Weekend Reads: 10/23/2020

Can you vote early? If the answer is yes and you haven’t yet – what are you waiting for? Biden/Harris need your vote.

I’m going to be honest – there are a lot of depressing articles in this week’s post. If only only read one – honestly, you need to read most of these, but if you only have time for a few, please read the first Wired article and the subsequent Time one about herd immunity. There are just a lot of good ones this week and you’d benefit from reading most, if not all, of the ones.

But not everything is doom and gloom (or so we hope). There are three good articles to remind you that the world is not always a terrible place. In addition, I’d like to recommend a couple of book series.

The first is a fantasy series called The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club by Theodora Goss. This series follows the adventures (no, really) of Mary Jekyll and all of the “monsters” that she befriends. If you have any interested in gothic horror (though it is not actual horror, per se), slight romance, and wonderful strong female characters – consider this series! I listened to the audiobooks (read by the always wonderful Kate Reading) but imagine that the print (or eBook) version is equally as enjoyable to consume. The first book is The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daugther.

My second recommendation would be Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious series. This is a young adult murder mystery series about Stevie Bell and her friends as she tries to navigate the world of a private boarding school, including the murder that has define the school for years and the hard life of a teenager. You’re in luck, because all three books in this series have finally been published you won’t need to wait long to read what happens in the next book. The first book is Truly Devious.

Now, onto your links.

It’s Time to Talk About Covid-19 and Surfaces Again (Wired – $$)

In the early days, we furiously scrubbed, afraid we could get sick from the virus lingering on objects and surfaces. What do we know now?

The White House Wants to Achieve Herd Immunity by Letting the Virus Rip. That Is Dangerous and Inhumane (Time)

For a start, no pandemic has ever been controlled by deliberately letting the infection spread unchecked in the hope that people become immune. We must do all we can to protect people from COVID-19, not let them get infected, to buy scientists time to develop vaccines and therapeutics to end the outbreak and alleviate suffering.

America’s Last Line of Defense for a Safe Vaccine (Scientific American)

The independent advisers to the CDC and FDA will not bend to politics

Why New Zealand rejected populist ideas other nations have embraced (Guardian)

Labour’s historic win delivered Ardern a second term while voters punished politicians who embraced populism

The Preexisting Conditions of the Coronavirus Pandemic (Wired – $$)

An enormous new data set peers into the health of the world’s population before 2020—and how the coronavirus turned that into a global disaster.

Undisclosed: Most Homebuyers And Renters Aren’t Warned About Flood Or Wildfire Risk (NPR)

None of the landlords, real estate agents, sellers, appraisers, bankers or home inspectors the families interacted with explained the risk of flooding or wildfires, because no one had to do so. Only about half of the states require that information about flood risk be disclosed to homebuyers, and just one state requires that such information be given to tenants. Only two Western states require disclosure of wildfire risk.

Songwriters Sometimes Wait Years After A Song Is Released To Get Paid Anything. These Women Want To Change That. (Buzzfeed)

“I’ve been in sessions starving, praying that they ask me if I’m hungry, hoping that the studio has snacks.”

A Reset for Library E-books (Publisher’s Weekly)

In the wake of the pandemic, can publishers and libraries finally hash out their differences?


Prickly business: the hedgehog highway that knits a village together (Guardian)

With their miniature ramps, stairs and holes cut into fences and stone walls, the gardens of Kirtlington in Oxfordshire are a haven for wildlife

Step Inside The Museum of Obsolete Library Science (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

There’s a popular misconception that librarians as a profession are conservative. Not politically conservative, but literally conservative—wanting to keep old stuff. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth—we are often on the cutting edge of using new technologies, and always looking for the most efficient, up-to-date way to help our patrons.

When a Town Council and a Sci-fi Museum Went to War Over a Dalek (Atlas Obscura)

Thanks to support from the community and the world, the Doctor Who villain is rising again

And now, your moment of calm.

