The biosphere and the all-encompassing virtual world, diet and the human body, and the companies leading the alt-protein movement are some of the most interesting reads of late. Our long-form article on Bolivia’s quest to put coca in your supermarket plays both global and community politics. Then listen to a podcast episode that will nudge you out of your comfort zone. We end off with five excellent digs this week, and a list of sensory observations, a product of an ongoing internal struggle of consumption versus creation.
◦ selected words
Creaturely Migrations on a Breathing Planet
Author of the back to your roots, nature writing at its best must-read, The Spell of the Sensuous, Dr. David Abram contemplates the state of our biosphere against the forces of the virtual and economics worlds in this poetic essay from Emergence Magazine, a new quarterly publication from the minds behind Spiritual Ecology.
Emergence Magazine (4min read)
The Human Body is Too Complex for Easy Fixes
Keto. Gluten-Free. Wild Rose. Soylent. Maybe you’ve tried or considered these diets or tried your hand at biohacking. Then, just when you start, another miracle shows up in your news feed, promising to improve your energy, focus, sex life, waistline, and mow your lawn too. A short commentary on biohacking and the complexity of the human body.
The Atlantic (5min read)
The New Food: Meet the Startups Racing to Reinvent the Meal
A look into the fast-growing industry of “alt-protein” and the motivations behind it. And it’s not simply a quest for nutritious substitutes, there’s a real drive to make food that is not only good for you, but also good for the planet. My good friend gave the “Impossible Burger” a thumbs-up, which is already served at 1,000 restaurants in the U.S., and some right here in BC, so I’m eager to try it.
The Guardian (9min read)
China’s Enormous Solar Investment in Context
China installed 10 gigawatts of solar capacity in the first quarter of 2018. To put that in perspective, the second leading nation, the United States, has a TOTAL solar capacity of 50 GW. Meta aside: kudos to MIT for the bite-size news format with sub-sections titled “the news”, “in context”, “why it matters”, and “but”.
MIT Technology Review (2min read)
Witnessing Human Evolution in the Bodies of an Ocean Tribe
We are an adaptable species, with some cultures having adapted to digest milk and others able to live at high altitudes. Last month, researchers studying a group of sea-dwelling people in Southeast Asia, who rely only on basic wooden masks to dive 61 meters (200ft) deep, found they’ve evolved into better divers.
The New York Times (4min read)
◦ listen in
“We’re all guilty of getting too comfortable — with our routines, social circles, the status quo. But is it stopping us from growing? This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push out of comfort zones.” We like comfort, but growth comes through challenges on stress. Stories of pushing into the uncomfortable together with strategies against complacency.
TED Radio Hour (52min podcast)
◦ eat well
Roasted 7-Ingredient Jalapeño Vegan Queso
Some afternoons I do a random search on Minimalist Baker and commit to that recipe. And it never disappoints. This is the result of such an experiment — a vegan guilty pleasure.
◦ read slow
Bolivia’s Quest to Spread the Gospel of Coca
Chanting a famous Quecha slogan “Long live coca, down with the Yankees!”, Bolivian president Evo Morales continues to stick it to the country he expelled in 2006, two years after his election. Without the American’s DEA, Morales is leading a campaign to legitimize coca and create a market for products in everything from energy drinks, lotions, cakes, flour and toothpaste. While domestic stakeholders argue on how to best manage this plant, revered by indigenous populations and chewed by 30% of Bolivians, the U.S. is watching the country’s cocaine industry, from the outside.
Guernica – A Magazine of Global Arts & Politics (24min read)
◦ current read
Seneca: On the Shortness of Life
Written as a moral essay to his friend, Seneca the Younger penned this 20-section philosophy in 49 CE, after returning to Rome from exile in Corsica. Often quoted in best=of lists and fawned over by the digerati (I saw it on Ryan Holiday’s 42 Books That Will Make You A Better Person (Each Described in One Sentence)), Seneca’s main argument is not that human life is short, but rather that most people waste of a lot of it.
Seneca the Younger, On the Shortness of Life / De Brevitate Vitae (106p book)
◦ dig this
What I’m digging lately:
- The SeaBin Project – Invented by two surfers, an automatic bucket that sucks floating trash out of the ocean.
- The Life Cycle of a T-Shirt – Fashion is the second leading polluter in the world, after oil. TED Ed explains why (6min YouTube).
- Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 – Big changes mark the season two premiere of Margaret Atwood’s award-winning dystopian show, my current favorite, starring the superb Elizabeth Moss. It’s only on Hulu, but there are ways… (trailer on YouTube)
- Emergence Magazine & Spiritual Ecology – A new quarterly online publication exploring the threads connecting ecology, culture, and spirituality. Contributors include Joanna Macy and David Abram.
