A few of you readers have been really generous in sharing this newsletter with others – thank you!
If this is your first issue, welcome! If you’d like to see more, you can check out the archive of the old issues over on my website.
Citizenfour (Documentary | HBO GO, Everywhere Else)
Someone decided to make an Edward Snowden movie, and, if the trailer is any indication, it looks like it will be terrible. For example, according to the trailer, Ol’ Ed had a major epiphany while, of all things, sexing his girlfriend, because why not. Instead of watching that garbage, you should check out the documentary made by Snowden himself (along with Laura Poitras and Glen Greenwald), filmed in the few days before and then during the initial leaks. It provides unprecedented insight into not only the NSA programs, but also the motivations/methods of Snowden himself. It’s shot like a thriller, and feels like one too, so if you’re typically bored with documentaries this still might be worth watching. 97% on RT and it won the Best Documentary Oscar a few years back.
Climbing Mt. Rainier Timelapse / Underwater Perspective on a Wave / Why Does Your Face Look Different in Various Photos? Maybe the Camera Lens (GIFs)
Veep (TV Show | HBO GO)
There are a lot of hilarious shows on TV – Rick and Morty, Nathan for You, etc – but Veep might be the one that makes me laugh out loud the most. No show has better insults, better comebacks, or better cursing, and if you’re a fan of Seinfeld and/or Arrested Development, I think you’d enjoy it. It won 5 Emmys last year (was nominated for 9) and season 4 just started, so it’s the perfect time to get started.
The Tail End (~4 Minutes)
In the vein of the European concept of “Memento Mori”, this quick article from the funny Wait But Why? blog visually represents how much time the author has left on earth in terms of super bowls, elections, tacos, etc. Reading it, for me, was like drinking a cup of existential coffee, highlighting the importance of making use of every day and every opportunity. It’s not always terribly fun to remember that one will die, but it is almost always rewarding and motivating when you do.
Crowd Source – Crowds on Demand (~12 Minutes)
In a world where online reviews are regularly faked and social media followings are artificially generated, why shouldn’t the real world crowds be fake too? One enterprising entrepreneur has started a company that allows you to hire a fake crowd at a moment’s notice. Why would you want one? Maybe you’re staging a protest, orannouncing your candidacy for the President of the United States, or maybe you just want your conference attendees to feel like celebrities. It’s a bizarre and goofy story, but if companies like this succeed we might all have reason to start being suspicious of the real world the same way we are of the digital.
Overkill (~22 Minutes)
As candidates in the US election continue to harp on the medical system, this article from New Yorker writer Atul Gwande is well worth reading. He makes a persuasive case that the biggest savings and improvements in care are coming not from new, innovative procedures, but from avoiding procedures that shouldn’t be done in the first place (e.g. arthroscopic knee surgery). Gwande’s book “The Checklist Manifesto” changed my life (highly recommended), and this article of his changed my perspective on the problems and solutions for the broken medical system we have in this country.
President Obama Weighs His Economic Legacy (~18 Minutes)
Whatever your opinion of Obama, the general economy is unquestionably in better shape than it was when he took office (smaller deficit, stronger stock market, increase in labor market, etc). At the same time, for many Americans, the specific economic reality – particularly for those earning around the median income – is unquestionably worse. I’m not sure you can give either the credit or the blame to Obama (or if any president truly has as much influence over economic performance as they tend to believe), but this New York Times interview allows him a chance to evaluate his own legacy and offers insight into the thinking behind his most momentous decisions.
Swell – I’m Sorry (ft. Shiloh) (Music)
I’m a little late to the game on Australian producer Swell, but I’m a big fan of his chilled out production and the way he mixes together R&B and bassy, beachy, vibes. This quick two and a half minute track featuring Shiloh is now the first song I play when I want to relax after a long day’s work.
TED Radio Hour – The Money Paradox (Podcast)
If you enjoy TED talks, you’d almost certainly enjoy the TED Radio Hour podcast. Most episodes include snippets of talks alongside interviews with the presenters. The host of the show, Guy Raz, is brilliant, asking incisive questions that bring insights beyond what was available in the original talk. This episode is a fun listen detailing how money “motivates, tricks, satisfies, and disappoints us”. Shoutout to Andrew D. who first recommended this show to me a few months back.