Fall colors (c) K2sleddogs

Weekend Reads: 10/16/2020

You’ll notice there is a wide mix of articles this week. It’s because I know that, by Friday, we’ve all had it with the news. We won’t stop, of course (nor should we – the world is on fire), but we all need a break. That’s why not all of these articles of the current affairs type. I’m trying something new! Some are newer and some are quite old (at least 4 years old – I am cleaning out my read later folders).

The first part will always be articles dealing with hard topics, current issues (like the election, state of the world, the pandemic, etc) and the second section will be the fun stuff, as it were. If this works or doesn’t – let me know!

Senator Gary Peters Shares His Abortion Story (Elle)

He’s the first sitting senator in history to do so.

Don’t Grieve Alone. Reach Out. (NYT – $$)

Finding emotional support during a crisis often means turning to long-established networks already built for distance.

For Refugees, Home Is a Place Called Never (Zócalo Public Square)

Having Fled Sarajevo as a Child, I Find It Hard Telling Syrians There Is No Going Back

Going Sohla (Vultre – $$)

After leaving Bon Appétit, the chef now has her own show — where she’s paid fairly for her fantastic creations.


The World’s Longest-Running Experiment Is Buried in a Secret Spot in Michigan (Atlas Obscura)

In the fall of 1879, Dr. William James Beal walked to a secret spot on Michigan State University’s campus and planted a strange crop: 20 narrow-necked glass bottles, each filled with a mixture of moist sand and seeds.

Flyting Was Medieval England’s Version of an Insult-Trading Rap Battle (Atlas Obscura)

Imagine a world that had swapped its guns for puns and its IEDs for repartees. Such a planet is possible if only those in power would manage their conflicts with flyting, the time-honored sport of verbal jousting.

The Tree That Would Not Be Broken (Narratively)

It was the last living thing rescued from the ruins of 9/11. A dozen years later, one mythical pear tree is finally home, and branching out from Ground Zero in mystical ways.

Watch the video (tw: 9/11 footage):

This Artist Sculpts Animals and Flowers From Grains of Rice (Atlas Obscura)

Guorui Chen brought a hometown tradition back from extinction.

Have a great fall weekend everyone and don’t forget to vote if you haven’t yet.

Michigan Fall - Seven Lakes State Park
Michigan Fall – Seven Lakes State Park (c) Mike

Weekend Reads: 10/09/2020

As we crawl ever closer to the presidential election in November, I want to remind you that all must vote and you must vote Biden/Harris. There is no alternative, no other choice. If you value your life and the lives of the people around you, and on this planet as a whole – you must vote for Biden/Harris. They were not my top picks, but I no longer care about that and neither should you.

Vote.

Now, onto the articles.

Mike Pence Is the Future. God Help Us. (The Bulwark)

This is your Republican party now.

Meet the Customer Service Reps for Disney and Airbnb Who Have to Pay to Talk to You (ProPublica)

Arise Virtual Solutions, part of the secretive world of work-at-home customer service, helps large corporations shed costs at the expense of workers. Now the pandemic is creating a boom in the industry.

Dreading a dark winter lockdown? Think like a Norwegian (Guardian)

Studies show people living in the Arctic Circle are armed with a mindset that helps combat the long ‘polar night’. It might come in handy for us all…

Now, two older articles to remind us, in part, why voting this year is so important.

Call It Rape (Long Reads / The Normal School)

“What is it about ‘no means no’ that you all don’t understand?”

The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker (Esquire)

In Mississippi, there is only one clinic where a woman can go if she needs an abortion. The state is trying to close it down. At that clinic, there is a doctor who tends to the needs of these women, and he has to fly in from out of state to do it. There is no shutting him down.

I’ll leave you with the beautiful title song from Maeve Gilchrist’s newest album, The Harpweaver (Spotify and Apple Music). Listen to an interview with Gilchrist on NPR here.

Weekend Reads 10/02/2020

Wow. It’s been a week, hasn’t it? Here are some articles to read – if you can tear yourself away from social media for a few minutes. If the news ever takes a break.

