how to be useless under capitalism

I bet you’re like me. You have a long list of projects, whether in your head, scribbled on a notepad somewhere or setup in an online planning system.

These are the projects that you want to get to someday, but you can’t find the time for them. Or you want to start, but you don’t know where. Or you have an idea of where to start, but you have so many ideas that you don’t know which to prioritize (hello!)

I can do a lot to plan projects. I can find the right tools, realize that they aren’t right, and find the new tool that is supposed to be even better. Finally, I have a plan and I can be ready when it’s time to start! But none of these things actually do the important thing: actually starting that project. Planning is nothing without execution.

One of the things that I think holds me back is the hustle culture that I am in. It feels like a necessity that anything that would take a long time for me to master or complete should exist in part to make money. It’s that insidious mindset that tells us Why We Can’t Stop Working.

I don’t truly think that everything should be a money making endeavor. I think that we should be allowed to do things for fun, and to follow passions wherever they may lead. I think that makes for more well rounded and interesting individuals! We can live out the small-l liberal idea of expanding horizons and being ok with things being different, or being imperfect, or being ok with just putting things down and not calling it a failure.

I have a few projects that have been simmering for years that I want to get to. I have a few new ideas that came up in the meantime that I’ve already executed on. Among all of that are the tasks that seem more important every moment that I think of them, yet not important enough to put down what I’m currently doing to attend to.

Putting things down permanently is hard. It’s an acknowledgement that you thought of something and maybe even tried it, but it did not work for you. That means that it was a waste: a waste of resources, a waste of money, a waste of time. But what if it wasn’t a waste and was instead an opportunity that you took full advantage of as you could at that time?

This week I want to do an exercise with each of you. I want to put something down, thank it for being there when it served me, and being ok with it being gone from my life in the future. I want you to do the same. You can do it quietly, or you can share with others that you are doing so to get some accountability. Heck, you can reply to this email if you want to share with me what you are putting away for good to make space for something else in your life.

I have so many things that I want to do with my life. But I’m not going to get there if I have to constantly view them through the lens of utility alone.


Can Data Die? – Jennifer Ding, The Pudding

Read this one on a desktop if you can. This isn’t just a story about the longevity of data, and it isn’t just the story of misogyny in computer science.

How to Govern the Metaverse – Lucy Sparrow, Wired

Building off of a previous article by Jordan Belamire, “My First Virtual Reality Groping“, here’s a reminder that moderation is hard, and it’s only going to get harder with even more real-time communication in unstructured environments.

What Happened To Treehouse?

I remember when Treehouse was based in Orlando, then uprooted the company because the CEO visited Portland, decided that he loved it, and wanted to live there. Guess his flakiness never changed.

The Joe Manchin Trolley Problem – Dan Brooks, Gawker

Hahaha holy shit. I mean, I won’t say that I’ve not had thoughts like this about elected officials before. But putting it on a site like Gawker is kinda ballsy.


The Meme in the Moment Festival: Make it Spoopy | October 27 – Caveat NYC

This series has been great. One of those things that I wish that I was involved in creating. The next one is coming up in December, and I’ll be watching that too.

St. Vincent on the Polyphonic Spree

I have seen St. Vincent twice in concert. I just didn’t realize that the first time was with Polyphonic Spree, who were great live. But more than that I’m sharing this for the face that she makes at the end πŸ˜‚

I turned Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar Cards into an Awesome Sculpture

My favorite chonky boy ghost!

How Elvira Busted Through Hollywood to Become the Queen of Halloween

I learned a lot about Elvira, enough to make me want to read her book and watch her movie!

a screenshot from a (probably fake) tweet that reads "These foxes exist in ideological opposition to each other and represents Disney's shift toward fascism. In this essay I will". The tweet includes photos of Nick Wilde from Zootopia in a police uniform and the animated Robin Hood fox.


Canadian Softball – … and yet, I fish [Official Video]

Yep, this is basically a real screamo song.

On Your Mark

Did you know that Studio Ghibli made a music video? Neither did I, but it’s the same whimsical style as their film work with a much more adult bent to it.

The always interesting author and polymath Robin Sloan joined up with Jesse Solomon Clark to put out The Cotton Modules – Shadow Planet, an album of AI inspired ambient(?) music.

The Hall Bedroom – Hysteria

I shared the whole series when it came out two weeks ago, but I finally listened to all of the episodes of Hysteria. This is probably my favorite of all, with the most evocative imagery.

If you made it this far, why not share this newsletter with a friend? Or share with me some of the things that you found that you liked this week. Either way, I’m thrilled!