Things I’m Verbing: Fake food, bad HR and the act you’ve known for all these years

It is an act of radical self-care to remind yourself there is other news and journalism out there totally unrelated to Comey, Trump and the downfall of the republic!

It is an act of radical self-care to remind yourself there is other news and journalism out there totally unrelated to Comey, Trump and the downfall of the republic!

Chris Evans giggling at his dog is also a radical act of self-care. But also:

  • Let’s start with the Beatles. I love the Beatles. I spent the three years from sixth to eighth grade listening almost exclusively to the Beatles, so I’m honestly pretty chuffed (don’t @ me) at all the coverage of the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. (Fifty! Years!) All Songs Considered brought in Giles Martin, the son of Beatles producer George Martin, to talk about how he went back into Abbey Road’s vault to not just remaster but remix the album from scratch. As someone who knows nothing about sound engineering, it’s fascinating to hear the differences in production side by side. See also:
    • Vulture had the nerve to rank 213 Beatles songs from worst to best, always sure to produce hilarious and furious discussion, because obviously it’s going to be wrong bottom to top. (Although I can’t disagree with their No. 1 pick, why “Hold Me Tight” doesn’t occupy the final slot is a mystery.) The piece provides a fantastic history of the band in non-chronological vignettes along the way.
    • I have not read this yet, but I’m thrilled that this 2008 paper exists on PsyArt, a self-described online journal for the psychological study of the arts: “The Space Between Us: A Developmental History of the Beatles.”
  • Also coming from the podcast word, Gastropod, which charmingly examines the relationship between food and science, has an episode on fake and adulterated food (and the cops that stop its proliferation) that could put you on edge in the grocery store for the rest of time.
  • It’s a short response to a larger fawning article by the New York Times, but the New Republic‘s Sarah Jones punches back at the notion that tech giants fund coding programs for kids out of the goodness of their hearts. Speaking of techno-libertarians, a reminder from a former ardent supporter why Julian Assange is garbage. Same with Uber.
  • Journalism is in serious trouble. We all know that, even if we’re not in media. But the ways in which it’s in trouble on the hiring side aren’t always apparent to outsiders. Rachel Schallom, who will soon by starting a job with the Wall Street Journal, wrote up a clear-headed and damning account of what’s wrong with newsroom hiring practices, from the unpaid labor and lost intellectual property the luckiest desperate applicants give away to the ways in which HR performs gatekeeping through the interview process and the job postings themselves.
  • You can’t end a Friday post that heavily, so I present, from NPR: cat cafes vs. dog cafes vs… raccoon cafes?

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Vichy Democrats, Jewish allyship and some cute, smart dogs

Hey, some week! Right? Right?

Oof, ain’t that the truth.

You can track the votes of your representatives in Congress here, by the way. (I’m with Tom Tomorrow — we need to implement the phrase “Vichy Democrats.”) Gizmodo has published a guide to unearthing the embarrassing tweets of your enemies. You can also read sudden bestseller 1984 for free at Project Gutenberg, a superb resource all around. Something to think about as at least six journalists have been charged with felonies for reporting on Trump’s inauguration; the D.C. police chief won’t comment.

  • Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It’s a day for reflection on current political climates both inside the Jewish community and, in a very big way, outside it. Benjamin Gladstone, writing for Tablet, exhorts Jews not to excuse away antisemitism from their political allies anymore — from the right and from the left. (For more on that, here’s the briefest possible explanation of why it’s antisemitic to bring up Israel/Palestine when discussing issues of Jewish safety — or the presence and existence of Jews at all.) Meanwhile, as Trump moves to close borders and institute immigration quotas based on religion, a bit of cruelty: Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser (because that’s not worrisome enough) is only alive because of chance. His grandmother survived the Holocaust, but couldn’t avoid it entirely, because borders had been closed to her and millions of other Jews who tried to flee Europe.
  • You’ve seen all those “rogue national park service accounts” on Twitter, right? They’re really amusing and encouraging. However, as Motherboard rightly argues, if these really are national park employees who need to be protected (and not a ploy to get federally employed scientists to leak to them and reveal themselves), these accounts should verify themselves somehow. It can be done without compromising their identities.
  • The podcast Reply All found some precedent for a master media manipulator like Trump who nearly rose to seize real power: Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, a man who literally became famous for inserting goat testicles into men with impotence starting in the late 1910s. This guy gave noted American fascist Father Coughlin his start on the radio, and at least for this instance, the story has a happy-for-us ending.
  • Many argue that the real evil we need to keep our eyes on is Mike Pence. Autostraddle has a terrifying piece by a former member of the extreme Christian rightist Quiverfull movement explaining that millions of evangelical conservatives have been waiting for a high government official just like him.
  • It’s all a lot, right? Yeah. You need “How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind.” Pair with “The Democratic Base Is Marching Right Past Its Leaders.”

