- AOTD on 5/30/20 - Scout: chrissetianaThe Next Web | Tristan Greene | 5/28/20 | 9 min16 reads8 comments9.8The Next WebTristan Greene|5/28/20|9 min16 reads9.8
It's like looking into the smelly basement and it's so much worse than you can imagine so you just close the door and walk away.
What a cluster.
- # 19019 pts - Scout: calebrealclearpolitics.com | 10 min7 reads4 comments9.3realclearpolitics.com10 min7 reads9.3
Excellent! I just hope and pray that we, as a society, can acknowledge mistakes and move forward, as one.
Because of social media (aka “news” - the two are virtually indistinguishable at this point) the USA feels way more divided than it actually is.
So much to think about.
- # 85359 pts - Scout: billThe New York Times Company | Mara Gay | 5/14/20 | 7 min8 reads2 comments7.8The New York Times CompanyMara Gay|5/14/20|7 min8 reads7.8
- # 47768 pts - Scout: bill
The fear you feel when you’re waiting to hear the results of a cancer scan is different from when you’re in physical danger. You have the same adrenaline overload but you can’t go into fight-or-flight. You can’t even freeze. You have to keep putting one foot after the other: out of the parking garage, into the lobby, into the elevator. You have to have a nurse check your vitals and you have to sit on the table with the white paper.
Heavy. Powerful perspective. I can’t imagine being on either side of that conversation, as a a patient (“am I going to die?”) or doctor (“you are[n’t] going to die.”)
Today is a good day for gratitude. I’m glad Caitlin Flanagan didn’t die a decade ago - she’s written so much great stuff in the meantime!
- # 80814 pts - Scout: billbill3 days ago
After completely ignoring him for over a year, I now look at Trump’s tweets about once a week, usually for about 10-15 minutes. Bizarre stuff. Unprecedented. Equal parts depressing and fascinating. I have no clue what Twitter can/should do about this whole thing, but I’m reminded of an episode of Fresh Air I once heard where Terry Gross interviewed a Supreme Court justice who said that in some huge, historical decisions (for example: brown vs. board of ed) there is the threat/fear/concern that the law will not be followed, which can lead to chaos, the complete breakdown of society; at the absolute highest levels (basically: president, Congress, SCOTUS) the balance of power is significantly more tenuous than we can comprehend. I often wonder if Americans today, even the older ones, are like young children who refuse to accept that their parents can’t save them from everything forever.
That alone is a crazy thing to think about: the fragility of the union between our three branches of government, and what might the collapse look like. Theoretically, free media — meaning: access to good information — should be the thing that keeps us together. But journalism is broken. And it can break a whole lot more. And (yikes!) it often looks like we’re heading in that direction. Especially when pseudo-spokespeople from Twitter hand Kara Swisher stuff like this and she publishes it:
the company has accelerated work on a more robust rubric around labeling and dealing with such falsehoods.
Besides “the company” that whole string of words is pure garbage language. It means nothing because it’s meant to mean nothing. And as these nothings (“fake news”) keep piling up, disaster, real disaster, is on the horizon.
- # 202653 pts - Scout: bill
I just had a few fearful thoughts about the marriage of Big Tech and higher ed, but then I remembered that Big Tech has already swallowed the whole of education, starting from pre-K. This keeps happening to me; I’ll think, “this could get ugly,” before remembering that it’s already so much uglier than I can imagine.
Proposal: High school diploma should be the new touchdown. By graduation, students should be ready for a bunch of cool jobs.
Also, it’s time to start thinking about learning (thinking!) as a practice, something you do for your entire life. School should merely be a place to learn how to learn - how to teach yourself and how to learn by doing with others.
The “education” part of college has always been a bit of a joke. Now the joke is so absurd it isn’t even funny: $40-50k for online classes. That ain’t right. 🧐
- # 222314 pts - Scout: turtlebubble
Rumi has been following me around for several years now. For a while, I traveled with a piece of driftwood that had some of these words burned into it:
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. / Don’t go back to sleep. / You must ask for what you really want. / Don’t go back to sleep. / People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. / The door is round and open. / Don’t go back to sleep.
These days, locked-down, one of the books I treasure is a Barks-translated book of Rumi poetry that I've been reading ~3-4 times a week. The introductions in the book are solid. They make it very clear that the entire volume is an artistic interpretation. It's unfortunate that when things move from East to West (or old to new) they get watered down. The loss of religious essence is a real loss, but I have personally experienced the poetry to be spiritually ecstatic.
Perhaps Barks should just publish as Barks. Then again, that would be a gnarly form of plagiarism. Along those lines, my favorite poem of 2019 (which was published in 2008) is a verse translation from the Japanese of a short selection from the notebooks of Chiri, Basho's traveling companion. The "author," Eric Ekstrand, has published several of these. (Are they his words?) It didn't occur to me that such a practice was anything except legit, but when I showed these poems to my brother he was like, "I don't know if I'm cool with that." So there you have it.
