122: Acutely vulnerable and restlessly lively


Things

“It has become necessary,” the bill declares, “that we … extend legal rights to our natural environment to ensure that the natural world [is] no longer subordinated to the accumulation of surplus wealth and unaccountable political power.” Robert Macfarlane takes the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, which we’ve pondered here on a few occasions, as the starting point for a sprawling observation of what he calls a “new animism”. This essay encapsulates so many of the themes that fascinate us in the more root-and-branch corners of this email on a regular basis, from the problems of anthropomorphism and the limits of “being”, to what it means to try to cram fundamental and ancient knowledges into frameworks of western law. Messy idealism, he writes, is a function of desperation, but that’s no bad thing. In there somewhere is a desire to build pathways forward through the Anthropocene, an epoch in which, he writes, “Earth is revealing itself as both acutely vulnerable and restlessly lively.”

Meanwhile, here’s an interesting (Ameri-centric but the narrative applies elsewhere) overview  of the current state of Nestlé’s ongoing mission to bottle the world’s fresh water and sell it back in plastic.

You might have read a bunch of “we all originated in Botswana” articles this week. Let’s take it as our regular opportunity to say that even peer-reviewed studies aren’t immune from breathless sexy inaccurate takeaways. Science rarely offers up such simple answers.

Last week, there was no Buckslip mostly because Patrick was in Lebanon. He was there for mundane work reasons but was privileged to be able to see up close the sweep that happened as protest over something so mundane as an attempt to tax WhatsApp escalated into a kind of joyful and unified non-sectarian revolution. If outside media were focussed on whether or not Hezbollah might allow genuine reform, the reality as shouted in the street parties and along a country-length human chain was that the old systems can no longer stand. Sending solidarity to everybody we met there, and everybody on the streets, even the crying soldiers but especially the kick queen.


If you’d like every possible take on Sidewalk Toronto, check out the kinda marvellous Some Thoughts, a collection of ideas, responses, propositions and counterpropositions to Sidewalk’s plans from so many people we respect (including some of y’all readers!). Even if you’re bored to death with discussion on Toronto property development and the role of tech companies in it, you should still check this out as a fascinating, extreme-round-table format for presenting a diverse array of views on a tangly topic.

“Personality Tests are the Astrology of the Office,” the means by which we can make some sense of our place in an otherwise senseless world. But whereas astrology translates across the divide between our earthly lives to the stars, the office is personalities both above and below. None of us dream of becoming constellations in the sky ourselves, but many gaze up at the muscled mogul to imagine their own metamorphosis. Personality-driven profiles of founders and dynasties alike encourage our self-cantered tendency to project ourselves into the lead role. But there might be a silver lining. In doing so we can better understand and relate to each other and—if we don’t take ourselves too seriously—perhaps even deflate each other’s mythologies. If narcissism is at the core of this framework, at least it’s not alienation.


Thinking about how we think about ourselves is fun for the whole family. Inside Out may have dealt with some heady material, but Pixar is plans to outdo itself by giving Soul a score by Trent Reznor.

If you squint and think about things from a certain angle, and select an arbitrary event as an agreed starting point, this week might mark the fiftieth birthday of the internet. It’s been many years since we read Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon’s great chronicle of that birth story, Where Wizards Stay Up Late, but this moment and that linked oral history got us wondering if there are any other newer histories out there we haven’t read that provide some of the more marginalised perspectives from this canonical narrative of how it all came to be, or which elements mattered? That’s a question. Let us know!

Whatever. Fifty years on, Everything is Amazing, But Nothing is Ours


Hoo boy, the Deadspin implosion has been both fun and so sad to watch this week. Fun, because it’s so rare to see talented people so fantastically and collectively stick it to terrible bosses who don’t even know how to change the Twitter password. Sad, because Deadspin was a good site, and bosses are terrible. Somewhere in between fun and sad, there’s something about how though bad consultants and CEOs might still be addicted to that lie we all lived under five years ago, where juiced metrics and raw numbers from autoplays were the key to media’s future, even the ad sales people aren’t buying that any more. In reality, sustainable content organisations have genuinely begun to learn to look in more productive directions—maybe if you avoid black swans like Hulk Hogan sex tapes, you can still build a good business on the back of good talent, well edited?

It’s interesting to look at the latest pivot of The New Republic in this context—now there is a publication that’s become far too used to getting knocked down, getting up again, finding its way back to tubthumping, etc. We have some hope. We wish we could have as much for the rebirth of the once-great science title Nautilus, and the promise of those bringing it back to life to start by paying back all of its unpaid writers, but when the investor group (led by Larry Summers!?) assure that diversity beyond white men in both leadership and editorial is a long-term concern that they’ll only address after they’ve dealt with “getting the finances in order”, we’re not exactly holding our breath. But hey, they’re promising to give the $25k Jeffrey Epstein pitched in to “an at-risk teen charity”, so look, there are no problems here.

Chase all of that with Reeves Wiedeman’s long, long New York story on the tumultous insides of Condé Nast and its “two dozen brands, which used to be called ‘magazines.’” So many re-orgs, so many ping pong tables coming and going, branded content studios not quite sure how to sell video, so much Wintour. And in the end? Just this: “After years of drama, downsizing, and intrigue, what seems to be happening most with Condé is that it is becoming — normal. Just another media company trying to get by.”

“A cookbook for those alone and those in love.” The fascinating story of from 50s-era socialist Poland, of a cookbook written by a gay man under the invented identity of a straight couple.


1110011 01101000 01100001 01110010 01100101: Buckslip.