Life after reading "The Uninhabitable Earth"

Sup y’all. How’s life treating you today?

My family and I have been on holiday, which has been wonderful except I started the trip by reading David Wallace-Wells’ devastating climate book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. This short, meticulously researched book about what climate change has done and will do without serious changes was a life-altering read.

You can imagine how excited my holiday companions were as the book worked its way into daily conversation.

“Did you know that at four degrees of warming,” I began over dinner one night, “Which we’re currently on track for, by the way, some areas south of the equator will become so hot they’ll be unsafe for human beings to step outside during parts of the year?”

Or, on a plane: “Did you know that each of our seats on this flight equates to three square meters of the Arctic melting into the ocean? Let’s make the trip worth it, I guess?”

At some point one companion promised to read the book if I promised not to talk about it anymore. I agreed. The vacation continued as planned and climate change stayed out of the conversation. A few days later, though, they started reading it, too. They didn’t have to say anything — I could see it in the faraway look in their eyes.

The Uninhabitable Earth makes clear that fossil fuels are the biggest creators of the climate crisis. Of the CO2 in the atmosphere today, 70% of it came from 100 corporations in the fossil fuel business. Most of that carbon dioxide was put into the atmosphere during our lifetimes. More CO2 has been put into the atmosphere over the past thirty years than the first 230+ years of industrialization combined.

We’re not paying for the sins of generations past. This crisis is the result of our actions right now. When we talk about global warming, we’re talking about the energy dependence that’s at the center of our first-world human existence. We’re not all the exact people mining and burning the coal or drilling and refining the oil, but our lifestyles are built on these emissions.

The centrality of energy to the problem cannot be overstated. Even in a world where everyone on the planet dramatically cut their carbon emissions, this would affect only up to 30% of what we’re putting into the atmosphere. Some use this fact to argue that any individual actions intended to reverse climate change are meaningless. If we’re only 30% of the problem, how can we be the solution?

This gives those of us in first-world economies a convenient and unearned out from our impact. It’s no coincidence that this feeling of helplessness coincided with our lifestyles becoming more carbon-dependent. While we doubt our ability to improve the situation, we’ve unquestionably made it worse. This past July was the hottest month in recorded history, and climate scientists are expressing increasing alarm at how much faster the changes are happening than even they predicted.

Why changing this is hard

Earlier this summer I was with my child at a playdate at a neighbor’s house. While talking to another parent who was there, climate change came up. I brought up Wren, the carbon offsetting service that I wrote about in my last email (and who I became an investor and advisor to shortly afterwards). I shared what a wake-up call it had been to see my own carbon impact for the first time.

The other parent reacted negatively. “I wouldn’t want to see that,” they said. Why did I think this was worth doing when nothing would change because of all “those people” who believe climate change isn’t real?

I was taken aback by the response. This person had previously expressed a concern for climate change, but when given the smallest invitation to self-examine and act, they became defensive and aggressive instead.

This was especially frustrating as the person was obviously wealthy, with undoubtedly a larger carbon footprint than “those people” that they blamed for the crisis. I tried to gently point this out, suggesting that while the political situation has to change, so do our own choices. We all have something to face up to. They weren’t having it, however.

This conversation brought to life one of the bigger challenges of the climate crisis: the fact that we all have to change, but each of us in different ways.

For a Republican who’s been encouraged to believe that climate change is either not real or God’s Will, this very mistaken belief will need to change for there to be large-scale action to keep warming within 1.5 degrees (where things get merely really bad rather than catastrophic). Without state-driven change, we have no hope of stopping this before the “uninhabitable” part of Wallace-Wells’ book becomes true.

While Democrats are more likely to believe in climate change, that belief isn’t enough. In fact, they may even need to change their behavior more than their Republican counterparts. The average Tesla driver, for example, likely has a bigger carbon footprint than the average Chevy Silverado driver because flying on planes is such a significant contributor to emissions (I’m positing that Tesla drivers fly more than Silverado drivers without hard evidence — this assumption may be false). The Tesla-driving environmentalist’s politics support conservation, but their lifestyle does not.

It’s the rich and powerful of all political persuasions who need to change more than anyone. The richest 10% of society accounts for half of total carbon emissions according to a 2015 Oxfam report. These are also the board members, executives, and shareholders of the companies doing the polluting. The top of society directly profits from carbon emissions, produces more of them than anyone, and are the most insulated from its negative impact. This group holds the keys to making meaningful change while being incentivized to keep everything the same. The status quo is great if you’re the one in charge.

Creating a mass message for how to evolve in the face of climate change isn’t easy, because each of us needs to evolve in different ways. The climate crisis was created by all of us, yet our shared culpability allows us to attack the hypocrisy of our “enemies” instead of examining the hypocrisy of our own actions and inaction.

A theory of change

In my upcoming book there’s a chapter on what I call the thirty-year theory of change. The chapter explores how large-scale social changes happen, and theorizes that it typically takes thirty years for a new idea to become a new normal. I share numerous examples of this phenomenon (including exercise, recycling, organic food, hip-hop, and the creation of the internet), and left more examples of thirty-year changes on the cutting-room floor.

The reason for the elongated process of change is simple: change happens as power transitions from one generation to the next. This can happen peacefully (as we age or through retirement or death), violently (revolutions, overthrows, unjust uses of power), and by new ideas surpassing existing ones. But whenever power transitions non-violently, it takes time to do so.

A good example is the antiseptic method, invented by Joseph Lister in the 1860s. At the time, more than 90% of patients died from infection after surgery, but the cause of infections wasn’t yet known. A few years earlier Louis Pasteur had confirmed the existence of microscopic elements called germs for the first time, and he linked them to illness and infection. Lister applied Pasteur’s discovery to surgery, creating a sterilization technique that eradicated microscopic bodies and made surgery broadly non-fatal for the first time in human history.

You’d think such an achievement would be met with great celebration. It wasn’t. Despite its proven effectiveness, Lister’s theory was met with disdain from many leading doctors and surgeons. There are a variety of reasons for this, one of which being that if the antiseptic method was correct, these same doctors and surgeons carried some responsibility for the terrifying fatality rates among their patients. When entire hospital wards were stricken by mass infections and death — as often occurred — it was the doctors and nurses themselves who were transmitting the disease with their unclean hands and instruments.

