Diversions: June

A selection of essays, articles, and blog posts that inspired me this month.

Mow the lawn
There is a certain happiness I find in the mundane, in the tasks I must do and sometimes put off because I forget the joy that comes from not just the grand gestures but also in the small, everyday moments of our lives.

Revisiting Jurassic Park’s Tangled Bookish Roots
Lots of interesting facts about how Jurassic Park began as a screenplay turned novel turned screenplay turned cinema franchise. Here’s an interesting one about The Lost World: Crichton didn’t originally want to write a sequel, but Spielberg convinced him that it was the right thing to do.

Technophrenia
Some really interesting thoughts here about the difference between technology and “tech” — one of them leading to transformation and skill-development, the other leading to comfort and ease.

Hello, let’s talk about a park
Naming a city Prince George instead of its original name, Lheidli T’enneh, erases the history of the space, but also says that the lived experience of some people are worth less than the perceived prestige of another. This whole piece reminded me that I need to do a better job of learning about the history of the First Nations that were here before European colonization.

Rethinking Columbus: Towards a True People’s History
As someone who once lived in the District of Columbia, and who is contemplating an eventual move to British Columbia, I’m a little perturbed by the version of history that highlights Columbus as a “discoverer” rather than a colonizer. It’s definitely time we start rethinking how we tell our continent’s history.

The most evil child book characters of all time
Reading John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos in high school was terrifying; watching the subsequent movie adaptation made me scared of albino kids for years. That’s pure horror.

Alaska has the most diverse neighborhood in the US
This is quite surprising; it highlights to me that I don’t know much about Alaska, and that I want to learn more, and maybe even visit sometime soon.

The Realest Language
This attempt to create a universal language based on pure logic reminds us that the evolution of language — of multiple languages — can be a reflection of not just logic, but history, culture, and the stories we tell ourselves to help explain the world around us.

Foie Gras: America’s Most Controversial Food
While I’m a fan of eating foie gras — when prepared well, it can be heavenly delicious — I understand, and often have some trouble rationalizing, the issues it presents around animal treatment. This Zagat mini-documentary is pretty honest and open about all the issues.

Uber for Uber!
This piece by Anil Dash is humorous and cheeky, but in the end, is a sobering reminder that we need to be much better at investing in our public transit infrastructure. The sharing economy already exists, just in different ways, and we should be helping foster it along.

All 15 Pixar Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best
The fact that Ratatouille isn’t number 1 on this list is absolutely ridiculous. Other than that, pretty solid list. But really — Ratatouille is a modern cinematic masterpiece, animated or not, and needs to be recognized as such.

A Public Assembly Facilities Manager Considers Jurassic World
Jurassic World was an enjoyable film, despite all its flaws. This review is perhaps the best (and most humorous) take on the film I’ve read so far.

Voices of the Walmart
There are eight million stories in a city. How many are there at Walmart? Random telephone calls made to hear about life inside. 

Freedom of Panorama is under attack
Imagine if all your photos from your recent trip to Europe had to be altered to erase any public buildings, art installations, or other key parts of the landscape? That’s what new legislation is proposing to do in Europe, and the argument can be made that the new legislation doesn’t help anyone at all.

The Sesame Street Effect
We didn’t have a television growing up, but when I was younger and would get to stay with a family friend that had a tv set, my viewing was almost entirely (by choice) Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I’d like to think that those shows helped me understand the world around me and helped shape my view on how I can make that world a better place.

Our Dino Love Will Never Die
While Jurassic World wasn’t my favorite movie I’ve watched all year, I still found it immensely entertaining; a big reason for that is because I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fascination of being able to see a dinosaur, even on screen, that looks like it could be alive right now.

Cropped: Blackberries
Blackberries have always been my favorite kind of berry. Something about their texture and mixture of sweetness and tartness appeals to me. I’m putting blackberry-picking on my list of things to do, one day soon.

How Hannibal’s food stylist creates hypothetical human meat
I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Janice Poon at an event here in Toronto a few months ago (we even got to eat a meal that she styled and prepared just for the event) and was fascinated by how much care and work went into making sure the food styling was reflective of the mood of the episode and actually advanced the story at the same time as being visually stunning.

Why I Can’t Forgive Dylann Roof
Roxane Gay brings up a good issue: when black people are asked to forgive the perpetrators of racial violence, are they really being asked to absolve and forget? How does this shape our collective history?

How I Learned to Love My Skin Colour
I’ve had a lot of conversations, over the years with other people of brown skin like me, about the subtle colorism that exists in the shades of brown, lighter to darker, and how that makes us feel either more connected, or less connected, to our heritage.

Is This New Swim Stroke the Fastest Yet?
Nautilus looks at the evolution of the fish kick, and how it may be the next great thing in swimming. I’d definitely be interested in watching swim competitions that took place underwater instead of at the surface — the speeds and styles are so unique and fluid under the surface.

Do it, Rockapella: A Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? contestant looks back
Unsurprisingly, Lynne Thigpen was the real star and attraction of the show. And for anyone who hasn’t been to a TV show taping before, the amount of time it takes to tape a show — all described in this piece — is surprisingly and staggeringly long.

A New Theory of Distraction
I’ve been thinking a lot about distraction and attention recently, and have been consciously training myself to be better at being focused, undistracted, even when sitting and doing nothing. This piece has some really interesting thoughts on how our minds are being shaped by our behaviors.

Love at Third Sight
Cory Booker has a wonderful story about the man whose name was associated with the landmark case that went to the Supreme Court about the legalization of gay marriage — the case that, last week, decided that gay marriage was now legal and recognizable in all fifty states.

The Greatest Good
As someone that does quite a bit of charitable giving — though, not as much as I would like to — I’ve often asked myself the question over whether or not my dollar is being most effectively used, and if not, how it could.

Can Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective’s Uncompromising Auteur, Do It All Again?
I was a fan of the first season, but the second season, or at least so I’ve read, seems to be more my kind of television show. Can’t wait to start it soon. This piece delves deep into how Pizzolatto works and thinks.

Blades of Glory
Tom McLean, when he’s not busy at his day job as a firefighter, creates gorgeous knife handles and sayas in his garage in London, Ontario. I am definitely lusting after one of those knives, now.

Why “Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel” Is The Worst Advice Of All Time
One of the biggest issues I have with the whole, “find yourself, do a job you love, travel often, be inspired and inspiring” movement that every magazine and media outlet seems to be extolling these days is that it ignores those that don’t have the privilege or ability to do all those things. I am thankful to live a fairly privileged life right now, but growing up in a immigrant household (often with 5-6 families living in the same two-bedroom apartment) made me realize that there are bigger issues and priorities than “finding yourself” and “living your best life.”

A Book Buyer’s Lament
There was a time in my life when I would buy more books than I could ever read. I tried to get through them all, but I would just keep buying more and more. These days, I use the public library more often, but still have a large unread library at home.