Someday I’m going to come here with a bunch of really happy true news stories. But yesterday, while I was out with a bunch of friends at a park in Manhattan on a sunny day, I made the mistake of checking Twitter and found out that Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, a hilarious and outrageously talented Jewish moppet a full five years younger than me, died suddenly in the night. I never had any kind of emotional relationship with Prince or Bowie or, in fact, most of the rest of the luminaries 2016 has taken from us already, but losing Yelchin has hit me very hard, despite not having an emotional relationship with him or his work either. That he was so young, that he was an only child, that his parents were figure skaters who fled the Soviet Union and that the accident was so strange and lonely and horrible, just feels like too much to bear.
Most of the links I’ve collected over the past week have been reactions to the Orlando massacre. The first one I think everyone should watch is Samantha Bee’s not-even-contained fury at the state of politics that allowed such a thing to happen.
- Two other stories related to the mass murder, immensely worth your time: “I bought an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in Philly in 7 minutes,” from the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Dahlia Lithwick’s “The Second Amendment Hoax,” from Slate.
- Another story I can’t get out of my head: a Storify documenting the atmosphere from within a Donald Trump rally. Pair with Dave Eggers’ very different but still distressing take for the Guardian, “Could He Actually Win?“
- From the world of jurisprudence and intellectual property , an interesting, if also consequentially unnerving, story: AMC is threatening a copyright lawsuit over spoilers leaking from The Walking Dead.
- Science is still exciting, though, right? From the blog at Scientific American, a headline that caught my eye: “Is Particle Physics About to Crack Wide Open?“
The news waits for no one. I was so overwhelmed and buzzing with possibilities from an amazing four days at THREAD, the storytelling conference/workshop at Yale (that’s me up top experiencing VR for the first time!), that I was trying to find exactly the right in to discuss it here. Then one asshole committed an atrocity in Orlando, then another tried to one-up him at the Los Angeles Pride Parade, then Donald Trump outdid himself with just three words, an impressive feat on any number of terrible levels:
Thank goodness for the Tonys last night. And if you’re looking for the story par excellence to escape into, may I suggest the Dodo’s “Chicken Sails Around the World With Her Hot Dad“? It’s got everything, and I hope it brings a little light back into your world. The rest of today’s links are not nearly so fun.
- I’ve been watching two stories about sexual assault gain traction in my Facebook feed especially. There’s the Stanford rapist Brock Turner sentencing outcry, and an exposé from the Chicago Reader on rampant harassment at a local theater going unchecked for years. These have led to a number of nuanced, thought-provoking considerations of what constitutes justice, all the more worth considering in the light of unspeakable acts like a mass murder at a gay bar.
- Jes Skolnik writes about restorative justice, and something in her phrasing really struck me — that the violent act itself is one thing, but the injustice of the system endangering and failing so many more is what we can concretely fight.
- Radiolab just started a spin-off miniseries about the Supreme Court, called More Perfect, and it’s truly worth your time. The first episode, “Cruel and Unusual,” is another exploration of how we try to enact vengeance or justice through the state, but can’t seem to reconcile the desire for the death penalty with the reality of how it comes to pass.
- Two other writers took on the subtler cultural choices that have wracked various theater communities. As a one-time would-be improviser, I can absolutely confirm what Julia Weiss says about the language of sexual violence and misogyny in improv, and how real concerns get dismissed in the name of comedy. Meanwhile, Anthea Carns considers the way theater valorizes a certain kind of male anti-hero, and how those stories are considered “deep” and “meaningful” simply by dint of their aggressiveness.
- Many outlets have reported that the incomparable Geena Davis will be producing a documentary on gender disparity in Hollywood; many others have noted with some outrage that the project has a male director. The Mary Sue gets to the bottom of both questions, and reminds us that we can’t dismiss true allyship while also demanding it. That said, pair with the Atlantic’s piece on why film studios no longer make live-action films starring young girls.
- Meanwhile, Ars Technica takes us into an odd project that could put us all on our heels anyway: a short film written by an AI.
- There’s been some incredible reporting lately about bodily trauma. First, NPR profiles the Iraq veteran who threw himself into researching the emblematic injury of that war, the TBI. Next, the New York Times Magazine asks whether PTSD might in fact have physical roots. Pair both of these with GQ’s initial look at concussions in the NFL.
- We’re 10 days away from the vote that determines whether Great Britain will leave the European Union. The Nib is an excellent nonfiction cartoon and comics site, and since I went to THREAD to experiment with graphic novel-style journalism, check out their explanation of what Brexit could mean and what its supporters and detractors have to gain and lose.