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Here you’ll find an archive of Nathanael’s weekly email. In it, he features an essay and curated reading on technology + marketing + simplicity.

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RIP Jim Toole - Issue #361

Between 2010 and 2015, on the second Saturday of the month in the late afternoon, you'd find me at Capital Hill Books. Second Saturday's free solo cup of wine and its nibbles of cheese would often motivate me to leave with at least a few books. But on more than one occasion our time in the bookstore was mostly sitting on the floor and talking with neighborhood friends and thus getting yelled at by Jim Toole.


Monoculture - #360

The top link in my first weekly email was a classic from the Verge, "Welcome to the Airspace." Kyle Chayka, writing in those heady years of zero interest rates and venture capital, showed us how Silicon Valley helped foster a global atheistic. The gif at the top of the piece said it all: the foreground was modern living room furniture, the mid showed a modified industrial space, maybe it was a condo or an office, or AirBNB, or coffee shop, and through the windows flash the skyline of New York, Paris, and Dubai. The living room could be anywhere: everything looks the same.


New vs. old right - #359

To make this little email, I read the internet opportunistically, on the hunt for good writing about interesting things. My trusty sources reflect the distinct eras of my interests: politics, tech, marketing, and culture. The stack of stuff is often like this morning's Spotify release radar: a J. S. Bach prelude followed by Pearl Jam covering Tom Petty. It's either a delightful potpourri or the omnivore's dilemma, and my opinion of the stack of stuff depends on my mood.


What does it take to be good on the internet? - Issue #358

It didn't take long for the jury to find erstwhile crypto king Bankman-Fried guilty on of fraud. This was a nice bookend to the speed at which the business-internet culture anointed him hero and king. For every business page's "we knew it was a fraud all along" takedown, the same page published breathless profiles and trend-pieces, "here's what the crypto future looks like."


Finding real strategic insight in business - #357

Like many business schools, mine used Harvard's case studies. My early favorites were Benihana and Southwest Airlines. They showed the stunning and difficult simplicity of operational innovation. You'd expect an airline to make money when people buy tickets or a restaurant to make money when people pay for a meal. And in a transactional sense, they do. But these case studies showed the power of deeply understanding how a business operates: airlines make money when the planes take off; restaurants make money they seat another table of guests. To make more money, Southwest needed to make their planes take off more frequently; the whole airline focused on the time between touchdown and takeoff. Benihana's theatre of table-side grilling ensured that when the chef left, the patrons did, too. Faster turnover meant more seatings during lunch and dinner and thus more revenue.


How we are in the world - #356

As a parent, you spend most of your time on logistics. It starts when you need to keep the infant alive. Then, you aim the kid for compounding bits of self-sufficiency. Feeding himself, sleeping through the night, getting dressed, sitting still for twenty minutes: these are the little miracles of successful parenting. After these, you get to the stage of advanced logistics: school, camp, activities, classes, events. The minivan, color-coded calendar, and crowded weekend mornings aren't what you aim for, but they happen.


Remember when Romney was a villain? - #355

What should we make of Mitt Romney? In 2011 and 2012, the middle and the left saw him as "fiercely conservative." The right never quite bought into it: his conservative performances earned him support but distrust. During the 2012 general election, the Obama campaign successfully painted him as too rightwing for the times. Since 2018, as a Senator, he has been cheered by the left and the right's distrust turned to open contempt.


The Eye of Edna - #354

Twice a year, in Salem, Massachusetts, Christmas comes. It doesn't come for everyone: only for book people. These lucky few find Christmas in the Senior Center at the Salem Book Swap. (Longtime readers may recall my 2022 reference to this lovely event.)


Sunday Morning - #353

The rhythm of the week requires one day to be different. For the religious among us, that day is either Saturday or Sunday. It's marked by liturgical observance, for a few hours, but more so by a difference in the rest of the day's time. I've previously written about sabbath a few times, once calling it "a mode of leisure where we stand outside of time to put our minds towards what truly matters."


Nathanael's Reading

More than a hundred and fifty  people read the weekly email “Nathanael’s Reading,” which he’s sent every Friday since 2016. Nathanael includes original thoughts and curated reading on technology + marketing + simplicity. Subscribe by entering your email here