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Polymathic Monthly - Issue #36: Meritocracy, Luck, Thelonious Monk, and Magic


Polymathic Monthly

October 13 · Issue #36 · View online

A curation of articles, tech, books and innovation strategy to enrich your career and personal lives.

So, I blinked and realized it was a few months of not sharing Polymathic Monthly. Apologies! While I wasn’t sharing here, I worked on ‘Designing H2O’ a weekly newsletter for Varuna (sign up through the link). ‘Designing H2O’ is PMesque but much shorter, three links, with content related to the future of work and cities.
It was a whirlwind summer for Varuna with immersion in the UrbanX program, a partnership with a public company doing some great stuff in the govtech space, and a bunch of other stuff that we’ll announce in due time/when we can. Let your local water utility know that Varuna is ready to help them deliver clean water efficiently! We’re the utility’s countervaling force…
Enjoy this issue!

There have been a lot of flights since the last PM. Due to a need for some ‘completion’ I dove into what became some of the best short story collections that I’ve read in a while. Books like
  • Exhalation’ by Ted Chiang deserves all the credit it’s gotten. It’s tough to describe the connecting link between short stories that go from a middle eastern time travel tale to a story about virtual characters and their (almost human) transient existence.
  • The Story Prize (edited by Larry Dark): 15 Years of Short Fiction’ is delightfully vast, just like ‘Exhalation’. The difference here is that you experience many different styles from 15 different authors. Each story deposits a distinct and intense feeling. Sadness. Joy. Shock. All Bewilderment. Each one powerful and lasting.
  • 20 Under 40: Stories from The New Yorker, from 2010, was a reintroduction to a few authors who’ve gone on to international fame. The stories are fresh and as raw as they were before making the NYT Bestsellers list. Refreshing.
  • I also read a few essay collections but the one that was most interesting was ‘Now You See It’ (and Other Essays on Design) by Michael Bierut (Partner at Pentagram). I caught him at a talk in NY and his live wit is clearly evident in his essays.
  • One day I’ll share my story about Helvetica, Michael Bierut, and an investor meeting that ended up in a deep conversation about fonts.
  • And then I went the other extreme, in terms of book length, ignoring the need quick completion, by reading 1Q84. Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 is a beast of a book; beastly in size (1332 pages) but also delightfully beastly in its steady another-thread-revealed pace. Prepare to never forget Aomame and Tengo, their faults, their strengths, their emotions and their dreams.
  • I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s style. I took his Masterclass and learned a lot from him. But, while I enjoyed ‘Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About People We Don’t Know’, this his latest book feels opportunistic. Gladwell’s attempt to address some of the social issues we currently face in this country feels like lazy piggybacking…
  • ‘Monk!: Thelonious, Pannonica, and The Friendship Behind A Musical Revolution’ is the perfectly jazzy and trippy graphic novel exploring the music and money that fueled the relationship between Thelonious Monk and Pannonica de Koenigswarter.
Product Recommendation
  • Google mail’s ‘Pause Inbox’ button is what I’m relying on to minimize the endless stream of emails that has become the cultural norm. Use it.
It feels great to be sharing this again. Especially since reading, writing, and sharing is therapeutic for me. I’ll endeavor to get back to the monthly cadence (I had to hold some stuff back this month).
Thanks for the emails (even if I haven’t responded to express this). All the best as we race towards the end of 2019!
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