The Sunday Post for April 21, 2019

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

The Metrics of Backpacks

Victoria Gannon is a writer and editor in the Bay Area who tried, for a while, to make a living writing "content" for a technology company. Her account is completely different from the standard-issue tech takedown (which, yes, I'm very fond of posting here). It's tech through a personal and social lens, tech with all of the sexism and none of the shine — full of petty power plays and craft beer as sweet as soda.

On Fridays we have happy hours that begin at three. A service delivers local microbrews to the office. The beers are yeasty and thick, with flavors like peanut butter and oatmeal stout. When the happy hour is announced on Slack, a man will respond by writing “beer” and posting an emoji of a beer mug. Then another man does, and another, writing “beers,” “lots of beers,” “beers, beers, beers,” and then they post gifs of men drinking beer.

I am in a foreign country; these are my hosts.

The Writer as Non-Commodity

Lisa Wells does a lovely job of separating the confusing, mysterious, semi-mystical drive to write and the rather more straightforward desire for approval. This is full of good quotes from writers with surprisingly (to this writer!) well-balanced and healthy inner selves.

What would the writer's life look like if these were the models we learned and followed?

I don’t think these writers are unique in their sense of scarcity. I’m sure scientists, celebrities, entrepreneurs of all stripes, the most talented hairdressers—I’m sure they ride the same waves of warmth and disappointment. Thanks to social media, we now have unprecedented access to all the shit we aren’t getting, all the lists without our names, all the parties we weren’t invited to. And it seems to me, if we hope to have any shot at joy, or at making something of lasting value, we’re going to need to summon uncommon insight in response.
Consider the Golden Mole

If the London Review of Books were Cute Animal Twitter, this is what it would look like: images of a shining, tiny, iridescent mole — and brief but erudite commentary on its evolutionary history. Yes, we just said "squee," both over the photographs and the word "autapomorphic." "Autapomorphic"! Talk about shiny. Follow with this story about the Devils Hole pupfish, in which the environment shows its legal teeth.

The golden mole is not, in fact, a mole. It’s more closely related to the elephant, and though most are small enough to fit in a child’s hand, their bodies are miniature powerhouses: their kidneys are so efficient that many species can go their entire lives without drinking a drop of water. The bone in the mole’s middle ear is so large and hypertrophied that it is immensely sensitive to underground vibrations; waiting under the soil or sand, the golden mole can hear the footsteps up above of birds and lizards; it can distinguish between the footfall of ants and termites. With their powerful forelegs and webbed back feet, they are described by scientists as ‘spectacularly autapomorphic’. They have been like nothing but themselves for far longer than us.