Inspired | October 2018


Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in October.

The Racial Rubber Stamp by R.F. Kuang: “What I’ve seen is that the lone POCs in largely white writing groups often become tokenized faux authorities. We’re consulted just enough to give other work a stamp of diversity approval, but brutally marginalized when their opinions become inconvenient.”

On Likability by Lacy M. Johnson: “The truth is: sometimes I am afraid of what I write. You should be a little afraid of the story you are telling, too. And if you’re not afraid that someone won’t like it you’re still not telling the truth.”

What next for photography in the age of Instagram? by Sean O’Hagan

The arrival of the smartphone camera made all those concerns seem antiquated. It precipitated a new image culture in which photographs have assumed a fresh importance in our digitally mediated world, particularly the sharing of photographs on platforms like Instagram, where they are measured in likes, comments and repostings, all monitored by algorithms. Photography reflects, records and advertises our lives online. Is it, though, exhausting itself through its very ubiquity, losing its meaning in an age of almost unimaginable image overload?

The superficial evidence would suggest otherwise.

Pushing Past Academic Plateaus: How to Study in College at Dani Dearest: “When college started, that changed. All this time I had spent learning not to study.. I never learned to study.

The 3 Psychological Reasons We Cling to Conventional Wisdom (and How to Break Free) by Jay Acunzo

From the moment we’re taught in school that there’s a “right” and “wrong” answer, we treat every task in our work like we have to find the “right” answers, even the most complicated and creative things we do. Making matters worse, in the era of Advice Overload, everybody on the internet seems to have the “right” answer for us, no matter what we’re doing.

Ode to Gray by Meghan Flaherty

As the black-and-white photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said to the color photographer William Eggleston: “You know, William, color is bullshit.” In the realism of the black-and-white, gray is every color—without the tartness. The understudies take the stage, and not one seems to miss the headliners. We see the world without distraction. Andre Gide called gray the color of the truth.

Ditch the almond milk: why everything you know about sustainable eating is probably wrong by Tony Naylor: ” Our willingness to jump on the latest eco-trends and unquestioningly accept reassuring labelling can lead to unintended consequences. If we are serious about eating green, we need to read beyond the headlines and think rigorously about how we apply ethical advice in our own lives.”

The appealing myth of the frugal billionaire by Gaby Del Valle

In other words, the financial advice millionaires dispense onto the masses ignores basically every structural problem that keeps people poor in the first place, from poorly funded public schools to stagnating wages to being saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt. Frugality is presented as a simple position to a complicated problem — a promise that anyone who saves enough money and has the right mindset can be rich, or, at the very least, not poor.

The Crazy Contentious History Of Taco Tuesday by Gustavo Arellano

Trying to pin down who “invented” Mexican food dishes and customs is a parlor game riddled with charlatans and tall-tale tellers. There are at least a dozen origin stories for the margarita, more than a few for Korean tacos, and too many theories about the origins of burritos to even pay attention.

But on the subject of Taco Tuesday, the evidence is clear: Taco John’s doesn’t know what it’s talking about. And the phrase was in existence long before the chain got around to filing for its trademark.

What’s the most interesting thing you saw online this month?

Inspired | May 2018


Every month, I share the articles, videos, and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in May.

My friend Bethany just launched her site! Go take a look—it’s fantastic, and full of advice for us busy writers.

Are ebooks dying or thriving? The answer is yes by Thu-Huong Ha: “Nobody—industry experts, authors, publishers—can gauge the true size of the self-publishing market. So no one can say for sure what’s going on in the larger book industry.”

It’s Okay to Give Up on Mediocre Books Because We’re All Going to Die by Janet Frishberg: “One, I realized literally NO ONE cares if I give up on a book except me. (And maybe the author, if I told them, which I wouldn’t do because…no.) Two, I realized that I’m going to die.”

The Cartoonists of Color Database and The Queer Cartoonists Database, spotlighting marginalized comics creators.

Why I’m Done With Guest Posting by Margo Aaron: “We’re tacitly participating in a system that’s designed to make readers reactive, angry, and thoughtless.”

The Myth of Authenticity Is Killing Tex-Mex by Meghan McCarron

Waves of cheesy, spicy, frankly pleasurable Texas-Mexican dishes, with many regional variations, continued to spiral outward in the 20th century and into the 21st: sizzling fajitas, cheese enchiladas, frozen margaritas, queso, breakfast tacos, Frito pie, barbacoa, puffy tacos. Along with the crispy tacos and burritos of Cal-Mex, Tex-Mex became one of America’s most beloved and important regional cuisines, even if most Americans didn’t realize that was what they were eating.

[SPOILERS!] Heads I Win, Tails YOU DIE: Thanos’ Plan is Even Worse Than You Know by Michael Carlisle

Do You Know Where Your Healing Crystals Come From? by Emily Atkin: “If shop owners can’t disclose their sourcing without risking business, how can consumers know that their healing crystals didn’t contribute to human trauma or environmental destruction?”

The New Passport-Poor by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian: “Passports, in other words, were invented not to let us roam freely, but to keep us in place—and in check. They represent the borders and boundaries countries draw around themselves, and the lines they draw around people, too.”

• I love this video so much: ‘Dynamite’ by Tami Neilson. (Someone linked to this on Twitter earlier in the month, but I can’t remember who. If it was you: thanks! You’re awesome!)

What’s the most interesting thing you saw online this month?