July 10, 2015

Written by

Chris Gonzales


Ryan Wong

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

Personal note: Commentary for links in this week’s issue will be somewhat minimal, despite how much more I wanted to say about some of them. My family and I are in the middle of upending our entire life by selling 90% of everything we own to try living in a travel trailer for a while.

I hope you’ll forgive any terseness on my end this once, and enjoy the links anyway :)

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If Everyone Lived in an ‘Ecovillage’, the Earth Would Still Be in Trouble »

Samuel Alexander, writing for The Conversation, brings us the sobering news that humans are demanding far too much of our planet. In fact, we’re living as though we have the resources of four or five planet Earths.

According to the most recent data from the Global Footprint Network, humanity as a whole is currently in ecological overshoot, demanding one and a half planet’s worth of Earth’s biocapacity. As the global population continues its trend toward 11 billion people, and while the growth fetish continues to shape the global economy, the extent of overshoot is only going to increase.


Put otherwise, based on my calculations, if the whole world came to look like one of our most successful ecovillages, we would still need one and a half planet’s worth of Earth’s biocapacity. Dwell on that for a moment.

Life is Easier When You Take the Stairs »

David Cain, Raptitude:

I think what most of us really want is an easier life, not necessarily a more wholesome one. We want less trouble and more enjoyment, probably more so than we want achievement and virtue. But what we often overlook is that embracing difficulty in certain places nets us a lot more ease than our usual “easy” ways. Putting in three hours a week at the gym is easier than being out of shape 24 hours a day. Studying is easier than sitting in an exam room not having studied. Doing a good job at work is easier than wondering when they’ll finally fire you.

I’m used to thinking of ease and difficulty as a pretty straightforward dichotomy: we want more of one and less of the other. And maybe in a sense that’s true, but they are often found in the same place and come together as a package. A small amount of difficulty often serves as the gatekeeper to a large amount of ease.

I bet Mr. Cain and Ryan Holiday would get along well.

Airbnb and the Internet Revolution »

Ben Thompson, Stratechery:

Here’s the kicker though: without Airbnb I wouldn’t even be making this trip. Staying in a hotel would not only be too expensive, it would also deny me the opportunity to at least get a taste of what it’s like to live day-to-day in a different country and culture — something you don’t get at your typical branded hotel. […]

A world of commoditized trust has significantly less need for much of the infrastructure of modern society, including inefficient sectors like hotels whose primary differentiator is trust, along with the regulatory state dedicated to enforcing that trust.

Photo: Susan Bennett

Photo: Susan Bennett

The Real Voice of Siri Explains the Art of Voiceover »

Phil Edwards of Vox profiles Susan Bennett, whose voice you likely hear every day if you’re a heavy user of Apple products:

Talking to Susan Bennett is surreal — at one moment she sounds completely normal, except she has the most pleasant voice you’ve ever heard. But in a flash she can turn on the Siri voice, and you start thinking you’re talking to your computer. […]

“I think that voices are very personal,” she says, “and I think that’s one of the reasons why people love Siri and all the other digital assistants, because they do bring a bit of humanity to all this machinery we’re dealing with.”

Photo: Wesley Read, age 15

Photo: Wesley Read, age 15

ANZANG 2015 Junior Photography Shortlist Winners »

The ANZANG 2015 Junior shortlist showcases the finest photography from those under the age of 18. The beauty of the shots contained is indicative of the talent in our budding Australian photographers.

Some incredible photos in this Australian Geographic gallery. The texture and colors in the example above are…wow.

Photo: Isaac Eddy (pictured above, center)

Photo: Isaac Eddy (pictured above, center)

I Spent 12 Years in the Blue Man Group »

For the first entry in their “Exit Interview” series, Atlas Obscura interviewed Isaac Eddy, a recently-retired member of the Blue Man Group.

About half of us are professional musicians who learn the character, and the other half are professional actors who learn the music. The thing that’s hard is that the character is not the kind of character that a trained actor can immediately understand, and that’s why half of the Blue Men we have aren’t even trained actors. It’s a ‘clown’ character for all intents and purposes, which is a term that’s kind of misused now. For the character to be believable it has to tap into an honesty and a sense of self that a lot of times, actors are trained to get rid of. There are some people who can access that honesty in the character, and there are other people who are basically trained in all sorts of acting styles that can’t really access it.

Photos: Stefan Ruiz, The New York Times

Photos: Stefan Ruiz, The New York Times

The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá »

Susan Dominus of The New York Times reports the fascinating and strange story of two sets of identical twins who, thanks to a hospital error, were mixed at birth and raised as two pairs of fraternal twins — and then they found each other.

At that moment, Jorge had before him sufficient evidence to suggest that his life was not what he thought it was, that his family was not what he thought it was. But there is a saying that Carlos, a man of many sayings, sometimes applied to Jorge: ‘‘The blindest man is the one who does not want to see.’’


Carlos opened the door, and the group filed in, like a procession from a dream. There was Jorge, and there was his double — it was Jorge in a strange sweater; Jorge, only quiet; Jorge without the cool confidence. There was some woman, and some other guy. And then there he was — Carlos was staring at himself, an altered version of himself, a funny photocopy, a joke, a nightmare.

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.