Now that the antiseptic method is standard practice, we look back on these skeptical doctors with a judgmental eye. How crazy they were to doubt something so basic as the existence of germs! But if we put ourselves in the shoes of a surgeon back then, we can see why the theory was hard to accept: if what Lister said was true, this would mean we were complicit in the deaths of our patients. This is a very hard thing to face up to. It’s far easier to attack Lister’s idea than to confront our own (unintended, to be fair) culpability.

By the beginning of the 20th century the antiseptic method became established science and common practice. The change happened first in medical schools, where younger doctors were more open to Lister’s ideas. They had the emotional freedom to consider the science rather than feeling personally judged by it. Within thirty years, these doctors made up a growing majority of the medical field, and Lister’s new idea became normal.

This is also why today’s younger generation — like the inspiring, teenage climate leader Greta Thunberg — has been more effective and motivated to act on the climate crisis than previous generations. They can more clearly see the reality of the situation because they didn’t create it. They woke up to a world on fire that they had absolutely nothing to do with. They have the moral authority to call this disaster out for what it is. It’s easier to solve your friend's problems than your own.

This makes the rest of us more like the surgeons who resisted Lister’s theory. To accept the truth of what’s happening in our atmosphere requires a significant rewiring of how we view ourselves and the unintended responsibility that we share. This isn’t easy to do. If we wish to help solve the crisis rather than continue to enable it, however, this is precisely the kind of courage we have to find.

Keeping earth inhabitable

Since reading The Uninhabitable Earth, I’ve been thinking a lot about how my actions should change in regards to the climate. And to be transparent, I’ve been doing this while continuing to add to the crisis. I’ve had these thoughts while flying on planes, driving cars, shopping, and eating meat. I claim no innocence or moral or scientific authority on this topic. My list of things to change may very well be longer than yours.

But I’m also trying to be non-judgmental about it. I don’t want to be like one of those doctors who slowed progress because it would make them look bad. I need to see things the way they really are. This is what The Uninhabitable Earth opened my eyes to.

Thirty years from now, what will the world look like? By that point the Earth’s climate will have most likely altered life as we know it — how dramatically depending on whether serious changes are made between now and then. In what ways will a post-climate change society differ in its assumptions of right and wrong, and the default values we’re taught to accept? Today we use energy without thinking twice about it, but how will that change when carbon emissions are taken seriously in the future?

Thirty years from now is 2050, when Greta’s generation will be in power. These generations will be responsible for the task of trying to save life on our planet from extinction. (That sounds hyperbolic but, terrifyingly, it might not be.) In what ways will our climate reality change their values from ours today?

I can imagine five areas — and I’m certain there are and will be many more — where our daily defaults will need to change. Things we do now without thinking about it, but future generations will see differently. The question is what we can do to start changing these values now, so that in thirty years they might be new defaults.

  • The end of business travel. Planes are a huge pollutant, but a world where we no longer see distant loved ones and where tribalism increases by a lack of cultural exposure is problematic. We benefit from the accessibility of travel and will need cleaner versions of it in the future. A lot of business travel, however, could be done away with entirely. The internet, videoconferencing, remote working, and similar developments mean that most business travel exists because of social expectations. We should change those. The CEO of the videoconferencing company Zoom has taken only eight work trips in five years of leading his company, and just last week the venture capitalist Fred Wilson semi-endorsed this in a blog post too. Today we see personal travel as elective and business travel as a requirement. This belief could change. Companies looking to lead on the climate could have a positive impact right now by ending business travel in their organizations.

  • Ground not air. Sending something overnight or via two-day shipping may similarly be seen as an unnecessary and wasteful luxury. Before Amazon Prime, this is how everyone saw getting something overnighted or sent by air. It wasn’t done except in extreme circumstances. Amazon normalized a very expensive luxury by training us to think that getting toothpaste shipped overnight is “free” and better than going to the store. Carbon-emitting delivery by air will eventually be seen as an obscene abuse of natural resources. (Another carbon hacking tip for families: have a set day each week when you place your weekly Amazon order to avoid unnecessary boxes and shipments.)

  • Vegetarianism as default. Consumption of animal products (cow and dairy especially) is a major contributor to warming. The assumption that other organisms exist on this planet as food for humans should change (and I say this as a carnivore). Maybe a new default will be to eat vegetarian six days a week and to eat meat once a week. Climate change, ecosystem degradation, and mass extinctions could force this to be the case.

  • Used not new. The production of new goods is a significant pressure on the environment. Buying used things — and repairing things rather than throwing them away — is the most responsible form of commerce. While some may view this as a serious attack on capitalism, this doesn’t have to be the case. As the Wall Street Journal wrote about used goods websites last week, reselling products can be big business. Repairing and buying used products will fit into a new way of measuring value and growth: our ability to get more from less. As resources constrain, this will become a necessity.

  • Carbon offsetting. Adding carbon-absorbing materials could become a very normal and necessary part of life, like mowing the lawn today. This could happen through something like Wren, by companies working to become carbon-neutral like Apple is doing, or in more direct ways, like the recent project to plant 350 million tress in one day in Ethiopia. What if we all spent one day a month planting trees in our regions? What kind of long-term benefits would that create? Growing up I was taught the legend of Johnny Appleseed, a folk hero who planted apple trees throughout early America. Might our future heroes be tree planters, too?

This list is incomplete, but shifting our default beliefs and behaviors in this direction could have an impact. Emissions would lessen and it would pressure companies and governments to respond with new defaults and changes of their own.

In The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells writes that if Americans used the same amount of energy as the average European, global emissions would drop considerably. If the wealthiest 10% did the same, emissions would decrease further. This is simple stuff. It’s not going to back to the Dark Ages. Practical adjustments like these must be part of any sustainable solution.

These are things I’m personally working towards, but I also acknowledge that my lifestyle still calls on me to break these rules. I’m about to go on a book tour that will make my carbon footprint bigger than it’s ever been. But because it’s expected and how things are done, I’m doing it anyway. Harming the environment feels painless because the costs are collective and our social expectations don’t yet demand different choices. But as the crisis grows our leaders will shift. As expectations change our behavior will too.

Technology and the climate

This list neglects what we know is responsible for 70% of emissions: fossil fuels. But changes involving fossil fuels and energy are unlikely to come from consumer actions. They’ll come from technological breakthroughs that make our current ways of life sustainable (the nonviolent version of change) or from disasters that force us into dramatic adjustments (the violent version of change).