It's inherently problematic (and inherently beautiful) to take old stuff and make it new again. __
P.S. The Barks-Rumi book I've been reading has an entire section of "Rough Metaphors," which I find fascinating, hilarious and interesting. And since everybody is plagiarizing everybody, I'm just going to steal this entire paragraph so you can get the gist:
Some of Rumi's metaphors are rough, raw, and unacceptable to refined tastes. When Reynold Nicholson translated the Mathnawi into English in the 1920s, he chose to render some passages into Latin, supposing that anyone who knew enough Latin to read them would be properly shielded from taint. Rumi uses anything human beings do, no matter how scandalous or cruel or silly, as a lens to examine soul growth. A gourd-crafter to serve as a flange, allowing a donkey's penis to enter a woman's vagina just to the point of her pleasure but not far enough to harm her, becomes a metaphor for a device a sheikh might use to put limits on a disciple. After another graphic, outrageously elaborate comparison of breadmaking to lovemaking he concludes, "Remember. The way you make love is the way God will be with you." For Rumi, the bread of every experience offers nourishment.
- # 104585 pts - Scout: bill
Deep thoughts galore. I really need to read My Struggle. Soon.
I love this larger-than-life stuff:
I realize that though he has consumed a cheese omelette with ham, potatoes, toast with butter, two coffees, and two orange juices, I never once saw him take a bite.
- # 215236 pts - Scout: bill
What on Earth is happening here?
Help me with this. I was amazed and annoyed at every other sentence. But it might be like how I used to say disparaging things about Dave Eggers but only because I just wanted to be him. But really I don’t know what to do with Ben Lerner, with this. I mean, this isn’t New Yorker short story material - Right?!
I wish the title was “Calling” or “Reaching Out” (since that’s what this is: an outstretched hand, a grasping at something) instead of “The Media” which is so on-the-nose that it’s on the nose of the nose. I basically imagined a guy walking across a hill, on his cell phone, leaving a voicemail, but he doesn’t realize his phone died and so he’s just talking into a dead piece of plastic and metal and he can’t see anything around him, the beauty or the apocalypse, because he’s just talking talking talking. You?
- # 101617 pts - Scout: bill
This is spectacular. In the great room where the great minds are competing to be historians of the day, Marilynne Robinson just walked up to Rebecca Solnit and said, “Here, hold my beer.”
This writing is prolific, but there’s one broken detail that drove me nuts. The minimum wage is a wage floor. If it didn’t exist, wages would go below the floor. Robinson obviously wants it to be much higher, but even the fact that such a floor exists seems a testament to our humanity, not proof that we’re depraved because it’s too low.
We’re the best when we’re reaching for the stars.
- AOTD on 5/23/20 - Scout: turtlebubble
OK. Yes. I needed this. As of now, I'm a vegetarian (again).
I've been gettin' sloppy (can't even mention some of the things) but there is no doubt that eating meat (these days, in the USA) is out of line with my values/principals. Donezo.
- # 163343 pts - Scout: bill
Wow. Bold to publish this as Zadie Smith's husband, in @NewYorker. I guess literary royalty needs to keep us on our toes with edgy little ditties like this. It got me. I'm like, "The babysitter, Nick? What?!"
Overall, pairs nicely with something else I just read: Ben Purkert on whether poetry is true or false. If the babysitter is an invention, that's annoying. But if she's real, that's sad and strange. Then again, the poem works no matter what.
Sunsets and feelings are great things to write about.
- # 260174 pts - Scout: billagnionline.bu.edu | 5 minagnionline.bu.edu5 min1 read9.0
- # 236206 pts - Scout: billpitchfork.com | Cat Zhang | 5/18/20 | 7 min1 read1 comment8.0pitchfork.comCat Zhang|5/18/20|7 min1 read8.0
- # 149391 pts - Scout: billThe Guardian | Guardian Staff | 3/25/03 | 4 min4 reads2 comments9.5The GuardianGuardian Staff|3/25/03|4 min4 reads9.5
Franzen FTW! Perfect quickie. Loved this.
- # 233210 pts - Scout: billHunter Walk | 4/10/20 | 2 min2 reads1 comment7.0Hunter Walk4/10/20|2 min2 reads7.0
I've had to adjust my reading habits to the fact that I'm fundraising for Readup, all day every day. (Bleh!) Meaning that I'm literally giving up reading and writing poetry and books for marketing blog posts and stuff like this. (Double bleh!)
