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Chinese sci-fi movie/Rechargeable lighter/Quiet rooms



May 26 · Issue #149 · View online
A weekly newsletter that gives you 6 brief personal recommendations of cool stuff. Check out our new book Recomendo: The Expanded Edition @

Chinese sci-fi movie
Chinese science fiction has arrived. A recently translated sci-fi trilogy, The Three Body Problem, by Cixin Liu, won the Hugo award and a popular following in the US. It is worth reading, and re-reading. Another of Cixin Liu’s stories, The Wandering Earth, is a mega-hit movie in China, and is now streaming on Netflix. In Mandarin, with English subtitles, I’d call it a science fiction blockbuster with high-production values, special effects, and Chinese characteristics. It’s not a great movie, but I recommend it as a great window into modern China and its vision; it is more about China than the future. Watch it. We don’t have too many chances to see non-Hollywood science fiction. — KK
USB chargeable lighter
Forget butane-lighters or matches. This $13 gooseneck electric arc lighter has a lithium-ion battery that can light hundreds of candles and barbecue fires on a single USB charge. — MF
Room of Silence
One of the most profound experiences I’ve had while traveling was visiting the Raum der Stille, a non-denominational room of silence in the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. I sat in a clean, nondescript room in a chair facing other chairs with maybe 2 or 3 other people. The room wasn’t sound proof, but we were all silent and in our own reflective states. I didn’t want to leave. I felt connected to these strangers and I felt connected to myself, which is something I never felt in any church. I was so overwhelmed and grateful for that short experience, and was excited to visit more quiet rooms. Unfortunately, these rooms seem to only exist in Germany or Scandinavia and I have not been able to find one in the United States. I encourage anybody visiting there soon to seek it out. You can read more about it here. — CD 
Newsletter goodness
I’m enjoying Dave Pell’s legendary free daily newsletter NextDraft. Each day he writes up 10 short summaries of newsworthy items (in the broadest terms). Often unexpected, usually interesting, and always well-written. In a former time, this would have been a blog (and it is) but I am delighted to get it in my mail stream. — KK
An impossible ascent
In 2015 Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson embarked on a multi-week attempt to free climb a 3,000 foot, nearly featureless rock face in Yosemite National Park, called the Dawn Wall. This documentary (on Netflix), called The Dawn Wall, bounces back and forth between Caldwell’s tragic past and his thrilling ascent. I’ve seen a lot of climbing movies and this is my favorite. — MF
Shrink the quantum of experience
I came across some great advice on a Twitter thread which asked “What are some non-obvious ideas that can change your life?” @noahlt answered: “Shrink the quantum of experience: instead of reading a book, read a wikipedia article. Instead of eating a cup of ice cream, eat a spoonful. Decreases turnaround time, which both reduces procrastination and also allows me to decide whether I want to go deeper.” This tip encourages me to follow my curiosity, but reminds me to start with small bites. — CD 
— Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson
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