Technology and capitalism are big causes of the climate crisis, and they’ll also be drivers of the solution or lack thereof. One could argue that the most optimistic cases for all five of the areas I just laid out are in new, capital-intensive technologies. It’s only because of videoconferencing and the internet that business travel could be made obsolete. Air shipping is wasteful unless delivery by carbon-neutral drones becomes possible. Eating meat will be problematic until lab-grown, artificial meats are developed. New ways to manufacture goods with much less waste may happen. Investments are being made into machines that will absorb CO2. And for the biggest challenge of them all — fossil fuels — there are significant opportunities in renewable and nuclear energy.

But even if technology provides the answer, we need time to develop these moonshots and to create whatever the Moore’s Law of CO2 removal will hopefully be. That means greater efforts towards conservation now and in the future, and new metrics to define success. We’ll need to ruthlessly focus our energy on measuring and limiting carbon emissions and resource exploitation, and on growing a sustainable and healthy way of life. We’ll need to learn to rationally grow, protect, and invest in these values the same way we do financial value today. This is all-hands-on-deck, society-wide kind of stuff.

How ready are we?

Though the United States leads the world in wealth and power, right now it’s a 0 out of 100 on climate readiness. Our institutions are more focused on denying the existence of climate change than preventing or preparing for it. And when the climate crisis does come, the US government’s instincts will be to militarize, subcontract, and monetize the crisis, turning global warming into a new budget cash cow. Asia and Europe are better equipped (even the UK declared a climate emergency) in that they’re honest about the problem and are making preparations. (Check out this piece about NYC’s neglect of the Hudson Tunnel to see how badly America is dropping the ball in comparison.) But now the fires in Brazil, the globe’s new climate superpower, are turbo-charging even the worst predictions. Things are dark and feel like they’re getting darker. There’s a lot of Doomsday talk these days.

But in The Uninhabitable Earth even David Wallace-Wells admits optimism. We created the crisis and we have the ability to address it. There are reasons for hope. But they require us facing up to a lot of hard truths first. The Uninhabitable Earth is the place to start.

Hanging Laundry in Sardinia

This has been a long and heavy message. Thanks for sticking with it. I want to close with a poem.

Hanging laundry in Sardinia,
shirts, towels, and patterned blankets
dangle from a clothing line awaiting their pins;
Except for the wet flap of taut linen
and the scrape of gravel beneath my sandals
the air is silent, hot, still
like a lover who has given in
to a cloud of resentment
and sees little hope that
the nature of things can or will ever change.

To be here now, in the August of a warming body,
with no air conditioning or niceties
beyond a roof, running water, and a non-floor on which to sleep,
I feel what I imagine is empathy for the ancients —
though this may just be time-traveling narcissism, I admit —
that came before and whose memories
are carried in prehistoric atoms of hot breath
that I inhale and exhale
as I shift between the hanging blankets
like a capo evading a hit in a Godfather knockoff.

The Sardinian flag is four squares of red
with a face donning a Kamikaze headband filling each;
A jackpot of violence and determined independence
as a succession of rulers — Moors, French, now Romans — staked their claim;
Today the four faces of resistance droop,
conquered and neutralized,
from the facades of restaurants, wineries, and marinas
where they symbolize the completeness of victory
of the new wealthy conquerors, capturing trophies in viral snapshots
and “can you believe how cheap this is?” dinner bills.

Do the old ways of resistance and independence remain?
Are they in the nose-to-bumper driving
through the island’s rocky curves?
Are they in the party promotion of a Sardinian man
handing out fliers for low-cover dance parties on the beach
where pleasure unapologetically rules the night?
Or is it that today we are all Sardinia,
islands in oceans of collective creation and destruction,
independent (so we think) before waves of salty then soapy water
wake us, and we find ourselves hanging
from a line, waiting to be worn again.

Peace and love everyone,
Yancey

PS: Here’s my vacation reading list. Heavy stuff, but all are highly recommended.

  • The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

  • The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Robert Greenblatt: Incredible book about the Roman empire, the Enlightenment, and the fragile state of knowledge.

  • Three Women by Lisa Taddeo: Nonfiction that takes you inside the inner and sexual lives of three women. Wonderfully written.

  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl: A classic about the Holocaust and finding meaning in life.

  • The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones and others: A New York Times series rewriting America’s founding narratives from the year 1619, when the first slave ships arrived in North America. Eye-opening, mind-altering, powerful.

  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo: Confrontational book that helps white people acknowledge and confront white supremacy and their complicitness in it. Honest, loving, and practical. Recommended.


The Ideaspace is an email sent every other week by Yancey Strickler. If you signed up for this in error, you can unsubscribe below. To share with a friend, use this link or forward this email. My book, This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World, will be released on October 29 and can be preordered here. Thanks!

Earthquakes, environmental individualism, and the state of AI

Ideaspace #20

Sup y’all —

Welcome to our biweekly exploration of the Ideaspace. How’s everybody doing today?

Before getting started, some quick housekeeping.

First, the most recent issue (Subject: “In Defense of Normal”) was mistakenly sent from “The Ideaspace” rather than my name. This caused some confusion. Apologies! If you missed the last issue, you can read it here.

Second, I could use your help making sure these emails get read. Email algorithms sometimes label this as junk mail or de-prioritize it in inboxes. To help, you can:

1) Reply to this email. Just say hi! That will tell your email provider that I’m a trusted sender.

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3) Forward emails you like to your friends. They can always sign up here, too.

Much appreciated!

Environmental individualism

About ten years ago I was on a flight leaving a conference. Sitting next to me was a man I’d seen at the event. We introduced ourselves. I learned he was a scientist focused on the environment.

“What can I do to help the environment?” I asked him. “What do I change? Should I go vegan? Something else?”

“There’s not much you or I can individually do,” he told me. “It’s bigger than us.”

He paused, then leaned in.

“Think of this as the last party before everything changes.”

I looked at him wide-eyed. The words “last party” hung in the air. He went on to explain that the coming impact of climate change — which he thought was unlikely to be reversed — would be so significant our current way of life would soon disappear forever.

Those words echo in my mind each day as I read headlines about all the new, bad weather records being set around the world. If this is the last party, it’s starting to feel like last call.

