The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 11/7

Previous Story
Article Image

A Photographer Reimagining the Practice of Portraiture

Next Story
Article Image

BMA Workers Say Fair Pay and Job Security Shouldn [...]

The internet was alright this week, but I found myself returning to some of my favorites. Highlights: Kwe becomes the moon, changing death rituals, whale murder mysteries, sexfluencers, S.B. 8’s architecture, Julia Bullock, Tea with Queen and J, Summer Walker, The Atlantic’s new newsletters, and Aaron Rodgers. 


1. GUTS: Kwe becomes the moon, touches herself so she can feel full again

A friend sent this to me earlier this week, simply exclaiming, “so fucking good must read.” This is so fucking good. 

Quill Christie-Peters was “born away from my homelands” near Lake Superior; thus, her “analysis of settler colonialism is particularly attentive to its spatiality and the ways in which colonialism seeks to remove our bodies from our homelands and further, our spirits from our bodies.” In this deeply reflective essay, Christie-Peters writes about her process of “slowly shed[ding] off layers of shame” and connecting to her body, homelands, and history. Settler colonialism has crafted a world where our bodies are considered separate from our homelands because only when these are considered distinct can we forget where we come from and who our ancestors are.” 

Settler colonialists “are violent, cunning and yet, unable to comprehend the fullness of our universe.” They do not understand that body and homeland cannot be separated, that they are not distinct entities, that no matter where our bodies are we can feel our homelands in the night, can hear our ancestors murmuring and humming under our skin, can feel the lakes and rivers that we come from slowly trickle over rock.”


2. Beside: A Death Full of Life

I lovingly joke that talking to one of my friends is like having your own personal audiobook. My friend is a person who easily gets stuck in research rabbit holes—often for months—and is always excited to share what she has learned. One of the rabbit holes my friend constantly returns to is death rituals. Over the summer, as I was driving around the Great Lakes, I’d call my friend and she would happily tell me about the death practices across different places and times. 

“It might go without saying, but for as long as humans have lived, we have also died,” writes Gabrielle Anctil. Naturally, the history of death rituals, and disposing of the dead, is almost just as long. “Prehistoric humans buried their dead, sometimes with weapons or animal heads to offer some protection — against wild beasts, perhaps, or spirits — in the beyond. Some placed cadavers on mountaintops instead, trusting the elements, and scavengers, to scatter them (this practice persists in Tibet and in some parts of China and India). The first architect, the Egyptian Imhotep, is known for his mortuary constructions. Methods of interment have changed throughout the ages.” 

Modern cemeteries didn’t become popular until the mid-19th century, and “[it] wasn’t until the 1980s that cremation became truly popular …. It’s not unusual nowadays to see urns resting upon mantelpieces, if departed loved ones’ ashes haven’t simply been scattered in a meaningful place. The cemetery has lost its nobility.” All means of disposing of bodies affects the environment, and while it is easy to assume cremation is an eco-friendly option, “a single cremation requires two full SUV gas tanks’ worth of fuel, to say nothing of all the carcinogenic particles that are released into the atmosphere.” This indicates a larger problem: “the lack of real options. Restrictive laws across North America, combined with an industry that’s slow to change, force people to choose between various polluting options.” Things are, however, slowly changing. “How much greater would this peace be if we knew that our remains could help nourish the ecosystems around us?”


3. Hakai Magazine: A Humpback Whodunit

I’ve always been fascinated by marine mammals. And although this article is from a few years ago, it came across one of my feeds this week, and I couldn’t stop reading this murder mystery of marine life. In 2019, Stephen Raverty, a veterinary pathologist, went to a remote part of British Columbia’s central coast “to perform a necropsy on a male humpback that washed ashore on the surf-tossed west side of Calvert Island.” 

Discovering the whale’s cause of death “will form part of a baseline of information on the overall health of the humpback population—estimated at 20,000 or more in the North Pacific—and could potentially point to problems such as entanglement with fishing gear or ship strikes that humans are in a position to tackle.” The necropsy results might even help prevent more whale murder mysteries. 


