Today’s Long Reads

Things I read today:

The Five Families of Feces– The porta-potty business is as dirty as you’d think. But one man keeps coming up smelling like roses.

What It’s Like to Survive Being Shot 16 Times- One man’s life seven years after a gruesome and miraculous run-in with the police

‘It will take off like a wildfire’: The unique dangers of the Washington state measles outbreak

Fight the Ship- Death and valor on a warship doomed by its own Navy.

Do you all like this or am I just wasting my time?

Now For Something Completely Different- Today’s Worthy Long Reads

I like to read a good bit of non political stuff every day, so I think I might start sharing links of what I have read that I found interesting. Here they are (although some are political):

“Down The Rabbit Hole I Go”: How A Young Woman Followed Two Hackers’ Lies To Her Death

How Hackers and Scammers Break into iCloud-Locked iPhones

Inside Wisconsin’s Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn

I’m an Abortion Provider and It’s Time To Tell the Truth About Abortion in Later Pregnancy

Behind the Legal Efforts to Keep LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers Safe

How the Grand Canyon Transformed From a ‘Valueless’ Place to a National Park

Oh, for some reason or another I went down one of my google rabbit holes trying to learn the difference between St. Elmo’s Fire and lightning and that got me going into other weird weather phenomenons like moonbows and frost flowers.

More than Russian or Estonian: Narva through the eyes of its own people


You’ve probably read about how Russia is going to send “little green men” into Estonia and pull another Donbas. Well, it’s going to be harder than that. Here’s a very good long read, with interviews of people who live in Narva.

The northeastern part of Estonia was industrial, with a uranium yellow cake (and later rare earths) production plant at Sillamäe and oil-shale mining around Kohtla-Järve. Both functions were felt by the government of the Soviet Union to be essential to the state, so they brought in ethnic Russians and a few others. Sillamäe was a closed town until the end of the Soviet Union.

Many ethnic Russians in the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic went back to Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed, but many stayed. Many have become Estonian citizens, but one of the requirements for Estonian citizenship is being able to answer questions about Estonian history in Estonian, so some of the ethnic Russians, particularly older people, decided not to become citizens. They are sometimes referred to as stateless people, but they live in Estonia pretty much as they always have.

Vladimir Putin has posed himself as a protector of Russian people wherever they may be, and Russian rhetoric sometimes includes the Russian speakers in Estonia.

I have found most American reporting on this subject to be inadequate, since the reporters fly in and fly out, and most don’t even do that. So this is a great article if you want to know more.

When people talk about Narva’s “Russian-Estonians,” are they talking about native Russian-speakers? Native bilinguals? Those from mixed families? Bilingual households? Are they talking about those forcibly relocated to Narva from other parts of the Soviet Union during the occupation? Their descendants? Or recent voluntary immigrants who have come to Estonia in search of higher wages, better living conditions and better future prospects for their children? Someone who can be described as Russian-Estonian could easily be a Russian citizen, an Estonian citizen, or a stateless person, known in Estonian as a grey passport-holder, referring to the colour of Estonia’s alien’s passports.

And unsurprisingly, all of the above live in Narva together, and based on conversations I had with representatives of various aforementioned categories, none of them are terribly pressed on a daily basis to fuss over existential questions of who they are or what label fits them best. Many echoed similar sentiments that the desire to label them tends to come from the outside, whether from politicians in Tallinn or the media.

The photo is of Narva Castle, with Ivangorod Fortress in the background, across the Narva River in Russia. From the article.


Open thread!

Excellent Read: “Does Journalism Have A Future?”

I’m looking forward to reading Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth — I’d suggest it for a Balloon Juice Book Club post, except I doubt there’s room for such in the current era. A semi-review from historian Jill LePore, in the New Yorker:

By some measures, journalism entered a new, Trumpian, gold-plated age during the 2016 campaign, with the Trump bump, when news organizations found that the more they featured Trump the better their Chartbeat numbers, which, arguably, is a lot of what got him elected. The bump swelled into a lump and, later, a malignant tumor, a carcinoma the size of Cleveland. Within three weeks of the election, the Times added a hundred and thirty-two thousand new subscribers. (This effect hasn’t extended to local papers.) News organizations all over the world now advertise their services as the remedy to Trumpism, and to fake news; fighting Voldemort and his Dark Arts is a good way to rake in readers. And scrutiny of the Administration has produced excellent work, the very best of journalism. “How President Trump Is Saving Journalism,” a 2017 post on, marked Trump as the Nixon to today’s rising generation of Woodwards and Bernsteins. Superb investigative reporting is published every day, by news organizations both old and new, including BuzzFeed News.

By the what-doesn’t-kill-you line of argument, the more forcefully Trump attacks the press, the stronger the press becomes. Unfortunately, that’s not the full story. All kinds of editorial decisions are now outsourced to Facebook’s News Feed, Chartbeat, or other forms of editorial automation, while the hands of many flesh-and-blood editors are tied to so many algorithms. For one reason and another, including twenty-first-century journalism’s breakneck pace, stories now routinely appear that might not have been published a generation ago, prompting contention within the reportorial ranks. In 2016, when BuzzFeed News released the Steele dossier, many journalists disapproved, including CNN’s Jake Tapper, who got his start as a reporter for the Washington City Paper. “It is irresponsible to put uncorroborated information on the Internet,” Tapper said. “It’s why we did not publish it, and why we did not detail any specifics from it, because it was uncorroborated, and that’s not what we do.” The Times veered from its normal practices when it published an anonymous opinion essay by a senior official in the Trump Administration. And The New Yorker posted a story online about Brett Kavanaugh’s behavior when he was an undergraduate at Yale, which Republicans in the Senate pointed to as evidence of a liberal conspiracy against the nominee.

There’s plenty of room to argue over these matters of editorial judgment. Reasonable people disagree. Occasionally, those disagreements fall along a generational divide. Younger journalists often chafe against editorial restraint, not least because their cohort is far more likely than senior newsroom staff to include people from groups that have been explicitly and viciously targeted by Trump and the policies of his Administration, a long and growing list that includes people of color, women, immigrants, Muslims, members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, and anyone with family in Haiti or any of the other countries Trump deems “shitholes.” Sometimes younger people are courageous and sometimes they are heedless and sometimes those two things are the same. “The more ‘woke’ staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures,” Abramson writes, and that “the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards.” Still, by no means is the divide always or even usually generational. Abramson, for instance, sided with BuzzFeed News about the Steele dossier, just as she approves of the use of the word “lie” to refer to Trump’s lies, which, by the Post’s reckoning, came at the rate of more than a dozen a day in 2018.
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But Seriously: Mitch McConnell Is A Monster

And it’s getting more widely noticed…

Charlie Pierce:

There simply is no more loathsome creature walking the political landscape than the Majority Leader of the United States Senate. You have to go back to McCarthy or McCarran to find a Senate leader who did so much damage to democratic norms and principles than this yokel from Kentucky. Trump is bad enough, but he’s just a jumped-up real-estate crook who’s in over his head. McConnell is a career politician who knows full well what he’s doing to democratic government and is doing it anyway because it gives him power, and it gives the rest of us a wingnut federal judiciary for the next 30 years. There is nothing that this president* can do that threatens McConnell’s power as much as it threatens the survival of the republic, and that’s where we are.
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