A recent climate change protest in Cologne, Germany. The protestors are standing on blocks of ice.

I appreciated my flight companion’s candor. But being told there was nothing I could do was hard to hear. We’re just supposed to wait for this thing to destroy us? How can that be? But at the time he was largely right. We could conserve and limit our energy footprint, but in terms of proactive things to balance what had already been done, it didn’t seem like there was much the average person could do.

This may be changing, however. Earlier this week I came across a company called Wren that promises to help a person become carbon neutral.

Wren calculates your personal carbon footprint using a short survey, then proposes a monthly payment to a carbon-offsetting project of your choice (like planting trees, protecting rainforests, or preventing deforestation) to balance your personal carbon usage.

What my carbon footprint looks like. Notice the box with the text “29 months.”

Seeing my own carbon footprint got to me. I learned I’m four times the global average, and 55% of my carbon footprint comes from the 14 flights I said I’d take this year (which probably undercounts it). If everyone in the world lived like me we’d already be doomed. This was not an easy mirror to look in.

Through Wren I agreed to pay $40 a month in support of tree planting and protection projects that will offset my footprint. This makes me (theoretically at least) personally carbon neutral. According to Stanford researchers, carbon offsets produce significant environmental benefits by doing things like paying people to preserve forests rather than chop them down. These offsets align economic and environmental values, and are effective as a result.

Whether offsets can make carbon-heavy lifestyles like mine, yours, and a growing number of people’s truly sustainable isn’t as clear. That seems unlikely without significant changes in behavior and technology.

A cynic might say a project like Wren is just a values-signaling cover to help people sleep better without actually changing their behavior. There’s some truth to that. But these projects don’t need to fix everything to be valuable. They just need to help slow the catastrophic shifts brought about by climate change, and make more time for good ideas — and trees — to grow.

Earthquakes

Last week Los Angeles was struck by two significant earthquakes. I didn’t feel the first but definitely felt the second, larger one (7.1 on the Richter).

It started just as our child was getting out of the bath. My wife and I huddled with him in the bathroom doorframe as the house rocked back and forth. It lasted so long my wife and I locked eyes three separate times, wordlessly wondering, “How effing long is this going to last???” while trying not to alarm our child. (Who, when it finally finished, asked: “That was just a small one, right?”)

Afterwards I went into survivalist mode. During last year’s wildfires we’d packed a go-bag in a similarly panicked spirit and I started doing it again. I grabbed our electronics, notebooks, food, water, and every charger I could find and stuffed them into my bag. One more tremor and open road here we came. Or, closer to reality, one tremor and four hours of traffic to nowhere here we came.

Thankfully the Big One stayed away and things went back to normal. Except the other day I looked for a pen in my backpack and discovered gas masks, batteries, a flashlight, and a dozen bags of protein-rich oatmeal raisin cookie bites instead.

I laughed at myself. It seemed absurd that just a week before I’d anxiously shoved these things in. But then I remembered those moments in the doorframe when it felt like we were seconds away from hearing a snap, crack, and the rush of gravity and concrete around us. Anything seemed possible. Until, suddenly and mercifully, the shaking stopped.

The go-bag stays by the door now.

Links

THE STATE OF AI Last week AI experts Nathan Benaich and Ideaspace reader Ian Hogarth posted an exceptional report on the State of AI in 2019. The first fifteen slides alone freaked me out. I learned that AI agents are conquering video games, receiving super-dexterous hands, and being taught to be curious by software that incentivizes the creation of new memories. Deep, disturbing, and recommended.

ME ON A PODCAST I appeared on a podcast called Intellectual Explorers Club to discuss the Dark Forest Theory of the Internet, the Ideaspace, and my upcoming book. You can listen here or by searching for my name in your preferred podcast app.

A NEW MIX Last night I watched the first artist on my latest mix, Ana Roxanna, soundtrack “an interdimensional ritual.” It was easily the most California thing I’ve ever done. The mix is called Ever Present and it goes like this:

01 Ana Roxanna, “I’m Every Sparkly Woman”
02 Sun Ra, “Springtime Again”
03 The Beach Boys, “All I Wanna Do”
04 Earl Sweatshirt, “Ontheway!”
05 PJ Harvey, “The Glorious Land”
06 Life Without Buildings, “The Leanover”
07 Mulatu Astatke, “Dewel”
08 Lucinda Chau, “Somebody Who”
09 Tony Allen, “Asiko”
10 Frank Ocean, “Ivy”
11 The Durutti Column, “Bordeaux”
12 Cut Worms, “Song of the Highest Order”
13 Bill Callahan, “The Sing”
14 Earl Sweatshirt, “Riot!”

Listen on Spotify here.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed, please share with a friend.

Peace and love,

Yancey

In Defense of Normal

Sup y’all —

How’s everybody doing today? I’m doing great. This past weekend I watched my youngest brother graduate college. Way to go, Dylan!

For readers in LA: I’m hosting a couple of small, experimental gatherings in the near future. If you’re in LA and interested in attending, share your email here and I’ll be in touch.

Onto this week’s ideas.

In Defense of Normal

We often underrate the value of normal.

We think normal means dull, average, or mediocre. Normal is unimaginative. Normal is being like everybody else. 

Ads promise to save us from the tragedy of being normal. “Don’t be like them,” they say, “be like you.”

At school and in our careers we work hard to distinguish ourselves. We strive to be star performers, standouts, individuals. Anything but normal.

But a strange thing happens in life: the farther we go, the more welcome normal becomes. 

For some it starts with having a family. When our lives are changed by the unknown of new life, normal becomes what we want most. A normal pregnancy. Normal child development. Family challenges that fall within the bounds of normal. 

Normal means safety. Normal means others have been here before. Normal means we’re not the only one.

A sense of normal isn’t just helpful for normal things. It’s helpful for abnormal things, too.

The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro spent seven long years writing his first book, The Power Broker. Towards the end of that process, he worked in a space at the New York Public Library reserved for authors. Here’s Caro:

“In my memory, no one spoke to me for the first few days I was in the room. Then one day, I looked up and James Flexner was standing over me. The expression on his face was friendly, but after he had asked what I was writing about, the next question was the question I had come to dread: ‘How long have you been working on it?’ This time, however, when I replied, ‘Five years,’ the response was not an incredulous stare. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘that’s not so long. I’ve been working on my Washington for nine years.’ I could have jumped up and kissed him, whiskers and all — as, the next day, I could have jumped up and kissed Joe Lash, big beard and all, when he asked me the same question, and, after hearing my answer, said in his quiet way, ‘Eleanor and Franklin took me seven years.’ In a couple of sentences, these two men — idols of mine — had wiped away five years of doubt.”