It Took COVID Closures to Reveal Just How Much Libraries Do Beyond Lending Books (Observer)

This behind the scenes diligence meant that during the pandemic, libraries were able to prove themselves to be more resilient, future-proof and adaptable than many of us may have realized. In fact, the coronavirus crisis has enabled many libraries to truly prove their worth.

Look Toward a New Era (NY Times – $$)

With a shift to online resources well underway, “the most trusted civic institutions” are in a good position to deal with the changing future.

Hero Rat Wins A Top Animal Award For Sniffing Out Land Mines (NPR)

For the first time, one of Britain’s highest animal honors has been awarded to a rat. The animal has detected dozens of land mines in Cambodia and is believed to have saved lives.

Attack of the Superhackers (narratively)

A group of ex-soldiers cracks safes, picks locks and steals data — all in the name of corporate security.

Millennials Are Trying To Shake The Stigma Of Moving Back In With Their Parents (Buzzfeed)

Millennials are moving back in with their parents in numbers not seen since the Great Depression. Here’s what it’s like for some of them.

A School Ran a Simulation of the Pandemic—Before the Pandemic (Wired – $$)

A Florida middle school has staged mock outbreaks for years to teach science and civics. Last December’s lesson was an uncanny harbinger of Covid-19.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Cemetery in the cold October rain | Park Cemetery, Marquette, Michigan.
(c) yooperann

Weekend Reads: 9/25/2020

It’s been a week, hasn’t it? On the global scale things aren’t great. Everyone’s experiences are different and several people I know, including my extended family (as I’ve mentioned) have suffered loses due to this pandemic. But you know what all of this means? It means we don’t give up.

I know we want to. I’ve seen it all over Twitter and Facebook. RBG’s death has really hit a lot of people hard, myself included. But we cannot let this tragedy (for that’s what it is) stop us from fighting. We must donate money to Democratic candidates and to bail funds and abortion funds. And most important, come November 3rd, all American citizens must vote.

The only way this country is going to make it is if we vote Biden/Harris. And, if you can, give some money to them. But please, VOTE and keep fighting.

Kévin Reza: I haven’t seen a lot of solidarity in cycling (cyclingnews)

B&B Hotels-Vital Concept rider on Black Lives Matter and racing for the smallest team in the Tour de France

The Wrong Fires (On the Media)

What happens when minor stories detract media attention from urgent crises.

The Glorious RBG (Intelligencer | NY Magazine)

I learned, while writing about her, that her precision disguised her warmth.

A 5-Decade-Long Friendship That Began With A Phone Call (NPR)

In 1971, newly assigned to cover the Supreme Court, I was reading a brief in what would ultimately be the landmark case of Reed v. Reed. It argued that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause applied to women. I didn’t understand some of the brief, so I flipped to the front to see who the author was, and I placed a call to Rutgers law professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Here are a three Ginsberg related things to watch. I’ve seen RBG and it is fantastic. The UMS newsletter shared the 2015 interview.

Sam Neill On His Social Media Fame: “If It’s Cheered Up One Or Two People, Then My Time Was Well Spent” (GQ Australia)

Easily one of the country’s finest (adopted) actors and certainly among its most admired, Sam Neill has also spent four decades as one of its most prolific. But as the film industry ground to a halt, we caught up with Neill to discuss this new age of uncertainty, the future of the arts and his recent foray into social media stardom.

Note: These next two articles go together. Read the short story first, and then the response essay.

“How to Pay Reparations: a Documentary” by Tochi Onyebuchi (Slate)

In this new short story, a city tries to use an algorithm to pay reparations.

Racism Cannot Be Reduced to Mere Computation by Charlton McIlwain (Slate)

No amount of A.I. can save white America’s soul, or restore Black Americans’ long-foreclosed-upon and deferred dreams.

Note: Two related articles from Vice by James Clifton

2012 Is Bullshit; 2020 Is When We’ll Really Be in Trouble

Scientist Peter Turchin’s work suggests that the next state of upheaval in the US is set to hit in 2020 based on historical violence cycles.

