The Weekly Filet brings you the five best links of the week, every Friday. Making sense of the big issues of our time (with a healthy dose of serendipity and nerdiness). Brought to you by journalist David Bauer. Trawling the web for hidden gems since 2011.
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Building an antilibrary: the power of unread books

If you love books, and dread that pile of unread books you promised yourself to read, this one is for you. The «antilibrary» is your private collection of unread books, something of value in itself. «An antilibrary is a reminder of everything we don’t know.»

Published in Weekly Filet ##324

    Face the Bitter Truth

    Whatever the final outcome, I’m struggling to wrap my head around the fact that more than 70 million Americans have witnessed the past four years and are like: Jup, that’s fine, let’s have some more of that. A lot more people — in absolute numbers — voted for Trump than did in 2016. «We are two countries», writes George Packer in The Atlantic. «The outcome of the 2016 election was not a historical fluke or result of foreign subversion, but a pretty accurate reflection of the American electorate.». It’s the best analysis I’ve read so far — not surprisingly, as George Packer has, back in 2013, written an excellent book for understanding a changing United States: The Unwinding.

    Published in Weekly Filet ##324

      The cheap pen that changed writing forever

      You’re using them all the time, yet you’ve probably never given much thought to the history of the ballpoint pen. Turns out, it’s quite an interesting one. Key idea: «The ballpoint pen was the equivalent of today’s smartphone».

      Published in Weekly Filet ##324

        My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.

        The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.» On how to cope with the loss of a loved one.

        Published in Weekly Filet ##324

          The fight is for democracy

          Published before the election, this analysis by Ezra Klein seems especially relevant now that it becomes apparent that Republicans will probably keep a lot of the power needed to shape the actual political system surrounding the presidency. A system that makes it a lot harder for one party to win elections than for the other.

          Published in Weekly Filet ##324

            How I Built This: Impossible Foods

            And for something completely different: The fascinating story of Pat Brown, who, at age 60, decided to leave his dream job as a professor to pursue an ambitious mission: to create delicious meat from plants. His thinking: What’s the biggest problem in the world I can help solve?

            Published in Weekly Filet ##323

              The Anxious Person’s Guide to the 2020 Election

              In less than a week, Americans will have voted. I wanted to give you one last recommendation on the election. I read some more thinkpieces on what’s at stake, even a piece that asks you to imagine Trump as a small child (I just look at his Twitter feed; that usually does the trick). But then I thought: By now, we all know the big picture and why the man with the small hands needs to go. So, there’s more value in checking out this NYT guide that answers all your remaining questions.

              Published in Weekly Filet ##323

                Does Palantir See Too Much?

                Palantir is the perfect villain of a company. Founded by Silicon Valley billionaire and Trump supporter Peter Thiel, it has consciously kept a low profile, while working with the CIA and autocratic governments. It collects and analyses vast amounts of data to help fight terrorism (or whatever its customers like to do under that pretense). This excellent profile sheds light on the company, and turns the villain into something more complex. Among other things, I learned that Palantir also helped the United Nations World Food Program in its effort to get food and supplies distributed amid the pandemic.

                Published in Weekly Filet ##323

                  A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air

                  This piece made quite the rounds this week. It is excellent, but there’s a bit of context that is important to keep in mind (that, as usual, has received muss less attention than the original piece). So here goes: The piece illustrates how the coronavirus spreads indoors through aerosols, and how specific safety measures (wearing masks, ventilation) have a large impact. However, as Carl Bergstrom, biologist and author of «Calling Bullshit», notes: It doesn’t show a usual scenario, but a worst-case scenario with a highly infectious person. A lot of patients don’t infect others. So stay wary, but don’t get paranoid.

                  Published in Weekly Filet ##323

                    How *Gestures Broadly at Everything* Became the Perfect Meme for Our Bad Times

                    If there is one meme that was made for 2020, it is *gestures broadly at everything*. This short history of the meme takes us back to 2016 (which, at the time, seemed like a particularly bad year), to David Bowie’s death and a woman with the username @SweetestCyanide. The last paragraph of that story is just…*chef’s kiss*.

                    Published in Weekly Filet ##323