This week the internet showered Aretha Franklin with love. Highlights: Aretha Franklin died, poetry matters, we need to change the way we teach, an asteroid might not have killed to dinosaurs, China is stealing back its art, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is one of the best things on the internet, Doja Cat might have tricked us all with Moo, and Erykah Badu and Yo Yo Ma are transcendent.
Aretha Franklin died on Thursday, August 16. There have been countless obituaries and articles chronicling her cultural impact. I love this obituary because of the video it accompanies it. The narrative obituary is seamlessly edited with clips of Franklin singing. If you were reading this, just as you would want to stop reading and listen to a recording, and the recording you had in mind comes to the screen.
I could have easily made this whole list about Aretha Franklin this week. She consumed the internet. I spent most of Thursday reading obituaries on Franklin and listening to old recordings. Admittedly, I have not read all of the articles of this list, but for some reason, posting just one article on Franklin’s life does not seem like enough.
3. The Atlantic: How Poetry Came to Matter Again
As with everything, the poetry world is chanting at an exponential rate. In the 1980s for POC poets, “the drive was on to claim a seat at the table—which meant demanding a bigger table.”
Now “the face of poetry in the United States looks very different today than it did even a decade ago, and far more like the demographics of Millennial America.” Young poets aren’t necessarily finding the genre through the prescribed path and “so far, this generation has shown little patience, which may be what saves it. Poets who know their worth and throw themselves into convincing us of it may be just the poets to expand and sustain an art form.”
4. Wired: Yuval Noah Harari on what the year 2050 has in store for humankind
For the first 9 years of my education, I went to Montessori Schools. In Montessori, subjects are not separated, and most learning is kinesthetically based. Students are given physical tools to solve theoretical problems, and through playing, teach themselves mathematical formulas, grammatical structure, sharing, compassion. In essence, Montessori teaches students how to teach themselves.
The world is changing at an unprecedented rate, and many of the things children are learning in school, particularly technical skills, might become irrelevant by the time they enter the job force. Recently “many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching ‘the four Cs’ – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity… Schools should downplay technical skills and emphasise general-purpose life skills” and “the ability to deal with change, to learn new things and to preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situations.” No one knows that the future will look like, but “if somebody describes to you the world of the mid-21st century and it sounds like science fiction, it is probably false. But then if somebody describes to you the world of the mid 21st-century and it doesn’t sound like science fiction – it is certainly false.”
While I am not the best at dealing with change, I am a confident and independent learner. The impact Montessori had on me has only recently come to life, and my comfort with learning and problems solving is founded in my first 9 years of education.
5. The Atlantic: The Nastiest Feud in Science
We have all been taught that the extinction of dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid hitting the earth. Gerta Keller, a geologist and paleontologist from Princeton University, isn’t so convinced of the asteroid theory put forth by Luis Alvarez. While “geologists had bickered for 60 years before reaching a consensus on continental drift, Alvarez declared the extinction debate over and done within two years.”
Keller proposes that “the mass extinction was caused not by a wrong-place-wrong-time asteroid collision but by a series of colossal volcanic eruptions in a part of western India known as the Deccan Traps.” The theory was first proposed in 1978, and Keller’s research is making scientists take another look. One of the reasons this topic is so hotly debated is because “Dinosaurs are what paleontologists call ‘charismatic megafauna’: sexy, sympathetic beasts whose obliteration transfixes pretty much anyone with a pulse. The nature of their downfall, after 135 million years of good living, might offer clues for how we can prevent, or at least delay, our own end.”
6. GQ: The Great Chinese Art Heist
This article is batshit crazy, but also makes too much sense, and I am kinda surprised I hadn’t heard more about it. Since 2010 thieves have been stealing priceless Chinese art and artifacts from European collections. “The criminals are careful and professional. They often seem to be working from a shopping list—and appear content to leave behind high-value objects that aren’t on it.”
As China has become less communist, “the fate of the country’s plundered art was seized upon as a focus of national concern and pride.” Much of the art being stolen back was plundered during war, and it is suspected that the Chinese government is ordering the hits. “The government in China doesn’t think they’re stolen objects. They think they belong to them.”
7. Lit Hub: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is the Best Place on the Internet
The title of this article does not lie. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is in “perpetual conversation with itself, ever growing and expanding—perhaps threatening, in its accumulated obsessions, to become self-aware.” Spend a couple hours reading SFE and it is easy to become transfixed. The content is interesting, but it is the way they are written that is truly captivating. “Making no effort to avoid the partisanship that’s a hallmark of being a fan, the SFE possesses the kind of purity you can only get from corrupt endeavors.”
So honestly, this interview is amazing, but half the reason I am picking it is because I found the video for Mooo a day too late to post a couple of weeks ago. There is no other way to describe Mooo than Doja Cat singing in a cow outfit, eating a burger, with fries up her nose singing “Bitch I’m a cow” on repeat with farm and anime scenes in the background.
“This wasn’t an accidental sensation. This girl had bars, and judging by the DIY nature of the video, she understood the formula for virality. The genre-bending producer Sango let the newcomers—myself included—in on a little secret tweeting, ‘Mooo by Doja Cat is just a set up for y’all to listen to her other stuff because she’s actually a great singer and songwriter.’”
Sometimes I feel like Erykah Badu exists on the threshold of being. “Some folks around the NPR Music office said they felt an almost spiritual connection to Erykah Badu during her visit to the Tiny Desk. And that was before she and her band even played a single note. It came from the waft of earthly scents that followed in her wake, to the flowing dreads and clothes that hung on her like robes.”
10. NPR: Yo Yo Ma
I have always had a soft spot for cello. The first time I remember being transfixed by the instrument was at an arts camp in elementary school. I was on my way to see a concert by my peers and walked past the high school cello section rehearsing with their instructor, Astrid Schween. I don’t remember what they were playing, but it is the first time I heard and felt music simultaneously. I fell in love with classical music.
I listened to Erykah Badu’s Tiny Desk concert right before listening to this, and—althought I don’t normally listen to her or Yo Yo Ma—the musicality of both musicians is transcendent.
*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.”