Farnam Street: How to Remember What You Read.

The more that active readers read, the better they get. They develop a latticework of mental models to hang ideas on, further increasing retention.

Omigod. If reading is a chore, this article isn't going to help you. Some points are great, but as a whole ... sheesh. I read to find out that I'm normal in an insane world. That one can have a compelling internal life. I read to find better strategies to deal with interpersonal relationships. To judge of multifarious subjects better.

And I almost never pick up a self-help book. I'll go to the classics, first, always. As with weblogging, I look for original sources of ideas (before they're politicized, these days). If I have a sticky problem, I'll head to an autobiography written by someone who's overcome similar problems.

I read to strengthen my soul's foundations. Not for mere 'decoration' or book-count. I actively use what I've read, every day. All the time. And with that habit, these books stay 'alive' in my consciousness. In this political climate, Scaramouche seems very on-point.

[Author is right, however, on about matching book to pursuit. Never take Matthiessen's In the Spirit of Crazy Horse on a vacation. I spent the first three days stomping around in righteous anger, until I swapped it for something less ... incendiary.]

[If you want to change your life - your mental life - I highly, highly recommend The Practical Cogitator (out of print now), by Curtis and Greenslet. I wish it could be updated for our modern world by respected public intellectuals (are there any left?); it has remained on my nightstand, or near at hand, for 40 years. My 'regrounding' book. Note that it is likely not quite as useful out of America as it is within the country.]

Guardian.UK: The lie that poverty is a moral failing was buried a century ago. Now it’s back.

... in this morality tale is one of Bernard Shaw’s most important arguments: people are not poor because they are immoral; they’re immoral because they are poor. Or, to put it in the terms of today’s assumptions about poverty: the problem with the poor isn’t their “culture” or their want of character. It’s just that they don’t have enough money.

'Character' keeps coming up. You know, it still holds true in rural areas of the U.S.: If you've broken down on the road, the poorest families will stop and help, invite you into their homes for a bite. The richest will drive by in their $50k+ pickups, mirror glasses perched on patrician noses, designer cowboy boots propped on begilded dashes, and let you fry slowly in the sun. Happened to me just the other day ... and post-Trump, too (you were wondering, I know).

Now, with that behind us, let's discuss moral failings.

Catapult: Thirty Years After My Adoption, I Found Out I Wasn’t a US Citizen.

Hmmm. I was looking at a friend's post on Facebook about South Korean adoptions, and dug deeper at the article they linked. Average cost to adopt a South Korean orphan: $46,000. Which begs the question: What does a blue-eyed blonde baby American girl cost these days?

I fear the answer.+

[+New readers will not know my family took care of newborn orphans, as foster parents, in the '60's-'80's. From the time I was eight, until my father passed in '97, we cared for over 85 newborns. Blue-eyed blonde girls were (and likely are) the most-desired adoptable child. As an adult, I am not fond of the conditions that allow children to be sold away from their blood family.]

The Fully Intended: Me Too.

Mollie nails it, as usual. During this last week, I mentioned the fact that France might consider fining catcallers to an acquaintance of mine. Her reaction was such that I continued to mention it to every man and woman I encountered for the rest of the week, to gauge the level at which catcalling is affecting half our population.

Men ranged from "Well, I guess it's a good idea" to "Ridiculous. What harm does it do? Sticks and stones."

Women? The 'look of eagles' (hope) appeared in the eyes, and stories of being catcalled - starting as an underage girl - were rolled out. Some took quite severe steps to never be in those situations again, limiting their freedom.




This will be no surprise to the female sex. To men? Jesus. My male privilege blinded me; our culture silently accepts this ... and it should not. At the very least, our American legal system should fine men who catcall underage girls, if they cannot generate any righteous indignation for catcalling in general. Childhood especially should be left unmolested. Reality comes hard, and always too soon.

[Later thought: On the other hand, 30 days in the slammer being catcalled by an inmate named "Knuckles" might be a good preventative, too.]

The Atlantic: America’s Sexual-Assault Epidemic.

This, and the whole #metoo movement have elicited some of the most interesting discussions my wife and I have had of late. The privileges we males enjoy - and take for granted - go far beyond 'unfair'. Once she and I started talking, I was repeatedly taken aback at things I just wasn't seeing, because I didn't have to see. We've talked about many such things before, but #metoo and the Scoble issue had us digging much deeper. The kinds of convos that take relationships down to the foundation to check for integrity.

Scoble was one of us ETPers. I and my social circle found him vacuous and obsequious; we weren't alone. You'll find only one threadbare reference to him here in my eighteen years of blogging. Though his meteoric rise came after I beat a hasty departure, his behavior reflects badly on us and requires a clear refutation.

My feeling is, a person never knows how they will react to sudden popularity and significant power ... but right and wrong don't change.

Every time a person crosses a line, they know they have crossed it. Not every binge is consciousness-immolating. You still have to wake up and either listen to your personal angels, turning towards the light again ... or rationalize with your demons, and become one with 'the darkness at the edge of town'.

In that choice, your character is laid bare.

I hope the victims will be able to negotiate closure and find lasting peace for themselves. Yet the nature of the violations makes me doubt there can ever be full reparation. No matter the number of words or magnitude of actions, some things can never be taken back to normal. (If you don't understand why and you're male, hand the original article (Quinn Norton on Medium) to your partner, and let them explain the nature of the multifarious violations to you from their perspective.)

The one hopeful detail is that there doesn't seem to have been any enabling or Weinstein-like premeditation; makes it all slightly less horrible (slightly, from a legalese perspective, that is) in comparison with other revelations hitting the airwaves. Nevertheless, I hope Scoble seeks help beyond mere alcohol abuse therapy; that is clearly not enough.

(October 23 update: Sounds like he has resigned from his current position, is pulling back and is now seeking further help. The women involved shouldn't have had to go nuclear for this step to have been taken. I also, coincidentally, hear Weinstein was in a one week 'outpatient' harrassment/abuse class? One week buys him absolution? Are you kidding me?)