Six Ideas That Made Us Think

1. How to Interrupt the Long Talker

By listening to talk radio, Rose Eveleth learned how to manage the problem of the “monologuer” who won’t let you get a word in. She describes her techniques:

One of my favorites is the Question Sneak Attack. While your monologuer is talking, say over them, “Jim (or whatever their name is), can I ask you something?” This often makes them stop, or at least wrap up their thought. Because there’s nothing better for an over-talker than you asking them a question. This makes it seem like they are not simply holding forth at length, but instead answering your questions. When they do stop, you don’t, in fact, ask a question. Instead, you make your point.

2. Where Amazon Goes from Here

If you want to read the most over-the-top, bullish take on the Amazon-Whole Foods deal, read Scott Galloway. Wildly optimistic and full of Amazon cheerleading – yet convincing:

The Seattle firm will apply its operational chops and lower (zero) profit hurdle to the Whole Foods business model and bring prices (way) down. If you wish you could shop at Whole Foods more often, but it’s too expensive, your prayers have been answered. Whole Foods will become the grocery equivalent of a Mercedes for the price of a Toyota. Grocery has stuck their chin out (little innovation), and the entire sector is about to have its jaw shattered.

Full of interesting facts. For example: Amazon Media Group is four-times the size of Snapchat.

3. De-Constructing the German Politician

In its pitch-perfect obituary of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, The Guardian captures the paradox of what makes a successful political actor:

His doctorate (on post-1945 Rhineland politics) was early evidence of an intelligence often masked by a thick skin, a dour impassivity, tactlessness and an apparently invincible optimism. His favourite tactic in a crisis was to sit tight and do nothing, to the despair of friends and the fury of opponents, in the usually justified belief that the trouble would go away. The image of the stolid, bloated monolith with the stentorian voice, the cartoon German with no sense of irony and a huge appetite was, however, grotesquely at odds with his political record.

4. Stop Reading the Op-Ed Page

“I no longer believe what I read, unless what I am reading is an empirically verifiable account of the past,” cheerfully writes Matthew Continetti in his essay, “They Are Wrong About Everything.” His counsel: ignore all writing and reporting that passes as political opinion. Directed equally at both sides, his rant is the best manifesto for the current moment:

Please, please, please be wary of the supposedly nonpartisan and objective experts who have looked at the DATA and determined which course history will take. In fact, be more than wary. Run in the opposite direction.

5. Map to the Future

Earlier this year, one analyst predicted that maps will be Alphabet’s next big revenue generator. Apple, meanwhile, has been buying up mapping technology start-ups for years. Smithsonian explains why cartography is the new oil:

The convenience of GPS and online mapping means we live in an increasingly cartographic age. Many online searches produce a map as part of the search results — for a local store, a vacation spot, live traffic updates before heading home. People today see far more maps in a single day than they used to. David Rumsey, who created Stanford’s map collection in his own name, notes: “The more you interact with maps, the more agile you become. Maps beget more maps.”

6. The Value of Explaining Complex Ideas

John Gruber of Daring Fireball, an Apple-insider blog, relates how Richard Feynman, the Nobel laureate in physics, believed that he only understood a concept if he could write a “freshman lecture” on it. Gruber says the same culture exists at Apple:

Engineers are expected to be able to explain a complex technology or product in simple, easily-understood terms, not because the executive needs it explained simply to understand it, but as proof that the engineer understands it completely.


Websites Worth Reading

  • Moneyness Global, on-the-ground commentary about economics
  • Frere Jones Items about typography, fonts, design
  • Name Game What top companies call their conference rooms


Feeds We Follow

  • @RealTimeWWII Live-tweeting the Second World War, as it happened on this date in 1945
  • @OnlMaps Links to cool, historic maps
  • @PlatoBookTour The Greek philosopher comments on the 21st century