January 31, 2020

Hey hi happy Friday, etc. Listen, are you into wigs? Do you know anything about wearing, purchasing, caring for, or styling wigs? Like a kid after doing that dizzy-baseball-bat thing, I’ve stumbled into a new hobby and I seek the wisdom of my fake-hair friends. Anyway here’s some stuff to read!

  1. Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village, Crime Reads. Avoid all vats, because “in English villages, vats only exist for drowning people—in beer, in pickling brine, in whiskey, in jam. This is doubly true if the vat was built by 14th century monks. If anyone offers to show you a vat, say you need to get something from your car, then start the engine and run them over. The police understand this sort of thing. Tell them about the vat.” This is funny!
  2. NK Jemisin’s Dream Worlds, New Yorker. “I need to know how that person became who she is—a woman so angry that she was willing to move mountains,” she told me. “She was angry in a slow burn, with the kind of anger that is righteous, enough to change a planet. That’s a person who has been through so much shit that she has been pushed into becoming a leader. That’s an M.L.K. I needed to build a world that would explain her.” She’s talking about the main character in The Broken Earth Trilogy, which is the best fantasy series I think I’ve ever read. (Big spoiler alerts in this profile though!) I love the way Jemisin approaches world-building and I’m so inspired by her!
  3. ‘Weird News,’ ‘Dumb Criminals’ and the Media’s Monetization of Human Misery, The Appeal. “It may seem like humorless scolding, but the consequences of this type of demonization are real. A key feature of these stories — as seen in follow-up stories about the Taco Bell break-in by The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Fox 5 Atlanta, and several others — is mug shots that spread to hundreds of websites complete with the arrestee’s name. As I’ve reported elsewhere, this process of “mugshot shaming” ruins lives and stains one’s online reputation for decades to come. At the other end of these clickbait stories is a real human being, and to the extent that these are “news,” they are only so because the police see to it that they are.” This got me thinking and seeing those stories in a new light. After someone pointed out how crappy some of the viral autotune videos are, especially ones featuring Black folks (one about a brother protecting his sister from an assault, another about escaping an apartment fire), it clicked in a new way and I realized that I was consuming something without empathy. That line “at the other end of these stories is a real human being” is something I want to remember always.
  4. Opinion | How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change, NYT. “Imagine dense but livable cities veined with public transit and leafy parks, infrastructure humming away to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, fake meat that tastes better than the real thing, species recovering and rewilding the world, the rivers silver with fish, the skies musical with flocking birds. This is a future where the economic inequality, racism and colonialism that made decades of inaction on climate change possible has been acknowledged and is being addressed. It is a time of healing. Many ecosystems have changed, but natural resilience and thoughtful human assistance is preventing most species from going extinct. This is a future in which children don’t need to take to the streets in protest and alarm, because their parents and grandparents took action. Instead, they are climbing trees. This future is still possible. But it will only come to pass if we shed our shame, stop focusing on ourselves, join together and demand it.” Some actionable stuff here, as well as genuinely inspiring/encouraging words.
  5. Podcast Passivity, Real Life Mag. “If early radio programming was meant to “get into the home atmosphere,” the 21st century version belongs to a smaller, more contained theater: it’s like a podcast is set inside your own skull. More than a decade into my listening habit, I find myself on what feels like cellular, neurological intimacy with people I’ve never met — who don’t know I exist. And as podcasts have exploded, I’ve started to wonder about their cumulative effects. At what level do these encounters remain world-expanding and empathy-provoking? How much is too much other people to chug into your head?” I use podcasts to keep myself company, but yesterday my phone died on a walk with Persey and I was (the horror) left with my own thoughts. I could hear the sound of wind in the trees and the honking/snuffling noise of Persey’s nose in the grass. It was nice!

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