The first week of fall is a good time to reset and regain your focus. With that, Align Center is back to a regular bi-weekly schedule with articles on capitalism from a visionary, the final ideas for a $100M grant to change the world, and a poignant long read on the state of romantic relationships. Listen to the return of my favorite podcast, plus four things I’ve been digging from the past two weeks, and some final thoughts on freedom versus loneliness.
◦ selected words
The respected entrepreneur, marketing visionary, and author of 18 books gives a rational take on the money-first mindset of capitalism and why it leads to a declining nation. Godin ends with a classic quotable “Seth-ism”: “Civilization doesn’t exist to maximize capitalism. Capitalism exists to maximize civilization.”
sethgodin.typepad.com (2min read)
If you could award $100 million to fund one idea that would have the greatest impact on the world, what would it be? This is the goal of The MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition. Known for it’s annual “genius” grants to artists and scientists doing great things, the foundation has reviewed 1,000 applicants and selected the semi-finalists for the grant given to a “single proposal that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time.” The winner will be announced in December.
fastcompany.com (3min read + videos)
Six of the world’s seven sea turtle species are listed as vulnerable or endangered. But unlike other endangered animals, the threats to turtles are easier to manage, so conservation efforts are more visible (and maybe because they’re really cute!). Last week, research in the Science Advances journal found that global efforts to protect nesting and foraging habit are working — resulting in populations bouncing back from historical declines.
phys.org (4min read)
Ten years after moving to the U.S., working in a fast-food restaurant and later a concrete plant manager in California, Porfirio Gutiérrez returned to his home and his roots in Teotitlán in Mexico’s Oaxaca province. Coming from a long lineage of textile weavers in an area known for its artisans and hand-woven rugs, Gutiérrez came back to preserve the traditions, with a renewed focus on natural dyes created from plants and crushed insects instead of typical toxic chemicals common today.
nytimes.com (10min read)
Two researchers from the London School of Economics take a recent popular article on colonialism as an example of how strategies being increasingly adopted in academia mirror those used by the alt-right. They argue that an obsession with rankings, and specifically the Altmetric Attention Score, an indicator of amount and reach of the attention of a research item, is causing academia to follow trends normally seen in business to gain publicity, pitting extreme opposing views against each other at the expense of scientific consensus and healthy debate.
London School of Economics blogs.lse.ac.uk (6min read)
◦ listen in
After a break and a candid spinoff podcast How Do We Do This?! on how to grow their own podcast, Brett and Nick are back for the fourth season of WTS. I never miss an episode from these two, a podcast about “self-development through the lens of current events, sports, and pop culture” .
The season premiere tackles a big issue — how do we solve the problems of the world today? Featuring author Nilofer Merchant, whose new book, The Power of Onlyness, is about making “your wild ideas mighty enough to dent the world.”
libsyn.com (47min podcast)
◦ eat well
A sweet and savory soup with a touch of spice to bring in the fall. The curry and apple give it a much more complex taste than you’d expect from such a simple recipe, using common ingredients. I used a Vitamix instead of a stick blender for the smoothest texture.
◦ read slow
Cheap Sex, a new book on the modern (mainly heterosexual) dating scene by American sociologist Mark Regnerus, has created a stir. The premise is that the growing availability of sex and the factors driving down the cost of sex has been made possible by the emergence of three technologies: the Pill, high-quality pornography, and online dating. What results is a world where sex takes less effort, time and risk than ever before, where men don’t need to work so hard for access to it, and where people are putting individualism and romantic freedom above long-term relationships. A shorter, less critical commentary in The Globe & Mail Why Are Good Men So Hard to Find? (5min read) comes to similar conclusions.
theatlantic.com (14min read)
◦ current read
Daytripper is THE graphic novel that turned me on to the medium. The story chronicles the struggles of a writer from Sao Paolo struggling to find his voice behind the shadow of his accomplished father. The Eisner Award winner for Best Limited Series weaves a unique world drawn in gorgeous detail with a magical, mysterious, moving story that stays with you long after you’ve put it down.
Daytripper by Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon – goodokbad.com review (256p book)
◦ dig this
What I’m digging lately:
- Comic on Scientific Claims – This 8 panel comic strip pokes fun at scientific claims on the Internet and the validity of Wikipedia.
- Wildlife Photographer of the Year – See photos of the 13 finalists from the London’s Natural History Museum competition.
- Sarah Silverman’s – Speck of Dust – Charming, clever, self aware and hilarious. One hour comedy special on Netflix.
- Forecaster Hyperlocal Weather App I’ve tried several, this is the most accurate minimal app when you’re tired of weather reports from the airport. $0.99 on Android only.
◦ humble thought
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing” – Edmund Burke (as quoted on the WTS S04E01 podcast)
Freedom versus loneliness — you can decide between the two, but you can’t have both. If you live alone, it’s likely you’ve felt the pull of both. People happily living solo often wouldn’t want it any other way. You can go to the local pub, gym or join a community event on a whim — community on demand if you will. But this is much easier said than done, especially if you are new to a city or are on the introverted side of the spectrum.
Having dabbled in the increasingly popular independent / digital nomad life for years, I can understand the allure of a totally undetached life. Wake up in the morning and do whatever you like that day (within reason). Go surfing. Hike a volcano. Take a course. Read and journal at the park. Book a flight to the next tropical country. But for those drawn to the exciting allure of this lifestyle, it’s not always what it’s written up to be, but it can be really fun for awhile (until it isn’t).
After five years in and out of nomadic life, working from a laptop, hacking credit cards and hopping countries, I was starting to feel lonelier than ever. The draw of hostels dwindles — being in your thirties does that — but I was also finding the longer I was away, the harder it was to lean on a friend for advice. Though this need can be fulfilled by a few Skype chats or WhatsApp messages, or even a Mastermind group (highly recommended!), I found friends weren’t always available when the need came. This can be attributed to the time differences, but also from the natural separation created by time and distance.
The benefits of living alone are offset by tables for one, long solo bus rides, and consecutive days without real connection. And if you’re a steadier traveler who prefers stays that last half a year or longer, get used to being the one that attends going away parties on a weekly basis, until finally, you throw your own.
I hate the cliché “you can’t have it all”, so instead of saying what you can’t do, here’s what you can. Take a deep look at your priorities. Change your expectations. Change your habits. I’ve been living away from my home city for 14 months now, but recently made a decision to nurture my relationships — something I’ve done very poorly. I tell myself, I’m not so good on the phone, I don’t like to Skype, I try to stay off instant messaging, fewer screens — but if you want to keep your friends and grow deeper connections, these are things you have to do that technology makes easier than ever, and now I want to do them. So it’s not a mutually exclusive decision of loneliness or freedom. It’s the intentional decision to spend time on what’s most important to you. So for me, it’s the amazing people I have in my life. So you’ll be hearing from me soon if you haven’t already. <3