• [T]here are unmistakable signs of trans-Atlantic trouble on the horizon that even the arrival of a pro-European U.S. administration can’t paper over. And that trouble is coming from Germany.

    Germany Is Pouring Cold Water on the Biden-Europe Love Fest | Foreign Policy

  • Getting a patient history from someone clearly suffering from amnesia was fairly pointless. ‘My brain can’t be broken,’ I offered, ‘It’s my best part.’

    Sudden amnesia showed me the self is a convenient fiction | Psyche

  • Up until this article, León’s project has been a closely guarded secret. Not even the local Spanish marine biologists know what’s happening.

    Seeding the Ocean: Inside a Michelin-Starred Chef’s Revolutionary Quest to Harvest Rice From the Sea | Time

  • The “Arrow” argument is how I see this.

    The future is seen as ‘nobody’s time’, an unclaimed territory that is equally devoid of inhabitants. Like the distant realms of empire, it is ours for the taking.

    Future generations deserve good ancestors. Will you be one? | Psyche

  • Infinite Zoom

    Such large-scale social change should prompt us to ask larger questions: What kind of world do we want to live in when we emerge from these chaotic times? How much of that world will have been actively built with our input, and how much of it will have been constructed for us by engineers in ways that only in hindsight we will understand to have been foundational? What patterns of behavior and habits of mind do these solutions privilege over other ways of doing things? What are the likely unintended consequences?

    Technosolutionism Isn’t the Fix | Hedgehog Review

  • Edward Hopper’s Worlds of Isolation & Connection

    Furthermore, his paintings also often suggest connectedness, even in the midst of isolation. The woman in Automat may have felt like she was the only woman ever to sit alone at a table in public, but she wasn’t, of course. The painting works for me because the experience is at once unique to the woman in the painting and a common occurrence. The reason I like Morning Sun and Office in a Small City so much is that, taken apart, they show individuals isolated from the rest of the world, but taken together, they show how alike we are. We are common in our loneliness.

    The thought makes me feel a little less lonely. I want to run into Morning Sun ’s frame and tell the woman on her bed not to worry. If she just waits a year, a man will sit in an office in a small city and do the very same thing she’s doing now. And since I can’t, I instead tell myself that people all over the country and the world are doing what I’m doing. That I am keeping myself apart, and in doing so am connecting myself to a larger whole.

    The twist in staring too long at Hopper in the era of Covid-19 is that you see not only the similarities between then and now, but the differences. This year, I don’t only relate to the loneliness of the figures in Nighthawks, I also envy them. Unlike us, they can safely meet strangers in diners and bars. Of all the things I used to feel looking at Hopper’s paintings, longing was never one of them.

    How Edward Hopper became an artist for the pandemic age | New Statesman

  • We are all Perpetual Novices

    The fast pace of technological change turns us all, in a sense, into “perpetual novices”, always on the upward slope of learning, our knowledge constantly requiring upgrades, like our phones. Few of us can channel our undivided attention into a lifelong craft. Even if we keep the same job, the required skills change. The more willing we are to be brave beginners, the better.

    A fantastic argument for the value of a liberal arts education & for embracing a lifetime of shoshin (“beginner’s mind”).

    The joys of being an absolute beginner – for life | The Guardian

  • When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place.

    The American Abyss | New York Times

  • Happiness, suffering, & asceticism.

    The Semi-Satisfied Life | Aeon

  • We began to talk about it, quietly and carefully, in May. “Are you guys having trouble finding bucatini? We haven’t found any in a while,” said my friend Dan, one of my most bucatini-headed friends[.]

    What the Hole Is Going On? | Grub Street

  • Paradoxically, to properly recognize the diverse realities that constitute the human experience, we must lean more heavily into our oneness, not tiptoe timidly around it.

    Toward a New Universalism | The Hedgehog Review

  • No single machine should be able to control the fate of the world’s population—and that’s what both the Doomsday Machine and Facebook are built to do.

    Facebook is a Doomsday Machine | The Atlantic

  • 0107 – b moll — what a fantastic little film.

    Bright nights, lonely crowds – a Tokyo train speeds through urban contradictions | Aeon

  • Lost in Space

    We use our location as a way to think about our identity. In the case of the cosmos the timescale is well beyond our very short lifetimes or even beyond our comprehension. Some of the answers to these questions won’t be solved while we are still here but will be left to the incoming generations and the truth is there are questions that will simply be passed on and never answered. The quest might seem a bit nonsensical. Why does it matter when or how the universe began? Why does it matter when or how it ends? It matters for the same reason your locations throughout your life carry context for who you are. We exist on a timeline together — we pop into existence and then one day we stop. It matters for the same reason one of the first questions you learn to ask in another language is, “where are you from?” To know where you are at any given time is a frame of reference in which to measure your life in some way and in many ways those locations, those slices of time, hold a great deal of meaning.

    A poignant reflection on the meaning of existence in a universe we’ll never understand.

    An Atlas of the Cosmos | Longreads

  • I’m pleased to see that Minnesota-based climate journalist & scientist Eric Holthaus, my favorite writer from the soon-to-be-shuttered slow news site The Correspondent, has started his own Substack newsletter, The Phoenix.

  • Before big farms, this plant alone could feed many people… Grandmothers said these turnips point towards each other, so you’ll always know where the next one will be.

    I missed this article back in October.

    Thíŋpsiŋla: The Edible Bounty Beneath the Great Plains | Serious Eats

  • 2020 strikes again. I was a Correspondent subscriber from its US launch, and greatly valued the “unbreaking news” approach to important issues. I’ll miss the thoughtful, deeper dives it championed.

    The Correspondent will stop publishing on 1 January 2021. | The Correspondent

  • It seemed as if [COVID] was coming straight for JaMarcus, but he wasn’t able to isolate. Every other day, he still needed to trek to a dialysis clinic to spend hours tethered to a machine, surrounded by strangers.

    Tethered to the Machine | ProPublica

  • 10 December 1967:

    Redding is flying up from Saturday night shows in Cleveland in the well-used green-and-white Beechcraft 18 airplane he had just bought for $78,000.

    Madison In The Sixties – The Death Of Otis Redding | WORT 89.9 FM

  • Some brilliant work, here. So much of it hard to look at.

    In 2020, AP photographers captured a world in distress | AP

  • And not just ICU beds:

    Collectively, the Allina Health, CentraCare and Mayo Clinic systems reported more than 3,000 such absences [due to COVID-19 infection or exposure quarantines] last week.

    ‘No beds anywhere’: Minnesota hospitals strained to limit by COVID-19 | Star Tribune

  • My office in UW’s (In)Humanities building was, by far, the worse I’ve ever occupied — including the Vietnam-era pole shed housing cryptographic gear where I nonetheless had to beware of after-hours incursions by gangs of trash-diving raccoons.

    Beyond Mosse | Sift & Winnow

  • “The ballpoint pen was the equivalent of today’s smartphone.”

    Biros [ballpoint pens] don’t drain batteries, they don’t require plugging in in the middle of nowhere, and even the tightest pocket can accommodate them.

    The cheap pen that changed writing forever | BBC

  • Because I could not stop for Death…

    To be able to face our fears, we must remember how to perform ritual. To remember how to perform ritual, we must slow down.

    Why surrendering to death, grief and loss is fundamental to reimagining how to live | The Correspondent

  • Fantastic news I hope is not too late, but a turning point in regional non-profit journalism in the US. Goodness knows we badly need it.

    ProPublica to Launch New Regional Units in the South and Southwest; ProPublica Illinois to Expand to Midwest Regional Newsroom | ProPublica

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