We should pray that we learn his great gift of introspection, so that we never let the bitterness grow inside us, even when it seems nothing is changing.
Madiba, I let you go, by South African journalist Marelise van der Merwe, regarding Nelson Mandela. (via journo-geekery)
The whole piece is lovely, an unintentional treatise on grief and how to cope with it when there’s distance between you and the dying.
The Circle, Dave Eggers (F, 20s, no dust jacket, standing, red courds, striped backpack, Red Line)
Are you gonna judge this book by its cover, its author, or its publishers? Anyone know the cover designer’s name?
Yus! This is Jessica Hische’s work. (: Such a cool cover.
Learning to code is not like learning calculus, with some big fixed corpus of knowledge you need to absorb. It’s more like learning to be handy around the house. You start off knowing nothing, and then as needs come up you learn bits and pieces without a grand plan, weekend by weekend, with plenty of hammered thumbs and structurally unsound carpentry. Slowly but surely, those bits and pieces coalesce into something approaching expertise. You build up the confidence to be bold and take on problems you don’t yet have any idea how to solve.
JournoGeekery: Noah Veltman: On journalism and learning to code (again)
Sometimes, in spite of making my living as part of an engineering team, I forget this. No small wonder, then, that learning new things seems daunting and overwhelming and impossible. Baby steps; gotta remember that.
“In the past nine years, Indie and I have talked about him only twice. He moves silently through the rooms of our minds, banging against the furniture, knocking on the door, calling in the middle of the night like a phone ringing in a distant room.”
Jill Talbot on single motherhood and abandonment.
Woosh. Read it.
When did Penny Arcade go wrong? The answer depends on your choice of time frame. Change the scale, and the nature of the story changes, too. Hone in on the short term, and it’s a cautionary tale about homebrew public relations. Zoom out to the 40-year scale, though, and it starts to resemble the story of an entire generation of men.
Opinion: Outgrowing the Penny Arcade generation | Polygon (via journo-geekery)
Oooh, this is a good read.
Here’s my favorite line:
They could probably manage the empathetic leap needed in order to see outside their own context, but to do so would compromise their claim on the venue.
This tension reads as deeply adolescent behavior to me. It doesn’t surprise me when teenagers are caught here; what surprises me are people who have not, cannot, or, too often, will not grow out of it.
There is a point at which the inability to empathize should involve medical attention or signals the fact that you’re a chump. And y’know, if you’re a chump, fucking own it, but don’t get all pearl-graspy offended when I call you on your shit.
…he threw that smile like salt over the shoulder.
p. 139, Esch, Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward
In storytelling, as in math, you have to show your work. You, your story, your characters, your calculations: their results must be earned. You can’t deus ex machina your way from point A to point B and retain any authority.
And I think this is where the transformation Miley Cyrus is performing falls apart. Not to mention—except I’m going to mention it—that the performance smacks heavily of cultural tourism (“When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland" is a very worthy read on this subject).
Choosing to shatter her Disney image isn’t the problem. Choosing to shatter her Disney image in a purposefully sexualized way isn’t the problem. (In fact, these are to be expected and, I would argue, encouraged.) No, the problem is that she’s engaging cultural expressions—clothes, accessories, dance styles, collaborators—that she lacks credibility to use.
The shift in her persona rings false because it’s come out of left field. She’s spent a couple of years pulling away from “Hannah Montana”, sure, but she was still leaning pretty heavily on the exposure it provided her in order to test boundaries. (Again: to be expected and encouraged.)
However! Wholesale adoption of a culture you’ve never presented interest in, let alone participation in, is a fast and efficient way of coming off like a poseur.
In all things: being a poseur is death.
No one trusts a poseur. No one gives poseurs the benefit of a doubt. No, we ridicule and dismiss poseurs because they’re using our signifiers to lend themselves power they didn’t earn.
When your foundation is hollow, nothing you try to build on it will stand up.
Only a few days ago, I was excited to be a third of the way through my August challenge. This morning, day 14, I am no longer excited.
What I am is incredibly tired. And sleeping poorly. And lacking interest in other exercise (weights, swimming, etc.). All I want to do is sleep, which, again, isn’t working out for me.
