The end of the year is a good time for gratitude and reflection. Thank you, loyal subscribers, for being part of the Iserotope Extras community, for reading the digest, and for sharing your thoughts. There are 85 of you; I appreciate each one of you! Several of you have asked what the point is
The end of the year is a good time for gratitude and reflection. Thank you, loyal subscribers, for being part of the Iserotope Extras community, for reading the digest, and for sharing your thoughts. There are 85 of you; I appreciate each one of you!
Several of you have asked what the point is of this digest. That’s where the reflection comes in, particularly because 2016 was a traumatic year, and particularly since the election, we’ve scoured our hearts to figure out what we can do to make the world a little bit better. After weeks of thinking, I still don’t have a definite mission for Extras, except that I really like doing it, and I like that you enjoy reading it. There’s probably something deeper that’s going on, and perhaps we’ll figure it out together in 2017, but until then, I’ll just be curating and sharing articles that grab me.
For this last issue of 2016, I’ve decided to publish my favorite six articles of the year. They’re all wonderfully written, plus they have an extra edge — whether of import, or delight, or prescience. Here they are, in no particular order. If you’ve read some of them, I invite you to read them again. If there’s one that passed you by, here’s your chance. Please enjoy!
Death by gentrification in San Francisco: The killing of Alejandro Nieto
Two years ago, a man named Alejandro Nieto was killed by police in San Francisco. In this article, Rebecca Solnit (who introduced the term “mansplaining”) draws connections between Mr. Nieto’s death and gentrification. Though Ms. Solnit’s writing relies on anecdotal correlations, this article is a must-read. It brings up big questions, like, What is public space? and Who gets to live here? It also reminds us that if we call 911, we’d better have a good reason. Update: Yesterday I read that SF rents have mostly stagnated — except in Bayview.
All the Greedy Young Abigail Fishers and Me
Abigail Fisher lost her anti-affirmative action case last month at the Supreme Court. This essay is by a woman who regrets helping white high school students like Ms. Fisher on their personal essays so that they can get admitted into the University of Texas at the expense of similarly qualified students of color. I’m particularly frustrated that our conversation on affirmative action has not moved one bit for 20+ years. Conservatives, like Chief Justice John Roberts, continue to believe in a “color-blind Constitution” and incorrectly invoke the 14th Amendment as basis for their claim. I tend to agree with Justice Warren Burger when he wrote in 1971: “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way.” Update: Author Jia Tolentino now writes for the New Yorker.
America is a Breeding Ground for Tyranny
Wow, from Andrew Sullivan — this article is about Plato, how tyranny follows democracy, Eric Hoffer’s ingredients for mass movements, and exactly how scary Donald Trump is. He writes, “Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event.” Update: It’s chilling that this article came out in May.
In Blue Apron’s Chaotic Warehouses, Making Dinner Easy Is Hard Work
For just $10 a meal, Blue Apron sends you all you need to make home cooking easy as pie. But behind all the tiny containers with two tablespoons of EVOO are the people who prep the food and pack the boxes. This Buzzfeed exposé uncovers the working conditions at the Richmond, CA plant — and management’s meager response, with racism thinly veiled. Update: An easy epiphany I’ve reached this year is that when something is convenient for me, it’s usually horrible for somebody else.
The strange life of Q-tips, the most bizarre thing we buy
This is exactly what I've been looking for: a Washington Post article about Q-tips. I've never used them (because I heed warnings), but many people I know do, and so for all of us, this article is a crucial read. Update: This was the most popular (by replies) article this year among Extras subscribers.
My Son, The Prince Of Fashion
Read this delightful piece by author Michael Chabon (Telegraph Avenue, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay), who takes his son, Abe, to Paris Fashion Week. Abe, 13, cares deeply about fashion, but unfortunately, his father is indifferent. Read all the way until the end of this article and you realize this is a double coming-of-age tale. Update: This was my favorite article of the year.
There you have it — 2016 is done! Thank you for reading Extras #73. Also, did anyone notice the new look? And that the articles in last week’s issue were out of order? (Sorry about that.) I wish you all the best in these last few days of 2016, and I’ll see you in your inbox next Thursday at 9:10 am!
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