But honestly, Hunter Walk @hunterwalk is readable and interesting. This one's super short, and it feels like the guy (a dime-a-dozen rich VC dude, openly working on self-awareness) is just free-writing and hitting "publish." For example, this is a strange sentence:
Then there was that one with the tentacle porn… nah, not really that one, just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.
An editor would have snipped that out, though it's hard to say whether or not that would elevate the piece.
Anyway, I can endorse. The meat of the argument is simple but good: Everyone is in their own distinct pile of shit right now. No two piles are the same. Shit is everywhere. Process it... then get back to work. Got it.
- # 298127 pts - Scout: billVox | Sara Morrison | 5/13/20 | 7 min3 reads2 comments9.0VoxSara Morrison|5/13/20|7 min3 reads9.0
This just in: The crap-stack we call "democracy" keeps breaking and breaking and breaking.
This is exhausting. I first learned of this over here but that article was too short and I wanted to dig a little deeper. Turns out, it's exactly what it looks like: the bureaucracy just made itself a little bit stronger and made us, the people, a little bit weaker.
I'd appreciate the chance to discuss The Patriot Act with somebody who doesn't think we should repeal it, entirely - burn it and forget about it. As soon as possible. Anybody?
- # 204243 pts - Scout: erica
Perfect. This morning, after reading about a half dozen random little thingies (all good, but nothing great) I was starting to feel a bit off - which isn't a good way to start the day. (I'm very particular about my morning reading. I expect nothing less than explosive, mind-expanding, life-giving, I-will-never-look-at-the-world-the-same-way-again kind of stuff.)
Then: George Saunders, dirty dog, right on the money. As always. Easy ten.
Now I'm ready for the day to begin. Now I'm ready for work.
- # 38756 pts - Scout: billWIRED | Jason Kehe | 4/29/20 | 8 min2 reads0 comments-WIREDJason Kehe|4/29/20|8 min2 reads-
- # 137448 pts - Scout: billAlexa Rohn | 5/8/20 | 5 min11 reads5 comments9.5Alexa Rohn5/8/20|5 min11 reads9.5
Love it. (But so sad for mushroom woman! Has she made a return yet?)
- # 67907 pts - Scout: sjwoo
Much of what we feel nostalgia for is the kind of inconvenience that creates a more eclectic and interesting reality.
More than a few of us saw the store even at its most farcical as playing some part in a struggle against dystopian forces.
- # 45934 pts - Scout: bill
Minimalism has definitely been a coping strategy for me for most of my adult life. (Simplicity simplicity simplicity!)
- # 269170 pts - Scout: bill
Eye-opening. Insightful. Read this.
The concept of “the illusion of explanatory depth” is brilliant:
If we—or our friends or the pundits on CNN—spent less time pontificating and more trying to work through the implications of policy proposals, we’d realize how clueless we are and moderate our views. This, they write, “may be the only form of thinking that will shatter the illusion of explanatory depth and change people’s attitudes.”
It’s a beautiful (and ironic!) that if we learn to think freely we’ll find new ways to reach agreement.
- # 242198 pts - Scout: bill
Since this was published in '07, it's totally plausible that two people could meet on an airplane. There's nothing apocalyptic or dystopian going on. They don't have to discuss social distancing, masks, antibodies, tests, anything like that.
It's bittersweet to read about a world where fun biting a stranger on a plane can be just that. All of these characters are just on the verge of going "online." By around ~2010 almost everyone everywhere was playing around on social, personally or professionally or both. So where the end snaps forward into the future, it's snapping forward to today - a today without social media.
This story is unbelievably good.
- AOTD on 5/10/20 - Scout: deephdavefs.blog | 4/28/12 | 20 min15 reads6 comments10fs.blog4/28/12|20 min15 reads10
Wow. Yes. Proud to assist @deephdave on this one. So fucking strong.
You get to decide what to worship.
Boom! (For me: Reading!) And this perfect sentence:
It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.
To address one of my current struggles, I can replace the phrase "consumer-hell type situation" with the one word that describes the actual consumer-hell type situation I'm in right now: "Twitter." Works perfectly so that's my new mantra.
I have read, watched and listened to this speech more than a dozen times across the last decade. It is Enlightening, with a capital-E.
The reading experience is new every time, because I'm a new person every time I read it. That's how everyone feels when you're reading stuff like this. David Foster Wallace was a prophet. My brain explodes when I remind myself what I'm doing right now, all day every day; I built a machine, powered by humans, not robots, that should proliferate deeper focus and attention to words like these, written by the one and only DFW. Nuts.
I'm seriously considering printing this one out so I always have it handy, but at some point you gotta stop and move on. It's after 11am now.
- # 270165 pts - Scout: billLisa Richardson Bylines | 4/21/20 | 5 min8 reads5 comments9.6Lisa Richardson Bylines4/21/20|5 min8 reads9.6
This is social media done right, from the author of the recent AOTD winner "How to Tell Your Husband You're a Witch". Perfect for locked-down people, with or without kids. The point is: Loss. It's all about getting good at losing, loss, and getting lost.
