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Hello! kottke.org is currently on hiatus until late fall 2022 while I'm on sabbatical. In the meantime, enjoy some timeless posts from the archive – I'll publish a few each week to the front page. -jason

Abortion Protects the Lives of Women

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2022

Dr. Dipti S. Barot writing for HuffPost, My 11-Year-Old Patient Was Pregnant. Here’s What I Want You To Know About Being ‘Pro-Life.’ (Content warning: rape.)

Sophia is in her 20s now. I wonder how she has healed, how she has processed that trauma. Did she get to go to college? Has she been able to trust an intimate partner? Has she been pregnant on her own terms at the time of her choosing? Does she have a child? I can see her wide face and her soft smile in my mind’s eye and I know now, just as I knew then, that the decision to terminate Sophia’s pregnancy, supported by the ones who loved her the most, was a pro-life decision.

And:

I remember how tiny that clinic room felt. There was no room for politicians signing evil bills flanked by child props as old as Sophia, no room for Supreme Court justices who claim to value life while wondering aloud how pregnancy can be an undue burden. No room for those extraneous, unnecessary, useless others in that most intimate of spaces. Our clinic rooms will always be too small for anybody but providers and our patients.

The Real Fight for Abortion Rights

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2022

Melissa Gira Grant writing in The New Republic with a reminder that activists have seen this coming for a long time and moderates did not heed the warning:

Reproductive justice advocates have long warned that Roe v. Wade was in danger, well before the court agreed to take this case concerning a Mississippi abortion ban — before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, before Trump shifted the balance of the court by appointing justices certain to roll back Roe.

Those who saw this coming, who never believed the court could save them, who have mostly given up on the Democratic Party’s promises to protect Roe, have hardly been quiet or thwarted. Every local abortion fund launched to bridge the divide between a right and acting on it, every shared how-to on self-managed abortion using misoprostol pills (and mifepristone, if you can get it) — that’s what knowing this moment would come has looked like for years. It’s what surviving the end of Roe has already meant in the 89 percent of counties in this country without a clinic providing abortion, where abortion is already a contingent right.

(via waxy)

Into the Dark Ages

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2022

Speaking of the fundamentalist movement to repeal the 20th century, Jack Mirkinson isn’t writing for The Atlantic and therefore is free to not mince words:

[Alito] says that Roe should be scrapped because the right to an abortion is “not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions” — a byzantine litmus test that would wipe out just about every modern civil rights protection you can think of, given the nature of American history. He forthrightly casts aside the notion that the court should be cautious about overturning decades of precedent. He sends unmistakable signals that other civil rights opinions, especially ones protecting gay rights, are in the crosshairs.

The final opinion could differ, but what we have in front of us is an extremist, illegitimate opinion from an extremist, illegitimate court, one that sees women as serfs and breeders, that sees queer people as subhuman, that sees minorities of every kind as dirt under its collective shoe. It is happily dragging us into the dark ages. Alito and everyone who joins him are evil people. No hell is too hot for them.

(via waxy)

The Plan to Repeal the 20th Century

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2022

Adam Serwer writing in The Atlantic about the leaked Supreme Court opinion draft penned by conservative justice Samuel Alito that will, if it remains substantially unmodified, overturn Roe v Wade and other precedents that guarantee the right to an abortion in the United States.

“The majority can believe that it’s only eviscerating a right to abortion in this draft,” Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told me, “but the means by which it does so would open the door to similar attacks on other unenumerated rights, both directly, by attacking the underpinnings of those doctrines, and indirectly, by setting a precedent for such an attack.”

Aside from rights specifically mentioned in the text of the Constitution, Alito argues, only those rights “deeply rooted in the nation’s history in tradition” deserve its protections. This is as arbitrary as it is lawless. Alito is saying there is no freedom from state coercion that conservatives cannot strip away if conservatives find that freedom personally distasteful. The rights of heterosexual married couples to obtain contraception, or of LGBTQ people to be free from discrimination, are obvious targets. But other rights that Americans now take for granted could easily be excluded by this capricious reasoning.

“In a series of cases beginning in the early 1920s, the Court carved out a protected space for family, marriage, and children that the government is constrained from regulating,” Kimberly Wehle wrote last December. “A rollback of Roe could split this sphere open if the conservative theory that implied rights are constitutionally invalid takes hold, and states begin passing draconian laws that creep into other areas of intimate personal life.”

And:

On the grounds that it constitutes a form of religious discrimination, conservatives will be able to claim an exemption from any generally applicable rule they do not wish to follow, while imposing their own religious and ideological views on those who do not share them. Although the right-wing justices present this rule in the language of constitutionalism, they are simply imposing their ideological and cultural preferences on the rest of the country.

