The Sunday Reading Roundup [01.17.16]

Huntington

I am most definitely not putting off sending work emails or rewriting my bio. Procrastinating? What’s that?

Anyway, here are some things worth reading. A couple are from a while ago that I totally forgot somehow didn’t make it into last week’s roundup.

Some Variations on a Theme

BBC: “The man who studies the spread of ignorance

Proctor had found that the cigarette industry did not want consumers to know the harms of its product, and it spent billions obscuring the facts of the health effects of smoking. This search led him to create a word for the study of deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology.

Quartz: “There’s a good reason Americans are horrible at science

Surprisingly, despite America’s outstanding science credentials, the population at large is not science savvy. About a third of Americans think that there is no sound evidence for the existence of evolution or benefits of universal vaccination. Our leaders and wanna-be leaders say that evolution is a myth, vaccines cause autism, and a snowball constitutes proof that climate change isn’t a problem.

Bloomberg View: “How Facebook Makes Us Dumber

A new study focusing on Facebook users provides strong evidence that the explanation is confirmation bias: people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, and to ignore contrary information.

The Standalones

New Republic: “Dispossessed in the Land of Dreams

San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area are gentrifying rapidly—especially with the most recent Silicon Valley surge in social media companies, though the trend stretches back decades—leading to a cascade of displacement of the region’s poor, working class, and ethnic and racial minorities.

Note: This was a horrifyingly fascinating read—and it packs an especially guilt-laden punch when you live in the Bay Area.

The Wall Street Journal: “Europe’s New Medieval Map

Look at any map of Europe from the Middle Ages or the early modern era, before the Industrial Revolution, and you will be overwhelmed by its dizzying incoherence—all of those empires, kingdoms, confederations, minor states, “upper” this and “lower” that. It is a picture of a radically fractured world. Today’s Europe is, in effect, returning to such a map.

Fusion: “Get rich or die vlogging: The sad economics of internet fame

The disconnect between internet fame and financial security is hard to comprehend for both creators and fans. But it’s the crux of many mid-level web personalities’ lives. […] In other words: Many famous social media stars are too visible to have “real” jobs, but too broke not to.

Quartz: “The long, incredibly tortuous, and fascinating process of creating a Chinese font

The default set for English-language fonts contains about 230 glyphs. A font that covers all of the Latin scripts—that’s over 100 languages plus extra symbols—contains 840 glyphs, according to Březina. The simplified version of Chinese, used primarily in mainland China, requires nearly 7,000 glyphs. For traditional Chinese, used in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the number of glyphs is 13,053.

Speaking of Taiwan…

BBC: “Tsai Ing-wen elected Taiwan’s first female president

::praise hands emoji::

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The Sunday Reading Roundup

For the past couple of months I’ve wrestled* with a not-very-important conundrum: I read or see about two zillion interesting things on the Internet every week and I’m not totally sure how to share them all with people. My email inbox is a needy problem child I avoid looking at as much as possible, I don’t like spamming Facebook, I’ve fallen off the Tumblr wagon (and forgotten my password), and the 140-character limit on Twitter is, well, a little limiting.

*by “wrestled,” I mean “I thought about this once or twice, since most of my time is spent figuring out this practice/work/life balance nonsense.” Y’know, just in case you people think I’m incapable of prioritizing like a real adult.

Then I was all “Duh, Sharon, you have a blog where you can post anything you want!”

So here’s the Sunday Reading Roundup, a thing I am starting because it is now past midnight on a Saturday, so it’s too late to call this the Saturday Reading Roundup. There is no real rhyme or reason to things making it on to here; this is just a list of recent-ish things I’ve found interesting.

Articles

Vanity Fair: “The Celebrity Surgeon Who Used Love, Money, and the Pope to Scam an NBC News Producer
A fascinating serving of a real-life fantasy and an elaborate con, with a generous side of wtf-ery.

The Toast: “What Goes Through Your Mind: On Nice Parties and Casual Racism
A well-articulated piece that unfortunately resonates too familiarly. The comments are thoughtful and worth a read as well.

Mother Jones: “Here’s What I Saw in a California Town Without Running Water
This drought, you guys.

The New York Times: “The Profound Emptiness of ‘Resilience’
A thought-provoking piece that explores the dark side of society celebrating the idea of resilience.

The New Yorker: “Unfollow
A long-ish read, but a very compelling story about the role that social media played in drawing Megan Phelps-Roper away from the Westboro Baptist Church.

The Washington Post: “A Survivor’s Life
A heartbreaking account of one survivor’s life after the Umpqua Community College mass shooting.

Social Media

Reddit: “What is something someone said that changed your way of thinking forever?
I was startled by how much I learned from this thread.

Dear Coquette: “On the eye of the beholder”
Whoa. This was freaking beautiful.

Twitter: @mozart____ and @Beethoven_____ 
Not affiliated with whoever is behind these accounts, but I just discovered them, and they’re hilarious. I love how Mozart is constantly ragging on Clementi and Beethoven on Hummel, and sometimes they get into Twitter-fights with Haydn. #ihavenolife

Actual Books

John Pollack: The Pun Also Rises
As seen on Instagram. This was a delightful and surprisingly educational quick read, and definitely worth it if you love wordplay half as much as I do.