Even for one of the literary giants of the 20th century, learning that his experience was normal brought profound relief.

When I was CEO of Kickstarter, I had breakfast each month with Fred Wilson, a boardmember and highly regarded figure in tech. During these breakfasts I’d share with Fred the challenges of the moment. Because of Fred’s wisdom and experience, I was always eager to hear his perspective. Some of the most helpful words I ever got from him were the simplest: that the challenge I was then facing was normal. Everyone goes through this. It wasn’t just me.

Learning that a challenge is normal is liberating. It goes from a personal shame to a badge of honor. This is what people (or companies, parents, couples, bands, etc) like me go through. They got through it. So can I.

Knowing what’s normal gives us a target to work towards, and lets us know when we get there. 

A New York Yankees pitcher named Jim Bouton wrote a fascinating book while pitching in the big leagues called Ball Four. In it he writes:

“When I first came up I thought major-league pitchers had pinpoint control and I was worried that the best I could do was hit an area about a foot square. Then I found out that’s what everybody meant by pinpoint control, and that I had it.”

We can’t define what’s normal on our own. We need our own experience plus an external reference point to know what’s normal. Our individual sample size is too small. It was only after Robert Caro learned how long it took his heroes to write books that he knew where he stood. It was only once Jim Bouton was in the big leagues that he learned he had “pinpoint control.”

This is why sharing our experiences with our peers and others is so important. The dissemination of experience creates a more informed sense of normal for all. This significantly improves everyone’s ability to succeed, especially in more specialized areas. This is the value that peer groups, professional societies, and platforms like Stack Exchange and The Creative Independent create in their domains.

This defense of normal is not an endorsement for aiming low, settling for less, or following the herd. Progress depends on people breaking the expectations and boundaries of what’s normal. This is how normal gets better over time.

This defense of normal is, however, a celebration of similarity. We live in an age where what’s desirable is what’s different. But there’s more value in our non-individuality than we admit. We’re not the first people to become parents, experience hardship or injustice, or to create innovation or success. Without diminishing our individual achievements or stories, we have much to gain and little to lose by better appreciating the ways our experiences and values make us similar — and even normal.

This Could Be Our Future

A couple weeks ago I received the first advance copies of my book, coming out this fall.

Holding it in my hands for the first time was a wild feeling. You imagine a moment like that, but experiencing it was something different. I felt proud, to be sure. I liked the cover a lot. But I also, surprisingly, felt melancholy.

As a writer, I’m a stonecutter. I’m forever shaving, molding, and clearing things up by cutting away. The book in my hands was printed and bound — the stone had been cut. It was as good as it would ever be. My time with it as a writer was over. (This part of the process, anyway. The other day I told a book industry veteran that the book was finished. “Congratulations on being half-way there,” he told me, referring to the work it takes to release and promote a book.)

While taking it all in, I noticed a grid of post-it notes that hangs on a window in my office.

This was an early outline for the book. I remember the day I put this up, and how far away the book’s completion seemed then. I was still on Chapter Three, trying to convince myself that if I surrendered to these ideas, worked really hard, and trusted in the process, the book would show itself to me.

As I sat there a year later holding the finished book for the first time, I realized that’s exactly what happened. It was hard to believe.

Money rich, value foolish

This Could Be Our Future is about how financial maximization — the idea that the rational choice in any decision is whichever option makes the most money — became the hidden default that runs our world.

Last week I came across two very different articles that show what’s meant by this.

In the magazine The American Conservative, writers Matt Stohler and Lucas Kunce show how a focus on financial maximization by defense industry companies has made the United States’ military significantly more vulnerable than ever before. They write:

“First, in the 1980s and 1990s, Wall Street financiers focused on short-term profits, market power, and executive pay-outs over core competencies like research and production, often rolling an industry up into a monopoly producer. Then, in the 2000s, they offshored production to the lowest cost producer. [S]ome of the biggest names in the industry have never created any defense product. Instead of innovating new technology to support our national security, they innovate new ways of creating monopolies to take advantage of it.”

Now that the military is increasingly dependent on private monopolies focused on financial maximization:

  1. Smaller companies have been bought up by bigger players, essentially ending competition to produce better products.

  2. As companies consolidate, workers are laid off and executives are generously rewarded.

  3. Defense contractors use their monopoly power to raise prices indiscriminately for existing goods, converting US tax dollars into inflated profits.

  4. The quality of materials produced by these companies has gotten much worse.

  5. The stock prices, profits, and profit margins of these companies have skyrocketed.

Because of #5, this strategy is viewed as rational and successful. But by any metric other than financial maximization, the negative impact of these choices is incredibly clear.

Had these companies focused on maximizing other values — like innovation, quality, or reliability — the benefits would be significant and plentiful. But these companies focused on short-term financial goals instead.

This pattern repeats itself throughout the world.

In another recent article, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the Italian city of Venice is suffering from an over-tourism problem that local officials refuse to address because it’s too lucrative not to. Cruise ships pay officials €30,000 a day to dock in the harbor and overcrowd the city. The government prioritizes that short-term windfall above the long-term costs despite significant evidence that this strategy will eventually become self-defeating.

We struggle to see value beyond our immediate self-interest. In everything from defense contracts to Italian tourism, we’re trapped by a limited understanding of value. We believe financial maximization is the only rational value. It isn’t. This Could Be Our Future is about new areas of value we can grow instead.

The book comes out October 29. If you’re intrigued by these ideas, you can preorder the book from any of these fine establishments: Amazon, Indiebound, and Powell’s. Pre-orders have a big impact on which titles book stores decide to order and promote. Please grab a copy if you can.

Honoring Barry Kowalski

A longtime friend, extraordinary person, and Ideaspace reader named Barry Kowalski passed away this week. Barry was a giant in work and in life. From 1981 until the 2000s, Barry was a lead prosecutor in the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department. Over his career he prosecuted Klu Klux Klan members, Neo-Nazis, and, in his most high-profile case, the LAPD police officers who brutally beat Rodney King. Barry was also a Vietnam veteran who enlisted because he thought it was “unfair that poor guys had to go but rich guys didn’t.” (You can learn more about him in his Washington Post obituary.) Few people have made more of their time on Earth than Barry. He entered this world with a mission to make it better. Without question, he did. You made your mark and it matters, Barry. You will not be forgotten.

