Helsinki Bus Station Theory

“…the secret to a creatively fulfilling career lies in understanding the operations of Helsinki’s main bus station…There are two dozen platforms, Minkkinen explains, from each of which several different bus lines depart. Thereafter, for a kilometre or more, all the lines leaving from any one platform take the same route out of the city, making identical stops. “Each bus stop represents one year in the life of a photographer,” Minkkinen says. You pick a career direction…Three stops later, you’ve got a nascent body of work…[but because it is nascent it will be similar to someone else’s body of work, and you’ll be tempted to go back to the main station and set out in a new direction. Three years later, it happens again.]…’This goes on all your creative life: always showing new work, always being compared to others.’ What’s the answer? ‘It’s simple. Stay on the bus. Stay on the fucking bus.'”

—Oliver Burkeman, “This column will change your life: Helsinki Bus Station Theory.” The Guardian. September 23, 2013.

The Inbox: A Scattered, Ad-Ridden Archive of Our Lives

“To examine our inboxes is to examine our lives: our desires and dreams, our families and careers, our status, our networks and our social groupings, our projects, our commerce, our politics, our secrets/lies/fetishes. Inboxes are anthropological goldmines, textual archives, psychological case studies, waiting to be plumbed and probed for the expansive cultural, ethical, epistemological, and ontological insights lurking therein.
On second thought: they are probably not waiting to be probed, but actually being probed, scanned and algorithmatized, by Google, Amazon, the National Security Agency, the Russians, Julian Assange, employers, ex-lovers who remember your password, current lovers who install surveillance software on your laptop to monitor emails to your ex-lover/next lover, hackers who create fake networks on any public wifi you log onto, and/or anyone else who cares to discover whatever “secrets” you are secreting into the tubes.

It makes more sense to assume your email is a public document than to cling to improbable expectations of privacy. The Post Office made a point of delivering our letters sealed, intact. But the email overseers can read through our inboxes at will without us being any the wiser, and they let others look too…”

—Randy Malamud, “The Inbox: A Scattered, Ad-Ridden Archive of Our Lives.” Literary Hub. October 9, 2019.

Every time I see something like this I can’t help wondering: does this person not realize that you can pay for email and by doing so, you can eliminate advertising and have a reasonably secure email archive? Off the top of my head, Protonmail, Posteo, Tutanota, and Lavabit are all reasonable choices for an email provider.

Joe Biden and the Problem of Corruption in U.S. Politics

“While Democrats pursue the impeachment of President Donald Trump for pressuring foreign countries to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, they are left making an argument that is at once true and electorally and ethically compromising: What Trump did — and continues to do — was an impeachable abuse of power, and it should be considered separately from the question of what Hunter Biden did.

The problem for Democrats is that a review of Hunter Biden’s career shows clearly that he, along with Joe Biden’s brother James, has been trading on their family name for decades, cashing in on the implication — and sometimes the explicit argument — that giving money to a member of Joe Biden’s family wins the favor of Joe Biden.”

—Ryan Grim, “Joe Biden’s Family Has Been Cashing in on His Career for Decades. Democrats Need to Acknowledge That.” The Intercept. October 9, 2019.

Trump is corrupt and terrible. But, let’s also acknowledge that this is a problem in U.S. politics that crosses parties and exists at every level of government.