Mighty Fine Content that I am Consuming Online™
I’ve been reading a lot of great things via the magic of hyperlinks lately and just wanted to quickly jot down everything as best I could. I hope you enjoy reading this lot as much as I did.
Here’s a great post by Tim Carmody on how Blue-America should treat Red-America now after the election:
In America — whether in its cities, states, or the entire country, the rich and poor of every race, religion, and gender, gay, straight, and nonbinary, and yes, citizen and noncitizen — we are all one body. Our fates are locked together. The red states feed the people of the blue; the blue states shelter the people of the red. The world, with its many members, is all one body. When we hurt or misunderstand each other, we only hurt and misunderstand ourselves.
On a similar note: I had just moved to San Francisco when the Brexit vote came in and was walking around with some friends when one of them pinched me. “The vote just came in,” she said. “And I’m so sorry.”
But there was this little part of me that was like good riddance. If my home country wants to mutilate itself then so be it – I’ve chosen America as my new home. And yet six months later my new elective country...well, yeah. I feel pretty guilty about feeling that way now.
Nicole Zhu on the lack of Asian American representation in films and TV:
Asian Americans are never seen as top-billed actors and actresses because they are not given the chance, not even in their own stories. We lose out on both the money and the prominence that it takes to convince studios that we are worth investing in, as well as the optics and representation it takes to convince audiences that we can be reflected meaningfully in the entertainment we consume. Asian culture, aesthetics, stories, and stereotypes are everywhere, but god forbid a movie contains multidimensional Asian characters who might be superheroes or romantic leads or tortured billionaire geniuses or carry multimillion dollar franchises or have their own fucking Lego figures...
I particularly enjoyed this piece by Ross Andersen for the Atlantic called Welcome to the Pleistocene Park. Andersen interviews a bunch of scientists that are hoping to revive the wooly mammoth in a bid to save the world from ecological disaster. It makes for super interesting reading:
The mammoth’s extinction may have been our original ecological sin. When humans left Africa 70,000 years ago, the elephant family occupied a range that stretched from that continent’s southern tip to within 600 miles of the North Pole. Now elephants are holed up in a few final hiding places, such as Asia’s dense forests. Even in Africa, our shared ancestral home, their populations are shrinking, as poachers hunt them with helicopters, GPS, and night-vision goggles. If you were an anthropologist specializing in human ecological relationships, you may well conclude that one of our distinguishing features as a species is an inability to coexist peacefully with elephants.
There’s a lot to scoff at in this post about how folks are turning a library into an amusement park-esque experience called a ‘Cybrary’ – bright lights! e-books! no shushing! – but I will always back any project that encourages kids to experiment with reading:
Christopher recalled a comment by Caitlin Moran, an English writer: “The library is a cathedral of the mind, a hospital for the soul, and a theme park for the imagination,” Christopher quoted. “And that’s what we’re going for.”
Good on ’em. If the whacky techno-mumble-jumble gets even one kid to read Animorphs or The Subtle Knife then that’s a success in my book.
Helen Rosner describes how #45 eats his steak, and does so in a way that reveals everything about him:
A person who won’t eat his steak any doneness but well is a person who won’t entertain the notion that there could be a better way; a person who blankets the whole thing in ketchup (a condiment that adds back much of the moisture, sweetness, and flavor that the overcooking removed in the first place) is always going to fix his problems by making them worse. A person who refuses to try something better is a person who will never make things good.
Writing for the NYT, Kenneth Chang describes the wonderful discovery of the Trappist-1 system — seven Earth-size planets that might very well have life on them:
“If you’re looking for complex biology, intelligent aliens that might take a long time to evolve from pond scum, older [suns] could be better,” said Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the Seti Institute in Mountain View, Calif. “It seems a good bet that the majority of clever beings populating the universe look up to see a dim, reddish sun hanging in their sky...”
Helen McDonald, also writing for the NYT, wrote about post Brexit England and swans. My favourite bit of the whole piece is when Helen writes about a painting:
“Swan Upping at Cookham” was painted by the mystical, eccentric English artist Stanley Spencer, who left it half-finished in his bedroom in Cookham when he went off to war in 1915, and the knowledge that it was there sustained him over the next three years. He longed to explain to his military superiors that he couldn’t take part in attacks because he had a painting to finish at home. On his return, he picked it up. “Well there we were looking at each other,” he wrote in his diary. “It seemed unbelievable but it was a fact. Then I wondered if what I had just come from was fact & caught sight of the yellow of the Lyddite or whatever the Bulgars used in their shells on my fingers & finger nails.”
He finished his painting. But the war is caught up in it. Years before he had laid complex, sunlit ripples on the river below the bridge, but the lower postwar parts of the picture are lifeless, muddy and dark. Boats are painted odd colors and have the wrong shapes, his familiar childhood landscape coursing with new and ominous strangeness.