January 29, 2016

Diversions: Late January

A selection of essays, articles, and blog posts that inspired me these past few weeks.

The List
Ashley brings up something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently: what are my hobbies? Sure, there are many things I love to do, but do I do any of them in a conscious, concerted manner? I’ll probably write something about this soon.

What Your Town Can Learn From America’s Most Walkable Suburb
I lived in Arlington, Virginia just as it was coming into its own as a walkable suburb, and purposely chose to live there instead of in the District because of its close, community feel. Every weekend, I’d walk to the farmer’s market at Courthouse to buy groceries, pop into the bakery on my way home, and see many smiling faces and friends (and dogs!) along the way. It was a shining example of how wonderful a pedestrian-friendly suburb could be.

Banking time
I came to the realization very quickly that in my current state in life, time is often harder to come by than money. Even with that realization, I haven’t done enough to really take stock and use my time with intention. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how I bank my time, just like how I bank my money.

The Best Rapper Alive, Every Year Since 1979
Sure, there’s a lot to argue about on this list, but it is well-written, well-researched, and a wonderful look back in time (basically, throughout my entire life) at the music genre that has acted as the soundtrack for most of my life.

How Famous Paintings Got Their (Wrong) Names
Fascinating to see the role that printmaking had on giving names to artwork. Only once art could be reproduced and sold to the masses did it necessitate a label.

The Parking Letters
One Valentine’s Day a few years ago, I wrote a hundred anonymous love notes and left them on car windshields. I hope they brought more of a smile than some of the other letters left on windshields do.

A message from Stewart Butterfield to Slack employees
It’s important for our business leaders to acknowledge the struggle for civil rights in our respective countries, and to remind ourselves that the struggle is still not over. I commend Stewart for his strong words and leadership.

Stanford Will Now Be Free To All Students From Families That Earn Less Than $125,000 Per Year
Student debt is going to be one of the biggest causes of economic difficulty for many people (us included) in the years to come. This step by Stanford is incredibly important.

3 ways you can use social media to expand your worldview
One of the best parts of living in a hyper-connected world is the ability to connect to people who have different viewpoints and perspectives. It’s easy to get caught in our own echo-chambers; I’m glad technology helps me challenge my own worldview.

Of Salty Reviews and Silent Chefs
Why is it so easy to say bad things about other people, especially people at the top of their craft, online? Why does nobody come to the rescue of the favorite; what is the appeal of the underdog?

I’m the most magnanimous motherfucker you know
As a man with brown skin and a beard who used to depend on air travel for work, this piece on flying while brown” by Anil Dash is poignant but also hard to read.

A Story of a Fuck Off Fund
A heartbreaking story and a sobering reminder that sometimes the path to leave from bad situations isn’t as clear and easy as we think it may be.

The Law Everyone Should Hate
I just had a long conversation at work about the Paperwork Reduction Act, and how its inspiration has found its ways into the directives and policies of other governments; how can policy reform fix government in the internet age?

Collaborative Overload
Collaboration is a sexy word in our workplaces, much to the detriment of important, solitary work. I’m a huge fan of working with people, but understand that it’s possible to suffer collaboration exhaustion and get nothing done, too.

Peak City
I don’t know much about market urbanism, but after reading this, I’m really intrigued by how we can effectively use the market to shape our urban lives.

The EU Is on the Verge of Collapse
In a conversation last week, as a joke, I postulated that the European Union will be dead by 2025. This interview with George Soros says that I might be too optimistic, and that the collapse could come even sooner than that.

Barely Represented
As someone currently working on new methods of public engagement around policy and legislation, this comic about the silencing of voices of sex workers in sex work legislation is poignant.

On wine. A Tragedy.
The current wine industry focuses too much on encouraging people to find a good wine or the right one, and not on just enjoying whatever they like to drink.

The Hustle Is Real
Being a Knicks fan has often been an exercise in frustration, but this season, there’s a new optimism behind the team. They are still a middling, somewhat incompetent team, but they’ve got hustle; this article shows that in basketball, like in literature and life, hustle can be the start of something good.

The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems
The problem with so many development and humanitarian projects these days is that they assume that other people’s problems are easy to solve. Complexity is a hard notion to grasp; we need better education around complexity in our school systems if we are to truly solve big problems.

Getting older does not suck
I am, by no means, considered old, but as I’ve been aging, I’ve realized that there is a certain freedom and calmness that comes with age that I wasn’t able to fully grasp in my youth. I’m excited for growing older in the years ahead.

America’s dangerous self-made” mythology: Why our ideas about upward mobility are seriously misinformed
The idea that everyone can start at the bottom and make it to the top with just some hard work is greatly flawed. Social mobility moves both ways, and in most cases, doesn’t move at all. We need to rethink our social services to reflect that reality.

Detroit State of Mind
I have only been to Detroit a handful of times in the past few years, but every time that I have, I have the overwhelming urge to move there, to create a life there, and help the city rebuild to the potential that it has. Seems like I’m not the only one.

Letter of Recommendation: Sick Days
“Sick in bed is a time to let all the thoughts of the last few months, all your experiences and memories, float up in your head, up near the ceiling, which is wobbling with fever. It is a time to take stock of your life.” Amen.