For more on that (and current Captain America writer Nick Spencer‘s latest bit of high-minded grossness).

If you’re still here, I have a completely unrelated personal essay up at Screwball Heroine, for the interested. “You’ll Never Know” takes on how the language of art-making can become gatekeeping all too easily.

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Time travel, space travel and looking forward

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!

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Barack’n’Roll

I dug up some artifacts from Nov. 4, 2008, the day Barack Obama won the highest office in the land. I was in Chicago, 24 and a bit, an uninsured temp worker editing brochures for the American Medical Association about the nearly 50 million Americans who didn’t have health insurance then. First, I wrote this:

Cynicism is easy. It’s safe. It keeps you insulated from disappointment and makes allowances for you to feel protected in all possible outcomes.

To ask this electorate, which had its heart so thoroughly broken in 2000 and 2004, to hope as it has done this year, is incredible.

What we’ve seen, what people have done for each other, the stories they’ve shared, is incredible.

Always remember this.

Cynicism is easy.

Hope takes elbow grease and pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.

Later that evening, before I left to go to Grant Park to await the results, I posted this:

I want to say something, for all of you who can’t be here right now.

There’s something magical happening in Chicago. The weather has taken this freakishly beautiful turn, and it’s been low 70s when we should be battling gray skies and blustery wet winds. Everywhere you go, people are wearing Obama buttons. I can’t describe what it’s like, seeing all those little flashes people are wearing. It’s just something you catch in passing, but it’s true: I’ve never seen people get like this. There are five or ten Obama buttons or t-shirts in eyeshot at any given moment you walk down a street, and that’s just without looking closely.

It’s everybody, too. It’s old men and construction workers and students and marketing managers and people behind counters and executives and just. It’s everybody. It’s everybody. Obama. This skinny guy with big ears and a funny name. Obama.

On my lunch break, a coworker and I went to the Freedom Museum at the Trib Tower. It’s an entire museum, free of charge, dedicated to the struggle for equality and free expression. A group of kids was there, running around and watching the short films and rigging the electoral map consoles and lining up eagerly to toss their tokens in the Obama box, to “vote” at the end of the tour. I passed all the displays about women’s suffrage and Native American rights and banned books and censorship and hate speech and eminent domain and marriage equality and it was all I could do to not cry.

On the bus home, an older gentleman in full Uncle Sam gear declared in an English or Australian accent that he’d lived in this country for 56 years and this was the first time he’d ever felt anything about an election. He then led the bus in a song of his own composition. I wish I’d taken down the lyrics.

Then, miraculously, after the thunderous scream shook hundreds of thousands of onlookers when CNN called Ohio, my home state, for Obama, after the crew called a soundtrack for the president-elect of the United States, I recorded this phone message:

I say this so you won’t forget that it can go the other way, that your hard work and screams for truth and justice won’t always go unheeded, mocked and crushed. Remember the other inauguration, that in January 2009, like me, you maybe heard this piece and wept:

Dignity is still real. Meanwhile:

Stay brave, friends. Take care of yourselves; we’re going to need you soon.

Things I’m Verbing: Marshmallows, lipstick and a dichotomous double dose

My very earliest entries in this blog were not always up-to-the-minute stories and analyses. Sometimes I just posted things that I thought were cool. Given that by the time I post my next entry, the Shit Demon from Dogma will become the leader of the free world &c, I’m going to go halfsies on this one. If you want to skip right to the good-still-exists-in-the-world stuff, I don’t blame you in the slightest. First:

Okay, but now:

  • A real thing in the world: collectible Hieronymus Bosch figurines.
  • This Azerbaijani woman wrote out the entire Quran on black silk in gold and silver ink. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to describe this.
  • Are you listening to Song Exploder? You really should. This week, host Hrishikesh Hirway (also of local favorite The West Wing Weekly) gets Solange Knowles to break down “Cranes in the Sky.” It’s so fortifying to hear an artist talk about depression, mental health, her creative process and what makes her laugh; it’s also good for me to realize that the title of this song actually has nothing to do with birds.
  • Another podcast rec, from Slate: “How the Onion Remade Joe Biden.”
  • A very real story that will make your heart sing: in Polish (so hit “translate” on your browser, what a future we live in!), a gigantic, authentic Nazi-eating fish.

