hot ducks, ancestral collaboration, and Britney
Welcome to Digestable, your mouthful of things happening in the world.
Today’s news, fermented:
Friday! Both a relief, and for me and perhaps you these days, a little daunting: what to do on these long, dark, isolated days that are the weekend?
I’ve been reading—and maybe more importantly, planning to read, a lot of things. Coming to you live from my Record Number of Tabs:
A very pleasant article on how to get better at using nonbinary pronouns [at work, but also everywhere]. Obviously, I have skin in this game, and I am also a person, thusly always learning. This segment jumped out at me and opened my mind:
"The people who really understand the concept of ‘nonbinary person’ are much better at using the right pronouns for me, because they look at me and see a nonbinary person and then use the right pronoun for the person they see…Part of what’s so uncomfortable when you first encounter nonbinary people is that you run into all the ways you unconsciously treat people differently based on perceived gender…You were taught for a long time that we don’t exist. Retraining your brain is going to take work. But if you put in that work, it will help a ton with treating your colleague respectfully.”
On a totally different note (except still in the thinking about systems > individual behaviors vein, of course):
Almost a year after the winter storm that knocked out power and wrought havoc in Texas, this piece is a deep dive into what went wrong. It's a long read; but here’s a gem, in case you're in the tl;dr mood that often comes with Friday:
"As a result [of lots of things you'll learn about in the article] Texans spent an exorbitant amount on electricity during a week in which most of them couldn’t get much electricity. For the entirety of 2020, Texans paid $9.8 billion to keep the juice flowing. On February 16 alone, they spent roughly $10.3 billion. Costs for the month of February totaled more than $50 billion...
As a result, anyone who had natural gas to sell came away a winner. Large Dallas-based pipeline owner Energy Transfer posted a net profit of $3.29 billion for the first three months of 2021; it had never posted even a $1 billion quarterly margin before. The company chalked up its profits to preparation—it had forked over the money to winterize parts of its facilities, so they remained up and running during the storm. Kinder Morgan made $1.41 billion, its best quarter ever. British oil giant BP, which supplies more gas in the U.S. than any other company, was coy. “It was a very exceptional quarter in gas trading,” CEO Bernard Looney told Bloomberg, which pointed to an estimate suggesting that the firm reaped $1 billion during that stretch. Gas producer Comstock Resources president Roland Burns put it much more plainly, saying it was “like hitting the jackpot.”
If you take one thing away from this situation, take this: without major systems change and corporate accountability, the fossil fuel industry will continue to profit off of literally everything, even/especially as disasters its actions fueled claim lives, homes, and tax dollars.
The article closes with a clear directive:
"Low-carbon grids are the future, and Texas has a multiyear head start [see the article for why!]. But before this opportunity can be grasped, the state needs political leaders and regulators who are focused on the jobs and well-being of average Texans rather than on the narrower incumbent interests of owners and executives of fossil fuel companies.”
On that horrible note, here is a very humorous article about some very hot ducks coming to a pond/sea/estuary near you, including the below: “the most extra of all the ducks.”
DJ tomoro’s low-key music show
It’s an honor, a pleasure, to be back on the radio waves here at Digestible. I look forward to seeing you here this year for a bi-weekly soundbite, recommended listening, or song-of-the-day. Or, an inspired deep dive into music new and old, a cool podcast… really whatever’s happening on a Friday morning that’s worth a listen.
At the beginning of the week we marked the Jewish New Year of the Trees, Tu Bishvat. The thing that strikes me most about trees is their excellent communication which honestly humans could really stand to learn from. Underground tree music? Yes please.
It felt like an appropriate moment for me to stumble upon performer, composer, activist, and musicologist Jeremy Dutcher, a member of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. In 2018 he put out his beautiful debut LP Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, which was birthed during a stint at the Canadian Museum of History, where he worked transcribing 1907 wax cylinders.
“Many of the songs I’d never heard before, because our musical tradition on the East Coast was suppressed by the Canadian Government’s Indian Act.” Not to mention, there are only about a hundred Wolastoqey speakers left.
Essentially what followed was a musical collaboration with his ancestors. The composition is truly astounding, deep and resonant. Each song is its own story, a full spectrum of emotions can literally be felt. One of my favorite tracks is Ultestakon, dreamy and audibly incorporating classical piano and operatic threads into the conversation. The word means shaker, and is meant as a lullaby. I recommend treating yourself to a live version here:
I really don’t have enough words to say how much this ancestral collaboration has moved me. In his gorgeous Tiny Desk he plays two of my standout favorite tracks, Mehcinut and Pomok naka Poktoinskwes, where you can see how he’s using the timeless recordings of his people to loop into his orchestral tapestry. Communicating through generational networks of music feels like the closest you can get to being a tree.
Listen to the album all the way through, preferably not on your phone speaker but do what you gotta do. We could all use some reconnecting magic in our lives right now, and this music speaks to those radical connections deep under the earth that are shared with trees and ancestors alike.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
One of the best things to happen in 2021 was the end of Britney Spears' 13-year long conservatorship, which was lifted last November after months of legal battles. Since her newfound freedom, Britney has been living her best life and letting us all know about it. She's gotten engaged to her longtime boyfriend Sam Asghari and has been posting her signature dance videos and thirst traps on her Instagram account. And, most importantly, she has not been shy about speaking out against all the people who either put her through the conservatorship or saw it happen but did nothing to protect her from the abuse, including her sister Jamie Lynn Spears, who has been making the media rounds in the last couple of months to promote her newly released memoir and give an alternative insight into the conservatorship. Girl, nobody wants to hear from you!
Most recently, Jamie Lynn sat down for an interview with Good Morning America, in which she claimed that she tried to help Britney , but that Britney rebuffed these attempts. People were quick to point out how suspicious it was that Jamie Lynn had this interview conducted at the house of Britney's former manager, Lou Taylor, who many Britney fans believe to be the architect behind Britney's restrictive conservatorship. There are many detailed accounts of how Lou Taylor (and the Spears family) profited richly off of the conservatorship out there if you're interested in reading more. But these are the sorts of details that don't help Jamie Lynn's case when she says she had nothing to do with what happened to her older sister. Which is why nobody was surprised when Britney put Jamie Lynn on blast with a lengthy statement posted on Twitter after the Good Morning America interview.
Britney clearly has no more fcks left to give. And now there are reports that the pop icon is planning to sit down with Oprah thee Winfrey to spill the overflowing tea on everything that's been happening behind the scenes for the last decade. Do ya'll remember what an absolute spectacle Oprah's interview with the Sussexes were last year? This is going to be that, but on an even grander scale. Oprah's lush ass garden is about to wilt from all the earth Britney will scorch if this interview does come to fruition. And honestly, as messy as it will be, I'm here for it. I think Britney's been biting her tongue as she enjoys her newfound freedom but she's clearly itching to get her truth out into the world, especially as her sister has been going all out on the defensive and speaking on Britney's name to partly sell her book. So Judas Lynn, you in danger girl! And so is the rest of the Spears family and team. Can't wait!