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.
Kristen Millares Young read this essay at Lit Crawl to a packed room held silent by the story: an ill-met drive on a small island in the Bahamas; a trade of threats; a tangle of considerations involving sex, race, money, and history. Her voice — conversational, warm, relentless — comes through as clearly on the page. A rich and difficult and exceptional piece.
I worried about going to jail on this island, where he would know everyone watching over me inside. Worried even about stepping into the building to make a report. And what would I have said? That we had a dangerous conversation. That he left bruises on my mind.
That I cursed him. That I cursed him, and he believed it. That I cursed his family, threatened to rain down destruction on their black bodies, invoked centuries of white oppression, and he believed me because he lived that truth.
That I would do it again, and again, and again, just as he hoped to do me.
If you’re still not sure (after reading Shrill, after reading Hunger, after reading the plethora of voices that are speaking on this issue) that fat shaming is a moral and social wrong that urgently needs addressing, read this, by Carey Purcell. Purcell dissects how systemic bias in our medical system makes weight discrimination literally life-threatening, from MRI machines designed for the slender, to doctors who misdiagnose and mistreat disease because they can’t look past their prejudice. When we turn to the medical system, we are at our most vulnerable, and most in need of generous and compassionate care. But the medical system is failing some of us and failing badly.
The need for hospital equipment that can accommodate fat people has grown, and imaging devices are now available. This equipment is not available everywhere, however, and sometimes patients are referred to their local zoos. When Wann called the San Francisco Zoo’s medical department to ask about accessing its technology, the person on the phone sighed and said, "I wish people would stop saying that," referring to requests to use the department’s CT and MRI scanners. While vet schools and zoos have larger-capacity devices, they can’t allow human subjects, and scanning humans in machines intended for animal subjects is banned by formal policies in most facilities. "That’s really beyond their certification," explained Wann. They’re not licensed as an institution to practice medicine on people. Their entire institutional certification is being put on the line because our human medical system refuses to accommodate people above a certain size. It draws an arbitrary line and says, ‘Go beyond this line, and they’re monsters.’"
You know how some stories are scarier when told in a calm, dispassionate voice? For Halloween, here’s one by Yonatan Zunger. Zunger reminds us that “Nazi” is more than a slur; that Nazis are not just bad but really, really bad; and that there’s a tipping point after which being a Nazi is normal, a point the US is approaching and may have passed. The good news is he’s a “thumbs up” on punching Nazis — with caveats, and as long as we apply other counter-measures too. There’s also a fun opportunity to consider which segment of the 10–80–10 rule you would like to be in …
Before we talk about what you do about Nazis, there’s a very important thing to remember: The 10–80–10 rule. In pretty much any society, 10% of people (give or take about 5%) are going to be heroes, no matter what: people with strong moral compasses, unwilling to be swayed from that. Another 10% (give or take 5%) are going to be villains, no matter what: they will engage in villainy and violence for the sheer fun of it. But the large majority of the population — the 80% in the middle — is neither. Instead, they will set their norms of what is acceptable by watching people around them.
If you follow Roxane Gay on Twitter, you already know she’s fond of House Hunters, reality TV in which couples search for a new home on the air, armed with budgets as improbable as their expectations. Spinoff Tiny House Hunters takes Gay to a new level of sort-of-affectionate disbelief, as well as to some thoughts the Tiny American Dream.
As the reality of tiny living sets in, the hunters often lament how tiny a tiny home actually is. Or they are in complete denial and exclaim that there is just so much space. In one episode of Tiny House Hunters a man sat in the "bathtub" in the tiny bathroom. He looked ridiculous, his knees practically in his mouth as he contorted himself into the improbable space. He, the realtor, and his friend, who were all viewing the property, were nonplussed, as if the goings on were perfectly normal. And there I was, shouting at the television, "What is wrong with you people?"
And now, at last: Mexi-Fries®. I almost can’t write this up without walking a mere block (envy me) to the nearest Taco Time. However, if you thought we were steering away from serious social issues, don’t get your hopes up. David Landsel is writing an elegy for a local favorite at threat from — you guessed it — the rapid growth and change in our region. Jeff Bezos, you’ve finally gone too far.
Taco Time was originally an Oregon thing — it started up in Eugene, back in the 1960's. Over time, the Western Washington stores spun off into a company called Taco Time Northwest. These appear to have been the smart guys in the bunch, because the years have not been kind to the original Taco Time. The Taco Time you need to know about is the one with the shops up and down the I-5 corridor, many of them in the Seattle region. This is the Taco Time, even if they don't say so in front of their cool friends, that holds a special place in the hearts of many Washingtonians. If not for the food, then rather as a piece of nostalgia for a Northwest that's slowly going away, as money pours in, new people arrive, and tastes and trends evolve.