Welcome to issue fifty three of Manufacturing Serendipity friends!
As I mentioned last time, I’ve now been sending out this fortnightly newsletter for two years, and to mark the occasion here’s part two of my retrospective thinger. (I did the same thing for year one, if you’re interested you can read those issues here and here.)
Grab yourself a suitable beverage my loves, and let’s do this thing…
My Favourite Finds of the Year (Part Two)
Advice, Articles & Interviews
I INVENTED GILEAD. THE SUPREME COURT IS MAKING IT REAL.
Temporal Belonging – the timeless, futile effort to fix circadian rhythms with tech
Four Tom Cruise movie moments which capture a genuinely special aspect of his acting
The man who believed blowing up the moon would solve most of humanity’s problems
Learning is lossy. This provided further food for thought for the talk that I would eventually give at MKGO later in the year.
Young people today are f*cking brilliant, and they’re enjoying some brilliant f*cking.
The allure of the Cabbage Patch has not entirely faded: every year 250,000 people make the pilgrimage to BabyLand General
The super-rich ‘preppers’ planning to save themselves from the apocalypse
It is time to meet absolutism with absolutism: Every person has the right to not be pregnant.
A 45-Foot Herb Garden Visualises the Threat to Women’s Reproductive Rights
Willie Cole’s upcycled musical instrument sculptures
Charles Gaines Brings Trees Back to Times Square
Stunning New James Webb Images Make Jupiter Look Like a Psychedelic Space Marble
It Was a Mystery in the Desert for 50 Years. In a remote Nevada valley, artist Michael Heizer’s megasculpture is finally revealed.
Vintage Typewriter Birds by Jeremy Mayer
Vintage illustrations of flora and fauna are used to create surreal portraits by MUMI
What would it mean for AI to “win” at poetry? And what kind of poem would finally convince us?
From Nodding Night Court to Satan Wood Drive, What’s Up With Columbia, Maryland’s Quirky Street Names?
The Reddit Chart of compound pejoratives
Two Roads Diverged in a Tunnel, and I Printed Out a Semi-automated Novel
The enduring allure of choose your own adventure books
Science, Nature, & various studies
Mindfulness is thought to have multiple benefits – but it can also make you less likely to feel guilty about wrongdoing
Awards named after men are more likely to go to men
Spotify Podcasters Are Making $18,000 a Month With Nothing But White Noise
The Top Articles of the Last Decade
There’s a beetle which can withstand a force 39,000 times its body weight – that’s the equivalent of a 150-pound person resisting the crush of about 25 blue whales.
The Disastrous Record of Celeb Crypto Endorsements
Why do we get hiccups? Because our brains forget that we are no longer fish.
Critics and fans have never disagreed more about movies
Congress admits UFOs are not “man-made”
Where Do Memes Come From? The Top Platforms From 2010-2022
Why Birds Changed Their Tune During the Pandemic
The Parasitic Worm That Turns Snails Into Disco Zombies
Tweets & Web thingers
The Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments
Wikipedia’s list of common misconceptions
Fiction & Poetry
The Sun on My Head by Geovani Martins (translated by Julia Sanches). In this debut collection, Martins transports us to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro where his 13 short stories are set. In one story, a young boy is drawn to his father’s gun, in another, a young boy frets over the demise of a butterfly.
Beverly by Nick Drnaso is a graphic collection of interconnected short stories featuring the inhabitants of a suburban American town. A group of teenagers pick up trash on the side of the highway, whilst excluding and ignoring a potentially violent loner in their midst. A suburban mother longs to be part of something bigger. A young woman’s trauma reveals the racial tension in the community.
A Song for a New Day, by Sarah Pinsker. Written in 2019, this eerily prescient novel tells the story of a world changed by a pandemic, and the consequential rise of two particularly powerful corporations you’ll likely recognise.
Driving Short Distances, by Joff Winterhart, tells the story of 27-year-old Sam’s return to his hometown, following three unsuccessful attempts at university and a breakdown. Seeking a job that will demand very little of him, he finds himself drawn into the world of a man called Keith Nutt whose business is apparently “distribution and delivery”.
Fen, by Daisy Johnson, a short story collection where houses fall in love with girls; a mother gives birth to a boy whose sucks her mind and memory dry; and beautiful young women bring men home to devour.
Companion Piece, by Ali Smith, is ostensibly a lockdown story, but at its heart, I think perhaps it’s a story about intrusion – how as people, we intrude on each other; how even when we try to shut it out, the outside world intrudes; and how our dreams intrude our waking life.
After Sappho, by Selby Wynn Schwartz. Here, Schwartz takes biographical fragments of the lives of many historical women (including Lina Poletti, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, Radclyffe Hall, and more!), to form a collective, compelling narrative which speaks to all of us in the here and now.
