Again, the pace of daily news overwhelms me — are we still talking about Kellyanne Conway? If not, it’s a bit of a shame, if only because I was really looking forward to sharing Erin Gloria Ryan’s recent New York Times op-ed, which includes language so amazing, I can’t resist it even now, when we’ve all moved on:
I watched her the way a person might stand at the kitchen window and watch a raccoon abscond with the first tomato of summer. I didn’t agree with what she was doing, but I admired her chutzpah.
It’s a good, actually pretty compassionate piece. Don’t let it get lost in the churn.
- In 2009, I had the pleasure of hearing Amy Harmon speak about her Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on genetics. She’s a journalist I always read as soon as she comes out with something new, and she also basically has the career I covet for myself. Her latest story, “Beyond ‘Hidden Figures’: Nurturing New Black and Latino Math Whizzes,” is an exemplar of what journalism can be.
- Likewise, the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal has just shared a meticulously reported and reconstructed look at a murder on the high seas — and the price we really pay to eat fish.
- This isn’t going to make you feel good, but you should read comics artist Dale Beran’s “4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump.” Don’t get too comfortable celebrating Milo Yiannopoulos’ downfall yet.
- There are two ways to look at this story from Popular Mechanics, “Scientists Find 50,000-Year-Old Life Forms Trapped in Mexican Cave Crystals.” One, this is how endless aliens/epidemic/eldritch horror movies start out. Two, they might be doing us all a favor at this point.
- Oh no, cynicism! You could always meet the evangelicals trying to make the GOP care about refugees as a palate-cleanser. For a completely nonpartisan story to end on, Pixar is offering a storytelling course for free on Khan Academy.
Stay brave, friends.
I write you from John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, where I’m waiting for the second day in a row to see if a nor’easter will keep my dinky plane from landing at LaGuardia. It’s been a good visit home, but a bit of a rough one — we’re clearing out my parents’ house so my dad can move next month. That means sorting through all kinds of artifacts and memorabilia, one of which was my grandfather’s 1959 edition of Gray’s Anatomy. Good thing we did; my cousin found three pristine front pages from the 1960s, two of the moon landing and one on the assassination of JFK.
You rarely get to see these things in 3-D; the backs of the moon landing page especially were fascinating (particularly given my love of Hidden Figures):
We also found New Yorker medical ethicist and essayist Dr. Atul Gawande, who grew up down the street from me, in my sister’s middle-school yearbook. Uh, I might wait to share that with the world — he might have something to say about that picture.
Other ways in which the world is moving backward, bad and good!
- Trump, in typically vindictive fashion, responded to the Women’s March by savaging access to reproductive health care worldwide. On Facebook too, one conservative woman’s response to the campaign, claiming that she doesn’t need it, has gone viral. Two good posts on Medium rebut that view, one gently (“To Christy on Facebook, who doesn’t need the Women’s March” by Susan Speer) and one forcefully (“You Are Not Equal. I’m Sorry.” by Dina Leygerman).
- See also, from the Washington Post, “She’s 54, white, rural and a lifelong Republican. Why is she protesting Donald Trump?“
- Meanwhile, news organizations are getting some appropriate fight back in them. I was thrilled to see the New York Times get this savage: “With False Claims, Trump Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift.” From NPR, pair with “We Cannot Tolerate Legal and Personal Attacks on Journalists For Doing Their Jobs.”
- Bringing it way back, Hyperallergic points to a University of Michigan archive of more than 2,000 radical posters from the late 19th and early 20th century.
- Xiaolu Guo thought she knew what she could look forward to when she moved from China to London on a filmmaking scholarship. What followed was a years-long confrontation with identity and assimilation. This is a beautiful excerpt from her memoir Once Upon a Time in the East: A Story of Growing Up in the Guardian.
Stay brave, friends.
Have you seen Hidden Figures? You absolutely need to see Hidden Figures, a movie that makes no apologies for its brilliant Black women and for its depiction of the systems that humiliated and suppressed them. I just get really excited whenever I see that it’s doing well, and for a non-scifi film, it’s inspiring some incredible fanart. My favorite is this set of watercolors by Stella Blu, which I very much hope she’ll make available as prints:
I’m looking for inspiring and gorgeous art to put on my walls, given how close we are to the coming four years. Shepard “Obama Hope Poster” Fairey and two other artists are blasting through a Kickstarter campaign to flood Washington, D.C., with resistance images for an inauguration that’s banning large signs; for a $50 pledge, you can get a signed copy of your favorite print, plus unsigned versions of all five stunning images. The wonderful Summer Pierre is also doing limited-edition print runs of her Obama farewell address cartoon, as well as her 2017 resolutions for hope and action — proceeds go to charities addressing hunger and education.
On the personal essay side of things, I’ve also been thinking about spaces this week. At my site Screwball Heroine, “Portal fantasy, Williamsburg, Brooklyn” takes on the interior worlds of depression and the rejuvenating promise of a little retail therapy.
Okay, on to the rest.
- Romper editor and no-bullshit straight-talker EJ Dickson is having a C-section on Feb. 8 and she couldn’t be happier to tell you why. A great essay on women’s bodies, women’s choices and the social pressure to allow others to control both.
- You’d think, from the reporting, that the vast, undifferentiated middle of the country is nothing but working-class whites as far as the eye can see. Alia Hanna Habib grew up Arab-American in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a town as Rust Belt-dead as you could wish for, and her perspective deserves your attention.
- Ariel Aberg-Riger comes from Sheffield, Alabama, another part of the country facing strange political times. Her comic “How Does One Undam?” takes on hometown changes, the Tennessee Valley Authority and what happens to family roots in interesting times.
- Have I missed an opportunity to scare the pants off anyone today? Ned Resnikoff’s “The center has fallen, and white nationalism is filling the vacuum” for ThinkProgress should do the trick. There’s also the horrifying German court decision that an attempt to burn down a synagogue in 2014 wasn’t antisemitic because it was somehow a legitimate expression of protest against the actions of the Israeli government. That… is actually a textbook definition of antisemitism, so… cool.
- It’s no good leaving you curled up in a ball, though, so to bring some joy back into your life: Meet Daliyah Marie Arana, an incredible 4-year-old who has already read more than a thousand books and whose photos with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden have given me hope for the future for once.
Stay brave, friends.