4. Vox: The sexfluencers

I feel like sexfluencers are everywhere online. I often see accounts on my Instagram Explore feed and passively acknowledge that some of the influencers could be sexfluencers, or “women who’ve cultivated some sort of identifiable digital persona being sent money by men in exchange for videos, photos, or even just a text back,” writes Rebecca Jennings. If you spend any time online, you’re well aware of “a maxim on the internet known as Rule 34, which posits that ‘if it exists, there is porn of it’… But there is another, less-discussed rule, one that essentially amounts to its inverse and has only become more apparent over the past decade. Let’s call it Rule 43: If you exist visibly enough on the internet, someone will want porn of you.” 

Jennings continues: It is not new that many men tend to talk to other people with a sense of entitlement or aggression. What is new is how seamlessly a DM slide can become a business arrangement, how influencers of the Instagram-lifestyle variety and regular people alike have used this as a meaningful stream of revenue.” These new streams of revenue are engendering interesting conversations about sex work. “The privilege divide between full-service sex workers and those who work only online has heightened during the pandemic, where internet sex work has become increasingly normalized but in-person contact has become more stigmatized.”


5. Slate: ​​The Architects of Texas’ Abortion Ban Overplayed Their Hand

This week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the Texas law S.B. 8 which “lets bounty hunters collect $10,000 from anyone who performs or ‘abets’ an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.” The highly contested law is seen by many, including three justices, “as a cynical nullification of a genuine constitutional right.” Three conservative justices support the law, “and three justices are freaked out by S.B. 8 but aren’t quite sure what to do about it. These three justices—John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—will ultimately decide the law’s fate.”

The reason for Roberts, Kavanaugh, and Barrett’s skepticism comes from the architecture of the law which, as Kavanaugh pointed out, could “easily become the model for suppression of other constitutional rights.” Conservatives such as Kavanaugh are, of course, concerned, as “it could be Second Amendment rights if this position is accepted here. The theory of the amicus brief is that it can be easily replicated in other states that disfavor other constitutional rights.”

While Roberts, Kavanaugh, and Barrett seem undecided about S.B. 8, “it might not even matter what the Supreme Court does in this case as far as abortion rights are concerned. In exactly one month, the justices will hear a more important case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that gives them an opportunity to overrule Roe v. Wade. And if Roe goes, Texas will simply ban abortion outright, obviating the need for the convoluted workaround at the center of today’s oral arguments. For the three justices who are torn over S.B. 8, the solution may be simple: Affirm the federal judiciary’s supremacy over states that undermine their authority, then hand those states the power to ban abortion whenever, wherever, and however they please.”


6. Opera News: A Very Different Vibe

If you’ve followed me for a while, it is no secret that I am a huge fan of Julia Bullock. At first, I was drawn to her resplendent voice—which has been described as warm, luminous, velvety—but the more I learned about her, the more I was drawn to her career, which “is not a conventional one—not by a long shot.” As much care as Bullock puts into articulating each note—which is a lot—she is just as caring with her programs, collaborations, projects, and politics. Following George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests, the Berlin-based performer “noted on camera that she felt ‘simultaneously bound and distant to what is going on in the U.S.’; her heartrending performances of the traditional spiritual ‘City Called Heaven’ and Billy Taylor’s ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free’ feel like a musical expression of that deep need to connect with home.”

I’ve seen Bullock in concert many times and she is an incredibly generous performer. She extends her generosity off stage by working on projects such as “an artist-engagement guide that will include recommendations she hopes will be adopted and shared in the music industry. The guide, she says, will ‘help artists and institutions do work together that wouldn’t get done otherwise, but do it with transparency, and a really healthy relationship.’”

Bullock’s career defies boundaries, something she is aware of, but also acknowledges that “I can break as many barriers as I want with my programming and my curating and this and that … but if I’m not making a more equitable and safer space, so that artists coming along are not having an easier time occupying that space …. That’s just a responsibility of mine.”


