I’ve got a real backlog of magazines on my end table, and yet I just can’t stop reading. Here are 12 things I read and loved (or at least couldn’t stop thinking about) this past month. (See the previous things I’ve read here.)
- Germany’s Racist Present (Quartz) — despite a dedication to preventing another Holocaust, Germany has a blind spot when it comes to racism
- Social Media Complaints of 1673 (Tom Standage) — Twitter is to 2013 as coffee houses are to 1673
- The Busy Trap (NYTimes Opinionator) — life is too short to always be busy
- Concierge Medicine (Bloomberg Businessweek) — with America already having a shortage of primary care physicians, the trend of concierge doctors is really troubling
- Askers vs. Guessers (The Atlantic Wire) — this theory on interpersonal relations explains so much about my life!
- A Guide to Internet Hoaxes (Longform) — Manti Te’o wasn’t the first guy to fall for something on the internet
- 5 Etsy Sellers who are Clearly Serial Killers (Cracked) — so hilarious and terrifying
- RIP, Regretsy (Regretsy) — pour one out
- Left by Nikky Finney — a poem we read with the kids I tutor that’s stuck with me for days
- A Biden Moment (NYTimes) — related: Biden scores like 800 feet of copper wire
- Elizabeth Wurtzel on self-help (New York) — this very personal essay is polarizing but a fascinating read
- Lena Dunham’s admirable commitment to making us look at her naked (XOJane) — a Girls marathon is imminent
One hundred years ago, Sir Robert Falcon Scott spent his last hours scrawling missives to loved ones in a frozen Antarctic hut. The British explorer had intended to be the first man to lead a team to the South Pole, but when he arrived, it turned out Roald Amundsen had beaten him there. To add insult to injury, Scott and his entire party died on the way back to the coast—bummer.
There is but one moral of Scott’s story: Modern life ain’t so bad. All middle class problems fade in comparison to Robert Falcon Scott problems, which were thoroughly documented in the diary and letters he left behind. For example:
Middle class problems: “Ugh. I need to get gas, but $3.85 a gallon is practically a crime against humanity.”
Scott problems: “We can expect little from man now except the possibility of extra food at the next depot. It will be real bad if we get there and find the same shortage of oil. Shall we get there?”
Middle class problems: “Why even have a sample sale when the only shoe sizes they have left are 5 and 11?”
Scott problems: “Things steadily downhill. Oates’ foot worse. He has rare pluck and must know that he can never get through. He asked Wilson if he had a chance this morning, and of course Bill had to say he didn’t know. In point of fact he has none.”
Middle class problems: “I wanted to go to the mall for lunch, but the only parking spots still open were on the roof of the garage.”
Scott problems: “No idea there could be temperatures like this at this time of year with such winds. Truly awful outside the tent. Must fight it out to the last biscuit, but can’t reduce rations.”
Middle class problems: “Who sets the thermostat in this office, the abominable snowman?”
Scott problems: “The cold is intense, -40 at midday. My companions are unendingly cheerful, but we are all on the verge of serious frostbites, and though we constantly talk of fetching through I don’t think anyone of us believes it in his heart.”
Middle class problems: “Seriously, scheduling meetings before 9 a.m. should be illegal.”
Scott problems: “He slept through the night before last, hoping not to wake; but he woke in the morning—yesterday. It was blowing a blizzard. He said, ‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’ He went out into the blizzard and we have not seen him since.”
Middle class problems: “If I see one more ‘Shit People Say’ video, I’m going to lose it.”
Scott problems: “We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.”
Reread this—it appeared in my list from the first year I started keeping track.
Published: 2000, 272 pp.
Obtained via: My bookshelf
Date started: 7.26.08
Date finished: 8.1.08
What I liked: Pretty much everything! It’s also a lot funnier if you imagine him reading it in his nasally voice.
What I didn’t like: Pretty much nothing!
What I learned: Never yell “Good luck beating that rape charge!” to a friend when you get off the bus or train.