War, what is it good for?

Things worth doing in the summer, and the struggle with wrapping oranges (#445)

What book changed your perspective on something important? Thank you to everyone who has already submitted book recommendation. I only had a quick glance at the first two dozen submissions, but I've already spotted a few books I can't want to share with you (and read myself). Haven't submitted a book yet? There's still time to change that.

Onto this week's things to read, watch and listen to.

1. «The only thing worse than war is losing one»

I didn't think I'd want to read this, but I'm glad I did. Meduza, the independent Russian news outlet reporting from exile in Latvia, has asked the minority of their readers who support Russia's invasion of Ukraine to explain themselves. 18 perspectives, from within Russia and abroad, hard to stomach, yet important to understand.

‘The only thing worse than war is losing one’ Even some of Meduza’s readers support the invasion of Ukraine. We asked them to explain why. — Meduza
Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Meduza has been analyzing — and refuting — the Russian military propaganda that tries to justify the war (here’s one recent example). But while we find Moscow’s talking points absurd and unconvincing, there’s no denying it: propaganda works. Even amon…

2. 10 things worth doing this summer

Let your books talk to each other. Borrow a kid. Take up an old-fashioned hobby. Do what you want to. — Nice list. Nothing fancy, just good reminders of what's worth spending time on.

Summer (un)Schooling
10 things worth doing this summer

3. ​​Apple Vision Pro Impressions

Love or hate it, this device will profoundly change how humans interact with computers, and, for that matter, with the world and one another. I'm not a fan of hot takes that already predict how a device that has yet to be released will change things, so what I do recommend is this extensive walkthrough of what the headset actually does.

Apple Vision Pro Impressions!
I tried Apple’s first ever spatial computing device, a $3500 VR headset. These are my honest thoughts.Google Project Starline: https://youtu.be/J1oEWiUsKgUTh…

4. Beyond the ‘Matrix’ Theory of the Mind

I really like these spoken essays Ezra Klein has started doing. This one is a reflection on how the internet turned out to be both the best and worst supplement for the human mind — and why now is the time to make sure we don't repeat the mistakes. If you prefer a version to read, there you go.

Beyond the ‘Matrix’ Theory of the Mind - The Ezra Klein Show
Some thoughts on how humans think, how economies grow and why the technologies we think will help so often hurt. Column: “Beyond the ‘Matrix’ Theory of the Mind” by Ezra Klein Episode Recommendations: Maryanne Wolf on how reading shapes our brains Cal Newport on the problems with the way we wor…

5. Gift Wrapping Five Oranges Has Outwitted the Best Minds in Mathematics for Generations

As someone who regularly struggles with gift wrapping even books, I took a little comfort in learning that gift wrapping oranges apparently haunts mathematicians, in part because of what's called the «sausage catastrophe». (Then again, they were able to figure out that things get easier once you consider oranges in the 42th dimension).

Gift Wrapping Five Oranges Has Outwitted the Best Minds in Mathematics for Generations
Perfectly wrapping spherical objects together seems trivial, but it’s a task that has stumped mathematicians for centuries

What else?

An underexposed photograph of a half-Earth hanging in the void. Looking closely, we can see the Americas beneath the clouds. It was taken by the crew of Apollo 12 shortly after leaving the Earth. Throughout the year, I end each newsletter with an image of this amazing series, a true reminder of the beauty — and fragility — of the planet we live on. Credit: NASA, edited by Toby Ord.

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

— David 👋