Fake

I recently signed up for an online course called Hidden Facts: Creative Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Facts. The additional resources provided as part of the reading for the course included six links, three of which were about fake news. 

In 2017, Professor Charlie Beckett wrote that fake news may have been “the best thing that’s happened to journalism”. 

Like how Ryan Holiday says that “the obstacle is the way”, Beckett saw the fake news obstacle as an opportunity for quality journalism to set itself apart.

“It gives mainstream quality journalism the opportunity to show that it has value based on expertise, ethics, engagement and experience,” Beckett wrote.

During my time as a journalist, there were times when I did feel like we’d become too complacent. We expected to be believed. The emergence of fake news was a “wake up call”, wrote Beckett. 

“To be more transparent, relevant, and to add value to people’s lives.”

He also saw it as an opportunity for the development of new business models like fact checking and myth busting. 

And he’s right. In the last couple of years, I’ve seen quite a number of pieces and courses about how to fact-check, how to spot fakes. There have been more regulations and tools and policies emerging. There’s been more emphasis on data-driven journalism. 

Perhaps journalism is more antifragile than we realise.

Bait

I’ve been reading the winning short stories of the Mogford Prize for food & drink writing and found myself especially drawn to Bait

It’s a story we all probably know, but we don’t discover this until the end. Instead, we are treated to a delightful description of a mother preparing a scrumptious meal. 

She starts her work at five in the morning, with a batch of biscuits. Then, as prepares a whole spread of delicious goodies — including a magnificent cake — we are given a look into her mind. 

What we find there is both chilling, yet enigmatic. 

While I finished the story with a sense that it was complete, I also felt like I wanted to know more. Not about what happens next, but about what happened before. 

I wanted to know more about this mother, this person, and how she came to be. 

This is why I still read fiction — it has a kind of power over me. It takes me over and sweeps me up into other worlds, into other lives. 

One question I find myself thinking about is this: does fiction need to be justified? 

Why all the articles about how reading fiction improves social skills? Does fiction really need to have some kind of real-world productive purpose for it to be valuable? 

Can’t it just be enjoyed?

Noshings #11

I love building things — especially in the scrappy stages when everything is DIY, imperfect and in spite of all the possibilities of failing, has a probability for success. What an exciting state be in! 

One of the things I find myself doing pretty often is logo creation. I usually start with something super simple that fits in a square and looks generally okay on most platforms. Radio.co has some other tips on how to design a logo for your radio station. 

This two-hour video tutorial on how to “plan, code and deploy your startup” is a great guide to use if you’re looking to set something up real quick. By the time you’ve finished watching the video and following along, you’ll have a minimum viable product ready. Although the tutorial is for a job aggregator, it could be tweaked to aggregate different things. 

Another way to get a simple app up really quickly is by using no-code tools. Although I often find these tools limited in some ways, they are good enough to get started with very low time or monetary investment. I recently read an article about no-code myths, which may help to dispel developer fears of no-code competition. 

If you think of yourself as an entrepreneur, and if you’re female, the Femstreet newsletter is a valuable resource.

If you’re an entrepreneur, and media is part of your company’s revenue model, A Media Operator has some amazing insights.

Gratitude

A few days ago, I wrote about the guilt I felt over not being grateful enough “for all the other positive things in my life”. 

But according to the Nov 28 issue of the Daily Stoic newsletter, stoics practice a more “inclusive and counterintuitive” form of gratitude. Instead of just being grateful for just the good things in life, they practice gratefulness for life itself. 

“Convince yourself that everything is the gift of the gods… that things are good and always will be,” said Marcus Aurelius. 

Could I find a way to convince myself to be grateful even for the periods of melancholy? Can I find it in myself to show gratitude for the heart-racing, finger-numbing anxiety I experience? 

According to the stoics, it’s possible. Even if it isn’t easy. 

The newsletter article reiterates that “if we can zoom out for that more complete view, understanding and appreciation can emerge.” 

