Well, this week sure is continuing (and this story continues to develop even as I type up this post). At least we’ve got Andy Serkis on our side.
Well, this week sure is continuing (and this story continues to develop even as I type up this post). At least we’ve got Andy Serkis on our side:
- Instead of more of all that, dig into this New York Times piece on musicologist Alan Lomax, who dedicated his career to preserving and elevating American folk traditions. It’s not just about the newly opened free archive of his recordings — we also need to ask ourselves about the difference between honoring culture and mummifying it.
- I already have many beefs with Amazon, Jeff Bezos’ rescue of the Washington Post aside. At the New Republic, Matthew Stoller implores Democrats to remember their trust-busting roots as Amazon ascends to true monopoly. For the Nation, David Dayen considers how Amazon is not just bad for the economy, but for the entrepreneurial spirit itself.
- Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse is one of those Republicans liberal Twitter can get behind. But like Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins and Arizona’s Sen. John McCain, his voting record is at odds with his reputation. Writing for Slate, Ben Mathis-Lilley digs into the dangers of performative decency with “The Wasted Mind of Ben Sasse.”
- Kids and teens rejoice: Per Maggie Koerthe-Baker at FiveThirtyEight, sleep “problems” are societal.
- If you’ve muted “thread” on Twitter, developer Darius Kazemi might have an amazing new app for you. Spooler turns long Twitter threads into blog posts, so they can be read as they were freaking meant to be read. Have at.
Stay brave, friends.
TFW you spend a year chasing down evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia, and then Trump Jr. scoops you on Twitter.
That… sure has been some morning!
- How about a nice history of skateboarding from 99% Invisible?
- Or, from On the Media, a look at how science fiction is tackling climate change? It’s not all doom and gloom — one of the piece’s loveliest features is the words listeners made up to describe the new environmental realities we may face in coming years. See also: Atlas Obscura’s great piece on demonyms, and where you come from if you’re a Leodensian.
- Also related to the future: from Pacific Standard, “The Fallacy of Endless Growth.”
- Via Quartz: It turns out we understand calories a lot less than we think we do.
- Last night, I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming, and it was a complete and utter delight. I wouldn’t call it a terrifically deep film, which is a great strength — emotionally, it’s great, but it doesn’t ask big questions like even other Marvel movies (e.g., my all-time No. 1, Captain America: The Winter Soldier). That’s my awkward segue into a piece of excellent pop culture criticism from Angelica Jade Bastién, writing for Vulture. Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, a Civil War-era story about Southern belles that features no people of color, has drawn lots of criticism for its oblivious whiteness. Bastién, however, offers a different perspective in “How The Beguiled Subtly Tackles Race Even When You Don’t See It.”
Stay brave, friends.
Happy Saturday! It’s the weekend! Sure is nice to kick back and do some reading, right?
Totally, totally. So, it’s all good stuff, I’m sure: great journalism, considered research, thorough analysis of the state of the world, a new way of looking at things, cause for… op… cause for…
…well, okay, I guess that was too much to ask. (And yes, you should click all those links, they’re pretty staggering.) It might get worse before it gets better, but there are at least some signs that it could get better.
- I’m still thinking about Charles Pierce’s Esquire indictment of the potential Trump voter. “This Isn’t Funny Anymore. American Democracy Is at Stake” is the much angrier version of the Washington Post editorial board’s remarkable full-page op-ed “Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy.”
- Two interesting — not counterpoints, but thoughts on anger as political discourse. Laurie Penny’s “I’m With the Banned” is about noxious alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos, who like all trolls sees rage as victory. I also can’t stop thinking about Invisibilia’s recent episode on complementary behavior — specifically, on how treating alienated young men with kindness rather than authoritarian condemnation kept them from joining ISIS. I don’t know what can be done about the current of selfish, racist, nationalist, nativist, xenophobic anger that Trump is riding, but I want to believe this can inform some kind of response.
- All that said, we did get one actual bright spot this week: Jon Stewart came home, and oh boy, he’s still got it.
- It’s easy to rend our hair about the Republican candidate — goodness knows he gives us plenty of cause. But I’m trying to remind myself that our alternatives are actually quite good. Cases in point:
- I finally read Ezra Klein’s long piece “Understanding Hillary,” about the gap in her approval ratings between when she’s running for office and when she’s actually doing a job. I’ve long been a Hillary skeptic, if for no other reason than dynastic politics are no better when it’s spouses rather than sons, but I found this really illuminating and encouraging, even as it’s honest about her very real faults.
