ATTN. You should read this

Because I read a lot, I’m probably going to write a lot about reading. Because you subscribed to this letter, sometimes you’ll get to read what I write about what I read. Convenient! This edition takes a look at some cool reading options that have popped up lately.

Read this

    1. Amazon’s Kindle singles offering is a super handy place to find good stuff to read quickly. When it launched there wasn’t a whole lot to choose from, but I think authors and publishers are starting to realize there actually is a market for short, inexpensive, high quality writing. You don’t need Kindle hardware to read these offerings, but you’ll at least need the Kindle app for your computer or smartphone. I’ve read Lying and The Walk Up Nameless Ridge. Very curious about Do No Harm.

  1. Another good place to find stuff to read is Byliner. Sign up for their email list to get notified of new material. I enjoyed readingThree Cups of Deceit. I don’t know if it’s typical, but buyers of that particular book were notified of several updates to the information, which was kinda nice.
  2. Similar to Byliner, Atavist is a new platform for reading. I haven’t gotten anything from them yet, but they keep popping up on my radar. It’s something to keep an eye on.
  3. A more recent entry to story platforms is Matter, which grew out of a successful Kickstarter campaign. The Do No Harmreference earlier originated on Matter. I’m looking forward to seeing what else they produce.
  4. The New Inquiry is a source that I subscribe to via RSS1. All of their content eventually becomes offered for free on the web, but they do produce a subscription “magazine” for $2/month. The magazine editions are themed, so articles probably make more sense in that context than the way they’re later dripped out on the web. Regardless, there is some thoughtful and challenging writing happening there.
  5. Quora is an unconventional reading source, but I find a ton of interesting material there (to wit). I occasionally pop in with aresponse to a question. I really like being able to subscribe to questions so I can track answers as they filter in. Quora is one of those places where you follow a rabbit trail and often end up somewhere serendipitous.
  6. Like Quora, this is a little less conventional, but I really like browsing through ask.metafilter. It’s another one of those serendipitous sources. Unfortunately you can easily lose a whole day in the larger Metafilter universe. Don’t ask how I know this.

Rules and privacy

The recent revelation of General David Petraeus’ affair with his biographer is a bummer (on a few levels), but one redeemable interesting (kind of) outcome is that his Rules For Living were re-publicized, though mainly for the purpose of point-and-laugh (#5). I think his rules have value, though he forgot the rule about ensuring Internet privacy. He was a knucklehead, but fortunately for the world, good ideas and knuckleheadism aren’t mutually exclusive (David Simon’s perspective is also interesting). Those rules reminded me of some other rules I admire, written by another guy I don’t really like. Rumsfeld’s Rules (PDF) were written by Donald Rumsfeld in 1974, or thereabouts, when he was serving his first stint as Secretary of Defense (the youngest at the time). I liked his rules when I came across them years ago, and I still like them today (caveats apply, obvs).

And speaking of Petraeus and reading, it’s probably a good idea to not assume privacy of anything you send via open email. And speaking of no privacy, here’s a little parody post that was spawned by the recent outing of a creepy Redditor (person who really loves about how to know whether you are on the Internet, for the purpose of ensuring “privacy”.

Rikki Tikki

This is some sweet taxidermy that has nothing to do with Internet privacy or befuddled generals. The image reminded me of Rikki Tikki Tavi. I love that book.

Thanks for being a reader,


  1. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. In practice it’s just a way to keep track of content on Web sites without actually visiting the site on the web. You use an RSS “reader” like Google Reader to read and track the content. If you aren’t familiar with RSS, but like to read, you need to investigate and get yourself set up. It’s really not as confusing as it sounds. ↩