September 18, 2020
Bettye LaVette's Blackbirds - "LaVette rejiggered the song into the first-person, slowed the tempo to a crawl and added a bed of strings. Her wholesale reinvention of the classic tune became the foundation for an album that would take another decade to blossom."
hidden housemates Did you know silverfish drink humidity through their butts?
Frog and Toad tentatively go outside after months in self-quarantine by Jennie Ergedie in McSweeney's. [more inside]
Facebook ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world, according to an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee and obtained by BuzzFeed News.
Since April of this year Neil Sedaka has been posting mini-concerts nearly every day to his YouTube channel, and has recorded over a hundred videos of himself playing the piano and singing. Besides that, he did a parody version of one of his best known songs, Masking Up Is Not Hard to Do.
Political theorists, over the years, have looked for metaphors to describe the effects that Fox—particularly its widely watched opinion shows—has had on American politics and culture. They’ve talked about the network as an “information silo” and “a filter bubble” and an “echo chamber,” as an “alternate reality” constructed of “alternative facts,” as a virus on the body politic, as an organ of the state. The comparisons are all correct. But they don’t quite capture what the elegies for Fox-felled loved ones express so efficiently. [more inside]
Well, here we are. The nightmare scenario, going back ten years at least, has been this: It will be a new virus, probably from one of the fast-evolving families (especially those SS-RNA viruses), such as the coronaviruses, that comes from an animal, gets into humans, transmits well human-to-human, spreads by silent or cryptic transmission (meaning that infected people may feel fine for a few days and be walking around, riding the subway, going to work, but are meanwhile shedding the virus), and kills at a relatively high case fatality rate. This outbreak ticks all those boxes. It is the nightmare scenario. If it spreads as widely and infects as many people as a seasonal flu, as it well might, it could kill twenty times as many people. [more inside]
An experiment by economists at the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin, Italy, and ZEW in Mannheim, Germany found that adding just two paragraphs of text and a single photo to a city's article increased the number of nights spent there by about 9% during the tourist season.
Filipino-Australian indie musician Bryan Estepa writes about finding a home in the Sydney indie scene of the 1990s, and being one of the few Asian-Australian alternative/indie musicians at the time.
"Now More Than Ever" is a short absurdist story by Zadie Smith about shunning, denouncing, and philosophical stances and etiquette rules (The New Yorker, July 16, 2018 - available in text & audio). "I bumped into someone on Bleecker who was beyond the pale. I felt like talking to him so I did. As we talked I kept thinking, But you’re beyond the pale, yet instead of that stopping us from talking we started to talk more and more frantically..." Related: her October 2019 essay "Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction" (previously). "...we seek to shore up the act of writing with false defenses, like the dubious idea that one could ever be absolutely 'correct' when it comes to representing fictional human behavior."