Listened to The Hidden Truths of Hanukkah from On the Media | WNYC Studios

A special history lesson in time for the holidays.

Today is Christmas, but it's also Hanukkah — the Jewish festival of lights. With its emphasis on present-giving, dreidel games and sweet treats, the holiday seems to be oriented towards kids. Even the story of Hanukkah has had its edges shaved down over time. Ostensibly, the holiday is a celebration of a victory against an oppressive Greek regime in Palestine over two thousand years ago, the miracle of oil that lit Jerusalem's holy temple for 8 days and nights, and the perseverance of the Jewish faith against all odds.

According to Rabbi James Ponet, Emeritus Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain at Yale University, the kid-friendly Hanukkah mythology has obscured the thorny historical details that offer deeper truths about what it means to be a Jew. In his 2005 Slate piece, "Hanukkah as Jewish Civil War," Ponet looked at the often-overlooked Jew-on-Jew violence that under-girds the Hanukkah story. In 2018, he and Brooke discussed how this civil war lives on in Jewish views on Israel, and how the tension between assimilation and tradition came to define the Jewish people. We're re-releasing it today in time for the holidays.

Watched Born Again (2007) from Netflix

Born and raised in an Evangelical Christian family, director Markie Hancock struggled through her childhood to find the line between her family and her religion, between her duties to God and Jesus and her responsibilities to her parents and herself. Fervent in her beliefs, she thought she would pursue a religious calling until the true nature of her sexuality and her need to express her own doubts brought her into a final confrontation with her upbringing. This is the story of that confrontation and what was won and what was lost.

movie poster for Born Again featuring a black and white photo of a prototypical white family from the 60's in front of a christmas tree

I’m glad this exists, but would not watch it again.

It is interesting to note that this was made in 2007 and presaged the political turmoil of the 2016 election. It also goes a long way to explore some of the political divisions within the country during the decade or more after it was made.

Rating: ★★½

Watched Generation Wealth (2018) from Netflix

Directed by Lauren Greenfield. With Lauren Greenfield, Portia Antonia Alexis, Limo Bob, George W. Bush. A documentary that investigates the pathologies that have created the richest society the world has ever seen.

A heart breaking view of our lives and their excesses.

Rating ★★★½

Read Instagram Bloggers Gives Her Followers An Incredible Reality Check (comedy.com)
Rather interestingly, Instagram Blogger Rianne Meijer indulged in a meaningful and unique project. She put together some photos of herself that looked like something out of Vogue, and then placed a more natural picture right next to it, giving viewers a whole different perspective.
While written for the clicks, this article has an important message about social media.
Listened to The internet we lost by Matthew Yglesias from The Weeds | Vox
Function's Anil Dash joins Matt to discuss how Big Tech broke the web and how we can get it back.

Some recent discussion relating to Anil Dash’s overarching thesis of the Web we Lost. He’s also got some discussion related to algorithms and Weapons of Math Destruction. He specifically highlights the idea of context collapse and needing to preface one’s work with the presumption that people coming to it will be completely lacking your prior background and history of the subject. He also talks about algorithmic amplification of fringe content which many people miss. We need a better name for what that is and how to discuss it. I liken it to the introduction of machine guns in early 1900’s warfare that allowed for the mass killing of soldiers and people at a scale previously unseen. People with the technology did better than those without it, but it still gave unfair advantage to some over others. I’ve used the tag social media machine guns before, but we certainly need to give it a concrete (and preferably negative) name.

Bookmarked on December 06, 2019 at 09:54PM

Listened to OTM presents: Shell Shock 1919: How the Great War Changed Culture by Sara Fishko from On the Media | WNYC Studios

WNYC's Sara Fishko and guests sift through the lingering effects of the Great War on modern art and life in Shell Shock 1919: How the Great War Changed Culture.

You really have a feeling that here is a building that looks fantastically beautiful, and it’s got its whole façade simply blown off by this war.

 -Philipp Blom

World War I presented civilization with unprecedented violence and destruction. The shock of the first modern, “industrial” war extended far into the 20th century and even into the 21st, and changed how people saw the world and themselves. And that was reflected in the cultural responses to the war – which included a burgeoning obsession with beauty and body image, the birth of jazz, new thinking about the human psyche, the Harlem Renaissance, Surrealism...and more.

WNYC's Sara Fishko and guests sift through the lingering effects of the Great War on modern art and life in Shell Shock 1919: How the Great War Changed Culture.

Guests include Jon Batiste, Ann Temkin, David Lubin, Philipp Blom, Jay Winter, Ana Carden-Coyne, Sabine Rewald, David Levering Lewis, Emma Chambers, Marion von Osten, Emily Bernard, and Gail Stavitsky

I was a bit surprised that they mentioned George Antheil, but left out his work and collaboration with Hedy Lamar who was a German refugee whose husband was a major arms dealer for the Germans.

This is a fantastic piece that makes me want to subscribe to more of Fishko’s work.

Listened to Curiouser and Curiouser from On the Media | WNYC Studios

A close-up on John Solomon's role in the impeachment saga, and the black nationalist origins of Justice Clarence Thomas.

President Trump’s concerns about corruption in Ukraine began, in part, with a series of articles in a publication called The Hill. On this week’s On the Media, a close-up on the columnist whose dubious tales may lead to an impeachment. Plus, the black nationalist origins of Justice Clarence Thomas’s legal thinking.

1. Paul Farhi [@farhip], Washington Post media reporter, and Mike Spies [@mikespiesnyc], ProPublica reporter, on John Solomon's role in the impeachment saga. Listen

2. Corey Robin [@CoreyRobin], writer and political scientist at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, on all that we've missed (or ignored) about Justice Clarence Thomas. Listen

This is a fascinating thesis about Justice Clarence Thomas and who he really is. I totally want to read The Enigma of Clarence Thomas now.

👓 The Woodard projection | Jon Udell

Read The Woodard projection by Jon UdellJon Udell (Jon Udell)

In a memorable episode of The West Wing, visitors from the Cartographers for Social Justice upend CJ’s and Josh’s worldviews.

Cartographer: “The Peters projection.”

CJ: “What the hell is that?”

Cartographer: “It’s where you’ve been living this whole time.”

I’m having the same reaction to Colin Woodard’s 2011 book American Nations. He sees North America as three federations of nations. The federation we call the United States comprises nations he calls Yankeedom, New Netherland, The Midlands, Tidewater, Greater Appalachia, The Deep South, El Norte, The Far West, and The Left Coast.

Here’s his definition of a nation:

nation is a group of people who share — or believe they share — a common culture, ethnic origin, language, historical experience, artifacts, and symbols.”

I love the concept of this thesis! Ordering a copy of the book for myself.

I’ve lived in Greater Appalachia, The Deep South, Yankeedom, The Midlands, and the Left Coast and I’ve always unconsciously known many of these borders within culture. It’s often been difficult to describe the subtle cultural shifts and divides between many of these places to others. I can’t wait to read a book that delves into all of it depth.

👓 Entitled and Aloof | jonbeckett.blog

Read Entitled and Aloof by Jon BeckettJon Beckett (jonbeckett.blog)
While walking back from town earlier with groceries I turned a corner and came across a man in his mid-thirties walking his dog. The dog was attached to him via an extending lead. Both he and the d…