Turns out: this is what it looks like when I overtrain. I would be disappointed or annoyed, but I’ve never done this before! One of my (unstated) goals in all this was to learn about myself and have I ever. Heh. And now I know. (Go Joe!)
So, the challenge ends today. Sleeping and continuing to enjoy my personal brand of being active are more important to me, so they win. Which means I win. Which also means today is a rest day. Woot!
The Counselor (2013)
I’m super duper in for this one. Even if it’s terrible (so unlikely!). (I wish this adapted treatment for The New Yorker were full length. I think I’ll go read one of his books, now.)
Are Cruz and Bardem in a race to see which of them can have the most McCarthy-sourced movies? I’m asking. (I don’t mind if the answer is “yes”.)
First thing’s first: double days are out. If they happen, cool; if they don’t, cool. Why I thought I needed a challenge beyond running every day for a month, I’m sure I don’t know.
My average daily run is in the 5k range, which I did not expect. I find that I spin my wheels every other or every third day about something (am I losing my endurance? am I running too fast? am I going to get bored with this route?), but not for too long. I’ve only been running a few years, I don’t have 20+ years of organized sport routines or coaches that I’m fighting. This is all uncharted territory: I can do what I want!
So far, so good.
Total mileage: 41.3
Shortest run: 1.25
Longest run: 6.6
Mostly running: outside!
A thing as simple as naming [racism] allows us to root it out of the darkness and hushed conversation where it likes to breed like roaches. It makes us acknowledge it. Confront it. And in confronting it, we rob it of some of its dark pull. Its senseless, cold drag. When we speak, we assert our human dignity. That is the worth of a word.
A Cold Current by Jesmyn Ward @ the NYT.
The career of Roland Emmerich aside, you can’t blow up the White House twice. Next year you’ve got to blow up a city, a country, a planet. A few swimmers on a beach in Amity? Who cares? Every story now has to involve a threat to the entire globe. This is meant to raise the stakes, but it actually lowers them, both by removing the specificity of local places and individual characters and by making it impossible to go see an action movie today without also expecting to witness the demolition of some unfortunate metropolis.
Stop Blaming ‘Jaws’! by Heather Havrilesky @ the NYT.
This gets at what frustrates me about Man of Steel. Namely, the whole Thor-style destruction in the middle and the Metropolis-destroying business at the end. Zod and Clark/Cal are evenly matched and the best fight you can come up with is Transformers-like skyscraper-breaking? Tch.
Well, okay, the main aspect of Man of Steel that troubles me is this: it feels like the story leans heavily on Superman’s icon status in American pop culture to do the heavy lifting of endearing Clark/Cal to the audience. Right from the off, both sets of parents are wide-eyed and in awe of what an amazing creature he’ll become and he just has to believe and carry on!
Hey kid! No pressure.
Man of Steel features a heavy-hitting cast that can do the work to show the audience why this guy is so great and how he got that way, but they’re made to tell us about it instead and I feel a little bit cheated. I was looking forward to being (re)convinced!
Even Clark/Cal’s years hiding out don’t earn his savior-status satisfactorily. A couple of high-stakes moments and that’s it? Hmph.
To be clear: I enjoyed the movie! The execution of young Clark’s abilities finally manifesting and how the Kents help him navigate our sun’s effects and his adolescence are my favorite parts.
Ultimately, though, Man of Steel feels like a Marvel film in a cape, which is… fine, I guess, but that doesn’t make it a Superman movie.
The thing is: I like to run.
I ran short distances in track as a kid, but by high school my heart was lost to chlorine, the backstroke, and relays.
The last three years, though, have found me running again, slowly and inconsistently at first (I was so psyched when I made it 10 minutes without stopping the first time!), but farther and more often as time wore on. I like running by myself when the paths and roads are quiet, at the gym with the 5am crew, with friends when we’re training (or not training), when I’m home, when I’m somewhere else.
So! For August, I’ve set myself a challenge to run every day, at least 1 mile and once a week, run a double day.
I just want to see if I can do it. And how long it’ll take for me to start using sunk costs to convince myself to suck it up and finish. (:
I’ll keep you posted.