Do You Bag? – 7 Takeaways No. 50 – November 21, 2021


1. "exhaustion is itself exhausting"

It’s Okay To Be Exhausted – Dan Rather – (Steady, newsletter)

So. Much. Exhaustion. As Rather points out there is so much to be tired of — from pandemics to politics to a climate crisis to anger and more — sometimes its surprising we’re not more tired than we seem to be.

Ultimately this essay is about permission to be exhausted, and permission to take care of yourself.

The world needs sustained effort and exertion. But effort and exertion requires energy. And energy requires us to acknowledge, attend to, and forgive our exhaustion.

Do this: Take care of yourself.

2. "Books are therapy"

The Profile Dossier: Matt Haig, the Author Who Believes Books Can Save Your Life – Polina Pompliano – (Newsletter)

Reading books has fallen out of favor, it seems, at least in some circles. Social media, short attention span content, multimedia content and more all seem to conspire to unseat book reading from its position as the way to share information and learn.

Books absolutely can be therapy. I daresay they acted as such, without my realizing it, in my formative years.

Do this: read a good book.

3. "Say no to dumb stuff."

Your Biggest Problem Is You Think You Have Time – Tim Denning – (Medium)

A friend I worked with when I first started at Microsoft passed away this week. It was unexpected. He was only 60 — younger than I am.

We often realize too late just how short life can be, and how it quickly and suddenly it can be taken away. Once that realization dawns on us, the pure value of time, often over everything else we’ve been conditioned to value, becomes apparent.

Do this: remember how short life can be, and act accordingly.

4. "A magnificent bribe"

The Magnificent Bribe – Zachary Loeb – (Real Life – Website)

This is a fascinating overview of the work of Lewis Mumford.

Nearly 50 years ago, long before smartphones and social media, the social critic Lewis Mumford put a name to the way that complex technological systems offer a share in their benefits in exchange for compliance.

In current terms the features and value given to us by the various technologies we adopt and allow into our lives are a bribe, of sorts, to get us to accept the assorted "Terms of Service". For example we might willingly turn over our privacy for the convenience of a smartphone. It’s not an indictment of the smartphone — which can truly add value to our lives in numerous ways — but rather that we overlook the hidden price we often pay.

Do this: consider deeply what you, and society, might be paying when accepting the bribe of new devices, features, or opportunities. It’s nothing really new, and as I said, it’s not really an indictment of those devices, features, or opportunities — it’s just something to remember and consider.

5. "You can never be too skinny, and you can never have too many guns . . ."

Of Course Kyle Rittenhouse Was Acquitted – Adam Serwer – (The Atlantic)

I found this a particularly educational explanation of why Rittenhouse was, rightfully, acquitted. My interpretation: ultimately what is legal is not always moral. Laws are rarely created without an agenda. Sometimes the agenda is subtle, sometimes it’s not, and sometimes we don’t realize that impact until it’s tested by cases such as this. For everyone claiming this as a travesty (which I can’t argue), there are others claiming victory. It seems likely that the prevailing agenda is unlikely to change any time soon.

Do this: take the time to understand the agenda behind the law.

6. "Do you bag?"

Why I Don’t Bag My Groceries – Roz Warren – (Medium)

OK, this kinda made me feel guilty . . . or at least conflicted.

I almost always bag my own groceries, when given the chance. Two reasons: First, I’m honestly better at it than most. I did it for four and a half years, a lifetime ago. Couple that with my better-than-average spatial reasoning (or so I’m told) and it just works out. Second, the grocery staff so often seems overworked — especially now during pandemics and staff shortages.

But, apparently, I’m contributing to the decline of customer service? I’m not sure I buy it. But I’ll at least think about it. (Spoiler: I sometimes also bring my cart in from the parking lot. Horrors!)

Do this: whether you bag your own or not, be nice to the clerks. Trust me when I say that they truly appreciate honest kindness and connection.

7. "The placebo effect . . . appears to be limited to a few domains"

The Limits of Belief – Mark Manson – (Blog)

Interesting that the placebo effect is known to work in some domains, yet that doesn’t mean it applies in all. For example one of the more common realms in which it works is pain. And yet:

But when it comes to more complicated conditions such as genetic disorders or a deep depression, the placebo effect appears to disappear almost entirely.

I’ve always been fascinated by the effect, and wonder, sometimes, if it’s at play in a variety of situations, (particularly in the realm of what we might call "woo"). The real complication is simply this: does being a result of a placebo effect invalidate whatever it is creating the desired results?

Do this: This is almost a Heisenberg-ish thing. I’m tempted to say "pay attention to possible placebos", but then that might impact their effectiveness.

What I’m Reading

In progress (also on GoodReads):


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