Some great things to read

I read some very good stuff on the interweb this week. You might enjoy:

1.
Paul Graham’s
Taste for Makers.
Excellent thoughts on making things that are simple and good, which can easily apply to design, writing, art, mathematics, acting, everything, really:

Good design is timeless. In math, every proof is timeless unless it contains a mistake. So what does Hardy mean when he says there is no permanent place for ugly mathematics? He means…. if something is ugly, it can’t be the best solution. There must be a better one, and eventually someone will discover it. Aiming at timelessness is a way to make yourself find the best answer: if you can imagine someone surpassing you, you should do it yourself.

2.
The Hairpin’s thoughtful, insightful
Ask an Abortion Provider.

I speak of my abortion as a positive experience, not to secure the “most awesome abortion” prize (hello judges…?) but to save a seat for the possibility that this doesn’t have to be the worst thing that ever happened to you in your whole life…. If it makes you uncomfortable to think about abortion as something that could possibly be positive for a person, think of why you’re a person who doesn’t want someone to do the best that they can under the circumstances they’re in.

3.
The Awl co-founder Chiore Sicha’s touching and funny elegy to his cat,
The Last Photograph of Cat.

Cat believed that everything was a prison… Because of his view that there was always something better beyond what boundaries so arbitrarily constrained him, Cat spent most of his life trying to climb over, through and under any possible obstacle.

4.
The Wikipedia article on
Emotional Labour.

… a form of emotional regulation wherein workers are expected to display certain emotions as part of their job, and to promote organizational goals. The intended effects of these emotional displays are on other, targeted people, who can be clients, customers, subordinates or co-workers.

Every in-person job I’ve had in the past decade has involved a very heavy component of emotional labour, since basically I am hired to get people to open up with me (like when I interview or teach them), or to help them feel emotions that I generate (ie, as an actor) or to regulate their emotional journey (ie, banishing awkwardness and creating flow and comfort when hosting).

I was instinctively very aware of this concept, so it was fun to learn that it had a name and other people have written about it. One thing stood out to me: basically, the more superficial the emotional labour, the worse the worker feels about themselves. You have to genuinely believe in what you’re doing if you want to be OK with doing it. I’ve really noticed this.

5.
Writer Mike Sager has a section on his personal website called Tips.
It includes some real gems:

- 53 ways to improve your reporting
(Sit in the back, in a place that commands the entire field.)

- 51 ways to improve your writing
(Dare to be bad. Then go back and edit.)

- 25 ways to improve editorial relationships
(Try to avoid drinking at lunch.)

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