Reading List: "Lone Geniuses", Intoxicating History, and Not-So-Nice Bay Area-Dwellers in Costume
|Amy Widdowson||Jan 18, 2019|
Lovely humans and pets, it’s finally Friday, and for some of us, a long weekend! Which means a greater number of minutes in which to shove glorious think pieces straight into your brain holes. Which are what I call my eyes, like a normal person you totally wouldn’t be hesitant to take to a party of your peers.
And this isn’t a longread, but HEY MONSTERS, STOP ANNOYING WOMBATS WITH SELFIE STICKS, THEY DON’T LIKE IT, OK?!!
Let’s get to the reading (and listening!)
Louise Matsakis, Mackenzie Bezos And The Myth Of The Lone Genius Founder (WIRED) - Over the past week since the Bezos divorce was announced, I have overheard a few conversations in which men in SF marvel at how much money Mackenzie Bezos will be “taking” from her husband. I’ve heard comments about how she’s the “luckiest woman in the world” and has “won the jackpot.” So I’m sure you’re not surprised that I really appreciate Matsakis dissecting these (flawed) assumptions, as well as critiquing the Silicon Valley hagiographic narrative of the lone founder, which erases the people and teams who also build the companies around us today. As Matsakis points out, “Empires like Amazon and Apple are not created by a single man in a vacuum; they are the product of a mix of luck and contributions from an entire team—including from a founder’s spouse.” I also appreciate that the piece leads by identifying Mackenzie—fellow Princetonian FTW—by her own successful career, as a novelist whose debut The Testing of Luther Albright won an American Book Award and featured a blurb from Toni Morrison.
Robert Evans, A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization - Y’all are well aware of my Robert Evans (Behind the Bastards is still consistently the most entertaining history podcast I listen, don’t @ me) fan girl status, but I’m taking some of this holiday weekend to re-read parts of his book exploring all of the ways that humans have historically liked to get fucked up. In particular, I LOVE the chapter on how Stonehenge may have been a way to amplify and concentrate what were essentially binaural beats for groups of Stone Age Celts at Stone Age raves.
Monster: The Zodiac Killer (iHeart Radio) - True crime fan? You need to listen to this podcast exploring the Zodiac killings from angles previously left out of the popular recounts of this strange and scary time in Bay Area history (you’ve read Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love like I’ve previously recommended, haven’t you? Because you should!)
Kate Wheeling, Are Anti-Vaxxers A Major Health Threat? The World Health Organization Says Yes. (Pacific Standard) - Recognizing that I do not have children and am not a doctor, I’m pretty sure I’m qualified to say that WHO calling the anti-vaccine movement a major health threat is a BFD. Yes, I am still baffled by movements against one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. SMDH.
Ted Koppel, Don’t expect Trump to go quietly (Washington Post) - Warning: this piece will do nothing to stem any creeping political dread that you’ve been keeping at bay. And especially now that Democrats are using the infamous I word…
That’s it for now. I appreciate each and every one of you, mmkay? Be kind to yourselves, and each other.