A Handful of Links
“The Emails of Natalie Portman and Jonathan Safran Foer” (New York Times Magazine)
I had the best time reading this profile. It was delightfully bizarre. It made me wonder whether Jonathan Safran Foer really did divorce his wife because of Natalie Portman. It revealed how thoughtful the actress was and how self-indulgent the writer was. And what am I supposed to make of the fact that Foer eventually unearths an email that was supposedly deleted? It definitely deserves closer scrutiny and a closer reading than I’m giving right now.
“Fences” (New York Review of Books)
Zadie Smith eloquently shares her disappointment with the Brexit. Aleksandar Hemon makes a brief cameo.
“Their Bodies, Ourselves“(The Atlantic)
I am fascinated by gymnastics because of its contradictory demands. Few sports require enormous athleticism, bedazzled pageantry, and an insistence on aesthetics all at the same time. This article draws parallels between the demands on Olympic gymnasts and notions of femininity in our culture.
“Ralph Lauren’s American Dream” (Racked)
According to recent news headlines, clothing retailers are having a rough time. Ralph Lauren presents an interesting case where the very things that have made it iconic are now working against them.
“Train to Nowhere” (The Verge)
Surprise! Cincinnati once tried to build a subway system, the remnants of which languish beneath the city’s streets. Recommend for anyone who has a fascination with America’s dismal investemnt in infrastructure and public transit networks.
“Why Are New York City’s Streets Always Under Construction? ” (New York Times)
While we’re on the topic of infrastructure, there’s also this fun piece about the “modern spaghetti” that lives below ground of NYC.
I Finally Caught Up on a Two-Month Backlog of New Yorker Magazines
“Love in Translation” by Lauren Collins
Collins’s husband is a native French speaker, and when the couple relocates to Geneva, her goal to learn French reveals surprising insights about her relationships to language, the people around her, and culture. It’s a familiar subject for an essay, but the piece has lots of small, wonderful moments. My favorite include: the author’s husband using the word “capillarity” in common parlance, the author discovering that her husband uses the French-equivalent of “dude”, and this wonderful metaphor: “English is a trust fund, an unearned inheritance, but I’ve worked for every bit of French I’ve banked.”
“Citizen Khan” by Kathryn Schulz
In the early 1900s, Zarif Khan began amassing fame and fortune by selling tamales in Wyoming. It’s a fun historical anecdote that ultimately has larger implications on today’s attitudes about immigration and who gets to be American.
“The Detectives Who Never Forget a Face” by Patrick Radden Keefe
There’s a police force in London comprised of detectives who have are excellent at face recogition. Keefe presents the crimefighting possibilites of “super-recognizers” and also made me wonder whether we’re creeping towards a dystopian future.
“The Philosopher of Feelings” by Rachel Aviv
Around campus, I knew that Martha Nussbuam was An Important Scholar, but I never quite understood why until reading this profile. It turns out that she’s a pretty cool lady.
“Nan Goldin’s Life in Progress” by Hilton Als
Nan Goldin is also a cool lady.
“Women’s Gymnastics Deserves Better Coverage” by Reeves Wiedeman
I know, it’s another gymnastics article, but bear with me. I didn’t have a chance to watch much of the Olympics this year, but thanks to what I heard about NBC’s dismal and droll coverage of the events, I wasn’t too disappointed about it. Wiedeman points out that NBC does gymnastics fans a disservice by assuming that the technical details of the sport uninteresting to its audience. (P.S. Wiedeman’s profile on Simone Biles is also excellent.)
“The Shadow Doctors” by Ben Taub
In Syria, hospitals are often intentionally targeted as a war strategy, leaving the country with a critical shortage of doctors and medical personnel. NGOs and doctors from across the work have banded together to help create a network of underground hospitals.
“The Daredevil of the Auction World” by Rebecca Mead
After reading this profile, I’m waiting for Martin Scorsese to make a movie about the glamorous, high-stakes world of art dealing with Leonardo DiCaprio in his next new role as Christie’s auctionner Loïc Gouzer.
“The End of the End of the World” by Jonathan Franzen
I may have mixed feelings about Jonathan Franzen as a writer, but I did really like his description of the avian specimens that he saw during his trip.
I always thought that I wasn’t a fan of interview podcasts, but I was proven wrong by Longform, which features interviews with a different nonfiction writer each episode. I spent a weekend binge listening and learning fun things about my favorite journalists and writers from Emily Nussbaum to Ezra Klein.
“Photo Credit” (99% Invisible)
Roman Mars dives into the history of Lucia Moholy’s photographs of the Bauhaus. There are two interesting threads to this episode: the idea that buildings from a prominent architectural movement survives mostly through photographs and how hard it is to receive credit for your work.
“Playing God” (Radiolab)
In times of emergency, how do you decide who gets medical care and who gets to make the decision? This episode receives high marks for asking tough questions about triage and the allocation of scarce resources.
When Women Stopped Coding (Planet Money)
There are a lot of factors that explain the gender gap in coding and computing. Planet Money offers one theory.
Invisibilia, Season 2
The wait for Invisibilia’s second season was long, but it was worth it. Whether it was about teaching oil rig employees how to express their emotions or using compassion to fight Islamic radicalization in Denmark, each episode features excellent reporting and compelling insights.
“10 Ideas to Make Politics Less Rotten” (Freakonomics)
This episode makes the list mostly because I was excited to learn about different ways of voting.
“On the Shore Dimly Seen” (Love + Radio)
This episode featured a performance piece that draws from the interrogation log of detainee 063 at Guantanamo Bay. It was creepy and captures all the horrors of no-touch torture.
“The Girl Who Doesn’t Exist” (Radiolab)
Radiolab’s latest episode features a girl who was born and raised in Texas but has left no paper trail her entire life. Things get complicated.
Season 4, Orange Is the New Black
I have mixed feelings about the latest season. The last few episodes broke my heart, but I have a lot of nitpicks about the story arc as a whole and the final cliffhanger. If you’re a longtime fan of this show though, all thirteen episodes are definitely worth a watch.
Full disclosure: I have not finished the latest season of Veep (thanks to lost access to HBOGo). “Mother” has been my favorite episode of the season so far. It showcases the show’s wonderful dark comedy and acerbic satire. Plus, it gives you another reason as to why Selina Meyer is one of the most colorful characters on TV right now.
The clever pop-culture oriented puns! Animals and people coexisting! Existential ennui! Will Arnett! I’m totally onboard.