We haven’t stopped reading, but we have stopped posting. Since last time we were around, the country’s changed.
Here’s a bit of what we’ve appreciated in the last few weeks.
- “A Lesson From The Army On Making Sense Of The News,“ by Lt. Col. Robert Bateman from Esquire. “Never believe the first report” is a lesson the author learned in the army, a lesson to be patient with breaking news. Patience and breaking news do not go well together, but as news consumers, he argues, we’d be best to try and wait out those first reports for the true reports.
- “Stepping on Jesus,” by Stanley Fish, The New York Times Opinionator. How do we teach controversy? The jury is still out.
- “Bassem Youssef is no Jon Stewart,” by Avi Asher-Shapiro in Jacobin. We’re nothing if not fans of Jon Stewart, but this article takes a different perspective on our late-night newsman.
- Pulitzer Prizes. The events of April 15 overshadowed the naming of the Pulitzers, but that doesn’t make the work that earned the prizes any less admirable.
A conundrum we face weekly: So much to read, such limited time in a day. Twenty-five hours in a day would be great, wouldn’t it? Pretend you have that extra hour, and check out these great reads.
- “I Do Not Fear Death” by Roger Ebert at Salon. Roger Ebert defined the parameters of the journalistic review world, and in memory of his recent death, here is one of his finest general reflection pieces. Ebert wrote many of these types of articles as he battled his cancer. A quote to meditate on from this: “I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world.”
- “Some Objective Moral Truths?” by Harry Brighouse at Crooked Timber. Are you ready for a mental exercise? Harry Brighouse, a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, says there are, indeed, certain moral truths that we can all agree on (e.g., “Human suffering is bad”), contrary to a New York Times opinion article. However, are our moral instincts influenced by certain situations, phrasing, etc., that it would lead us to believe that there is no such thing as an absolute moral truth?
- “Jana Winter: Facing Jail Time For Doing Her Job” by Judith Miller at the Los Angeles Times. Jana Winter is a reporter currently faces jail time for not disclosing sources related to last year’s Aurora, Colorado, shooting. There’s a fine line between an independent press, a court gag order and the right to a fair trial, but should Jana Winter be in this position? Keep in mind, however, that the author of this article is a former New York Times reporter who fell far from grace after perpetuating bogus stories about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
- “Mono Crater California” by Keith Skelton. This is real life.
Great photography and storytelling abound this week. Read up and absorb, friends.
- “Destroying Precious Land To Drill For Gas” by Sean Lennon at The New York Times. This opinion piece is somewhat “old” compared to its August 2012 print date, but it’s incredibly relevant today. Fracking, tar sands, and other dirty energies are attempting to become law of the land, but this op-ed by Sean Lennon — yes, the son of John and Yoko — is both gripping for its story value and convincing as to why so-called alternative fossil fuels are still inherently dangerous.
- “Finding Hope In Kipsongo” by Nate Utesch. This is a little different that what we normally find, as it is an entire website. But Nate Utesch writes beautiful prose about his trip to Kenya, which involved helping children in the slums and the fear (and hope) that accompanied the adventure. Read the different tabs as if they were short chapters of a book. Well worth your time. And Nate? Your grammar is just fine.
- “Public Inquiry And Democracy: Should The National Science Research Foundation Fund Political Science Research?” by Jeffrey Issac at Dissent Magazine. When Congress passed its cursory budget last month, several riders and hidden provisions made their way into the final language. Among them was the loss of funding for political science research supported by the National Science Foundation. However, political science projects could retain funds if they superficially promoted “national security or the economic interests of the United States.” Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, helped craft this portion to cripple political science research, and as Jeffrey Issac, PhD — a political science professor at Indiana University in Bloomington — notes, it was clearly ideological on conservative beliefs considering the funds hardly represent a significant portion of the NSF’s budget. However, Dr. Issac explains that maybe this ridiculous move from conservative extremists could help realign the U.S. political science field with its core: the “public problems of our common world.”
- “Wildlife – Norway, Svalbard 2010” by Gian Mario Zaino. Nature wins. Again.
Another week, another Wednesday. And plenty of good reading ’round the web.
Today marks the first day of spring here in 2013 — and the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion on Iraq. Our reads this week represent both of those unrelated events: Two that will lift your spirits and expand the mind, and one that looks at the disaster that was, and has been, the past decade of violence.
- “Odd People Here” by Matt Robison at The Morning News. What happens when someone calls people in various towns and cities across the United States at random? Simple, great stories. I’m still laughing over the guy in Beatrice, Neb.
- “In The Digital Era, Our Dictionaries Read Us” by Jennifer Howard at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Just an absolutely fascinating read about how the digitization of dictionaries actually tells a story of how “vocabulary events” define certain periods of time.
- “Iraq: What I Got Wrong, And What I Still Believe” by Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine. Chait is a pretty well-known writer (polemicist?), and his “mea culpa” on the war in Iraq is worth reading — and debating.