Attention is like water

But physical technique, Robbins pointed out, is merely a tool. “It’s all about the choreography of people’s attention,” he said. “Attention is like water. It flows. It’s liquid. You create channels to divert it, and you hope that it flows the right way.”

A Pickpocket’s Tale by Adam Green

It’s Adam and Steven

“You must be Dave,” she says. (In New England everyone calls you “Dave” regardless of however many times you might introduce yourself as David. I am reminded of those fanatically religious homophobes who stand on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral during Gay Pride, holding signs that say “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” I have always wanted to go up to them and say, “Well, of course not Adam and Steve. Never Adam and Steve. It’s Adam and Steven.”)

Great line:

The air is as clear and cold as vodka.

Fraud: Essays by David Rakoff

The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America’s Middle Class

When floodwaters cover our homes, we expect that FEMA workers with emergency checks and blankets will find us. There is no moral or substantive difference between a hundred-year flood and the near-destruction of the global financial system by speculators immune from consequence. But if you and your spouse both lose your jobs and assets because of an unprecedented economic cataclysm having nothing to do with you, you quickly discover that your society expects you and your children to live malnourished on the streets indefinitely. That kind of truth, says Nancy Kapp, “really screws with people’s heads.”

The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America’s Middle Class by Jeff Tietz

How I hacked my brain with Adderall: a cautionary tale

But coming up daily on Adderall has less to do with a caffeinated sensation than it does with becoming a detail-oriented post-human, a machine following self-imposed routines with little regard for anything outside the routine’s scope. It turns out that my Adderall self has a knack for accounting, spreadsheets, and administrative tasks that my unstimulated self would normally shy away from: an inbox-zeroing robot bent on eking out every last ounce of productivity my heightened senses could spit out.

How I hacked my brain with Adderall: a cautionary tale by Trent Wolbe

Jerry Seinfeld on Craft

On working on a joke, rewriting until each syllable is just right:

Seinfeld will nurse a single joke for years, amending, abridging and reworking it incrementally, to get the thing just so. “It’s similar to calligraphy or samurai,” he says. “I want to make cricket cages. You know those Japanese cricket cages? Tiny, with the doors? That’s it for me: solitude and precision, refining a tiny thing for the sake of it.”

On craftsmanship:

“People ask me, Why Porsches? A lot of it is the size, same as with bits. The smaller something is, the harder it is to make, because there’s less room for error.” In high school he took shop classes, even after a counselor told him that collegebound kids didn’t need to, because he wanted to know how machines fit together. “I have this old ’57 Porsche Speedster, and the way the door closes, I’ll just sit there and listen to the sound of the latch going, cluh-CLICK-click,” Seinfeld said. “That door! I live for that door. Whatever the opposite of planned obsolescence is, that’s what I’m into.”

Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up by Johnah Weiner

WikiLeaks and Julian Paul Assange

So far, even though the site has received more than a hundred legal threats, almost no one has filed suit. Lawyers working for the British bank Northern Rock threatened court action after the site published an embarrassing memo, but they were practically reduced to begging. A Kenyan politician also vowed to sue after Assange published a confidential report alleging that President Daniel arap Moi and his allies had siphoned billions of dollars out of the country. The site’s work in Kenya earned it an award from Amnesty International.

Assange typically tells would-be litigants to go to hell. In 2008, WikiLeaks posted secret Scientology manuals, and lawyers representing the church demanded that they be removed. Assange’s response was to publish more of the Scientologists’ internal material, and to announce, “WikiLeaks will not comply with legally abusive requests from Scientology any more than WikiLeaks has complied with similar demands from Swiss banks, Russian offshore stem-cell centers, former African kleptocrats, or the Pentagon.”

WikiLeaks and Julian Paul Assange
The New Yorker by Raffi Khatchadourian on June 6, 2010

A eulogy for #occupy

We were trapped in endless war and financial crisis, in debt and downward spiral that our leaders bickered about, but did nothing to stop. It wore away at people with the implacability of geological erosion. The American empire we never wanted in the first place was crumbling slowly, and nothing we did in our lives seemed to matter. We had learned in the past 10 years that we couldn’t change our fates, not with hard work, taking on debt, education, or even trying to live healthy. Even when we wanted to, we could not stop wars, rein in banks, repair our crumbling infrastructure or take care of each other. We couldn’t control medical costs or the price of an education. Gas was going up, temperatures were going up.

Americans themselves lived quiet lives of untold loneliness, socially isolated. But, as we’d come to learn, we’re always watched by our infrastructure’s silent machines. Lonely, but never alone. It had become an authoritarian failing state, but without the authority, or even the sense of change that comes with total failure. We were dying by bits and pieces, going numb and fading away.

A Eulogy for #Occupy by Quinn Norton

Never let go

I reached in through the porthole. I saw how white and swollen my hand was. I let it hover over her for a second, then pulled away, as if from a fire. Finally I placed the tip of my pinky into her tiny palm.

She grabbed on.

Never let go, part one by Kelley Benham

In this way we learned what music she liked — Bruce Springsteen’s Waitin’ on a Sunny Day became our theme song. She had never seen the sun.

Never let go, part two by Kelley Benham

No alarms, no wires, no machines. Just me and my daughter. My hand on her back. The soft steady whisper of a baby, breathing.

Never let go, part three by Kelley Benham

An unpurty mouth

I found myself neither in conversation nor not in conversation but looking into a particularly ugly mouth. I can’t recall how I arrived before this mouth—zigzagging across the square—but once in its presence I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
In it, there were many gaps, the raw rim of the gums showing where once there must have been teeth. Of the teeth still intact, many were chipped or split; none was straight: they appeared to have grown up at odd, unconventional angles or (more likely) been redirected by a powerful physical influence at some point in their career. All of them were highly colored—deep brown or caked with yellow or, like a pea soup, mushy green and vegetable soft with decay. This was a mouth that had suffered many slings and arrows along with the occasional thrashing and several hundredweight of tobacco and Cadbury’s milk chocolate. This was a mouth through which a great deal of life had passed at, it would appear, an uncompromising speed

Among the Thugs by Bill Buford (The New Kings Of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass)

Objectivity and truth

The thing about reporting is that it is meant to be objective. It is meant to record and relay the truth of things, as if truth were out there, hanging around, waiting for the reporter to show up. Such is the premise of objective journalism. What this premise excludes, as any student of modern literature will tell you, is that slippery relative fact of the person doing the reporting, the modern notion that there is no such thing as the perceived without someone to do the perceiving, and that to exclude the circumstances surrounding the story is to tell an untruth.

Among the Thugs by Bill Buford (The New Kings Of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass)