What I'm Reading (Apr. 28)

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If you read only one thing this week please consider the hypocrisy over the ban on mentholated cigarettes. We are made of stardust, and our energy within might mean we are made of music. Once upon a time, Barnes and Noble was a predator; nowadays, has it become a benefactor? The Scream, not the picture, but the sound?

I have been reading and writing about the upcoming FDA ban on menthol in cigarettes. Then I ran across this from Stat’s DC Diagnosis.

“Earlier this month, Rev. Al Sharpton wrote directly to the White House arguing that the proposed menthol ban “would severely target and harm African American smokers, who overwhelmingly prefer menthol cigarettes.” Sharpton also met with the White House on April 13, according to public logs, and he has penned letters with slews of other influential civil rights organizations — including the ACLU — arguing that a menthol ban would prompt clashes between the Black community and police.”

For those of us who grew up in the era of Twana Brawley, Reverand Sharpton’s tenuous hold on truth is a given. Black smokers undoubtedly smoke more menthol cigarettes. Banning them would resolve a disproportionate injury from smoking, or would it cause a disproportionate indignity upon the Black community by targeting a ban at them? Perhaps in his mind, it is genuinely the latter. But then there is this.

“At the lunch Harris argued that banning the sale of menthol cigarettes risked driving the market underground, forcing Black smokers to get their fix from illicit sources. The result, he claimed, would be increased policing of Black communities.”

Here Big Tobacco again demonstrates how it can politicize an issue and play fast and loose with the framing of a regulation. From The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Paid protesters, free lunches and backroom chats: Inside the menthol lobbying machine


“Music — with all the mysterious power by which it “enters one’s ears and dives straight into one’s soul, one’s emotional center” — is made not of notes of sound but of atoms of time. And if music is made of time, and if time is the substance we ourselves are made of, then in some profound sense, we are made of music.”

From Marginalia, formerly Brain-Pickings, a delightful book report on the intersection of time and music and how the latter sculpts the former. The author of the book Natalie Hodges, a “science-enchanted classical violinist,” We Are Made of Music, We Are Made of Time: Violinist Natalie Hodges on the Poetic Science of Sound and Feeling

“Buying a book you’re looking for online is easy. You search. You click. You buy. What’s lost in that process are the accidental finds, the book you pick up in a store because of its cover, a paperback you see on a stroll through the thriller section.

No one has quite figured out how to replicate that kind of incidental discovery online. It makes bookstores hugely important not only for readers but also for all but the biggest-name writers, as well as for agents and publishers of all sizes.”

From the NY Times, How Barnes & Noble Went From Villain to Hero

“As a scream artist you have to know the subtle differences between screams and determine whether they should peak at certain points, or remain steady for a very long time. I have to think: ‘OK, the character is scared here, but are they scared because their life is in danger or are they just startled?’ Those screams will sound very different. Ghost stories, for example, will often use a shrill, harsh scream because we need the audience to also experience fear.”

From The Guardian, Experience: my scream is famous