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Fake people, entitled men and literal Danish blanket forts

I started journalism school four years ago today — holy cats. That whole first quarter, all anyone could talk about was Snow Fall, the multimedia longform investigation that was supposed to change everything, and Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame football player whose inspirational long-distance girlfriend turned out to be a hoax. In light of the latter, I’m a little pleased that the viral story of the week is about another personality who seems to be leading the entire media establishment astray; for more, see the Daily Beast,The Media’s Favorite ‘Millennial’ Is 55 Years Old.”

Right now, of course, four years is sort of a touchy increment. A lot can happen in four years, good and bad. Many on Twitter have noted that Trump and the GOP are basically DDoS-ing the American people right now (and presumably going forward indefinitely) so we can’t keep up with all their destructive, self-serving bullshit (for example, six confirmation hearings are set for the day Trump will supposedly hold a news conference revealing… what, exactly? another hotel?). Many have been writing about how to keep your spirits up and effect action; Charles Blow’s “The Anti-Inauguration” is as good a summation as any.

  • I know we’re supposed to be beyond analyzing why Trump won and Hillary… won, but not in the right way. I found the Atlantics “The Growing Urban-Rural Divide Around the World” interesting. There’s something not-comforting-but-kind-of-comforting in the notion that a trend isn’t just some uniquely complicated outgrowth of your own country’s nonsense.
  • On that note, see also, from the Guardian, “Welcome to the Age of Anger.”
  • Art critic John Berger passed away earlier this week. Dazed wrote up a good piece on why his work is still so important — on how being female means being constantly for consumption in Western civilization and media.
  • A not-at-all pleasant follower, also in the same vein: from the Huffington Post, most mass shootings simply don’t get all that much attention. Why? Because they’re about controlling men slaughtering their wives and children.
  • Grim, grim, grim. It’s hard not to feel that way as a journalist. I remember worrying if entering this profession would make me hate humanity. (Answer to my past self: It has and it hasn’t, mostly not in the ways I expected.) However, for all the hard things we cover and witness, we can also talk about the entirely frivolous (and find ways in which they’re much more substantive). For instance, I can’t stop giggling about the New York Times’ investigation into hygge, the Danish ethos of coziness. It’s a good piece! It’s very good lifestyle writing and reporting. It comes to some interesting conclusions about cost and insularity. It’s the best thing to read after all of the above.

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Here Comes the General (Rise Up)

Hey, we’ve done it! (She said, incautiously, with 36-ish hours to go.) 2016 is still sucker-punching us with all it’s got, right down to the wire, of course. I’m not even a huge Star Wars fan, but the outpouring of raw, ragged grief at losing Carrie Fisher has really overwhelmed me. That her mother, Debbie Reynolds, would die a day later is just… well. If you’re going to read one Carrie Fisher thinkpiece, make it Anne Theriault’s “General Leia Organa Is the Hero We Need Right Now.” This started as a widely shared Twitter thread, and I’m glad to see it in a more permanent, shareable format.

(The full-sized original of that is by Julian Callos, by the way. I wish there was a print available, but it seems to have been a charity painting, so there’s just the one.)

So, how are we going to round out this flaming shitstorm of a year? Mad as hell, for the most part.

  • Madeleine Davies, writing for Jezebel, speaks for so many of us, I think, in “Becoming Ugly,” an essay about the fury of the constant humiliation of baked-in cultural misogyny. It starts off with young Davies dick-punching an asshole teenage boy, and the injustice that followed. I don’t know any woman who doesn’t identify, somehow.
  • One of the Rockettes spoke to Marie Claire about the command performance at Donald Trump’s inauguration. Meanwhile, a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned rather than sing for that event; more than 20,000 Mormons have signed a Change.org petition to get the group out of their commitment.
  • Just what the transition needed: Israel/Palestine bristling up again. Michael Koplow, policy director at the Israel Policy Forum, has an even-handed explanation of what the UN resolution condemning settlements will actually do to the peace process.
  • You’re not going to get a much better polemic against this year than Chris Kluwe’s “Fuck You, Donald Trump.” It lays the blame where it belongs: everywhere. On the “a plague on all your journalistic houses” note, pair with Dan Gillmor’s “Fix the Demand Side of News Too,” a call for media literacy, now more than ever.
  • And yet, at the bottom of Pandora’s box, there was hope. WYNC podcast Note to Self re-aired its episode on FOMO versus “the joy of missing out” — an actually excellent conversation about presence, mindfulness and overload, particularly in that everything we complain about in being overwhelmed and oversaturated with media is exactly what suits the business model of the companies that fuel it. Also listen to their interview with performance artist Marina Abramovic, who has turned the focus of her art from her own body to her audience. I hope these both help.

Stay brave, friends. We can do this.