News 01.27.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 01.27.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.27.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 01.27.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

This February, I began obsessively making lists. Songs with cellos. Every book I read or every documentary I watched this year. Different things that you can eat with ginger-scallion sauce. Stories involving balloons. I don’t usually make lists, although I will generally risk malware or worse to read other people’s rankings. (Top ten N.F.L. draft busts. Worst movies set in Boston. Fifty songs from the sixties that anticipated eighties techno.) Right now, many critics are compiling their lists of the best movies or songs or books of 2020. Most years, I tend to retain only a hazy grasp of my cultural diet, and it’s been possibly a decade since I contributed in any meaningful way to a ranked best-of poll. Instead, I have an unaddressed e-mail draft where, every few months, I type things that I recently heard and liked, should anyone ask.

Years seem to be an increasingly random measure of time, especially when it comes to culture, where albums drop randomly, movies get pushed back according to studio whims or awards-season brinkmanship, and our sense of pleasure rarely aligns with the calendar. A song becomes a favorite when I can imagine enjoying it in the future, not just because I listened to it during a twelve-month stretch. My list-making this year initially grew out of restlessness. Maybe it would someday be useful to have a spreadsheet detailing how I spent my pandemic—every nineties movie I rewatched, everything I bought online. I began organizing my listening habits into private playlists—more exhaustive than the ones I usually make—according to mood and memory. I was working on a memoir about the nineties and ended up studying charts of the popular songs of 1998 to come up with a playlist for that year. Was this playlist actually what listening to the radio in 1998 felt like? Not really, because nobody limits their listening habits to music that came out during an arbitrarily demarcated time span. A more accurate reflection of the time were the lists I made that were loosely associated with my old addresses from back then: “Ida Sproul,” “Dwight Way.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 01.27.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.27.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Politics had come to be programming produced for élites, by élites, in a bubble disconnected from others. If this warning seemed eccentric on the eve of electing an institutional Vice-President and, four years later, the Man from Hope, it does not seem so today. The problem Didion first identified in 1967 has been treated as a revelation in recent years.

Her position as a disaffected insider—hanging out with the Doors but crying foul on the Summer of Love, writing for the newsstand but declaiming its idiocy—made her an aggressive contrarian. In fact, her recent canonization notwithstanding, Didion spent most of her career as a magnet for daggers in the letters columns. “Between Joan Didion and me it is still a missed connection,” a reader complained in 1969, responding to a Life column she wrote for a while (abortively, owing to its unpopularity with editors). In The New York Review of Books a decade later: “Evidently where Joan Didion lives problems of love and psyche evaporate in a haze of margaritas by age twenty-one and folks can get down to the real business of living.”

That was in response to a searing broadside against the films of Woody Allen which Didion published in 1979. Allen had recently released “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan,” reaching his peak of appeal among people likely to read essays by Joan Didion in The New York Review of Books. She objected to the films’ urbane-sounding references (“the false and desperate knowingness of the smartest kid in the class”), and she was annoyed by characters’ superficial-seeming efforts to be deep (“They share sodas, and wonder ‘what love is’ ”). In Didion’s view, Allen’s movies were a simpleminded person’s idea of a smart person’s picture. She was needling her readers, naturally, but the objection also shows a lot about her narrative intelligence and about the way she should be read.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker


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When Mount Sinai Hospital opened its Center for Post-Covid Care in May, it was New York’s — and the country’s — first such facility. The doctors there expected to treat patients who had been severely ill or hospitalized. By that point, three months into the pandemic, they knew that the coronavirus could cause harm to many parts of the body beyond just the airways where infections most commonly begin. And they knew that medical treatments meant to save patients’ lives could also take a toll. Recovery from having been put on a ventilator, in particular, could be a lengthy process. Mount Sinai sought to support patients recovering from severe Covid-19 by giving them access to a multidisciplinary medical team that included lung, heart and kidney doctors, rehabilitation specialists and psychiatrists for those whose mental health might have been affected by their ordeals.

Hundreds of patients, most of them women, showed up soon after the center’s doors opened. To the doctors’ surprise, however, many of them had experienced only mild cases of Covid-19. They hadn’t been hospitalized. They were relatively young and otherwise in good health, without the underlying conditions like obesity and diabetes that are known to make Covid-19 worse. And yet, months after their bodies had seemingly fought off the coronavirus, they still felt quite ill. “We’ve heard of illnesses, viral illnesses, that have a prolonged postviral phase,” Zijian Chen, the head of Mount Sinai’s recovery center, told me. “But these usually don’t last for the months and months that we see here. And because of that, we’re a little surprised that this is happening. It tells us how much we don’t know about this illness.” The center has now seen more than 1,600 patients.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 01.27.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 01.27.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

For as long as she can remember, Maria Diemar has known she was adopted. Her Swedish parents were always open about her Chilean heritage, and growing up in Stockholm in the 1970s and 80s with brown skin and dark hair, it was impossible not to notice she was different.

When she was 11, Diemar’s parents showed her the papers that arrived with her in Sweden as a two-month-old baby in 1975. The file on her parentage offered a brief, unflattering portrait of a teenage mother who sent her newborn girl to be raised by strangers on the other side of the world. “They said she was a live-in maid, that she had a son who lived with her parents, and that she was poor,” recalled Diemar.

In her mid-20s, Diemar went looking for her mother. She contacted the Adoption Centre, the Swedish NGO that had organised her adoption. Sweden has one of the highest per-capita international adoption rates in the world, and in the 90s, the agency had launched a programme that helped adoptees reunite with their biological families. But they had no information on Diemar’s mother.

In 1998, she flew to Chile, requesting help from various sources: child welfare services, the family court that approved her adoption, the hospital where she was born, the civil registry. But none of them provided any information. When she visited the courthouse in Temuco, the nearest city to her birthplace, a court clerk stood in front of her, holding her file in hand, leafing through the ageing papers, and refused to give her so much as a peek. She left Chile empty-handed, but still determined to find her mother. “I came home with more questions,” Diemar said, “but I felt I had got closer to my family. I just needed to find them.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 01.27.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

“Ugly,” Maria Nicanor says, “is a complicated word.”

Nicanor moved with her family from Madrid to Houston in 2017 to become the executive director of the Rice Design Alliance, a nonprofit at the architecture school at Rice University. When Nicanor looks at the newer houses in Houston that she calls “white elephants”—those wonky, stacked boxes that look more like what children build with Legos than what they draw with crayons—it’s not so much that she finds the architecture aesthetically dubious (though she does), it’s that she sees right through it to “the systems that over decades have made it this way.”

Ben Koush, a Houston architect and architectural critic, is more blunt: “I think they’re ugly,” he says. “But I also realize that they’re following the requirements of the market.”

The rules and systems that have produced this standardized architecture—financial ones, largely determined by banks and property appraisers, as well as political ones—create a kind of socioeconomic standardization, determining who can afford to live in the neighborhoods experiencing rapid gentrification.

That, too, is a complicated word. Cities can’t be expected to preserve older neighborhoods forever unchanged. But they seem baffled about how and even whether to balance the encouragement of new development with the engagement and enrichment of the longtime residents of those neighborhoods.

Read the rest of this article at: Texas Observer

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.