Not watched Netflix in last 6 months


It was a snap decision. One day I decided to stop watching Netflix or any other streaming platform. I thought I will try this for few days and see how it goes. Weeks turned to months and now it is almost six months since I sat in front of my TV to watch anything.

Suddenly, I had too much time after work. I learnt cooking and now I am a full-stack cook. I listened to tons of podcast and audio books while cooking. Somehow listening to podcast and cooking go very well together for me. I am about to earn the Master badge on Audible.

My eyes hurt less. Somedays, I would feel a burning sensation in my eyes after a binge session. Now, I could avoid this. I was also standing and walking more leading to better health.

My thoughts are in much more control. For lack of better word, they feel sanitized. It is like my mind is off the junk food. I feel calmer.

Sometimes, I do think about watching Netflix on a cheat day. But, now I feel no real urge to do so and so I let the feeling pass.

Why is writing therapeutic?


Some ten years ago I used to write very frequently on my blog. These were mostly small articles related to things happening to and around me. It felt good to create something from scratch. Once in a while, there were messages of appreciation from readers. These messages made the effort worthwhile. They pushed me and motivated me to write better.

But then, the frequency of my writing started dropping. Lack of time and motivation were the main reasons. But, I also knew deep within me that these reasons were false. Once the rhythm of writing breaks, it is difficult to get back on track. I never got back on track and a decade passed.

There are many thoughts inside the mind. One thought leads to another and it goes on and on. Writing forces you to catch hold of one thought and express it clearly on a sheet of paper. It goes through a distillation process when it flows through your pen on the paper. Being a social animal, we need to communicate our thoughts to others. Thoughts are abstract. Making someone feel the same emotions we are feeling through some black smudges on a white background is magical.

At the end of a good day of writing, you feel lighter in your head and heart. This week an old friend reached out. We spoke of old times when both of us wrote blogs. We missed those times. Those restless times, when the urge to find expression dominated our decisions. Things have changed for both of us now.

Or is it just another excuse?

The Best Audiobooks of 2020


Recommended by Robin Whitten

I wouldn’t say The Sandman is a comfort read! The Sandman is an audio adaption of Neil Gaiman’s comic book series. The graphic novels are not new—they’ve been ongoing for many years—but the series has been adapted by Dirk Maggs and performed with this incredible cast that’s led by James McAvoy. Neil is in it—who is of course a wonderful storyteller himself—Michael Sheen, Taron Egerton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis. It’s a great cast and the adaption that Dirk Maggs did is brilliant. If you’re not familiar with him, he was a collaborator with Douglas Adams on all The Hitchhiker’s Guides. So he has done many different adaptions and productions of audio drama and this is quite something. It’s dark, it’s very mysterious, but it’s very engrossing as a listening experience. It was too scary for me, but I loved the audio experience of it.

The complete article

Sophie Roell — Five Books

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Who wins on the ephemeral internet?


What Snapchat unlocked was a desperate desire for users to not have their digital actions follow them around. Whether it was shitposts or thirst traps, the idea was that it didn’t need to live in your, or anyone’s, feed forever. That ephemerality, combined with the lack of gratification that typically comes with a main feed post, gave users the opportunity to have more fun and enjoy the internet without any of its traditional consequences. Why should we have to cling on to the minutiae of what we were posting? It treated the internet like a tool, not a catalogue. And through this it unlocked a new era: the Snapchat-cum-Stories framework of disappearing content that now exists on most mainstream platforms. 

The complete article

Sarah Manavis — New Statesman

The History of Poop Is Really the History of Technology


Highly unpleasant and negative are the raw, uncomposted, intense smells that emanate from concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, which confine and raise large numbers of animals—hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands—in a small area, and have come to dominate modern meat and dairy production over the last few decades. They accumulate huge quantities of excrement that can be smelled from miles away. I live in central California and pass by the Harris cattle ranch on Interstate 5 near Coalinga whenever I drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Even with the car windows closed, I can smell it long before I see it. Tens of thousands of beef cattle are confined there, each animal generating some 65 pounds of urine and excrement a day. Today’s formulated feeds usually supply more nitrogen than the animals would obtain from their natural diet of plants, so their excrement is especially rich in the most offensive volatiles, the branched acids, cresol, skatole, ammonia, and amines.

The complete article

Harold McGee — Backchannel

Jefferson Airplane Guitarist Sheds the Rock-Star Mask to Tell His Truth


Most rock stars have unlikely origin stories, and Kaukonen is no exception. To put his journey in context, consider the case of one of his contemporaries, Janis Joplin, about whom Kaukonen writes, “The first time I met Janis, I realized that I was in the presence of greatness.” No disrespect, but it’s a safe bet Joplin was not thinking the same thing about Kaukonen when they performed together in 1962, with Steve Talbott on harmonica, at the Folk Theater in San Jose, California. Five years before her breakthrough with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Joplin was already a full-time musician at age 19, the product of a troubled childhood in the oil-refinery town of Port Arthur, Texas. A budding drug habit would round out the dues she’d eventually pay to sing the blues.

The complete article

Ben Marks — Collectors Weekly

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The D-I-Y Origins of Night of the Living Dead


When 27-year-old George A. Romero set out to shoot his first feature, Night of the Living Dead, he had a little over $100,000 to his name and a cast of unknowns. So he got creative. For locations, he staked out abandoned buildings, reasoning that no one would care if a zombie ripped a hole in the wall. For photography, he chose 35 mm black-and-white film, hoping it would smooth over some of the ad-hoc production’s rougher edges. The blood would be Bosco’s chocolate syrup and the guts would be ham, donated from a local butcher shop.

The complete article

Kristin Hunt — JSTOR Daily

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Why go high?


The weaknesses of American democracy, which the Trump presidency has so powerfully exposed, can’t be entirely blamed on the constitution or on political procedure. They are rooted in the defeat of Reconstruction after the Civil War and the enduring power of white supremacy. In recent years, they have been amplified by deindustrialisation, the collapse of organised labour and the rise of social media. The Democratic Party bears a share of the responsibility for this. Since the Clinton administration, it has prioritised free trade and globalisation over jobs and economic equality, becoming a party of college-educated middle-class professionals, and largely turning its back on working-class voters.

The complete article

Adam Shatz — LRB

Kamala’s America?


Yet closeness to Silicon Valley and Hollywood does not mean that Harris’s ascent will be good for businesses outside the charmed circle of tech and media conglomerates. Harris has backed a state tax and regulatory regime that has devastated the state’s middle and working classes. Once in the White House, she would presumably push similar policies ruinous for business—particularly small businesses unable to cope with high taxes, restrictive labor laws, and ever-more draconian environmental regulation.

The complete article

Joel Kotkin — City Journal

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Why the Pandemic Didn’t Hurt Trump


There are several reasons for that. People still seem to see the pandemic purely as a natural disaster, not as one worsened by policy failures. And natural disasters—like wars—tend to boost incumbent support. Many Americans have no point of comparison for such a global crisis, and even those who do are largely looking to European countries that, as their second wave hits, have failed nearly as much as the United States. The numerous examples of successful control of the virus, from Australia to China to Nigeria, are almost all in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa, and simply aren’t on the radar of Western voters.

The complete article

James Palmer — Foreign Policy

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