This week’s recommended reading will go the opposite of last week’s, starting heavy and ending light. Because it’s raining and dreary in Ashland, and in the middle of the week it’s helpful, sometimes, to end with an old-timey video of people riding various, hilarious kinds of bikes.
That said, don’t skip ahead, as there was a lot of good shit on the Internet this week.
Oh, and because I’m still figuring out how overtly about-politics (if at all) I want this to be, I’m going to gloss over what is arguably the *most recommended reading* this week, primarily stories about the clusterfuck at the President’s house, but if you’re looking for that, please see the Washington Post, New York Times, and this tweet, the latter because it’s funny and also emblematic.
by Dan Cluchey
All of those people who died: It can be easy to forget given how exciting the political implications are, but one underreported result of the nuclear holocaust is that hundreds of millions of human beings were killed, the unique symphonies of their lives silenced forever, never again to know the sweet breath of existence.
Okay, so this is technically “comedy,” but funny-because-it’s-real, you know? I had a friend named Rithika in college (who is a total badass, by the way), who would also bring in/recommend McSweeny’s stuff, and since starting this new job, in this new era of political-tom-fuckery, I’ve been trying to read it more often, because we need humor. But it’s funny because it’s scary, you know?
by Alex Tizon
It confused me: My parents were good to my siblings and me, and we loved them. But they’d be affectionate to us kids one moment and vile to Lola the next. I was 11 or 12 when I began to see Lola’s situation clearly. By then Arthur, eight years my senior, had been seething for a long time. He was the one who introduced the word slave into my understanding of what Lola was. Before he said it I’d thought of her as just an unfortunate member of the household. I hated when my parents yelled at her, but it hadn’t occurred to me that they—and the whole arrangement—could be immoral.
This essay… was a lot, in a lot of ways. But extremely sand and beautiful and well written. It’s a fair treatment, I think, and, growing up as a White American, where slavery meant Africans primarily in The South, it’s provided an important reminder/lesson about the different slaveries that (still and/or more recently than we’d like to believe) exist in the world. I’m a fan of the idea that you should read to understand different experiences, different ways of living, things that challenge you, and ultimately things that (at least, in theory) make you a better person for having read them. This essay fits the bill, and you should read it.
by Nidhi Chanani
A terrorist wouldn’t have a wedding ring on, would they? Is traveling alone suspicious? But so many people travel for work. Do I look like I’m traveling for work? Maybe I should get a briefcase. Gross. What artists use briefcases? That would be more suspicious. I should buy more cat clothing. Then I’ll be seen as a crazy cat lady. Terrorists do not like cats, I think.
As mentioned, I love The Nib, and they publish great stuff, like this one.
by Kirk Johnson
It also looks like Gary Leif’s pyramid chart. He is a commissioner in Douglas County, and he said that budgeting here was no longer about pie charts showing where the revenue goes and which departments get what. Instead, it is all triage now: The must-haves, like public safety, are at the base; the nice-to-haves in the middle; and the no-longer-attainable, like a publicly supported library, at the top.
On the fat ride this weekend, we had a conversation about how politicians have somehow gotten people to vote against their own self-interest (I’d meant to bring up the book that my grandparents lent me, What’s The Matter With Kansas, but I still haven’t read it yet. I should read it soon, though, because I owe it back to them). This is that. But again, you’re trying to understand why people vote against their own self-interest like this, and though this story is only a piece of the puzzle, it is a piece. And though I’ve been frankly annoyed with the NYT lately for their odd and inconsistent spins and positions and hires and so forth, but I thought this one was good. For example, from the end:
There is conservative, said Mr. Bean, flicking a cigarette butt into the bed of his pickup truck, and then there is community. And people got them confused.
The library, he said, was something a person could use — for computers, if not for books — even if that person didn’t have a dime, and he still respects that.
by Michael Sweater
My religious aunt who I spent a lot of time being mad at still says a lot of things that drive me absolutely crazy. But she also spends her life doing social work, witnessing the worst parts of humanity, and helping children–largely motivated by her faith.
Although I think this is a somewhat strawman-inspried comic (I don’t know that many people that “hate” christians, but then, I also remember that being much more of a vogue-casual position back during the W. Bush years when the guy was having his feelings about this, but then, I also currently live in a relatively homogenous rural community and am arguably out of touch with a lot of things, so–), I enjoyed it. I grew up with a lot of christian friends, and one of my best friends in college was (and still is) extremely serious about his faith, and though there were (and still are) always points of contention and disagreement, like, they can be good people too, eh? Not that you needed to be told that, because if you’re reading this then you’re probably already a great person. But anyway, I enjoyed this, and would recommend it.
by Mary Mann
A phone conversation with my cousin Connie only strengthened these misgivings. Connie works in an orange juice concentrate factory, an experience I’d imagined as like that of the former autoworker Ben Hamper, who wrote in his memoir Rivethead: “Car, windshield. Car, windshield. Drudgery piled atop drudgery. Cigarette to cigarette. Decades rolling through the rafters, bones turning to dust, stubborn clocks gagging down flesh, another windshield, another cigarette . . .” (except juice instead of cars, and no cigarettes, since food-producing factories have to be more hygienic). I expected boredom, and I expected complaining. All seemed promising at first: when I asked if her job was interesting, Connie chuckled and answered, “Not really.” But when I asked if she liked it, it was as if she’d never even considered the question. “Do I like it?” she repeated. There was a moment of silence on her end. “Well, it’s regular work. And I don’t have to deal with people. I wish they’d let us have music, but nobody minds if I sing. And I have a lot of time to think and plan things. Yeah, honey, it’s a fine job. Why, are you looking for one?”
I almost saved this one to do a separate, more in-depth read-along-recommendation, but then I realized I probably shouldn’t, or, at least, I should write my own thing about being bored at work and link to it then, or, rather, that I hoped to do a different sort of post for next-post or next-next. Regardless, I loved this essay, related to it, and may even someday read the book.