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.

Things I’m Verbing: Raising the dead, weighing the soul and decrypting the wires

I wish I could say that today’s link roundup is a bit late because I was hobbled by the same Internet outage that’s messing up everyone’s day, but to be quite honest, I’ve been reading this great book about the science of the afterlife all morning. Mary Roach’s Spook is my book club’s selection for October (a fact I only realized after first reading her survey of corpses and cadavers, Stiff). About a third into it, we’ve already discussed the quest to weigh the soul, the day-to-day of reincarnation investigators and the many strange ways people once believed a person gains a soul in the first place. Pair with the Gimlet podcast Science Versus two-parter on forensic science and we’ve got some wonderful topical journalism chasing clicks and book sales around my favorite holiday.

  • Also in the podcasting world, 99 Percent Invisible went for the episode that needed to happen the moment McMansionHell went viral, and it’s great. (Side note: I’m so thrilled that McMansion Hell is run by a smart, hilarious woman.)
  • Undark, a science publication you will probably enjoy, explored the less flashy side of de-extinction recently. Rather than start with dinosaurs or mammoths, why not go for bringing back something actually doable: the Martha’s Vineyard-native heath hen?
  • This is an older piece from the Atlantic, but I was trying to explain to a friend why so many people, especially millennials and younger, don’t like talking on the phone. I fell down this rabbit hole about sound transmission over cables versus cellular networks, and I remain fascinated.
  • Catapult is another home for literate and brave essays you should get to know. “Nineteen Slaves” by Jona Whipple digs into questions a lot of Americans may have, starting with “Am I really part of the problem if my family never owned other people?”
  • It’s been a good week for artist profiles and art reviews. I don’t think you should miss any of these pieces: Jeffrey Eugenides profiling Zadie Smith; Rachel Syme reviewing Marina Abramović’s latest memoir; Hilton Als considering Moonlight and what it means for depictions of gay black men on film.