Now let’s dive in.
• Discovering the Real North Korea
I sometimes find stories about international relations intimidating and dense. But this New Yorker piece by Evan Osnos pulled me in. He takes us through his vivid trip to North Korea, and it’s full of voices from tour guides, diplomats and one unimpressed student.
It’s an enlightening look into the psyche of the North Korean government, and the winding staircase that has led to its current face-off with the United States.
• Music Across Many Divides
I just loved this video from NPR. They brought the legendary classical composer Philip Glass to the New York loft of Devonté Hynes, the British singer, songwriter and producer best known for his records as Blood Orange. It’s not the little bite we’ve gotten so used to in digital video. It’s a well put together, well cared for digital video about musicians and the roads they’ve traveled.
I like the concept of pairing two artists from different generations and backgrounds, I like the beautiful shooting, the graphics, those subtle, little animations like the dots and taxi and little rat on the subway tracks. It was moving and inspiring, and this line from it stuck with me: “When things get out of balance, the arts come in and bring the human side back.”
• Flanagan’s Fiction and Life
Richard Flanagan was quite helpful to me before I came to Australia, walking me through all the ways that a newcomer can get Australia wrong. Now he has a new novel coming out and this Good Weekend profile by Malcolm Knox manages to weave together Flanagan’s past and present, and his new book, with grace and insight.
He makes it look easy. The rarity of such a well-crafted and thoughtful piece suggests otherwise.
• Reporting on Race in Australia
This firsthand account of a journalist who reports on Indigenous issues in Australia is candid and revealing. The journalist, Laura Murphy Oates, is Indigenous herself but has light skin, and that has put her in some complicated and tense reporting situations.
It reminds me of reporting on Australia’s Chinese community as a Chinese national. Sometimes people try not to say things that are critical of the Chinese government; sometimes people assume I hold the same views as them because we’re from the same country. But I also get to witness a lot of tensions and friction in the Chinese community from close up. And although the issues for the Indigenous community are different, I recognized and could identify with some of the situations this reporter found herself in.
• Rosé Is … Exhausting
With the weather heating up, I wanted to share Eater’s fun deep-dive into the spectacular resurgence of rosé – a once unsalvageably tacky wine – to a drink that, no, has not peaked yet.
The writer can’t help slipping in a little light-hearted snark towards rosé’s “urbanish” target market: “someone who’s in their 30s or well-preserved early 40s, who’s often outdoors in pink or pinkish clothing, and who has extremely long, balayage blond hair. Sometimes thoughtful gold jewelry is added for a bit of sparkle. It’s a pretty basic look, and one that suggests that a woman must dress a little like a glass of rosé in order to consume it.”
(Fun fact: the word “rosé” appears 75 times.)
… Now on to our weekly roundup of stories from The New York Times, and a recommendation that’s just heavenly.
Credit Harris Mizrahi for The New York Times
Fake News, Real Consequences
Caitlin Dickerson spent months reporting and writing this magazine feature that highlights the toxic consequences of fear-driven fake news about Muslim refugees. There are lessons for many to be found in her tale of Twin Falls, Idaho, where, as she writes, “the same qualities that bind the townspeople together can, in turn, be alienating to newcomers.”
Credit DeAgostini/Getty Images
The Dying Art of Disagreement
Bret Stephens, a new addition to our columnist ranks, was in Sydney last week to give a keynote address at the Lowy Institute Media Awards, and we published his comments — which have stirred up much discussion in our Facebook group and elsewhere. Here’s the gist with a characteristic sweep of history: “Galileo and Darwin; Mandela, Havel, and Liu Xiaobo; Rosa Parks and Natan Sharansky — such are the ranks of those who disagree. And the problem, as I see it, is that we’re failing at the task.”
Credit Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters
Saudi Arabia Lets Women Drive
Not many reporters anywhere have reliable, regular sources in Saudi Arabia, but Ben Hubbard does. A fluent Arabic speaker based in Beirut, he broke this story of Saudi Arabia announcing that it would finally let women drive, and then followed it up with an article from Riyadh on how Saudis are reacting to the surprising change in policy.
Credit Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times
Every year, The Times Travel section publishes a list of 52 places to go — and each year the digital presentation gets more immersive, making me want to book a flight as quickly as possible. With summer plans starting to be made on this side of the world, where do you want to go? There’s something here for many an adventurer.
… And We Recommend
“The Good Place” is in its second season on Netflix starring Ted Danson as the architect of a neighborhood in heaven, where the not-so-good — including a surly Kristen Bell — have accidentally ended up.
Both silly and deeply philosophical, with jokes, yes jokes, about Aristotle, it’s a pleasant interlude for those of us who binge-watched “Game of Thrones” and can’t quite get up the nerve for “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
For more recommendations, here’s our guide to what’s new and what to watch in October on Netflix Australia.
See you next week — and don’t forget to share this newsletter or tell friends to sign up!