Chronicling My Media Consumption: Vol. 2

Long Things

How Mark Zuckerberg Led Facebook’s War to Crush Google Plus (Vanity Fair Hive)
Earlier this month, Vanity Fair launched a “new mobile-first site devoted to Wall Street, Washington, and Silicon Valley.” As you’d expect, it’s full of articles that give an inside look behind closed doors or their best guess at what’s happening. This piece in particular shines when it describes Facebook’s work culture and lets you see what it’s like to be a part of their world.

Ripple Effect (Wired)
About two weeks ago, I received an email from the DC Public Library system notifying me that seven drinking water sources in libraries throughout the city have high levels of lead. I soon read this article, which follows water engineer Marc Edwards and his quest to protect our water supply from dangerous substances. It’s a sobering reminder that safe drinking water is not something that can be taken for granted.

Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City (New York Times)
My first introduction to school segregation in a present-day context came from This American Life. I’ve always imagined segregation to be a long-abolished relic from the Jim Crow era, but lots of articles like this one have proven me wrong.

Ethics and the Eye of the Beholder (BuzzFeed)
There is a particularly poignant irony in knowing that a philosopher who is celebrated for his stance on ethics fails to applies these same principles to his personal life.

Fandom Is Broken (Birth. Movies. Death.)
Ghostbusters, Frozen, and the Strange Entitlement of Fan Culture (AV Club)
Is the customer always right? Both pieces say no and that the intense sense of ownership that some fans feel about their favorite works do more harm than good.

The Good News at The Washington Post (New York Magazine)
These days, it sounds like everyone wants to be a media company, especially one armed with buzzwords and innnovation (ahem, TRONC). The Washington Post is no exception, but while it has embraced alluring, click-bait headlines, it’s also trying to figure out how to be a sustainable news organization and adapt to an audience glued to its smartphones. I really like learning about the history of publications, and this article offers a look at how one institution confronting change and using the considerable resources of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to its advantage.

New York City, No Filter: On Voyeurism, Social Media, and Life in the City (Brooklyn Magazine)
This lovely piece explores our collective fascination with the quotidian. Plus, anyone who can eloquently explain the appeal of Snapchat earns lots of points in my book.

Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid (Vela)
Is there a conflict between being an artist and a mother? For this author, this is not quite the right answer to ask. In this essay, she eloquently reframes the debate with the following assertion: “The conflict is between the selfishness of the artist and the selflessness of a mother.”

The State of the Domestic Goddess (Serious Eats)
This piece reviews cookbooks from Gwyneth Paltrow and Chrissy Teigan. In doing so, Emily Gould carefully analyzes what exactly each so-called domestic goddess is trying to sell their readers.

On Swarm (Gawker)
A confession: I was never a regular reader of Gawker and probably never will be, but I was intrigued by this essay. It presents a fairly interesting ideas about that type of fake civility and moral high ground that people use to defend themselves in arguments, but it can be a little petty and unnecessarily confrontational. It’s also very long, possibly too long.

Shorter Things

Letter of Recommendation: Bunk Beds (New York Times Magazine)
Ostensibly about bunk beds, actually about friendship. Reading this might invoke feelings of nostalgia, even if you’ve never owned a bunk bed.

The Subtle Genius of Elena Ferrante’s Bad Book Covers (The Atlantic)
The Reluctant Memoirist (New Republic)
Book marketing is a strange, curious thing, bringing up questions about gender and the distinctions between the highbrow and lowbrow. For the record, I think the covers of Elena Ferrante’s books are a perfect fit.

Why the Humble Notebook Is Flourishing in the iPhone Era (New Republic)
The article is less about a general trend towards notebooks and more about the surprising popularity of bullet journaling, which leads me to the following disclaimer. I am a huge fan of bullet journaling and agree with a lot of the observations that this writer makes about the appeal of writing fancy to-do lists in a tangible object.

Socks (New York Review of Books)
I recently finished reading Crime and Punishment. My edition was translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky, and as I was reading, I was completely unaware about the controversy they had caused in the literary world.

Content and Its Discontents (Slate)
In the case of this article, semantics matters. The author takes issue with journalism-as-content, where content “is created by the lowest bidder, in the highest volume and to the lowest standard that’ll still attract eyeballs on Facebook.”

Blake Lively’s blameness blankness, explained (Vox)
You can always trust Vox to tackle the most important questions of the day.

Body on the Moor (BBC)
A dead man is found in Saddleworth Moor. When an autopsy reveals that his cause of death is poison, probably self-inflicted, authorities begin to wonder: who is this man and why did he travel to here to die? This article presents a fascinating crime procedural, complete with detailed maps and CCTV footage.

