Outside Reading — Crude edition

Why U.S. Consumers Are Vulnerable to Spiking Oil Prices by Hiroko Tabuchi and Maggie Astor

In today’s edition of The New York Times, reporters Hiroko Tabuchi and Maggie Astor offer a straightforward accounting of the ways in which the U.S. ethos of performative, reactionary, and largely delusional personal independence results in a disastrous, humanity-hobbling dependence on fossil fuels that we should have weaned ourselves off of long ago. There have momentarily flashes of political will to do the right thing, always snuffed out quickly by the smothering influence of oil companies that manipulate the public into gleefully fighting for their right to make the planet uninhabitable. It’s flabbergasting, and frankly embarrassing, that we’re so much worse as a nation at collective action for the betterment of all than we were fifty years ago, when ecological movements had wide-ranging support.

I Lived the #VanLife. It Wasn’t Pretty. by Caity Weaver

What could be a bland little trend piece with some piquant observations based on personal travails becomes something far livelier when channeled through Caity Weaver’s keyboard. Weaver’s assemblage of miseries reflect how ill-matched she is for the practiced rusticism of existence with only a tricked-out vehicle for a home, which is precisely the reason this is one of the funniest articles I’ve read in quite some time. This is published by The New York Times.

Blood in the Water (2016) by Heather Ann Thompson

To give one of the highest compliments I can muster for a nonfiction work, Heather Ann Thompson’s history of the 1971 inmate rebellion at the Attica Correctional Facility and its repercussions reads like one of Robert Caro‘s hefty tomes. It is clearly written by someone who turned every page and scrutinized every detail. Occasionally, the steam-shoveled amounts of information can be a little exhausting, especially in the latter part of the book that’s primarily concerned with the decades of prolonged courts cases in response to the blatant abuses of the state. The sanctioned injustices of the prison system persist to this day. Thompson’s pointed history shows how far we haven’t come.

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