Obama’s Hopes and Fears, the Future of Music, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too. Today we have a long look at the presidency of Barack Obama, a scientific breakdown of the Mythbusters finale, a list of all the things we haven’t seen used as “found art,” and a gargantuan breakdown of the 25 most significant songs in music right now.

Today, The Atlantic published one of maybe the most important (and longest, dang) pieces of journalism in months: “The Obama Doctrine.” (Really, it will take you longer to scroll through that piece than it will for you to read this one.) Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg reviews some key points in President Obama’s time in office and has full access to ask him about his hopes, fears, and regrets. Obama’s answer when asked about what he sees as the greatest threat in the future is a reminder of his eloquence, a thing that can’t be denied even by his biggest detractors.

In a conversation at the end of January, I asked the president to describe for me the threats he worries about most as he prepares, in the coming months, to hand off power to his successor. “As I survey the next 20 years, climate change worries me profoundly because of the effects that it has on all the other problems that we face,” he said. “If you start seeing more severe drought; more significant famine; more displacement from the Indian subcontinent and coastal regions in Africa and Asia; the continuing problems of scarcity, refugees, poverty, disease—this makes every other problem we’ve got worse. That’s above and beyond just the existential issues of a planet that starts getting into a bad feedback loop.”

Mythbusters, the nerdiest Discovery Channel show to ever be created, somehow became a cultural phenomenon in its 15 seasons on the air. Well, it’s not that much of a mystery, given the chemistry of its two main stars, Jamie and Adam, as well as the charisma of the rotating cast of supporting players. The show came to an end on March 6 in typically spectacular fashion, and Wired has a breakdown of the actual physics of the experiment.

Instead of looking at the impact, let’s focus on the rocket-based acceleration part. For my first approximation of the acceleration, I will use just two things—the length of the track and the time of the acceleration. Other than that, I can make the following assumptions:

If you’re not one to keep up with the trends in music, it can be hard to stay hip to the hottest bands and trends that the young folks are snappin’ and chattin’ about. Lucky for you, then, the New York Times Magazine ran a great interactive online features — practically the size of an entire magazine — that surveys 2016’s music landscape, breaking it down into 25 artists to know. Included is everyone’s favorite sweetheart, Mac DeMarco, profiled by author John Wray.

Part of the explanation for DeMarco’s outsize success may lie in his considerable gifts as a comedian, his comfort on-camera and his almost supernatural lack of social boundaries: a tasty combination in the age of Instagram. In one memorable scene from “Pepperoni Playboy,” a Pitchfork-produced documentary about his band’s 2013-14 tour, the door of a hotel bathroom is slowly nudged open to reveal DeMarco completely naked, to all appearances unfazed by the intrusion, using a hand-held shower head to wash his hair while sitting on the toilet. The tone of the scene is vintage DeMarco, less John Lennon than John Belushi. “I’ve always been a jackass,” he told me during our drive. “My friends and I would be making weird movies whether anyone’s watching or not. There just happens to be this thing called the Internet around. Why shouldn’t we do what we want with it?”

Artnet isn’t often in the business of writing lists, so when the site published one by Ben Davis this morning, we paid attention. Especially because, as more lists should, it pokes fun at the art industry. There’s not much in the way of text in this “36 Things That Have Not Been Used as Found Object Art, as Far as We Know,” which is fine, because the 36 things that are included, such as a box of Brillo Pads and Halloween costumes for pets, are beyond sufficient. A quote from the intro is below, but really, you gotta see it to fully get it.

Anything can be art—or can it? We’ve combed through art history and found some surprising omissions that will challenge everything you think you know about what art has become. Here, below, are 36 things that have never been used as art before, showing just how far we have yet to go.