Leather made from mushrooms, a potion for our bad news bias, the importance of dance in schools, and a suburb’s novel approach to attract young families are highlights from the past two weeks. Our long read is a much-anticipated article from Tim Urban, and then listen to a podcast dissecting modern love and sex in an increasingly cautious society with more choice than ever. As always, we have things I’m digging of late, followed by an update from country people often leave out when referring to “North America”.
◦ selected words
Bolt Threads, a California-based company developing synthetic spider silk, has launched a leather replacement coined “Mylo”. Joining forces with startup Ecovative whose previous work with mushroom technology aims to replace Styrofoam, the two companies are using the underground root structure of mushrooms to create a new material that could replace animal leather in shoes and other apparel. With over $200 million in funding, this isn’t just an academic exercise, people have taken notice. Partners include sporting giant Patagonia and designer Stella McCartney, who is debuting a bag next week at the Fashioned from Nature exhibit in London.
TechCrunch (2min read)
There is almost no avoiding the news, and if you’re to believe the current mood of the world, we’re progressively getting worse in every significant measure. But practice “factfulness”, and you’ll see that just as our evolution has us craving sugar and fat to our own detriment, we also are drawn towards gossip and dramatic stories. But in a climate where we can no longer sufficiently filter the neverending stream of inputs, you probably didn’t know that in the last twenty years, we’ve halved the proportion of people living in extreme poverty. An excerpt from the late Hans Rosling, renowned for his work with data and sustainable development, popularized in two TED talks.
The Guardian (5min read)
Sir Ken Robinson, currently holding the title of most popular TED Talk of all-time with the 2007 talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”, argues that dance should have the same status as math, science, and language in the education of children (and I’ll add, adults too). Dance can be a transformative outlet for those struggling to cope with social situations and express themselves. Get moving.
TED (6min read)
Do you recall the story about an enzyme that eats plastic bottles? In an effort to see how the enzyme evolves, scientists have accidently made it even better at breaking down PET plastic into parts that can be remade into plastic. The discovery that the enzyme has further room for optimization is an exciting development in solving the plastic crisis.
The Guardian (2min read)
“Suburbs now have to work to attract the cohort they were built for.” With a population of 20,000, Homewood, a suburb 40km south downtown Chicago, hired a PR consultant to draw young families to the area. A novel or cheesy comic-strip ad campaign depending how you look at it, “promising gentrification without the guilt”.
CityLab by The Atlantic (7min read)
◦ listen in
When you’re in real need, who comes to your hospital bedside, family or friends? Do you get anxious going to family gatherings? How many months does it take to really known someone? These questions on the changing nature of relationships and the fluidity of family are topics anthropologist, author and chief scientific advisor at Match.com, Helen Fisher, studies and discusses in an enlightening conversation with Krista Tippett.
On Being (51min podcast)
◦ eat well
After over an hour’s walk in the afternoon Mexican sun through jungle, beaches, rocky outcrops, and over a broken glass wall and under a chain link fence, I arrived in San Pancho looking to quench my thirst. On the menu was exactly the cure — I just didn’t know there was a name for it. I ordered a rusa — an ice cold salt-rimmed glass of sparkling water with wedges of orange and lime (I’m not much of a beer guy these days). This linked recipe is for La Paloma, but leave out the tequila (or leave it in!) and substitute the grapefruit soda with plain soda water for the simplest version of this refreshing drink from Southern Mexico.
◦ read slow
Almost one year since his last article on Elon Musk and the straight-out-of sci-fi Neuralink brain-machine interface (3 hour read, I’m not kidding), Tim Urban takes on millennial’s search for meaning and self-fulfillment. A detailed, very long and worthy read from the consistent Wait But Why.
Wait But Why (71min read)
◦ current read
Imagine a world where the dominant species lacks a stable gender for most of the lunar cycle, but for a few days enter a phase of sexual activity where gender can be chosen, before returning to an androgynous state. Layer on a mysterious envoy sent from a utopian coalition of interstellar human inhabited planets, and the result is a work deemed high literature in a genre not typically known for it, from the recently deceased author who GQ Magazine called “one of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers ever”. Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, this is not your typical fantasy/sci-fi.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (304p book)
◦ dig this
What I’m digging lately:
- Sayulita, Mexico – I am absolutely in love with this town, an hour’s drive north of Puerto Vallarta.
- Meet the MMA Ballet Dancer – Great Big Story shows how dancers are fighters, and how fighters can be dancers. (2m26s video).
- Soundtrack to Spring – The New Yorker’s first musical cover to announce the start of Spring by cartoonist Tom Gauld.
- Bomba Estéreo – Soy Yo – The electro-cumbia beat is super catchy, but it’s the video starring a spunky little girl that’ll have you laughing out of your seat.
◦ humble thought
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
– T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Over the past three years I’ve heard whispers of a small surf town in Mexico inundated with ex-pats, mostly from Canada. It had a name that sounded like nothing I’d heard, which also made it difficult to remember. On the Pacific Coast, an hour north of Puerto Vallarta by car with a population of 5,000 lies the village of Sayulita. Despite recommendations from well-traveled friends, it wasn’t until three recommendations in the span of a month, combined by a great deal on a flight, was I triggered to make my way to this hippie surf town from where I write this update.
I’ve been fortunate to be able to explore the world, flying south to at least one country in Latin America every winter since 2010. Most remote workers are drawn to Southeast Asia, and although I haven’t been to Bali, Malaysia or Cambodia, I’ve always felt a stronger draw to Latin America. I feel much more connected to the culture because of the family cohesiveness, the kindness I’m shown daily from strangers, a greater connection to the Earth, and maybe even because we share the same side of an ocean. The similarities in language and warmer climate definitely help, too. 🙂
The clincher for me is the AcroYoga community. You didn’t think I could write an update without mentioning AcroYoga, did you? I was invited to co-teach my first class at a lovely open-air shala with a wonderful soul who took the same training as me, but a year earlier. The two-bedroom apartment I’m staying at is also because of the community. Working and traveling on your own, especially with a limited grasp of the local language, makes it difficult to get a feel for a place, but AcroYoga can fast track you into friendships and places you’d be hard-pressed to discover on your own in such a short time.
Today I caught the longest wave of my short surfing life with new friends, hiked an hour through a jungles and white sand beaches to San Pancho’s Tuesday artist’s and farmer’s market, all the while managing to squeeze in a few hours of work and eating local, natural foods. It was such a great day and I’ve only been here one week, but I’m already hatching plans for my return to this pueblo magico.
Listen to your friends, often times they know what’s best for you.