Friday Sabbatical

Whatever you’re doing this Friday, I invite you to pause, and take a mini sabbatical. Take a deep breath. Now consider that each breath you take is an extremely intimate embrace with every tree around you, and that those trees are simultaneously embracing every other being on the planet. Though you may be quarantined, you are not alone.

Here are five things that stuck with me this week:

1. One of many highlights from The Universe in Verse, this animated short film accompanies an amazing poem which I won’t spoil with a description. Just watch it, and if it moves you pass it along. (and here are the rest of the highlights)

2. I’m really enjoying reading the paper version of the NYT each Sunday, not the least because it helps with discovery. The digital version is so tailored to the stuff I tend to click on, that I miss a ton of content that is slightly off-fairway but I would really enjoy. This week’s edition included one such piece by Nobel winner Orhan Pamuk (he of the amazing novel Snow I read with my near-teenage book club), titled What the Great Pandemic Novels Teach Us. Pamuk is three years into writing a pandemic novel, and in the midst of the incredibly deep research accompanying that project he has gained some important context into how societies from around the world tend to respond to pandemics throughout history. Highly recommend this article for context into how, while inept and harmful, our administration’s response to all this is actually not at all uncommon over human history.

3. I let my YouTube TV subscription lapse, confident in my not needing it due to the dearth of sports. Then resubscribed once the Jordan documentary was launched, because, well, my oldest’s middle name is Jordan, and he sticks his tongue out when he dunks on the Fisher Price hoop on our deck. Not a ton of air, at three years old, but we’ll get there. He’s at least got the shoes.

Anyway, Jordan aside I’m a Pistons fan through and through, so it was disappointing that the ESPN documentary deliberately skips a key point in the Stons feud with MJ — MJ trashing them the day before the game — when telling the story of how the Pistons walked off the court with a few seconds to go in the final game of a playoff sweep. It omits the fact that Jordan told the media the day before the game:

“The Pistons are undeserving champions,” Jordan said on the day between Games 3 and 4 in Detroit in 1991. “The Bad Boys are bad for basketball.”

basically trashing their back to back titles, and simply says the Pistons walked off, absent any context, so they look like “bitches,” as Horace Grant puts it. Since ESPN obviously knows this, the omission must have come aat Jordan’s request. In an era of Relative Facts, I suppose this may be normal, and history is written by the victors, etc etc. Plus, Jordan is notoriously competitive, which is close cousin to vindictive, so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise, but still, disappointed in my man MJ for picking and choosing his facts to support his narrative. Perhaps holding a grudge over a missed handshake for 30 years is the price of Jordan’s level of success.

4. Twitter VC/philosopher Naval Ravikant again, this time with 10 insights on meditation. For the futurists among us, this is a good, punchy look at the practical side of the practice. I especially like the drastically understated #7 on the list, referring to the realization one gains through sufficient meditation that one does not exist in the way one expected. And I’m done with Naval links after this. He gets enough love.

5. I just finished The Midnight Gospel on Netflix. First off, I never watch these types of cartoons. Frankly I rarely watch any TV that is not sports, which means I watch zippo these days (NBA fake news aside). And honestly, looking at the cover of this show I feel like I would have to be on serious drugs to enjoy it. Caveat caveat, caveat caveat, caveat caveat caveat…

This show blew my mind and right now I think it’s in my top shows of all time list.

Think of it like a very intelligent podcast (first guest Dr. Drew, if you were wondering what he’d gotten up to these days), tackling topics like the meaning of life, spirituality, psychedelic substances, and what happens when we die (hosted by Duncan Trussell, creator of The Duncan Trussell Family Hour), laid on top of an LSD trip cartoon in the way that The Wizard of Oz supposedly synchs up with Dark Side of the Moon. Only for real. The last episode was surely the first time I’ve cried at two cartoon planets conversing. It’s surreal, it’s bizarre, it’s smart, it’s profound, it’s deep, it’s funny, it’s sad, and if those adjectives sound appealing I can’t recommend it highly enough. Just, wow.

6. Freebie. Loved this video from an astronaut, and the sentence: “we need to behave like crew members on planet earth, not just passengers.” Beautiful.

As always, please let me know what you think in the comments, or if you stumble upon something excellent I should be aware of let me know that as well.

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