A Mortician’s Tale

“Why was it so striking, though? In its refreshing brevity, A Mortician’s Tale is eminently successful at what it sets out to accomplish. It’s wholly pleasant and always instructive, even in its mundane moments, which, in themselves, are educational. It pries open a less accessible life experience and gives players the opportunity to understand a real-world perspective that, likely, is quite unlike their own. It elicits dark feelings, but asks players to consider where those feelings came from and what makes them dark.”

—Cecilia D’Anastasio, “One of 2017’s Best Games is About Being a Mortician.” Kotaku.com. October 16, 2017.

Card Catalogs

“In Control Through Communication, her study of 19th century information management, JoAnne Yates identifies five breakthrough technologies. There’s the telephone and telegraph, which handle external communication. For internal communication, the big three are the typewriter, carbon paper (and other duplication technologies), and filing systems, especially the vertical file and card catalog.
The others made information producible, reproducible, and transmittable, but the file systems made information intelligible. If the telegraph was ‘the Victorian Internet,’ the file cabinet and standardized filing were the Victorian operating system. For over a century, it was Windows.”

—Tim Carmody, “Card catalogs and the secret history of modernity.” kottke.org. October 24, 2017.

Same Lake, Unequal Rates

“Lake Michigan water rates have been surging throughout the Chicago region in recent years, squeezing low-income residents and leaving them with little, if any, recourse, a Tribune analysis shows…

…And the financial pain falls disproportionately on majority-African-American communities, where residents’ median water bill is 20 percent higher for the same amount of water than residents pay in predominantly white communities, the Tribune’s examination revealed.”

—Ted Gregory, Cecilia Reyes, Patrick M. O’Connell and Angela Caputo, “Same Lake, Unequal Rates.” The Chicago Tribune. October 25, 2017.

A Mere 200 Feet

“These reports overturn long-held assumptions about the stability of Greenland’s glaciers: until recently, scientists had predicted that Greenland’s ice sheet would stabilize once the glaciers close to the warming ocean had melted. The discovery of ice-bound fjords reaching almost sixty-five miles inland has major implications since the glacier melt will be much more substantial than anticipated. The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets combined contain over 99 percent of the Earth’s glacial ice. If they were to melt completely, they would raise global sea levels a virtually inconceivable 65 meters (200 feet).”

—Ashley Dawson, “We Should Be Talking About the Effect of Climate Change on Cities.” Longreads.com. October 2017.

The U.S Geological Survey has a sea level rise viewer that can estimate the impact of an extra six feet at sea level will have on the coasts in the United States. At two hundred, it’ll obviously be much worse.

The Shobies’ Story

“‘Staking everything on it,’ the next voice took up the story, ‘because nothing works except what we give our souls to, nothing’s safe except what we put at risk.'”

—Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Shobies’ Story” in The Unreal and The Real. New York: Saga Press, 2012.

Taste of Loneliness and Love

“I believe there is a reason certain tastes, scents, sounds, and sights move me the way they do; part of it is conditioning, the other is deeper. For instance, I have no connection to the church, but I have grown to love gospel music and feel myself moved by the passion. I’m a Jew, but I listen to Kanye West’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ every morning just to get to Kirk Franklin’s verse, his prayer ‘for everybody that feels like they’re too messed up,’ and who ‘feels they’ve said ‘I’m sorry’ too many times.’ I’ve learned to understand what’s so beautiful about another person’s devotion; I grow by learning to love and appreciate new things.”

—Jason Diamond, “Judging Books by Their Covers.” Longreads.com. October 2017.

Enjoyable essay throughout.