I know what you're thinking

Your brain needs a really good lawyer (#478)

A couple of things you'll learn in this issue: Why Putin killed Navalny. How many people have been killed by cars since their invention. The best way to spot an idiot. How democracies die. How a DJ can intercept the future. And how sound designers for televised sporting events fake sounds so we hear what we expect to hear.

Ready? Go.

1. Your brain needs a really good lawyer

First time I've heard of the term «mental privacy». Yet here we are, worrying about how we to sure nobody accesses our thoughts without consent. And it's not just about what you're now thinking (ha, see what I did there?): «While some brain-computer interfaces only aim to read what’s happening in your brain, others also aim to write to the brain — that is, to directly change what your neurons are up to.»

Your brain needs a really good lawyer
Can new legislation protect us from the companies building tech to read our minds?

2. Democrats Have a Better Option Than Biden

The argument in a nutshell: Biden is a good president, but that will not be enough to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. It takes someone who is good at running for President. And Biden isn't. So he needs to step aside. I don't think I fully buy into the argument. However, among all the simplistic talk about how «Biden is too old», it's wonderful to be challenged by an opinion, well thought out and delivered with such nuance and conviction.

Democrats Have a Better Option Than Biden - The Ezra Klein Show
*** Named a best podcast of 2021 by Time, Vulture, Esquire and The Atlantic. *** Each Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation on something that matters. How do we address climate change if the political system fails to act? Has the logic of markets infiltrated too many aspects of our lives? What is the future of the Republican Party? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness? What does sci-fi understand about our present that we miss? Can our food system be just to humans and animals alike? Listen to this podcast in New York Times Audio, our new iOS app for news subscribers. Download now at nytimes.com/audioapp

3. In pursuit of the perfect session - a DJ just for you

The fascinating inside story of how Spotify came up with the idea of an AI DJ and how they shaped the idea into a product – well before the technology to pull it off actually existed. After listening to this, I'm even more annoyed that the feature still isn't available in Switzerland.

10: In pursuit of the perfect session - a DJ just for you - Spotify: A Product Story
A miniseries about product strategy, offering on a weekly basis, a glimpse into the decisions that have guided Spotify’s product evolution. Hosted by Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s Chief R&D Officer, each episode tells the story of a pivotal product development or business decision through candid conversations with a diverse cast of voices from across the industry.

4. Why Russia Killed Navalny

«Even behind bars Navalny was a real threat to Putin, because he was living proof that courage is possible, that truth exists, that Russia could be a different kind of country. [...] If Navalny is showing his countrymen how to be courageous, Putin wants to show them that courage is useless.» It's only the very last sentence of the article that delivers a sliver of hope.

Gift Article: Why Russia Killed Navalny
Even behind bars, the dissident leader was a threat to the corrupt Russian dictator.

5. On the Bulletpointization of Books

  • The world needs more bulletpoints, not less.
  • In the right places, that is.
  • That's why I thoroughly enjoyed this rant.
Against Disruption: On the Bulletpointization of Books
It’s the beginning of a new year and you might have seen, floating around on social media, lists like 52 Books To Read in 2024 or 42 Books That Will Change Your Life posted by Library Mindset, an a…

What else?

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

  • Take a guess: How many people have been killed by cars since their invention? How many have been injured? I bet your guesses are nowhere near the actual numbers.
  • «The best way to spot an idiot? Look for the person who is cruel.» 2 minutes worth watching.
  • I love this adaptation of Kennedy's iconic line: «We do these things not because they are easy, but because we thought they were going to be easy.» (discovered here, but it's an older quote)

Books for curious minds: How Democracies Die

How Democracies Die, by Steven Levitzky & Daniel Zieblatt (2018)

An excellent dissection of the mechanisms that turn democracies into autocracies. A chilling read, that has only become more relevant since its publication six years ago.

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

You hear Roger Federer hit that smash, you hear Lindsey Vonn carve down the icy slope, you hear Barcelona make 30 passes in a row. Sound has become such an integral part of our experience of watching sports on TV that we hardly ever think about how this sound makes its way to our living room. A lot of technology is used to capture those sounds as authentically as possible. But sometimes, that’s not enough. In this fascinating radio feature, sound designers for televised sporting events tell how they work and how they fake sounds so we hear what we expect to hear.

The Sound of Sports - 99% Invisible
When we think of the sound of sports on TV or radio, it’s generally commentary. But sports broadcasts would be nothing without all the sounds that are behind the commentary — the crowds, the kicks, the thwacks, and the grunts. During the World Cup of 2010, the constant noise of Vuvuzelas made many people realize that the

This is a randomly picked gem from the archive of the Weekly Filet, going back to 2011. For manually curated time-tested treasures, have a look at my newly launched second newsletter This Aged Well.

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

— David 👋

PS: Thank you for supporting my work with your membership. It means a lot.