Reading List: Medieval Manuscripts, Modern-Day Mediums, Military Map Malfeasance

Happy Friday! Here’s a bunch of reading to get you through your chilly January weekend.

And hey! Do you like the Missive? Do you find this motley mix of news, weirdness and GIFs to your liking? Why don’t you forward this email to a friend of yours? And if they like it, they can click on over and subscribe :) Many thanks to Friend of the Missive Alex for his encouragement of my self-promotion.

Also, happiest of birthdays to Tre Balchowsky, co-founder of San Francisco's Odd Salon and my very dear friend. We love you, we appreciate you, enjoy your much-deserved vacation :)


Mira Ptacin, Visions of the Afterlife (Topic) - As a speaker at the aforementioned Odd Salon, I’ve presented a few times on the wave of spiritualists and mysticism that arose at the end of the 1800s. Some say that those movements -- which led to the emergence of fortune tellers, seances, and mediums who could speak to the dead -- arose in response to the fundamental societal disruption of technology like the railroad and electricity, and the resulting existential anxiety that afflicted the dramatically impacted lower-and-middle classes. I’m not saying that there’s a modern-day parallel that we must recognize between those spiritualist movements and the one described in this Topic article popping up now. But J/K, I totally am, holy hell, I want Ptacin to expand this piece into a book.

Kashmir Hill, How Cartographers for the U.S. Military Inadvertently Created a House of Horrors in South Africa (Gizmodo) - I haven’t started reading this one yet, but I know that everything Hill writes is deeply engrossing, and that her first sentence “The visitors started coming in 2013.” is right riveting.

Sarah Zhang, Why a Medieval Woman Had Lapis Lazuli Hidden in Her Teeth (The Atlantic) - Zhang is an AMAZING health/science reporter, so the fact that she was able to weave a story about historical erasure into her reporting makes me a happy little camper. As a baby history obsessive in college, I used to think that women didn’t really do anything until the 20th century. Why? Because everything I read was either about men or written by men, and that isn’t a coincidence. So Zhang’s story of an archaeological scientist discovering evidence that a woman was involved in creating monastic medieval manuscripts makes my heart sing.

Unrelated: Zhang’s twitter account alerted me to this freaking amazing piece from Audobon on Birding Like It’s 1899: Inside a Blockbuster American West Video Game, on the portrayal of pre-conservation wildlife in Red Dead Redemption 2, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Dahlia Lithwick, Why Men Find the New Congresswomen So Frightening (Salon) - I am RIVETED by NY Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s first few weeks in office and the access to her life she is providing to her constituents and the public. To see a young woman representative speak frankly and loudly and passionately as a freshman warms my soul. It doesn’t please, however, many of the old boys (of both parties TBH) in Congress and Washington, at all. Lithwick’s take on the perceived threat of young women of color with institutional power is a must-read.

OMG so much great reading, I can hardly contain myself. Have a wonderful weekend, and be kind to each other, won't you?

xoxo Amy