Intro / Preface / Extra Words
Calvin and his wife recently made a person. As a pro family leave advocate, I've unilaterally made the decision to bring in some substitute writers to give Calvin a bit of a break while still semi-randomly raining thought droplets down upon ye, the thirsty masses.
Ergo, please welcome some new by-lines to the chat. Some of these folks enjoyed the experience of writing so much they've asked to do more of it in the future. I'm trying to figure out if they weirdly miss homework and 5 paragraph essays from middle school? Or maybe writing is art and there's a joy to creating art that once unchained picks at your brain incessantly. I know write posts in my head all the time, some tiny fraction of which actually make it to this space.
So this could be an ongoing thing. I've got a couple other folks working on some stuff that isn't in this issue. And if giving me 100-500 words on a topic with a related link is something you think would be a thing you'd want in your life feel free to reply back to this email and we can start a convo. -Brian
Can a10s stop Blitzkrieg
Using a high quality flight simulator called DCS World, which is also a source of some of the viral videos I've seen online recently incorrectly attributed to the war in Ukraine, a squadron of virtual pilots sets out to prove whether or not a single air group of A-10 Warthog tank killers could have stopped the entire German Blitzkrieg into France in 1940 (hi I'm clippy this appears to be a run on sentence would you like help being more concise? Go away clippy this isn't 2002 also that was a run on sentence so no I don't think I'll be accepting your so called little tips today.). -B
School Pizza TikTok
It's square. It's floppy. It doesn't live in a pineapple under the sea. But it is delicious. -B
The big sanctions: A quick explainer - by Noah Smith
A great intro into the impact of the recent SWIFT exilations and other sanctions being thrown at Russia right now. -B
Walking the world - Kyiv
Editor's note: A dude named Chris Arnade does a substack where he travels around the world and just walks through normal places. He does something like 10-15 miles a day. A month or so ago he did Kyiv. The actual substack for Kyiv is paywalled but you should consider subscribing. The twitter thread summary linked above and the actual original twitter thread below (same content but in two different styles so CYOA) is fantastic in and of itself and will make what is going on over there even more poignant. I include all this as context for Paul's words below from his own previous experiences in Ukraine.
The Twitter Thread of the Kyiv Walk
The paywalled substack if you are interested in subscribing
July in Ukraine is magical. I remember walking along the river and through the countryside, drinking juice compote under the grapevines from which it came, talking with students, craftsmen, clergy, grandmothers, security guards, families and young couples— I will never forget how the warm people of Ukraine welcomed me into their homes and lives.
And in the cold winter, their hospitality was all the more heart-warming. My new friends in Ukraine were delighted to share about their lives and their land, their songs and their soups, their grief and their gratitude.
I miss being with them and experiencing the wonder of their country with so much hope and promise. I pray for their safety. I hurt with them. I want their plight to be known, and for them to not be alone. I can’t fathom the horror of what they are going through, the darkness of this valley of the shadow of death. Father, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Spirit, have mercy.
Post Tenebras Lux
Sports (Disc Golf)
Global Club Soccer Rankings | FiveThirtyEight
My beloved Birmingham Legion are the 559th best soccer team in the world. Hammer Down! -B
My beloved Liverpool are the 2nd best soccer team in the world. You Never Walk Alone! -Also B
I love technology (and science)
Art of Manliness – A Beginner’s Guide to Soldering
The year is 2005 and I am in my 3rd year at Ole Miss. After months of trying to gain the affections of a delightful young woman, I finally succeeded after inviting her to dinner at a place that helps you succeed with those types of things.
A few hours before I was supposed to pick her up, she called me saying we would have to postpone. Apparently, her curling iron (maybe, I don’t know) stopped working. It was her first time going to this restaurant. She bought a new dress, new shoes, and was overwhelmed with the night not going to plan.
I offered to buy her a new one, but neither of us lived close to town, and it would be a stretch to do this and still make our reservation. I was an engineering major and enjoyed doing engineer-y things. In a last-ditch attempt, I grabbed a soldering iron I had and headed to her apartment uninvited. She let me in, and I proceeded to fix a loose wire in the electrical cord of whatever device it was that I was fixing.
Within an hour, we were on our way. Her hair looked amazing. And neither the restaurant nor the night disappointed (for either of us).
So, I offer to you, a beginner’s guide to soldering.
_______ is not real life
Take A Mental Health Test
The last 2 years have caused many people to think differently about many things. An obvious example is priorities. You don’t realize how important kids being in school and having a sense of normalcy is….until they don’t have it.
One of the biggest priority and perception changes for me over the past 2 years has been related to mental health. It’s not really a priority….until you don’t have it.
Anecdotally, I think lots of people have gone “Covid crazy”. I’m not sure exactly why in each case but there’s obviously been massive changes in many peoples lives that they don’t really have control over. I think most people in their normal daily life have some level of stress that they can cope with for the most part. The past 2 years pushed many of us over that arbitrary line…
If you’d asked me 5 years ago about mental health, or feeling down, or how to “get over” something, I would have likely said something like “get some exercise and keep your mind busy on other stuff”. That’s not really how it works. Like at all.
Related to mental health, in the background, I suspect most people are pretty good at hiding depression because they feel a pretty big stigma attached to feeling that way. They feel bad because they can’t make themselves feel ok and they don’t feel like they should feel bad anyway- but they do feel bad.
