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This week: How our lives changed in only weeks / The obstacles capitalism poses to women / Mormons and American democracy / Remembering Hurricane Katrina / The judgment of Bernie Sanders

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. American life has been transformed in a few short weeks
The Economist | March 2020
“The next few will be even tougher”
Also see, from The Cut: How to trim bangs at home without screwing up
Also see, from Jezebel: Why Are Only the Wives of Heads of State Getting Covid-19? Some Theories
Also see, from Vulture: How Coronavirus Accidentally Gave Us a Cardi B Hit
Also see, from The New York Times: Which Country Has Flattened the Curve for the Coronavirus?

2. Teams, toddlers and cabinets: The joys of working from home
By Matt O’Brien and Mae Anderson | Associated Press | March 2020
“This massive, unplanned social experiment can strain productivity and domestic tranquility as toddlers scurry around untended and business meetings and classes shift to noisy group video chats that resemble a checkerboard of talking heads.”

3. Her Incredible Sense Of Smell Is Helping Scientists Find New Ways To Diagnose Disease
By Alix Spiegel | Shots :: NPR | March 2020
“For most of her life, Joy Milne had a superpower that she was totally oblivious to. She simply had no idea she possessed an utterly amazing, slightly terrifying biological gift that scientists would itch to study.”

4. The Seminal Novel About the 1918 Flu Pandemic Was Written by a Texan
By Michael Agresta | Texas Monthly | March 2020
“Katherine Anne Porter’s Pale Horse, Pale Rider tells the tale of a pandemic she barely survived.”

5. Feminist economics: the obstacles US women face under capitalism
By Noa Yachot and Nicole Clark | The Guardian | February 2020
“[The] new series reveals the dilemmas women face in a nation in which parity in pay, political representation and more remain out of reach”

6. How Joseph Smith and the Early Mormons Challenged American Democracy
By Casey Cep | The New Yorker | March 2020
“In Nauvoo, Illinois, Smith established a theocracy, ran for President, and tested the limits of religious freedom.”

7. From Fight Club to Brief Encounter: How self-isolation would change classic films
By Stuart Heritage | The Guardian | March 2020
“It’s now difficult to watch movies without worrying about the two-metre rule – here are the retrospective plot changes required to mean old movies pass muster”

8. Did America Misjudge Bernie Sanders? Or Did He Misjudge America?
By Robert Draper | The New York Times Magazine | March 2020
“Throughout his insurgent campaign, he remained steadfast in his radical vision — and forced a reckoning for the Democratic Party.”

9. Happy Universe
By Caleb A. Scharf | Scientific American | March 2020
“Distract yourself with some amazing views of the universe around us”

10. Floodlines
By Vann R. Newkirk II | The Atlantic | March 2020
“The story of an unnatural disaster”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The reality and history of the coronavirus / Spring comes early / A new map of the Milky Way / The rise of IKEA meatballs / The literature of Chernobyl

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. Yan Lianke: What Happens After Coronavirus?
By Yan Lianke | LitHub | March 2020
“On Community Memory and Repeating Our Own Mistakes”
Also see, from The New Yorker: The Deadliest Virus Ever Known
Also see, from Vox: How canceled events and self-quarantines save lives, in one chart
Also see, from Intelligencer: Reality Arrives to the Trump Era
Also see, from Slate: The Infectious Pestilence Did Reign

2. Spring Starts Today All Over America, Which Is Weird
By Rebecca Hersher | NPR | March 2020
“Perhaps you are mildly surprised to learn that March 19 is the first day of spring. Perhaps you learned as a child that the spring equinox– when day and night are roughly the same length — occurs on either March 20 or March 21.”

3. A New Map of the Milky Way
By Mark J. Reid and Xing-Wu Zheng | Scientific American | March 2020
“High-resolution surveys chart the spiral structure of the galaxy and the location of our solar system”

4. How IKEA helped Swedish meatballs go global
By Josie Delap | 1843 :: The Economist | April / May 2020
“The country’s meatballs are a classic domestic dish. But one giant furniture brand made them popular around the world”

5. Biden’s Top 12 Running Mates, Ranked
By Bill Scher | Politico Magazine | March 2020
“He says he’s going to pick a woman. So which woman should it be?”

