Things I’m Verbing: Bad conspiracies, bad monopolies and good sleep

Well, this week sure is continuing (and this story continues to develop even as I type up this post). At least we’ve got Andy Serkis on our side.

Well, this week sure is continuing (and this story continues to develop even as I type up this post). At least we’ve got Andy Serkis on our side:

  • Instead of more of all that, dig into this New York Times piece on musicologist Alan Lomax, who dedicated his career to preserving and elevating American folk traditions. It’s not just about the newly opened free archive of his recordings — we also need to ask ourselves about the difference between honoring culture and mummifying it.
  • I already have many beefs with Amazon, Jeff Bezos’ rescue of the Washington Post aside. At the New Republic, Matthew Stoller implores Democrats to remember their trust-busting roots as Amazon ascends to true monopoly. For the Nation, David Dayen considers how Amazon is not just bad for the economy, but for the entrepreneurial spirit itself.
  • Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse is one of those Republicans liberal Twitter can get behind. But like Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins and Arizona’s Sen. John McCain, his voting record is at odds with his reputation. Writing for Slate, Ben Mathis-Lilley digs into the dangers of performative decency with “The Wasted Mind of Ben Sasse.”
  • Kids and teens rejoice: Per Maggie Koerthe-Baker at FiveThirtyEight, sleep “problems” are societal.
  • If you’ve muted “thread” on Twitter, developer Darius Kazemi might have an amazing new app for you. Spooler turns long Twitter threads into blog posts, so they can be read as they were freaking meant to be read. Have at.

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Elephant seals, kidney pools and new words for a weird future

TFW you spend a year chasing down evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia, and then Trump Jr. scoops you on Twitter.

That… sure has been some morning!

  • How about a nice history of skateboarding from 99% Invisible?
  • Or, from On the Media, a look at how science fiction is tackling climate change? It’s not all doom and gloom — one of the piece’s loveliest features is the words listeners made up to describe the new environmental realities we may face in coming years. See also: Atlas Obscura’s great piece on demonyms, and where you come from if you’re a Leodensian.
  • Also related to the future: from Pacific Standard, “The Fallacy of Endless Growth.”
  • Via Quartz: It turns out we understand calories a lot less than we think we do.
  • Last night, I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming, and it was a complete and utter delight. I wouldn’t call it a terrifically deep film, which is a great strength — emotionally, it’s great, but it doesn’t ask big questions like even other Marvel movies (e.g., my all-time No. 1, Captain America: The Winter Soldier). That’s my awkward segue into a piece of excellent pop culture criticism from Angelica Jade Bastién, writing for Vulture. Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, a Civil War-era story about Southern belles that features no people of color, has drawn lots of criticism for its oblivious whiteness. Bastién, however, offers a different perspective in “How The Beguiled Subtly Tackles Race Even When You Don’t See It.”

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Cultural memory, peanut stew and how to be a better gentrifier

I don’t like to get off-track with posting, but today I’m delighted to have such a fulfilling excuse. For an assignment in my magazine editing class in journalism school, we had to pick a print publication to analyze. I wandered from the Medill newsroom in the Loop to the nearby Sears Tower, which not only boasted a Corner Bakery (their mini-M&M-studded Monster Cookies are just about my favorite) but a newsstand in the basement. On a bottom rack near the entrance, I spotted a nice-looking cover with a title I’d never seen before. It turned out to be a fascinating issue, and I’ve wanted to write for them pretty much ever since.

Yesterday, after some of my favorite reporting and editing I’ve ever done, I finally got to share my first piece for Pacific Standard. This story started with a grumpy late-night tweet; it became an investigation into how we form and curate cultural memory, and what we can gain from truly confronting the Great War and its legacy. I hope you enjoy it: “Why Do So Few Hollywood Movies Take Place During WWI?”

  • Two actors in talked-about shows have recently shared excellent personal essays on the nature of their performances. First, Corey Stoll, who played Brutus in the Public Theater’s recent faux-controversial Julius Caesar, wrote about that experience and why it solidified his commitment to free expression. Then Betty Gilpin, one of my favorite surprises from American Gods, bowled me over with a raunchy, hilarious and vulnerable look at how her large bust has messed with her confidence over the years, and how working on the new Netflix ’80s wrestling comedy GLOW has changed that.
  • I was really taken by this piece for Quartz Ideas: “Women are flocking to wellness because modern medicine still doesn’t take them seriously.” Definitely something to consider while we mock women who rave about alternative health practices.
  • I’ll always read alarming internet privacy stories, and Gizmodo has a small-but-noteworthy doozy on autofill and the company that collects that data even if you don’t submit it.
  • The title is sure to spark strong feelings, but the interview within asks a lot of difficult, interesting questions about what it means to live in an urban neighborhood: from the newly redesigned CityLab, “Toward Being a Better Gentrifier.”
  • For Serious Eats, Sara’o Mozac pens a beautiful, cranky and loneliness-curing essay on the Afro-Trinidadian meals he grew up with and the food he sought out during a college trip in search of his roots: “East, West, Then Backward: Falling for Groundnut Soup in Ghana.” Pair with the latest episode of Gastropod, about the history and science behind peanut butter.

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Indiana Man, Alabama Man and Florida Man

Today is one of those days where I want to opt out of the news cycle entirely. Any partisan take on shooting up a congressional GOP baseball team’s early morning practice is awful by default, yet I can’t help feeling that it will be become a bludgeon by the end of the day, not least from the president, despite his hopes and prayers.

