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Photo by Sandra Seitamaa on Unsplash

East Meets West

The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Creek incited the California gold rush that, in 1849, brought approximately 300,000 people to the region. These gold prospectors were named “forty-niners” after the year of their mass in-migration. About 40,000 of these forty-niners hailed from Canton, China. Though most Chinese forty-niners were miners, some migrated to the West not to pan for gold, but to engage in trade and invest in mining towns.

Realizing that miners enjoyed creature comforts after suffering the grueling conditions of the gold rush, many of these tradesmen were restaurateurs. In fact, restaurant and food operations were some of the earliest economic activities pursued by pioneer Chinese immigrants in California. At the end of the day, everyone has to eat. The Canton Restaurant, the landmark food institution established in San Francisco in 1849, was the first Chinese restaurant in America. It seated 300 in grand dining rooms adorned with oriental decor and fitted with wooden circular tables. By 1853, there were five Chinese restaurants in the area. Chinese cuisine would continue to proliferate and evolve in California and beyond, becoming the Americanized “Panda Express” flavor we know today. …


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Bali is known for many things: volcanic mountains, sandy beaches, and rice paddies. Think of Bali and you think of a tropical paradise. But this Indonesian island lacks something that many popular tourist destinations tend to have: an identifiable skyline.

With its eleven stories, the Inna Bali Beach Hotel is the tallest building on the island. Because of a zoning law put in place in 1970 restricting the maximum build height to 15 meters, few buildings even reach the fifth floor. Zoning laws that like these are not uncommon. In Athens, 12 floors is as high as you can go without blocking the view of the Parthenon. In Paris, buildings cannot be taller than the Eiffel Tower. To preserve the city’s green space and namesake, buildings in Montreal cannot surpass Mount Royal. In all three cases, building limits are imposed to protect the city’s culture, history, and environment. …


How the telegraph changed journalism, literature, and Ernest Hemingway.

A sillhouette of a fisherman on the ocean with clouds rolling by and a telegram-yellow sky.
A sillhouette of a fisherman on the ocean with clouds rolling by and a telegram-yellow sky.
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On July 3, 1961, the New York Times published an obituary on the front-page: “Hemingway Dead of Shotgun Wound; Wife Says He Was Cleaning Weapon.” The literary world had lost one of its greats. This white-bearded, barrel-chested, swaggering macho man we called “Papa” woke up in his house in Ketchum, Idaho, retrieved his favorite double-barrelled shotgun, took it to the foyer, and blew his brains out. No one knows how Hemingway would’ve reacted to these headlines, neither does anyone know how he would respond to biographers and psychiatrists theorizing the reasons for his suicide. But there is a clear link between this titan of letters and the “headlinese” that documented his death: it is the terse style, the compact, concise approach. …


An origami crane made out of solar panels on a blue background.
An origami crane made out of solar panels on a blue background.
Image created by writer

In Japan, children grow up learning origami. From a square, two-dimensional piece of paper, a bird can be formed, among hundreds of other animals. The challenge is to create a three-dimensional form out of a single sheet of paper without cutting or gluing. With these restrictions in mind, origamists have devised complicated fold patterns and innovative folding techniques that, together, create beautiful works of art.

Although initially an art form, origami has widespread scientific applications. The paper may be folded to form a crane or a monkey but the craft has surpassed the terrestrial realm; origami, now studied by engineers and artists alike, has reached the final frontier in the form of solar panels. …


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Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash

The heat, the intensity, the discipline and control, the uniformed chefs, huddled around their stations, working like mad to complete the evening’s service — the fine-dining kitchen is a battlefield. Every so often, a waiter will send in a set of orders, the orders will be announced, and, like a well-tuned orchestra, a sudden, uniform burst of sound: “Yes, chef.”

Explosions occur in both the kitchen and the battlefield. But in the world of scalding hot stovetops, copper pots, and complex sauce reductions, explosions happen on the palate. …


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Photo by Miguel Andrade on Unsplash

There is no condiment more quintessentially American than ketchup. 97% of US households report having a bottle of the red stuff in the fridge, and it isn’t a Fourth of July barbecue without a bottle of Heinz ketchup at the ready. When we think of America, we think of cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and French fries; between cheese-topped pucks of ground beef, pink tubes of processed God-knows-what nestled in a bun, and deep-fried potato sticks, the common denominator is ketchup. It is the pillar of American cuisine. …


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Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Many things need to go right for a rocket to reach the moon. For one, mission control needs to know where the rocket is and how to steer it. One of the most crucial factors in a launch is the position and orientation of the rocket in space and time; the math has to check out so that the lunar module can land in a specific crater on the moon 238,855 miles away. …


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Photo by Freddy G on Unsplash

Eddie Nolan, the protagonist of the 1935 film Bad Boy, is the typical image of a pool shark. In a billiards hall, there is always a bigger fish — if you beat someone and take their wad (bankroll; their side of the bet), someone better will swoop in, beat you, and take your wad. And Eddie was that shark at the top of the food chain.

Although few know of Eddie Nolan in the Bad Boy, many are familiar with the concept of a pool shark — someone adept with a cue stick that can dominate their opponents and make money by sinking balls into pockets. …


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Photo by Benjamin Sullivan on Unsplash

Scrolling is a fundamental aspect of digital interface. We read by revealing the text that follows, just as you are doing now. On a computer mouse, a scroll wheel spins to cycle through the document. With two-finger track pad gestures and phone touchscreens, we navigate through web pages vertically, dragging our fingers up to reveal the next line of text.

The experience of scrolling is fluid, elegant, and easily graspable because, like many other UI designs, it originates from previous technologies that have been adopted into digital formats.

Scrolling is intuitive user interface plucked right out of real-world experiences: put a piece of paper on a desk, push it forward with two fingers, and the paper will move with you. Aptly, this is where the story of scrolling begins: with paper, and not surprisingly, the scroll. …


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Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

In the south of France, there is a small city called Nîmes and it is the reason why denim jeans exist. “From Nîmes” is translated to “de Nîmes,” hence the name “denim.” Denim jeans are a defining feature in the worlds of fashion and culture. Originally used to create durable clothing for tough working conditions, the blue textile has become a cultural standard, permeating all corners of the clothing industry.

About

Andrew Yang

Montreal-based journalist and poet.

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