There’s a podcast I like called Lovett or Leave It, and he’s got this section called “There’s Just So Much Going On.” I think that’s about right. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been phasey with my reading, so far as the relative proportion of news/commentary to less-political stuff (I say “less-political,” because let’s be real, everything is at least somewhat political these days, it seems). Anyway.

There’s a fair bit of recommended reading this week, because, as you know, there is just so much going on. I’ve vaguely organized it from “less political” to “more so,” but I’ve also been super busy at work today (which is when I put these posts together… don’t tell my boss), so the progression may be less sensible than intended. So, without further ado, your wednesday weekly recommended reading:

I Interviewed My Sister About Our New Art Show and Daddy Issues

by Nick Gazin

Are there things you can’t paint well that you wish you could?

I usually have to focus more when painting noses and hands, and I should probably practice them more. I’m also not very good at painting anything that’s inorganic. I like lips and eyes, since they are the most expressive features, so I am better at painting them. Boobies are also very expressive.

Nick Gazin is, of course, the dude who designed the Run the Jewels album art. He’s also apparently the art editor over at Vice. I followed him on IG, and then his sister, Penelope. I really like both their work, and this interview is silly and hilarious and you can also see a lot of their art. It’s relatively (OK, fairly) NSFW, however. Just FYI. But it’s also on Vice, which you probably shouldn’t be reading at work anyway.


by Claire Dederer

Secret 4

Speaking of Facebook, my “Other Messages” folder was chockfull of notes from middle-aged dudes, strangers who read my piece. They sent me song lyrics, poems, links to pieces of music that gave them feelings. They assured me: Women’s sexuality is underappreciated! Except by them! Also, would I like some help with it?

This was fun, heartbreaking, interesting, etc. Secrets are weird, memoir is weird, this is very well-written.

I’m Not a Robot: When You’re Autistic, Respect is Hard to Come By

by Ashanti Fortson

I always related to the robot in The Iron Giant.

It was naive to others’ intentions, it understood the world differently than others did, and it lost control of itself in response to certain stimuli

I like comics, and good storytelling, and this is all of that. The art is real nice, the story is “real” and also hopeful, and you should read it. Especially if you’re like me and don’t know as much about autism and what living with it is like as perhaps you ought.

As best-seller lists are cut, a looming disaster for publishers

by Tolulope Edionwe

Many felt the move seemed to delegitimize certain types of books, even if they’re popular. Graphic novels have been selling well and gaining prestige. “Shutting down Ppbk Graphic Books Bestseller List is unfortunate,” the cartoonist Raina Telgemeier tweeted at the Times. “So many new& established creators benefited from the recognition.”

Romance novels were also penalized because most of them fall into the mass-market paperback category. The Romance Writers of America, which boasts about 10,000 members, teamed up with several other genre-specific associations to issue a joint statement condemning the Times’s “tremendous mistake,” and predicting that the removals would ultimately “make the lists less relevant to authors and readers, as well as the entire publishing and library community.”

I used to pay a lot of attention to this sort of thing, but less to recently. The Times has been fascinating to watch lately for a lot of reasons, but minimally, it just goes to show the crazy kinds of responsibility they have as a venerable “Paper of Record.” That said, they’ve been doing weird shit like this and then hiring that new climate-denying Op-Eder, so IDFK.


by Stacie Williams

At the medical library, I tended to work nearest the door and security checkpoint. I was usually the first one to see a patron come in, and I always greeted them with a pleasant hello. Sometimes they’d respond and sometimes they’d come to the desk. We worked the desk in pairs, so there was always me and a white colleague. In that academic library system at that time there were fewer than ten black people working as library staff, out of a total of more than 700 library staff members. If I had a dollar for every time a patron approached the desk, saw me, hesitated, and then walked over to my white co-worker for assistance, I could have paid for an extra semester of graduate school. I initially chalked up the snubs to other, more benign things, but as they increased I had a feeling about them, something dark that I couldn’t put my finger on. Then my boss told me he noticed it too and it bothered him.

