Lucky Podcast: "The Choice"

I don't think I've ever been more moved by an audio story than I was listening to this two-part podcast episode called "The Choice": 

In April of 1992, Nada Rothbart was living happily in Sarajevo, Bosnia, with her husband and two young sons–till the night the Bosnian Civil War broke out on the street in front of her home. By the time they recognized what was happening–it was too late; Nada was trapped with her children, surrounded by tanks and snipers. After 60 days with almost no food, no water, and no power, a surprise ceasefire was announced. Nada put on her shoes, grabbed her children, and walked out the door.

That's just the beginning of this remarkable, harrowing story that contains both the worst and best of what's possible in life. Part 1: online or iTunes. Part 2: online or iTunes.  (H/T to Snap Judgement, where I first heard episode 1.) 

Year in Review: 2012

The Frank Lloyd Wright house in Ebsworth Park, which we visited in February

This post is part of my “Annual Favorites” list I’ve been keeping for the past decade-plus.

Favorite Books (Goodreads profile)

  1. The German Genius, by Peter Watson (choice passages)

  2. Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918 (choicepassages)

  3. Life Sentences, by William H. Gass

  4. Nox, by Anne Carson

  5. A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers

  6. Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective

  7. Donald Judd

  8. Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, by D.T. Max

  9. The Long Goodbye, by Megan O'Rourke

  10. Gerhard Richter: Panorama

  11. Where Good Ideas Come From, by Steven Johnson

  12. The Lifespan of a Fact, by John D'Agata and Jim Fingal

  13. Chip Kidd: Book One: Work, 1986-2006

  14. The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court, by Jeffrey Toobin

  15. The Obamas, Jodi Kantor

  16. Some of My Lives, by Rosamond Bernier

  17. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach

  18. Berlin Stories, by Robert Walser

  19. The Address Book, by Sophie Calle

  20. The Englishman who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects, by John Tingey

  21. Art and Activism: Projects of John and Dominique de Menil

  22. The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes

  23. The Bridge on the Drina, by Ivo Andrić

  24. Shards, by Ismet Prcić

  25. The Promise: President Obama, Year One, by Jonathan Alter

  26. Elizabeth Costello, by J. M. Coetzee

  27. How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne, by Sarah Bakewell

  28. Death in Spring, by Mercè Rodoreda

  29. The Art of Intelligence, by Henry A. Crumpton

  30. Zoe Strauss: 10 Years

  31. Mortality, by Christopher Hitchens

  32. Karaoke Culture, by Dubravka Ugrešić

  33. The Fate of Greenland, by Philip W. Conkling

  34. Redheaded Peckerwood, by Christian Patterson

Happy to have read Karen McGrane's Content Strategy for Mobile, Frank Chimero's The Shape of Design, and Mike Monteiro’s Design Is a Job, but would keep them off the ranked list. Same with “Mark Owen”‘s No Easy Day.

Favorite Movies: 2012 (Letterboxd profile

  1. Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

  2. Gerhard Richter Painting

  3. Moonrise Kingdom

  4. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

  5. Lincoln

  6. The Master

  7. The Queen of Versailles

  8. Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap

  9. Arbitrage

  10. Skyfall

  11. The Dark Knight Rises

Didn’t connect with: Headhunters, We Have a Pope, The Bourne Legacy.

Favorite Movies: Pre-2012

  1. A Separation

  2. Bill Cunningham New York

  3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

  4. Certified Copy

  5. Margin Call

  6. Notorious

  7. A Dangerous Method

  8. Bridesmaids

  9. Young Adult

  10. Moneyball

  11. Conan O'Brien Can’t Stop

  12. J. Edgar

  13. Too Big to Fail

  14. Hopscotch

  15. Haywire


I continue to be a huge fan of Rdio, which I pay $10 a month to be able to stream music on a desktop, iPad, or iPhone. (This includes, say, streaming the new Nas via my home’s wi-fi as I mow my suburban lawn.) There will always be rituals and a closeness to the music I miss from my CD days, but the advantages of Rdio — especially the ability to discover and immediately listen to new music, particularly hip-hop and classical — are significant. I don’t have a ranked list here, but my listening history is an open book.

Favorite Articles, Essays & Blog Posts (categorized, not ranked)



Tech & Media


Misc. Reporting, Articles & Posts

Most-Used iPhone & iPad Apps

I start every morning with the NYTimes’ iPad app. I listen to podcasts, NPR, and music via InstacastPublic Radio Player, and Rdio. I journal using Day One, which is synched using Dropbox on all devices. The new 1Password 4 is a slick companion to the essential desktop app. I organize a lot of my work and personal life using Evernote, and keep up with tasks using Things. Other apps I use often: Reeder (every night, to catch up with the day’s articles), GoodreadsFantasticalTweetbot (iphone) and Twitter (iPad), InstagramFacebookCheckmarkInstapaper, PinboardNetflixPBS for iPadSimple, and iBooks (largely for work PDFs).

Final Notes

One unusual memory I have from 2012 is spending several weekday evenings in March walking through my neighborhood for an hour or so, listening to the day’s oral arguments for and against the healthcare act. (My greatest moment of exasperation was hearing Justice Scalia mock-ask whether he was seriously supposed to get through so many pages of material.) In April, I published Abstractions Arrive: Having Been There All the Time, an iPad-only e-book pairing an essay by William H. Gass with photographs by Michael Eastman; New York Times coverage was a cherry on top. May’s Confab conference was one of the best I’ve attended. In August, Tamara and I enjoyed a few highly cultural days in Miami. Surpassing all that, though — we’re expecting a baby in late May of 2013. I expect this should be my best year yet.

"The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent"

Interesting historical perspective from Chrystia Freeland, writing in the Times:

The story of Venice’s rise and fall is told by the scholars Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, in their book “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty,” as an illustration of their thesis that what separates successful states from failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or extractive. Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness.

"Dilemma Protests"

From “Protesters in Moscow Try New Tactics to Avoid Arrests,” in the NYT:

The evolving tactics in Moscow are not novel. In a primer on nonviolent protest, “Sharp’s Dictionary of Power and Struggle,” Gene Sharp, an American intellectual, described a “dilemma protest” as a performance of an action so inchoate and unorthodox that police are trapped. If they let it happen, they are encouraging it, but if they arrest people they risk looking either silly or arbitrary and unjust, which is the point….

The tactic has found wide appeal in Belarus, where activists gather to clap, eat ice cream cones, set their cellphone alarms to ring in chorus or simply stand silently.

Gary Wills: "The Myth About Marriage"

The Catholic writer, in a post at the New York Review of Books blog:

Those who do not want to let gay partners have the sacredness of sacramental marriage are relying on a Scholastic fiction of the thirteenth century to play with people’s lives, as the church has done ever since the time of Aquinas. The myth of the sacrament should not let people deprive gays of the right to natural marriage, whether blessed by Yahweh or not.