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.
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 (c) Pete
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.
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:
Rachel Kramer: Seven swans a swimming
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.
- Texas Voter ID Law Led to Fears and Failures in 2016 Election Efforts to implement the nation’s strictest voter ID requirements — a solution in search of a problem, according to one critic — foundered amid court defeats, confusion and at least one giant oversight. (ProPublica) Note: I donate to ProPublica every month. Also, if you only read one article from this list, read this one. It’s long, but worth every second you spend on it. Why? Because, among other things, it exposes why the voter fraud lies are so widespread and why the damage they do is so dangerous,
- How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future The literary genre isn’t meant to predict the future, but implausible ideas that fire inventors’ imaginations often, amazingly, come true (Smithsonian Magazine) Note: My only complaint is that they didn’t interview any women SF authors.
- In Music, DRM Is Back While Ownership Is Going Away (Copyright and Technology)
- What Goes Through Your Mind: On Nice Parties and Casual Racism (The Toast)
Taken by me on a walk.
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 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.
Week 22 brings us every closer to World War 3 or the end of the world, or perhaps both (or neither, should we be lucky — are you feeling lucky?)
To make up for that, have an article about The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson and some really beautiful artwork of birds. And some other stuff, too.
- Toxic Shock: Why This Woman Is Suing a Tampon Company After Losing Her Leg (Vice)
- The Lock Pickers Victorian England made the strongest locks in the world—until an American showed up and promised he could pick them. (Slate)
A lot happened in Week 19. One of the things was good, the rest … well, you know. And on this line of thinking, there is so much news that a few minutes, an hour, a whole night, away from your phone (or the news in general) feels like a vacation. My dad visited me last weekend and I didn’t spend a lot of time on my phone or looking at the news, but when I did, it was like getting crushed. BuzzFeed wrote a really great article about this, which you can read:
It doesn’t necessarily offer any solutions, but it does help to know that we’re all in this together. And now onto the links.
Last week, huh? I’m ready to watch Hunt For Red October or some Sean Connery as James Bond movies. Anyway.
Each week things get worse and worse: Week 16
The links. Please enjoy the story of Keanu Reeves and then read Gail Simone’s Grand Unified Keanu Theory. And yes, I am a fan and have been for quite some time.
- The Myth of Police Reform: The real problem is the belief that all our social problems can be solved with force. (The Atlantic)
- Scorched Earth, 2200AD: Climate change has done its worst, and now just 500 million humans remain on lifeboats in the north. How do they survive? (Aeon)
This weeks links are about Mars, the fact that your TV is spying on you, among other things. First, the state of the nation (not good):
Week 13 and we’ve already started the normalizing.
Onto the link:
No picture this week, instead enjoy this trailer for Bill Nye’s new Netflix show. I can’t wait.
Happy week between Christmas and New Years! I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, I know I did. If you don’t celebrate, I hope you enjoyed your Hanukkah, Kwanza, or Sunday. Happy New Year and may 2017 be better than 2016 (#lol).