Starkly Beautiful Brutalist Buildings, Photographed in Black and White (Atlas Obscura)
Just because I like brutalist architecture.

Profiles

Hillary Clinton vs. Herself (New York Magazine)
Most of the things that I read about Hillary Clinton tend to be more interested in evaluating her political strategies or persuading me why she’s a crook. It was refreshing to read something that treats Hilary Clinton as a nuanced person with strengths and weaknesses and an actual personality.

Inside the Mind of Steven Spielberg, Hollywood’s Big, Friendly Giant (Wired)
Growing up, I always thought ET was a scary movie, but I never understood why until reading this profile.

Think Gender Is a Performance? You Have Judith Butler to Thank for That (New York Magazine)
And I have my SOSC professor to thank for assigning our class to read an excerpt of Judtih Butler’s Gender Trouble.

‘It was not a sentimental love’: Françoise Gilot on her years with Picasso (The Guardian)
I aspire to be as cool as Françoise Gilot when I’m ninety-four.

Vince Staples, Regular Genius (The Fader)
One of the reasons why I like profiles is because if they’re well-done, they convince me to care about people about whom I knew nothing about. Vince Staples, a sharp-tongued rapper who is an active gang member, also happens to be a pretty interesting person.

The Mystifying Triumph of Hope Hicks (GQ)
Then there are profiles that have a surreal air to them. Like this one of Hope Hicks, in which Trump answers the reporter’s questions about Hicks while Hicks sits beside him.

Comics colorist Jordie Bellaire on the art of coloring and stealing from the greats  (AV Club)
This is technically an interview, but I learned more about comic book coloring through this piece than I did in the first three months of my job at a comic book publisher. Eisner-Award winning Jordie Bellaire’s passion for her craft (as well as her impressive knowledge of cinema) also shines through her responses.

Podcasts

The Political Thicket” (More Perfect)
The producers of Radiolab have a created a spin-off podcast about Supreme Court. As one would expect from the producers of Radiolab, the series is fantastic. This episode is my favorite so far. It turns out that the idea that the court has any political leaning is a relatively new concept.

H-Day” (99% Invisible)
On September 3, 1967, drivers in Sweden switched from driving on the left side of the road to the right. Even after hearing this story,  I’m still astonished that Sweden managed to coordinate everyone so efficiently to pull this off.

Books

Blankets by Craig Thompson
Blankets is a heartbreaking and gorgeous coming-of-age story with artwork that expresses all the joy, angst, and uncertainty of growing up. It’s my favorite graphic novel that I’ve read so far.

“Sleep” (From The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami)
I’ve started and never finished a lot of Murakami novels, but I zipped through this short story collection and found myself wanting to read more. “Sleep” is my favorite story. It follows a woman who suddenly develops insomnia. She’s very productive in the hours that she’s awake and feels no physical effects, but there’s always a tradeoff. There’s a sense that she’s lost some essential part of herself and her ability to enjoy her quiet life as a housewife.

“Grandmother Spider” (From Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit)
My father told me that one of his relatives kept a family tree that traced geneartions upon generations. I asked if I was included, and he suspected that the answer was no. Why? Because I was female. Solnit examines this obliteration and erasure of women in “Grandmother Spider.”

Movies

What We Do in the Shadows
I forgot to include this movie in last month’s roundup. This mockumentary about vampires in New Zealand asks you to suspend your disbelief pretty often, but in return, you get a lot of laughs. I also think it’d make an excellent TV show.

Spotlight
I finally watched last year’s Academy Award winner, and it lives up the hype. It makes investigative reporting look thrilling while being candid about how grueling it often is. It also kept me up thinking about things like betrayal and the power of institutions. I wound up watching it a second time with my parents. During the second time, I noticed how Spotlight is a very verbal movie. It is the fast-paced conversations move the story along, and carefully worded pleasantries that betray the dynamic of a conversation. Just as the journalists piece together evidence through phone calls, interviews, and editorial meetings, the movie similarly unfolds through scenes where two people sit down and talk to each other.

Weiner
If Spotlight is a movie that unfolds through conversations, Weiner tells its stories through facial expressions, particularly those of Huma Abedin (Anthony Weiner’s wife). I don’t usually watch documentaries, but I’ve been recommending this to everyone I know. Documentaries, by design, are supposed to give you a front-row seat to the people that are its subjects, and Weiner’s presentation of Weiner and Abedin is candid without being mean-spirited and empathetic without being apologetic. Like Rebecca Traister’s profile of Hillary Clinton, the movie shows us  two political figures who are very, very human.

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