The Scientist Who Predicted 2020’s Political Unrest On What Comes Next

Catching up with Peter Turchin, whose theory predicted a period of political violence starting this year.

Why Every City Feels the Same Now (Atlantic – $$)

Glass-and-steel monoliths replaced local architecture. It’s not too late to go back.

Let this video inspire you.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Weekend Reads: 9/4/2020

Over the past week I have spent a lot of time watching sports – it’s a very weird feeling, because we’re in the middle of a pandemic but at the same time it’s a comfort. I’ve watched my favorite tennis player win on Monday and then lose, two days later (as he is prone to do) and have watched most of the first week of the 2020 Tour de France (I missed the first stage on August 30th).

Sports during a pandemic, as we all know, are strange. In particular because the Tour is in August/September instead of July, there are far fewer fans than normal (and those that are watching the race are almost all masked), and the riders are almost universally masked when not actively riding their bikes on the stage. It is strange because at the US Open there are no fans (aside from fellow tennis players, coaches, and the occasional family member and journalist), they are pumping in crowd sounds when there’s no action on the court, and displaying video screens with videos of fans cheering. It is unnerving, but it is also the world we live in.

I know it’s important to find comfort in familiar things when the world is burning around us, but we must not forget the fact that the world is on fire.

I wrote some original fiction for July’s Camp Nano (an offshoot of NanoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month) and, because I am always drawn to write post-apocalyptic stories, that’s what I wrote. It’s set about 30 after this pandemic, ten years after flooding (due to climate change) destroys much of the planet. My main character was born this year and she looks back at the pandemic and is appalled at the 200,000 deaths.

When I wrote that story, it was in July and it seemed we were doing better and maybe we wouldn’t reach that dreaded number of 200,000 people needlessly dying from COVID-19. It turns out that should I ever edit that novel and turn it into something that will see the light of day, I’ll have to adjust that section.

Why? Because it is highly likely that we have already passed that 200,000 death mark:

I am luckily, so far I have lost no immediately family members to the virus, but I know people who have. I am not alone, of course, but we need to remember that every one of those 200,000 deaths were deaths of human beings. Individual people. They are both statistics and more than just numbers.

Never forget that responsibility for each and every single one of those people’s deaths from COVID-19 lies squarely on the shoulders of the current administration in the White House. They could have saved lives, they chose to end them instead.

Last weekend, Detroit held a beautiful memorial/funeral for the thousands of Detroit residents who died from COVID-19:

What do 900+ people look like? They look beautiful. They are a reminder of everything we, and this country, have had stolen from us. Artist Eric Millikin created the mural below to represent all that we have lost:

So, as you’re enjoying your three day weekend, watching sports, and enjoying the nice weather – don’t forget what’s going on in the world. Don’t forget that 200,000 people in the United States have died. Don’t forget that you can help stop this virus.

Now, for the rest of your weekend reads:

When the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shows up at a peaceful protest in battle fatigues, it’s time to pay attention. (The Atlantic – $$)

At the Republican National Convention, Trump advisor Larry Kudlow said the pandemic “was awful.” On this week’s On the Media, why some politicians and educators are using the past tense to describe an active threat. Plus, how COVID could prompt long-term changes to American higher ed.

The acclaimed novelist lost her beloved husband—the father of her children—as COVID-19 swept across the country. She writes through their story, and her grief.

And, on the occasion of the loss of Chadwick Boseman to cancer:

Rahawa Haile considers how, by sliding between the real and unreal, Black Panther frees us to imagine the possibilities — and the limitations — of an Africa that does not yet exist.

And, lastly, enjoy this superbly choreographed dance by The Kinjaz.

Wednesday Links: SARS-CoV-2 & COVID-19

I was going to wait for Friday to post these, but I ended up with a lot of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 articles, so I’m sharing them today instead.