Abortion, same-sex marriage, birth control, rights for trans persons, other LGBTQ protections, other civil rights — it’s all on the table, they’re coming for all of it.

Update: See also This is just the beginning:

I ask you to re-read the above passage and substitute for the word “abortion” any other modern liberty not mentioned in the Constitution: the right to use contraception, same-sex marriage, the right of same-sex couples to adopt children, marriage between different “races,” the right of any consenting adults to engage in sex, the right of unmarried couples to live together, and the rights of LGBTQ people to be treated with equal dignity.

Each of the above rights — now widely accepted — was criminalized or prohibited in many U.S. states until the latter part of the 20th century. Under Justice Alito’s reasoning, because the Constitution “makes no reference to those rights” and they were “unknown” in American jurisprudence until recently, the Constitution affords them no protection. Alito does handsprings to claim the draft ruling does not reach other rights rooted in the same legal ground as Roe and Casey. But there is no difference under Alito’s reasoning between abortion and contraception, same sex marriage, same-sex adoption, and bans against “fornication,” “sodomy,” cohabitation, and “miscegenation.”

This is just the beginning.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2022

You have to admire Daniel Radcliffe for his movie & theater role choices since Harry Potter. He’s done Swiss Army Man, Equus on Broadway, all sorts of small & independent films, several on- and off-Broadway plays, and now he’s starring as Al in a Weird Al Yankovic biopic. And……it works? Variety calls it a “scripted mockumentary”. I’ll watch.

The Brain Eating Amoeba, the Most Overhyped Monster on Earth

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2022

In retrospect, maybe today wasn’t such a good day to watch a video about how incredibly scary brain-eating amoebas are. But, as you might guess from the title, we don’t actually need to worry too much about them.

While the Naegleria fowleri is clearly extremely deadly and the infection truly horrible, there have only been a few hundred cases in the last few decades. You are way more likely to drown in a pool than to get infected.

A reminder that in our current media environment, calibrating personal risk can be challenging.

The Invention of Coca-Cola, Miracle Brain Tonic

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2022

Spurred by a near death experience in the Civil War (after sustaining a saber wound to the chest) and looking for a way to manage the resultant addiction to morphine, pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton invented the drink that would become the globally famous and lucrative fizzy drink, Coca-Cola. I’d heard bits and pieces of this story over the year — it’s part of America’s consumerist mythology and therefore hard to ignore completely — but had never really had the whole thing explained to me. (via open culture)

How Postwar Italy Created The Paparazzi

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2022

From film fan Benito Mussolini and the postwar explosion of Italian filmmaking to a financial rule with big effects and Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, Evan Puschak tells the story of how the paparazzi was created.

The history of celebrity paparazzi disrupted the highly manicured image movie stars had enjoyed since the golden age of Hollywood. They brought these gods of our culture down to the messy earth. Interestingly though, this didn’t dampen our obsession with fame, as you might expect. No, it turbo charged it. Something about seeing our celebrities brought low — catching a glimpse of their flaws and pains — it didn’t push the famous off these weird pedestals we put them on. It only intensified our fixation with them.

Natasha Lyonne Revisits Her Breakout Characters

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2022

Today I discovered that all I want to do is listen to Natasha Lyonne talk about her experiences in showbiz. But instead I got a little more than 7 minutes and that’s just fine:

I’m a few episodes into the second season of Russian Doll right now and it’s so good.

Turn Every Page: A Documentary on Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2022

This looks interesting: a feature-length documentary on the life and work of Robert Caro and his longtime editor Robert Gottlieb, directed by Gottlieb’s daughter Lizzie Gottlieb.

Pulitzer Prize winning writer Robert Caro and legendary editor Robert Gottlieb have been working - and fighting - together for 50 years. At 86, Caro is battling time to finish work on his long-promised fifth and final volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Now 90, Gottlieb continues to edit, write and pursue his myriad and unexpected passions, attempting to “love and be silent” until he and Caro can begin to edit Caro’s final masterwork.

Directed by Gottlieb’s daughter Lizzie Gottlieb, Turn Every Page is an intimate look into artistry, mortality, antagonism, and friendship. Gottlieb chronicles the behind-the-scenes drama of the making of Caro’s The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon B. Johnson volumes. The film is a deep-dive into the power dynamics of creative collaboration, the peculiarities and work habits of two ferocious intellects, and the culmination of a journey that has consumed both of their lives.

