June Links

I thought it was just me, but no. I’m pretty sure we’re all just winging it.

Some of us have been gifted — by genetics, by trust funds — with superior wings, like those of the great blue heron in the pond by the library. Some of us have learned to stay aloft by riding the higher currents, like the black-headed vultures that circle far above some point of interest on the riverbank below.

And some of us are just flying squirrels, with no real wings at all, assured by our capacity to glide from branch to branch that we are really flying, when in truth we’re just falling a little more slowly than we otherwise might.

If you live in the U.S., especially if you live in a Republican-governed state, you may have done what I did Friday: searched out relocation options on the coastal west, thinking a move from your blood-red Midwest state might be in order. The most powerful response to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling came from the governors of those west coast states, in sad and stark contrast to the milquetoast pronouncements from Democratic leadership in Washington, D.C. who for some reason thought gathering on the Capitol steps for a rousing rendition of “God Bless America” was in order. You can’t make this shit up.

Meanwhile… folks are aiding and abetting. Because “winging it” doesn’t mean you’re on your own.

Unless you’d like to be, and some well-meaning person tries to get you paired up. Heather O’Neill wonders why our culture is so afraid of single women.

Oliver Burkeman says, “It’s worse than you think,” which left me feeling… comforted?

Food and culture writer/podcaster Alicia Kennedy has thoughts on productivity and precarity: “My work, my labor, is in living and in learning and in fiddling around, for as long as I can get away with it.” Same. She also writes one of my favorite newsletters.

I don’t know Chris Glass, but visiting his website is like dropping in on an old friend (who takes very good pictures).

Civil rights attorney Alec Karakatsanis unpacks the New York Times’ disingenuous (misleading, false) reporting on the recall of San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin, while attorney Stanley Cohen shares some Boudin family history.

What I’m listening to: Mother Country Radicals, a podcast hosted by Zayd Dohrn, son of Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, who adopted Chesa Boudin after Boudin’s parents were imprisoned for bank robbery. Clearly, I am fascinated by this story, this family, these people.

What’s for dinner: this, please, once a week, for the rest of the summer.

October links

Mount Vernon, Indiana, 1937 [source]

Jon Michael Greer throws a shoe at intentional communities, and while much of what he says makes sense, it didn’t quite extinguish my desire to get on that bus to Elsewhere. I’m still curious. Still looking around. Still eager to hear your thoughts about it, if you have any to share.

On debt and death: an essay from Tennessee-born writer Molly McGhee on taking on her mother’s debt after her death. Found after falling down a rabbit hole via the prolific output of author Robin Sloan:

“Why are these people harassing me? What good does it do them?” I didn’t have an answer for her. Or I did, but it felt obvious and stupid to say out loud. They wanted money. Everybody wants money. The people in power don’t care if we live or die, as long as they get paid. […]

There are endless articles on why America has failed to curb the pandemic. The truth is simple. People profit from our death. Foreclosure companies, debt collectors, real estate agents, news corporations, health care tycoons, senators, and presidents, to name a few.

Molly McGhee, “America’s Dead Souls”

The Facebook Files is now a podcast. I’ve been following the story on NPR. Will I listen to the pod? Probably not. This company has already taken enough of my precious time.

On a related note, before I deleted my Facebook account altogether, I used the “unfollow everyone” strategy to clear my newsfeed of browsable content and give me a sense of control (heh) over who and what I engaged with. I did it manually, and it took a minute, but once it was done, it was workable enough, though ultimately unsatisfying. Still, for those who feel the need to remain on the platform, I recommend giving it a try, even though — or maybe especially because — Facebook really doesn’t like it.

Who is Oleg Deripaska and why does it matter that the FBI raided his Washington, D.C.mansion? The world is awash in treachery and greed. See how many famous faces you recognize!

Do you feel compelled to finish reading every book you start? Does it make you feel incomplete if you to abandon a book mid-read? Bibliophile John Warner feels no such compunction.

Suzanne Vega introduces and sings “Tom’s Diner.”

Music critic Ted Gioia offers ten suggestions for dealing with criticism. He’s writing for musicians, mostly, but it’s useful advice no matter what sort of creative work we’re putting out into the world. My personal favorite: #10. Because I’d much rather avoid it altogether — wouldn’t you? — but then where would we be?

Perfect fall soup. Skip the cream if you want, or replace it with coconut milk. Either way, it’s luscious.

Leaves are falling.

Be well,

There is No Path

I know nothing about Ethan Hawke, other than the fact that he’s been in some movies. I couldn’t tell you which ones without resorting to Google.

I don’t know if he’s a good guy or if I’d like his movies.

I liked this, though.

As you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you, and it expands.

Ethan Hawke

“There is no path until you walk it.”

The Dangerz

I have several alternative lives that exist only in my head. (“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”)

In one, I am like Bryan & Jen, who live a nomadic life, build lovely things, and share the details on their blog. They’re living on a boat now. Am I envious?

Maybe a little.

That Does Not Make You Brilliant; It Makes You a Sociopath

In her essay, “A Thousand Rivers,award-winning film director Carol Black writes of Iain McGilchrist, a psychiatrist and neuroimaging researcher and author of the groundbreaking book, The Master and his Emissary

[The book] argues that the narrowly focused, mechanical, analytic part of the brain so dominant in modern societies actually evolved as a limited tool to be guided and restrained by the more broadly focused, holistic, relationship-based part of the brain.

Modern western civilization, McGilchrist maintains, is not more “advanced” than other human societies, but rather has become dangerously unbalanced in the direction of a kind of cold, abstracted, mechanical analysis at the expense of a more interconnected, compassionate, holistic understanding of the world. That kind of imbalance, as McGilchrist points out, does not make you more “brilliant” than other people; it makes you a sociopath.

From “A Thousand Rivers,” by Carol Black
via Schooling the World

A Useful Skill in a Tangible Situation

“Giulietta, you don’t have enough money to eat tonight,” Glen said, bringing her down to Earth. Then he asked her a question that has since appeared in her writing again and again: “What is your useful skill in a tangible situation?”

The answer was easy: she was good at making coffee and good with people.

from “A Toast Story” by John Gravois

The Atmosphere Doesn’t Care

How much difference would it make, really, if every coal-fired power plant in the United States were to shut down tomorrow when US coal producers are free to export their coal to China, which they are doing, and when China is building another coal-fired power plant every week? The atmosphere doesn’t care where the coal is burned. It only cares how much is burned.

Richard Smith, via Truthout.org

 

One Big Workhouse

It may be my bias, or my imagination, or my distaste for toil, but from here America looks like one big workhouse, “under God, indivisible, with time off to shit, shower and shop.” A country whose citizens have been reduced to “human assets” of a vast and relentless economic machine, moving human parts oiled by commodities and kept in motion by the edict, “produce or die.” Where employment and a job dominates all other aspects of life, and the loss of which spells the loss of everything.

~Joe Bageant,  The Iron Cheer of Empire