Image by Mari Andrew
In this edition of Align Center, we have a new artist finding a career through vulnerability and Instagram, quotes on finding yourself, a different perspective on the Whole Foods purchase and _that_ study on coconut oil. A compelling piece from The Atlantic is the long read, with crossover appeal for anyone interested in a late career pivot, psychiatry, or simply a well told story of a scientist at the head of his field, and finally an update from me on the road.
◦ selected words
Two years ago, Mari Andrew suffered through the death of her father and a difficult breakup that led her on a search for happiness. But instead of envying what others were doing and how they were living, she decided to take action. Andrew tried out new hobbies like guitar, drawing, and dancing — and the drawing stuck. Despite no professional training, Andrew would soon have half a million fans following her latest artistic works and ruminations on life. Now she makes art full-time and has a book deal for next year. A feel good interview with roots from a traumatic period.
nylon.com (4min read)
“The self is a style of being, continually expanding in a vital process of definition, affirmation, revision, and growth”. Ponder that for a more than a moment. This briefer-than-usual Brain Pickings post on identity and our fixation with is brilliantly wrapped up with a comment on the role poetry plays in our evolving selves. I could easily put more than one of Maria Popova’s wonderfully thoughtful posts in every newsletter, but maybe you should just read her blog.
brainpickings.org (3min read)
Devotees of MCT oil, medium-chain triglycerides typically derived from coconut oil and popularized by Bulletproof coffee, had their worlds shaken when a “new study” burst the halo around coconut oil. Journalists around the world jumped on this “new study”. But what’s to make of this? The recent release by the American Heart Association’s wasn’t a study — it was a review of existing research, none of which had anything to do with coconut oil. In short, saturated fat is bad, and coconut oil has more than most — almost 90%. Compare that to olive oil’s 14%. Like most foods, take this simple advice: enjoy, but don’t eat too much of one thing.
nymag.com (5min read)
Link to the AHA review on ahajournals.org
From July 2nd to 9th, over 4,000 competitors from 34 countries will meet in Edmonton, Alberta, to celebrate the athleticism and culture of indigenous peoples in the second-ever World Indigenous Games. In addition to some popular sports found in the Olympics, the Games will feature sacred runs, spear throwing, and canoeing and archery, with a twist — boats and archery equipment can’t be purchased.
cbc.ca (7min read)
It’s been a week since the shocking purchase that in hindsight, makes so much sense. With the missing piece of their retail dominance fitting into place, the takeover by the soon-to-be largest company in the world gives them prime retail space in affluent markets around North America, extensions of their existing warehousing infrastructure, and most importantly, a playground for testing out ways to make us spend all of our money, faster. The perfect combination to capitalize on a hurried society that increasingly values convenience above all else.
theatlantic.com (6min read)
◦ listen in
I’ve had this one on the back burner for awhile, waiting for a long road trip to take in the latest from the people that have given us the best podcasts to date — Serial and This American Life. S-Town, or Shit Town, is a town in Alabama, but this story is more than that — it’s a lens on America that digs deep in neuroticisms, mental illness, society, and culture. Fans of investigative journalism I won’t spoil the rest.
NPR (~50min podcast x 7 episodes)
◦ eat well
If you know how to make hummus already and can peel a beet, give this crowd-pleaser a try. Normally I stay far away from bright pink foods as they usually consist of things I can’t pronounce, but I’m going to give them a second chance after this simple, 5-ingredient recipe from the Minimalist Baker (I never count oil, salt, and pepper).
◦ read slow
For thirteen years as the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, the world’s largest mental-health research institution, Tom Insel was renown for speaking out on the failures of psychiatry. Insel’s research brought him to the forefront of anti-anxiety-drug research, a health startup by Google and now Mindstrong Health — a small Silicon Valley company with a mission to diagnose and treat mental illness through a new field called behavioral healthcare. An inspirational story of a brilliant and respected mind who made a late career switch, and now wants to use your smartphone as a central hub in the treatment of mental disorders.
theatlantic.com (32min read)
◦ current read
“The state of genomics today can be likened to that of e-commerce in 1994, the year Amazon was founded.” This is a read from last year, but my recommend hasn’t changed. Wired Magazine’s Kevin Kelly’s similar book The Inevitable received more press, but Alec Ross’ unique position, having traveled to over a hundred countries as the Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State, results in a much more tangible, global and on-the-ground view of what the near future will look like. A few examples of what to expect: AI everywhere, robot companions for the elderly, cryptocurrencies as the norm and replacement limbs grown in labs, and all sooner than you think.
The Industries of the Future by Alec J. Ross (320p book)
◦ dig this
What I’m digging lately, with no particular order or theme:
- Radio.garden – Stream radio stations around the world, Google Earth-style.
- Trash Can Flowers – A new form of street art in New York.
- Roman Empire Subway map – Making artifacts new again (and wall-worthy).
- U.N.’s Population Forecast – India will surpass China as the most populous country with 1.4Bn, in just seven years.
- Homeless Beekeepers – Vancouver’s got Hives for Humanity. This is Montréal’s version.
◦ humble thought
“And a step backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano
I’m currently on a two-week road trip South of the Saint Lawrence River to Gaspésie, also known as the Gaspé Peninsula, and it’s magical. This 2,000km round trip drive takes you from Montréal to the Southeastern corner of Quebec connecting to New Brunswick. Outdoor adventurists from France take weeks off just to visit Gaspésie — but if you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel bad, as neither had I before moving out East. I look around the green and blue landscape and countless whale sightings and it conjures up memories of the West Coast of British Columbia, but it has its own very unique charm.
I’m almost ashamed to call myself Canadian, looking back at how little I’ve traveled East of Alberta. In primary school, I have this memory for a homestay soccer exchange program where a boy at my host house asked, in all the seriousness an eleven-year-old can muster, if I lived I spoke French and lived in an igloo. The homestay was North of Seattle and I was living two hours North in the Fraser Valley! But spending my first winter in Quebec, I began to see why popular media in the U.S. depicts Canadians the way they do. Episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” pegs us as ice cream loving hockey fanatics (the hockey is a given). This past winter I saw people walking around with ice skates tied to their hockey sticks, maple syrup on a stick, copious amounts of snow, dozens of varieties of poutine, and of course, ice cream shops — over thirty-five boutique stores at last count. And I am feeling more Canadian by the day.