Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles good for slow consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.
Lake Powell, Lake Mead — we created these outsized watering holes by replacing natural wonders like Glen Canyon with human wonders like the Glen Canyon Dam. Now America’s manmade lakes are going dry. Rebecca Solnit (with Edward Abbey looking closely over her shoulder) asks what might reappear as the desert reclaims itself.
When the Sierra Club pronounced Glen Canyon dead in 1963, the organization’s leaders expected it to stay dead under Lake Powell. But this old world is re-emerging, and its fate is being debated again. The future we foresee is often not the one we get, and Lake Powell is shriveling, thanks to more water consumption and less water supply than anyone anticipated. Beneath it lies not just canyons but spires, crests, labyrinths of sandstone, Anasazi ruins, petroglyphs, and burial sites, an intricate complexity hidden by water, depth lost in surface.
Dionne Searcey and photographer Adam Ferguson bring National Route 1 — the desert highway outside Diffa, Niger, where thousands have gathered to take shelter from the Boko Haram — vividly to life. Cheers to The New York Times for continuing its impressive experiments with digital, and especially for bending the medium to the story, rather than the other way around.
Construction stopped two years ago after attacks by Boko Haram spiked. [The road's] intended destination — oil fields near the border with Chad — is far away, about 80 miles beyond the choppy lip where the pavement suddenly cuts off, like an interrupted thought.
The Chinese are gone. Now, desperation spans the horizon instead: tens of thousands of ragged huts made from millet stalks, scraps of fabric, torn flour bags and sheets of tarp. From the air, they look like scattered piles of hay.
Many have been living here for more than two years.
Neil Gaiman reads in Seattle tonight, to a sold-out house. Here’s Ursula Le Guin with a charmingly curmudgeonly critique of Gaiman’s new and already beloved retelling of the Norse myths.
Gaiman plays down the extreme strangeness of some of the material and defuses its bleakness by a degree of self-satire. There is a good deal of humour in the stories, the kind most children like — seeing a braggart take a pratfall, watching the cunning little fellow outwit the big dumb bully. Gaiman handles this splendidly. Yet I wonder if he tries too hard to tame something intractably feral, to domesticate a troll.
Mike Monteiro, the acerbic conscience of the design industry, is perpetually pissed off, but that doesn’t make him wrong. On the role design plays in shaping history and the slippery self-deception of “creating change from the inside”:
I get that you like making things. But making things at the expense of someone else’s freedom is fucked. Not putting what you’re designing through an ethical test is not only just lazy, it’s dangerous. Feigning ignorance that ethics is not part of your job as a designer is no longer valid. Knowing that it’s part of the job and ignoring it is criminal.