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Monday, March 21, 2016

I Love The U.N., But It Is Failing, by Anthony Banbury, New York Times

I have worked for the United Nations for most of the last three decades. I was a human rights officer in Haiti in the 1990s and served in the former Yugoslavia during the Srebrenica genocide. I helped lead the response to the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haitian earthquake, planned the mission to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons, and most recently led the Ebola mission in West Africa. I care deeply for the principles the United Nations is designed to uphold.

And that’s why I have decided to leave.

The world faces a range of terrifying crises, from the threat of climate change to terrorist breeding grounds in places like Syria, Iraq and Somalia. The United Nations is uniquely placed to meet these challenges, and it is doing invaluable work, like protecting civilians and delivering humanitarian aid in South Sudan and elsewhere. But in terms of its overall mission, thanks to colossal mismanagement, the United Nations is failing.

In Praise Of Leftovers, by Sara Dickerman, Slate

Just before I left for a business trip recently, I boxed up the remains of a family dinner, braised lamb shanks with Moroccan spices, and told my husband to remember to eat them while I was gone. I figured he might want something other than delivery pizza and boxed mac and cheese while I was absent. I thought about how good the meat would taste mixed with braised greens, tossed with pappardelle, or even cold between two slices of bread with a lick of hot mustard. I was setting my husband (and myself) up for failure: He doesn’t cook, doesn’t even reheat, and I knew from the start that the lamb would likely go uneaten. Even so, five days later, I found myself sadly tsk-tsking him as I pulled the soured lamb out of the refrigerator and tossed it in the compost.

I should have known better than to entrust my husband with such a treasure—after all, not everyone is as attached to leftovers as I am. The word itself evokes a wrinkled nose from many eaters (and food writers). I was once told to trim the word from a piece I was writing because my editor thought Anna (Wintour) would be put off by the idea of recycling a meal.

Running Down A Dream, by Louis Bury, Los Angeles Review of Books

Works of critico-fiction tend to be formally innovative and The Irresponsible Magician is no exception, particularly in that the book makes no distinctions between its fiction and its nonfiction. Its 10 chapters contain myriad shapes: fragmentary meditations, fictive interviews with cultural figures both actual and imagined, a fanciful catalog, a photo essay, a work of art criticism, a travelogue. Interspersed within the text are motley color photographs that only sometimes bear direct relation to the nearby writing. A series of leitmotifs connect each of these discrete components, which make the disparate parts of the book feel related and almost rebus-like. As in a dream, however, the ultimate meaning always slips just out of grasp. Rutkoff, as the book’s titular magician, is a master of the tantalizing indirection.

Review: In ‘Switched On,’ John Elder Robison’s Asperger’s Brain Is Changed, by Jennifer Senior, New York Times

But until eight years ago, Mr. Robison, who wrote the 2007 memoir “Look Me in the Eye,” a touchstone in the literature of Asperger’s syndrome, had never experienced the most obvious aspect of music that neurotypical people do: its simple emotional power.

That all changed, Mr. Robison explains in “Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening,” when he participated in a pioneering Asperger’s study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston in 2008. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, doctors hoped to activate neurological pathways in his brain that would deepen his emotional intelligence.

Trump Wines Are Actually Pretty Good. But I Can’t Put Them On Restaurant Menus, by Erin Scala, Washington Post

As a general rule, I disdain wine brands. When the strength of a wine’s brand eclipses the actual product, the focus goes away from the wine itself and onto the brand and what that brand represents. Branding is easy if you know how to do it. Winemaking is hard work, especially in Virginia, and it changes from year to year. When a branded winery experiences mass popularity, the wine and the hard work of the winery team become disembodied from the brand, in this case reduced to a side note as the wine’s meaning becomes less about Virginia terroir and more about Trump.

The Winner Of The 'Oddest Book Title Of The Year' Award Has Been Revealed, by Sam Haysom, Mashable

Too Naked for the Nazis (a biography about an Egyptian comedy dance trio written by Alan Stafford) was the official winner of the Diagram Prize with 24.8% of the vote.

My Kind, by Michelle Chan Brown