Oct 28, 2021 4 min read

#317: Land And Sea

#317: Land And Sea

Happy Thursday, loyal readers. Thank you very much for being here. Three or four months ago, I began publishing issues organized around common themes. There was an issue on food , for example, and another on Afropessimism . I dedicated issues to the anniversary of 9/11 and the legacy of Roe . Some t

Happy Thursday, loyal readers. Thank you very much for being here.

Three or four months ago, I began publishing issues organized around common themes. There was an issue on food, for example, and another on Afropessimism. I dedicated issues to the anniversary of 9/11 and the legacy of Roe. Some themes have been concrete (e.g., the animals issue), while others have been more abstract (e.g., the common good issue).

The reason I’m trying this experiment is that many of you have asked for it. So far, it’s been fun to read articles and compile the newsletter in a different way. It’s encouraged me to find connections between seemingly disparate pieces and to widen my weekly search to include more publications. I hope you’ve liked the shift. Let me know what you think, positive or otherwise.

Today’s issue includes articles about the land and the sea. The lead piece is an outstanding podcast that explores how a child custody case in Texas may threaten American Indians’ sovereign rights to land. The second piece is an article about a tour guide in Hawai‘i who challenges visitors to consider the legacy of imperialism on the islands. The third is about how diving into the ocean can bring us clarity and purpose, and the fourth is about how ignoring the ocean can bring us extinction and despair. Hope you enjoy one or more of this week’s selections!

This Land

This Land

A white couple in Texas wanted to adopt a Navajo child. But the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 barred them from doing so, upholding the right of American Indian children to remain connected to their community. Now the couple hopes to challenge the law in the Supreme Court, claiming reverse discrimination. In this outstanding podcast, Rebecca Nagle, a citizen of Cherokee Nation, explains how Haaland v. Brackeen is much more than a custody case. It’s about the land, Ms. Nagle argues. By ripping children away from their culture, rich conservative and corporate oil interests aim to seize tribal lands, once and for all. (47 min)

+ After listening, (re)read “Good Mother” from Issue #315. It’s stunning.

+ The first season of “This Land” is also great. See Issue #252.

Hawai‘i Is Not Our Playground

You might consider yourself politically conscious. But have you traveled to Hawai‘i, and if so, did you slip into full vacation mode, as I have? Academic and activist Kyle Kajihiro wants to disrupt that tendency by leading haole on a different kind of tropical tour. He makes stops at ‘Iolani Palace, where sugar barons overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, and to Mākua Valley, the sacred site taken by the U.S. military. Mr. Kajihiro says, “There’s a history of colonialism and dispossession inscribed in the landscape itself.” (14 min)

My favorite journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones first appeared in The Highlighter in December 2015. Now I’m excited to read her book, out on November 16. Want to read it with me? You can pre-order your copy here: hltr.co/1619.

The Secrets Of The World’s Greatest Freediver

Some of us practice mindfulness by planting our feet on the ground and focusing on the breath. Alexey Molchanov finds inner peace by doing the opposite: diving deep into the ocean and holding his breath until he’s close to passing out. In this outstanding article, Daniel Riley explains how advanced freedivers experience “the physicality of nowness,” an effort of consciousness that clears away life’s traumas, shifts our perspective, and helps us align again with nature. Despite the allure of achieving an underwater meditative state, I won’t be doing this anytime soon. (31 min)

+ Mr. Molchanov says he dives “for joy.” Here’s his record dive of 131 meters (along with music).

The Endling

Christina Rivera Cogswell: “There is a name for the last of a species: endling. Endlings give a face to extinction. In the case of the vaquita, one amplified in coloration that makes her eyes look large and unblinking. The better for us to see what is about to flicker into oblivion. Not that it wasn’t avoidable. The scientists warned us. This ending was no surprise. It was predicted thirty, twenty, ten, five, and two years ago. It was the conclusion we marched toward — maybe because we refused to look.” (11 min)

+ There are about 10 vaquitas left in the world.

Thank you

for reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Did you enjoy it? Let me know by clicking on “Yes” or ”No” below. I like hearing from you.

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Scientific Machines


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