- The knee-jerk liberal narrative about Tim Kaine, her vice-presidential pick, is that he’s a boring white guy on a ticket that could have been transformative. But I’m hearing different from a number of Virginians, including Krystal Ball, whose “The Progressive Case for Tim Kaine” includes this line, for those of us who balked at his record on reproductive freedom: “Kaine doesn’t want to control my body and I don’t want to control his mind, so we’re all good there.”
- More to the point, the New York Times Magazine cover story this week is a fascinating and, dare I say it, hopeful look at the economic progressives whose message is becoming more and more central to the Democratic national ticket. “Could Hillary
Clinton Become the Champion of the 99 Percent?” Felicia Joy Wong, the president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, thinks so.
- We deserve something nice after all this week’s sturm und drang. Have this baby rhino. Oh, and also:
For the next week, I have this problem: I want to be on the Internet, and particularly social media, but I also want to go into seeing Captain America: Civil War next Friday without having seen most of it in either leaked clips or people talking openly about spoilers. Concurrently, I’m also eager for any news at all about my favorite TV show, Agent Carter, and whether it’s been renewed. (Surely it would be terrible to cancel this amazing show while Peggy Carter’s surviving crew is dominating silver screens worldwide? Then again, I’m biased and think any circumstances under which we lose Agent Carter are terrible.)
So, I’m not quite in hiding, but I’m enacting any number of precautions to be sure I get my peak #TeamCap experience. Happily, this does mean I’ve found a lot of good stories I’ve enjoyed.
- We’ve all learned a lot about Prince and the ways he changed the world. I had no idea Prince also lived with epilepsy; Karrie Higgins’ essay “Prince and the Sparkle Brains” is a deeply felt and movingly written look at disability and representation, and a must-read on every level.
- I’m a big fan of lists, and having recently become a big fan of making comics, I was delighted when Science of Us underscored the benefits of drawing your to-do lists.
- Pop culture is all superheroes all the time these days, except when it’s taking a breather in Westeros. The Imaginary Worlds podcast has a great episode about, well, the practical concerns of fantasy and sci-fi — namely, “The Economics of Thrones and Starships.”
- The overlap in the Venn diagram of nerds and book-lovers is huge. LitHub has a nice entry in the ongoing genre of KonMari response pieces, “On the Heartbreaking Difficulty of Getting Rid of Books.” Pair with the Atlantic‘s more socially skeptical piece, “Marie Kondo and the Privilege of Clutter.”
- This week a friend and I broke out some DVDs I own but had never watched: the early episodes of the ’80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, one of my most formative texts. A close analysis of the famous theme song led us to theorize that the Leonardo voice actor sings it. However, the truth was even better: The voice of a generation is a high-concept session artist named Jim Mandell. He spoke briefly to Dish Nation in 2014 about, among other things, his work as dieselpunk music visionary Miles Doppler. A great mystery of my childhood, solved at last — and weirder than I could have hoped.
I write these posts trying to think both of my friends who are constantly swapping the best links on Slack all day and my friends who prefer to skim the news. For everyone, I think because of its omnipresence around (journalism) social media, you can’t forget to read “The Obama Doctrine,” Jeffrey Goldberg’s remarkable long look at the president’s foreign policy philosophies, taken from multiple interviews over a long period of time. It really is long, but don’t miss it — especially because at least for me, it reinforced, in our time of trouble, how much I’m going to miss this guy and his brain.
Probably you can preface all of these links with “In our time of trouble,” which has the same scansion as a rather phenomenal blues song. Now that I’ve earwormed you (I hope), you should check out those versions — you may not have heard at least two of them.
- If the current state of party implosion is giving you particular angst, don’t worry: Everything old is new again, and we’ve (sort of) seen this before.
- Activist/artist Lauren Besser is struggling with a thing that rings true to me: What if Bernie was Bernadette? What’s the choice we’re really being offered from the Democratic candidates?
- Fightland has an older but fascinating piece on tough Jews — literally, Jewish fighters and the Yiddish they used for those fights. (Can’t say I think it landed the ending, which doesn’t understand power differentials, but the rest, oh yeah.) See also: things I would love Ted Cruz to get through his noggin.
- One more rightly viral piece for the list: “12 Things About Being a Woman That Women Won’t Tell You,” from Caitlin Moran for Esquire UK. I got catcalled twice in one residential block this week, once by a man driving a yellow school bus. Like any of us, I could tell you so much more.
- I loved this week’s episode of Note to Self from WNYC. “Why You Feel More Productive But the Economy Isn’t” is a conversation with Douglas Rushkoff, who wrote Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and it points a damning finger at how expectations for explosive growth warp business and companies at just about every level.