Ways to make and maintain friendships. How to deal with the Donald. And why AI might end up like a Roomba. (#489)

Just a quick reminder: You can still submit a book for this year's Weekly Filet Book Club. The more, the merrier.

1. 101 ways to make and maintain friendships

As is inevitable with such lists, some advice is trivial, but I found most on this list actually valuable and inspiring. And even the trivial bits have their own value: They remind you that some things are really easy, you just have to do them. May I propose an even catchier title to the piece? «101 ways to make and maintain friendships, number 18 is: Let it happen naturally»

101 ways to make and maintain friendships
Real examples from life and listeners

2. Donald Trump, American authoritarianism and how journalists should cover it

An excellent dissection of the unique challenge Donald Trump poses for journalism, and how most media organisations are repeating their mistakes from 2016. A recording of a lecture given by Nick Bryant, former BBC US correspondent. One key quote: «In trying to be normal ourselves, we normalised him.»

Donald Trump, American authoritarianism and how journalists should cover it - ABC listen
As Donald Trump makes his case for re-election in 2024, under a cloud of criminal prosecutions, how can journalists better cover such a norm-busting and rule-breaking political figure?

3. ​​Press Pause on the Silicon Valley Hype Machine

«The question isn’t really whether A.I. is too smart and will take over the world. It’s whether A.I. is too stupid and unreliable to be useful.» In a week when both OpenAI and Google hyped up their latest advancements with AI, it's worth reading Julia Angwyn, one of the smartest minds in tech. She imagines a future in which artificial intelligence «could end up like the Roomba, the mediocre vacuum robot that does a passable job when you are home alone but not if you are expecting guests.»

4. George Monbiot comes face to face with his local conspiracy theorist

«Why, when there are so many real conspiracies to worry about, do people feel the need to invent and believe fake ones?» With this question, Guardian writer George Monbiot meets with a friendly, intelligent man spreads absurd and outrageous conspiracy theories (or, as Monbiot calls then, and I find this an interesting distinction: conspiracy fictions).

‘You’re going to call me a Holocaust denier now, are you?’: George Monbiot comes face to face with his local conspiracy theorist
Covid vaccines, chemtrails, the Great Reset … Why do people invent false conspiracies when there are so many real ones to worry about? There’s only one way to find out: ask a believer

5. Beavers Are Back in London — and They’re Thriving

One cannot help but wonder: Was this ghostwritten by a beaver? «Beavers are one of the world’s most influential species. And in many cases, they manage ecosystems better than we do.»

Beavers Are Back in London — and They’re Thriving
Usually known for their work in more rural places, nature’s best engineers have brought their ecosystem management skills to the big city.

What else?

Instant-gratification links that make you go wow! or aha! the moment you click.

  • I missed the Northern Lights over Switzerland last week. This view from the Jungfrau webcam looks unreal (I double-checked, it's real).
  • Wonderful project: A new playground in Helsinki, designed in collaboration with my favourite children's book author Linda Liukas, «allowing children to explore the exciting world of computers through play».
  • Fun fact: The Killers' «Mr. Brightside» has now spent 408 weeks in the Top 100 without ever reaching number 1. Made me remember this great podcast episode: Learning to love the Killers (maybe).
  • Japanese post-rock greats Mono have released a new EP. With «Run On», they are as magical as ever.
  • Switzerland has won the European Song Contest. You've probably heard the song or seen the performance, it's been hard to escape these days. Less known is this version of the song. Worth a listen.

Books for curious minds: Hot Mess

Hot Mess by Matt Winning (2023)

Intrigued by the approach to communicate the basics of the climate crisis with a (large) pinch of humour. Manages to make it a fun read without trivialising the issue. Now definitely among the books I‘d recommend as a primer.

In every issue, I recommend one book. Some new ones as I read them, some older ones that continue to inform how I look at the world and myself.

A gem from the archive

An interesting essay on the trouble with work, the trouble without. Towards the end, there’s this realisation: «The fact is, that civilisation requires slaves.»

The Politics of Getting a Life
Work in a capitalist society is a conflicted and contradictory phenomenon.

This is a randomly picked gem from the archive of the Weekly Filet, going back to 2011. You can also search the archive, shuffle for a gem yourself, or browse this collection of some of my all-time favs.

Thanks for reading. I wish you a nice weekend and hope to see you again next Friday!

— David 👋