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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Where The Small-Town American Dream Lives On, by Larissa MacFarquhar, New Yorker

Orange City, the county seat of Sioux County, Iowa, is a square mile and a half of town, more or less, population six thousand, surrounded by fields in every direction. Sioux County is in the northwest corner of the state, and Orange City is isolated from the world outside—an hour over slow roads to the interstate, more than two hours to the airport in Omaha, nearly four to Des Moines. Hawarden, another town, twenty miles away, is on the Big Sioux River, and was founded as a stop on the Northwestern Railroad in the eighteen-seventies; it had a constant stream of strangers coming through, with hotels to service them and drinking and gambling going on. But Orange City never had a river or a railroad, or, until recently, even a four-lane highway, and so its pure, hermetic culture has been preserved.

Orange City is small and cut off, but, unlike many such towns, it is not dying. Its Central Avenue is not the hollowed-out, boarded-up Main Street of twenty-first-century lore. Along a couple of blocks, there are two law offices, a real-estate office, an insurance brokerage, a coffee shop, a sewing shop, a store that sells Bibles, books, and gifts, a notions-and-antiques store, a hair-and-tanning salon, and a home-décor-and-clothing boutique, as well as the Sioux County farm bureau, the town hall, and the red brick Romanesque courthouse.

What Boredom Does To You, by Manoush Zomorodi, Nautilus

Every emotion has a purpose—an evolutionary benefit,” says Sandi Mann, a psychologist and the author of The Upside of Downtime: Why Boredom Is Good. “I wanted to know why we have this emotion of boredom, which seems like such a negative, pointless emotion.”

That’s how Mann got started in her specialty: boredom. While researching emotions in the workplace in the 1990s, she discovered the second most commonly suppressed emotion after anger was—you guessed it—boredom. “It gets such bad press,” she said. “Almost everything seems to be blamed on boredom.”

A History Of Berlin, In Four Airports, by Laura Bliss, Citylab

Technically, Berlin has only two functioning destinations for air travel—that’s Tegel and Schönefeld, two ill-fitting sky harbors on opposite ends of town. But two others hold outsize space in the Berlin imagination. There’s Tempelhof, the Nazi airfield in the heart of the city that was shuttered in 2008; it has since morphed into a freeform park and an unlikely site for refugee housing. And finally there’s Berlin Brandenburg, the ambitious post-unification effort to consolidate the above three airports into a single modern facility that better fits the aspirations of Germany’s current cosmopolitan center. Originally set to open in 2011, its long-delayed construction process has turned into a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

The city’s history can be told through these infrastructures.

Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Inclusive Writing?, by A.K. Afferez, Ploughshares

Spooky season isn’t quite over in France. Let me tell you about the latest thing that’s got the French elites up in arms: in case you didn’t know, the French language is assailed by a horrible scourge that will most certainly lead to linguistic extinction. It’s called—ominous drumroll, please—inclusive writing.

Here We Are By Oliver Jeffers Review – A Heartfelt Hug Of A Story, by Imogen Carter, The Guardian

Like many new parents back from hospital, Oliver Jeffers found himself taking his baby on a tour of his home: “Here’s the kitchen, where we make food...” This sparked the idea for his first foray into nonfiction, a picture book introducing his son to “the big globe, floating in space, on which we live”. Unmistakably conceived in the afterglow of new parenthood – the sun blazes, everyone smiles and the baby is a cute, luminous cocoon lighting up the nursery – it bursts with tenderness.