Weekend Reads

These are late, but please spend some time reading. Also, if you can’t get to a protest, Wired has a bunch of things you can do to help:

Your weekend reads are below. I ran out of time to read all of these, but I plan to before the weekends up – and you should, too.

Notes – The NY Times, Wired, and Atlantic articles may have paywalls – if you run into them, try a different browser, incognito mode, a different device, or consider a subscription (I am debating subscribing to The Atlantic).

Please stay safe, stay healthy, and defund the police.

Wednesday Links: Black Lives Matter

Support:

Watch:

Reading:

Weekend Reads

Before we get to the articles, please consider signing petitions, calling reps, and donating money to demand justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s deaths. Here are some links:

Now, onto the links.

The Public That Cannot Mourn Does Not Exist (The Convivial Society)

Yet, because so many have died in such a brief time, the tragedy takes on an undoubtedly collective and public character. It demands acknowledgement and a reckoning, not simply a tallying. As I write this, however, it begins to feel almost as if we’re prepared to move on. We were shocked on the first day that 100 died and later 1,000, but we somehow acclimated to anywhere from 1,500 to more than 2,000 deaths a day for a few weeks.

The Resillience of Marga Griesbach (The Cut)

Surviving It All: She’s 92, made it through the Holocaust, and set off for a cruise around the world in February.

Two heirs bought Midland dams as a tax shelter. Tragedy followed. (Bridge)

Eventually, a solution came to Mueller, an architect who lives in Las Vegas, and his cousin, Michel d’Avenas, a California musician who is the son of a French count and is now known as the Pebble Beach Bagpiper.

They would avoid taxes by purchasing four small hydroelectric dams in mid-Michigan near Midland, according to hundreds of pages of federal court records reviewed by Bridge.

The Bird Watcher, That Incident and His Feelings on the Woman’s Fate (New York Times – Possible Paywall)

Mr. Cooper’s love of birding began at age 10, he said, when his parents, two Long Island schoolteachers, enrolled him in a 4-H program. There, in a woodworking class, he crafted a bird feeder that he set in his lawn.

The man in the iron lung (Guardian)

When he was six, Paul Alexander contracted polio and was paralysed for life. Today he is 74, and one of the last people in the world still using an iron lung. But after surviving one deadly outbreak, he did not expect to find himself threatened by another

 

Baltimore orioles(c) pepperberryfarm: Baltimore orioles

Wednesday Links (05/06/2020)

Here are this week’s timely links. I would recommend making sure you’re not feeling overwhelmed or overly depressed when reading the Politico article, because it will make you feel worse.

At the beginning, I did not support mask wearing because it didn’t protect people from getting sick – and we didn’t know that the virus could be spread by people without symptoms. In mid-March I read somewhere (maybe on twitter?) about how it’s not about protecting ourselves, it’s about protecting other people. I now believe we should all wear masks. This article does a good job of explaining why. If you only read one of these articles, read this one. 

While much of the hand-wringing for the past month of more has been forward-looking — how coronavirus will change life at some point in the future — Hasen says the coronavirus is already changing American democracy, and that unless we adapt swiftly we’re headed for a world of pain in November.

Like I said – you need to be in a good place (if at all possible) before reading this article because it will make you deeply unhappy.

Now, something a bit lighter. I found this article over the weekend, but NPR beat me to the punch this morning. You can listen to their story here.

And now, a very good (and long) read from the before times:

  • In Deep (The New Yorker – 4/2014)
    • The dark and dangerous world of extreme cavers.

Deep caving has no end. Every depth record is provisional, every barrier a false conclusion. Every cave system is a jigsaw puzzle, groped at blindly in the dark. A mountain climber can at least pretend to some mastery over the planet. But cavers know better. When they’re done, no windy overlook awaits them, no sea of salmon-tinted clouds. Just a blank wall or an impassable sump and the knowledge that there are tunnels upon tunnels beyond it. The earth goes on without them. “People often misunderstand,” Short told me. “All you find is cave. There is nothing else down there.”

This story is excellent and a nice way to spend some time reading. 

Your moment of calm:

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium (c) Pete

Wednesday Links: 04/29/2020

Yes, we’re trying this again. I’m going to try something new – one or two relevant and timely links and one or two from the before time. I hope you can enjoy (?) these links.

Timely Links:

This is an excellent, thoughtful article that is also hard to read because there is so much we don’t know. I want to pull out one quote, the one that I hope you remember. It’s from the very end of the article:

And the desire to name an antagonist, be it the Chinese Communist Party or Donald Trump, disregards the many aspects of 21st-century life that made the pandemic possible: humanity’s relentless expansion into wild spaces; soaring levels of air travel; chronic underfunding of public health; a just-in-time economy that runs on fragile supply chains; health-care systems that yoke medical care to employment; social networks that rapidly spread misinformation; the devaluation of expertise; the marginalization of the elderly; and centuries of structural racism that impoverished the health of minorities and indigenous groups. It may be easier to believe that the coronavirus was deliberately unleashed than to accept the harsher truth that we built a world that was prone to it, but not ready for it.

