Diversions: November

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

Frightened, Ignorant and Cowardly is No Way to Go Through Life, Son
John Scalzi makes a coherent argument about how the increased islamophobia in the United States these past few weeks (years?) is shortsighted, and the result of pure bigotry.

The Mother of All Questions
What is happiness, and why is our contemporary writing on happiness so focused on striving towards it, instead of finding it wherever we are?

On the Existential Beauty of Peanuts
One of the things I’ve always loved about Peanuts was its willingness to explore pathos, melancholy, and futility—all wrapped up in a comic strip about children.

The True Costs of Driving
Confirmation of something we all knew: driving is a heavily-subsidized form of transportation. I wonder how many people would choose alternate forms of transportation if they actually had to pay the real cost of driving.

How our housing choices make adult friendships more difficult
One of the best parts of living in our current neighborhood is that we are forced to interact with people in the neighborhood, in a spontaneous, random way, just by its design. The contemporary suburb is removing that serendipity.

How To Make New Friends As An Adult, And Why
I’ve had no issues with making friends in adulthood, but quite a few people have told me that they find it tricky. This is a pretty good article that breaks down some ways to make new friends as you get older.

The Science Hidden In Your Town Name
The names of our cities say a lot about their nature—if only we could remember what they all mean. I like that Toronto means “where there are trees in water.”

Confessions of a Paywall Journalist
Many of my colleagues ask me how I’m so quickly in the loop about all the policies and discussions happening at a political level in my line of work. The not-so-secret answer is that I read a lot of trade policy publications, so this was a fascinating read about how they operate.

As Books Disappear, Libraries Are Still Transforming the World
I’ve been having a lot of conversations about libraries and their role in civic discourse, but had completely ignored their role in international development.

Here’s What Happens When You Put More Women in Government
Very proud of our new government being interested in a diversity of representation in Cabinet; now, the rest of the country needs to catch up.

Chicken Nugget Smackdown
As an avid fan of the fast-food chicken nugget (I know, I know), I could have told you that Wendy’s was the clear winner before reading this analysis.

The Most Common Job In Each State 1978-2014
Incredible how, over the years, certain jobs (secretary, truck driver) have dominated the entire country’s employment landscape.

Every Episode of Saved By The Bell, Ranked
Almost impossible to argue with this list. Was nice to revisit all those episodes again, years later.

Griever
There are certain pieces of fiction that are so haunting that they stay with you for a long time. This is one of those pieces.

How To Argue Without Ruining Your Relationship
One of the hallmarks of an excellent relationship, I’ve heard over and over again, is the ability to argue in a productive, loving way. I’m so glad that I’m in one of those wonderful relationships.

Gasp! A Breathing Puzzle
I never thought that a dissertation on the science of insect breathing could be this fascinating.

On Master of None, the Kids Are All Right, But the Parents Are Better
We’ve only watched a few episodes of Aziz Ansari’s show so far, but the second episode, about immigrant parents, continues to resonate.

Unfollow: Conversion via Twitter
A fascinating look at the former voice of the Westboro Baptist Church, and how and why she left.

On What People Think
Life mantra: “Be generous… it’s so much easier to be a critic than to be a celebrator. To understand and to be understood, these are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.”