7. Tea with Queen and J: #302 Will Smith Is Not Sacred

Tea with Queen and J is one of the only podcasts I listen to. I’d fallen behind a few episodes, which discuss current events and pop culture through a “womanist race nerd” perspective that “[dismantles] white supremacist patriarchal capitalism,” and I had plenty of time to catch up as I drove back and forth between the east coast and the midwest this week. 

I was particularly interested in this episode, as I almost included something last week on Jada Pinkett Smith’s comments about her marriage to Will Smith. The segment on Pinkett Smith begins at 17:12, and discusses marriage, misogynoir, and media, including that marriage isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. 


8. NME: Summer Walker – ‘Still Over It’ review: flawless follow-up turns relationship problems into R&B gold

Summer Walker’s much anticipated sophomore album was released on Friday. Over the past few years, Walker has publicly faced “a number of personal issues, including her battle with social anxiety, her newfound parenthood and her high-profile break-up with Young Thug and Future producer London On Da Track.” This is a break-up album, and “Walker has a song here for every feeling following a crushing break-up, from confusion to anger to outright pettiness – and it’s the kind of unwavering quality that we all love her for.”


9. The Atlantic: Subscriber Newsletters

A new suite of newsletters was announced by The Atlantic on Tuesday. Featuring nine writers, including Imani Perry, Nicole Chung, and Jordan Calhoun, the newsletters cover everything from pop culture to international affairs. The announcement caused quite a buzz on social media and I am very excited about some of these!

The newsletters are free to everyone through November 30th. 


10. The Atlantic: Why Aaron Rodgers Felt Free to Mislead People

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was diagnosed with COVID-19. Considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Rodgers “made a conscious decision not to tell the truth” and “had lied about his vaccination status, and his team had likely provided cover for his deception.” In August, when a reporter directly asked if he was vaccinated, Rodgers claimed he was “immunized.” 

Jemele Hill writes, “In retrospect, his disingenuous comments hint at a specific kind of self-centeredness; he seemed to believe he was smarter than everyone else in the room.” Further, Rodgers appeared unmasked at press conferences, which goes against NFL rules for unvaccinated players. “Numerous media reports indicate that both the Packers and the NFL knew that Rodgers wasn’t vaccinated, because he had petitioned the NFL to have a homeopathic treatment he’d received recognized as a formal vaccine.”

Much of this came to the internet’s attention Friday after Rodgers appeared on The Pat McAfee Show and “insisted that he is now ‘in the crosshairs of the woke mob’ and wanted to defend himself ‘before my final nail gets put in my cancel-culture casket.’” Rodgers also “insisted that he is a ‘critical thinker.’ He referenced Martin Luther King Jr. out of context. And he said he had taken ivermectin after consulting the popular libertarian-leaning podcaster Joe Rogan, who has said he took the veterinary deworming drug after contracting the coronavirus.”


Related Stories
An Interview with This Year's Featured Authors, Kwame Alexander and Jami Attenberg

“This is a love letter to Baltimore,” says Du Pree, executive director of the CityLit Project, describing the annual festival, now in its 21st year.

Announcing a Second Printing of our City of Artists Book!

A recap of our very first City of Artists release celebration on December 8, 2023: a reading at the Enoch Pratt Library featuring authors Scott Shane, Sheri Booker, Lane Harlan, E. Doyle-Gillespie, and BmoreArt publisher Cara Ober as moderator.

Local Bookstore Teams Up with the Baltimore Water Taxi

While the atmosphere on the Water Taxi was decidedly leisurely (it was a sunset cruise, after all), the underlying excitement was unmistakable. A constant flow of folks congregated around the book display even when the initial rush had passed.

Thoughts Inspired by the Enoch Pratt Library’s 36th Annual Booklovers' Breakfast

This, the Pratt’s 36th Breakfast, was to be my first. And so, with little idea of what to expect, I daydreamed about Jesmyn and me sitting across a fancy table, spearing pancakes and passing the bacon whilst talking about characters we had yet to bring to life.