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Here's what I read in February


Kindred, by Octavia E Butler. A lightning bolt of a book; a grim fantasy with a vital, beating heart at its center, that cuts to the core of all of our history. At once horrifying and required reading. I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Becoming, by Michelle Obama. Remarkable for its openness, although it occasionally paints a glossed-over picture of Obama’s Presidency. The contrast between her integrity, empathy and inclusion and the cruelty of the Trumps brought me to tears.

Little Wonder, by Kat Gardiner. A fictionalized, lyrical account of opening and then closing a music venue and cafe in the Pacific Northwest. Almost a poem to failure; bittersweet, evocative writing, rich with human detail.

Emergent Strategy, by adrienne maree brown. A playbook and an attitudebook for people who want to help shape the future. Fiction, poetry and emotional connectedness are deftly drawn on to help us form better organizations and better selves. I've returned to it and quoted from it a few times even in the few weeks since finishing it.

Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor. Effortlessly inventive and cleverly humanist, a masterful science fiction novella about belonging and understanding that I expect to reread. I can’t wait to read the other two in the series.

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, by Jose Antonio Vargas. His state of unmoored helplessness at the hands of a decision he had no part in, and America’s cruel xenophobia, is profoundly sad. Mandatory, heartbreaking reading.

Notable Articles

How Gab Has Raised Millions Thanks to This Crowdfunding Company. How StartEngine has allowed the white supremacist social network to survive through crowdfunding.

Finding Lena, the Patron Saint of JPEGs. A fascinating story about Lena, whose Playboy photo problematically became central to the creation of the JPEG. Even when I was studying Computer Science, her photo was still being used.

How Daar-na takes a culturally sensitive approach to psychosis. "Immigrants have higher rates of psychosis. A Dutch care facility believes culture should be part of treatment."

This Is Your Brain Off Facebook. I rejoined Facebook this month. I'm not certain it was a good idea; I can feel the cognitive effects, and I'm not sure they outweigh the benefits of feeling like I'm connected to people I otherwise wouldn't hear from.

Why this 19-year-old BuzzFeed quizmaker will no longer work for free. The person in charge of writing quizzes at BuzzFeed was laid off - in part because volunteers wrote most of the successful ones. This particular user is done providing free labor.

Let Children Get Bored Again. "Boredom teaches us that life isn’t a parade of amusements. More important, it spawns creativity and self-sufficiency." None of us should over-schedule ourselves - but in particular, we shouldn't do it to children.

On Hertzfeldt's Rejected. In turn, on art's subjugation to commerce.

The New Rules of Being a Millennial. Indescribable, but hilarious.

Liberals and Conservatives React in Wildly Different Ways to Repulsive Pictures. "To a surprising degree, our political beliefs may derive from a specific aspect of our biological makeup: our propensity to feel physical revulsion."

Scorched Earth. On journalism: "Advertising in its current forms is burning out — perhaps even for the lucky ones who still have it. Paywalls will not work for more than a few — and their builders often do not account for the real motives of people who pay and who don’t. There is not enough philanthropy from the rich — or charity from the rest of us — to pay for what is needed. Government support — whether financial or regulatory — is a dangerous folly."

More border surveillance tech could be worse for human rights than a wall. I'm deeply worried about this.

Heavy Metal Confronts Its Nazi Problem. A fascinating portrait of a scene that's tolerated fascist bands for a long time, and is now coming to terms with its problem.

What I learnt on a men-only retreat. British repression plus masculine repression doesn't equal a recipe for tenderness and sensitivity, but this is a poignant exploration.

‘Sustained and ongoing’ disinformation assault targets Dem presidential candidates. My friend Brett Horvath, co-founder of, worked on this reporting. We all need to be aware of it.

The Latest Diet Trend Is Not Dieting. "Intuitive eating, on the other hand, is a theory that posits the opposite: Calorie counting, carb avoiding, and waistline measuring are not only making people emotionally miserable, but contributing to many of the health problems previously attributed to simple overeating."

Green New Deal is feasible and affordable. Yes and: I believe it deserves our support.

The Trauma Floor. The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America.

The deadly truth about a world built for men – from stab vests to car crashes. Crash-test dummies based on the ‘average’ male are just one example of design that forgets about women – and puts lives at risk.

How Google, Microsoft, and Big Tech Are Automating the Climate Crisis. We all have a responsibility when it comes to climate change; business isn't all just business.

Poll: How does the public think journalism happens? 60% of people think journalists are paid by their sources!

Barbara Hammer’s Exit Interview. "The pioneering filmmaker talks about her career, her quest to die with dignity, and why being a lesbian is so much fun." Tender, sad, beautiful.

Everyone Around You is Grieving. Go Easy. "Everyone is grieving and worried and fearful, and yet none of them wear the signs, none of them have labels, and none of them come with written warnings reading, I’M STRUGGLING. GO EASY."

Limiting Your Digital Footprints in a Surveillance State. "In China, evading the watchful eyes of the government sometimes feels like an exercise in futility. The place is wired with about 200 million surveillance cameras, Beijing controls the telecom companies, and every internet company has to hand over data when the police want it. They also know where journalists live because we register our address with police. In Shanghai, the police regularly come to my apartment; once they demanded to come inside." Arguably information that isn't just useful in China.


Here's what I read in January.