I collect articles/podcasts that blew my mind. The pieces here provide a refreshing perspective, cover some interesting issue I had never thought much about, or are cleverly presented.

(Last updated on 23 Dec 2020)


Algorithms

Surveillance/Data collection

Mis/disinformation

IRL

Economics

Everyday Things

I love these articles for how they evoke such joy and wonder about the mundane!

  • on earthworms: Cancel Earthworms

    There is something unnerving about their slithering, serpentine style; instead of inching along like garden worms, they snap their bodies like angry rattlesnakes. But the problem with these worms isn’t their mode of locomotion. It’s the fact that they’re here at all.

  • on the sandwich: How the sandwich consumed Britain

    One of the great strengths of the sandwich over the centuries has been how naturally it grafts on to our lives, enabling us to walk, read, take the bus, work, dream and scan our devices at the same time as feeding ourselves with the aid of a few small rotational gestures of wrist and fingers. The pinch at the corner. The sweep of the crumbs.

  • on my favorite pen: Letter of Recommendation: Uni-ball Signo UM-151

    Aesthetically, there is the sleek silhouette, the smooth barrel, the graceful link of the arcing clip to the gentle curving cap; viewed on its side, the pen perfectly evokes a Shinkansen bullet train. I love the way the silver conical tip sits visible through its clear plastic housing, like a rocket waiting to be deployed. I love the small black rubber grip, with its pairs of dimples, arranged in a pattern whose logic evades but intrigues me. The pen slides discreetly into a pocket, and like a sinuous dagger it just feels meant to be held.

  • on paper jams and building printers: Why paper jams persist

    There are many loose ends in high-tech life. Like unbreachable blister packs or awkward sticky tape, paper jams suggest that imperfection will persist, despite our best efforts. They’re also a quintessential modern problem — a trivial consequence of an otherwise efficient technology that’s been made monumentally annoying by the scale on which that technology has been adopted. Every year, printers get faster, smarter, and cheaper. All the same, jams endure.

  • on procrastination, which I am well-versed in: Later

    The essence of procrastination lies in not doing what you think you should be doing, a mental contortion that surely accounts for the great psychic toll the habit takes on people. This is the perplexing thing about procrastination: although it seems to involve avoiding unpleasant tasks, indulging in it generally doesn’t make people happy.

  • on supermarkets: Wegmans Has Come to Brooklyn. Why Are New Yorkers Losing Their Minds?

    The promise of the regional supermarket is ultimately the assurance of consumption without pretense or profile. It is hardly possible to walk into a Whole Foods without feeling reduced to the most banal parody of your tastes and habits. Few of us though, have ever walked into a King Kullen and felt like a cliché.

  • on garbage trucks: Why kids love garbage trucks

    I, too, had a more-than-passing interest in the garbage truck as a kid; with palpable residual excitement, I can remember peeking through the window shutters of my parents’ front room to watch the vaguely menacing robotic arm jut out, snatch our garbage can, and dangle the can upside down over its back while the trash tumbled out.

  • on fandoms: Superfans: A love story

    As fantasy and comic-book franchises have taken over the entertainment industry, nerd culture has become mainstream. Now that couch potatoes have social media, they have risen up and become active, opinionated participants.