2021 Long Reads Review
A few articles to consider, in case you missed them.
What I Read This Year
I not-so-secretly really like end-of-year reviews. They are easy to digest, don't ask much of me, and allow me to add some items to my list that I might have missed through the year. I'll do the same thing here!
Rather than focus on all areas of movies, television, books, articles, etc., it made more sense for me to provide a few bite-sized pieces — perfect for holiday break consumption.
Also, when I looked back on my movies and television, it wasn't anything terribly insightful (I liked Succession, Dune, Formula 1: Drive to Survive, Squid Game, White Lotus, and The Great Pottery Throw Down, if you're curious).
Note: I, like you, am a subscriber to many but not all publications below. I find archive.md a helpful resource to get around the odd paywall or two.
Autocracy Is Winning - The Atlantic — Start off with something that will have you pulling your hair out. But Anne Applebaum is such a fantastic writer — she pulls the threads together in a coherent way that makes sense of the reality in which we find ourselves and points to some ways to disrupt the system.
The Deep and Twisted Roots of the American Yam - The Ringer — Easy and historical — why is what you call a yam different than what other parts of the world call a yam — read to find out! (it's not an easy read in that it's got a lot of uncomfortable history, but hey).
Creating a Better Leaf | The New Yorker — Elizabeth Kolbert is terrific and brings to life the science and hope (and realities) behind photosynthesis, solar power, and energy futures.
What It's Like Inside the Cargill Meatpacking Plant in Dodge City - The Atlantic — I've read a lot about meatpacking industries over the years, having grown up in Kansas (and one of my anthropology professors focused exclusively on them). This piece takes you inside, and you get a sense of the people, incentives, mechanization, challenges, and reality.
You Are Not Late. Can you imagine how awesome it would… | by Kevin Kelly | The Message | Medium — A short piece from Kevin Kelly, and just one of my favorite polymath nerds out there. Plus, Kelly wrote 10,000 True Fans, which is a little the inspiration for this newsletter.
How Shein beat Amazon at its own game — and reinvented fast fashion - Rest of World — I recently included this one, but it's a great insight into both fast fashion and Amazon competitions.
What David Graeber, 'Dawn of Everything' Author, Left Behind — I was just starting to get into David Graeber, having finished Debt: The First 5,000 Years and Bullshit Jobs. This is a great piece, and we lost him way too soon.
Lab-grown meat is supposed to be inevitable. The science tells a different story — "it's a fractal no. You see the big no, but every big no is made up of a hundred little nos." — long-piece that I found particularly informative on lab-based meats.
TikTok and the Sorting Hat — Remains of the Day — Great background on the company and algorithm of TikTok. It pairs nicely with what came later in the year from the New York Times, How TikTok Reads Your Mind.
A Project of One's Own — As a self-inflicted collector of side-projects, this really resonated with me — from Paul Graham.
One Man's Amazing Journey to the Center of the Bowling Ball | WIRED — I'm guessing that you, like me, had no idea what was happening in the middle of that bowling ball.
Losing the War - by Lee Sandlin — This is an older piece, but I only discovered it this year and was blown away by all aspects of it — the narrative, the writing, and the rhymes with our current era and what we will remember and not from these most "unprecedented times."
How a polymath transformed our understanding of information | Aeon Essays — I began learning about Claude Shannon in graduate school (for Information, no less). It's perplexing that his name isn't at the household level, given his contribution to...all of society.
The Collapse of Puerto Rico's Iconic Telescope | The New Yorker — Yeah, ok, it's a little depressing. Particularly when I think about it in the context of one of my favorite movies, Contact.
The Erosion of Deep Literacy | National Affairs — I mean, I only skimmed this, but I felt like I should put it here.
52 things I learned in 2021 by Tom Whitwell from Fluxx | Fluxx Studio Notes — There are some great little nuggets in there.
What Else I’m Reading
Wearing face masks erases "beauty bias," study finds | Salon.com — I knew it.
Bugs are evolving to eat plastic | Canada's National Observer: News & Analysis — Encouraging?
These Lemurs Have Got Rhythm. Scientists Have Got Questions | WIRED — I also knew it.
Thanks for reading,
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