This week the internet was kinda boring but also chill…? I don’t really know how I felt about it. I guess everyone was talking about the soccer players in Thailand. Highlights: NYC transit is fucked, the Tasmanian tiger might not be extinct, Skyler talked about his time with Queer Eye’s Fab Five, friends fall in love, we learned more about Whitney Houston, sometimes poetry is the best medicine, Terrace House is underrated, poachers were eaten by lions, and JHU is colliding with ICE.
1. The New Yorker: Can Andy Byford Save the Subways?
I do not know how to drive. I have had something like 5 learners permits over the past 4 years but never use them. Transit has become a major part of my life. Baltimore’s transit is so bad it is sometimes hard to call it a transit system at all. Sometimes I catch myself dreaming about New York’s subways because, as dysfunctional as they are, at least they exist.
Andy Byford, the new president of the New York City Transit Authority, is trying to fix the city’s subway. The reliability of New York’s transit system has drastically declined over the last decade. “Train delays now occur roughly seventy thousand times a month, up from twenty-eight thousand in 2012. The system’s on-time rate, already among the nation’s worst, fell to fifty-eight per cent in January.” But what would Byford need to fix the highly politicized, broken system? Apart from funding and political support, a little more patience from New Yorkers, as some of “the work simply cannot be done with trains running through the tunnels.”
2. The New Yorker: The Obsessive Search for the Tasmanian Tiger
If you ask me what my favorite animal is, I will respond with a long list of favorite animals from different categories. For example, my favorite domesticated animal is a dog, my favorite extinct animal is a thylacoleo, my favorite mammal dependent on water is a giant otter, my favorite aquatic mammal is a beluga whale, my favorite amphibian is a giant Japanese salamander, and the categories continue on. All of this is to say that I love learning about different kinds of animals.
One of my fascinations is with animals that become extinct due to humans. The Tasmanian tiger has always piqued this interest. No one can definitively say if the tiger, which was the apex predator in Tasmania, is actually extinct, and there are many people who certainly do not believe it. The story of the tiger is tied to the history of the island, one of colonialism and genocide of native people. The last wild tiger was killed in 1930, and the last captive animal died in 1936 from exposure at a zoo in Hobart. Definitively declaring the tiger’s status is a tricky thing because, “We have no way to define extinction—or existence—other than through the limits of our own perception.” But the search for it poses an interesting question: “Is it more foolish to chase what may be a figment, or to assume that our planet has no secrets left?”
3. them.: Skyler Jay Reveals His True Feelings on Queer Eye‘s Trans Makeover Episode
I feel like this title is super misleading and makes it seem like Skyler hated his Queer Eye episode when he actually really enjoyed it. When asked about if the Fab Five are really as nice as they appear, Skyler answered “No. They’re even better than what you get to see on TV.”
His main contention is with how much footage gets edited out by virtue of having to fit a week’s worth of conversations and activities into an hour. This conversation is a lovely follow up to the split responses to Skyler’s episode—some of which praised QE for giving a platform to the trans community and others criticising its discussion of the trans experience as “trans 101”—and provides a lot of clarity. Not to mention, this is interview is coming out amidst Scarlett Johannson being cast as a trans man and is being compared to the diversity Thanos of Hollywood.
4. New York Times: This Is What Happens When Friends Fall in Love
Two of my friends always read the Modern Love series in the New York Times. Without fail, almost every week they send me a story and ask me if it will make it in The Internet is Exploding. This is the first time one has made it.
In the first episode of season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy the term “my person” was coined, and American lexicon has never been the same. Your “person,” as defined by Cristina Yang, is “the one that would help [you] drag the corpse across the living room floor.” Your person does not have to be a romantic partner, and it is often chosen family.
All too often the societal delineations of relationships fail to encompass how we love and build our lives around the people we care about. And this is even truer in queer communities, where love inherently sits outside of heteronormative confines. The deepest love of your life does not have to be romantic or sexual, and there are many ways to be in love with someone.
5. The New Yorker: The Complexities of Whitney Houston in “Whitney”
I have an unwritten rule not to have more than two picks from the same publication in a given week. I read a lot of reviews of the new Whitney Houston documentary, Whitney, released this week, but this, by far, was my favorite. Apart from beautiful prose, I like the review because it contextualizes Whitney’s 1991 Super Bowl XXV performance of the national anthem with Roseanne Barr’s rendition of the song at a San Diego Padres game on July 25, 1990.
I was born in late 1995 and never knew Whitney at the height of her career. She was always a ghost in my life. My mom played her records and I liked them, but it took until her death in 2012 for me to begin to understand her cultural impact. Every year or so something happens to pique my interest in her again and I do a little research and learn more about her life. With Whitney, there is always something new to discover. I have yet to see Whitney but am looking forward to it.
6. The Paris Review: Poetry Rx: There Will Never Be More of Summer Than There Is Now
I don’t know if there is anything a good poem can’t help. As you might already know, I am obsessed with the series Eat Your Words on The Paris Review, but this series is also a favorite. I don’t read fiction, but I love poems and am always looking for new poets to follow.
For Poetry Rx, “readers write in with a specific emotion, and [the] resident poets… take turns prescribing the perfect poems to match.”
I actively do not watch Terrace House on Netflix because I am way too good at binging shows (for a metric, I have watched 12 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy in 2 weeks) and just generally an obsessive person. However, I been following this show for just over a year and it is META AS SHIT.
Basically, it is a real reality TV show with no objectives… you kinda just watch people live and, “the amount of time the cast members spend eating at a table while the camera zooms in on their meals—during which someone inevitably says, “Mmm, this is good” (Or, “It’s a subtle flavor,” Taka says of a soup Yuudai made)—makes [you] feel like everything in [your] life is worth a 24-hour lens, as long as it’s glamorously shot.” Hopefully one day I will have enough time the dedicate a month to getting more addicted to a TV show I don’t watch.
Last night on a flight home, my boyfriend and I asked a woman to switch seats with me so we could sit together. We made a joke that maybe her new seat partner would be the love of her life and well, now I present you with this thread.
— Rosey Blair (@roseybeeme) July 3, 2018
OMG! This story is so good! So basically this couple played matchmakers on an airplane and put the whole thing on Instagram then tweeted it. The story is really funny and cute so I won’t ruin the ending.
9. BBC: Lions eat ‘rhino poachers’ on South African game reserve
The remains of suspected rhino poachers were found dismembered after they strayed into a lion pride in search for rhinos. According to the reserve’s owner, “It’s a big pride so they didn’t have too much time” to react to the lions and the number of poachers is unclear as “there’s not much left of them.” LOL! The owner talks like this is NBD and it happens all the time. This article is so funny! I mean the poaching is not for obvious reasons, but the karma is on point.
10. Google Form: Petition to End JHU Partnership with ICE
Immigration in this country is an absolute shit show. The worst part about it (and there are A LOT of worst when it comes to our immigration policy) might be that people currently in charge don’t seem to know (or care) about the country’s history of immigration and colonialism.
Anyway, Johns Hopkins has a partnership with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). “Given the extent and extremity of its cruel practices and the scale of ongoing human rights charters which ICE continues to violate” this petition does not ask JHU to take a “partisan stance or a party affiliation with any narrowly particular political position” but to dissolve its partnership so the school can live up to its values of sharing “knowledge of the world.”
*All images taken from reference articles*
Have a suggestion for next week? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”