Issue #24

'e' is for 'everything'


(Star Wars was where I learned that the fun part of being a princess, was being a badass.)

If one were to say I was a "Star Wars fan," they would be lying. I wasn't a Star Wars fan; Star Wars was about as close to religion as I ever got.

I knew all of the lines to the original trilogy. (The three films that came later are something of which I do not speak unless pressed.) I knew where that little skip in "Return of the Jedi" was on the VHS tape. I knew that real, dyed in the wool Star Wars lovers did not, under any circumstance, fast forward through the Ewok scenes. I owned a copy of the "Star Wars: A New Hope" radio transcript. I studied ship schematics. Also, "Empire Strikes Back" is like a fine wine. When you first see it, it's grape juice -- that film between two bookends. When you've seen it for the 80th time, however, it is rich with detail and subtlety.

I love Star Wars, and this has been a mixed bag of a year for me and my tribe. There was the release of the latest Star Wars film (and that scene...), then Rogue One ... and then Carrie Fisher passed. Then her mother, another face that lit up my childhood ("Singing in the Rain" is just about perfect), passed a day later.

It was yet another of those weeks that left me asking, "Is 2016 the worst?" Thankfully, I came across this from Sam at NPR. Sam never lets me sit with cheap thoughts for long:

"...by many measures, 2016 wasn't nearly as bad as certain portions of the Internet have made it out to be. And it surely can't be the worst year of all time."

In this piece, Sam makes the keen observation that, rather than the news being particularly bad, it's the way we consume the news that's really lighting the dumpster-fire-of-a-year flame. This piece also features another favorite from the journalism community, Robert Hernandez.

So, rather than continue diving into Carrie Fisher obituaries shared via Twitter, I went back to work. The holiday season means work is slow, and my Christmas alone, while blissful, was too short. There was barely enough time to read and write everything I wanted. Also, to be fair, I got distracted constantly. There was this observation from Brianna Wiest, founder of Soul Anatomy, about relationship compatibility. I found myself reading and re-reading it, particularly this:

"Unfortunately, it often seems the only way to really see if you’re compatible with someone is to spend a lifetime with them and find out. Our cultural approach to dating does very little to cater to this. Most people can get along when they’re only interactions are sultry date nights and weekend getaways that are adorned with all the trappings of new, unattached romance. It’s when you begin to live with someone, travel with them, spend every sick day, vacation, holiday, weekend, breakfast and dinner with them that you can determine whether or not you’re really meant to be together."

Distractions aside, I managed to pull a few thoughts together that had been percolating for some time. These are thoughts around what is quickly becoming my least favorite term, "fake news":

"The term “fake news” is being thrown around like confetti at the Times Square New Years Eve celebration. When a term is being tossed around that much it’s probably holding on to too many things at once."

It is holding on to far too many things. I'll let you click through to learn more. Hopefully, you'll join me in leaving this cheap shortcut of a phrase with 2016. As always, if you like what you read, please feel free to give it some of that "<3" action.

Speaking of the end of the year, here's a really strong "state of technology" piece from Ben Thompson at Stratechery, one of my new favorite blogs via Khe Hy over at RadReads. After three years in Silicon Valley, this is one of the few recap pieces that tied some new threads together for me.

"There is a certain symmetry to Dollar Shave Club and Donald Trump: both began by targeting niches and leveraging social media, but more importantly, the companies and institutions most invested in stopping them found themselves powerless to do so because their point of leverage had been circumvented by the Internet. That certainly ought to strike fear into the heart of any executive or politician whose institution is predicated on the old world order, but it is also an unprecedented opportunity to build something new."

Speaking of a new world order, this piece sent to me by Paul Kruchoski is absolutely amazing. It's by Erin Beinhocker over at Evonomics (another new favorite source). I was a terrible economics student. I refused to accept the underlying premise that all human beings were rational. They're not. Well, it appears the field is coming around.

"As policymakers and politicians often rely on the advice of economists and use their theories and ideas to frame their views and debates, this move towards realism in economics should be a good thing. If one thinks of economists as like biologists and policymakers as like doctors, then just as better biology has led to more effective medicine, so too should a more realistic economics lead to more effective policy."

This was a wonderful read following my push for a change from solution-centered to a human-centered way of speaking about government.

You've probably guessed by now, but I'm trying a new format for the newsletter -- a bit more of me tying the threads together and less plunking of links. Let me know what you think by replying directly to this e-mail. 

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