Space, an absurd trolley, world bumping back, and more
Seven links to worthwhile thin(g/k)s
Hello dear reader,
Happy Friday, happy mid-July, happy mid-year, happy Summer. I hope the upcoming weekend proves itself exactly what you need it to be. Here are this week’s seven links to bits of the world I have been exploring, shared with the hope that you will find them to be an inspiring springboard for deeper thinking.
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A visual stunner: I hope we have all by now seen the images released by the James Webb Space Telescope. And I hope they’ve given us reason to feel the way Jerry Seinfeld felt when he’d look at images from the Hubble Telescope on the wall of his writing room: uplifted, not depressed, at our own insignificance. “It would calm me when I would start to think that what I was doing was important.” We all need that kind of grace toward ourselves, and that kind of calm.
A quandary: Absurd trolley problems. (My “kill count” was 68.) I morbidly followed this up with “Who was alive in ____?”
A chuckle: Mark Twain’s first impressions of a telephone: “I touched the bell and this talk ensued.” Ha! Love it. Here’s more from the universe of the past in the form of The Atlantic’s 165 years of archives.
A nerdy musing: Great write-up from columnist Matt Levine — “Musk lost interest in pretending to buy Twitter” — analyzing three pretexts offered by Elon Musk’s lawyers as to why Musk is backing away from his $44 billion merger agreement to acquire Twitter.
Pretext one: Twitter is lying about bots. Levine points out a great nuance in the language Musk’s advisers use. They can’t make a factual claim that analysis shows Twitter bots are higher than 5% of Twitter’s monetizable daily active users, likely because such facts don’t exist, so they couch their claim in subjective terms, stating that Musk “strongly believes” so. Levine walks us through whether this claim, if true, would be enough for Musk to weasel out of the deal.
Pretext two: Per the merger agreement’s terms, Twitter is required to oblige Musk’s reasonable requests for information about the business side of the company, and Musk argues Twitter has not given him enough info on bots. Here again, Levine walks us through how this argument could play out in the legal arena.
Pretext three: Musk argues Twitter broke its promise to keep afloat its ordinary course of business between signing and closing by firing some employees.
A clearing of the mud: “If You Put Behavior Into the World, You Get Behavior Out” — advice from a fellow Substack newsletter writer. It’s a mental shift for me personally, especially in the departments of my life in which I worry and stress way too much over why so and so behaved (or didn’t behave) a certain way, or why, for example, there exist among certain people a lack of attentiveness and an absence of sweet gesturing. I’d compare someone’s lack of action and zero initiative with an almost-resentful ‘Knowing how much X enjoys Thing or Activity Y, why wouldn’t you have thought of them and shown it?” But then this way of thinking becomes way too exhausting. Not to mention transactional, because I begin reshaping my own behavior to mirror other people’s lack thereof, which by the way probably ends up ironically serving me way less, and at that point perhaps rightfully so. All to say, this week it was monumentally needed for me to read this sentence: “it is absolutely certain that if you bump into the world in some way, it will bump back, often unpredictably and to a greater extent than you think.” Our life in a way ends up being our very own curation of Life. Seen in this light, may we be worthy curators who step up to the challenge, not shirk away from it. Life’s worthwhile and sweet reply will find its way to us, one way or another.
An auditory respite that makes me want to dance without a care in the world.
When the story becomes inconvenient: fun and illustrative summary of Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent.
Until next week!
PS — I will be in Europe soon this year, and in honor of having finally found an Italian villa after many days of research, here’s a snippet from my past travels to the region. This time will be a slower, more meditative trip with ample time for writing in the moment. So, stay tuned. If there are any travel-related discussions or questions or musings that would interest you, my ears are open and attentive. I would love to know what kind of content from me to you would be most helpful.
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I absolutely enjoy every time I have the few minutes to read your musings for the week. I bookmarked The Atlantic archive and can’t wait to explore it more later. You are also a brilliant writer, thank you for sharing your thoughts in this community. We all share in the struggle - may we be always aware of our responsibility in curating the worlds we want to live in by starting with “curating” our daily choices.