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Articles & Podcasts of Note (Week of 11/30/2020)

Every Friday I highlight the most interesting or entertaining items from my media diet of the past week.


  • A Woman Called ‘Hey’ ( “Thirty-five years ago, a Bouyei ethnic minority member was trafficked across China to a faraway village where nobody spoke her language. This year, she miraculously found her way home.”
  • After Minimalism ( If design style is a manifestation of the cultural zeitgeist, what does minimalism (à la the Apple Store aesthetic) portend for contemporary life?
  • Cancel ( Can anybody really define what “cancel” means or is it yet another tool for promoting individual agendas. “Cancel’s murkiness has made it a very useful word for pushing already contentious or delicate matters into the realm of total confusion.”
  • Digital Tools I Wish Existed ( Jonathan Borichevskiy wrote this last year, but the digital media consumption problems he cites are as relevant as ever.
  • How to Become More Curious ( The “Ultralearning” author explores a favorite topic of mine. “If you really want to learn something, nothing beats curiosity.”
  • How to Think for Yourself ( Cultivate independent-mindedness: “Unfashionable ideas are disproportionately likely to lead somewhere interesting. The best place to find undiscovered ideas is where no one else is looking.”
  • The Modern World Has Become Too Complex for Any of Us to Understand ( Tim Maughan kicks off a new series called “No One’s Driving” in an attempt to understand how we’ve lost control of the many complex systems governing our lives (supply chain, financial markets, governance, information, and more).
  • My Hunt for the Original McDonald’s French Fry Recipe ( On July 23, 1990, McDonald’s changed their french fry recipe much to the dismay of fast food fans—they switched from beef tallow to vegetable oil. Luke Fater attempts to recreate the recipe of yesteryear.
  • No Game Days. No Bars. The Pandemic Is Forcing Some Men to Realize they Need Deeper Friendships ( I can relate.
  • Productivity Advice ( The only useful productivity advice you’ll ever get? Do the work (if you’re looking for something deeper, look elsewhere).
  • The Real Class War Is Within the Rich ( Short piece on Peter Turchin’s theory that “elite overproduction” is the cause of current political strife.


  • California City: The Dark Side of the American Dream ( 8-part investigative series that looks at a decades-old speculative investment scheme in a desolate area 100 miles north of Los Angeles and the impact on the everyday people who were duped.
  • The Dave Chang Show ( He’s brash and opinionated, but he’s also incredibly funny and insightful, especially when it comes to food. Chang’s new spin-off series, Recipe Club, is also worth checking out.
  • The Portal: Cashing Out My Trump and IDW Positions ( Whether or not he’s been cancelled, I always find Eric Weinstein’s thinking to be interesting and insightful. In the age of shrinking Overton windows, I appreciate the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web” for being willing to discuss uncomfortable topics in a constructive and level-headed way.
  • Hidden Brain: A Conspiracy of Silence ( Host Shankar Vedantam discusses the far-reaching topic of “preference falsification” with economist Timur Kuran (author of “Public Truth, Hidden Lies”). Preference falsification is the act of misrepresenting individual wants to appease others.
  • Making Sense: The Price of Distraction ( Conversation with neurologist Adam Gazzalay (author of “The Distracted Mind”) on the topic of attention, technology, and neuroplasticity.

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