The Sunday Post for November 8, 2015

The Fort of Young Saplings

Settle in, folks. This one will take a bit of your time, but I promise you won't regret it. Oregon (and ex-Seattle) writer Vanessa Veselka goes deep on her personal connection to a clan of Tlingit people in Alaska, and using that connection explores the history, legends, and relationships with Russians, of this Alaskan indigenous people. A stunning piece of writing.

The Tlingit don’t fit stereotypes of Native Americans. They’re more like Vikings. Or maybe they’re more like Maori. A fiercely martial people, terrifying in their samurai-like slat armor, their bird-beak helmets, and their raven masks, they never surrendered to a colonial power, never ceded territory. When Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867, the Tlingit argued that the Russians held only trading posts and that the rest was not theirs to sell. The protest was unsuccessful, but it was the beginning of a narrative: The Tlingit had never signed away their land, had never sold it, had never moved.
The Decay of Twitter

I hate pontificating about Twitter as much as the next person (Twitter is the ultimate expression of the parable about the blind men and the elephant, except the blind men are 320 million men and women, and the elephant is just an idea), but this piece is pretty good, and has some good points about Twitter the network that people have feelings about, and Twitter the company that is trying to make a go out of it.

Since it went public two years ago, investors have rarely considered Twitter’s prospects rosy. The sliver of Twitter’s users who are interested in how it fares as a corporation have gotten used to this, I think: There’s an idea you see floating around that, beyond avoiding bankruptcy, Twitter’s financial success has little bearing on its social utility. Maybe there are only 320 million humans interested in seeing 140-character updates from their friends every day after all. If you make a website that 4 percent of the world’s population finds interesting enough to peek at every month, you shouldn’t exactly feel embarrassed.
Long Line at the Library? It’s Story Time Again

All about story time at the New York Public Libraries:

Among parents of the under-5 set, spots for story time have become as coveted as seats for a hot Broadway show like “Hamilton.” Lines stretch down the block at some branches, with tickets given out on a first-come-first-served basis because there is not enough room to accommodate all of the children who show up.
'The Good is Elusive and Transitory in This World'

Jessica Gross spends some time with the impossibly wonderful Maira Kalman (and even sat in her Eames Le Chaise chair)

I always told my kids, don’t have serious conversations with your mates at night, because everything looks so dark you’re going to have a fight in two seconds. Just don’t do it. I always say, “If you’re hungry you should eat something, and if you’re thirsty you should drink something, and if you’re tired, you should sleep.” They’re always making fun of me for saying that, but I think there are some truisms that are very, very basic. And if you just listen to what you need, sometimes it will take you out of troubling spots.
Does Fiction Based on Fact Have a Responsibility to the Truth?

Thomas Mallon and Ayana Mathis tackle this question in the Times. This from Mathis' piece:

At the risk of stating the obvious, truth and fact are not the same things. Our belief in the truthfulness of facts is mutable. I recently saw Joshua Oppenheimer’s superb documentary, “The Act of Killing,” which takes as its subject the murders of, by some estimates, as many as a million people in Indonesia in the 1960s. The killers were never punished. In many cases, they became powerful people who proudly and publicly refer to their days of heroic government service as the exterminators of Indonesia’s “Communists.” The murder of all those souls was, until very recently, simply part of the national lore. There is another reality of course — the terror of the survivors and resultant silence of the families of the victims. Both are examples of constructed narratives, though only one is a grotesque manipulation of what transpired, a ghastly example of the way facts may be ignored to create a narrative as far from truth as can be.