Let’s Start The Week Right #2

Some stuff to help you get through the week or at least give you a new perspective on things. This week’s article is from 2016 but it is as relevant today as it was five years ago.

An article to read:

We Are All Witnesses: Twenty months after Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland, his mother is still grappling with how to grieve in private following her son’s public death (The Ringer)

An interview to listen to:

Hanif Abdurraqib: Moments of Shared Witnessing (On Being)

A book to read:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

If you’re a fan of horror, especially gothic horror rooted more in the supernatural than gore, Moreno-Garcia is the book for you. It was reminiscent of the gothic horror from the film Crimson Peak (excellent film, would recommend), except that Mexican Gothic is set in 1950s Mexico. We follow Noemí as she embarks on an adventure to try to figure out what’s going on with her newly-married cousin. What she finds is much worse than she could expect and before long, Noemí finds herself tangled up the same family mess that ensnared her sister. Moreno-Garcia’s writing is excellent, the story is extremely gripping, and the ending equally as satisfying.

Rating: 10/10 – if you like any sort of gothic/historical horror and a well-written story, I can highly recommend Mexican Gothic.

Music to listen to:

Joey Alexander’s newest release. Joey is a young jazz pianist who is exceptional. You can find his music on Spotify and Apple.

YouTube video to watch:

WIRED has these great videos on YT where experts in specific fields review relevant scenes from movies/tv shows. This week’s selection are two videos by hacker Samy Kamkar. Below is the first time he was on and he did another one recently, which you can find here.

Something nice to look at:

Spring violets by Rachel Kramer

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: 9/11/2020

I don’t have any thoughtful commentary for you today. I had some earlier in the week and then forgot to write them down. In addition, most of my attention (for better or for worse) has been focused on the state of the world and sports. So, I guess just enjoy(?) this small selection of articles.

Let’s get real. No vaccine will work as if by magic, returning us to ‘normal’ (Guardian)

To dream of imminent solutions is only human. But progress will come from controlled expectations

Jobs in these industries won’t come back even after the pandemic is over (CNN)

Most of the job losses thus far have been in industries impacted by social distancing, such as entertainment, restaurants and personal care. Those industries are likely to recover once the fear of the pandemic subsides. However, automation and the rapid shift to e-commerce, remote work and online learning will lead to job losses in several other industries that will last well beyond the pandemic.

America Is Trapped in a Pandemic Spiral (The Atlantic – their COVID coverage is free)

As the U.S. heads toward the winter, the country is going round in circles, making the same conceptual errors that have plagued it since spring.

Sid Meier: ‘I’m not sure I’d play Civilisation if it was released today’ (Independent)

The creator of one of the most complex and influential video games of all time talks to Ed Cumming about his new autobiography, developments in technology, and storytelling

It Will Take More Than a Vaccine to Beat COVID-19 (New Yorker – $$$)

Vaccines are making progress, but they may not defeat the virus completely. Luckily, other therapies are on the way, too.

And, before you go, enjoy this song by one of my favorite singer, Gaho.

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: 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

The Wednesday Four

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.

Thursday Ten (makes a comeback)

Yes, I’m back! With more depressing articles for your weekend. Please don’t hate me too much. This week there’s an article that will make you cry, another that will make you angry and one that will make you wonder what the world has come to. But, if you make it to the end, there’s some fun and interesting things waiting for you.

  • EXPOSED After an accidental needle stab, a doctor’s Ebola watch begins (Washington Post)
  • On Kindness: My mother is sick. (Matter/Medium) This is a phenomenal and heartbreaking read.
  • The Art of Not Working at Work At first, the ability to check email, read ESPN, or browse Zappos while on the job may feel like a luxury. But in time, many crave more meaningful—and more demanding—responsibilities. (The Atlantic)
  • The greatest story Reddit ever told (Kernal/Daily Dot) Note: I’m not a fan of Reddit at all, I rarely ever visit there, but this story is fascinating and, strangely, heartwarming.

Bonus:

  • The Internet Arcade: The Internet Arcade is a web-based library of arcade (coin-operated) video games from the 1970s through to the 1990s, emulated in JSMAME, part of the JSMESS software package. Containing hundreds of games ranging through many different genres and styles, the Arcade provides research, comparison, and entertainment in the realm of the Video Game Arcade. (Internet Archive)
  • These Secret Cold War Radio Stations Are Still Broadcasting: In the early days of espionage, long before the advent of burner phones, satcoms, and other modern-day spy gadgets, getting word to field agents—especially those working behind the Iron Curtain—proved a dangerous game with global consequences should the agent’s cover be blown. But that’s where number stations, and their uncrackable radio codes, come in. (Gizmodo)