Notes to Self, by Emilie Pine, a collection of personal essays about alcoholism, infertility, identity, and more.
The Premonitions Bureau, by Sam Knight, the very strange, but true story of British psychiatrist John Barker.
These Bodies of Water: Notes on the British Empire, the Middle East and Where We Meet, by Sabrina Mahfouz. Here Mahfouz investigates the history of the Middle Eastern coastlines and waterways that were so vital to the British Empire’s hold. Interwoven with her own personal experiences, she combines history, politics, myth and poetry in a devastating examination of this unacknowledged part of Britain’s colonial past.
The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel, & The French Dispatch, (Disney+). I made good use of my free Disney+ trial with a Wes Anderson film binge.
The Father (Amazon Prime) – I loved this film adaptation of Florian Zeller’s stage play. It offers viewers an terrifying insight into how sufferers might experience dementia, as we follow Hopkins through a series of hellishly disorientating time slips and time loops.
Coco (Disney+). Clearly I’m very late to the party with Coco (it was released in 2017), but this one is an absolute delight, and you should watch it if you haven’t already.
Spiderhead, (Netflix). Entertaining, and Chris Hemsworth is surprising good; but ultimately this film doesn’t really honour the short story by George Saunders which it was based on. Wanna read that instead? Here you go my loves: Escape from Spiderhead.
Prima Facie, (National Theatre Live), Jodie Comer is nothing short of incredible in Suzie Miller’s one-woman stage play about sexual assault and the legal system.
Halston, (Netflix). This biopic which charts the rise and fall of the fashion designer Halston has been criticised by his family (they dubbed the series “an inaccurate, fictionalised account”), but it is fabulous, and I’d recommend it.
Conversations with Friends (BBC iPlayer). This TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s first novel was criticised for being slow (and it really is); but I think because the characters are all pretty flawed, and (with the possible exception of Bobbi) difficult to sympathise with, it’s actually a much more interesting and complex story than Normal People.
Inside Number 9: Season 7, (BBC iPlayer), this season isn’t as strong as previous seasons, but it’s nevertheless worth a watch.
Stranger Things: Season 4 (Netflix), I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Keep Sweet, Pray & Obey, (Netflix). This four-part series which takes us inside the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is acutely distressing; (trigger warning – sexual, physical and psychological abuse); however I felt the documentary makers did an excellent job of giving survivors the space to share their experiences and tell their stories.
Trainwreck: Woodstock 99 (Netflix). This 3-part series which documents the absolute horror show that was Woodstock 99 is grim viewing. Arguably the documentary makers did a good job of shining a light on the fact that the organisers were never held to account for their failings, but I can’t help but feel like they could have gone in harder – in my view, Michael Lang, (now deceased) gets off remarkably lightly, and is largely portrayed as sympathetic, which I found particularly galling.
The Dropout, (Disney+), deals with the bizarre, terrible, but nevertheless true story of Elisabeth Holmes, founder of the medical company Theranos.
Dopesick, (Disney+). This eight-part drama tells the story of how the “non-addictive painkiller”, OxyContin, created the opioid crisis in the US.
The Bear, (Disney+). This eight-part drama follows Carmy, a burned-out and broken Michelin-star chef, who, after his brother commits suicide, returns home to run the family restaurant.
Stuff I’ve made, done, or tried out
Adulting: I met with a financial advisor who is helping me sort out my pension. I’ve been putting off the pension stuff for ages, because *reasons*, but it turns out that it’s not nearly as complicated, difficult, or scary as I thought it would be.
My cousins send me birthday poems.
And We Lived Happily Ever After (National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2022), is launched and I get to see my first short story in print. I am very excited.
Rather than write my usual missive, I write a slightly rambling collection of thoughts on what I think people mean when they say we need to “be more strategic”.
I travel to Seattle to speak at MozCon, and publish an excerpt from my talk: Benchmarking the Performance of over 2,000 Digital PR pieces.
I manage to finagle a little writing time and wrote something to submit to a competition. I did not win, but you can read the winning entry, plus submissions from myself and others here.
I get to run the first Women in Tech SEO training course with my friend Areej, and it is a delight. Who knew an edition of this newsletter would later turn into a live cohort course?
I brought a couple of old blog posts back from the dead: Speaking at Conferences – The Art of Persuasion (Part One) and Speaking at Conferences – The Art of Persuasion (Part Two).
I ran my course at BrightonSEO, and it was an absolute delight.
I recorded an episode for the We Earn Media podcast with my friend and fellow Distilled alumna Britt Klontz.
I write some stuff about fun again.
I got to speak at MKGO alongside a bunch of wonderful humans.
I become obsessed with an art, and make this haphazard collage to remind myself to think.
I joined my friend Jono on the Yoast SEO news webinar.
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