Gun Control, Whistling, Mike McClintock’s Problems with Tech, 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, there’s a piece from The Verge tracking the journey of a bundle of e-waste, an essay about why whistling in pop songs sucks, an ode to Mike McClintock’s bad luck/disappointment/ineptitude with technology, updates on the Democratic party’s gun control sit-in, and more.

Philip Sherburne’s takedown of whistling in pop songs for Pitchfork is a vivid, curmudgeonly gem, where the writer manages to, through his vivid disdain, paint something innocuously annoying as actually quite repellent:

The plague came early this year: a distant chirping borne aloft on a hot, sluggish wind—the ominous harbinger of a season of blight and misery. I am talking, of course, about songs with whistling in them. They’re something of a summer ritual, and they are, officially, The Worst. Imagine, for a moment, a festival crowd’s upturned faces as their idols launch into the year’s sibilant summer hit: a wheezy field of tunelessness, a Pied Piper pipsqueak riot. Sour notes droop like wilted petals. Saliva flies; germs rejoice. Did anything good ever come out of a song with whistling in it? Could anything positive result—at least, in pop music’s contemporary, perkily puckered form?

New York City has enacted new rules about costumed characters and ticket sellers in Times Square, and, as one Elmo claims in a report in Gothamist, it’s making him “feel like a fucking caged animal,” and it seems to have quickly started bringing the business of costumed panhandling into sharp decline:

Old-fashioned panhandlers and fake Buddhist monks worked their hustles as usual this afternoon…The new rules have already cut into most people’s bottom line. Rosa B.said that she has been working the hustle for two years and has seen her take for seven hours of work go from $50-60 to around $20. Dennis Phipps, a Gray Line ticket seller hugging the square, said that before the new rules went into effect, he might take home $100-$150 on a good day, but now he’s making half that.

Elsewhere in New York, or actually, everywhere in New York, people dispose of “millions of pounds” of their obsolete/broken/unloved electronics a year — an amount that’s unsurprisingly increased exponentially (not just here, but across the country, where many states don’t have laws requiring the recycling of e-waste) in the last decade. The Verge decided to track “just one of the countless e-waste recycling paths around the country, from a garbage room in an apartment building in Manhattan, to a drop-off site in Staten Island, to a sorting facility in New Jersey, to a bustling recycling warehouse in Massachusetts”:

Of course, many people in the Big Apple don’t live in buildings with dedicated e-waste pickups. For those people, places like the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s drop-off center in Brooklyn are essential. Next to the fetid Gowanus Canal, the warehouse is the only free, permanent e-waste drop-off facility in the city. The center handled over 1 million pounds of e-waste in 2015. In addition to recycling e-waste on site, the center also refurbishes old electronics to be sold in its prop library to film producers or set designers who may need an old cathode ray tube television for their next shoot.

At the Ringer, Alyssa Bereznak writes about how Veep’s Mike McClintock’s mixture of inability and bad luck with technology (and, well, everything) makes him resonant as a character who’s simultaneously hopeful about and disappointed by new advances. She writes:

Mike is special because, as television has expanded to reflect our increasingly digital world, it has also conjured a few stereotypes. Television characters are generally cast into two categories of tech-savviness: the impressively judicious (i.e. Homeland’s Carrie Mathison — who can track a moving van of most-wanted terrorists with a few clicks of a mouse) or the exaggerated Luddite (i.e. Sex in the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, who, when handed an iPhone in the first film, exclaims, “I can’t work this!”). The former exists outside of a realistic realm of People Like You. The latter character’s ineptitude can sometimes be used for a cheap laugh…Mike’s struggle with technology fulfills neither of those tropes because he is, as Walsh explained in a 2012 Politico interview, “not a dinosaur.”

As you’re probably aware, following the Senate’s inaction on gun control on Monday (not coming to an agreement on any of the four pieces of legislation that’d been written on the subject), Democrats in the House are now holding a sit-in, led by Representative John Lewis, saying they’ll stay planted on the House floor until Paul Ryan allows for a vote on ways to prevent gun violence. There are plenty of places to look for updates on the sit-in, but The Atlantic’s coverage is very thorough, and comes from a number of voices on the scene. Nora Kelly writes about how the sit-in had been “brewing” for a while:

Members have applauded the spontaneous nature of today’s events, but behind the scenes, plans for the sit-in have been brewing for several days. Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark told me it all started last week on the House floor, when she approached Representative John Lewis. She told him her concerns that Congress would not act on gun control in the wake of the Orlando shooting, and Lewis suggested they make a “dramatic” move—and stage a sit-in. Clark and Lewis formulated their plan over the weekend—with some other members joining in—but they mostly tried to keep it “somewhat under wraps.”