Category: interesting-reads

5 Interesting Reads – 9/11/2021

Here are some of the more interesting reads I’ve come across the the last few weeks. Let me know if any of these stand out for you. And if you have interesting reads of your own to recommend, please drop them in the comments.

  1. After “hearing” many of our kids’ classes while they were remote last year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what eduction is today, and what I wish it would be. I think Seth Godin is on the right track with his “Modern Curriculum.”
  2. James Fallows has an interesting piece on presidential speeches, “Eloquence is Overrated.” In it, he writes,

effective orators sometimes succeed by making their language practically invisible. For them it serves as a pane, allowing the undistorted meaning to shine through.

This reminded me of how Isaac Asimov described his own writing style which he called his theory of “the mosaic and the plate glass”:

There is writing which resembles the mosaics of glass you see in stained-glass windows. Such windows are beautiful in themselves and let in the light in colored fragments, but you can’t expect to see through them. In the same way, there is poetic writing that is beautiful in itself and can easily affect the emotions, but such writing can be dense and can make for hard reading if you are trying to figure out what’s happening.

Plate glass, on the other hand, has no beauty of its own. Ideally, you ought not to be able to see it at all, but through it, you can see all that is happening outside. That is the equivalent of writing that is plain an unadorned. Ideally, in reading such writing, you are not even aware that you are reading. Ideas and events seem merely to flow from the mind of the writer into that of the reader without any barrier between,

I. Asimov, p.222
  1. Cal Newport recently had a great piece in the New Yorker on “Why Do We Work Too Much?” It touches on a feeling I’ve often had, what Newport describes as “a nagging sense of irresponsibility during any moment of downtime.” Also worth looking at is a follow-up he did, asking “What Would Happen If We Slowed Down?
  2. Ryan Holiday writes about the importance of his nighttime routines as a means to set him up for success the next day. This is interesting in part because he outlines 9 things that he does that align with practices of great stoics from ancient times. It was also to read it in the context of my own evening routine.
  3. Fiction: Adam-Troy Castro has a heartbreaking story in Lightspeed Magazine, “Judi.” Adam-Troy lost his wife, Judi not long ago. It was sudden and unexpected and the story reflects that. I knew Adam-Troy casually, and had breakfast with him, and his wife, Judi at a World Fantasy Convention years ago. There are wonderful people.

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5 Interesting Reads – 8/19/2021

Note: Because my brain is off today, this post was originally titled “5 Interesting Reads – 8/19/2019.” I have no idea where the 2019 came from, but it has since been corrected.

In addition to books, I do a lot of short reading. Here are five recent shorter reads that I found interesting. Let me know if you find these interesting and maybe I’ll start doing this weekly.

  1. From the September issue of The Atlantic, a powerful 9/11 read by Jennifer Senior, “What Bobby McIlvaine Left Behind.” Though it has been 20 years, it is still difficult for me to read about 9/11. What attracted me to this piece was the diary that lies at its center. It’s a long read, but worth getting through to the end.
  2. The September issue of WIRED has a great piece by Clive Thompson on the failure of to-do apps. I mentioned this piece earlier this week, but its worth repeating here since there’s a lot of good stuff in it.
  3. I found an older piece by Maria Papova on why time seems to slow down and speed up under different circumstances. I certainly notice this more and more as I get older.
  4. In the New Yorker, Cal Newport (of Deep Work fame) asked why so many knowledge workers are quitting during the pandemic.
  5. Finally, I really enjoyed Jo Marchant’s article, “Inside the Tombs of Saqqara” in the July/August Smithsonian. When I read an article like this, and try to imagine that a 4,400 year-old tomb was already over 2,000 years old at the end of the Roman Empire, it makes me think of those science fiction novels that take place thousands of years in the future. Looking back on our time is like looking back on that tomb.

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