Curious About Everything Newsletter #16
The most interesting things I read this month, about travel, public policy, technology, and more.
Welcome back to Curious About Everything. Last month’s newsletter was a FAQ edition for questions that I received from new subscribers, instead of the usual. For this June update, I’m back to the normal format: personal updates first, followed by links that are divided into topics.
A note, first: long-haul subscribers here have seen me link out to Jason’s work numerous times, because he is one of the best curators on the web—and has been for 24 years, long before most of us got started. He’s taking a much-deserved break from posting, and shared a list of things to read instead of his site.
I was honoured to make that list, and wanted to give a warm welcome to the a large number of you who signed up from it. I hope you enjoy the newsletter.
This month’s featured image is colourful owl by Danica Novgorodoff, from Kevin Nguyen’s bird watching story, below.
💻 I have updated my (egregiously long) resources page for remote workers and digital nomads to add the direct government visa links to the countries that have enabled a digital nomad visa or equivalent during the pandemic. I’ve seen lots of sites link out to their own ‘how tos’ versus what’s on the official pages, so I went for official for accuracy.
🍲 I updated all of my gluten free guides for celiacs and associated GF restaurant cards to reflect new redesign of Legal Nomads, including my mascot Arthur the raven. I’m looking for translators familiar with celiac disease for a few additional languages, Egyptian Arabic, Swedish, Finnish, and more. I pay for the translations! Think you’re a good fit? More information and a form to fill out if so.
🎉 I’ve been named a co-chair of the Spinal CSF Leak Foundation’s Patient Advisory Panel for Research, and signed my first support letter for a NIH study grant on the panel’s behalf. (If you’re new here, my spinal CSF leak was caused by a lumbar puncture in 2017. You can read more about it in a piece I wrote for CNN in late January.)
🧡 Current we are at 298 Patrons, and I just shared my “Ask Me Anything” #4, which answers questions about assistive tech, resilience, and self-advocacy. Want to support my work? Patreon memberships have funded my ability to live independently with a spinal CSF leak:
The Best Things I Read This Month
A smorgasbord of many things.
🧠 Links to make you think 🧠
Solitude does not necessarily mean loneliness, despite being “taught that the crowd is happiness”. Alone time, if you have the privilege to carve it out” is often what’s needed to let your mind create anew. (Short piece)
Another short, thoughtful piece about how optimizing for efficiency isn’t necessarily the ‘fastest’ way forward. “Light finds the fastest path simply by being and behaving like itself.”
Beautiful Mari Andrew post about how to ‘follow your North Star’ and make decisions when you’re stuck. Among the advice: consult your past and future selves in the process.
NPR’s take on the same topic, but far less lyrical. Their view? It’s a mindset issue.
And lest you be concerned about struggling with all those tough decisions, research finds only difference between decisive people and non-decisive people is confidence. It’s not that decisive people make better decisions.
To listen well is not only a kindness to others but also a gift to ourselves. Why do we accept bad listening? “Like all forms of self-improvement, breaking this carapace requires intention, and ideally guidance.” On the art of listening (Bad listening signals to the people around you that you don’t care about them).
The arc of the practical creator: More to That on the tension between earning and creating.
Ribbonfarm on how to stay intact during prolonged crisis. I agree, and that ability is a skill to be cultivated—not a given. My favourite quote from the piece:
“It strikes me that the most important aspect of cultivating a crisis mindset is the subtlest one — the ability to retain a strong connection to the sublime, to life beyond mere survival and claustrophobic intersubjectivity, in whatever stolen moments you can find against the general backdrop of never-ending crisis.”
🖥️ Links about technology 🖥️
As the recording industry gets more and more attached to TikTok, things have eked into the absurd. Ted Gioia on how some have reached the point where they won’t release an album until the music goes viral on the platform.
AI + existing corporate logos = a lot of fun weirdness.
Why watches are normally set to 10:10 in advertisements.
✈️ Links about travel ✈️
Stunning photos of wisteria trees in Ashikaga Flower Park, located in Tochigi, Japan, by Ryo Tajima, like the one above. You can also follow him on Instagram, here.
At 83, Japanese adventurer Kenichi Horie just became the oldest person in the world to finish a solo nonstop voyage across the Pacific.
For those who prefer walking, observations from Craig Mod as he wanders through the UK’s Cotswolds after years of wandering through Japan:
Japan on a whole — continuously changing in remarkable ways. Even the “old” stuff, the landmarks like Ise Shrine are under constant renewal, max out at twenty years. Sure you can find “true” old stuff — a stone marker here or there, a fat tree that wasn’t chopped and replanted for post-war cedar harvesting — but it isn’t like the Cotswolds; the old can feel accidental in Japan. In the Cotswolds it feels elemental.
And, continuing on that theme: 25 famous trails around the world, in Australia, Iceland, Namibia, and elsewhere.
🌱 Links about the natural world 🌱
A beautiful read by Kevin Nguyen, about birds (and what they might tell us about climate change), about sobriety and sickness, and making peace with profound loss.
It’s 10p.m. Do You Know Where Your Cat Is? Our family lost our cat for two long weeks when I was in grade 5, and she was an indoor cat thereafter until she passed. This piece makes the argument that keeping our cats indoors is an ecological choice, not just a safety one. Iceland, a land that loves its cats, now has curfews for people who traditionally let their felines roam outside at night. “Cats kill far more birds than most people imagine, and their owners appear to often hold the denialism of a parent unable to accept their cat as murderous.”
From reader Lisa, some wonderfully detailed gouache portraits of lemurs, frogs, plants, and other animals by Bill Mayer, like this duck with an attitude:
What rainbow trout can teach us about relationships:
We, too, feel the urge to travel, and also, to return home. That sometimes the trip requires leaping over impossibly high barriers. And that sometimes, because of the love and insanity of those around us, we make it to the other side.
Such journeys aren’t impossible, they’re just upstream.
Pick a city, pick an era, and look at what the earth was like in any part of the world. I chose my hometown of Montreal, 300 million years ago.
⚖️ Links about public policy ⚖️
“I thought I was writing fiction in The Handmaid’s Tale”, says Margaret Atwood in The Atlantic, but the US Supreme Court is making it real. Related: persistent claims about abortion in the US, fact-checked.
State leaders in Texas campaigned on “saving” Texas children from threats real and imagined. “All the while,” says Texas Monthly, “we've been selling them out.” [Note: this was written before the tragedy in Uvalde.]
Dataviz and article from Reuters about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is worsening already inflated global food prices and affecting global food supply.
On the economics of expert witnesses in US lawsuits. (They receive a lot more money than people realize!)
Your Local Epidemiologist summarizes what we know and don’t know about fall boosters, and how COVID may continue to evolve.
🔗 Quick links 🔗
Very short summaries for over hundreds of books, from Derek Sivers.
Have a word stuck on the tip of your tongue? Here’s a smart site that helps you figure out what it might be.
Laurie Penny on Eurovision: “The Eurovision song contest is epic chaos and probably also the only honest democracy that’s ever existed.”
Excuses for missing work from a 3200 year old stone tablet, including “the scorpion bit him”, “brewing beer”, and more.
How the Lamborghini and Ferrari rivalry came to be.
Video of the Month
Shot in Joshua Tree National park, this dreamy night sky timelapse uses 20-second exposures shot on a Canon 6D to take you into a surreal wonderland.
Shot and edited by Gavin Heffernan:
That’s it for this month!
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you all in July.