Good Music

I’ve got a great new mix of music for you. It’s called Trim Oh Low.

  1. Fela Kuti — “Rofolo Fight”

  2. Willie Griffin — “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire”

  3. Sensational Saints — “How Great Thou Art”

  4. Pharoah Sanders — “Love Is Everywhere”

  5. Alton Ellis — “What Does It Take”

  6. Erlend Oye — “Every Party Has a Winner And a Loser”

  7. Yaeji — “One More”

  8. A Tribe Called Quest — “Whateva Will Be”

  9. Solange — “Nothing Without Intention (Interlude)”

  10. Alice Coltrane — “Journey in Satchidananda”

  11. Paul McCartney — “Every Night”

  12. The Velvet Underground — “Lisa Says (Live)”

  13. Willie Griffin — “I Love You”

You can listen here:

Do you enjoy reading this email? Then tell a friend about it! They can sign up to get their own copy of The Ideaspace here.

Peace and love my friends — to Barry and his family especially.

Yancey

The Mueller-Manuel-Miranda Report

During Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation of the 2016 election, its final report was as anticipated as any piece of information in history. NPR even interviewed the families of terminally ill patients who were worried they might die before they could read its findings. The anticipation was as if word leaked that God was about to drop the 11th commandment.

And yet now, two months after the Mueller Report’s release, few people have read it. In a CNN poll last month, just 3% of Americans reported reading the whole report. (The survey didn’t say how many of those people are or were terminally ill.)

It’s not just the public that’s not reading it. Members of Congress aren’t either. Last month the Washington Post asked 92 members of Congress if they’d read the Mueller Report. While 73% of those in the House of Representatives said they had, just 50% of Senators surveyed claimed to have read it.

Why aren’t more people reading the Mueller Report? Is it Trump exhaustion? Have we picked our sides and stopped paying attention to the substance of the game? Or is it that — from a public interest perspective — the Mueller Report is kind of a flop?

Compare the Mueller Report to The 9/11 Commission Report, another government-published account of a national crisis. The 9/11 Commission Report was written in a narrative form with the public interest in mind. A New York Times review said “it reads like a novel.” It sold more than a million copies in its first year, and was even optioned for two TV series.

Despite the wall-to-wall cable news coverage, it’s hard to picture the TV shows that would spin out from the Mueller Report’s findings. A printed version is currently on the bestseller’s list, but it’s hardly a book club or beach read favorite. The reason is simple: the Mueller Report isn’t easy to read.

This critique isn’t totally fair, I admit. According to the Special Counsel statute, the intended audience for the Mueller Report isn’t the public, it’s the Justice Department. The report’s technical and legal language are there for technical and legal reasons. But it’s this same legalese that’s preventing the report from influencing the public or persuading those in power to follow through on its conclusions, which, even more confusingly, are presented as fortune cookie double-negative innuendos (“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him”).

If the Mueller Report is a flop because its writing isn’t connecting, is there anything that can be done about it? 

Well, what do the experts in flops do when something has a lot riding on it but isn’t working? In Hollywood, they bring someone in to rewrite it. What if the Special Counsel could do the same? Is there an adaptation of the Mueller Report that could move the needle?

There could be the Mueller-Wolf Report co-authored by Law & Order creator Dick Wolf. This draft would keep the Mueller Report’s two-part structure — an obvious homage to Law & Order (Part One: The Crime, Part Two: The Boring Stuff) — but add more drama. A fiery interrogation scene between Trump fixer Michael Cohen and Law & Order SVU’s Mariska Hargitay would bring Trump’s dire financial straits vividly to light.

Or it could be the Mueller-Abrams Report, with Lost/Star Wars writer J.J. Abrams bringing his multi-layered narrative style to the findings. In his hands, the report would be a labyrinthine mystery with unexpected twists and turns (the Seychelles! Sean Hannity!) that would keep Twitter buzzing. This version would end inconclusively, however, with major threads unresolved. Sounds a little too familiar. Moving on.

Could the Mueller-Duffer Brothers Report make a splash? The Stranger Things creators could re-set Mueller’s findings in the 1980s glory days of Russian fear-mongering. With the right soundtrack, wardrobe, and indoor smoking policies, Trump fans could share in the outrage that America’s democracy has been attacked.

The most watched version might be the Mueller-Gibson Report. Directed by Mel Gibson and aired on Fox, this version would get big ratings and headlines, though the graphic depiction of Donald Trump’s crucifixion at the hands of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page would prove controversial.

But in the end, there’s just one Mueller rewrite that’s a lock to make a difference. It’s also the hardest one to get for obvious reasons. But the Mueller-Kardashian-West Report would absolutely break through the noise. 

Kim Kardashian would feature each of the ten possible obstruction of justice charges as Instagram stories for her 141 million followers (“Swipe up to impeach,” the screen reads after each one). She’d sprinkle her makeup tutorials with down-to-earth explanations of how Trump obstructed justice, limited the Special Counsel’s ability to pinpoint the nature of the Russia-Trump connection, and left America open to further attacks, which might be an impeachable offense on its own. Also don’t forget to check out her new CBD moisturizing lip balm.

After Kim starts promoting the MKW Report, daytime, gossip, and reality television begin covering Mueller’s findings for the first time. Trump’s approval rating noticeably dips. Caitlyn Jenner’s switch from pro- to anti-Trump even makes headlines in Trump’s hometown newspaper, The National Enquirer

As for Kanye, his belief in Trump never wavers, but he’s already on the record stating nothing’s ever promised tomorrow today. Building on the landmark Yeezus, Kanye’s ode to betrayal Yudas is a stunning rebuke of Trump and a finely crafted song cycle about the abuse of power and its Constitutional implications.

But it’s Kanye’s Saturday Night Live appearance that’s the final nail in the coffin. Kanye performs Yudas’ lead single “Snapback” on a stage designed to look like a mock funeral for Trump, complete with Alec Baldwin as the Corpse-in-Chief. At the song’s finale, Kanye reaches into the casket, takes a red baseball cap out of Trump/Baldwin’s hands, and puts it on as he faces the camera. The hat reads: “MAKE AMERICA KANYE AGAIN.”

