What to expect

Hi, I'm David. A journalist, and a curious generalist.
I've been curating the best of the web for my newsletter since 2011. I'd love to be your diligent curator, too.

Recommendations in the Weekly Filet are things I want my friends to see.

Things that tickle and delight a curious mind.

Articles, books, podcasts, graphics, videos, photographs,...The form is never the limit.

I let these questions guide me:
1. Does it help understand a complex, important issue?
2. Does it foster empathy by making you see the world through others' eyes?
3. Does it inspire self-reflection?

If it's timely, that's good. If it's timeless, that's better.

If in doubt, I prefer nerdy, witty, ambiguous. Solutions-oriented and actionable. Candid.

Don't expect news. Expect new insights.
Expect to be surprised.

Surprise me now!

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Treasure trove

2097 recommended links since 2011

Fighting Fire with Fire

Guest curated by Peter Yeung

On the subject of Indigenous knowledge, time and time again it comes up that those who have for centuries been stewards of a territory unsurprisingly know how best to protect and manage it sustainably. On my recent travels across the US, I carried out some yet-to-be-published reporting in New Mexico as it suffers the largest wildfire in its history, burning over 300,000 acres – more than 10 times the size of Paris. Yet what’s been overlooked is how using controlled fire as a form of fire management, as paradoxical as that may sound, has been used by Indigenous people all over the world, including the tribes of Australia’s Arnhem Land that are written about in this National Geographic article. Fire was used for hunting, for regeneration, for ceremony, it explains; after a burn, they believe that the land is reborn.

From Weekly Filet #Special, in July 2022.

    How Houston Housed the Homeless

    Guest curated by Peter Yeung

    Over the past few years, an ever-greater proportion of my work has been devoted to solutions journalism. While the approach is hardly new, what’s developed recently is a movement for a conscious, formalised, and rigorous style of investigative reporting focused on achieving progress. The New York Times ran a short column called Fixes for many years, but earlier this year it scrapped that and launched a project called Headway, which publishes in-depth analyses of struggles for improvement, warts and all. This recent example – written by architecture critic Michael Kimmelman – explores how America’s third largest city was able to move 25,000 people off the streets and into homes.

    From Weekly Filet #Special, in July 2022.

      The Battle for the Amazon

      Guest curated by Peter Yeung

      It’s not often I cry when reading an article, but I was concerned for my MacBook’s circuit board as I scrolled through this one. What struck me most was the bittersweet beauty with which it was written by Tom Phillips, The Guardian’s Latin America Correspondent, as he recounted the final journey of Bruno Pereira, an indigenous expert, and Dom Phillips, a close friend of Tom and fellow journalist, as they were reporting in the Indigenous lands of the Vale do Javari in the Brazilian Amazon. The pair were murdered last month when they came across illegal fisherman plundering the rich natural resources – a practice happening all across the rainforest, from gold mining to logging. Back in 2019, I was reporting perhaps 25 miles away from where they were killed. In an age of six-figure columnists and multimillion pivots to video, it’s tough not to despair about the lack of investment into this kind of journalism.

      From Weekly Filet #Special, in July 2022.

        Shining a Light On Dark Skies

        Guest curated by Peter Yeung

        Another stop on my US road trip was in the realms of remote west Texas, where the deserted roads roll on for hundreds of miles, where tarmac sizzles under the constant heat. It’s also one of the darkest places in the country, or, for that matter, the world. I visited the McDonald Observatory, a facility 450 miles west of Austin that has one of the largest telescopes in the world, to stargaze one night at a so-called “star party”. As I discovered in this BBC Future feature, more than 200 places around the world have now achieved such Dark Sky status as there is growing recognition of light pollution (it’s increased by at least 49% over 25 years) and the value of darkness, which is important for everything from human health to complex wildlife ecosystems.

        From Weekly Filet #Special, in July 2022.

          The Power of Postcards

          Guest curated by Peter Yeung

          I recently came across this wonderful project set up by Outriders, a globally-focused news outlet that I believe is based in Poland. Every two weeks, subscribers to Post Postcards are sent a digital postcard from an inspiring community, town or city that is making an effort to fight climate change. From Groningen, Netherlands, to Kaduna State, Nigeria, and Roraima state, Brazil, the postcards of the projects are usually illustrated with a watercolour painting; a compelling way of keeping the topic in mind. (Relatedly, Postcards from Timbuktu is a brilliant project that allows you to order a postcard from the Malian desert city, at the same time supporting former tour guides who have been made unemployed due to ongoing conflict in the region).

          From Weekly Filet #Special, in July 2022.

            What If Russia Uses Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine?

            An assessment of the possible scenarios, and the response they might trigger. (I can’t help but think that if such an attack ever were to happen, there better still be reasonable person in charge of the American nuclear codes.)

            From Weekly Filet #401, in July 2022.

              How Glaciers are melting away in the coming decades

              The great thing about visual journalism is that, when done well, it works almost as a lingua franca. This piece is in German, but even if you don’t understand it, you’ll get the main takeaway (for the rest, try Google Translate). These models show how five glaciers in the Swiss alps will develop until 2100, in a pessimistic scenario and an optimistic one (net-zero emissions worldwide by 2050). Neither looks nice, but the differences are stark.

              From Weekly Filet #401, in July 2022.

                The future of wind power

                Interesting episode from the «People Fixing The World» podcast, on new technologies to harness wind energy, from giant kites, small turbines on street lamps and huge ones floating in the middle of oceans.

                From Weekly Filet #401, in July 2022.

                  A Plane of Monkeys, a Pandemic, and a Botched Deal: Inside the Science Crisis You’ve Never Heard Of

                  Here’s one supply chain disruption you probably haven’t heard of yet: monkeys. Specifically: There’s a shortage of rhesus macaques for biomedical research. This might sound like a good thing for animal welfare, but the consequences for human lives are «very real, very urgent». A super interesting, deeply reported piece — I particularly like how it addresses the moral ambiguities inherent in the topic.

                  From Weekly Filet #401, in July 2022.