The fact that I am still alive is something to be grateful for, even if it doesn’t always feel like a good thing in the moment. It’s still something that my future self will likely be happy about. (Perhaps I can implement “future gratefulness”.) 

The other thing that the Daily Stoic mentions is that “everything that has happened and is happening is bringing you to where you are”. 

All of our experiences contribute to making us into the people we are and will become. 

Dog

Jacob has been staying in my place and after I’d fed him on one the mornings this week, I suddenly understood the sentiment behind the song I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

He has to be fed at 6am in the morning, which is at least three hours before my usual morning wake-up. What I typically do is feed him, then crash on the couch. He often goes back to sleep as well. 

One of of these mornings as I lay on the couch, I watched him curl up on his blanket and found myself unable to go back to sleep. 

I just wanted to keep looking at him, his little paw curled up, the crook of his leg sticking out, the gentle up-and-down movement of his body as he breathed in and out. 

Every time I look at him, I know that I would do everything in my power to give him a happy life. I wonder if loving a child will feel this way. The magnitude of it frightens me. 

But then I think about this science fiction short story that I read when I was a teenager, in which a group of humans brought alien pets (dogs) back to Earth. 

In the story, the dogs lived pampered lives. They got regular meals, were bathed by someone else, had comfy beds to sleep on. And whenever they wanted a treat, all they had to do was “shake hands”. 

Thinking about Jacob, I wonder if that story has some truth in it after all. 😂

Frozen

I came across an article about the “father of the modern frozen food industry” recently and I was fascinated!

Clarence Birdseye’s modernisation of food freezing methods were borne out of his work in the US Fisheries Association, which at the time was trying to find better ways of getting fish to the marketplace. 

Frozen seafood at the time was deplorable. Apparently, only the lowest grade food was frozen and frozen foods were sold at even lower prices than canned food. 

Birdseye had always been entrepreneurial from a young age. While he was drawn to nature, he was also fascinated by the “industrious spirit of the times”. 

“Once, he noticed an abundance of muskrats in a nearby field, wrote letters to a local zoo director to assess demand, and ended up trapping and selling them for $1 a piece,” Zachary Crockett writes about Birdseye. 

While he was living in Labrador (described as “a remote, inhospitably cold region in Newfoundland”) — where he was breeding silver foxes for fur — he also developed an interest in food preservation. 

He noticed that when Inuit fisherman pulled fish out of the water, they would freeze “mid-flip” in the air. They would then be packed in snow outdoors. He discovered that they “tasted perfectly fresh” after thawing, even if it was weeks later. 

After he returned to the US, he started experimenting with methods to “fast-freeze” foods. And I guess, the rest is history. 

We take our frozen food for granted these days. Perhaps we’ve gone full-circle and begun to turn our noses up at frozen and other preserved foods. 

But like most kinds of food, frozen food has a story as well. 

Guilt

During my periods of melancholy, one of the most common emotions I experience is guilt.

No matter how I look at things, it’s either guilt about not working enough or guilt about not spending enough time with family. Guilt over not standing up for myself, or guilt over “being selfish”. 

I feel guilt over being annoyed when someone talks to me while I’m working. Then guilt over not paying attention fully because I’m working and trying to listen. 

Guilt tugs at my heart if my to-do list isn’t long enough, then keeps me up at night if I don’t manage to check all the items off. 

During the times when I’m so tired I feel like going to sleep forever, I feel guilty over not being grateful enough for all the other positive things in my life. 

I feel guilt when I eat meat, over how my existence affects the world’s environment, when I think about how things might be better if I just. died. now. 

And then I feel guilty for even thinking that at all. How self-important, I think. You’re not that important at all.

I suppose in the world of Pixar’s Inside Out guilt would be a mixture of Sadness and Fear’s influences. And I don’t know how they become so powerful in my mind. 

But a little voice in my head says, “Just keep fighting.” And so, I do.