Hours later, the Trump presidency ends with a single-word tweet: “sad.” 

To Impeach, or…

Some in the media are attempting to translate Mueller’s findings for the public.

These are a necessary start. Impeachment hearings should start as soon as possible, and should focus on Trump’s obstruction of justice. The political situation is bad and getting worse. The closer it gets to the 2020 election, the harder the process will be.

Three final thoughts on impeachment

1) In past emails I’ve predicted Trump will be impeached and re-elected in 2020. As of now, whether he’s impeached seems the more questionable of those two predictions. Yes, 2020 polls look bad for Trump at this moment, but he has many built-in advantages. Presidents tend to be reelected, the Democratic candidate will potentially need a +5 margin of victory to overcome the Electoral College, and Trump has cheated before and will cheat again. What’s less certain is whether Democrats will try to impeach. They’re afraid of losing the larger political battle. They may be overthinking it (shocker!).

2) Michigan Congressman Justin Amash becoming the first Republican to come out for impeachment is a big deal. He’s a staunch conservative, a libertarian, and formerly a member of the Freedom Caucus, an influential far-right group in Congress. In a series of tweets he made an effective, conservative case for impeachment. Also notable: he’s refused to do interviews, not wanting to use this position for personal gain. So far no other Republicans have followed.

Amash’s reasons for impeachment focus on Trump’s obstruction of justice. This is the right angle to take. Check out the Google search trends for “impeachment”:

That huge spike in May 2017? That’s right after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey to stop the investigation into Russian interference. That’s the moment when the public instinctively reached for impeachment. That’s the case that’s waiting to be made.

3) History suggests impeachment may change opinions. Or maybe it won’t. An interesting post by Sidney Blumenthal (the former Bill Clinton strategist, so not a disinterested source) looked at the approval numbers for Presidents Nixon and Clinton while they went through their impeachment proceedings. He writes:

“Since the release of the redacted version of the Mueller Report, support for impeachment of Trump has already risen to a near majority, 45% with 42% opposed… By contrast, Nixon began 1973 as a president reelected with an overwhelming majority and winning 49 states. He stood at 68% approval. Two weeks before his second inauguration, Watergate burglars pled guilty to conspiracy and other crimes, which soon triggered congressional inquiries into Watergate. By May, when the Senate Watergate hearings began, Nixon’s standing in public opinion began to erode, a decline accelerated at each stage by his stonewalling of Congress and the courts. Public support for impeachment of Nixon, however, did not reach the level at which it already stands for Trump until near May 1974, a full year after the Senate Watergate hearings. In short, Trump now stands in public opinion where Nixon did after Senate hearings, after John Dean and others testified, after the Nixon tapes were exposed.”

He includes a chart of public opinion on Nixon as Watergate unfolded. As the public learned of Nixon’s actions and character through televised hearings and a news barrage, Nixon’s approval plummeted from 68% to 24% in 18 months.

This is the “sunshine is the best disinfectant” case for impeachment.

But Blumenthal’s analysis also reflects my fear, which is that opinions will not change. We can see this in Bill Clinton’s approval numbers during his impeachment proceedings. They’re remarkably static:

Most of the public really liked him, a smaller percentage hated him, and this didn’t change throughout the proceedings. This is evidence that the charges against Clinton didn’t have merit in the eyes of the public (otherwise his popularity would have decreased). But note that Clinton’s disapproval numbers never changed either. For those who disliked Clinton, their opinion never wavered. It still hasn’t.

Today most of the public really dislikes Donald Trump, a minority percentage really likes him, and both sides are standing their ground. Can impeachment change that?

To go back to Mueller once more: Maybe. While the Mueller Report didn’t shift public opinion, Robert Mueller’s seven-minute TV press conference last month did. An NPR poll found a 16% increase in support for impeachment after Mueller’s brief remarks.

This was the Special Counsel’s first, last, and only public appearance during the investigation. During that same period, Donald Trump sent approximately 1,000 tweets attacking the inquiry.

The Mueller team’s silence was seen as a badge of honor during the investigation. It showed they were above the fray. But considering how much more impact Mueller’s evidence had when presented in human form rather than an unread report, I wonder if history will judge the Special Counsel’s communications strategy so kindly.

Watching Mueller defend the report on television, I felt like I was watching an artist respond to critics who wanted their work to be more popular, more relevant. “We chose those words carefully,” Mueller said in his statement, “and the work speaks for itself.”

Except maybe it doesn’t.

We can’t afford for the Mueller Report to be an indie hit or misunderstood for its time. We can’t let it fade into the past. We need blockbuster impeachment hearings. We need to know what really happened. We need to remember the alarm we felt in May 2017. The emergency never stopped. We just got used to it.

Recommended

Long ago I was an obsessive CD buyer and collector. But after living in too many small New York City apartments and hocking my collection to pay for a root canal while unemployed, my musical existence is fully cloud-based these days.

This is convenient, but also distressing as a lot of incredible music is missing from these services. A New York Times story last week said only 20% of recorded music is available on streaming services. The other 80% is in danger of disappearing completely as time goes on. A lot of great music will need to get rediscovered to survive.

One of my favorite albums ever is among those missing.

Rubbed Out by Alexis Taylor is an intimate, lovely record with incredible song after incredible song. The album was recorded in his bedroom and in hotel rooms while on tour with his band Hot Chip. His cover of Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up” is one of the few examples I know of someone genuinely improving a Beatle’s song.

Released on a small boutique label, the album is impossible to find. It disappeared into the void after never really being noticed in the first place. I’ve made a YouTube playlist of the few tracks that are publicly available if you want to give it a try. It’s worth tracking down the whole thing if you can.

Peace and love my friends,

Yancey

Beyond the Dark Forest (Ideaspace #17)

Sup y’all —

How’s everybody doing today?

A special hello to the new subscribers. There’s a lot of you this week. Welcome! I’m glad you’ve joined us. To set the scene, each email typically includes two miniature essays and a music or book recommendation. You can see the archive of past emails here.

Discovering the dark forest

Two weeks ago I sent an email about the dark forest theory of the internet. I used the dark forest theory to explain why we’re afraid to be public online, and what we could be losing as a result.

