water vapor coming from the surface of the dwarf planet, making ice a more likely option.

Scientists have also suggested the bright areas could be patches of salt. On the other hand, the location of the two bright spots so close together may be an indication that they have a geologic origin, such as some sort of volcanic process, possibly even ice volcanoes.

Consider us fascinated.

Ms. G’s 4th Graders »

Alanna Okun of BuzzFeed recently discovered a delightfully heartwarming Twitter account:

The first thing I do every morning is scroll, numbly, through Twitter. (The other day I couldn’t find my phone and realized that I had tucked it neatly into my bed.) I get a hollow ping somewhere in my chest with each new notification and I am genuinely, fleetingly thrilled when my quasi-snide remark is the one that gets some traction. But eventually it all resets and there again is that sense that everyone is talking and no one is listening. Then I found myself in the strange, delightful alternate universe of Ms. G’s and Mr. D’s fourth-graders.

This is truly social media at its best. By the time you finish reading Alanna’s story, you’ll likely be rethinking the way you use and interact with Twitter and the like.

Meet the Tweet-Deleters »

Speaking of using Twitter in novel ways, a surprising number of people out there are automatically deleting their older tweets. Kevin Roose of Fusion has the story:

In the beginning, Twitter was supposed to be a vessel for fleeting thoughts. People posted about their lunches, their sports teams, the news of the day. But because tweets are public and permanent by default, all of those ephemeral tweets congealed over the years into a kind of global permanent record. Now, everything the vast majority of Twitter’s 288 million monthly active users have ever tweeted is searchable, indexable, and usable against them in courts of law or public opinion.

Auto-deleting tweets is a novel solution to this problem.

I [Chris] have often wished for a tool that could go back and delete all of my tweets published before a given year, in one fell swoop. If you know of a service that could accomplish this specific thing, please let me know.

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills »

Back in 2008, NPR examined the importance of imagination and lack of structure in kids’ playtime:

According to [Laura Berk, professor of psychology at Illinois State University], one reason make-believe is such a powerful tool for building self-discipline is because during make-believe, children engage in what’s called private speech: They talk to themselves about what they are going to do and how they are going to do it.


Unfortunately, the more structured the play, the more children’s private speech declines. Essentially, because children’s play is so focused on lessons and leagues, and because kids’ toys increasingly inhibit imaginative play, kids aren’t getting a chance to practice policing themselves. When they have that opportunity, says Berk, the results are clear: Self-regulation improves.

The sidebar on the NPR story page lists some ideas for common types of play that can help a child’s development.

World’s Best Pancake Recipe »

We somehow missed Pancake Day last week, but it’s never too late to treat yourself to the world’s best pancakes. As explained by Jason Kottke in 2009:

After discovering the recipe for Robie’s Buttermilk Flapjacks in a magazine a year or two ago, my wife has been making them for breakfast most Saturdays and they are, no foolin’, the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten. They are fluffy and moist and delicious. Here’s what you do.


Don’t skimp on the ingredients here. Use real butter and real vanilla extract, but especially real maple syrup and real buttermilk.

So good.

The Making of “The Commander Thinks Aloud” »

If you’ve never heard of the Song Exploder podcast, you’re really missing out. Each episode features the story behind the making of a specific song, and every story is interesting in its own way. The show is also quite well-produced.

The absolute best place to dive into this show is the recent episode #28, wherein John Roderick of The Long Winters explains the story behind the band’s famous song, “The Commander Thinks Aloud”.

On February 1st, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart while reentering the earth’s atmosphere. John Roderick, singer and songwriter of The Long Winters, wrote “The Commander Thinks Aloud” about that fateful moment. This episode was made from an interview I did with John Roderick in front of a live audience in Seattle, where we discussed how and why he made this song.

By the end of his story, you might just tear up a little. We won’t blame you in the slightest.

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.l