6. Chernobyl’s Literary Legacy, 30 Years Later
By Michael Lapointe | The Atlantic | April 2016
“The best works written about the accident express profound doubts about language’s ability to capture the disaster’s magnitude”

7. 3 in 4 women will experience painful sex. What’s with the impulse to just ‘grin and bear it’?
By Carolina Kitchener | The Lily | February 2020
“‘Women are not typically told that their orgasm matters, that their pleasure matters’”

8. A Dark Horizon
By Christian Wallace | Boomtown :: Texas Monthly | February 2020
“Christian talks with renowned business writer Bethany McLean about how the finances of fracking aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.”

9. On the Trail of Hollywood’s Stolen Oscars
By Olivia Rutigliano | Crime Reads | February 2020
“In case you were wondering, Oscars are made from basically nothing of any material value. Maybe that’s the point”

10. La Dolce Vita at 60: the fame, the fortune, the fountain
By Charles Bramesco | The Guardian | February 2020
“Federico Fellini’s sumptuous yet existentially punishing drama offers up a view of an elite class that has since gone rotten”

César E. Chávez in San Antonio

The Top Shelf

Beginning in 2014 on March 31, César E. Chávez Day has been designated a federal commemorative holiday in honor of the civil rights activist and labor leader.  Cities across the country celebrate his legacy through community service and educational programs. Since 1997, the City of San Antonio has memorialized Chávez’s work with the annual César E. Chávez March for Justice.

While Chávez began working in California in the 1950s to improve the conditions and pay of agricultural workers, it was not until 1968 that he received national attention.  It was then that Chávez, as leader of the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), called for a national boycott of California table grape growers.  The following year, Chávez made his first public appearance in San Antonio to enlist local support.  From then until a year before his death in 1993, Chávez made return visits to speak, lead marches, and participate in strikes…

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Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The politics and literature of the coronavirus / Statistically efficient sex lives / Correcting the 1619 Project / Christopher Walken is too normal / Rethinking a Cold War hero

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. When Newspapers Were New, or, How Londoners Got Word of the Plague
By Alexis C. Madrigal | The Atlantic | March 2020
“Daniel Defoe’s novel about London’s 1665 plague can help us understand new media. No, really.”
Also see, from The Guardian: When binge-watching goes viral
Also see, from Politico: Andrew Cuomo, a Man Alone
Also see, from CNET: Online coronavirus scams are here, watch out for these red flags
Also see, from The Atlantic: The Dos and Don’ts of ‘Social Distancing’
Also see, from The Medium: The Secret Glee of Shy People and Plan-Cancelers in Coronatimes

2. I’m Not Feeling Good at All
By Jess Bergman | The Baffler | March 2020
“The perplexingly alienated women of recent American fiction”

3. Between the spreadsheets
By Alice Hines | 1843 :: The Economist | March 2020
“All these people are trying to optimise the process of acquiring a partner and maintaining a relationship. Optimisation grew out of attempts to solve real-world problems with mathematical techniques. People are most likely to have experienced the effects of optimisation in their workplace.”

4. I Helped Fact-Check the 1619 Project. The Times Ignored Me
By Leslie M. Harris | Politico | March 2020
“The paper’s series on slavery made avoidable mistakes. But the attacks from its critics are much more dangerous.”

5. How the coronavirus could limit shoe-leather reporting
By Jon Allsop | Columbia Journalism Review | March 2020
“Nor is access the only concern; like politicians, some journalists fly all around the country — and the world — meeting people, then returning to busy offices in big cities. We often think of ourselves as neutral observers standing outside the stories we cover. Viruses don’t respect such wishes.”

6. Is There a Bourbon Barrel Shortage on the Horizon?
By Lew Bryson | The Daily Beast | March 2020
“We chatted with loggers, wood scientists, and mills to see if the supply of barrels can keep up with bourbon demand”

7. The Secret History of a Cold War Mastermind
By Alex French | Wired | March 2020
“Gus Weiss, a shrewd intelligence insider, pulled off an audacious tech hack against the Soviets in the last century. Or did he?”

8. Christopher Walken Remains Endearingly Ordinary After All These Years
By Steve Garbarino | Interview | March 2020
“Once in a while, I go to a Christmas party or a birthday party. Nowadays, I try to eat right and get rest and stay healthy, so that if somebody offers me a job, I’m ready to go. I’m always kind of getting ready to go to work, even if I don’t have anything in particular to work on.”

9. Wild West Texas
By Christian Wallace | Boomtown :: Texas Monthly | January 2020
“The uneasy alliance between ranchers and the oil industry goes all the way back to the early wildcatting days in West Texas. But today, that relationship is more fraught than ever.”

