Stuff I’ve Been Reading/Watching/Hearing This Week

Happy Easter! My thoughts go out to the emergency, medical, delivery, care-giving, grocery and other essential workers and their families. I hope folks are able to find some comfort and tradition, despite social isolation.

In terms of the post, I was originally going to post this Thursday, but didn’t finish it. I eventually hope to make a newsletter of sorts, but I wanted to start small, writing a short newsletter-format post, tinkering with it in the coming weeks. So far, this is a (heavily) working title, and I wanted to start small with 1-2 entries per category.

But the gist is there: some things I ran into this week.

Some heavier stuff

It seems that there is no end to heavier stuff this week, but a few things have stood out. Gonna get them over with first.

For one thing, Ed Yong’s writing for The Atlantic has been a thoughtful, informed, and realistic–though certainly serious–guide from the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic to this current week. His most read piece, “How the Coronavirus Will End,” goes through a timeline from the buildup to the current state, to the endgame, to the aftermath of the current pandemic, examining the scientific, political, and social impact of the virus. His piece “Why the Coronavirus Has Been So Successful” is also worth a read if you are interested in the science of the virus

Yong’s older pieces are also fantastic, if you want a science read without the current focus, like this fascinating, yet grim piece about declining bird populations in north America. He also has a newsletter, “Ed’s Up,” focused around science and nature news, and he was recently on the Longform podcast.

Speaking of The Atlantic and COVID-19, David Frum’s “This is Trump’s Fault” may seem lost in the myriad of recent think-pieces and outright reporting about Trump’s failure with the early stages, and current stages, of the virus, but its clear timeline, taut focus, and overwhelming evidence on each facet of failure makes this a pretty incisive piece. Worth reading for a summation.

Similarly, He Could Have Seen What Was Coming,” a heavily circulating piece from The New York Times on the early timeline of the virus in the US and Trump’s failure to act, may become one of the go-to articles about the timeline to share with folks–assuming that they still believe in “the fake news.”

Some interesting stuff

This fascinating, yet fun piece on how crimes may be investigated on Mars: “How Mars Will Be Policed.” Sci-fi forensics.

This piece from The New York Times about a sourdough library.

This retrospective in The Guardian about Twin Peaks for its April 8 premier history. I am a longtime fan, and this is a nice tip of the ice berg when delving into more detail.

Some of FiveThirtyEight’s science team delving into the difficulties of making COVID-19 models, as they showcase the complexity that experts face. Especially important as we are already in “the experts are wrong” territory.

Some fun stuff

Last week, the Rusty Quill podcast The Magnus Archive started its fifth, and as far as I know, final season. I’ve been a fan of The Magnus Archives for a few years now, but re-listened to it this past fall. It’s a horror podcast about a crew of academics centered on the primary narrator, Jonathan Sims, Head Archivist of the Magnus Institute, itself a private, historical institution situated in London that catalogues paranormal happenings and artifacts.

Each 25-45ish minute episode generally focuses around an individual statement being read by Sims, dealing with a supernatural happening. Seemingly disconnected at first, the statements and post- and pre-statement discussions gradually create an overarching world and story filled with engaging characters and twists. While some episodes can be a bit descriptively gory or gross–like a mysterious tenant collecting droves of meat–most of the stories are uncanny and creepy, with imagery and imagination that sticks with you. Worth a listen if you like good stories, especially spooky ones.

The Bon Appétit YouTube channel cooking from home. This is one of their newer episodes, but it is not their first from home. I have long been a fan of the magazine–reading my mom’s as a kid–and their YouTube channel. But there is something oddly comforting and charming about seeing these professional chefs in their apartments and parents’ homes. A window into their personalities.

It is never a bad time to watch The Twilight Zone, which is largely on Netflix, besides season 4. I recommend “Walking Distance,” one of Rod Serling’s favorites. This older Rolling Stone article has some solid additional favorites, though I would add “A Passage for Trumpet,” one mine, as well as “The Howling Man.”

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