FEBRUARY 21, 2020

For a four-day workweek, the news cycle certainly packed a lot in. Still catching up? Not to fear, Weekly Sound Off is here.

To recline or not to recline

The internet was flooded over the past week with hot takes on the perennial air-travel quandary: to recline or not recline. The kerfuffle was spawned after a passenger posted a video of a man repeatedly punching the back of her seat after she made use of the arm-rest button that allows the seat to lean back a bit. While many of us were #TeamDontPunch, we learned that the punchee was actually scolded by the airline for recording the incident. We’re sure Parker Posey, writer-actress of the on-the-nose-relevant title You’re on an Airplane would have her own strongly held opinions about this, too.

A different kind of air-travel lesson

Two multi-year studies in Europe uncovered steep declines in insect populations, adding to growing evidence of what scientists are calling an insect apocalypse, i.e. a huge die-off with massive implications for the balance and survival of our natural world. Now, there’s no denying that that all sounds pretty grave, but we can’t help but stifle a chuckle at the measurement method used: analyzing the number of bugs splattered on car windshields each summer using a device coined a splatometer. But it’s not our family road trips that are causing this decline—not directly at least. But humans are part of the cause thanks to the destruction of natural habitat, pesticides, and the impacts of the climate crisis, as well as light pollution. Editor Sam will be listening to Buzz Sting Bite to remind herself of the importance of our tiny fellow earthlings as she (gently) swats them away this summer.

When Jury Duty gets literary

True crime-obsessed editor Kat is the rare bird who secretly loves jury duty (hey, it’s our civic duty!), but those who don’t might have a new excuse to add to their arsenal. Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers sought to remove a juror who had reviewed the debut novel My Dark Vanessa, and who herself wrote a book about predatory older men. My Dark Vanessa, a disturbing #MeToo tale that flips the script of Lolita, has proven polarizing—which we unpack in the latest episode of Audicted—but in this case the judge was clear: the juror can stay. Sounds like the right call to us. And seriously, go to jury duty!

There are better ways to make your point

As devoted Audible editors, we’re often very passionate about our listening recommendations, but there’s always been a clear line you don’t cross when attempting to sway someone. One man recently blew straight past that line when he forced a woman to sit and watch all of the Roots miniseries, upon threat of death, to make a point about racism. We’re forever fans of the Alex Haley classic but this was beyond the pale. He ended up being arrested. No surprise there.

Black History: unmarked but in plain sight

Christina, our enthusiastic history editor, brought to our attention her pick for the quintessential Black History Month listen (coincidentally also highlighted by The New York Times recently): Never Caught, a title based on primary sources and narrated by the incomparable Robin Miles. It tells the remarkable story of one one young woman who defied odds to gain freedom from a most famous founding father. It also highlights how slave auction sites often hid in plain sight—including near Christina’s own hometown of New Brunswick, NJ, where she had always relished the fact that her school was said to be a stop on the Underground Railroad. For Christina, it’s always a good time to dig deeper into our nation’s history—but this month, with its focus on Black History, Never Caught feels especially apt.

Broken heart? Take two 💊 and call me in the morning

That handy bottle of over-the-counter pain reliever in your medicine cabinet has probably been a blessing in times of misery. Headache? Wash a couple down with a glass of water. Fever? Take two and get some rest. But what about for a broken heart or a bruised ego? Researchers at UCLA found that taking acetaminophen reduced the severity of hurt feelings caused by rejection, further proof that emotional pain really does hurt in a physical way. If you’d rather not pop a painkiller every time a potential match ghosts you on Bumble, this upcoming Audible Original from self-help guru Mark Manson could be the perfect antidote to all your relationship woes.

Speed round:

  • In everything old is new again news: flip phones are back. Time will tell if we’ll be be as hooked on them as we are to our current devices.
  • Better (very) late than never? California announced it will issue a formal apology for its internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
  • If you’re feeling a bit off, the stars might be to blame. Our collection of mystical listens might help upgrade your Mercury retrograde experience.
  • True Grit, narrated by author Donna Tartt, has become a cult favorite.
  • For better or worse, Mike Bloomberg has been the talk of the political town this week. If you’re curious to learn more about his origin story, we recommend downloading this title, stat.