Today is one of those days where I want to opt out of the news cycle entirely. Any partisan take on shooting up a congressional GOP baseball team’s early morning practice is awful by default, yet I can’t help feeling it will be become a bludgeon by the end of the day, not least from the president, despite his hopes and prayers. Meanwhile, in high Triangle Shirtwaist fashion, a massive fire at a London housing complex has horrifyingly illuminated the low esteem in which society (including landlord MPs) holds working-class life. Remember last night, when we were all simply angry about AG Jeff Sessions’ non-testimony on Russian interference with our election?

  • I clicked on Molly Ball’s profile of a freshman GOP congressman because of a tweet from Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg: “Embedded in this elegant @mollyesque profile of an Indiana congressman is a non-benign Trump dis of Mike Pence.” Yikes, non-benign is right.
  • Writing for Slate, Donna Minkowitz has scared me where I didn’t need to be scared with “How the Alt-Right Is Using Sex and Camp to Attract Gay Men to Fascism.”
  • You should follow Ironed Curtains, a blog collective featuring essays from Americans with Soviet roots. Their most impressive work to date is “Brilliant Blue Sky: Eyewitness Stories From Chernobyl,” sharing accounts from more than 100 people on the disaster’s 31st anniversary.
  • June 12 marked the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre. In honor of the 49 murdered and those who rushed to help, Dear World assembled portraits and interviews with survivors, first responders and loved ones. I wept reading through these, in large part because of the genuine love for the victims that restores their individuality.
  • We’ve talked a lot about how important Wonder Woman is for its representation of women, including Jewish women. One area where the film fell down, however, is representation of disability. Erin, the blogger behind The Geeky Gimp, presents the clearest argument yet for why the entertainment industry needs to change the conversation on disability, and facial difference in particular, as a signifier of evil.

Grim as the news has been, there have still been some light (or at least darkly humorous) takes to be had. It’s okay to enjoy them.

Stay brave, friends.

Image credit: King Lear, Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland, 2015

Things I’m Verbing: Abrahamic problems, skyscraper farms and fake hillbilly pride

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.

  • Honestly, I want to put these links where no one can miss them. “It’s Time for Intersectionality to Include the Jews,” and if that makes you angry, think about why. Benjamin Gladstone’s op-ed takes the view that Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour claims there can be no overlap between feminism and Zionism; I urge you again to read David Schraub’s argument that that’s not actually clear. Related, please see the Nib asking five Jewish artists to take on Holocaust imagery in contemporary politics, particularly Leela Corman’s contribution.
  • 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.
  • Iranian-American writer Porochista Khakpour writes about the Persian New Year, and why this Nowruz is different. Pair with the Chicago Sun-Times’ report on MENA-Americans having second thoughts on the new census option for which they fought so hard.
  • 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.

Stay brave, friends.

 

Things I’m Verbing: CPAC crashers, gene editors and eating for money

You can’t help but click on a story titled “The Case for Becoming a Hermit” in this day and age. It’s actually a well-written book review that makes me wish it answered the questions it raises, but for my part, the response was almost ravenously quick. There are still good things out in the world, though. For instance:

  • One feel-good story for the day: Meet the Black antifascist activist who shows how hate has consequences.
  • I love science writing and science stories. This week, On the Media re-aired two phenomenal interviews about gene editing and human cloning, as well as the ethics of both, as explored in the amazing BBC America series Orphan Black.
  • The Baffler and the Atlantic have two similar stories about the academy and its relationship to public life. First, from Maximillian Alvarez, “The Accidental Elitist,” on the humanities and the way we need to rethink the public intellectual. Then, from the excellent Ed Yong, “How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners.”
  • I loved this Briallen Hopper piece from the Cut: “Relying on Friendship in a World Made for Couples.”
  • Finally, from the Ringer, an actually excellent process/inside media story about food writing. Once I discovered The Great British Bake Off/Baking Show on Netflix, I leaped right into documentaries and travel shows like Chef’s Table, Somm, I’ll Have What Phil’s Having, Michael Pollan’s Cooked and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Pardon the pun, but the market’s appetite for food media right now is insatiable, and I love it. “Will Write for Food” addresses two problems we don’t really see as consumers. First, in Bryan Curtis’ own words, “If everyone wants to be a food critic, who’s going to pick up the bill?” But there’s also another issue worth exploring: “A food critic is a rock critic that has been ripened and aged.” Really interesting stuff.

There’s a lot of other big stuff going on, of course.

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Rebel librarians, CEO presidents and lost boys who need to wander back

We have stripes. I don’t know why I’m amazed by this fact, but human people have stripes! Bless, Mental Floss, this really brightened my day.

  • Other things that brighten my day: confirmation bias. And I don’t just mean backup for my apprehension about gyms. Laurie Penny, who has been writing about Milo Yiannopoulos long and deeply enough to text with him for comment, has a smashing longread at Pacific Standard. “On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America’s New Right” takes an inside look at what happens when a movement of gamers recognizes they’re not players, but pawns (their subhed, not mine). As good as everyone’s been saying on Twitter. Read it.
  • Libraries are great. Librarians are great. Protect them at all costs.
  • Former colleague and current BuzzFeed ace Sara Yasin has written one of those essays you wish some so-called deplorables would really absorb and understand: “Muslims Shouldn’t Have to Be ‘Good’ to Be Granted Human Rights.”
  • George W. Bush’s administration was supposedly characterized as that of a long-awaited “CEO president,” which was, until recently, historically unpopular. Trump is also a CEO — is this a common thread? Actually, not at all. Writing for the Conversation, business professor Burt Spector explains the huge cultural differences and investor expectations of heads of family-owned corporations.
  • Pour one out for the failing New York Times; this Modern Love column on working in a dog shelter totally made me tear up.

Stay brave, friends.

Image credit: San José (California) Library, 2010 (Flickr)