David Bowie Wouldn’t Have Let Rock Salt Ruin His Shoes: Today’s Recommended Reading

Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too. We’ve got a  Today, a New Yorker reminisces about life as David Bowie’s neighbor, an explainer-report on the past, present, and future of using rock salt, and a profile about private eye that specializing in farm-related crime.

On Medium, writer Sady Doyle wrote a long essay about living in a New York dorm that may (or may not) have been across the street from David Bowie’s apartment.

“I never did pass that building in Soho without looking up, wondering if my roommate was right. I never did go shopping at the Strand without feeling hopeful. That little hope alone was sometimes the only thing that held me in place. I could leave New York. I could give up on it. But if I stayed, I would be living in a place where David Bowie might pop out from around the corner. Not yet. Not today, probably. But someday, when you least expected it. David Bowie could show up at any time.”

Next, a Vox explainer details how state and local governments became reliant on rock salt to clear snow, and why they’re desperate to find new alternatives.

‘We’ve become salt-addicted over the last 50 years, and we’re now discovering that there are all these hidden costs,’ says Xianming Shi, an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering at Washington State University. He estimates the US now spends $2.3 billion each year to remove snow and ice from highways. It then costsanother $5 billion to pay for the resulting damage caused by salt. And that’s not even counting the cost of salting cities or rural roads.

The California Sunday Magazine published a winding crime narrative about Rock Pipkin, a private detective specializing in farm-related crime, who chases down an elusive con-man on California dairy farmers.

“Since Rocky took over in the mid-’90s, though, agricultural crime has been Pipkin Detective Agency’s claim to fame. It’s easy to see why. Take almost any one of the 230 crops grown in the Central Valley — melons, pistachios, citrus — and you’ll see that each possesses the same set of qualities: plentiful, valuable, and, as Rocky says, “It’s easy to fence it. Everybody’s got to eat.”

Just in case you missed it last week, Bloomberg Businessweek‘s most recent cover story about the computer science department at Howard University, which has received a lot of attention from Silicon Valley companies, but hasn’t produced many Facebook or Google employees.

“That fall, when Facebook’s Williams came to campus with colleagues, the visit didn’t go over well. In a meeting with students, one Facebook employee brought up diversity so often that students say they felt uncomfortable—as if she wanted to talk only about the color of their skin and not programming. The event had been advertised as focused on diversity, but students had been eager to talk about jobs. A spokeswoman declined to make Williams or other recruiters available to be interviewed, because, she says, Facebook is “still building our relationship with Howard.” Dropbox also made its recruiting trip to Howard that fall but didn’t hire anyone full time.”