sunday tune: squeeze - up the junction

I'm having a moment with songs from 1979. 

'the brightest object'

This story, about Fayes Khamal, a ten-year-old-boy in a Rohingya refugee camp who collects plastic bags, trash, and bits of bamboo, to make into kites for younger children, had me crying in the car.

The reminder that humans have the capacity, even in terrible circumstances, to use the broken and discarded pieces of the world to make something beautiful and joyful, to find ways to give and help, was wonderful and almost too much to bear.

And this child, who has found his own way to make something intolerable a little better, is, of course, exactly the kind of person the Trump Administration wants to ban from coming to the United States: young, male, a Muslim refugee, someone from a poor country. 

Meanwhile, native-born American men keep finding weapons and murdering schoolchildren, people at concerts, people dancing, people praying, people watching movies ...


Detail from a photo by Allison Joyce for NPR.

modern love

Hoping to establish a breeding colony of gannets on the island of Mana, New Zealand conservation officers set out concrete decoys and played bird calls. One gannet responded; the scientists called him Nigel. A few weeks before he died, three other gannets arrived on Mana.

Nigel lived for years on his own on uninhabited Mana Island off the north of the country, surrounded by concrete replica gannets ... 
Nigel was the first gannet in 40 years to make his home on Mana, arriving alone in 2013 ... After he arrived, [Nigel] began courting one of the 80 concrete decoys which had been positioned on the eastern cliffs, with painted yellow beaks and black tipped wings.

The gannet was observed carefully constructing a nest for his chosen mate, grooming her chilly, concrete feathers, and chatting to her – one-sided – year after year after year.

Eleanor Ainge Roy, 'Nigel the lonely gannet dies as he lived, surrounded by concrete birds.' The Guardian, 2/1/2018.

In the absence of a living love interest, Nigel became enamored with one of the 80 faux birds. He built her — it? — a nest ... He died next to her in that unrequited love nest, the vibrant orange-yellow plumage of his head contrasting, as ever, with the weathered, lemony paint of hers.

Karen Brulliard, 'Nigel, the world's loneliest bird, dies next to the concrete decoy he loved.' The Washington Post, 2/2/2018.

We're only making plans for Nigel
We only want what's best for him
We're only making plans for Nigel
Nigel just needs this helping hand 
And if young Nigel says he's happy
He must be happy ...

Colin Moulding/XTC.

odds and ends / 1.22.2018

From top to bottom:

The prettiest electric kettle (lucky Europeans).
A detail from Fairfield Porter's Lizzie at the Table, courtesy of Katie Merchant's moon list.
Pentominoes socks (pattern by Marlene Pipjersknitted and photographed by fun9): filed under things that make me wish I was a knitter.

Blogging, that much-maligned pastime, is gradually but surely disappearing from the Internet, and so, consequently, is a lot of online freedom and fun ... Blogs are necessarily idiosyncratic, entirely about sensibility: they can only be run by workhorses who are creative enough to amuse themselves and distinct enough to hook an audience ... who work more on the principle of personal obsession than pay.

Jia Tolentino, "The End of The Awl and the Vanishing of Freedom and Fun From the Internet." The New Yorker, 1/18/2018.


The (divisive, corrosive, democracy-poisoning) golden age of free speech.


Santiago Ramón y Cajal's drawings of the brain: 'they describe a fantastic netherworld of floating forms, linear networks, bristling nodes and torrential energies. They posit the thing between your ears as an immense cosmic universe, or at least one of the most intricate of all of nature’s creations.'

(There is a book for those of us who won't make it to the exhibit.)


Landscapes of the mind.


Cosmic latte: the average color of the universe.

As Laurie Penny recently wrote, for The Baffler, the risk of promoting individual self-care as a solution to existential anxiety or oppression is that victims will become isolated in a futile struggle to solve their own problems rather than to collectively change the systems causing them harm. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that beneath the face masks and yoga asanas, many of the #selfcare posts sound strangely Trump-like. “Completely unconcerned with what’s not mine” is a common caption. So is “But first, YOU,” and the counterfactual “I can’t give you a cup to drink from if mine is empty.” I recently spotted another hashtag right next to #selfcare: #lookoutfornumberone. The image was an illustration of a pale, thin girl with a tangle of wildflowers growing from the crown of her head, reaching up with a watering can in one hand to water her own flowers.

Jordan Kisner, "The Politics of Conspicuous Displays of Self Care." The New Yorker, 3/14/2017.

... I brought you
to this world, and I do not regret it.
The sky's still blue, for now.

Amit Majmudar, 'Of Age.'

'no one is coming to save us'

This is a painful, uncomfortable moment. Instead of trying to get past this moment, we should sit with it, wrap ourselves in the sorrow, distress and humiliation of it. We need to sit with the discomfort of the president of the United States referring to several countries as “shitholes” during a meeting, a meeting that continued, his comments unchallenged. No one is coming to save us. Before we can figure out how to save ourselves from this travesty, we need to sit with that, too.
Roxane Gay, "No One Is Coming to Save Us From Trump's Racism.' NYT, 1/12/2018.