10. ‘This is not how sequoias die. It’s supposed to stand for another 500 years’
By Patrick Greenfield | The Guardian | January 2020
“Giant sequoias were thought to be immune to insects, drought and wildfires. Then the unthinkable happened: trees started to die — and scientists began the search for answers”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Practice your phone sex / What can the 1918 flu teach us? / What “I can’t” really means / The role of podcasting in 2020 / Gardening in a world of extreme weather

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. Get Ready to Have a Lot of Phone Sex
By Amanda Arnold | The Cut :: New York Magazine | March 2020
“I would suggest that we all charge our phones and ready our dry-ass hands that are likely cracked from vigorous washing. For those of us who feel too anxious to rub our naked bodies up against others, the time is nigh to get horny on the phone.”

2. Closed borders and ‘black weddings’: what the 1918 flu teaches us about coronavirus
By Laura Spinney | The Guardian | March 2020
“The influenza of 1918 killed up to 100 million people. What lessons does it offer for our current health crisis?”

3. We Went There: Brooklyn’s Annual Valley of the Dolly Partons
By Jadie Stillwell | Interview | March 2020
“This year’s six contestants lined up under big golden D-O-L-L-Y balloons to clear a number of substantial hurdles Parton has surely never had to face.”

4. Report: Neighbor steals skeleton over offensive gesture
Associated Press | March 2020
“A New Mexico woman is facing a larceny charge after authorities say she stole a neighbor’s anatomical skeleton model that allegedly was making an offensive gesture toward her.”

5. The Many Meanings of ‘I Can’t’
By Amanda Baker | Budding Scientist :: Scientific American | February 2020
“So much can hide behind those two little words”

6. The unspeakably brutal life of Harry Haft
By J. Bennett | OZY | February 2020
“Forced to fight fellow prisoners at Auschwitz for the amusement of Nazi officers, this boxer lived the rest of his life in a spiral of remorse, defeat and abuse.”

7. The 2016 Election Shaped Podcasting. Will Podcasts Shape the 2020 Election?
By Nicholas Quah | One Great Story :: Vulture | February 2020
“But while the 2016 presidential election cycle was consequential to podcasting, the impact going the other way around is less clear. Has podcasting become big enough to shape election politics?”

8. Extreme weather has gardeners looking for resilient plants
By Dean Fosdick | Associated Press | February 2020
Fiercer and more frequent natural disasters in recent years have many homeowners re-evaluating their landscaping. Many are restocking with trees and plants more resilient in the face of storms, fires and flooding.”

9. Mojo Magic
By Christian Wallace | Boomtown :: Texas Monthly | January 2020
“The Permian Basin is the birthplace of Friday Night Lights. But the historic oil boom threatens beloved high school football traditions.”

10. Mount Vesuvius eruption ‘turned victim’s brain to glass’
By Nicola Davis | The Guardian | January 2020
“Scientists discover vitrified remains caused by immense 520C heat of disaster in AD79”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: When coronavirus hits / When couples decorate together / Problematic David Foster Wallace / 250 years after the Boston Massacre / What writers can learn from Richard Pryor

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. What can Texas do if a coronavirus outbreak hits?
By Edgar Walters | The Texas Tribune | March 2020
“While Texas has not yet seen ‘community spread’ of coronavirus, U.S. health officials have told states to begin considering special measures in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.”
Associated Press: How risky is that virus? Your mind may mislead
Associated Press: Dogs, cats can’t pass on coronavirus, but can test positive

2. How to Write a Perfect Resignation Letter
By Alison Green | Ask a Boss :: The Cut | February 2020
“How do you tell your boss? How do you initiate that meeting? What do you write in your resignation letter? And for that matter, considering that it’s 2020, why are we still marking this important conversation by letter?”

3. Til decor do us part? How couples can decorate together
By Melissa Rayworth | Associated Press | February 2020
“If one partner loves filling every space with mementos and the other is clutter-averse, who gets their way? It can be hard to find good compromises when one loves bold colors and patterns, while the other favors calming shades of gray.”

