Web Miscellany: Compilation #83

Hello, friend! How are you? How has you week been? We’re still in the midst of testing, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that I’m dealing with some kind of immune dysfunction, which hopefully means identifying the root cause and resolution. Mast cell activation syndrome (aka overactive histamine response) seems likely. Follow-up cardio lab work shows a few severely out-of-range levels, one of which is thought to contribute to disease by influencing adaptive immune responses and increasing vascular permeability. I was given a pneumococcal vaccine to test whether I would develop antibodies; I didn’t. Immune, immune, immune! I wholeheartedly believe the body is naturally inclined to good health, so I’ll continue to provide it whatever resources it needs to get back there. I’m staring at a stack of scary lab results, but I have hope because knowledge is power. Six years ago, I felt like my body was shutting down while all my labs showed perfect health; I am so grateful for how far I’ve come–physically and mentally–and for everyone who has helped me on this journey. As my brilliant dietician always says, I’m “moving in the right direction, at the right pace.”

I finished reading the last of Ted Chiang’s science fiction stories this week and, like a fiend, I’m craving more. He has a unique way of setting fictional stories in the past, depicting a fanciful future suitable for the time in which the story is set. I haven’t seen this done before, and it struck me with intrigue and fascination. What would a science fiction writer of the 1800s imagine for the coming decades? It’s hard to imagine, and yet can’t stop myself from trying. Have you read anything interesting lately?

What are your plans for the week ahead? We’re house-sitting for my in-laws. Yesterday I got to meet up up with a dear friend and her precious, 6-month-old little girl. I am smitten. My partner’s friend is expecting, so I’m planning to sew up some gifts for their little one in the coming weeks.

I hope that you have a great week to come and that your loved ones continue to stay safe and healthy. Here are a few links from around the web. Feel free to share anything interesting you’ve stumbled upon in the comments.

  1. Food for thought: “The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside by a generous hand. But- and this is the point- who gets excited by a mere penny? But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  2. From the archives: “The moon tugs until her arms grow weary. She sits back and sighs, awaiting a second wind which will never arrive. Slowly, she dozes off as the tide rolls out. Faithfully, she returns to work the following day.” Phases, written for a creative writing course in 2018.
  3. Why the blockchain matters: “The existence of tokens and decentralization means that it’s possible to build resilient open source communities where early contributors and supporters benefit handsomely over time. No one owns these communities, and we can hope that these communities will work hard to serve themselves and their users, not the capital markets or other short-term players…The reason the blockchain matters is that it is an agent of change. Just like the transistor and yes, the printing press, when an agent of change shows up, it often leads to shifts that we probably didn’t expect.” Love this brilliant post by Seth Godin.
  4. On the lonely generation: My boyfriend’s two nephews are both apathetic members of Generation Z, kids born between the years 1995 and 2012. Modern youth are plagued by more pessimism and anxiety than ever before, despite living in a safer world, and they are attaining the markers of adulthood later—learning to drive, dating and having sex, obtaining a job, starting a family. According to an academic psychologist studying the phenomenon, “their prolonged immaturity reflects a disbelief in their own power to improve their circumstances. Today’s young people are more likely to attribute hardship to bad luck or other factors beyond their control.” Saving Gen Z, the Lonely Generation by Abigail Shrier. I can’t help but wonder if the same external locus of control perspective is why 75% children dream of being a YouTube star when they grow up without doing anything to support than goal.
  5. Every child on their own trampoline: “Capitalism pushes us towards private affluence. We aspire to acquire our own things. Shared things are seen as second best, something of an inconvenience. Politics responds accordingly, prioritising economic growth and ‘more money in your pocket’, rather than shared goods and services. So everyone has their own lawnmower while the grass grows long in the park. People get their own exercise bikes or rowing machines, and the gym at the local leisure centre starts to look tired and under-funded. The wealthy pay for childcare or hire a nanny, but the early years nursery closes down.” Jeremy Williams on the pitfalls of consumerism and the importance of community spaces.
  6. The Create to Consume Ratio: “I think that our waking life can be divided up into two major camps. We are either Creating or Consuming.” From Happily Disengaged.
  7. On 20 years of blogging: “If you’re a writer or an activist or anyone else engaged in critical synthesis, then the news-stories, ideas, sights and sounds you encounter are liable to tug at your attention: this is a piece of something bigger, and maybe something important.The Memex Method: When your commonplace book is a public database.
  8. On internalized capitalism: “Work is my answer for most everything. Feeling anxious? I distract myself with work. If I’m happy? It’s a good time to work! Sad? I clearly haven’t gotten enough work done.” When work is the answer to everything. I used to be a workaholic; the silver living of chronic illness is that it broke the habit and taught me, by necessity, the value of rest.
  9. On Amish tech: “As it happens, Amish communities are home to plenty of tinkerers, hackers and technophiles. Just like early adopters who read the news online when ‘the internet’ was still a strange term, they rigged up light bulbs, bought telephones and surfed the web before their peers or church leaders knew much about them. Due to the decentralised nature of Amish religious life (there’s no Amish pope), no one set a policy for addressing these novelties. Contrary to what outsiders might expect, early adopters often aren’t censored, nor necessarily discouraged.” To be more tech-savvy, borrow these strategies from the Amish.
  10. I once read that music from you early twenties tends to remain your favorite indefinitely. Most of my favorite albums were released 2011-2012. Daughter’s The Wild Youth is one of them–lovely and heartbreaking with ethereal vocals.

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