Aziz Ansari: Modern Romance
I re-read this after gifting it to two people in December, and it’s one of those books I’d recommend to pretty much anyone. It’s entertaining, thought-provoking, and super duper fascinating.

Disclaimer: I’ve used Amazon affiliate links, which mean I get a tiny commission (at no cost to you) if you buy anything through clicking the book links. If you prefer not to use the links, Google is your friend.

Miscellaneous (Not really reading)

I love this cartoon way too much.

I finally listened to Hamilton. (Don’t laugh! I have a tendency to avoid things that are super-hyped because they’re usually horribly disappointing, or just horrible—I’m looking at you, Frozen. Enough people with good taste recommended this so I gave in.) I know you’re probably sick of hearing people gush about how good Hamilton is, but OMG IT’S SO GOOD. I’ve been listening to this on repeat for days now. I’ve gone to bed late several nights in a row because I couldn’t stand to stop listening. Lin-Manuel Miranda, what have you done to me??

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Life, Lately

When I was younger I was plagued by a sincere fear that my diaries and school compositions would be studied and published by future historians looking to illustrate life in the 90s. I’m well out of both the 90s and my childhood paranoia (which has only been replaced by adult neuroses) but to some extent that particular fear still lingers in the back of my mind. Since my last update, I’ve been relatively absent from social media, I haven’t written in my personal journal, and I also haven’t written any juicy tell-all letters to anyone. So according to the official record, the last couple of months never happened.

So, doctoral history candidates from the year 2519 (Hello! Do we still have polar ice caps?), here’s what’s been going on lately.

Recitals

Through April and May, I gave a cluster of solo recitals, and even taught a master class.

You know it all went well, because I got flowers out of the whole deal.

Sometime this century I will get around to uploading clips to my abandoned Youtube and Soundcloud channels, but until then, here’s the proof:

recital
Photo courtesy of Laura Holford.

There’s also an Instagram video, which you will have seen if you’ve liked my page on Facebook (wink, wink).

Amalfi

If my Facebook feed is any indication, one of life’s greatest joys (second only to finding true love or having your work praised by someone you admire) is announcing your international travel plans on social media in some clever, self-congratulatory way, so that you can convince people you are a worldly, important jetsetter, rack up as many likes as possible, and reaffirm your worth as a human being.

I am clearly where happiness goes to die, because I never got around to making one of those status announcements. I mean, I thought about it, and then I procrastinated, and then it got to the point where I seriously considered just not telling anyone that I was going to Italy.

That’s right, I’m going to Italy this summer to be in the Amalfi Coast Festival! I am excited! I am scared! I am not practicing nearly enough!

My biggest concern right now is what kind of data plan I’ll get in Italy, because I want to be able to upload all evidence of my worldly, important jetsetting to Instagram. #priorities

Instagram Travels

Speaking of Instagram, did you know that shamelessly reposting Instagram photos is a totally legitimate form of blogging? That’s right.

Because I am a spectacularly smart planner, my string of recitals coincided with some work deadlines and other various obligations, so by the time May was half over, I hadn’t had a free day in weeks and was slightly dying inside. So I did the only responsible thing: I canceled all my appointments one day and got on a plane.

Today is a “clear your schedule and get on a plane” kind of day.

A photo posted by Sharon Su (@doodlyroses) on

It was a short flight—just to LA, where I had the most painfully awkward conversation ever with a confused Uber driver, got to hang out with some really great friends, and experienced the wonderful, therapeutic goodness of a hotel bed. Here is my 100% sincere grown-up recommendation: if you’re feeling worn out by life and you just want to feel comfortable and responsibility-free, just go sleep in a nice, soft hotel bed. 

Then two weeks later, I was back in LA (planned ahead this time) for a weekend in Disneyland. You know, as adults do. 

  #latergram from last night: a memory of strong drinks and great people. #tradersams #dlr   A photo posted by Sharon Su (@doodlyroses) on

Ohhhh yeah. #Disneyland #dlr A photo posted by Sharon Su (@doodlyroses) on

Bryce and I were joined by our good friends Ben and Midori and we proceeded to spend most of our time drinking, eating, and Instagramming. #sorrynotsorry to anyone who happens to follow all four of us. 

  It’s 5 PM somewhere, right?   A photo posted by Sharon Su (@doodlyroses) on

Thanks for the great shot, @midoriwada! #nofilter A photo posted by Bryce McLaughlin (@brycemclaughlin) on

So in a nutshell, that’s what I’ve been doing—outside of the usual eating -> sleeping -> existential panic cycle, I mean.

(Believe it or not, I actually feel rather guilty that I don’t update this blog as much as I should. Once in a while I try to rationalize it: Jeremy Denk never updates his blog! But then again, he’s Jeremy Denk. I don’t think that’s an excuse I’ll be able to use.)

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