August 12, 2016

Friday Diversions: Mid-August

I’m back in the big city, at the downtown Toronto office, today. So far, I have spent more days in August in Toronto than I have in our small hometown—for work and weddings and more—and I’ve begun to wonder why I have been so easy to embrace our move to a smaller town when I am so enthralled by the magic of big urban centers.

The answer is easy: I love the place where we live because I live here with those I love. I miss the buzz of the city, and my many friends there, but I am comforted by the quiet of our new hometown, and by the fact that I come home every day to my wife and my cat. Life is good; this life, wherever it is, feels like home.

Blackout Poetry from Austin Kleon’s Newsletter

Random, unrelated miscellany, gathered in short list form:

Practicing waiting is a lifelong practice since, as it turns out, impatience has a particular gravitational pull. But after all that waiting, finding or opening or having that once-future thing feels very much present. And that is worth waiting for.

BoJack Horseman is one of my favorite television shows in recent years. The way it deals with depression, anxiety, sense of loss, sense of purpose, and aging is impressive—especially considering it is an animated show starring an anthropomorphic horse. This NYTimes profile on its creation and creators is a great read once you’ve finished the third season.

If you think anthropomorphic animals are adorable, you’ll be interested in this look at what makes things cute”, and the pervasiveness of cuteness” in Japan. Apparently, a whole new academic field of cute studies has begun.

How to get rid of books: You’ll always have more books than space for them. You’ll never achieve bookshelf equilibrium.”

Why has Korean food become so popular recently, like Peruvian food just before it, and so many other international food trends over the years? Turns out gastronomic diplomacy is quite an extensive industry, and shapes what we eat every day.

Internationally-renown chef David Chang has a unified theory of deliciousness, which came from years of studying and examining what works and what doesn’t in his kitchen and others.

The best kind of writing on the internet is happening in places we often ignore: These little platform-incongruent Easter eggs give us blips of pleasure; they are like the marginalia of the internet, except they’re more than just notes — they’re little standalone works of art.” I love the idea of the marginalia of the internet.”

My out-of-office reply always gets nice comments, and occasionally responses, because I always make each one conversational, personal, and fun. What happens when your out-of-office reply becomes news?

My Uber, My Friend: Ride-sharing drivers have become the unofficial new bartenders, or arm-chair therapists.”

Do you know much about Will Smith’s early music? Turns out his lyrics weren’t as sweet and uncontroversial as we may think: Will Smith started as a gangsta rapper.

A defense of something I’ve believed for a very long time: Janet Jackson made better music than her brother Michael. (Now, time to go listen to Rhythm Nation 1814.)

Everyone wants to believe that they are a good person. Americans want to believe it more, perhaps, than the rest of us, because their nation has done and continues to do some very bad things both in the world and to its own people in the name of a dream that is still a nightmare for millions.”

There’s no shortage of good election writing these days. Here are a few pieces that stood out over the past couple of weeks:

Did you know that the World Bank has a bookstore in DC? And that it is an absolutely wonderful space? I wrote a little bit about my experiences with the InfoShop earlier this week, and why I’m sad that it might be closing.

Almost every Friday diversion post over the past few months has linked to a blog post by James Shelley; this one is no different. His most recent musings on careerism and being micro-ambitious in the present are poignant and resonant: Is the whole point of running this race simply so that one day I will not need to race anymore? Do I work solely for the cause of not working in the future? How does this make sense? Never mind. Around I must go again.”

Photographer Oliver Curtis visits famous landmarks and takes photos faced the wrong direction, capturing essentially what these landmarks see all day:

Oliver Curtis, Volte-Face: Taj Mahal

Oliver Curtis, Volte-Face: Parthenon

Oliver Curtis, Volte-Face: Christ the Redeemer