Some things I read today, 5-21-2017

I’ve started setting aside time each week to read so that I can finally get to all those things I plan to read during the day but never get around to. Maybe once a week, I can share some of those articles here and get some recommendations, as well. Read anything you think I should read? Leave it in the comments!

The Entire Billy Bush / Donald Trump story unfolded while Billy Bush was stuck in the air?

This Hollywood Reporter bit on Billy Bush is interesting. There’s a moment where he reveals that he didn’t have the strength of character to opt out of the direction Donald Trump was sending their conversation. I think the knock on Billy Bush from day one was that he was an obsequious lightweight, and in that moment he was exposed for that very thing. It’s impressive that he has the self-awareness to understand that the fault for what happened their lies not with Donald Trump or the angry public but with himself.

The personal essay boom is over already?

I finally got around to reading this article that everyone was sharing on Twitter several days ago. This New Yorker piece by Jia Tolentino explores the history of the personal essay and how the economics of the internet fueled the explosion in personal essays. One of the suggestions for the decrease in interest in the personal essay is that the political turmoil we’re living through has rendered them irrelevant. I don’t know that I believe that, but I do think there’s some validity in the idea that personal essays, because they often deal with some kind of injustice or difficulty a person has lived through, leaves the authors of those pieces vulnerable to attack from overly sensitive audiences.

The article mentioned how many writers had switched from blogs to newsletters, which I found especially dispiriting. The best part of what the web was aspiring to be as the turn of the century was a collective commons into which all thought and creativity was being deposited. Those days are behind us.

The Mythical Scholar Athlete

Myron Rolle was a football player who put off going to the NFL for a year because he’d been accepted as a Rhodes Scholar. When he returned to be drafted, his went from being a prospective first round pick to a sixth round pick, signing for the league minimum, retiring from the sport before he could ever take the field.

You’d think a true scholar athlete like Myron Rolle, who graduated high school early and entered college with 21 AP credits, would be a the holy grail, someone who could perform both physically and mentally at a high level. The truth is our sports leagues have shown, repeatedly, that they don’t want free thinkers, and so have audiences, who have repeatedly chastised players for having thoughts an opinions. Rolle is working on fulfilling his dream of going to medical school, so he’s going to be ok. It’s interesting to see how having too much potential can hurt someone.

Russian Nazi Goes Too Far In Mexico

The story of this Russian neo nazi, who used social media to showcase himself being every kind of awful to his neighbors in Mexico was tough to read. It demonstrates how the real world and the digital world are bleeding uncomfortably into one another. You can’t hide from the real world online, and you can’t hide your online exploits from the real world.

This guy, Alexei Makeev, would yell insults at his Mexican neighbors in the real world and upload videos of his yelling to YouTube. People, having watched the videos in the online world and gotten angry, found his home, where they assembled a “lynch mob” in which Alexie ended up killing one person before being attacked by the mob. Videos of the mob were uploaded to Facebook.

Octavia Butler and Positive Obsession

Octavia Butler is black woman who wrote afrofuturist speculative fiction. I just learned that she was the first science fiction writer to win the “Genius grant.” This blog post is a reaction to one of Octavia’s essays. It reminds me of what I liked about blogs in their heyday. It’s so casual. Elba doesn’t have to write a whole essay about what Butler means to her. She just collects a few things that stood out to her and writes about why those lines resonated with her.