Things I’m Verbing: Why we need mammoths, delayed swanhood and dictator chic

I’m taking a social media detox at the moment, which feels great (yes, I’m going to do one of these). As I watch myself try to find the Twitter app on my phone, I definitely realize how often I reach for it as a numbing agent — and how outrage itself can be a numbing agent. On my commutes, instead of draining my battery and my data trying to refresh my feed underground, I’m going for Pocket and actually catching up on all the longreads I meant to finish when I had time.

So hey, happy Friday! Happy St. Patrick’s Day (and happy birthday to one of my very favorite people in the world since middle school, the incredible Out There podcast creator Willow Belden). Have some really excellent longer “slow journalism.”

  • More on that wilderness thing: You must, you must read Ross Andersen’s “Pleistocene Park” for the Atlantic. It’s an intersection of climate change, land management and resurrecting charismatic megafauna that I never saw coming. It’s also a nice antidote to (or at least a bit of hope versus) excellent but gloomy pieces like Laurie Penny’s “The Slow Confiscation of Everything.”
  • Sarah Menkedick’s “The Making of the Mexican-American Dream” for Pacific Standard is the best blending of personal experience, good reporting and national policy. She beautifully explores the identity Mexican-Americans do and could have in the United States, and the way they’re poised to define American identity going forward.
  • I found Marshall Allen’s ProPublica piece “What Hospitals Waste” from a tweet proclaiming it “one of those stories you’re immediately jealous of.” It’s an inspired and inspiring work of investigative reporting about the conflicting requirements of desperate communities and cleanliness protocols.
  • Another great, sideways piece of analysis: For Politico, Peter York analyzes Trump’s decorating style and how it compares to other regimes historically and around the world in “Trump’s Dictator Chic.”
  • Finally, in a much lovelier look at art, Irina Dumitrescu reflects on the joys of learning ballet as an adult, and what the lives of professional ballet dancers mean, in the wonderfully titled “Swan, Late.”

Stay brave, friends.

Image credit: How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth

Things I’m Verbing: CPAC crashers, gene editors and eating for money

You can’t help but click on a story titled “The Case for Becoming a Hermit” in this day and age. It’s actually a well-written book review that makes me wish it answered the questions it raises, but for my part, the response was almost ravenously quick. There are still good things out in the world, though. For instance:

  • One feel-good story for the day: Meet the Black antifascist activist who shows how hate has consequences.
  • I love science writing and science stories. This week, On the Media re-aired two phenomenal interviews about gene editing and human cloning, as well as the ethics of both, as explored in the amazing BBC America series Orphan Black.
  • The Baffler and the Atlantic have two similar stories about the academy and its relationship to public life. First, from Maximillian Alvarez, “The Accidental Elitist,” on the humanities and the way we need to rethink the public intellectual. Then, from the excellent Ed Yong, “How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners.”
  • I loved this Briallen Hopper piece from the Cut: “Relying on Friendship in a World Made for Couples.”
  • Finally, from the Ringer, an actually excellent process/inside media story about food writing. Once I discovered The Great British Bake Off/Baking Show on Netflix, I leaped right into documentaries and travel shows like Chef’s Table, Somm, I’ll Have What Phil’s Having, Michael Pollan’s Cooked and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Pardon the pun, but the market’s appetite for food media right now is insatiable, and I love it. “Will Write for Food” addresses two problems we don’t really see as consumers. First, in Bryan Curtis’ own words, “If everyone wants to be a food critic, who’s going to pick up the bill?” But there’s also another issue worth exploring: “A food critic is a rock critic that has been ripened and aged.” Really interesting stuff.

There’s a lot of other big stuff going on, of course.

Stay brave, friends.