If you only read one article, read this one (thanks to my sister for linking sharing this one with me):

COVID-19 Is Transmitted Through Aerosols. We Have Enough Evidence, Now It Is Time to Act (Time)

When it comes to COVID-19, the evidence overwhelmingly supports aerosol transmission, and there are no strong arguments against it. For example, contact tracing has found that much COVID-19 transmission occurs in close proximity, but that many people who share the same home with an infected person do not get the disease. To understand why, it is useful to use cigarette or vaping smoke (which is also an aerosol) as an analog. Imagine sharing a home with a smoker: if you stood close to the smoker while talking, you would inhale a great deal of smoke. Replace the smoke with virus-containing aerosols, which behave very similarly, and the impact is similar: the closer you are to someone releasing virus-carrying aerosols, the more likely you are to breathe in larger amounts of virus.

Why The Coronavirus Is So ‘Superspready’ (NPR)

A person with a high viral load walks into a bar.

That, according to researchers who study the novel coronavirus, is a recipe for a superspreading event — where one person or gathering leads to an unusually high number of new infections. And that kind of occurrence is increasingly considered a hallmark of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

A New Study Suggests a Possible Disease Vector: Germy Dust (Wired – $$)

Since the pandemic’s beginning, scientists have argued over how respiratory viruses can spread. Now an experiment with guinea pigs and influenza is adding a new wrinkle.

Note: about the above article, it’s a bit panic inducing, as one would expect, however this is from the end of the article, which should make everyone feel a tiny bit better:

“This information adds to our understanding about where virus in the air might be coming from, but it doesn’t change how we should approach it,” Marr wrote in an email to WIRED. “The same things that we’ve been doing—wearing masks, keeping our distance, avoiding crowds, and ensuring good ventilation—will also help reduce the risk of transmission from breathing in virus that gets into the air this way.” So mask up and keep on carrying on (from a distance).

I Won’t Drink Today, and I Won’t Get the Virus Today (The Atlantic – $$)

Alcoholics Anonymous prepared me for the pandemic.

You can get reinfected with Covid-19 but still have immunity. Let’s explain. (VOX)

A 33-year-old man was confirmed to be reinfected with Covid-19. This likely isn’t as bad as it sounds.

And, finally, something a bit less stressful (and a lot more enjoyable). 10/10 would recommend his vlogs – I’ve included the first one below, if you’d like to just start watching.

This COVID-19 summer’s must-watch show is… an NBA rookie’s YouTube page? (Ars Technica)

NBA player/amateur filmmaker Matisse Thybulle has created essential epidemiological viewing.

Weekend Reads – Friday, August 14 2020

Have some time this weekend? Here are some links I’ve been meaning to post for a while.

As a side note, if a subscription may be required to view the article, you’ll see dollar signs ($$) next to the publication name. If you don’t have a subscription to the publication, sometimes you can view these articles in the incognito/private mode of your browser. If you notice one I’ve not marked, let me know.

Tune In, Drop Out (Rest of World)

In the face of social and professional pressure, many young South Koreans are simply opting out — and the economy is adapting to them.

America Should Prepare for a Double Pandemic (The Atlantic)

COVID-19 has steamrolled the country. What happens if another pandemic starts before this one is over?

Streaming Isn’t Everything, and Blu-rays Are Back to Prove It (Wired – $$)

As the gaps in streaming libraries become greater, so does physical media’s comeback story.

My Father Says He’s a ‘Targeted Individual.’ Maybe We All Are (Wired – $$)

My dad is one of thousands who believe the government is subjecting them to mind control. As a daughter and a journalist, I felt a duty to investigate his claims. Have these individuals been America’s prophets all along?

The Widely-Spoken Languages We Still Can’t Translate Online (Wired – $$)

People who speak languages missing from Google Translate, Siri, and Wikipedia will face future crises—leaving aid organizations scrambling.

Reconsidering the Jewish American Princess (Vox)

How the JAP became America’s most complex Jewish stereotype.

Emily Dickinson’s Electric Love Letters to Susan Gilbert (Brain Pickings)

“Come with me this morning to the church within our hearts, where the bells are always ringing, and the preacher whose name is Love — shall intercede for us!”

Photographs of (models of) the moon (1874) (Public Domain Review)

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.