CULTURE

Best Books to Read While Quarantined

Even while we stock up on water, canned goods, and enough hand sanitizer to drown ourselves in, don't forget to refresh your book collection with an assortment of good reads.

Yes, many of us are confined to our homes for the sake of public safety, with health officials uncertain how long the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will last as a global health emergency and a historic pandemic. On the bright side, over 80% of people who contract the virus experience "mild" symptoms and recover on their own, and the virus has a global mortality rate of 3.4%. Still, the virus affects the immunocompromised, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, so for the sake of not killing someone's grandparent or any of the 23 million Americans who have autoimmune diseases, stay home.

Even while we stock up on water and canned goods and MacGyver ourselves some DIY hand sanitizer, don't forget to refresh your book collection with an assortment of good reads. From eerily prescient tales about dystopian futures to long inter-generational novels about epic family dramas, these are our book recommendations for your quarantine.

1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

When you start to feel stir crazy, take solace in the fact that you're probably quarantined within your own home–or at least not a 1960s psych ward. Ken Kesey's 1962 classic captures the frustration of an individual fighting against institutional authority beyond his control.

Satire

Elder Gods Apologize for Delay in Rollout of the Apocalypse

Production on the end of the world has been a mess since day one

With June of 2020 nearly here and no sign of the final cataclysm we've been promised, it's beginning to seem like The End Times will forever be near, without ever being upon us.

While the early phases of civilization's collapse into a burning hellscape were promising, progress on the more dramatic culmination of armageddon has been repeatedly stalled by restructuring, miscommunication, and the high rate of turnover within the ranks of the Great Old Ones' loyal subjects.

"The slow burn is great and all," said John Knӕlgghyrt, née Phillips, who was briefly the high priest of Cthulhu's Dark Order—prior to being scooped unceremoniously into his lord's tentacled maw—"but trying to get the big stuff done has been a real challenge." The main struggle he points to is the lack of cohesion and structural order among the death cult working haplessly to hasten Earth's return to a state of desolation and chaos. "It's like herding cats sometimes. Insane, death-obsessed cats."

Keep Reading Show less
CULTURE

Beers (Other Than Corona) to Drink on National Beer Day

It has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic, but to the residents of Mexicali it's just as important.

Not too long ago, Twitter had a field day with a survey from 5W Public Relations revealing that 38% of American beer drinkers wouldn't buy Corona beer "under any circumstances."

Many interpreted this as an indication that these people have mistakenly inferred a causal relationship between the beer and the impending coronavirus pandemic, but the survey actually indicated that only 16% of Americans were confused about a possible connection between the two, and the spike of Google searches for "Corona beer virus" has tapered off since early February.

Only 4% of regular Corona drinkers in the survey actually indicated that they would stop—they may be confused, or they just prefer not to be reminded of the current greatest threat to global stability when they're trying to unwind with a bottle of cheap beer.

Visibility also seems to play a role in people's decisions regarding Corona, as an additional 14% in the survey said that they would avoid ordering Corona in public. Likewise, a tweet promoting Corona's new range of spike seltzers received some backlash from users suggesting that the brand's attempt to promote its new product amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis was necessarily in "poor taste." Regardless of their reasoning—even if they fully believe that every bottle is a petri dish delivered straight from Wuhan—we shouldn't rush to correct the 38% who avoid Corona. Whether they realize it or not, they are helping a good cause by joining in the boycott of Constellation Brands.


Constellation Brands is the company that makes Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico beers. It's a massive Fortune 500 company that earned over $7 billion in revenue in 2017 and over $18 billion in assets. Despite branding that closely associates its beers with Mexico, it's actually an American company headquartered in New York. So for the residents of Mexicali it's particularly galling that their state government would make a secret deal with the company to sell off the rights to more than 5 billion gallons of the regions annual water supply—water that is designated for agriculture.

Mexicali is the capital city of the Mexican state of Baja California. It's directly across the border from the city of Calexico in California and the population hub of an agricultural region that already struggles with increasingly severe droughts and a river that is diverted and dammed for American use North of the border. According to Mexico's National Water Commission, Mexicali's underground water reserves are already the most exploited in the country, with large swaths of land that could be used to grow food being abandoned as a result. In the words of one farmer—who no longer has enough access to water to rotate seasonal crops— "They're managing the water as if it were loot to be divvied up among them … The government's intention is to leave us with nothing, without land and without water."

Baja California Mexicali

The water that Constellation Brands has purchased the rights to constitutes around 20% of the area's natural water supply. If they take even half that amount there are fears that it would threaten the livelihood of thousands of agricultural workers and even access to tap water within Mexicali—all to produce beer that will then be shipped into California and sold to Americans who don't realize the impact they're having. Protesters working under the banner of "Mexicali Resiste" have done their best to stall construction of Constellation Brands' planned $1.5 billion brewery, but the local government—including several figures with close business ties to the company—have worked to suppress the resistance movement. Members have reported being threatened, beaten, and burglarized, and their protests and encampments have been met with swinging police batons.

In the words of activist Jesus Galaz Duarte, "Basically this government has based its business model around selling the public's water … In this model, anything can be bought. Everything has a price." In an interview with NPR, he went on to say, "It's a model of exploitation and capitalism where they basically come for the natural resources to exploit them and take them away to wherever the market is … They're going to leave this region without the resources to live a dignified life."

Drought in Baja California A dry riverbed during a 2015 drought in Baja California

The whole situation is reminiscent of the reckless plundering of California's precious water reserves by the so-called Wonderful Company—which sells the Wonderful brand of pistachios, Pom pomegranate juice, Halos mandarins, and Fiji bottled water. As in that case, a boycott campaign is among the most powerful tools to fight back. So, regardless of the spurious connection to the coronavirus, please consider the farmers and residents of Mexicali before purchasing Corona or any of Constellation Brands' other beers: Modelo, Pacifico, Ballast Point, Funky Buddha, Tocayo, and Victoria.

If any of your favorite brands of beer are on that list, please consider supporting these breweries as an alternative: New Belgium Brewing offers a wide variety of delicious beers including Fat Tire, Citradelic, Mural Agua Fresca Cerveza, and Voodoo Ranger; Left Hand Brewing Co is known for their range of stouts and nitros; Deschutes Brewery produces a number of tasty IPAs in their Fresh Squeezed line; and New Glarus Brewing Company is known for their Spotted Cow farmhouse ale, which is hard to get ahold of outside Wisconsin, but is considered among the best beers on Earth.

New Belgium The employees/owners of New Belgium Brewing

All of these breweries are not only operating without the need to decimate any agricultural communities, but are also employee-owned and operated (or in the process of transitioning to that model) which helps to incentivize more ethical business practices in general. Their beers are also much tastier than Corona.

Constellations Brands has already reported around $170 million in losses connected with the coronavirus. Whether that's the result of superstition, stupidity, or tact, as long as it slows down their efforts in Mexicali, it's a good thing.