And we're back!
Tippets #177: Serena, Rushdie, cities, whisky and more. Enjoy!
A warm welcome to new readers getting this for the first time. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your week. As a reminder, Tippets is where I share what's on my mind and a curated assortment of tidbits and snippets (aka. tippets!) from around the web. If you were forwarded this newsletter and would like to receive it in the future, click below!
It has been eight weeks since I last hit publish. Call it a Summer Publishing Lull, a symptom of a busier than normal last few months! Revenge travel, both personal and business, has had me on seven flights, traveling 50,000 miles between four countries on three continents (more on this next week!) Add to that the whole family catching COVID (thanks, London…), work, family, and feeling otherwise crunched has meant my reading and writing time has been more limited than normal. But we’re back!
Separately, Tippets hit a milestone last week. We crossed 1,000 subscribers! When I first started writing in my little corner of the Internet, I never thought the audience would grow to this level. Thank you all for your readership!
Tippets from Around the Web:
Serena Williams's Farewell to Tennis-In Her Own Words
One of the greatest, if not the greatest, tennis players to play the game is set to hang up her racket. In a heartfelt and soul-baring 3,000-word essay in Vogue Magazine, Serena Williams announced that she will evolve from the game of tennis.
I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.
Any time one can glean insight into the mind of some attached to the “greatest ever” moniker is time well spent. This read is well worth it, as Williams delves into what has driven her all these years, thoughts on family and motherhood and the tolls it places on women vs. men, turning anger into something good and more.
If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.
There is no happiness in this topic for me. I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it’s not. I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.
Nowadays so many parents say, “Let your kids do what they want!” Well, that’s not what got me where I am. I didn’t rebel as a kid. I worked hard, and I followed the rules. I do want to push Olympia—not in tennis, but in whatever captures her interest. But I don’t want to push too hard. I’m still trying to figure out that balance.
Cities Aren’t Built for Kids
At this point, debating (and most often making) the transition from the city to suburban life is basically a rite of passage for any young parent. You spend your twenties in a bustling city, enjoying the scene. Dining, drinking, dating, culture, events. The City is a serendipity machine, where saying yes to last-minute dinner and drinks can turn into hanging out with Childish Gambino in a penthouse at 2:30a (true story). Then, you get married, have kid number one, and the City shares an entirely new side of herself. It works for a while, especially while the baby is confined to her stroller. Your dreams of being able to have a kid in the city stay alive. “We can do this, right?” Then the reality of limited space, expensive child care, chaotic commutes, and everything just being not quite safe enough set in. And now you’ve got Zillow alerts letting you know anytime a 3br/3ba or more in six specific zip codes gets listed. But why is it like this? In this enlightening Atlantic piece, Stephanie Murray breaks down the history of city development and what can be done to make it easier for parents to stay in cities.
During the rapid urbanization of the 20th century, many cities were designed for the people building them: able-bodied men who weren’t typically caring for children. This created all sorts of lingering obstacles for kids and their caregivers: Think metro platforms reachable only by descending a flight of stairs (not easy with a stroller), or bus routes that make no sense for someone doing a school drop-off on their way to work.
Slow down cars, narrow streets, add more trees, especially in shade deserts. Placing family-oriented venues close together would help create easy routes between them—and it might allow them to feed off of one another. If a child can safely run around at a nearby playground while their parent does an exercise class at the community center, for example, then there’s no need to hire a babysitter.
Separately but related, I really think Apple and Nike need to collaborate again…
Salman Rushdie and the Power of Words
This article by Adam Gopnik on the horrendous attack against Salman Rushdie this weekend does an exceptional job articulating the many feelings that swirl around the incident.
To try to feel the victim’s feelings—first shock, then unimaginable pain, then the panicked sense of life bleeding away—to engage in the most moderate empathy with the author is to be oneself scarred.
Efforts will be made, are bound to be made, to somehow equalize or level the acts of Rushdie and his tormentors and would-be executioners—to imply that though somehow the insult to Islam might have been misunderstood or overstated, still one has to see the insult from the point of view of the insulted. This is a doubly despicable viewpoint, not only because there was no actual insult offered but also because the right to be insulting about other people’s religions—or their absence of one—is a fundamental right, part of the inheritance of the human spirit. Without that right of open discourse, intellectual life devolves into mere cruelty and power seeking.
The idea—which has sprung to dangerous new life in America as much on the progressive as on the theocratic side of the argument—that words are equal to actions reflects the most primitive form of word magic, and has the same relation to the actual philosophy of language that astrology has to astronomy.
Everyone has a right to be offended by whatever offends them, and everyone on earth has a right to articulate their offense. No one has a right to maim or kill someone because our words offend them.
Neurotransmitter Buildup May Be Why Your Brain Feels Tired
A new study suggests that the reason that we experience brain fatigue and get overwhelmed by cognitive load is not necessarily about energy reserves but a build-up of the neurotransmitter glutamate in the brain.
Mental fatigue also appears to shift decision-making toward a kind of easy-button mode where the brain favors low-cost, immediate-reward options, says Antonius Wiehler, a study coauthor and cognitive neuroscientist at the Paris Brain Institute’s Motivation, Brain, and Behavior Lab. “So after a day of work, you [make] different choices compared to when you’re fresh in the morning,” he says. “We believe that this is [due to] glutamate accumulation.
According to the study, the lateral left cortex controls not only controls the part of the brain that helps manipulate information and solve problems but is also “part of the system that says, ‘Well, actually, maybe I don’t want to play chess. I want to watch Netflix and do something simpler.”
So the next time your boss asks you to do something and you’re exhausted, just say, “I can't, my glutamate is accumulated.”
Scotch whisky shows surprising strength in global gloom
This is one of those “Really, you were surprised?” moments for me. You were surprised that whisky consumption was up despite all the studies that showed alcohol consumption increased, in some cases by 21%, during COVID? Really?
In Scotland it is pulling in so much investment that the number of distilleries in the country’s five producing regions is at its highest since the second world war, according to industry body the Scotch Whisky Association.
Last year, Scotch whisky accounted for 75 per cent of Scottish food and drink exports, 22 per cent of UK food and drink exports, and 1.4 per cent of all UK goods exports, according to the SWA.
How to Stop Procrastinating on Your Goals by Using the “Seinfeld Strategy”
Often, success is just about showing up.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.
You'll notice that Seinfeld didn't say a single thing about results. It didn’t matter if he was motivated or not. It didn’t matter if he was writing great jokes or not. It didn't matter if what he was working on would ever make it into a show. All that mattered was “not breaking the chain.”
Choose tasks that are simple to maintain and capable of producing the outcome you want. Another way of saying this is to focus on actions and not motions, which is a concept that I explained in this article: The Mistake That Smart People Make
But no matter what topic we’re talking about, they all require consistency. No matter what your definition is of a “healthy life,” you'll have to battle procrastination to make it a reality. Hopefully, the Seinfeld Strategy helps to put that battle in perspective.
Quote I'm thinking about: “We all have our time machines, don't we. Those that take us back are memories…And those that carry us forward, are dreams.” - H.G. Wells
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