Things to Read - Five Interesting Articles From Around the Web (on Fitbit, Reading in Jail, Crappy Seafood, Breastfeeding/Boredom, and Dude Culture)

1. (Fitbit) - I'm completely obsessed with my fitbit, so when I read David Sedaris's New Yorker article I both laughed and felt jealous - does he really walk 50,000 steps a day? Because that's my dream.

"To people like Dawn and me, people who are obsessive to begin with, the Fitbit is a digital trainer, perpetually egging us on. During the first few weeks that I had it, I’d return to my hotel at the end of the day, and when I discovered that I’d taken a total of, say, twelve thousand steps, I’d go out for another three thousand.

“But why?” Hugh asked when I told him about it. “Why isn’t twelve thousand enough?”

“Because,” I told him, “my Fitbit thinks I can do better.”

I look back at that time and laugh—fifteen thousand steps—Ha! That’s only about seven miles! Not bad if you’re on a business trip or you’re just getting used to a new prosthetic leg.

. . . .

At the end of my first sixty-thousand-step day, I staggered home with my flashlight knowing that I’d advance to sixty-five thousand, and that there will be no end to it until my feet snap off at the ankles. Then it’ll just be my jagged bones stabbing into the soft ground. Why is it some people can manage a thing like a Fitbit, while others go off the rails and allow it to rule, and perhaps even ruin, their lives? While marching along the roadside, I often think of a TV show that I watched a few years back—“Obsessed,” it was called. One of the episodes was devoted to a woman who owned two treadmills, and walked like a hamster on a wheel from the moment she got up until she went to bed. Her family would eat dinner, and she’d observe them from her vantage point beside the table, panting as she asked her children about their day. I knew that I was supposed to scoff at this woman, to be, at the very least, entertainingly disgusted, the way I am with the people on “Hoarders,” but instead I saw something of myself in her. Of course, she did her walking on a treadmill, where it served no greater purpose. So it’s not like we’re really that much alike. Is it?"

2. (Reading in Jail) - A bibliophile goes to prison - what would you read?

"The seven volumes of Proust took Genis a year to finish. Much of it was spent in solitary confinement—he had been charged with “unauthorized exchange” after several prisoners “sold [him] their souls” for cups of coffee (“some Christian guards didn’t care for my sense of humor”). He read “In Search of Lost Time” alongside two academic guidebooks, full of notations in French, and a dictionary. He said that no other novel gave him as much appreciation for his time in prison. “Of course, we are memory artists as well…,” he wrote of prisoners in his journal, in the entry on “Time Regained.” “Everyone inside tries to make their time go by as quickly as possible and live entirely in the past,” he said. “But to kill your days is essentially to shorten your own life.” In prison, time was both an enemy and a resource, and Genis said that Proust convinced him that the only way to exist outside of it, however briefly, was to become a writer himself. He finished a novel, a piece of speculative fiction about a society where drugs have never been criminalized, titled “Narcotica.” Later, when he came across a character in a Murakami novel who says that one really has to be in jail to read Proust, Genis said that he laughed louder than he had in ten years."


3. (Crappy Seafood) - The Great Fish Swap - why are we exporting the best and eating crap instead?

"We only eat about 15 pounds of seafood per year per capita. That's half of the global average, so there's that. The other thing is that other countries really are hip to seafood. The Chinese love seafood; the Japanese, the Koreans — they love seafood. They're willing to pay top dollar for it. We just aren't willing to do so. We want our food cheap and easy."


4. (Breastfeeding and Boredom) - Notes from the Milk Cave - a lovely article on breastfeeding and what it means to be bored.

”When I’m not writing, when I’m not multitasking, when I’m not consciously constructing new material, I don’t know myself. But in breastfeeding, I have found that not knowing myself brings its own satisfaction. Or perhaps it’s simply a way to be more present in the world at a time when just being without interpretation or justification or representation seems increasingly rare. The difficulty, I discover in writing, is in seeing boredom not as a gimmick, but rather as a state of being to be explored, productive or not productive."


5. ("Dude" Culture) - Are women tired of being judged by the Esquire metric? Did you read the piece on sexy 42 year old women?

"[N]o matter how gigantically separated an Esquire puff piece and a Tennessee mother’s jailing for meth may seem, reflect back at us: How, in this country, every barometer by which female worth is measured—from the superficial to the life-altering, the appreciative to the punitive—has long been calibrated to “dude,” whether or not those measurements are actually being taken by dudes. Men still run, or at bare minimum have shaped and codified the attitudes of, the churches, the courts, the universities, the police departments, the corporations that so freely determine women’s worth. As BeyoncĂ© observed last year, “Money gives men power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.”


6. And finally, the New Yorker has opened up their entire online archive for free for the next few (weeks? months?), including these 20 classic stories by the New Yorker women.


  1. girl, I honestly do not feel the need to surf the internet after coming here. you've become my Information Temple! :)

  2. Loved the Fitbit article -- I'm not quite that bad, but I so get how he feels. I hate to charge it because I feel like I'm losing step countage and obviously I can't charge it at night because then I would have no idea how many times I woke up. #realproblems



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