The circus community, the mathematical underbelly of Burning Man, a challenge on the “do what you love” movement, and praise for the ordinary are some of the best reads from the past two weeks. Listen as the king of all podcasts returns for a third season, five things I’m digging lately, and my attempt at poem.
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Thoughts on Circus, Community and Aging
Starting with juggling as a gateway to circus, then reflecting on years working in the circus community, the author gives a thoughtful perspective on what it means to be in the “inner circle” of circus. From the teachers and performers to the administrative support, it takes a lot to run a circus school. But if you’re injured or not an acrobat, how do you fit in? A partial stream of consciousness on contributing, belonging, and what it means to be part of a community in a physically demanding environment as the body and mind are pulled in other directions.
Steven Desanghere for Globalise Hope (9min read)
Burning Man’s Mathematical Underbelly
What began as a small gathering on Baker Beach in San Francisco in 1986 has evolved into a thriving city of 70,000 in the Nevada desert, organized built on a mathematical system of organization. Based on Cartesian coordinates with the origin at “The Man”, with the city organized radially from two o’clock to ten o’clock. Math permeates the alkali flats of Black Rock Desert, where the author, a physicist, and his friend, a mathematician setup a booth to give back (there is no money exchanged here). A fun commentary on some of the most challenging, common and peculiar questions they’ve answered over ten years, all for the love of science.
Scientific American (11min read)
In The Name of Love
“Do what you love, love what you do.” It’s the rallying call of this generation, the search for meaning in work, a pre-occupation and luxury most of our parents did not have. Sold as the panacea for all your worldly troubles by Steve Jobs in his commencement speech or repeated by the endless stream of books in the self-help aisle, is this mantra doing more harm than good? What does it say about low-wage work and other less glamorous professions that keeps society functioning? And in academia, is this mindset creating an exploitive culture where workers do more for less, while keeping a smile on your face? A thoughtful critique on work and self-fulfillment.
Miya Tokumitsu for Jacobin Magazine (10min read)
‘Gel-like’ see-through fish discovered 7.5km down on Pacific ocean floor
Off the coast of Peru, 7.5km below sea level lies the Atacama Trench, the size of the Andes Mountains and one of the deepest parts of the ocean. Here the pressure is equivalent to an 800kg weight on your pinky finger, which is also how water can stay below -2C and not freeze. Existing theories hold that life can’t be sustained in these harsh conditions, however, a team of international researchers filmed three new species of fish in a few short days of exploration. There’s still plenty left to explore on this big blue planet.
The Guardian (2min read)
◦ listen in
Serial, Season 3
The critical and pop-culture hit that holds the current world record for most downloaded podcast returns for a third season. Season one’s gripping coverage of a high school murder took investigation journalism to new heights with revealing interviews and as-it-happened coverage. Season two focused on an American soldier captured by the Taliban and was seen as a disappointment, and gave it a go but lost interest quickly. This third season switches gears again, focusing not on solving a single case, but on the American criminal justice system, with racial tensions, workplace drama and parallels with HBO’s The Wire.
Serial Podcast, Season 3 (52min podcast)
◦ eat well
R W Garcia Sweet Potato Crackers
Family run for three generations out of California, the Garcias have a full line of organic, gluten-free and non-GMO tortillas and crackers with no additives or preservatives that somehow manage to taste fantastic. I’m sort of addicted to them now, dipping them into anything I can find, or plain as a side with soup. You can find them at the big stores like Costco, Walmart, and Loblaws.
◦ read slow
The Miracle of the Mundane
Daily life today, particularly in cities, you’re inundated with a constant stream of ads, real news, fake news, real people and a few too many fake, peddling their wares directly and indirectly through the most direct channel, social media. It’s hard not to become disoriented and disheartened. As the author puts it, “living simply today takes work.” How can we embrace the mysteries of ordinary life and reconnect with each other in a world seemingly bent on destroying itself from the inside out? A read that starts out grim, but it’s worth the effort to get to the light at the end.
Longreads.com (14min read)
◦ current read
Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
The quirky entrepreneur reflects on lessons learned building and selling CD Baby, an online business first built to help his musician friends sell CD’s online, that would grow to a $20M business and sold during the birth of digital music. Part manifesto on building a customer-first business and part memoir, Sivers’ stories reflect his positive attitude towards life and a commitment to simplicity, integrity and doing the right thing while not taking things too seriously. Honest about his failings and near misses, while liberal with funny customer service stories, this one hour read appeals to current and aspiring entrepreneurs who value being genuine and having fun over maximizing profit.
Anything You Want by Derek Sivers (90p book)
◦ dig this
What I’m digging lately:
- 2018 State of the World’s Fungi – An interactive report outlining the importance of fungi and how it can provide many answers to the world’s challenges.
- Largest Study of Depression – Live in England? Researchers are seeking 40,000 volunteers to take part in the Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (Glad) study.
- Planet Labs – A company of ex-NASA employees whose mission is to make global change visible, accessible, and actionable by using satellite imagery.
- The (Ig) Nobel Prizes – Annual science prizes awarded to research into the effectiveness of using voodoo dolls of your boss, how rollercoasters help pass kidney stones, and the nutritious value of cannibalism.
- Iron & Wine’s new EP – Sam Beam’s newly released EP of songs not finished in time for the last album, Beast Epic, has him returning to stripped down vocals about the human experience. (Spotify)
◦ humble thought
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
The crackling heaters in chorus with the morning birds;
Feeling the cold tiles under your toes,
A sensation not since last Spring.
Returning to dig out wool socks from the bottom of the drawer.
The Japanese Maples showing a tinge of red,
Cars fill the roads, pacing with a purpose unseen in the summer.
Reaching for a jacket on a pre-dinner stroll,
the air has a new crispness and the breeze a fresh chill.
Passing by the wooden bins of produce,
Overflowing with peaches
and unwaxed ambrosia apples.
Noticing someone shrunk the blueberries
And raised the prices.