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.
How to excerpt Rebecca Solnit’s supremely satisfying and hilarious (sort of, ha ha that’s funny) tirade about the mountainous blamefulness of women? In short, Harvey Weinstein is our fault, Velcro is our fault, frowning, the Black Death, Donald Trump, also not being Matt Damon. Donald Trump, Donald Trump? Born, after all, to a woman. The fault is ours.
I always suspected it was so.
It is Anita Hill’s fault that Clarence Thomas is a creep, and it’s also her fault that he’s on the Supreme Court, and it’s her fault she didn’t speak up about his sexual harassment, and also her fault that she did speak up about it, ruffling important waters when men were trying to fly-fish them, as women do when men try. To fly-fish that is, and the trout that are not biting are the fault of the woman who did not smile at you on the bus this morning, though it is a gospel truth that lady strangers owe you smiles. If we study up, it may be possible to figure out which parts of everything are Anita Hill’s fault. Mary Todd Lincoln: perhaps her faults linger on, and it would be fun to blame her for something, and why did Michelle Obama choose to exercise her right to bare arms? Perhaps that makes her responsible for some mass shootings, which tend to be carried out by men, but not their fault. Someone made them do it, and every time a man does something awful we can all pause for a moment of respectful silence while we figure out who to blame.
Additional reading: Laurie Penny on consent and rape and technicalities and anger.
One thing quickly becomes clear if you write a weekly list of links (or just read Twitter): the Internet is a regurgitation machine, spitting out the same stories from a thousand mouths, and again, and again. At this volume, the news is little more than an impression, quick takes turned gospel.
Who better than BuzzFeed News to explain (in simple graphics under a clickbait headline) exactly how the rinse-and-repeat online content cycle makes fake news real? Zahra Hirji and Lam Thuy Vo tracked the social progress of a misleading article about climate change across almost a million interactions. Every share and spinoff increased its truthiness, though not, unfortunately, its truth.
The story centered on a two-year-old Science study showing that the rise in global temperatures had not recently stalled, as previous data had suggested. The Science paper had repeatedly been attacked by climate skeptics, including House Science Committee chair Lamar Smith (R-Tex.). After the Mail on Sunday’s piece, Smith demanded, for at least the sixth time, that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration turn over its correspondence about the Science data.
Now, some seven months later, the Mail on Sunday has begrudgingly admitted its story was wrong. But will this update change anyone’s minds?
Additional (necessary) reading: Alexis C. Madrigal’s good, solid reporting on Facebook’s role in putting Donald Trump in power, which, as both a compelling read and a thorough historical analysis, shortcuts several spins in the regurgitation cycle for this particular topic.
Caitlin Flanagan investigates Beta Theta Pi pledge Tim Piazza’s death, which came after 12 hours of struggle while his frat brothers sat by — more worried about their liability than his life. Mesmerizing article on a culture dominated by power and privilege, and deeply committed to maintaining both.
All of these dynamics came into play the night Tim Piazza was fatally injured. The chapter president, Brendan Young, was — get this — majoring in risk management. He fully understood that officers of the fraternity face greater liability than do regular members. He became the president in November 2016, and shortly before rush began, in January 2017, he texted Daniel Casey, the pledge master: “I know you know this. If anything goes wrong with the pledges this semester then both of us are fucked.” He wasn’t suggesting they scrap hazing; he was reminding his subordinate that they had better not get caught doing it. (Young’s lawyer declined to comment.)
This week in personal essays: Jordan Fuller remembers Portland’s Murder by the Book, a mystery bookstore managed by her mother, and walks us through the dark streets of her childhood reading.
My television and film diet was closely monitored but I had no restrictions on what I could read as a child. I fell under the spell of Jack the Ripper, drawing macabre maps of 1888 Whitechapel with the names and relevant details of his victims. Did I make the connection then that the Ripper was stealing the women’s uteruses? Did I know then that they were prostitutes or what that meant? I must have, because I was a child who did not like the feeling of not knowing — words, concepts, reasons — so I must have scanned the dictionary and found what I was looking for. I don’t remember having that conversation with my mother, though I doubt she would have shied away from it.
Christopher Goffard’s Dirty John podcast makes it in on a technicality; it can be read, as well as heard, on the Los Angeles Times website. Debra Newell met the man of her dreams online and was soon trapped in a nightmare of manipulation, deception, and self-deception. The six-part story maps how “Dirty John” seduced Newell, wedged himself between her and her children, and then — well, it’s a familiar tale but will be impossible to put down, for those who love true crime or are fascinated by the darkness and brightness of the human heart.
By the second or third date, he was telling her he loved her, that he wanted to marry her. She didn’t mind his idiosyncrasies, like his habit of wearing his faded blue medical scrubs everywhere, even to a formal-dress cancer benefit she invited him to. Some people snickered, but she thought, “Busy doctor.”
“So you are the real thing,” she texted him after one date.
“Best thing that will ever happen to you,” he replied.