I haven’t written for leisure in a while. I have a lot of ideas and I often jot them down in fits and tantrums. Tonight I have a return of my old posts about what I’m doing during quarantine and I’m going to write under my new title of “Dispatches from Quarantine.”
I always start these posts with something about food, so let’s dive in. I really like Schar’s loaves of gluten free bread, but with the exception of their baguettes, their other products leave a little to be desired.
I just tried the Essential Baking Company’s hamburger buns and they are exquisite. Nice surface area, and they toast very well. I used them for pulled pork and they held up incredibly well, as I am known to smother my pulled pork in sauce. This is two posts now where I’ve celebrated the Essential Baking Company for their products, and I look forward to continue exploring their product line. Note: this is not a paid post.
Let’s dive into things I’ve read lately.
I enjoy the writing of Lawrence Wright. I’ve read The Looming Tower at least twice. He wrote this piece in the New Yorker about the pandemic and our historical response to it. This passage speaks to 2020 in many ways.
“After 9/11 the United States forged a dark path. Instead of taking advantage of surging patriotism and heightened international good will, America invaded Iraq and tortured suspects at Guantánamo; at home, prosperous Americans essentially barricaded themselves off from their fellow-citizens, allowing racial and economic inequalities to fester. The country we are now was formed in no small part by the fear and the anger that still linger from that tragic day.”
Several years ago I stopped reading all the websites in the Gawker network after they published a very questionable piece, but they’ve since returned and I believe they’ve done some superb pieces lately, especially on Jezebel. This one breaking down Ted Yoho’s apology is great. But I really loved this one about the Having Conversations Industrial Complex.
This summer everyone was having conversations, especially at work, and here were at the end of summer and not a damn thing has changed. And we’re still air dropping in people to have conversations. Alex Green writes:
It is the deliberate project of what I call the Having Conversations Industrial Complex: a loose assemblage of professional speakers, non-profit organizations, astroturfed activists, diversity consultants, academic advisory boards, panelists, and politicians who are paid to generate a “conversation” that doesn’t need to show tangible results. Rather, the only role of the conversation is to generate more conversations…The Having Conversations Industrial Complex exists to enrich the powerful and defuse radical demands.
If you’re having conversations, you’re not doing enough. Myself included.
I have been deeply against a third airport in Chicago for many years. I have family who live out near the proposed site and it would drastically change their lives in a negative manner. This opinion post by the Better Government Association details why the third airport is a bad idea.
I don’t play survival horror games much because they scare the crap out of me. But when it’s based on one of my favorite movies, I can’t say no. Alien: Isolation is an awesome, scary, and incredibly frustrating game to play. I never got too far into the game, and actually watched someone on YouTube play the whole thing so I could see how it all ends without me having to change my pants or deal with bad save points. Even in broad daylight it made me jump and yelp in fright. Other than System Shock 2, no other game has made me do that.
Rob Zacny at Vice wrote a delightful essay examining the game. Much has been written about the universe of the Alien movies, but little about the other properties. His essay is wonderful, and the last paragraph is divine.
The ultimate reveal of the two Alien films and Isolation is that the carnage was only a surprise to the people being sacrificed. To the people whose existence is only implied behind corporate logos and all-knowing supercomputers, it was all part of the plan. But the films portray a corporate logic of growth and invention, where the endgame is to create and own something powerful at any price. In Isolation we again find the reality of that universe has been adjusted to more closely resemble our own, where destruction of companies and their workers is the point.
Lastly if you need a laugh and some good quotes, read this article about visiting Disney World during a pandemic. I’ll leave you with these two nuggets:
I hope someday my grandchildren will be able to return to this spot and murder a realistic robot version of Rutherford B. Hayes in a duel.
And then there is Disney World—a little bit of Singapore in the midst of America’s Yemen
Graeme Wood you are a national treasure.