February 22, 2019

The Real Vine Reviewers of Amazon.com

“A U.P.S. driver once said the house set his delivery record: 32 packages in one day. There have been bigger days since, and the burden is now spread across three carriers. Most of it falls to the local postal carriers. They used to make the rounds in a sedan until the sheer volume of packages delivered up the hill each week required them to upgrade to a truck. The boxes have slowed lately, but something arrives almost every day.

The boxes crowd the porch — this is up in a tranquil stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains — before gradually making their way inside, past the patio table, which came from a box, and its four chairs, from boxes all. The living room was largely furnished from the boxes: a couch, an end table, rugs, the love seat. In the bedroom, the boxes account for artwork, linens, a clothes rack, the mattress and several pillows, of course. The extra window unit air-conditioners: white boxes from brown boxes. The kitchen is stocked from the flow of boxes — the knife block, the espresso machine, the convection oven — as are the home’s closets.

The office is almost all box — furniture, printers (regular and 3-D), computer, at least 13 hard drives and four routers. The art on the walls came this way; the new shelves installed to store the items from the porch boxes came through porch boxes. The camera system through which the porch boxes are surveilled was itself unpacked from a porch box. The worry is thieves, though the camera mostly catches wildlife: rabbits, turkeys and mice, with an elk every once in a while, and, so far, one coyote and a bear.”

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JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"Political leaders from all French parties, including former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, joined Jews and non-Jews in Paris’s Place de la Republique to condemn antisemitic acts."

"Eighty years ago tonight, thousands of Americans gathered in New York to rally behind the Nazi Party and its ideals. An Oscar-nominated short documentary retrieves footage of the event, but leaves out the context that gives it meaning."

"The PM has persuaded the religious-Zionist Jewish Home to partner with the Kahanists of Otzma Yehudit. It makes cynical political sense for his interests, but what of Israel’s?"

"IFC’s series Documentary Now! began as an affectionately parodic tribute to the classics of nonfiction cinema. Its first episode, “Sandy Passage,” was a note-perfect evocation of the Maysles brothers’ Grey Gardens..."

"Making our choices count is, however, far from straightforward, and this is the subject of Martin Hägglund’s book This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom."

"Teens in the United States are coming of age at a time when digital technology is truly ubiquitous, where smartphones are all of our “constant companions.”"

"...the Smollett story, if the “trajectory” leads to evidence of fakery, would actually reveal something else modern America is about: victimhood chic."

"Cool in the humanities isn’t that different from cool in other areas of cultural life, like planking, hotdog-legs photography, mason jar rehabilitation, and novels whose main character is a city."

"It’s true that high-octane, hardworking child-rearing has some pointless excesses, and it doesn’t spark joy for parents. But done right, it works for kids..."

"Cape Town in South Africa is a foodie destination. Some people in its renowned restaurant industry are trying to spread the food wealth citywide."

"...for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing astronomical amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something resembling utopia. "

"After facing persecution in the former Soviet Union and a new wave of antisemitism in the United States, Marya Zilberberg decides to put her Jewishness on display."