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.
Ashley Powers follows two young women attending Cal State Long Beach and gives us a new perspective on “working your way through college,” one that’s a bit less rosy than the classic American trope. Liz Waite carries a full course load while bouncing from couch to couch and navigating a labyrithine system of social aid; Kersheral Jessup makes it to graduation, but it’s not enough to get her out from behind the cash register at Home Depot. An effective and sobering debunking of the bootstrap myth.
No type of school has been more successful at lifting the poor up to the middle class and beyond than midtier public universities like the Cal States. In a ranking published this year of colleges that helped the highest percentage of students claw their way out of poverty, four Cal State campuses made the top 10. Cal State Long Beach clinched the last spot, vaulting 78 percent of its students from the bottom of the economic ladder, where household incomes top out around $25,000 a year. But for all the good Cal State does for its alumni, most students there struggle to get their degrees. Only one in five finishes in four years, and a little more than half graduate in six, their progress slowed, in part, by soaring living costs in one of the nation’s most expensive states.
Speaking of debunking: Snopes.com is famous as the go-to for fending off panicked emails from overly trusting relatives and winning arguments over a second beer. Michelle Dean introduces us to the site’s founders, a scrappy couple who love to get fussy about details, and looks at how Snopes is changing in a country led by the most terrifying urban myth of all.
Since about 2010, this house has passed for a headquarters, as Snopes has no formal offices, just 16 people sitting at their laptops in different rooms across the country, trying to swim against the tide of spin, memes, and outright lies in the American public sphere. Just that morning Mikkelson and his staff had been digging into a new presidential tweet of dubious facticity: “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!” Trump had the correct total, but the overwhelming number of those detainees had been released during the George W. Bush administration. “There’s a whole lot of missing context to just that 122 number,” Mikkelson said.
Hazlitt has two very good recent pieces about living in your head, both love stories of a kind. I can’t choose between them, so you get both: Soraya Palmer on her decades-long affair with an imaginary boyfriend, who will never love her the way she wants to be loved, and Patty Yumi Cottrell on her obsession with Fiona Apple, which is actually a devastating story about her brother.
Among my collection of photos, there’s one of Fiona Apple from 1998 that I purchased at a CD Warehouse in a Milwaukee plaza. I’ve kept this photo of Fiona Apple with me all these years, moving from Milwaukee to Minneapolis to Milwaukee to Chicago to New York City to Los Angeles. Every time I pack up my things, I consider throwing it away. It makes me think of abject despair and isolation and my teenage bedroom. It makes me think of my life with my brother, watching NBA games in his dark cocoon of a room, avoiding the rest of our family. He preferred Tori Amos to Fiona Apple. We would argue about who was better at Christmas. He loved Tori Amos, which I thought was weird for a man. He was sensitive. No. I will never throw away my Fiona Apple photo.
Under John Knight’s care, a beehive survives a near-Shakespearean drama, a tragic battle for rule and survival of the hive, complete with love, loss, and self-destruction. (Or is it Game of Thrones?) From a bee’s perspective, the beekeeper is the ultimate deus ex machina. But even the god in the machine has to play by genre rules.
My unraveling colony made clear to me the complex, fraught relationship between honeybee and beekeeper. Bees are tremendously self-sufficient, and follow a set of old and finely tuned instincts. The beekeeper, ideally, needs only to nudge them in the right direction to make them do what he wants: pollinate an almond orchard, or survive on a Brooklyn rooftop. But to do this correctly, the beekeeper needs to understand what it is the hive wants. In my case, Todd was telling me, it wanted to die.
Leland Melvin, former NASA astronaut and NFL player, famous dog-lover, suggests we send Donald Trump to space. Is that an option?
Looking back at our planet from space really helps one get a bigger perspective on how petty and divisive we can be. Donald Trump, maybe you should ask your good friend Mr. Putin to give you a ride on a Soyuz rocket to our International Space Station and see what it’s like to work together with people we used to fight against, where your life depends on it. See the world and get a greater sense of what it means to be part of the human race, we call it the Orbital Perspective.