What we’re reading


A 2015 Pew Research Center study reports that 89 percent of American cell phone owners have used their phones during their last social gathering. Of American adults, 82 percent believe their cell phone use in social settings has negative effects on the conversation. Sherry Turkle, professor in the Science, Technology, and Society program at M.I.T., explores the detrimental effects of cell phone use in her New York Times piece. Our increased dependence has led to a decrease in the ability of some to engage in “empathetic conversations” and read others for emotions, among other effects.

Hipster alert! “The Mason Jar, Reborn traces the history of the trusted beverage container you see many of our classmates walking around campus with. The piece traces the transition of the mason jar from being used as a convenient method for preserving food to a symbol of “thrift, preservation, and personal labor” that has become ubiquitous in the capitalist system.

Pitchfork explores the lasting impact of Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak in “The Coldest Story Ever Told.” The moment that West felt the weakest, he produced perhaps his most influential work. The sounds he explored on the album, the piece argues, have had a lasting impact on the genre and the way musicians portray themselves.

The New York Times reports that a team at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that mothers inherit fetal cells from their sons and daughters during pregnancy. During pregnancy, cells from the child escape the uterus and spread throughout the pregnant woman’s body, often become part of organ tissue. The impact of these cells is yet to be determined. Some scientists believe that they might be a method fetuses use to “control” the mother, while others believe they can both cause and prevent cancer.

Charles Blow, who recently gave a talk at Brown, responded to Jeb Bush’s recent racially charged comments on how he would include black Americans in his campaign and win their votes. In his op-ed “Jeb Bush, ‘Free Stuff’ and Black Folks,” Blow unpacks Bush’s statement using historical and statistical examples. As we get closer to Election Day, keep an eye out for Blow’s pieces.

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