The Internet is Exploding: 10 Must Read Articles This Week

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Trump and Baltimore are still beefing; the internet was still very good but dense this week. Highlights: Lizzo performed at a very small desk, Chance the Rapper’s debut album is different than his mixtapes, the Democratic debates should be watched firsthand, today’s ideal woman is more social media mirage than reality, academic whitewashing brings false narratives, loving Mariah Carey is so, so easy, one story of transitioning, Notre Dame and reconstructing historic architecture, photogenic fish bred for Instagram, and wild boars wreaking havoc on European cities. 

1. NPR: Lizzo: Tiny Desk Concert

I HAVE BEEN WAITING SO LONG FOR THIS AND IT IS FINALLY HERE!!!! One of my friends went to the live recording of Lizzo’s Tiny Desk Concert and after watching it I am even more insanely jealous. Obviously, Lizzo killed it. 

2. Pitchfork: Chance the Rapper: The Big Day

I’m not a diehard fan of Chance the Rapper, but I love his mixtapes Coloring Book and Acid Rap. Chance  released his debut album, The Big Day, and it is long and fascinating. I don’t quite know how I actually feel about the album yet, but so far it isn’t nearly as exciting as his previous mixtapes. Perhaps he is having some growing pains. On Coloring Book, “Chance was guided by his faith but never blinded by its light; his rapping not just precise but breathtakingly eloquent,” writes Sheldon Pearce. The Big Day, “which is often just as prayerful, feels closed-off. These raps aren’t just duller and more rigid in motion, they’re dogmatic.” 

3. CNN: Watch the full CNN Democratic debate – Day 1

I have not had time to watch the second series of Democratic Presidential debates this week but they are important and I will watch them and so should you. Watch them for yourself and decide, rather than relying on an avalanche of commentary. Link to  the first day above and the second day here

4. The Guardian: Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman

Lately, whenever I consider the common conception of the ideal woman I have thought of Gwyneth Paltrow or Taylor Swift, with their long thin frames and pale features. It’s less about who they are and more how they brand themselves and engender desire in others. But, as Jia Tolentino argues, under accelerated capitalism, that celebrity standard has transmogrified into a different kind of unattainable standard.

“The ideal woman,” she writes, “is always optimizing. She takes advantage of technology, both in the way she broadcasts her image and in the meticulous improvement of that image itself.” But this hyper-efficient, image-driven way of life creates a paradox: “to look any particular way and to actually be that way are two separate concepts, and striving to look carefree and happy can interfere with your ability to feel so. The internet codifies this problem, makes it inescapable; in recent years, pop culture has started to reflect the fractures in selfhood that social media creates.”

5. Other Sociologist: Whitewashing Race Studies

On July 18, Ethnic and Racial Studies, an academic peer-reviewed journal based in the United Kingdom, published a paper by Adam Szetela, a white male student with “no expertise in critical race studies, with little sociological training,” entitled Black Lives Matter at Five: Limits and Possibilities. The paper, which “misrepresents the Black Lives Matter movement and intersectionality theory,” went from submission, through peer-review, and to publication in 6 months—an incredibly fast timeline for academic journals. In this article, sociologist Zuleyka Zevallos deconstructs the paper and the false narratives it promotes. 

6. The New Inquiry: Take Me Away

I don’t know when I started loving Mariah Carey but maybe it was last fall when I bought five of her albums one day instead of just streaming her music on Spotify. Maybe it was after a couple of months of listening to those albums on repeat. I don’t know why it took me so long to listen to her music—and I don’t know what prompted me to start—but now that I’ve started I can’t stop. 

The love expressed by writer Elleza Kelley in this love letter about Mariah Carey is transcendent and exquisite: “I wasn’t always sure what kind of love this was. It was not sexual or romantic, nor did I want to be like her. What I wanted, and still want, was proximity to the limitlessness of the world she had forged: I loved the key turning, the door creaking, the window flying open. I loved the secret place she made for me, for us.” This is the love that endures. 

7. GQ: The End of Straight

Whenever I pick an article where the author recounts their personal trauma I find it exceedingly difficult to write about, even in introduction. In this article, Gabriel Mac tells his story of transitioning. 

8. The American Interest: It Ought to Be Gothick

The fire at Notre Dame in April brought new attention to a centuries-old architecture debate: what to do with destroyed historic buildings. Architecture is different from other arts in that “as soon as a building is finished, it begins to change. Practical considerations intrude, people move things around. Unlike paintings, buildings are left out in the rain (as Frank Lloyd Wright used to say), they weather, things break or wear out and are repaired or replaced.”

We destroy buildings with wars and bombs. Natural disasters and fires strike. When Prime Minister Édouard Philippe suggested that Notre Dame’s spire ought to be restored in a way “suited to the techniques and challenges of our time,” dozens of proposals featuring glass and other contemporary materials began to appear on the internet. But many destroyed historic buildings have been restored in their original image, and “the best way to rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris would be to restore what was there, as if the fire never happened; there is no need to commemorate a senseless accident.”

9. Esquire: The Life And Death Of An Instafish

While this article chronicles the life of one fish, Frank the Flowerhorn, its main premise is examining the influence social media has on the selective breeding of fish and by extension other animals. The flowerhorn breed is “a bright red fish with a stripe of black markings, or ‘flowers’, down its side and a preposterous bulge above its head: this nuchal hump, also known as a ‘kok’, on which the black flowers sometimes appear, gives the breed its name. It has red eyes, tiny sharp teeth, a protruding lower lip and Churchillian folds beneath its chin… it is, technically speaking, a genetic abomination.” In the past five years the increased demand for the fish has pushed “breeders to breed something even more amazing, even more colourful.” Social media is not entering the bioethics debate. 

10. The Guardian: Boar wars: how wild hogs are trashing European cities

I love reading about urban wildlife. Something about how people get so offended that animals are increasingly encroaching on cities after their habitats have been destroyed to build those cities entertains me. In many cities across Europe, the animal currently doing the most encroaching is the wild boar. 

Apart from the usual problems of human-animal conflicts of causing car accidents or other dangerous encounters, boars also have a huge impact on the economy, damaging crops and threatening the global pork trade. Boars carry African Swine Fever which “kills wild and domestic pigs, creating an animal health crisis that is rapidly becoming a geopolitical one.” Other diseases that boars carry can also be passed to humans, creating a public health crisis.

*All images taken from reference articles*

Have a suggestion for next week? Email with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”

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