This beautiful and perfectly curated rabbit hole from Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings in which you can get lost in the musings of brilliant thinkers and writers of our time, namely James Baldwin. His words on what should be the easiest part of writing (but is actually the hardest): “Something that irritates you and won’t let you go. That’s the anguish of it. Do this book, or die. You have to go through that. Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.”
Kottke’s painful revelation that the New Yorker’s Dorothy Parker didn’t actually say, “I hate to write, but I love having written” was a bummer, but he reminds us why more Parker is what we’re all needing right now.
Speaking of The New Yorker, this piece by Luke Mogelson about the militia-led protests against masks and lockdowns and coronavirus responses more generally is endlessly fascinating.
There’s been a ridiculous amount of reporting lately QAnon recently (ridiculous because it’s necessary to document such patent insanity), but despite reading all of it (and more), it’s still hard to know exactly what the hell these people are getting on about.
This old article from NBC News pulls back the curtains on the “how” this conspiracy theory spread like it did.
This NYT article describes the Republican party’s embrace of these fringe beliefs, with Texas’s GOP normalizing the theory by using it in its email campaigns and merchandise.
A long but interesting video essay by Kirby Ferguson about the rise of magical thinking necessary for a conspiracy theory like QAnon to thrive. (h/t Kottke)
I recommended this on Twitter weeks ago (with a typo and all), but this Vanity Fair piece by Jeff Sharlet, whose background of religion reporting allows for interesting parallels between the QAnon conspiracy theory and a religion in its infancy.
Adrien LaFrance’s interview with Dave Davies on Fresh Air last week is a good primer if you’re completely lost about QAnon. I wrote about her cover story in The Atlantic back in May.
Evan Kindley’s recent piece for The New Republic on William Faulkner’s Southern Guilt will be interesting and informative reading for more than just the likes of me, a son of the South.
A behind-the-scenes peek at the Trump 2020 campaign from Olivia Nuzzi for New York Magazine shows that the undisciplined campaign that won in 2016 has gotten no more disciplined in four years. It’s crazy to think this operation could win again.
Now that I’m publishing tons of words a week, I find myself missing the slower pace of a magazine, with its multiple read-thrus by multiple editors over multiple days. No such luxury at a paper that publishes daily to the web and twice a week in print. In fact, at most smaller newspapers, a dedicated copy editor would be a luxury. It would be a luxury even at the New York Times, which cut its copy editing desk in 2017 (you can see it happen on the Showtime series The Fourth Estate which is excellent). Here’s one Twitter account’s attempt to hold them accountable.
Remember Beirut? That was this month. Shortly after it happened, the New York Times published an insider account of how one its journalists used his military experience in the Navy explosive ordinance disposal team helped him assess what happened in Beirut. I sent the article immediately to my brother because for a while, he was doing the exact same work training to be a part of the exact same team. When he’d finished, he said, “I did exactly this when I saw the video! Literally everything this guy said, I did.”
Season three of Yellowstone just ended, and it’s a great show. Taylor Sheridan, its creator, wrote a Neo-western trilogy in Sicario, Hell or High Water, and Wind River, and from my perch in Wyoming, I’ve watched everything he’s done recently. But I’m also reading a classic western: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. It’s forever long, but in a good way; the world-building is so complete, you’ll lose yourself. But if you don’t have time for that, watch something that Sheridan wrote; you won’t be disappointed.
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