No trailer and no release date that I can find, but I will absolutely see this whenever it comes out. See also the New-York Historical Society’s ongoing exhibition, “Turn Every Page”: Inside the Robert A. Caro Archive.

Logos You Can See From Space

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2022

satellite image of a solar array in the shape of Mickey Mouse

satellite image of SpaceX headquarters with an X on the roof

satellite image of a Target store with a Target logo on the roof

satellite image of the BMW Museum with a BMW logo on the roof

satellite image of a huge Coca-Cola logo in the Chilean desert

Elissaveta M. Brandon recently wrote about the uptick in companies placing huge logos, often drawn in solar panels, so that they can be seen in satellite imagery. I collected images of a few examples of logos that are viewable from space above: a solar array at Walt Disney World, an X on the roof of the SpaceX HQ, a Target logo on top of a Target store, the BMW Museum, and a huge Coca-Cola logo that’s been in the Chilean desert since 1986 (and is therefore difficult to see on satellite imagery). (via clive thompson)

How an Architect Redesigns NYC Streets

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2022

In this video, using before-and-after satellite imagery, Claire Weisz of WXY, an architecture and urban design firm, explains how her company helped redesign three of NYC’s unruliest intersections: Astor Place, Cooper Union, and Albee Square. Unsurprisingly, the redesigns all involved taking space away from cars and giving it to larger sidewalks and more green space, to benefit people other than drivers.

The Discomfort of Self-Immolation

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 29, 2022

In the wake of climate activist Wynn Bruce setting himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court on Earth Day to protest political inaction on climate change, Jay Caspian Kang writes about the difficulty of figuring out how to think about self-immolation.

Self-immolation forces the witnesses, whether in person or through the news, to confront an intensity of conviction that goes well beyond what they may think is possible. In this way, self-immolators like Thich Quang Durc become almost inhuman, even holy. At the same time, the act establishes an entirely personal connection because the real question at hand isn’t really, “Why did he do that?” Rather, the self-immolator is asking you — with all the intimidation and self-righteousness a person can muster — “Why don’t you care even half as much as I do?”

Kevin Kelly: 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 29, 2022

On the occasion of his 70th birthday (happy birthday!), Kevin Kelly shares 103 bits of wisdom he wished he had known when he was younger. Here are a few of my favorites:

Cultivate 12 people who love you, because they are worth more than 12 million people who like you.

Anything you say before the word “but” does not count.

When you forgive others, they may not notice, but you will heal. Forgiveness is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves.

Efficiency is highly overrated; Goofing off is highly underrated. Regularly scheduled sabbaths, sabbaticals, vacations, breaks, aimless walks and time off are essential for top performance of any kind. The best work ethic requires a good rest ethic.

If winning becomes too important in a game, change the rules to make it more fun. Changing rules can become the new game.

The best way to get a correct answer on the internet is to post an obviously wrong answer and wait for someone to correct you.

Don’t wait for the storm to pass; dance in the rain.

We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can achieve in a decade. Miraculous things can be accomplished if you give it ten years. A long game will compound small gains to overcome even big mistakes.

A wise man said, “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?” At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

To rapidly reveal the true character of a person you just met, move them onto an abysmally slow internet connection. Observe.

Take note if you find yourself wondering “Where is my good knife? Or, where is my good pen?” That means you have bad ones. Get rid of those.

If you loan someone $20 and you never see them again because they are avoiding paying you back, that makes it worth $20.

Copying others is a good way to start. Copying yourself is a disappointing way to end.

The chief prevention against getting old is to remain astonished.

Ok that got out of hand…there’s a lot of good stuff on that list! I am definitely in receiving mode these days for wisdom.

How We Do Money in America Is Insane

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2022

I enjoyed this roast of how we handle money in America by The Daily Show’s Ronny Chieng.

He goes after income & sales taxes:

America decided filing taxes should be as quick and painless as getting a root canal at the DMV. You got your 1099s, your Form 1040, your Schedule C, your R2-D2, your Blink-182. You spend days trying to figure out what you owe the government and then the government tells you if are you right because apparently they knew the whole frigging time. It is like the world’s most pointless game show.

Tipping:

Everywhere else, a tip is a show of appreciation, not a GoFundMe for someone who doesn’t earn a living wage. A waiter’s ability to pay rent shouldn’t be dependent on how generous Becky feels after three martinis.

And our currency:

In other countries, every denomination is a different size because it makes it easier to tell them apart, especially if you are blind. But apparently blind people don’t need to use money in America ‘cause look at this shit. Same exact size, all of it. You gotta look over each individual bill to figure out which slaveowner to hand over.

(thx, meg)