What I learned last week (#166): Odessa, slow productivity, lugubrious, and more!

Glasgow city street on a sunny day

A weekly selection of what I was reading, drawing, writing, and doing.

Last week started with this article on the experience of war in the city of Odessa in the Ukraine, which is harrowing and really well-written and apparently very accurate (says one of my team members that is actually living in the city).

Here are some resources for donating (taken from Tim Ferriss’s 5-bullet Friday):


Come Back Alive

The National Bank of Ukraine

Ukraine Defense Fund

More Ways to Support Ukraine

I’m reading a John McPhee book at the moment: Coming Into the Country. He turned 91 last week and I loved being reminded how he has approached writing a million things seemingly (and still going):

By any reasonable standard, McPhee is productive. He’s published 29 books, one of which won a Pulitzer Prize, and two of which were nominated for National Book Awards. He’s also been penning distinctive articles for The New Yorker since 1965. And yet, he rarely writes more than 500 words a day.

When asked about this paradox, McPhee famously quipped:

People say to me, ‘Oh, you’re so prolific’…God, it doesn’t feel like it—nothing like it. But, you know, you put an ounce in a bucket each day, you get a quart.

I’m guessing you won’t be lugubrious after reading this funny and smart analysis of the use of words in rap.

That’s the best way I can find to read the Queens MCs Action Bronson and Meyhem Lauren, whose pious devotion to imported meats and expensive pens breezes through wealth-signaling, nods at showy precision, and comes to rest in a thrilling kind of mundanity. Don’t try to put me in a box like a tissue / ’Cause I’ll put you in a box with a pink suit / Then fuck around and have some squid ink soup, bitch, Bronson shouts in a song called “Falconry.” He has an album called Rare Chandeliers; Lauren has one called Mandatory Brunch Meetings, plus song titles like “Fingerless Driving Gloves” and “Pan Seared Tilapia” and “Beautiful Areolas.” I could go on. By cutting the bombastic opulence of Rick Ross with the highbrow materialism of Frasier Crane, and still leaving room for weird sex boasts and nods to vintage basketball players, they’re not so much testing the boundaries of word rappability as flouting them altogether.

Here is a beautiful little video about skiing and painting. Makes me want to bring my paints next time I go hiking.

Finally, just for fun, the 2021 World Nature Photography Awards. That leopard seal looks like something from Jurassic Park.

See you next week!

(P.S. I’ll never stop)

Last but not least, check out what I’m up to now.

Comments welcome!