4. Are Kids Bad for the Planet?
The Politics of Everything :: The New Republic | January 2020
“The fraught decision to have children — or not — in an era of climate crisis”

5. Dead tyrants, foiled dreams and failed states: How Arab literature captures the spirit of the times
By Khalid Hajji | Middle East Eye | February 2020
“Powerful novels provide a spectacle of our weaknesses, failures, foiled dreams, slain tyrants and frustrated reformers”

6. The Fraught Task of Describing Life with David Foster Wallace
By Zan Romanoff | LitHub | February 2020
“The book maps a man’s abusive behavior towards a woman, the external force he exerts on her, almost incidentally; its true interest is in describing what it feels like to be a person having that kind of force enacted on you at time in your life when you don’t know what the rules are yet—when you have to wonder if what’s happening to you is normal, or, if not normal, then no more than what you deserve.”

7. The Boston Massacre: Deadly squabble was not quite as the propaganda portrayed it
By Brian MacQuarrie | The Boston Globe | March 2020
“It was a deadly confrontation between familiar faces. Little would ever be the same again in Boston, a cramped town of 15,000 people packed into a single square mile.”

8. What Richard Pryor’s Stand-Up Can Teach Writers
By Joe Fassler | The Atlantic | May 2018
“The nonfiction author Cutter Wood on how the comedian’s work helped him imbue minor characters with emotional life”

9. A Thin Line
By Christian Wallace | Boomtown :: Texas Monthly | January 2020
“During booms, the Permian Basin sees a rise in prostitution charges. But misperceptions and stereotypes about sex work have led to policies that may actually harm the women involved.”

10. My best friend seems to have no time for me. Am I being too demanding?
By Eleanor Gordon-Smith | The Guardian | January 2020
“The world divides into people. … Those who need plans and people who are constrained by them”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Coronavirus is everywhere — now what? / Sharing secrets with a stranger / The beauty of bread / Black queer people join the literature / Writing as the world burns up

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. So What Should I Do About Coronavirus Now?
By Josh Barro | Intelligencer :: New York Magazine | February 2020
“[P]eople should make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccines, including flu shots, because a community that is more resilient overall and less likely to get other diseases is going to be better positioned to handle a novel pandemic. And schools and employers should be preparing their plans for what they will do if the epidemic hits where they are located. …”

2. How to Write Fiction When the Planet Is Falling Apart
By Parul Sehgal | The New York Times Magazine | February 2020
“Jenny Offill is the master of novels told in sly, burnished fragments. In her latest, ‘Weather,’ she uses this small form to address the climate collapse.”

3. That Feeling When You Share Your Deepest Secrets With a Stranger You’ll Never See Again
By Bryan Washington | The Cut :: New York Magazine | February 2020
“Itinerant Love: The feeling of unfettered closeness and guiltless exposure that comes from spending an intimate night with someone while knowing that you won’t see that person again, despite it just being really lovely, thereby giving you both license to share more of yourselves than you ever would otherwise.”

4. Waterlines: On Writing and Sailing
By Martin Dumont | NYR Daily :: New York Review of Books | February 2020
“I had spent hundreds of hours building that novel, dreaming it, conceiving it, putting it down on paper, and now it was going to live a life beyond my control. An existence in the hands of others — the readers, who would likely always remain unknown to me. It was terrifying and fascinating.”

5. Polar Extremes
NOVA :: PBS | February 2020
“Paleontologist Kirk Johnson explores the dynamic history — and future — of ice at the poles”

6. What’s in Kale (or a Pear) that Seems to Lower Alzheimer’s Risk?
By Gary Stix | Scientific American | January 2020
“Particular antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may lower chances of getting the disease”

7. Daily Bread
The Splendid Table :: APM | January 2019
“If you have ever wondered why New York bagels are great or not so, we get the answer from Dianna Daoheung of Black Seed Bagels. …”

8. Black Queer People Writing Ourselves Into History: An Autostraddle Master List
By Carmen Phillips | Autostraddle | February 2020
“As we imagine new worlds for ourselves as queer black women, we want to know –who were the visionaries of our past? And who are those visionaries right now? As queer and trans black people, who have we’ve loved or looked up to? When did have we found clarity about our purpose? Who helped us imagine our own future?”

9. Boobtown
By Christian Wallace | Boomtown :: Texas Monthly | January 2020
“We explore a different kind of boom in the Permian Basin. Meet the women working at a lingerie coffee shop, a ‘breastaurant,’ and two area strip clubs.”

10. The world’s oldest asteroid strike in Western Australia may have triggered a global thaw
The Conversation :: The Guardian | January 2020
“A new study showing the 70km-wide Yarrabubba crater dates impact to 2.29bn years ago”

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