HELLO and welcome to the 168th installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about The New York Times! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.
The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.
How The New York Times Works, by Reeves Wiedeman for Popular Mechanics, February 2015
An engaging look behind the scenes of what gets the paper out online, in print, and all over the world on hella tight deadlines.
Fostering Profits, by Aram Roston and Jeremy Singer-Vine for Buzzfeed, February 2015
A BuzzFeed News investigation identified deaths, sex abuse, and blunders in screening, training, and overseeing foster parents at the nation’s largest for-profit foster care company.
How A Single Mom Created A Plastic Food-Storage Empire, by Jen Doll for Mental Floss, November 2014
My Mom sold Tupperware! I have fond/vague memories of Tupperware parties in backyards, usually a potluck was involved.
What It’s Like To Be a Polyamorous Genius, by Alexa Tsoulis-Reay for New York Magazine, February 2015
Having a high IQ doesn’t mean you are going to be successful. It just means your brain works faster. It recognizes patterns. It can reach conclusions quickly. I’m laughing at jokes as soon as the punch line comes out; I multitask and boredom is my nemesis. I’m always doing five things at once. My mom hates it when we go out for dinner. I have two phones, one for work and a personal one, and I am always on both. I’m still keeping up with the conversation and I don’t understand why she’s so upset.
Our Date With Miranda July, by Lorrie Moore for The New York Review Of Books, February 2015
In which a person I love talks about another person I love. It goes well.
Playing With Fire, by Liliana Segura for The Intercept, February 2015
This is about how junk science about arson sent an innocent man to jail for life. Really in-depth good story, I’ve read a few about similar cases but this one is really thorough.
King David, by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic, February 2015
In the February of 1996, I sent David Carr two poorly conceived college-newspaper articles and a chapbook of black-nationalist poetry—and David Carr hired me. I can’t even tell you what he saw. I know that I immediately felt unworthy—a feeling that never quite faded—because I was a knucklehead and a fuck-up. But what I didn’t then know about David Carr was that he’d written and edited the knucklehead chronicles, and published annual editions wholly devoted to the craft of fucking-up. I think that David—recovering crack addict, recovering alcoholic, ex-cocaine dealer, lymphoma survivor, beautiful writer, gorgeous human—knew something about how a life of fucking up burrows itself into the bones of knuckleheads, and it changes there, transmutes into an abiding shame, a gnawing fear which likely dogs the reformed knucklehead right into the grave. Perhaps that fear could be turned into something beautiful. Perhaps a young journalist could pull power from that fear, could write from it, the way Bob Hayes ran with it, because the fear was not of anything earthly but of demons born from profound shame and fantastic imagination.
Creative Destruction, by William Giraldi for The New Republic
This was really interesting and even relevant to this website right here and my very own life.
“The vestal and very simple concept of supply and demand will not be debauched out of its simplicity: When everyone’s an artist and no one spends money on art, art is stripped of any economic traction and serious artists can’t earn a living. Couple that with a population that overwhelmingly doesn’t mind if art and artists go extinct and you have, ladies and gentlemen, what can be fairly called a crisis.”
Does anyone else feel like the Polyamorous Genius article was a little weird in terms of how it talked about… like polyamory and his girlfriend?
Wow, yes. Especially his answers to the second- and fourth-last questions, which were more about his interpersonal relationships in general I guess. Like, what exactly doesn’t make sense to him. Is it really so incomprehensible with his super large IQ that different people might experience the world/themselves/life… differently? Just because some people react to things in a way that you would not does not make their reactions nonsensical (I mean, they might be, but that is certainly not a sufficient or even necessary crition). PLUS emotions are a pretty integral way of processing information for most humans. They help us to know what situations are going to be psychologically and physically safe. They help us feel connected to each other as humans. Et cetera.
His description of poly seemed mostly fine, except that I probably would just call it (consensual/ethical) non-monogamy and not polyamory, since he seems less interested in the ‘multiple loving relationships’ angle (even in a hierarchical way) than the ‘central relationship, plus some extracurricular activities with minimal commitments’ approach. Both are completely fine of course, but not that interchangeable.
yeessss!! he sounded really manipulative in some of it, particularly the parts where he acknowledges feeling like his gfs emotions are irrational and that he only pretends to agree so she feels validated? and blaming her speaking english as a second language for a lot of things?? tbh the guy sounded pretty insufferable to me.
From past experience, pretty much every self proclaimed ‘genius’ I have ever met, have been insufferable.
So not at all surprising.
Yes, absolutely. He acknowledges that she isn’t totally comfortable with non-monogomy and assumes that this is because she’s Japanese and cannot understand the concept. It sounds like he definietly prioritizes his own needs above hers.
I also think he’s completely wrong about intelligent people being more “logical” and less emotional. You can have the intellectual capacity to undertand something and still have strong feelings about it. Dismissing emotions as a sign of stupidity feels really gross to me.
Notwithstanding that a high IQ doesn’t mean a person is ‘smart’ at everything society values, the guy sounds to me more like a sociopath than a genius. People who manipulate others to achieve their own (often) hedonistic ends are not ‘geniuses’, they’re a pain in the ar*#. Here’s hoping he gets another phone so he can get into some counseling whilst he is multi-tasking everything else and save the world from his particular brand of genius.
I totally agree… There’s a pretty major divide between testing well and being a genuinely intelligent person. He complains about his girlfriend’s English skills (“The girl I am with right now is very intelligent, but she’s also Japanese, so there’s a language barrier…. So we have a bit of an interpretation barrier. The biggest problems come when we discuss concepts. She can’t keep up with conversations, and that frustrates me”), but can’t seem to grasp that she is the only one speaking a second language. If he’s such a genius, why isn’t he taking up Japanese to communicate with her better?
It’s worth noting (re: the Genius Poly article) that having a high IQ doesn’t mean you have a “fast” brain. I have a really slow brain– certifiably disabled slow– and I still have a genius IQ. Obviously, being able to do stuff faster at the same level of competency gives someone more advantage, but I spent a long time thinking I was dumb just because I was slow and that’s just not true. At least, not in terms of IQ (for whatever it’s worth as a scale).
Processing speed actually does affect measured IQ. I administer cognitive tests as part of my job. Directly on Weschler tests, for example–indirectly on SB. But I digress. Still, the guy’s a dick and has a lot of other facts completely wrong.
The fostering piece was really interesting. I work with a lot of foster kids and I am regularly blown away by the kinds of people that my county/state deemed okay enough to raise a child. It’s horrifying and frustrating and heartbreaking when you’re sitting across a testing room from a six year old who was taken from hell after SEVENTEEN CALLS TO DCFS only to be placed in a whole other hell. AND a lot of the foster parents I know are unemployed and on in disability on top of that, so, you know, it does seem like they’re doing it for the income which, at the same time, doesn’t make any sense because foster stipends are shit. So, what the fuck.
For the record, I do know good foster parents, but not from my job. The only half-decent foster/foster-adopt parents I’ve met through that have been kinship situations.
And that “genius” guy sounds like a dick. My father, who is a member of MENSA, likes to say that the higher your IQ, the lower your social skills. I think that’s usually pretty accurate, both from my personal life and my work.
“And that “genius” guy sounds like a dick. My father, who is a member of MENSA, likes to say that the higher your IQ, the lower your social skills. I think that’s usually pretty accurate, both from my personal life and my work.”
Yup pretty much yes to all of this.
I was a bit sad that the Miranda July reviewer gave away so much of the story….
I am so so sad about David Carr, but I am also consoled by the existence of journalists like Ta-Nehisi Coates who knew him and loved him and learned from him.
But still. So so sad.