Budgets, Blood and a Bakery

No Complaints #169

It’s been a while. In fact, it’s been the longest period of time I’ve gone without doing this since I started this newsletter, way back in 2014. But: I am back and I’m doing this again properly, I’m promise. If you’re new here, this is really just your old-fashioned brain/links dump, set out in section for your perusal. I hope you find something you like.


Things to read

“As I leave T-Mobile, I send my husband, Trevor, a text; his is the only number I have memorized, and the new phone doesn’t have my contacts. ‘Hello from my new phone’ is exhausting to compose, and I have to stand still while I write the message. I can’t believe people actually wanted to text rather than call when texting was this hard to do. Trevor doesn’t text me back. Rude. I try to explore the phone while walking home, but it’s so hard to do without a touch screen that I almost turn my ankle twice on the sidewalk before I give up.”
What life without Apple is like. Email to Pocket.

“Mormon transhumanism takes those theories and molds them onto a religious framework, where technology and science are tools to further the work of Jesus Christ. There are straightforward applications, like using cybernetic limbs to help injured and disabled people to walk or laser cataract procedures to help people with low vision to see. But scratch the surface, and you’ll find that Mormon transhumanists believe that science can bring about the ‘realization of diverse prophetic visions of transfiguration, immortality, resurrection, renewal of this world, and the discovery and creation of worlds without end.’ They believe the coming leaps in science and technology will help us realize the Mormon promise of achieving perfect, immortal bodies and becoming Gods.”
I mean, I feel like this is the logical endpoint of most religions somehow. Good luck to them. Email to Pocket.

“What better way to punctuate than to have a slap. I was talking to an elderly lady about it on an interview, and she goes, ‘What’s going on with those slaps? They’re so sore looking!’ A slap is like a full stop, isn’t it? The way a slap is like a whip pan as well, if you imagine that slap makes the camera move the way it does. It helps for a lot of purposes. It’s an expression, it’s a violent move, it’s comedic, and it is snappy. There are lots of things to come out of that violence, whatever it may be, but Yorgos really does like a slap.”
Nope, I’m still not over The Favourite. Email to Pocket.

“At first, confronting the sheer quantity of the research was ‘totally terrifying’. Then, she told me, ‘I literally just wrote down on eight-and-a-half-by-eleven sheets of paper all of the pieces of the stories in the book.’ She took the pieces of paper and laid them out in a provisional structure that was 60 pages long. Then, she started writing. But it no longer felt like leaping into the unknown. It was like ‘a set of discrete tasks to cross off.’ It felt like when she had worked at a bakery, an experience frequently mentioned in The Recovering, and she had to ice squirrel cookie after squirrel cookie, put the tray in the oven, move on to the next batch. The middle of any longform project, I believe, becomes a struggle not so much of creative vision but of task fulfillment, doggedly keeping on even though it feels rote and impossible to make out what’s behind or ahead.”
As someone who wrote a book last year that involved a lot of research (you can pre-order it here), I endorse this: you might like to think it’s all about the fountain of your magical creativity, but really it’s just about forcing yourself to put one word in front of another until you have a hundred thousand of them in an order that you don’t completely hate. Email to Pocket.

“Fractenberg argued that a professional photographer can provide a fuller picture of a story in all its complexity by intentionally ‘layering’ elements rather than just snapping stills of one figure devoid of context. In other words, they use their ingrained skills and eye as photojournalists to create more critical, more enduring work. There’s a world of difference between a one-off photo attached to a tweet and a lifelong practice of image-making. Yet that very expertise might be a luxury for struggling publications. Budgets are shrinking everywhere even as the frenetic news cycle demands more content faster than ever.”
What happens to photojournalism as a profession now that everyone has an amazing camera in their pocket? Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

I just got through ABC’s The Dropout, all about Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos scandal, in about two days.

Also, do listen to my podcast, Shedunnit. I’ve done quite a few more episodes since I last sent one of these letters.


Things to watch

This makes a lot of sense.

Into it.

I mean, yes.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

He’s on fire.


The guest gif

It’s going to be ok.