I though this article was going to be a lot more depressing than it turned out to be. I think the US has a long way to go (and indeed, the headline on the main Buzzfeed news page reads like this: Contact Tracing Could Help Stop The Coronavirus. The US Might Blow It. There is some hope, but not enough (or a lot). Let’s just not give up and let’s keep fighting.

Links from the Before Time:

A truly excellent article from 2014 and it made a very interesting read, considering the flightless world we’re currently living in as well as our uncertain future. Spend some time remembering what it was like to fly (but never this nicely).

Your moment of calm:

Seven swans a swimming
Rachel Kramer: Seven swans a swimming

The Wednesday Four

Hey, it’s been 27 Weeks, over half a year and … it feels like it’s been twice that long. Week 27 was out of control. I told a few people that it used to be thing a day, but now it feels like 500. A few minutes later I joked about remembering what it was like when there was only one thing a week that was destroying our democracy. My, how things have changed and not for the better.

The links!

Resist. Tax Day March 2017. Detroit, MI.

Resist. Tax Day March 2017. Detroit, MI. (c) Kathy Drasky

The Wednesday Four

Week 26 and you thought things couldn’t get worse. This time Amy tells us all the things we missed while, you know, 45 was reenacting scenes form his former job as TV show host. And yet again I say, this week has been crazier than the last. What the hell?

The links! The first three are recent articles (I know, right?) and the last one is older, but still interesting and useful.

Robin

Robin (c) Brian Knoblock

The Wednesday Four on Thursday

So sorry! I forgot to post yesterday and so much has already happened this week that week 25 feels oddly irrelevant already. Anyway, onto the links.

This week I have two ProPublica links:

And two from Tor:

Wasteland

Wasteland: The tough economic times on Tatooine hit everyone hard, including the Jawas.
(c) JD Hancock

The Wednesday Four

Sorry this is late! Doctor’s appointments and leaking upstairs neighbor bathrooms always get in the way (not on the same day, though, and luckily no lasting damage to my bathroom).

Week 24 marked the first 100 days of 45’s regime. I’m currently rereading The Handmaid’s Tale and when I got to the section of the novel where Offred talks about how her world went from normal to an authoritarian regime, what struck me was how insidious it was. One day things seemed normal, and the next day too, but when you look back you see how dramatically things changed, but at the time you barely even noticed until something dramatic (in her case it was a bankcard not working and then losing her job) happens to you. I struggle, sometimes, to keep myself cynical enough to be aware that what’s happening in this country, in the United States, is not normal. In the novel Atwood talks about how humans adapt, how people normalize what’s going on around them because it’s how we survive and much of Offred’s story is about exactly that. And I worry that we, as a country and as individuals, are doing the same thing. That’s why I will continue to share Amy Siskind’s links/commentary as long as she posts them. We need these reminders.

Now, onto my links.

20170417_185736

Taken by me on a walk.

The Wednesday Four

Here is Week 23. What I did this week was attend the March for Science in downtown Detroit with some friends. It was good, there were some decent speakers and we walked down Woodward. You can see some of the photos I took over on my Instagram.

As for the links? Everything old is new again as in I’m digging in the bottom of my pile of articles to read and have pulled four. Please enjoy them!

  • Fewer Americans Are Visiting Local Libraries—and Technology Isn’t to Blame
    Only one trend is closely associated with their use. (The Atlantic) Note: The reason may not surprise you!
  • A Lost Scottish Island, George Orwell, and the Future of Maps A 141 square-mile island vanished from Google Maps, and the company has yet to restore it. What do glitches mean for little-known places? (The Atlantic | CityLab) Note: If you look on google maps, Jura is back, but this article is still fun and interesting.
  • Taxonomy: The spy who loved frogs To track the fate of threatened species, a young scientist must follow the jungle path of a herpetologist who led a secret double life. (Nature) Note: I recommend listening to the podcast (about 13 minutes) as well as reading the article. Also, I have mixed feelings about specimen collection and those feelings were not changed by this article.
  • How Andrew Carnegie Turned His Fortune Into A Library Legacy (NPR) Note: Two library articles in one post! You’d think I was still a librarian.

Howell Carnegie District Library

Howell Carnegie District Library in Howell, MI. Photo (c) Paul Cooper

A few years ago a (now former) coworker and I went to Howell to hear an author speak and we walked to this library, although it was closed and we couldn’t go inside. Maybe next time.