We Don’t Know The Whole Story….

The Boeskool

By now, many of you have probably already seen the disturbing video of a high school girl in South Carolina being flipped over and dragged out of her desk by a police officer for refusing to comply with his orders. In case you haven’t seen it yet, the following video captures the scene from two different angles:

After seeing a video like this one, people’s reactions are usually split into two groups:

  1. This is completely and utterly unacceptable.
  2. We don’t know the whole story.

Full disclosure: I happen to belong to group #1.

Turns out he was fired today... But you know what? If this hadn't been recorded on video, he would probably still be working around kids. Turns out he was fired today… But you know what? If this hadn’t been recorded on video, he would probably still be working around kids.

Now, within the racially-charged time that we find ourselves in, it is hard to ignore the fact that the young girl in the video is black and the officer is white. And when…

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Interview: Jessie Hartland and Telling the Story of Steve Jobs

Comics Grinder

Jessie-Hartland-Steve-Jobs

Steve Jobs, we feel we know him and yet he is something of a mystery and there is an enormous amount to cover. Jessie Hartland has created an illustrated work, a “graphic biography,” that brings the public figure down to a human scale: “Steve Jobs: Insanely Great,” published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Read my review here.

Jessie Hartland is the author of the highly acclaimed graphic biography, “Bon Appetit: The Delicious Life of Julia Child,” described by the New York Times as “bursting with exuberant urban-naif gouache paintings and a hand-lettered text that somehow manages to recount every second of Child’s life.”

For her book on Steve Jobs, Ms. Hartland provides us with an engaging and comprehensive look at one of the great technology trailblazers of our time. “Steve Jobs: Insanely Great” is another wonderful example of an all-ages book providing a…

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Escaping the Darkness

My journey, from wine lover to sober and happy...

Quitting drinking lifted me out of Crapsville. When I drank, I would often ponder why other people’s lives seemed to be so much more productive and together than my own messy, unsatisfying and occasionally frightening existence. I am writing about this today because I noted earlier just how content I am these days, and how long it’s been since I experienced anything or anyone who scared me, threatened me, dragged me down or showed me the darker side of life.

Alcohol brought out so much negativity in both the people I knocked about with, and me. Morals slipped, thoughtlessness abounded, and self-respect vanished all too readily with the same ease it took to withdraw a cork from a bottle.

I found myself caught up in pub brawls, illicit affairs and, on the lesser end of the scale, frequently demonstrating disappointing behaviour that manifested itself in cancelling on people at the…

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‘Apostrophes’: Nikole Hannah-Jones on Race, Education and Inequality, at Longreads Story Night

Longreads

The video above is an incredibly moving piece by The New York Times Magazine’s Nikole Hannah-Jones, filmed at our Longreads Story Night in New York City. Our thanks to Hannah-Jones, Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, and all of our special guests for an amazing night. We’ll share more clips from Story Night soon, and you can see all of our videos on our YouTube page or Facebook.

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Can we date revolutions in the history of literature and music?

The Stone and the Shell

Humanists know the subjects we study are complex. So on the rare occasions when we describe them with numbers at all, we tend to proceed cautiously. Maybe too cautiously. Distant readers have spent a lot of time, for instance, just convincing colleagues that it might be okay to use numbers for exploratory purposes.

But the pace of this conversation is not entirely up to us. Outsiders to our disciplines may rush in where we fear to tread, forcing us to confront questions we haven’t faced squarely.

For instance, can we use numbers to identify historical periods when music or literature changed especially rapidly or slowly? Humanists have often used qualitative methods to make that sort of argument. At least since the nineteenth century, our narratives have described periods of stasis separated by paradigm shifts and revolutionary ruptures. For scientists, this raises an obvious, tempting question: why not actually measure rates…

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How to politicise a tragedy

Idiot Joy Showland

I am writing this the morning after a series of violent attacks in Paris that left over one hundred and twenty people dead, and still it feels callous to even be writing about it. As much of the world reels, there’s something very brutal about the idea that now is a good time to demand that others listen to your very clever opinion. If it’s barbarism to write poetry after Auschwitz, then it’s also barbarism to write thinkpieces after Paris. Don’t politicise; don’t use mass murder to score rhetorical points against your enemies, don’t crow je te l’avais bien dit, don’t play tug-of-war with the bodies, don’t make this about yourself, don’t make this about politics.

Which on the face of it is odd: death is always political, and nothing is more political than a terrorist attack. These events happen for political reasons, and they have political…

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My Mt. Everest

The Wallflower Wanderer

The tallest, fiercest beast of rock, ice and snow on the planet goes by many names. 

If you’re the average Nepali, you’ve grown up calling it Sagarmāthā, meaning “forehead in the sky.” If you’re a native speaker of the Tibetan languages, it is the “mother of the world” or, Chomolungma. But those of us who have not had the rare pleasure of casting our eyes from a young age upward toward the behemoth, which rises like a ghost from the Mahalangur mountain range — we know it as Mt. Everest.

Mt. Everest-1-2


It’s 5:45am and I’m making my way in darkness toward the nearest main road from my Airbnb in the Lainchaur neighborhood of Kathmandu.

The simple but sturdy four-story concrete home is buried deep in a pocket of squiggling half-paved, half-dirt streets that don’t appear to have names. Many are scarcely wide enough for a single car to pass people on foot.

Even at this early hour, when I reach the big…

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The Art of Wabi-Sabi (or Things You Will Learn Later in your Life)

Black coffee and cigarettes

wabi sabi small_Fotor

You are 37 when you first fall in love – properly, passionately, the way you dreamed of when you scribbled furiously in your teenage notebooks and that has eluded you until precisely this moment in a dusty Cairo hotel. It is not love at first sight and there is no Hollywood meet-cute, but there is a touching of souls, as Joni Mitchell once sang, that reverberates long after you meet him.

Months later, you leave everything you know and traverse continents to go back to him and a new life in the city he has bequeathed you. Over the next three years, you learn that Great Loves can be irrational and painful, full of terrible highs and soaring lows, that passion is overrated, and it is never good, as someone once told you, to love another person more than you love yourself. One day, you wake up and realise that…

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