Things I’m Verbing: War heroes, late capitalism and the City of Lions

D-Day has a hashtag this year: #DDay73. Meanwhile, last night I finally saw Wonder Woman, taking on a different world war, and it’s spawned a cascade of hot takes ranging from “Is it really feminist?” to “You sheeple don’t realize this film is propaganda!” What a time to be alive.

D-Day has a hashtag this year: #DDay73. Meanwhile, last night I finally saw Wonder Woman, taking on a different world war, and it’s spawned a cascade of hot takes ranging from “Is it really feminist?” to “You sheeple don’t realize this film is propaganda!” What a time to be alive. Still:

  • If we’re going to talk about improperly lionizing the military, let’s start with Adam Serwer’s gut-wrenching demolition of the myth of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. As a childhood Civil War nerd, I had never heard any of this. Serwer’s response to the inevitable “He was a man of his time!” articles (provided, in this case, by the National Review) is equally damning.
  • Wellston, Ohio, is very close to where I grew up. New York Times science journalist Amy Harmon went there to meet the students pushing back against learning about climate change. This story exemplifies all of Harmon’s empathy for her subjects, without editorializing on them, and that kind of reporting may have a payoff by the end.
  • I forget sometimes how engrossing and beautiful book reviews can be. Jacob Mikanowski’s “Wine, Olive Oil and Wisteria: A Sensual Tour of the ‘City of Lions’” is Dictionary of the Khazars-level detailed and fascinating. It’s a tour through time and empire of what is currently Lviv, Ukraine, illuminating both the forces of history acting on the city and the individuals who make it memorable. Book reviews like this are a project I want to take on someday; the Open Notebook has some interesting thoughts on how to get started.
  • Twitter loves its @Alt- and @RogueAgencies. You can even become a Resistance Ranger with an actual wooden badge. Snopes has finally carried out a task we needed from the beginning: creating a directory of verified accounts.
  • I keep thinking about Sarah Jeong’s February comment that “Silicon Valley is obsessed with solving problems that are clearly most efficiently solved with better public works.” In that light, read “Uber, But for Meltdowns.”

If you want to end on a happier, sillier note (goodness knows we all need it):

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Lunch ladies, wonder pigs and existential bread

I’m a magazine gal at heart — daily news is not my preferred speed, addicted as I am to news Twitter. Almost as if proving my point, the links I had been saving since last week have become, well, not irrelevant but deep backstory by now, particularly in the thread starting from Michael Flynn discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador pre-inauguration, turmoil within the national security community and the so-called “spy revolt” that’s leading the intelligence community not to brief Donald Trump on certain issues because of their certainty he’s been compromised (which he does easily enough on his own anyway). That turned into the explosive revelation that former acting AG Sally Yates warned the administration that Flynn was vulnerable to Russian exploitation, and then seven hours after Kellyanne Conway said Flynn had the full confidence of the president, Flynn resigned.

That was yesterday. And today?

Oy. So that all happened. I’m going to share some more evergreen stories today, because honestly, if you want to keep up with current events, Twitter will have already moved on by the time you read it here.

  • The GOP is right on one thing — it is Valentine’s Day! Please read Laurie Penny’s “Maybe You Should Just Be Single” (“Happy Marxist Valentine’s Day!” she tweets), an actually quite good essay about women who drain themselves trying to find and please “lacklustre, unappreciative, boring child-men who were only ever looking for a magic girl to show off to their friends, a girl who would in private be both surrogate mother and sex partner.” Look, we know she’s not wrong. And to characterize this piece as one more bitter harpy with sharp words about the patriarchy does a profound disservice to Penny and you the reader.
  • You also need to read the Huffington Post Highline’s “Revenge of the Lunch Lady” by Jane Black. Several years ago, British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver brought his reality show to the Charleston, West Virginia, school system to overhaul their appalling school food program. Meet the woman who succeeded where he totally failed.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education shares a speech from English professor Kevin Birmingham which lays out the immorality of how adjuncts are treated, consumed and paid by universities. “The Great Shame of Our Profession” is essential reading; follow up with Longreads’A Shot in the Arm,” which also appeared this week, about a tenure-track professor forced by debt to donate plasma twice a week.
  • You can always rely on Aeon for interesting and well-written topical essays. Jay Griffiths argues that we’re looking to the wrong fascists in finding precedent for the alt-right. It’s Italy we need to study, not Germany. Meanwhile, as we try to diagnose the national ills that ail us, psychologists and psychiatrists are debating fiercely among themselves on the ethics of speculating on Trump’s mental health.
  • Want a feel-good story? I promise it doesn’t get much better than the Guardian’s “I accidentally bought a giant pig” (whose name, it turns out, is also Esther!). If you really want to just laugh at stupid things until you start wheezing at your desk, for whatever reason, “15 Hilarious Kitchen Fails That’ll Make Even the Worst Cook Feel Better” honestly made my day so much lighter.

It’s almost paczki season, friends. Stay brave.

Image Credit: Thomas Leuthard, 2011 (Flickr)

Things I’m Verbing: Falling down a chimney, lighting the oil and rereading history

The news keeps being heavy. I’m trying not to burn myself out, but it feels unbearable in its own way not to be a witness and speak out against this. If you want to stop here, that’s totally fine; here’s a first-person account of falling down a chimney for clicking over, which I appreciate. For something more apolitical, you might enjoy “Wishing Away the Wish List,” about the holidays and the desire to be known; for something about education, try “‘How Old Is the Shepherd?’ The Problem That Shook School Mathematics,” about liberating students from stupid pedagogy.

Here comes the rest:

Stay brave, friends.