For the past year or so, I have had extremely slow internet. This is great, it turns out — there are a lot of better things to do than be online, including but not limited to reading, talking to people I know in real life on the phone, talking to people I know in real life in real life, eating, sleeping, and also smoking weed. The only time that having extremely slow internet is not great is when I want to watch Netflix, in which case I have to close all the tabs on my browser to conserve bandwidth, or when I write this column, which is the reason I always have so many damn tabs open. But it's worth it, because I both love my precious tabs, and I hate being online. Here are the best tabs that have been open on my browser that I finally read so that I could close them and watch the new Stranger Things:
"What Is Listening to Podcasts All Day Doing to My Brain?"
Sirena Bergman for New York Magazine
OK, story time: I play golf several times a week, and whenever I hit the links, I am invariably alone, because I am the one person under 40 left who still thinks golf is cool. And so, to keep myself company and try to stifle the abject loser-ness of my main hobby, I listen to podcasts. Earlier today, I was playing like shit and couldn't concentrate, so I unplugged my iPhone from my brain and focused on my shot, a 170-yard tee shot on a par three. Normally, this is the type of shot I radically misjudge and and miss the green by at least 30 feet, but without someone yapping into my brain I actually nailed it. And so, I drove home with the very question that Sirena Bergman poses with this piece on my mind. Lo and behold, it turns out that listening to too many podcasts too quickly can cause you to not absorb any of the information in them, and if you're doing other stuff — i.e., golfing — while listening to them, you might not be paying close enough attention in the first place. So, uh, I guess I'll try to not listen to a podcast when I go golfing tomorrow.
"Fantastic Beasts and How to Rank Them"
Kathryn Schultz for The New Yorker
This piece in its entirety is a delightful thought experiment meant to assess the question of why we think some imaginary creatures/beings are plausible, and why we feel that others aren't. I, for one, am a card-carrying member of the People Who Believe In Bigfoot Society, a social group that I just made up but which is devoted to believing in Bigfoot. Like, I mean, Bigfoot's gotta be a thing, right? It's pretty presumptuous of humanity to assume we've already discovered every single non-microscopic animal species on the planet; from there, it feels presumptuous to assume that we know about all the extant hominids out there, given that there's so much unexplored (or at least underexplored) terrain out there. Anyways, bigfoot! Definitely a thing, and I also definitely just fell into the line of thinking that Schultz writes so bemusedly about in her excellent essay.
"The Man Who Created Bigfoot"
Leah Sottile for Outside
On an extremely related note, please enjoy this profile of Bob Gimlin, who did not actually create Bigfoot as a concept but definitely helped insert it into the national consciousness. If you would like to contribute to the search for Bigfoot, please consider joining the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), whose very old website contains a dead link to its membership information. Another good thing about having very slow internet, by the way, is that it keeps me from making impulse purchases on the BFRO merchandise page.
"The Unchanging, Ever-Changing Earth Room"
Kyle Chayka for The Paris Review
Kyle Chayka is a writer I admire a lot, primarily because of his ability to take design — a subject I do not particularly understand or have any interest in — and make even design philistines such as myself feel that it's as important and vital as he finds it. Here, he writes about The New York Earth Room — which is, as its name might suggest, a room in New York City that has a dirt floor — and its creator, the late Walter De Maria, as well as its curator, Bill Dilworth. In Chayka's telling, the Earth Room stands as both a hidden secret of the New York gallery world (read: you're not allowed to take Instagram pictures of it) and a testament to a peace that can be found only in our planet's subtle beauty. Both are worth preserving.
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