The Authoritarian Right’s 1877 Project

In a recent column for The American Conservative, Helen Andrews argues that Reconstruction — that brief slice of the 19th century during which Black Southerners enjoyed extensive political rights under the aegis of Northern Republicans — was “objectively bad.” Further, she insists that the “only possible reason for lionizing this traumatic episode,” as today’s mainstream historians do, “would be if you had an ulterior political reason to do so.” She proceeds to suggest that the conception of Reconstruction as “a noble experiment in interracial democracy” is crypto-communist agitprop.

nymag.com

Hiatus

This experiment in keeping a reading log is pausing (ceasing?) for medical/mental health reasons.

An Ancient Greek Astronomical Calculation Machine Reveals New Secrets

In 1900 diver Elias Stadiatis, clad in a copper and brass helmet and a heavy canvas suit, emerged from the sea shaking in fear and mumbling about a “heap of dead naked people.” He was among a group of Greek divers from the Eastern Mediterranean island of Symi who were searching for natural sponges. They had sheltered from a violent storm near the tiny island of Antikythera, between Crete and mainland Greece. When the storm subsided, they dived for sponges and chanced on a shipwreck full of Greek treasures—the most significant wreck from the ancient world to have been found up to that point. The “dead naked people” were marble sculptures scattered on the seafloor, along with many other artifacts. Soon after, their discovery prompted the first major underwater archaeological dig in history.

scientificamerican.com

I’m Starting to Give Up on Post-pandemic Life

“Today was great!” my 7-year-old exclaimed recently when I came home from work. By cosmic standards, her day wasn’t that special. She went to the playground, where she finally mastered the monkey bars. She visited the history museum—or at least its gift shop. She got “really big” nachos. She went to the kids’ art studio. Two years ago, visiting a museum and a nacho joint was so common, it wouldn’t even have registered. What did you do today? Oh, nothing. But our standards are no longer cosmic.

theatlantic.com

How Zoom helped the neurotypical world hear my autistic voice

Problems with language and communication are often one of the hallmarks of autism, and as an autistic person, face-to-face conversation has never been a strength of mine. Facial expressions confuse me, and different tones of voice alarm me. Body language is baffling; inference is difficult. I don’t get most jokes, and I make less eye contact than others.

nature.com

Finding mental-health clarity under pandemic pressures

In 2017, my PhD student and I discovered that 13- and 17-year-old cicadas infected with the fungus Massospora cicadina had trace amounts of the amphetamine cathinone inside their fungus-filled abdomens. Little did I know that four years later, during a global pandemic, I would be prescribed the same class of stimulants to address my long-untreated mental disorder.

nature.com

Congress Is About to Send the Pentagon on a Wild Flying-Saucer Chase

Six months after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, delivered a report to Congress that failed to explain more than 140 reports of unidentified flying objects—mostly because no one in government tried all that hard to explain them—Congress is set to approve legislation to create a new office within the Pentagon tasked with investigating military UFO sightings. The new office will gather reports of sightings, analyze them, and deliver reports to Congress on the subject at intervals. At least that’s the aspect of this decision on which the legislators who pushed for the new office want the public to focus. Underneath the surface, Congress is about to require the Pentagon to get weird. Very weird. Like, imaginary crashed-saucer wreckage weird. 

newrepublic.com

Are You at Risk for What Comes Before Dementia?

About two in 10 people over the age of 65 have mild cognitive impairment—a noticeable change in their memory, problem-solving abilities or attention. This is caused, in part, by the same brain changes that occur in dementia. While mild cognitive impairment often has little effect on a person’s way of living, 5 to 10 percent of people with it will develop dementia.

thedailybeast.com

The Wolf That Roamed to Southern California

Of course, he was looking for love. Aren’t we all? And he seemed to be looking for it in all the right places—namely, the southern coastal counties of California, where he was, literally, the lone wolf, with seemingly no male competitors at all. In fact, OR-93 (2019-2021) was the first gray wolf to appear in the region for two or three hundred years. The absence of rivals was good news for him, but the rest of the equation was hopeless, because there were apparently no female counterparts for him to encounter there, either—no one to meet and mate with. To be honest, OR-93’s journey from his birthplace, in Oregon, to California was reproductively doomed from the start. He could have crossed party lines with a wayward labradoodle or a lusty mountain coyote, but he showed no inclination in that direction. Still, it was thrilling just that he had made the trip, signifying, or at least suggesting, the return of the species to an area where it had once thrived.

newyorker.com