You don’t often hear exhortations to read the comments, but Anne Helen Petersen is right: Hillbilly Elegy writer J.D. Vance is awfully proud of himself for moving to Columbus, Ohio, an incredibly wealthy town home to some of the nation’s biggest corporations and one of its largest state universities. It’s a bit hilarious to read, having grown up in Ohio’s poorest county. I was a privileged faculty brat, but I had to drive two hours to a decent mall and the airport just like everyone else. Live in Lancaster or Gloucester for a while and get back to us, friend.
If you want a really terrifying article about religion, see the New Republic’s “Amazing Disgrace: How Donald Trump Hijacked the Religious Right.” It’s less about Trump’s maneuvering (Republicans have been boosting their numbers with the evangelical Right for decades) than the roots of right-wing American evangelism in Southern nationalism and racism, and how the two are becoming married again.
I will always read stories about weird urban farming, whether it’s in abandoned shipping crates or hydroponic fish tanks in a garage. The New Food Economy has an interesting piece on the futurism of vertical farming, and why it won’t bring us to a techno utopia.
Oof, I’m sorry, this is all hard stuff. Luckily, the world still has Jenny Slate and Chris Evans, who are no longer a couple, but Slate makes me wish they were in this wonderful profile in Vulture. And of course, she’s the focus of the article, not him or her relationship; Jenny Slate is a literal piece of sunshine and I hope her life is brilliant.
LUKE EVANS HUGH JACKMAN AND TARON EGERTON IN A GASTON SING OFF IS WHAT THE INTERNET NEEDED AND DESERVED pic.twitter.com/gt3wDtIy6R
How you holding up, East Coast? Or the entire northern Midwest, for that matter? For my part, I discovered this morning that thundersnow exists outside of Chicago. Living on an island, for someone who grew up in a river valley and lived for 12 years next to a lake, is a real trip.
I want my news today to be virtually all un-Trump, because screw that guy and his tweets, but I can’t resist sharing these entirely too-apt tweets from earlier this month:
Think about how this pathetic, sorry, small, petty excuse for a health plan is why they've let him sell us out to Russia.
A blast from the past, well worth reading if you never have: Steven Brill’s massive Time story “Bitter Pill,” on why patients pay thousands of dollars for a cotton swab when they go to the hospital.
You’ve got to lose yourself in the New York Times Magazine’s interactive feature on the 25 songs that show us where music is going. Pair it with All Songs Considered’s audio piece on Resistance Radio, how musicians and producers reimagined the music of the ’60s for the Nazis-won-WWII show The Man in the High Castle.
If you have strong pre-existing opinions on either Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour or Zionism, don’t get mad at this link; read it. In response to a piece from the Nation, Berkeley law professor David Schraub addresses the intersectional movement’s argument du jour: “Can You Be a Zionist Feminist? Who Knows!“
I’m looking for a full-time journalism job (hello!), and naturally I’m concerned, to a major extent, with my online presentation. Writing for Quartz, Noah Berlatsky has some thoughts about what the obsession with personal branding implies for the future of work. In that same vein, I recommend “cyborg rights activist” Aral Balkan’s “Encouraging individual sovereignty and a healthy commons,” not least for its distrust of Facebook’s stated goal of “bringing people together.”
On one final lighter note:
Someone asked every member of Dáil Éireann if they liked Beyoncé and it's the greatest thing that's ever happened https://t.co/kssNaOCJQd
One story that keeps coming up in the wake of this election is how we need to listen to each other and break out of our social media bubble. The Guardian asked people to switch Facebook feeds, to some predictable results. WNYC’s Note to Selftook voice memos from voters and supporters from all over the spectrum, for an episode on how to take care of yourself online in a post-election world.
One tip from that last link is taking a moment to clarify for yourself what’s most important to you politically and personally. I still have no idea, in my inmost lizard-brain heart, why Trump’s campaign rhetoric wasn’t a deal-breaker for so many voters. You can talk to me about economic anxiety and feeling ignored and beaten down and disparaged until you’re blue in the face, but minorities and people of color in this country, not to mention Native people (who have the most right to rage of all, frankly), have been treated far worse by society and the government and still didn’t buy in. If you have links to an argument otherwise that truly convinces you, I’d love to see it — please share in the comments if you can.
If white-person economic insecurity due to failing industries fully explained Trump votes, a lot more journalists would have voted for him.
These paired essays are two horrible flavors that go together well. For the Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch investigates the parallels between contagion and the collapse of the American political system. “What is it,” he asks, “that not long ago allowed our government to metabolize the aggression that is inherent in any pluralistic society and still get things done?” Meanwhile, the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik asks us to get really honest about what the rise of Donald Trump among Americans means. See also, from May: “The Day the Republican Party Died.”
Also see also: The Los Angeles Times outlining the fundamental ridiculousness of the laws that will govern next week’s Republican National Convention, and why law enforcement in Cleveland is nervous as hell.
Other ways in which there’s good in the world, from a wholly unexpected source: The Kitchen Sisters’ podcast Fugitive Waves has been producing incredible stories lately about our relationships with culture and food. Even they were surprised, however, by what they learned about the George Foreman grill — including from Foreman himself. It’s not just the top-selling electrical appliance of all time, but it’s a vector of dignity. You can listen to the episode on that link, but I highly recommend subscribing to this show anyway.
If you missed “33 and Never Been Kissed” at the Establishment last week, you’re in store for an amazing and very brave piece of writing.
An interactive from the Cleveland Plain Dealer shows that 8 out of 10 of Ohio’s largest cities are in economic distress. Most of the rest of the state is too — my home county, Athens, always among the very poorest, scores at nearly 79 out of 100. Just in case Gov. John Kasich is still looking like any kind of good option at all as president. See also: “The Violent Remaking of Appalachia,” which destroyed large portions of the areas around me growing up, even before you get into fracking.
“Does simply engaging in a Jewish space render one unfit to do justice work?” This was a real question posed after transgender activist Janet Mock was persuaded not to appear at a non-Jewish, non-Israel-related event co-sponsored and hosted by Brown University’s Hillel last week. If you want a conversation we’re not really having (outside of Jewish activist social media, at least), consider what it means to be Jewish within social justice spaces.
Sunday was a big night for me: Though I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month several times and finished that 50,000-word story a few times in the past, this year was the first time I crossed the finish line a full day before the end of November. The story is all over the place and I’m trying to take a break before I revise it, but I’m pleased with it, as a start and as a personal symbol. It may not be writing for money, but it’s a good reminder that I can get the big jobs done.
Last night was my first night off from noveling in four weeks, so I did what any sensible person who can only handle so much amazing-but-harrowing Jessica Jones would and discovered The Great British Bake Off. It’s somehow both incredibly stressful and incredibly soothing to watch these earnest, lovely people put together gorgeous baked goods in a beautiful tent on an English country manor. Everyone is just so nice and helpful and genuinely interested in each other’s success. Time to make the world Mary Berry & Co. think we could be.
I read “On Pandering” this week too; yes, it really is as important a sucker-punch as all the retweets claim. If you don’t know what it’s about, ask yourself these questions: Where does the patriarchy live, and who are we writing for?