The ballad of Typhoid Mary

Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical” by Anthony Bourdain is the 14th book I’ve finished this year.

Bourdain truly was a gifted writer and fascinating storyteller, and this is a moving account of how a hardworking Irish immigrant and excellent cook named Mary Mallon ended up becoming infamous in history as Typhoid Mary.

“I’m a chef, and what interests me is the story of a proud cook – a reasonably capable one by all accounts – who at the outset, at least, found herself utterly screwed by forces she neither understood nor had the ability to control. I’m interested in a tormented loner, a woman in a male world, in hostile territory, frequently on the run. And I’m interested in denial – the ways that Mary, and many of us, find to avoid the obvious, the lies we tell ourselves to get through the day, the things we do and say so that we can go on, drag our aching carcasses out of bed each day, climb into our clothes and once again set out for work, often in kitchens where the smell, the surroundings, the ruling regime oppress us.”

The (true) sound of silence

Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise” by Thich Nhat Hanh is the 13th book I’ve finished this year.

“Time goes by very quickly; one day we may be surprised to discover our life is nearing its end, and we don’t know what we’ve done with all the time we’ve lived. Maybe we’ve wasted entire days in anger, fear, and jealousy. We rarely offer ourselves the time and space to consider: Am I doing what I most want to be doing with my life? Do I even know what that is? The noise in our heads and all around us drowns out the ‘still, small voice’ inside. We are so busy doing ‘something’ that we rarely take a moment to look deeply and check in with our deepest desires.”

‘Momo Challenge’: Stop spreading the fake news

Please stop sharing without fact-checking.

It’s like spreading chain letters. We may mean well and think it’s better to be safe than sorry, but we unwittingly become part of the problem by making things like the so-called “Momo Challenge” hoax go viral.

Please read this Forbes article. Here’s an excerpt:

“Carmel Glassbrook, manager of Professionals Online Safety Helpline, told me they have received calls on the topic of Momo, from schools and local authorities and police. ‘The main problem’, she said, ‘was not the phenomenon itself but that professionals and parents were sharing Facebook posts about Momo without checking on its validity. It has become a viral topic, founded more on scaremongering headlines than well-researched facts.’”

You can also get more information from Parent Zone.

“The Momo character — the disfigured face attached to a bird’s body — was, in fact, a prop named ‘Mother Bird’ made in Japan three years ago for an art exhibition. Its sinister stretched features make for a disturbing image that could easily upset or worry a younger child. The Momo challenge is allegedly ‘played’ over WhatsApp. The Momo character asks would-be participants to contact ‘her’ and do a series of challenges — the final challenge being suicide. Of course, the evidence for this behaviour happening is limited — there isn’t much evidence of a child actually being harmed and what seems to be happening is that the image is spreading because people are using the image in their profiles.”

YouTube has also issued a statement.

“Many of you have shared your concerns with us over the past few days about the Momo Challenge–we’ve been paying close attention to these reports. After much review, we’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are clearly against our policies, the Momo challenge included. Despite press reports of this challenge surfacing, we haven’t had any recent links flagged or shared with us from YouTube that violate our Community Guidelines.”

Save ‘One Day at a Time’

One Day at a Time” is a great show, but unfortunately it’s in danger of not being renewed. Hope you could start watching this show on Netflix so that it can get renewed for a fourth season.

Here’s an excellent Forbes article on why “One Day at a Time” deserves to be saved.

“While the show still revolves around a single mom, they’re now a Cuban-American family living in Los Angeles, and the matriarch is played by Justina Machado (who honestly deserves an Emmy for her portrayal as veteran Penelope ‘Penny’ Alvarez). Penny suffers from depression and anxiety and is back at school to try and better her career. She has a son (Marcel Ruiz) and daughter (Isabella Gomez), and the daughter is out and proud and in a relationship with someone who identifies as non-binary. Their landlord, Schneider (Todd Grinnell) — and still no first name needed — continues to give unwarranted advice, but now he’s a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who’s just trying to stay on the straight and narrow path. If all that’s not enough for you, Penny’s mother is played by legendary Rita Moreno, one of only 15 people on the planet to have EGOT’ed. Moreno is 87-years old, playing a character who’s supposed to be 70 (!!), and she is a force to be reckoned with in every single scene of the show. Moreno as Lydia frequently bursting into the action by throwing open some curtains. It’s so fitting, and so perfect.”

On a personal note, Moreno’s character, Lydia a.k.a. Abuelita, reminds us of my late mother-in-law, Lynda. Which is another reason my wife, daughter and I bond over this show.

Please help save “One Day at a Time”. We need more shows like this.

Join The Correspondent and help unbreak the news

News is broken. As The Correspondent founder Rob Wijnberg puts it, “what fast food is to the body, news is to the mind.”

“It briefly satisfies your appetite for spectacle and diversion, but ultimately leaves you unsatisfied and uninformed. Because the news is mostly empty calories too.

“It promises to tell you ‘what’s going on in the world,’ but actually does the opposite: it constantly shows you sensational exceptions, but leaves you in the dark about the rule. It scares you with overexposed risks, but blinds you to systematic progress. It transfixes you with depressing problems, but almost never offers you any solutions.”

News unfortunately has become the equivalent of junk food, emphasizing the sensational rather than the foundational. That’s why I’ve signed up for The Correspondent, joining a new movement for unbreaking the news.

The Correspondent, which will start publishing on Sept. 30, 2019 after its successful crowdfunding campaign, will be ad-free and will treat readers not as the audience, but as members of the community who will collaborate in changing how news is created and how we pay for it.

Want to become part of this movement? Join now.

Should everyone get a basic income?

The Case for a Basic Income” by Robert Jameson is the 12th book I’ve finished this year.

“The basic income would help to restore our freedoms. It would give us each the negotiating power to drive a fairer bargain with potential employers. It would make us less dependent on employers and give us the freedom to say no to them when we feel they fall short of reasonable standards of decency and respect. And the removal of means-testing would greatly reduce the power of the state to snoop into our personal affairs and interfere in our lives.”