"The art of losing isn’t hard to master." -Elizabeth Bishop
Also (SPOILER) stories about crying are awesome. It's pretty much that simple. (Perfect writing prompt: Write about the last thing you cried about, and write about the crying.)
For most of my life, I didn't cry, but around the time that I started getting off social media it began to happen more and more, and then it came roaring back for a while. These days, I don't cry as much, but I still believe that it's good to stay in the habit of doing it now and again, and I have certainly done it since quarantine, Jesus H Christ. Joking aside: If you're not into crying, I'd ask you: "Why not experience the full range of emotions? Yolo, amirite?"
- AOTD on 5/8/20 - Scout: bill
Epic. This is a whole lot more than just sex talk. But that's great too. It's a series of stories on a theme: first times. For all genders, these are stories that will transport you back to a different time in your life, when you were learning so much of what there is to know about yourself, and the world, and how those two things work together, or don't.
Ten. Almost guaranteed AOTD because once you start you can't stop.
"So many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster." -Elizabeth Bishop
- # 177309 pts - Scout: billScience of Us | Kathryn Schulz | 11/7/13 | 13 min9 reads5 comments9.8Science of UsKathryn Schulz|11/7/13|13 min9 reads9.8
WOW. Just WOW. The way that Kathryn Schulz writes about her experience on Twitter (back in 2013!) speaks more clearly to the exact experience that I'm having right now, in 2020, than anything else I've read anywhere else - especially recent stuff. We're so caught up in misinformation and toxic discourse, we're missing the bigger problem. (What's a feature? What's a bug?)
Here's where the nail hits the head (I bolded my favorite sentence):
Wide-ranging, intellectually stimulating, big-hearted, super fun: Wait, so what exactly is the problem here? For many people — those who use Twitter in moderation, dipping in to check the news or post a thought or pose a question — there isn’t one. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people, chiefly because I am way too susceptible to that other Twitter IPO: its Infinite Procrastination Opportunities. And here is where Franzen got it right. I am convinced that steadily attending to an idea is the core of intellectual labor, and that steadily attending to people is the core of kindness. And I gravely worry that Twitter undermines that capacity for sustained attention. I know it has undermined my own: I’ve watched my distractibility increase over the last few years, felt my time get divided into ever skinnier and less productive chunks.
More disturbing, I have felt my mind get divided into tweet-size chunks as well. It’s one thing to spend a lot of time on Twitter; it’s another thing, when I’m not on it, to catch myself thinking of — and thinking in — tweets. This is a classic sign of addiction: “Do you find yourself thinking about when you’ll have your next drink?” etc. In context, though, it’s more complicated than that, because thinking in tweets is only a half-step removed from what I’ve done all my life, which is to try to match words to thoughts and experiences. The job of a writer is to do that in a sustained way — a job I find brutally hard, and, when it works, deeply gratifying. The trouble with Twitter is that it produces a watered-down version of that gratification, at a very rapid rate, with minimal investment — and, if I am going to be honest with myself, minimal payoff, and minimal point.
Why do some stories stick in your head? And others are completely forgettable?
To answer that question, I've been going back to some realllllly old stories that had an impact on me. This one was published in 2007. That's 13 years ago. Which means I was 19 when I read it. And I still remember so many details.
What's weird though is that I completely forgot the ending, and now that is my favorite part. I mean, holy shit, those last few paragraphs are spectacular!! But before I just re-read it, I thought that the story ended at the baggage claim.
Perhaps the only conclusion is: Memory makes no sense. It's random.
Anyway: Read this. It's amazing. Miranda July can do no wrong.
- # 281148 pts - Scout: bill
Time for time travel!! This was published in 2012, but it's oh-so-relevant today. The author is Wes Enzinna @wesenzinna who also wrote Gimme Shelter, a personal essay about the housing crisis in the Bay Area, one of the all-time top performing articles on Readup and one of my personal favs.
This is an excellent portrait of rural USA, a legit Grapes of Wrath scenario with an extra dose of toxic environmental apocalypse. It really drops you right in the middle of nowhere. I felt like I was right there with Wes and Della, smoking cigs on the porch.
- AOTD on 5/6/20 - Scout: JoshChapdelaineOrganizer Sandbox | Muhan Zhang | 4/30/20 | 10 min18 reads11 comments8.9Organizer SandboxMuhan Zhang|4/30/20|10 min18 reads8.9
I want to hire this guy. His job would be to just keep writing about the Yang campaign (or whatever he wants to write about) and also Readup. Join us, Muhan! Help us promote deeper reading and better writing on the web! Such a 10.