- Charlotte Cardin – The Canadian pop/electro/jazz singer has already been compared to Amy Winehouse. Her concert at The Biltmore last Friday in Vancouver shows a polish beyond her 23 years. (YouTube / Spotify)
◦ humble thought
“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”
- Kurt Vonnegut
Sitting in my preferred aisle seat (I was a window-seater for naps, but now prioritize movement) as the seatbelt chime goes on and the cabin is released to do as they please. My first instinct was to flip open my old 2012 MacBook Air and load up a downloaded show. But I also had an itch to write, which was in conflict with the ease of turning my brain off. I held off the laptop and reached for my book, but caught myself and thought, do I really want to use my time to consume right now? My mind felt surprisingly sharp despite floating in alternating waves of gratitude and melancholy.
I could feel the consumption demons battling it out with the creation elves in my head. When is the best time to write about a trip? As soon as possible. I wasn’t in the mood to write prose, so I pulled out Google Keep (I’d like to say pen and notepad, but do what you can) and started writing. This is the point form result, a random sequence of 50 observations that filled my senses from my time in this magical part of the world, an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
- The radiant yellow Jacaranda trees as you enter town.
- Overhearing the neighbor’s morning conversations in Spanish, understanding 20% of it.
- The horses on Avenida del Palmar, waiting in the shade.
- Up at midnight listening to the slow ocean waves under a half moon with the stars out.
- Chills in the morning and evening surf, turning to comfort as the heat shifted a week in.
- The air conditioning at Yah-Yah Cafe.
- The 15 peso ($1CAD) fresh fruit popsicles with water, but first asking the young staff to list off all the flavors because there are no labels.
- Getting a guanabana popsicle and thinking it’s not as good as you remembered, or this chewy.
- Ordering a guayaba popsicle, not realizing until you get to the seeds that it’s actually guava because you mixed up the Spanish words.
- Encouraging words from local surfers as I began to get a handle of the Wavestorm.
- The crispy yet gooey, hand-made churros over the bridge, circling around inside the bubbling vat of oil like pork intestines in Taiwan.
- The plastic colored flags hung between the colorful buildings.
- Street stalls selling tourist trinkets, day in, day out
- The crowds on the reef break in the evenings, and the comfort I would feel by the end of the trip surfing with so many people.
- The Argentinian senior with the rolling walker selling sweet and savory empanadas.
- The cake lady at the plaza.
- The uncontrolled intersections that just work because it’s a town of 5,000.
- The painful crying of the baby with the young family out the kitchen window as they prepare for a day on the beach.
- The constant sound of construction during the day.
- The cacophony of party music, layered and clashing with each other, increasing in intensity as you walked through the main square, culminating at Don Pato’s every night.
- Rotating spits of street meat topped with pineapple at the four pastor taco food carts.
- The cute bohemian local peddling her bracelets, always on the move.
- Walking in the middle of streets, making way for cars who patiently wait for you to let them by.
- The fine sand, raked in the morning by the beach chair caretakers.
- Shopkeepers at 8am sweeping not only their sidewalk but the street in front of the dust that accumulates this time of year.
- Filling large, round plastic colanders with fresh produce, then having the fruit lady on the corner wait expectantly because you should know that after she pushes the button and moves the items off the scale into your bag, it’s your job to put the next items on the scale.
- Trying Birria tacos for the first time, “volcanes” style, where the outside tortilla is crisped.
- Getting tacos all over your hands at Natys.
- Getting tacos all over your hands at Itacate.
- Getting at least four sauces with your tacos and three of them are really spicy, including the marinated onions.
- Watching surf instructors expertly push students into waves at the main break, usually two at a time.
- Sitting on your watching fish jump out of the water as you wait patiently for the next wave.
- Catching a wave, then worrying about how to not get raked by the reef.
- Climbing over the wall littered with glass on the hike to San Pancho.
- Hiking that hour through jungle, beach and rocks to reach the cable locked gate and thinking it’s too narrow to fit through, realizing it is, then thinking this is going to suck. Then someone tells you about the chain link fence you can lift up and crawl under on the right.
- Finding tranquility and great people at Hotelito’s yoga shala.
- The artistic murals on the stone and adobe walls.
- The veggie empanadas for 30peso at the Empenaderia.
- The musicians and stall keepers serving up delicious food at the Tuesday San Pancho farmer’s market.
- Watching the vibe change from a quiet laid-back pace, to the busy weekends as Mexican travelers from the cities take over.
- The muddled iced mint infusion at Miscelanea.
- The jicama and non-standard options at the Sayulita Poke Bowl food cart.
- The stuffed pepper at Mary’s.
- Fried fish tacos at Mariscos Purillos on the corner of Av Revolucion.
- The local sleeping in a hammock every day in the sparse lot next to La Redonda Hostel.
- The copious amount of chicken grilling outside at the food cart next to El Metro.
- Enjoying your street food on the raised sidewalks, when a car parks a foot in front of your nose.
- The all-day low hooting of pigeons.
- No Starbucks, no supermarkets. But there is a Subway, but we don’t eat there.
- Strangers giving eye contact, smiles and “buen día”.
- Those $1 popsicles!