Puerto Rico’s Governor resigned, there was violence and protest in Hong Kong, Warren Kanders finally resigned from the Whitney board, smelling Rihanna is the closest anyone will get to smelling heaven, Lil Nas X is still making Old Town Road remixes, and Donald Trump insulted Elijah Cummings and Baltimore and the Sun called him out. The internet did its thing this week.
Highlights: Literacy is an analytical skill, writing in all caps means a lot, when being Lyme disease becomes an identity, Andy Ngo is wild, Jia Tolentino takes writing to a more personal level, the status of women in the music industry at the end of the millennium, meditating on what is needed to survive, blood oranges, an unlimited airplane ticket, and Lizzo released the video for Tempo.
1. Longreads: Reading Lessons
I don’t think I truly learned how to read—in its most basic form of sounding out words on a page—until I got to college and started doing close textual analyses of theoretical academic writing. Reading is more than glancing at the surface of a text, and “literacy [is] a probing, analytical skill” which requires “a bundle of related abilities, each of which needed precise training.”
I think the reason I prefer reading academic writing to novels and other forms of prose is that it is difficult for everyone—even people that read Harry Potter in kindergarten—and demands a high level of literacy. And sometimes even that isn’t enough.
2. Wired: THE MEANING OF ALL CAPS—IN TEXTING AND IN LIFE
I don’t use emojis when I text. Caps are the only tonal tool I use besides syntax—which in texting also includes the use of serial texting. Never before have I thought about the history of using all caps in language.
All caps have been used since 1984 on the internet to create an emphatic tone. But if we go farther than that—before the internet, in the days of letter writing— the phenomenon “was just one part of a broader emotional ecosystem for expressing strong feeling, along with italics, underlining, larger letters, red ink, and other decorative formatting options.”
3. The Cut: Maybe It’s Lyme
This story reads like a western novel about the creation of a disease. I use the word creation very intentionally here as “chronic Lyme” which is distinctly different from Lyme disease as it “has no consistent symptoms, no fixed criteria, and no accurate test.” Chronic Lyme functions more as an identity than an illness, and “is a label for a state of being, a word that conveys your understanding of your lived experience. Lyme provides the language to articulate that experience and join with others who share it. In the world of chronic Lyme, doctors are trustworthy (or not) based on their willingness to treat Lyme. Tests are trustworthy (or not) based on their ability to confirm Lyme. Lyme is the fundamental fact, and you work backward from there.”
4. BuzzFeed: Andy Ngo Has The Newest New Media Career. It’s Made Him A Victim And A Star
Andy Ngo and the conversation he and this story engender is WILD! Basically, the dude lives in Portland and essentially makes “left-wing rage content on spec for the conservative media beast from nose to tail” by attending anti-fascist, or antifa, rallies thus functioning as a media activist. In his coverage, Ngo “is willing to make himself the story and to stream himself doing it. He proceeds from a worldview and seeks to confirm it, without asking to what degree his coverage becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And he does so under the cover of a political and cultural context in which it is widely assumed that there is another side that also has a media apparatus operating in exactly the same way.” The wildest, and scariest, this about Ngo is he “may not be as far from the mainstream of journalism as many of us might wish to think.”
5. Elle: Jia Tolentino Makes Sense Out of This Nonsense Moment
Jia Tolentino is the only reason I consistently read the New Yorker. Her writing is smart, nuanced, direct, and all of her articles provide interesting, relevant and informed perspectives on a myriad of contemporary issues. Also, apparently, she has never missed a deadline at the New Yorker.
Writers are hard to learn about, unless they are writing about themselves, because their focus is always elsewhere. I’m glad I got to learn about Tolentino’s stint as a reality TV star, and journey to become one of the most revered writers of the present moment. And I’m even more excited for her book, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, which comes out August 6th.
The 2000s were supposed to be a big decade for women in music: “the ‘90s belonged to Kathleen Hanna and Aaliyah, Fiona Apple and TLC. Whitney Houston was about to sign what was then the biggest record deal in history ($100 million!) and Madonna was running her own record label.”
Napster launched in June 1999 and music hasn’t been the same since. Here, Topic “sought out and interviewed 17 women who were immersed in the music world at the turn of the millennium, from artists to songwriters to critics, to find out: what was it like to work in the industry when the money was flowing, magazines had influence, and CDs were flying off the shelves—right before the internet changed everything?”
7. The Paris Review: The Crane Wife
This is the most beautifully tragic writing I have read all month. It is about whooping cranes and love. It is about needs and desire and survival. It is, as Roxane Gay tweeted, about “accepting the bare minimum in relationships just to be loved” and deeply relatable.
8. Guernica: Blood Oranges
This story is confusing but also fascinating. I am intrigued. It has to do with puberty, growing up, religion, a lot of things all connected through the metaphor of blood oranges. Anthocyanin, which gives blood oranges their color, is present in all oranges. But blood oranges are a biological reincarnation. These specific seeds, silently bearing this secret through the ages, just waiting to burst into vermillion bloom.”
9. Narratively: The Man With the Golden Airline Ticket
In 1987 Steven Rothstein purchased an unlimited airline pass from American Airlines for $250,000 and traveling became part of his identity: “American became his home. He knew every employee on his journey — from the curb, through security, to the gate, and onto the plane,” it was even where he grieved the loss of his son. Traveling became Rothstein’s superpower. Then, on December 13, 2008, it was taken away. This is his story.
Lizzo released the much-anticipated music video for Tempo featuring Missy Elliott and I’m kinda not into it at all? It feels like she is trying to make a Missy Elliott music video but also not, thus falling somewhere in the no-mans-land in between. It is still a good song though.
*All images taken from reference articles*
Have a suggestion for next week? Email [email protected] with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”