The Sunday Post for June 10, 2018

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

On immigration

Paul Dean on moving across borders, power’s bureacratic sword and shield (remember Papers, Please?), and the diminished dream of freedom in countries built on that ideal. This is a different kind of immigration story, about the authoritarianism trying to hide behind a smokescreen of fear-mongering headlines. Quiet-voiced, gently meandering, will have you by the throat if you follow it through.

Opening the gates is brave. If you open the gates, people come in, and many of those people are different. That’s a scary concept. They might do and want and need different things. If you close the gates, shore them up, raise the drawbridge and fill the moat with hydrochloric acid, you’re much, much safer.

Everything inside is wholesome and good.

Somewhere Under My Left Ribs

Christie Watson on a nurse’s experience of the operating room — not a tell-all, but a meditation on compassion, the connection between body and spirit, and how humans on both sides of the knife manage the terror and pressure of courting death to save a life.

I have looked after such patients, who are told post-operatively that things were a little unstable in theater, but the surgeon managed to stabilize them. The language of nursing is sometimes difficult. A heart cell beats in a Petri dish. A single cell. And another person’s heart cell in a Petri dish beats in a different time. Yet if the two touch, they beat in unison. A doctor can explain this with science. But a nurse knows that the language of science is not enough. The nurse in theater translates “your husband / wife / child died three times in there, but today was a good day and, with a large amount of electricity and some chest compressions that probably broke a few ribs, we managed to get them back” into something that we can hear. A strange sort of poetry.
Anthony Bourdain and the Power of Telling the Truth

Helen Rosner writes about Anthony Bourdain with respect and affection and regret. She celebrates Bourdain not just for his accomplishments, but for his resilience, humility, and willingness to evolve while holding a staredown with the greedy public eye.

Bourdain effectively created the “bad-boy chef” persona, but over time he began to see its ill effects on the restaurant industry. With “Medium Raw,” his 2010 follow-up to “Kitchen Confidential,” he tried to retell his story from a place of greater wisdom: the drugs, the sex, the cocky asshole posturing — they were not a blueprint but a cautionary tale. Ever resistant to take on the label of chef, he published a book of home recipes, in 2016, inspired by the cooking he did for his daughter. Despite its chaotic cover illustration, by Ralph Steadman — and its prurient title, “Appetites” — the book, which was co-written with his longtime collaborator, the writer Laurie Woolever, is a tender memoir of fatherhood, an ode to food as a vehicle for care.

See also PNW writer Tabitha Blankenbiller’s essay on Kate Spade in Salon — you may never carry one of Spade’s iconic handbags, or want to, but this will help you understand why they matter so much those who do.

Climate Change Can Be Stopped by Turning Air Into Gasoline

This is delightfully MacGyver-y: a scientist at Harvard University has hacked together a series of processes used by paper mills to pull excess carbon dioxide from the air and turn it back into previously-known-as fossil fuels. One of my favorite things about this piece is the deadpan quotes from other scientists saying it could work, which seem to be the academic equivalent of throwing your hat in the air with joy.

Speaking from Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, Keith said he was “pretty optimistic” about climate change. “The reason is that the market for these low-carbon fuels is much, much better than they were a few years ago. At the same time, low-carbon power — electricity generated by solar and wind — has just gotten much cheaper.”

Outside experts said they were encouraged by Keith and his colleagues’ approach, but cautioned that it would take time to examine every cost estimate and engineering advance in the paper. The consensus response was something like: Hmm! I hope this works!

On The Radio, It’s Always Midnight

Seb Emina on the pleasures of listening to late-night radio any time of day. Somewhere in the world, it’s always midnight — late-night callers, late-night music, a world full of late-night dreams.

Without exception, these late-night conversations meander off into meditations on how things are not how they used to be. This is a function of two truths, namely that (1) in the middle of the night, the caller gets to speak indefinitely because who knows when the next caller will show up, and (2) once midnight has passed, almost anyone who speaks off the top of their head for more than three minutes, on any subject, will stray into nostalgic reverie. In Westchester, New York, for example, a man has called SportsRadio 1230AM at three in the morning to express sadness about the decline of fistfights in stock-car racing.