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: 09/18/2020

Some reminders to get your weekend started:

1) When you go out, if you’re going to be around other people, please wear a mask. It helps (NPR). Need a reason to wear a mask? Here you go:

None of those who died actually attended the wedding and reception.

2) Check to make sure that you’re registered to vote! You can do that here (Vote.org). Here are some more resources:

3) Get your flu shot! It’s not too early – in fact it’s the right time. Not sure why, since we’re all staying inside (if we can)? This might help:

Experts worry that the two diseases could overwhelm the health care system and create a new shortage of hospital beds and personal protective equipment.

Thanks for your time! Now, here are your weekend reads.


There are no good choices (VOX)

In shifting so much responsibility to individual people, America’s government has revealed the limits of individualism.

“That’s Their Problem”: How Jared Kushner Let the Markets Decide America’s COVID-19 Fate (Vanity Fair)

First-person accounts of a tense meeting at the White House in late March suggest that President Trump’s son-in-law resisted taking federal action to alleviate shortages and help Democratic-led New York. Instead, he enlisted a former roommate to lead a Consultant State to take on the Deep State, with results ranging from the Eastman Kodak fiasco to a mysterious deal to send ventilators to Russia.

How The Pandemic Is Widening The Racial Wealth Gap (NPR)

Sixty percent of Black households are facing serious financial problems since the pandemic began, according to a national poll released this week by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. That includes 41% who say they’ve used up most or all their savings, while an additional 10% had no savings before the outbreak.

Latinos and Native Americans are also disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s economic impact. Seventy-two percent of Latino and 55% of Native American respondents say their households are facing serious financial problems, compared with 36% of whites.

“Little Prince” Author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on Love, Mortality, and Night as an Existential Clarifying Force for the Deepest Truths of the Heart (brainpickings)

“Day belongs to family quarrels, but with the night he who has quarreled finds love again. For love is greater than any wind of words… Love is not thinking, but being.”

The Secret History of Hypertext (The Atlantic – $$)

The conventional history of computing leaves out some key thinkers.

[..]

In the years leading up to World War II, a number of European thinkers were exploring markedly similar ideas about information storage and retrieval, and even imagining the possibility of a global network—a feature notably absent from the Memex. Yet their contributions have remained largely overlooked in the conventional, Anglo-American history of computing.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

drawing of The Little Prince sitting on the sand and looking up at the sun. he is dressed like a pilot
The Little Prince – illustration from the Korean translation of The Little Prince by Kim Min Ji

The Thursday Ten

I’ve decided to try something different. Instead of listing all the links I’ve read and thought were interesting, I’m going to limit it to just ten, with maybe a bonus link or two. This first week of September will be my first week attempting this. Feedback is always welcome.

Onto the links:

  • Pop culture’s newest apocalypse: Visions of a smartphone dystopia Two acclaimed new books show how our smartphone addiction is changing the way we think about the end of the world  (Salon) Note: I have read neither book, but the premises of both are similar to many a YA dystopia — though that’s not a bad thing. I do wish the author was familiar with other dystopian novels, though.
  • Hong Kong’s Democracy Dilemma: On Sunday the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress issued restrictive guidelines for the election of Hong Kong’s next chief executive in 2017. Shorn of its technical details, the proposal in effect gives Beijing the means to control who could run for the top office in Hong Kong: Voters would get to cast a ballot, but only for one of just a handful of candidates pre-selected by the Chinese government. (New York Times)
  • What’s missing in the Ebola fight in West Africa: If the Ebola epidemic devastating the countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had instead struck Washington, New York or Boston, there is no doubt that the health systems in place could contain and then eliminate the disease. (Washington Post)
  • Shenzhen trip report – visiting the world’s manufacturing ecosystem: Last year, a group of Media Lab students visited Shenzhen with, bunnie, an old friend and my hardware guru. He’s probably best known for hacking the Xbox, the chumby, an open source networked hardware appliance, and for helping so many people with their hardware, firmware and software designs. bunnie is “our man in Shenzhen” and understands the ecosystem of suppliers and factories in China better than anyone I know. (Joi Ito)
  • Death to the Gamer: Tainted by its misogyny and embrace of consumption as a way of life, gamer culture isn’t worth saving. (Jacobin)

Bonus links! Something a little more fun: