Curated Media Vol 3

The best of timeless media since Volume 2. Everything is worth a read, listen or watch - good writng & good content. Enjoy!

Open House (n+1)

Jeremiah Moss’ visceral description of gentrification in the East Village. How it feels when they come and take over.

Utterly unblemished, physically fit, exceptionally well dresssed, as bland as skim milk and unsalted saltine crackers.

Insta-apartments. First come the cleaneres, sending up the chlorine tang of bleach, followed by the movers with their tidy plastic totes, followed (at least once) by professional furnishers.

They know they won't be trapped here. They have other places they can go. But if they don't worry like New Yorkers worry, can they dream like New Yorkers dream?

A New York apartment used to be a place that took time to coalesce. It formed around your body as you also evolved, mirrored by the changing geometries of your rooms as they gradually absorbed the world.


I have never vandalized the hallways of my building and never would, but since the cameras came, I think about how much I would like to, but can't because they're watching, so I stop myself from thinking about vandalizing the hallways, and then I feel oppressed and controlled. The cameras created a thought in my mind and then censored that thought.

I consider buying a doormat that reads GET OFF MY LAWN, an open admission of the caricature I am rapidly becoming, but it's too much. Even for me.

Holding the memory for as long as I can. We are, after all, the things we have lost.

Berlin Snakebite (Spiralbound)

What happens when you drink weird cocktails in strange places on your first solo adventure - if you get lucky.

As always with spiralbound the story is about much more than that - but my words can't do it justice, so go see for yourself.

But actually I was just in a relationship where I felt alone.

Divorce River (Outside)

Man pulling a boat across a sandy river bank, about to embark.

Carson Vaughan retells the adventure he took with his wife to get away from golden shackles of knowledge work in the city

The money was great unless you factored in the time, the night sweats, the slow death by open-office plan.

I’d suggest to Mel that we undertake a Dismal adventure. Just me and her. An empty horizon. The sky.

But every time we discussed the trip, it would untether itself from reality. We would go to work instead.

It finally happens - and what a trip it is. After reading Carson's account of going down the Dismal river I am positive that I will never try to do the same.

The water belongs to the people, the riverbed does not, and ranchers can, and frequently do, run barbwire across the water. Combined with a surfeit of natural strainers, mostly dead cedar trees, the Dismal has earned itself a nickname: Divorce River.

The next three hours grow worse with every stroke. We can’t outwit the current. Our communication fails. The flow quickens as the banks squeeze in. Soon we’re pinballing back and forth, ramming through one skeleton cedar after another. Mel tries to hold the branches for me as we pass, but they rifle back twice as hard, pummeling me over and over again.

Simple Plan (NYer)

A short review of the new gospel of minimalism, which looks frighteningly similar to many self-help crazes of the past.

The new literature of minimalism is full of stressful advice. Pack up all your possessions, unpack things only as needed, give away everything that’s still packed after a month. Or wake up early, pick up every item you own, and consider whether or not it sparks joy. See if you can wear just thirty-three items of clothing for three months. Know that it’s possible to live abundantly with only a hundred possessions. Don’t organize—purge. Digitize your photos. Get rid of the things you bought to impress people. Downsize your apartment. Think constantly about what will enable you to live the best life possible. Never buy anything on sale.

Many of today’s gurus maintain that minimalism can be useful no matter one’s income, but the audience they target is implicitly affluent—the pitch is never about making do with less because you have no choice.

Today’s minimalism, with its focus on self-improvement, feels oddly dominated by a logic of accumulation.

Maintenace by Design (Uncertainty Mindset)

Maintenance is often the least concern in software development - not because it's not important, usually just because everything else becomes more urgent. In that regard it is similar to security or other “quality” conerns.

Maintenance by design flips the whole thing upside down: address the important-but-not-urgent concern from the start - essentially by fast, non-fatal failure and agility. Technologists should take notice of this idea and compare it their status quo - but admitting failure is too painful, so they don't. Denial is easier.

Maintenance by design has at least two principles:

  1. Design the system so it shows clearly and swiftly how unexpected changes in the environment affect it without becoming incapacitated. Another way to put it is that when the system works unexpectedly because something in the environment has changed, it should do so quickly, non-catastrophically, and transparently—instead of opaquely storing up failure debt which then erupts catastrophically.

  2. Design the system so it can be easily and undisruptively modified to respond to unexpected system behavior. Another way to put it is that when the system’s expected behavior changes, it’s inexpensive to restructure the system to accommodate the change.


Because so few systems embody maintenance by design, it’s easier to illustrate these two design principles with four examples that violate them both:

Teams in organizations: A project team working on an ultra-high-stakes, do-or-die product launch, with extremely high expectations imposed on it from top management. The launch must hit on the specified date, or else there will be hell to pay—so project management and interdependencies are tightly controlled. There is no possibility of presenting rough work in progress for low-stakes feedback—only polished, perfect product will do. Such a team is almost definitionally unable to see new and disconfirming information and make the micro-adjustments to accommodate it, even if these adjustments are what’s likely to make the team successful.

Only Orange (short story)

A slice of orange, a cigarette bud and some orange petals, on an orange-beige background.

Camille Bordas creates a wonderful character that is filled with anger. A type of anger that spills out in every thought and interaction with others. A type of anger that is relatable, ridiculous and funny all at the same time. You see that it's all so pointless, yet you also understand her, even root for her anger.

I’d always been good at doing nothing, but, since I’d quit smoking, staring emptily into the distance had become the only thing I could do without wanting a cigarette too badly.

“I just read this book by a famous psychologist that said that a woman couldn’t have a daughter as long as she hadn’t resolved all her issues with her own mother.”

“That can’t possibly be true,” I said.

“It makes a lot of sense, actually,” my mother said.

I was the only customer, and the cashier resented me for disturbing her phone conversation.

“I’m very sorry that you lack privacy in your place of work,” I said.

“What’s that?” she said, away from the receiver.

I said I hoped she was having a nice day.

Night was falling in Paris, and men and women on the Métro looked concerned, or angry at themselves for not accomplishing what they’d hoped to accomplish before sunset.

Sake by Elizabeth Spires (poem)

A squat bottle,
two cups, and us
toasting an anniversary
although we know
the wind may blow
away these walls
of paper, wood, and rock;
and if they fall, we’ll rise
and quickly improvise
a journey down time’s
cold silvery musical stream,
slipping on dripping
stepping-stones, drenched
to the bone until,
shades of our former selves,
we give up the ghost,
our ghastly smiles belying
the cold finality of lying
through centuries side
by side, cheated by time.
What is a marriage?
A promise, a vow never
to forsake the other,
and love a little realm
of light and shadow.
But here, while the sake’s
warm. Drink again.
For your sake. Mine.