My experience kind of manifest itself in 2 different ways that I think are pretty common. First, a lot of the time I did not want to feel better- I wanted to feel worse- which in and of itself made me feel worse. “Why would I exercise? I don’t want to feel better.” I’ve learned that this is very common. It’s a vicious cycle. Second, I found myself doing and thinking about doing destructive things to my life to make my physical real world life match the mental image I had and aloneness I felt. I did not realize this is what’s going on at the time really so it was hard to sort of rationalize my way back to normalcy- and as an aside, a lot of the time you’re not even sure you want normalcy anyway. Again, it’s a vicious cycle. It’s not a great place to be.
I’m not really sure what righted the ship to be honest. I do know that it was many things working together. At the core was belief in me and unwavering support from my wife. Counseling helped in that I felt less crazy and alone and also helped identify real issues to think about. Friends helped in that regard also. A doctor helped me realize what was going on (and gave me a depression questionnaire) and view the situation rationally and take baby steps in the right direction. I started talking about it more and making healthier choices. Eventually inertia and positive reinforcement were helping instead of working against me.
Anyway, this was a lot more than the 500 words I was allotted. If you’re thinking you might need help, take the test at the link below. It helped pull me back to the rationale world and yes, step 1 is identifying you have a problem. And find a way to talk to someone. I suspect you’re going to find support when you’re worried about being judged.
Vexed by Bad Design: A Rabbit Hole of Flags, Logos, and Pretty Things
Vexillology. What sounds like a senior-level charms class at Hogwarts isn't actually based in a fairytale world. But it's nothing short of magical, either.
Vexillologists, or those who study flags, are members of an elite subculture. Second only to horologists who study time, clocks, and how the rotation of the sun has a profound impact on how humans cope with the passing of the hours. But I digress.
Hi, my name is Cameron and I'm a designer. A designer of logos, to be more exact, and the art of merging simple shapes to tell a not-so-simple story is quite beautiful. A few years ago, I listened to an episode of 99% Invisible on the topic of flag design and it had quite the impact on me.
Everyone knows what a logo is. Picture the simplicity of the Apple logo on the back of your iPhone. Or the vintage script on the Coca-Cola can. Or the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo. The list of epic logos goes on and on but how do they become so iconic? Well, time, of course, but there are also other factors: simplicity, consistency, and resonance. So, what does this have to do with vexillology? Everything.
I think flags are one of the coolest vessels for design. They fly proudly in the wind declaring victory, peace, capitalism, personal preferences, political affiliation, and even team pride. They can be the size of a city block or the size of a postage stamp, both working equally effectively. And, most importantly, they demand to be simple.
I'm lucky enough to live in Tennessee which boasts one of the coolest state flags in the union (behind Colorado, of course.) The mighty Tennessee Tristar embodies everything a flag should be and I'm happy to finally see it on license plates. Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shoutout to Chicago which bears the most incredible city flag. Adorned with four, six-pointed stars on a beautifully understated white and baby blue tapestry, there's no surprise that Chicagoans/Chicagoites/Chi-People are proud of this unifying banner.
But, unfortunately, there are outliers to keeping flags beautiful (can that be a new presidential motto, B and C? KEEP FLAGS BEAUTIFUL.) The most egregious abominations still wave semi-proudly above capital domes as if design and beauty and simplicity don't matter. Yes, Maine, Washington, and South Dakota — I'm calling you out and judging you harshly from the depths of my bowels.
Beauty matters, y'all. That's all. Simplicity and uniformity and conciseness all matter. This world is tough. It's broken and harsh and we're all hanging on for dear life. So why not create or, dare I say, demand beautiful art to help humanity through the tough times? We've barely scratched the surface of design, and the creative possibilities are endless, so there are no excuses for ugly design. At least not in my book.
You know that feeling you get when you scale the top of a mountain at dawn's first light? As exhausted and groggy as you might be, you lift your chest to take a deep breath and then you see it. The rising sun over the fog-filled valleys. The waking birds beginning their daily duties with a morning song. The warmth of the climbing sun melting the frost from the tips of the pines. You know – that supernatural feeling that cuts so deep you can feel it in every nerve ending and hair follicle? That's beauty, people. That's design! Finding beauty may not always be as easy as taking in a mountaintop view, but appreciating it takes minimal effort. And doing so always does the soul good.
So, get out there and create. Learn to appreciate the beauty in life – even in the not-so-easy-to-find nooks and crannies. And demand a better flag for your community, darn it!
Our last hour is hidden from us so that we watch them all.
Things We Et
Fried fish with mayo and cake sprinkles, served to me at an upscale restaurant in Zhejiang, China.
Travel the world they said. You'll eat interesting food they said. -B
Ya'll did so good. More of this please.
Michael- Dang bro.... Definitely not hating the player or the game.
Cam- is the Virginia state flag good? It seems pretty hardcore to me. Interested in your take.
Paul- Light after Darkness indeed.
Joe- Admitting to the brokenness we all have inside takes incredible courage. Continuing to pray for you. I hope your link is the most clicked in this issue. I clicked it.
Speaking of keeping the wheels on the track ya'll be thinking about Calvin. Going from a single progeny to multiple progeny is no joke. We barely survived it. Post Tenebras Lux. -B