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You should listen to

The Beths - Future Me Hates Me

This is my album of year. It’s still November, and I’m calling it.

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10 days in Zurich & Lucerne

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡­ Switzerland

I mean…

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Books

How Not to Be a Boy by Robert Webb

More than any other, I suppose, this book has defined my year. Robert Webb offers a hilarious and devastating look at how the masculine tropes he inherited did a diservice to his life and his loved ones. 

If the words “toxic masculinity” cause you to rock back and assume a defensive posture, read this book. If you think feminism is the antonym to masculinity, read this book. If you believe you’re a sensitive and self-aware man, read this book.

No joke, this book changed my life.

Highlights

One way of imagining life is that it’s a competition between love and death. Death always wins, of course, but love is there to make its victory a hollow one.
What are we saying to a boy when we tell him to ‘man up’ or ‘act like a man’? At its most benign, we might just be saying: do the thing that needs doing even if you don’t want to do it. But more often, when we tell a boy to ‘act like a man’, we’re effectively saying, ‘Stop expressing those feelings.’ And if the boy hears that often enough, it actually starts to sound uncannily like, ‘Stop *feeling* those feelings.’ It sounds like a good deal. The great thing about refusing to feel feelings is that, once you’ve denied them, you don’t have to take responsibility for them.
Feminists didn’t create these circumstances. Neither am I saying that men have gone along with this stuff like a bunch of passive idiots. I’m saying it’s difficult to resist because it hides in plain sight. It’s everywhere: a system of thought and a set of invented and discriminatory practices in our laws, culture and economy that feminists call the patriarchy. Feminists are not out to get us. They’re out to get the patriarchy. They don’t hate men, they hate The Man. They’re our mates. The patriarchy was created for the convenience of men, but it comes at a heavy cost to ourselves and to everyone else.
Saying goodbye in the care home, I’d got used to the idea that it might be for the last time. This time, while Abbie and I are ushering the girls out of the door, I hear by ninety-two-year-old Dada say: ‘At least we had some good holidays, mate!’ I turn back and reassure him that we had some brilliant holidays, which we did. But what does he mean, ‘at least’? I think I know: he felt a deficit. And so did Derek, and so did Dad. None of them spent their last words with me saying: ‘I wish I’d spent less time with my children, I wish I’d dominated more men, I wish I’d cried less, I wish I’d shrugged and walked away more often when I upset the women I loved, I wish I’d spent less time saying what I was really afraid of and what I really wanted.’ No, they ended their lives saying that they’d missed out on too much of the good stuff; friendship, understanding, family and love. And that they’d caused too much harm.
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From the Annals of Self-Criticism

In defense of hobbies

Tim Wu lays out the case that the pursuit of excellence has corrupted the world of leisure:

But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation β€” itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age β€” that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time. Our β€œhobbies,” if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.

Performative has been one of my watch words this year. Try paying attention to how often you do something β€” see: Instagram, especially β€” in which the subconscious goal is having an audience. 

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Nightmares

Michael Lewis, on his new book, The Fifth Risk

Author Michael Lewis’s new book takes a look at the boring, long-term functions of bureacracy and how  one of the main functions of government is to mitigate a massive portfolio of risks. Risks like nuclear waste leeching into water supplies or severe weather impacting lives and property.

As a parting thought in his interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, he offers an appreciation of those folks in government who have spent their lives in civil service, earning less money than in the private sector, risking a torrent of condemnation at the slightest mistake, and getting paltry recognition when the job is well done.

“In a way, what we’re doing is wasting the greatest spirits of our society.”

If you’ve ever make a blanket complaint about government β€” and I know I have β€” this really gave me pause. Not to mention the continuing nightmare presented by the Trump administration and, as Lewis outlines in the interview, their total lack of preparedness to run the U.S. government.

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Grab a tissue

The best TED talk from TED2018

I had the utmost privilege to see this talk in person in Vancouver earlier this year. It’s an absolutely incredible story, told with love and levity, that touches on the best humanity has to offer in matters of the heart and in scientific achievement.

Acceptance is knowing that grief is a raging river. And you have to get into it. Because when you do, it carries you to the next place. It eventually takes you to open land, somewhere where it will turn out OK in the end.
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I could drink you

Everything is Alive

Ian Chillag’s new podcast is so. delightfullly. weird.

Each episode features an unscripted interview with an inanimate object. Louis, a can of cola, has lived a long shelf life and, nearing the end, has some compelling thoughts about death, er… being consumed.

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Wrong Inbox

re Taye Diggs concert tomorrow

This is the email that started it all. And how could it not? 

When one is unwittingly invited into the inner circle of a bone fide triple threat, you start to scrutinize all of those misdirected emails that might have been trashed or spammed in the past.

Welcome to Wrong Inbox, a curated, comedic slice-of-life. It’s what happens when you have a very short email username at a very popular domain.

Hi β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ,
β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ (cc’d here), gave me your email. Glad to work with you tomorrow.
I’ve attached a stage plot, even though I’ll also be there to help set up/place instruments tomorrow. I’ve also attached a set list, which details some of the “moods” of each song (to give lighting ideas) and also who’s playing/when my mic needs to be on for backup singing, etc, etc.
Also, wanna confirm that the stage extension will be in, yes? Taye will often be dancing - really, dancing and moving around - so we’ll need the space (and also make sure we light the space accordingly, please).
And we can still use the drums in the space?
And also, I’m hoping the piano is well in tune?
Oh, finally, we’ll have some VIPs tomorrow (this may be more of an April question), so hoping we can have some tables with “reserved” place-cards on them? I can give the reserved list to whomever is at the door.
Thanks much!
Best,
β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ
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Books

On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt

A reread from my college journalism days. Not pertinent to the state of our union today. Nope, no sir. 

Highlights

[…] In fact, people do tend to be more tolerant of bullshit than lies, perhaps because we are less inclined to take the former as a personal affront. We may seek to distance ourselves from bullshit, but we are more likely to turn away from it with an impatient or irritated shrug than with the sense of violation or outrage that lies often inspire.
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Anti-social

Surveillance capitalism

Anna Wiener in The Atlantic on digging through a decade of her Facebook data:

If anything, Download Your Information is a consolation prize offered to those of us on the losing end of surveillance capitalism. The folder underscored some of social media’s most unappealing qualities: the distortion of a natural, human experience of time, and an insistence on never quite letting it go.
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Books

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Highlights

Once again this argument was unanswerable. Certainly the animals did not want Jones back; if the holding of debates on Sunday mornings was liable to bring him back, then the debates must stop. Boxer, who had now had time to think things over, voiced the general feeling by saying: “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.” And from then on he adopted the maxim, “Napoleon is always right,” in addition to his private motto of “I will work harder.”
α΄€ΚŸΚŸ α΄€Ι΄Ιͺα΄α΄€ΚŸs ᴀʀᴇ α΄‡Η«α΄œα΄€ΚŸ Κ™α΄œα΄› sᴏᴍᴇ α΄€Ι΄Ιͺα΄α΄€ΚŸs ᴀʀᴇ ᴍᴏʀᴇ α΄‡Η«α΄œα΄€ΚŸ α΄›Κœα΄€Ι΄ α΄α΄›Κœα΄‡Κ€s
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