home Must Reads Must reads: Pop culture, jurisprudence, Mike Pence, and sexual harassment

Must reads: Pop culture, jurisprudence, Mike Pence, and sexual harassment

Good morning!

In case you missed it, our most popular post last week was Louise Hung’s exploration of the RAISE Act, a piece of anti-immigrant legislation with interesting similarities to the Chinese Exclusion Act, passed in 1882 but not repealed until 1943.

If you haven’t already, subscribe to the Global Comment podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud and catch up on the first episode, a fascinating interview with Omar Saif Ghobash.

The Judge’s Code‘ (Sarah Jeong for The Verge)

This is a fascinating profile of a judge who rose to prominence because of a comment about coding made during a trial…who also has a formidable array of technical knowledge and experience that informs his jurisprudence. For us, it raises an interesting question: What about cases decided by judges who aren’t versed in the nuances of the system or issue at hand?

By sheer coincidence, these major cases have wound up in the docket of maybe the one judge in America capable of understanding their technical details: a judge who can code. Alsup’s long-cherished hobby illuminated issues at the very heart of Oracle v. Google, and his off-hours tinkering with photography, lenses, and the science of light will inform him in Waymo v. Uber, a case involving LIDAR, a laser-based technology for self-driving car navigation.

The True Crime Story Behind a 1970 Cult Feminist Film Classic‘ (Sarah Weinman for Topic)

Longform features accompanied by lush, thematically-related illustration are always a joy to read, especially when the multimedia enhances the story rather than trying to distract from shortcomings. This is a marriage of true crime, pop culture, cult films, and the way life informs art that’s well worth reading.

The case made headlines across the country, even the world. Alma’s past as an accessory to another heist came to light—she had been asleep in a car when a boyfriend and two accomplices robbed an inn in New York state in 1954, eventually getting a year in prison. Cleveland police deemed her a “very disturbed person.”

Joni Mitchell: Fear of a Female Genius‘ (Lindsay Zoladz for The Ringer)

Joni Mitchell has been around for so long that it’s easy to let her career and accomplishments fade into the background — she’s always been here, right? But she hasn’t, and a retrospective of her career is sorely needed, given her status as a giant of US pop cultur. This profile is a delight.

There is right now a spirited conversation about women and canonization happening in the music world, and there is right now a new biography of Joni Mitchell on the shelves. If you pay more than passing attention to these topics, you will know that neither of these occurrences is particularly rare, but they are as good reasons as any to take stock of Mitchell’s singular, ever-changing legacy, in the always-fickle light of right now.

The Danger of President Pence‘ (Jane Mayer for The New Yorker)

When Pence was added to the ticket, many expressed concerns about his role in the Trump Administration, taking note of his dangerous and terrifying history. As people called for Trump to step down during the election, those worries escalated. Now, with talk of impeachment growing louder, it’s time for a closer look at the Vice President, who remains an unknown quantity for many in the US.

If the job is a gamble for Pence, he himself is something of a gamble for the country. During the tumultuous 2016 Presidential campaign, relatively little attention was paid to how Pence was chosen, or to his political record. And, with all the infighting in the new Administration, few have focussed on Pence’s power within the White House. Newt Gingrich told me recently that the three people with the most policy influence in the Administration are Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Pence. Gingrich went on, “Others have some influence, such as Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn. But look at the schedule. Pence has lunches with the President. He’s in the national-security briefings.” Moreover, and crucially, Pence is the only official in the White House who can’t be fired.

Where Do We Go From Here?‘ (Danielle Tcholakian for Longreads)

As a conversation about sexual harassment explodes into the public eye (again), many women are expressing their deep fatigue with the subject. How many times, they want to know, do we have to keep doing this thing before people will believe us, and turn their understanding into meaningful action?

I received a late-night email this week from someone who crossed a line with me 13 years ago. He wrote that he “struggled for a while tonight” with the email, which made me laugh, that he thought I should care that he “struggled” for a few hours that night, after 13 years. But of course he thought that. His whole email was about him. He wasn’t sure if he had done anything wrong, but thought maybe he had. He appeared to not remember that 10 years ago, I had written him an email of my own, telling him how his violation had hurt me. He had dismissed it then, telling me — a college student who had worked up a tremendous amount of courage to even write him that email — that I was overreacting. Hysterical woman, your feelings are incorrect. He wants forgiveness now, but can’t be bothered to go through his email and see that I told him, a decade ago, exactly what he did wrong and how it hurt me.

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Photo credit: Peter Tkac/Creative Commons