Palimpsest (September 18 – 24, 2022)

Things I read, heard and saw this week that inspired me.

“Best of: A Life-Changing Philosophy of Games.” The Ezra Klein Show. [podcast] 2022aug19.

A view of our quantified lives as point scoring games where the points shape our values and tell us what to want. This one touches a lot on the point scoring nature of social media and why Twitter's gamification of conversation warps our political and social discourse.

“Elaine Castillo : How to Read Now.” Between The Covers : Conversations with Writers in Fiction, Nonfiction & Poetry. [podcast] 2022sep18.

This is a huge conversation spanning almost three hours about reading, what reading is and how reading is always placed inside political space. This long episode has so many threads and so many insights packed in, it is like a microdose of many, many episodes in one. Always a pleasure to listen to brilliant readers talk about reading. This one is a pleasure and a challenge.

“The Office is Dying. It’s Time to Rethink How We Work.” The Ezra Klein Show. [podcast] 2022aug16.

Pandemic lockdown of 2020 gave us an unplanned experiment in new ways of working. The pressure cooker of necessity caused a hugely innovative period of adjustment and recalibration. As things settle toward the new normal, workers are left wanting to retain some of the benefits of flexible work from the online/hybrid experiment. Unfortunately, most work places learned the wrong lessons. Workers wanted the best of flexible work but are mostly now getting the worst. Rethinking how we work requires us to rethink why we work, starting with the office as a space. What is it actually for? This conversation touches on the trends of social atomization. What does it mean when work is the last place left for people to relate directly as human communities? There has to be a better way. Right?

What I’m Reading

  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. My wife is worried because now I want to make cheese in our kitchen.

What I’m Watching

  • The Sandman. We finished Season 1 this week. It was interesting to see how they reorganized the pieces of the original story to build toward narrative arc for Season 2. The last episode is basically bonus material that didn’t sit well inside the storyline for Season 1. As much as I enjoyed the build of the second half of the season, I enjoyed this last episode as an example of what the show might have been if told more as pastiche, which was my experience of the graphic novel.
  • The Patient. A psychologist is captured by his patient and locked in the basement for ongoing personal therapy sessions. I won’t say more because the pleasure of this show is letting each short (20ish minutes) episode deliver a quick gut punch. This series works in the way the best horror/thriller short story works. Keep it tight, compressed and deliver the gut punch right at the end. Also fun to see Steve Carrell play a serious role. It took me a while to get myself out of Office mode, looking for that Michael Scott smirk. Carrell grows into the role as the episodes progress.

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