Book excerpt I was thinking about:
“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.” (James Clear, Atomic Habits)
The dragon rises yet again:
A great history of Bruce Lee’s struggle to be taken seriously as a film star.
An American citizen, born in a San Francisco hospital in 1940 (the year of the dragon), he was racially and culturally ostracized nonetheless. Lee was turned down for the lead of a wandering Shaolin monk on the ABC action drama Kung Fu for being “too authentic.” (The role went to David Carradine, whose inauthenticity as a white man playing a half-Chinese martial arts master proved more salable.) For all the ballyhoo of social upheaval at the time, the 1960s—with the Japanese internments of WWII a recent memory, and the Vietnam War headline news—were not kind to Asian Americas. “The truth is,” Lee flatly told an interviewer, “I am a yellow-faced Chinese. I cannot possibly become an idol for Caucasians, not to mention rousing the emotions of my countrymen.”
The best advice for a year from hell:
A few gems in here that just might make a difference today.
For happiness, three things are required. Something to do. Someone to love who loves you back. Something to look forward to.
Our post-privacy world:
In 2018, a columnist for The Guardian asked Google to give him all the data it had collected on him. The company turned over 5.5 gigabytes of information—the equivalent of three million Word documents. When I repeated this experiment in March 2020, Google informed me that I was being “tracked across fifty-one products” and that I should be patient while my data were being assembled. “This process can take a long time (possibly hours or days) to complete,” the company wrote. “You’ll receive an email when your export is done.”
Ten hours later, Google emailed to say that my “archive” was complete. When I unzipped the files, they contained 214.47 gigabytes of data, roughly equal to streaming 214 hours of movies on Netflix. As a book printed in 10-point Arial, it would be 13,893,796 pages long. The archive included all my contacts, photos, search history, purchases, call logs, and correspondence—pretty much everything I had done on the Internet from its origins to the present. Like everyone else, I had agreed to this surveillance by clicking “yes” to unread agreements that promised to “enhance your user experience.” Apart from Google, I am being tracked by a host of other companies. They scrape data from my financial transactions and then sell it back to me as my credit rating or pass it on to Bluffdale, Utah, as part of the NSA’s effort to comprehend information in its totality.
31 favorite records:
Notes from a month-long challenge. My new-to-me finds are number 9 and 10. They couldn’t be more different, but have been on constant rotation since.
Al Green, Call Me
The Reverend Al Green made four perfect albums in a row with Willie Mitchell in the early 1970s. This is the deepest, the smoothest, the ultimate. That voice! Those Memphis Horns! That sound! Covers of Hank Williams and Willie Nelson! This is a perfect Sunday night record.
The Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin
“Is it getting heavy? Well, I thought it was already as heavy as can be.” I hadn’t listened to this record in probably 10 years, and I can’t get over how good it sounds . Wayne’s broken but hopeful voice, the slide guitars and cheesy orchestra synths juxtaposed with those downright massive drums, “Too heavy for even Superman to lift.” This is the perfect album for a Monday morning in a world that’s looking bleak.
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