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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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It's pretty specific - #382

Stories are interesting to the degree they are specific. Nothing's less interesting than a social scientist trying to summarize the results of focus groups or survey responses. There's little that tops the interest we give to gossip offered by a person we know about other people we know. There's a corollary in journalism. When reporters get people to use their own names to talk badly about other people, both we and they find it highly interesting.


Boys vs. Men - #381

There have been a few trend-pieces on age gaps recently. I guess people dating or marrying people far older/younger than themselves is interesting, although most of the pieces take the more judgmental approach. There seems to be no one more blameworthy than the person who slightly upends a social convention to make themselves better off. The age gap in a relationship often signifies a wealth or status gap as well: the rich older man finds a younger, more attractive woman than his poorer peers find; the wealthy older woman finds a younger, more attractive man; etc. The self-interest these relationships signify gives the cultural commentator just enough to write the trend-piece.


These two profiles are dueling futures for the American right - #380

After leaving my job in politics, I found that I had a whole lot of freedom to rethink things. My old views seemed to matter a whole lot less. Upton Sinclair had it right, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." When my salary became apolitical, my opinions stopped being sacrosanct.

Alan Watts

The allure of zen - #377

Over the past year or so, I've read a bit in the modern type of Zen Buddhism promulgated by Alan Watts. The books have been uniformly interesting and wildly diverse: from the delightfully titled meditation guide Don't Just Do Something, Sit There to the fairly dense The Way of Zen to the ur-text of white people going on Tibetan pilgrimages The Snow Leopard. I've also sprinkled in some of Watts's essays and other authors aiming for the same thing: explorations of meaning, spirituality, and mindfulness untethered from western religious tradition.


Is it good to make things easier? - #376

We're deep in ski season. March is usually the snowiest month and the snowpack usually lasts until early May. It's been a little iffy this year: too many days of melting temperatures and a lot of forecasted snow that fell as rain. But we're still skiing a lot of acreage at our home mountain.


The Midas Mindset - #375

There seems to be two opposing ideas in our approach to career. On the one hand, there's quiet quitting and balancing life with career, exemplified by Anne Helen Peterson's work over the last decade or so. You can find any number of mid-career columnists decrying the lazy, entitled youth's approach to the workplace. On the other hand, there's how we actually live, which may be more concerning. American culture places its highest value on social advancement, educational attainment, and successful careerism.


You can't stop tech - #374

Why does Vanity Fair have the most readable review of Apple's new headset computer? Tech blogs aren't not known for the readability, but usually you can find at least one funny and more thoughtful piece. Ben Thompson had a good one, perhaps the best one I saw in the tech "press." He even asked the inevitable question about what happens to a society when everyone wears headsets and earphones all the time in an intelligent way. The rest of the tech press seemed wrapped around the axle: is Facebook's headset better? Why does Apple's have a separate battery pack? Will the videos be better than on your tv?


Men to the right, women to the left - #373

When I regularly read the news, while I tend to know what things are happening, I often lack any sense of why. The Wall Street Journal's coverage of the market peels back one layer from whatever the spot prices are, but seldom further than that. Politico has up-to-the-minute statuses and feelings from politicians and proposals of all sorts, but you get the feeling you're watching the waves but missing the tide.


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