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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 5/1

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The internet had me in my feels this week. Highlights: Elon Musk buys Twitter, Alice Walker, Megan Thee Stallion, an American history of abortion, the American healthcare system, chicken rice, Disney and Florida beef, and Kehlani’s new album. 

 

1. n+1: Musk Takes Twitter

Elon Musk has purchased Twitter for $44 billion, “much of it raised from investment banks like Morgan Stanley, yet [the platform] is scarcely profitable,” writes Richard Seymour. While Musk purports to support free speech, that concept “is a meaningless ideal on a privately owned platform that dictates how users can interact and monopolizes the resulting data.” 

There is much speculation about what Twitter will be like under Musk’s ownership, and why he purchased it, as there are cheaper means of accessing its data. Perhaps one of the reasons is because “from the Obama administration, whose State Department was close to Twitter bosses, to Trump, who had a genius for manipulating Twitter storms, the platform has enjoyed political influence outweighing its economic value. In short, Musk, having leveraged his Twitter addiction to the benefit of his brand, gains a lot of clout from owning Twitter.”

 

2. New York Magazine: 24 Twitter Moments We Treasure

Musk’s acquisition of Twitter prompted numerous reflections, including this from New York Magazine. The perpetual void of Twitter has many noting that it “really couldn’t get any worse, the past decade in this country has shown us there’s always more room to fall. With that in mind, New York’s staffers have offered 24 moments when Twitter really was memorable, as a reminder of what Twitter once was and, for better or worse, what it could be.”

 

3. Wired: A People’s History of Black Twitter, Part I

As I was in my feelings and reflecting on my relationship with Twitter this week, I kept thinking about Jason Parham’s 2021 history of Black Twitter: “from #UKnowUrBlackWhen to #BlackLivesMatter, how a loose online network became a pop culture juggernaut, an engine of social justice, and a lens into the future.” As someone who was relatively late to the platform, I learned a lot from this history—most notably, I saw Twitter at some of its best moments. 

 

4. New York Times: Alice Walker Has ‘No Regrets’

Released last week, Alice Walker’s newest book, Gathering Blossoms Under Fire, is “a collection of her diaries spanning 1965 to 2000. The book covers the period when Walker, 78, became a towering figure in the American cultural landscape, and precedes the accusations of antisemitism in recent years.” The book doesn’t, however, include recent positions “that many have found to be antisemitic and deeply troubling. Her stances have cast a shadow over her legacy, leaving readers to grapple with how to approach Walker, and her work, today.” Walker “want[s] the journals to be used so that people can see this working through of disappointment, anger, sorrow, regret… So in that sense, it’s a medicine book.”

 

5. YouTube: Megan Thee Stallion on 2020 shooting: “I’m the victim”

In an emotional interview with Gayle King, rapper Megan Thee Stallion talks about being shot in the foot in 2020, allegedly by rapper Tory Lanez, who has pleaded not guilty to assault and weapons charges. Since the shooting, many have dismissed Megan’s claims that she was shot by Lanez, although no evidence has been provided to support the dismissal. 

As Megan explains in the interview, the shooting took place shortly after George Floyd’s murder—something that impacted many of her decisions that night. While this interview focuses on the 2020 shooting, it also highlights the ongoing refusal to believe and protect Black women.

 

6. The American Scholar: Safer Than Childbirth

Although its history is often truncated, birth control is an old practice with a long history. In the 1700 and 1800s, writes Tamara Dean, “abortions that occurred before quickening, which was understood as the time when a pregnant woman could feel the fetus move (usually around the fourth month), were both legally and morally acceptable.” The criminalization of abortions coincides with the rise of the American Medical Association, who in the mid-1800s, according to Leslie J. Reagan, were trying to “win professional power, control medical practice, and restrict their competitors, particularly Homeopaths and midwives.”

While abortion predates this country, its history in this country is necessary and fascinating. 

 

7. The New Yorker: A Freelancer’s Forty-Three Years in the American Health-Care System

Half of the people in my life are artists, musicians, freelance writers—people without full-time jobs. The other half of people have full-time jobs with benefits. I often get into conversations with people who work full-time who are jealous of the freedom of a freelance lifestyle, but “people who have jobs with decent benefits may not realize how tricky life in the United States is for people who don’t.” Between my people who work freelance, we often talk about different insurance options and lament how insufficient the American healthcare system is—something only highlighted by COVID. 

David Owen wrote this essay about his 43 years of navigating the American healthcare system, including two years ago when he could finally apply for Medicare coverage—a process that isn’t straightforward. (Owen himself calls it “insanely complicated.”) “In a sane country,” Owen writes, “bills that aren’t bills would not arrive in the mail, coverage would begin at conception, doctors wouldn’t be able to opt out of treatment, preëxisting conditions would never matter, and patients wouldn’t need expert help to figure out which diseases they can afford to have.” There is a lot that can be learned from Owen’s experience. 

 

8. Guernica: In Pursuit of Chicken Rice

Over the course of the pandemic, chicken rice, a “classic meal of poached chicken with rice that has been cooked in its liquid, served with three pungent sauces,” became an obsession of Theodore Ross. Although Ross has lived in Asia and traveled there extensively, he’d never been to Hainan, the province in southern China for which Hainanese chicken rice is named. In his pursuit, Ross, a white Jewish man, began speaking to cooks, food writers, and restaurant owners about Hainanese chicken rice. I asked about their recipes, and also if they thought what was I was doing was cultural appropriation. Most drew a distinction between home cooking and the conflicts in professional settings. You could, it seemed, make whatever you wanted in the privacy of your own home. Turning a profit was the issue. “

 

9. Slate: Florida’s Law Punishing Disney Has a Billion-Dollar Problem

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wants to strip Disney of its “special district” status. The Reedy Creek Improvement District’s special status allows Disney to control “zoning, permitting, and building codes; builds roads and bridges; and runs utilities and services.” Created in 1967, it “was a unique arrangement that gave governmental power to a single corporation, which in turn gave Florida one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.” Now, DeSantis wants to take it away as “revenge for the Walt Disney Corporation’s opposition to his ‘don’t say gay’ bill.”

However, “Reedy Creek is $1 billion to $2 billion in debt. One other perk for a corporation playing local government is the ability to raise money through tax-exempt municipal bonds.” If the status is revoked, the debt is “supposed to fall to the two counties that share custody of Disney World, but neither county is ready to put a half-billion dollars on its balance sheet.” There isn’t an easy answer to this situation, but it will be interesting to see what happens. 

 

10. Spotify: Kehlani’s blue water road

To be quite honest, I cannot tell for the life of me if I like Kehlani. I listen to each of their albums as soon as they come out, but usually not a second or third time. I enjoy it while I’m listening, then quickly forget. Kehlani released their third studio album, blue water road on Friday, and I feel the same way. I would be happy if someone else put this album on, but I don’t know if I would put it on myself. I am, however, very happy for Kehlani and find myself rooting for her often. Maybe that’s why I keep going back to her music. 

 

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