So… 2020 is now over. I hope you were able to enjoy the festive break as much as was possible.
Denmark has been pretty heavy on the lockdown meaning its more indoors time, and resolving to not meet up with friends “just in case”. Hopefully this subsides again before too long.
On the work front, I hope to have a few podcasts launched in the next few weeks (one on dogs, one on Denmark) which, if they go well, will hopefully mean I can start hiring more people to work on making podcasts which will be fun.
Now then, on with this month’s newsletter…
Things I’ve been thinking about last month
How the world will remember 2020
- It’ll be interesting to see how the world will look in 12 months’ time
- Whether the “new normal” will be firmly entrenched
- Or whether we’ll all look back on 2020 as a hazy semi-nightmare period that everyone was caught up in
- Interestingly, museums are particularly concerned about how the world will remember Covid-19
- I have a friend who works with museums who says they have been thinking about this quite actively
- Museums serve the function of encapsulating times in history for future generations and, being in the middle of one of those, many are thinking about what they can do to preserve what’s going on right now
- This includes objects (facemasks etc.) but also thoughts and feelings from people on how the pandemic is affecting them. It’s easy to distort memories once the moment has passed
- If you could create a 2020 time capsule, what would you put in it?
- Having stretches of time where you don’t eat seems to be a pretty “easy” way to improve your health
- There are obvious benefits for losing weight (you consume fewer calories) but there appears to more benefits beyond
- The logic goes that when your body is forced to sustain itself without food in your stomach it goes around in search of energy from other places
- This forces dormant parts of your body to become active again, acting a sort of spring clean
- The process, amongst other things, “flushes out” a number of old cells that could, for example, turn cancerous
- This article seemed to be a fairly comprehensive summary of the academic research
- Whilst there hasn’t been tons of research done on it, the studies so far indicate it has positive effects
- There are different types of intermittent fasting that can be chosen based on lifestyle
- Interestingly, the benefits of fasting seem to increase with age
- As the rate of cell replacement slows, the body’s “normal” process for flushing out bad stuff in the body also slows
- Fasting can kickstart these spring cleans to keep things in good order
- I’m still thinking about if/ how I will experiment with intermittent fasting in the new year. If you have any thoughts/ experiences, let me know!
A selection of podcasts etc. I’ve enjoyed recently. You can “follow” the full list here
- Dr Peter Attia | People I (Mostly) Admire: I have a couple of friends who are into intermittent fasting and they always cite Peter Attia as an influence. This is an interview about his life story/ work by the economist behind Freakonomics. Peter comes across as one of these interesting independent thinkers who likes to pursue the truth, even if it runs counter to intuition. For example, he’s currently quite “into” the medical benefits of nicotine, even though it has a bad reputation from cigarettes
- Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man in a White World | Song Exploder: the format of this podcast makes for a great audio experience. The artist deconstructs one of their songs (both the story, and the composition) before it’s put together again. It leaves you with a new appreciation for the subtleties
- The State of Carbon Capture | Greentech Media: this is an area that I’m taking an increasing interest in as part of a podcast project I’m working on. This interview gives a nice summary of the imperative + opportunities the can come from sucking carbon out of the atmosphere
- Data vs Dating | Fixed That For You: if you have a slightly nerdy side then you might enjoy this podcast. It interviews people who have taken a “data driven” approach to solving questions usually reserved for the gut/ the heart (such as “Should I continue dating this person?”). Whilst I don’t believe you should necessarily make the decision solely based on the output of a spreadsheet (as is done here) approaching some tough, emotional questions from a “data first” stand point prompts you to frame questions in an enlightening way
- Naomi | How Did We Get Here: this is a really interesting podcast that effectively involves listening in on people’s therapy sessions. Someone (in this case, Naomi) comes to the therapist with a seemingly intractable problem, and then you get to hear how they resolve it, along with break out sessions (with the co-host Claudia WInkelman) to get a different perspective on things
- School Wasn’t So Great Before COVID, Either | The Atlantic: it feels like the notion that the format of modern day schooling isn’t great is fairly well discussed. This article nevertheless does a good job of summarising it, and pondering whether Covid will be the catalyst for reform
- Dreams from my Father | Barack Obama: I’ve been reading Obama’s initial memoirs to get context ahead of reading the new one that came out this Christmas. The one from 1995 has a lot of discussion about race and identity which is particularly interesting regarding the events of 2020 (Black Lives Matter etc.). It’s also interesting to read about his relationship with his Kenyan father
- 52 Things I Learned in 2020 | Tom Whitwell: this guy makes a list each year of interesting facts that he’s learnt. They are almost all brilliant.
The long dark nights + lockdown has meant December has been heavy on things to watch. Some highlights have been
- Fleabag (Series 2): it took us a while to get to, but it was worth it. Once we finished, we felt the need to console ourselves with this
- The Queen’s Gambit: who knew dozens of games of chess could be made to be so exhilarating?
- Dark: Germany’s version to Stranger Things (sort of). I’m not usually a sci-fi type person, but enjoyed this
- Soul: Christmas Day viewing. It seemed like the life advice it was dispensing would be even more relevant for a grown up audience, rather than kids
- Inside Out: another Disney film that seemed to speak more to me as an adult than I would imagine it would when I was younger. Are all Disney films like this??
- The Age of Innocence: a Martin Scorsese film (that didn’t involve gangsters!) from 1993. A period drama about the tensions of living in a world with pressures from “society”
- Ari Eldjárn: an Icelandic comedian who did a Netflix special. Some good observations on British/ Danish culture
- Victorian England (1901): a recording (in colour) of people going about their everyday life just over 100 years ago
🙃 For fun
I went through the most clicked links from the newsletters sent this year. Here they are:
- Profile on Donald Trump (2nd May)
- Explaining a theory of why governments can keep printing money (11th April)
- Small video of a stick man riding a sleigh to the music of Beethoven (25th April)
- Jeff Bezos’ response to a customer email disputing Black Lives Matter (13th June)
- Mark Manson’s advice for healthy relationships (5th December)