This essay was wonderful and illuminating and also libraries and librarians are great. Kind of dovetailing with the whole “nothing isn’t political” thing, she makes a compelling case about both the absurdity and potential danger of “neutrality.” You know, that whole, “silence only benefits the oppressor” idea. Anyway, my grandmother was a librarian, librarians and libraries are important to me, and this was an excellent essay about them.

Why Yale Graduate Students Are on a Hunger Strike

by Jennifer Klein

But Yale refused to acknowledge the union. Instead, it hired Proskauer Rose, a high-powered law firm that specializes in union-busting, to harass and intimidate the students. Lawyers forced students into a labor board hearing and badgered graduate teachers on the witness stand for hours, demeaning their knowledge and skills. The lawyers argued that for many of the courses they teach, these graduate students “have no subject matter expertise” and therefore don’t qualify as professors. It would, of course, be very odd if such a prestigious school let inept graduates teach students whose families pay some $50,000 a year in tuition. That Yale would besmirch its own student teachers this way to keep from bargaining with them is appalling and detrimental to its educational mission.

So, this hits close to home in a lot of ways, both because of a dear friend fighting a similar battle down at Emory (which is sort of mentioned in the article), as well as its relation to the fights at WashU and Webster, about which my friend Richard wrote an excellent article in the Riverfront Times. As mentioned in the [Times] article, “Tenured and tenured-track jobs have declined significantly, with only about 30 percent of faculty members in such positions in 2016.” While yes, there is perhaps some validity to the idea of “apprenticeship” in academia, that’s clearly not the real reason behind all this tom-fuckery (hint: it’s money!).

Doomed to Repeat It

by Niki Smith

Two week’s after Trump’s election, the “alt-right” celebrated their victory at the annual National Policy Institute Conference.

Led by Richard Spencer, the movement is little more than a modern rebranding of neo-Nazi, white nationalist ideals, growing more confident by the day in Trump’s America.

“Hail Victory” sounds congratulatory… a celebration of Trump’s Election. And most english coverage of the speech treated it that way.

But ever German speaker knows what Richard Spencer said.

”Hail Victory.”

“Seig Heil.”

Chilling shit. Another wonderful comic on The Nib, written from the perspective of “an American emigrant living in Germany.” In addition to the excellent presentation of the picture-essay, the style of the artwork is spot-on and really cool. I strongly recommend this one.

Why the Comey firing could be Trump’s Watergate moment

But to get a real sense of where the public narrative over the firing is already headed, there is no better example than this comment from Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Markey. The Comey firing, he said, was “disturbingly reminiscent of the Saturday Night Massacre during the Watergate scandal & the natl turmoil that it caused.”

Watergate has a singular resonance in American political life, so much so that nearly every scandal eventually has a “-gate” added to its name. But even Watergate didn’t immediately explode into the historic scandal that eventually led to Nixon’s resignation. The turning point, arguably, came in the specific moment that Markey is referencing: the so-called Saturday Night Massacre. That’s when Nixon attempted to kneecap a dangerous investigation into his wrongdoing.

…and you thought I wasn’t going to link to something about this clusterfuck. Generally, I think Vox’s reporting/analysis can fall on the side of wishful thinking and so it’s not my first go-to, but because a guy I took philosophy classes with in college seems to be super into their stuff, it popped up on my newsfeed last night and I gave it a go-through. While I think it’s still a bit presumptive insofar as its hits and prediction, the history overview (for those of us who were born well after the whole “Nixon thing”) I found helpful, and that, at least, I thought I’d recommend.

Days Before Firing, Comey Asked for More Resources for Russia Inquiry

by Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo

Mr. Comey made his appeal [for more resources] to Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who also wrote the Justice Department’s memo that was used to justify the firing of Mr. Comey this week, the officials said.

Suspicious…. very suspicious.