Unmournable Bodies

From Teju Cole:

The scale, intensity, and manner of the solidarity that we are seeing for the victims of the Paris killings, encouraging as it may be, indicates how easy it is in Western societies to focus on radical Islamism as the real, or the only, enemy. This focus is part of the consensus about mournable bodies, and it often keeps us from paying proper attention to other, ongoing, instances of horrific carnage around the world: abductions and killings in Mexico, hundreds of children (and more than a dozen journalists) killed in Gaza by Israel last year, internecine massacres in the Central African Republic, and so on. And even when we rightly condemn criminals who claim to act in the name of Islam, little of our grief is extended to the numerous Muslim victims of their attacks, whether in Yemen or Nigeria—in both of which there were deadly massacres this week—or in Saudi Arabia, where, among many violations of human rights, the punishment for journalists who “insult Islam” is flogging. We may not be able to attend to each outrage in every corner of the world, but we should at least pause to consider how it is that mainstream opinion so quickly decides that certain violent deaths are more meaningful, and more worthy of commemoration, than others.

Between Being Brave and Being Funny

I have never once seen a cartoon of Mohammed that has made me laugh. Not one.

Thus starts Hugo Rifkin’s excellent article, “There is a difference between being brave and being funny“.

It is easy to mock the Saudis, because they are savages who live in palaces. Iran exists in totalitarianism, and the Islamic State are murderous fascists. All — obviously, obviously — are ripe for it. To mock Islam itself, though, is to accept that all bar a small, statistical anomaly among those whom your barbs are stabbing will not be comfortable at all.

So, it seems to me that the solution to the fear, equivocation and confusion that any liberal satirist might feel right now is not, necessarily, to keep on grinding. Rather, it is ponder why it should be that offending Muslims, actually, isn’t funny. It is to look at their marginalisation in the West; their near invisibility in politics, media, comedy and all the rest of it, and recognise that this is a problem that makes mockery, which is vital for everyone, far more complex.

No Different Than A Blank Piece of Paper

Why blogging is not dead, according to Kit Stansley:

So, I’m just going to say a thing about this right now… “blogs dying” is not real. It’s not a thing. It’s like saying “cantaloupes running” or “light-bulbs laughing”. Those are definitely two real words that someone put together in a phrase, but they fail as a concept, and here’s why: Cantaloupes do not have legs. Also, a “blog” is no different than a blank piece of paper. It’s a piece of paper that a lot of people can see, if they’d like to, or, alternatively, a lot of people can ignore. Maybe you put something really personal on that paper and fold it into a pretty little origami crane and no one gets to see it but you. Maybe you write jokes on that paper and pass it to your best friend in the back of study hall. Maybe you pick up a pen and write a novel on that paper, or draw a picture of something you’re really proud of. Maybe you whisper a secret to it and then set it on fire and make a wish on the ashes.

Discard Everything That Does Not Spark Joy

Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.

Obsessive, gently self-mocking and tender toward the life cycle of, say, a pair of socks, Ms. Kondo delivers her tidy manifesto like a kind of Zen nanny, both hortatory and animistic.

“Don’t just open up your closet and decide after a cursory glance that everything in it gives you a thrill,” she writes. “You must take each outfit in your hand.”

Advice from decluttering expert Marie Kondo.

Paying Dads to Change Nappies

Why Swedish men take so much paternity leave“:

One of the most powerful arguments in favour of splitting parental leave more equally is that it has positive ripple effects for women. Since Swedish men started to take more responsibility for child rearing, women have seen both their incomes and levels of self-reported happiness increase. Paying dads to change nappies and hang out at playgrounds, in other words, seems to benefit the whole family.

Zero Value

From Dave Winer:

This is a huge disconnect, and we let it happen. The problem isn’t with the NYPD, the problem is with the blanket total support we give our military when it fights in Afghanistan and Iraq. The price of placing zero value on the lives of the people of these countries is that our lives in turn become worthless. What goes around comes around. You reap what you sow. There are dozens of adages and fables that explain this phenomenon. The lives of the people of the foreign countries are worth exactly as much as ours. We overlooked the behavior of American soldiers in these countries. Now the cops want to know why we treat them differently.

The Loneliness of A Middle Distance Designer

A lesson in hustle and persistence:

With distance running you must teach yourself pace. The heart of learning pace is teaching yourself what you already know you can and cannot do. You run at a slower pace early in the race, holding in check your competitive need to be out in front. You run slower earlier so you can run faster than everyone else at the end of the race — and not feel like you’re running through maple syrup that last mile.

“It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays”

Brian Schmidt won the Noble Physics Prize in 2011. This is what happened when he carried the medal through airport security:

“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’

“I Could Have Saved One Chip”

Steve Wozniak, on simplifying:

“I always tried to simplify my designs down to the absolute minimum,” Wozniak said. In terms of the early Apple computers, Wozniak was particularly focused on reducing the number of chips required–and apparently, this obsession stayed with him long after the product was finished. During our talk, he revealed that just a few days earlier–some 38 years after the fact–“I finally figured out I could have saved one chip on the Apple II.”

He Just Watches The Ball

This year is the tenth anniversary of Lionel Messi’s debut. Brian Phillips wrote:

He’s 10, and he’s surrounded by other kids in full uniforms — it’s during a match, maybe it’s halftime. And he’s just juggling the ball with his left foot. The other kids are standing close. He doesn’t seem to notice. He just watches the ball, keeps it up, foot, knee, foot, knee. He looks transfixed. You get an impression of someone so absorbed by the movement of the ball that it occupies his entire mind. That everything outside the connection he has with the ball is not quite real. Not that it’s menacing or unpleasant; just that it’s sort of to one side. He’s not interested in other people and their egos or in whether he’s being watched. He’s interested in the ball, in making it do what he wants. It’s an end to him, not a means.

Introverts in Football

“Ozil, Ronaldo and football’s distrust of introverts”:

Wenger nailed it when he said recently: “You always see a good Ozil when you watch the game again”. There is no doubt that the playmaker has disappointed on occasion since he moved to the Premier League. Yet take the trouble to watch him closely, and you’ll be rewarded by a magic show, which would explain why he is held in such esteem by the world’s leading coaches.

You’ll notice how often he delivers the pre-assist for big goals, as he did against Besiktas. You’ll see that, in some of his most crucial interventions, he scarcely touches the ball, gently caressing it rather than kicking it. You’ll notice that he rarely looks at the player he is going to pass to, nor offers any hints of his plans with his posture, strategies that are infuriating for opponents. His sleight of foot is truly bewitching.

You’ll also come to understand what a selfless player Ozil is. He creates space for his team-mates and makes those around him look much better, paying the price when perceptions of him suffer in comparison. Yet, true to the instinct of the introvert, he wouldn’t dream of drawing attention to his contribution.