I first connected the dark forest theory and the internet earlier this year when I had a strange realization: that I knew how to be myself in real life, but I didn’t know how to be myself on the internet.

In “real life” I’m a reasonably self-confident, forty-year-old human. If we sat next to each other on a plane, chances are we’d have a good-to-memorable conversation.

But on the internet, I’m a teenager struggling to find their identity. I’m all awkward exclamation points and weird over-explanations. I’m too self-conscious to be interesting or real.

When I used the internet as an actual adolescent in the 1990s and as a young adult in the 2000s, this wasn’t the case. I blogged everyday. Message boards were how I learned to test theories and debate ideas. These communities were small enough that people knew each other, but big enough that there was diversity of opinion and conversation. You could vehemently disagree with someone about politics in one thread while agreeing just as passionately with them about movie sequels in another.

I had no problem being myself online then. But now it feels different.

A lot of this difference is on me. I’m older. I have more at stake. But it’s not just me that changed. The internet did too. The internet went from a venue for low stakes experimentation to the place with some of the highest stakes of all. With the rise of online bullying, shaming, and even swatting, the internet became emotionally, reputationally, and physically dangerous. It became the dark forest. Our digital selves became evidence that could and would be used against us. To keep safe we exercised our right to stay silent and moved underground.

In The Three Body Problem series, author Liu Cixin presents a similar solution for the dark forest threat: a “black domain.” This device slows the speed of light to create a cloak of invisibility around a planet or galaxy. A black domain stops everything from getting in or out. It’s security through cosmic self-imprisonment.

Dark forests like email lists and Slack groups are more forgiving than Liu’s black domains. They’re not that off-grid. Today’s black domain equivalents might be things like Mastodon, putting phones in freezers, and crypto cold storage. Not many of us are that hardcore with our digital habits (yet). But when it comes to showing our true selves online, some of us are more like black domains than we care to admit.

Beyond the dark forest

When I realized I didn’t know how to be myself online, my first thought was: Who cares? It doesn’t matter. It’s just the internet.

But the more I thought about it, the more I started thinking that it did matter. There’s tremendous value in coming into yourself as a person. Why wouldn’t that be true online, too? Recognizing that my online self was lacking, I made a commitment to learn how to be myself on the internet.

I started with a simple exercise. For one week, I would tweet twice a day. (Normally I tweet about once a month.) I wouldn’t try to impress or be cool. I would try to be real and share what was actually on my mind.

Once in the morning and once at night, I tweeted. I wrote about child-rearing, grocery shopping, politics, books, and basketball. The results were more trivial than revolutionary, and that was the point. I wasn’t trying to stand out. I was getting practice reps at being me. The regular schedule lowered my anxiety and helped dial in my voice.

The next step in my digital self-acceptance was to try sharing my dark forest self with the larger internet. After sending my last email about the dark forest, I posted it on Medium. I wasn’t expecting a response, but the piece blew up. In the last two weeks, more than 100,000 people read it around the world.

The dark forest theory struck a chord. And it’s no wonder: many of us struggle to be ourselves online. We’re wary of showing who we really are outside our dark forests. But we’re also learning there are trade-offs. Our dark forests can become black domains with little connection or influence on the outside world.

So what’s the in-between? That’s what my humble experiments have been trying to find. That process is ongoing, but my more-complicated-in-practice-than-theory answer is to strive to be your true self in every context and vow to be present wherever you are. We can’t lurk in the dark forests and expect to have a positive effect. To positively contribute to the communities and cultures we’re a part of, we have to actively engage. What kind of bowling alley it is depends on who goes there.

Sometimes I question the merits of this project. Why not just delete my accounts and stay in my dark forests forever?

It’s tempting. But whenever I go down that path, I think about Russia’s disinformation campaign that began before the 2016 election and continues to this day.

Russia’s GRU directed their agents to use fake social media accounts to pretend to be American, and then flood Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and other platforms with politically and racially divisive messages. These sleeper accounts didn’t (and don’t) just post propaganda. They posted about cooking, sports, and other everyday mundanities too. They used the trivial to build trust, normalize the extreme ideas they were promoting, and make their fake accounts seem real.

Here I was retreating from the web because I thought my online presence was unimportant and inconsequential. Meanwhile a foreign power was using its resources to pretend to be someone like me to try to influence someone like me. What kind of influence does that mean I have? What kind of influence does that mean each of us has? And who fills that vacuum if we fail to fill it ourselves?

I didn’t like the possibilities that came up when I tried answering that question for myself. How about you?

Recommendations

A couple emails ago I shared a mix of my favorite songs by a musician named Bill Callahan. Bill’s known as a reclusive artist, but in the past year he’s become much more public. Why is that? Here’s how he explained it to The Creative Independent:

“I decided to stop worrying about that stuff—saying the wrong thing—and just to be more open about things. Hanly, my wife, always says honesty is the most interesting thing and it’s true. I heard this quote from the writer Harold Brodkey who said, “I don’t understand privacy.” I’ve always understood privacy very well, but it’s like—what’s the point of taking your secrets to the grave, or even your banalities? We have this chance to let ourselves be known to other people, to fill out the web of humanity that we’ve been spreading for thousands of years, and I think every little bit that people share—maybe not Instagram photos of your lunch, but other more human things—it helps. It all adds up over thousands of years of time. Why not let other people know you a little bit?”

You’re on point, Bill. You’re on point.

Here’s a new mix of music I’ve made for y’all called Miracles.

01 Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir, “Like a Ship”
02 Tierra Whack, “4 Wings”
03 Tierra Whack, “Hungry Hippo”
04 Solange, “Stay Flo”
05 William Onyeabor, “Tomorrow”
06 ABRA, “Roses”
07 Fela Kuti, “Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am”
08 Can, “Tango Whiskeyman”
09 Parquet Courts, “Borrowed Time”
10 Todd Rundgren, “I Saw the Light”
11 The Clash, “Charlie Don’t Surf”
12 Steve Lacy, “Ryd”
13 Neil Young, “Out on the Weekend”
14 Scary Mansion, “Go to Hell”
15 Johnnie Frierson, “Heavenly Father, You’ve Been Good”

Listen on Spotify:

I put a version of this email on Medium, too. You can find it here. If you enjoyed, please share it with a friend.

Peace and love,

Yancey

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