Years ago, there was a debate that divided my Reconstructionist congregation. Should we announce pets, along with the names of deceased family and friends, before reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish? Most congregants seemed to feel uncomfortable with the idea. Even still, no one wanted to tell the Animals Are Family, Too activist that it made them uncomfortable.
I’ve been devoted to animals my whole life. Beth and I live with four cats. One of them was sitting on my lap while I wrote this sentence. They are part of our family and our psyches. Their happiness brings us joy and their pain devastates us.
Three weeks ago, we needed to rush Merle, one of our cats, to a veterinary hospital. When he got home, each of the other cats began falling ill, turning away from food, barely moving for days. We assume that Merle brought home a virus. Or all he had was a virus and he got it first and worst. Fortunately, each of the cats has rallied and all seem to be healthy again.
The veterinarian could only speculate about Merle’s condition. She asked us if wanted to subject him to invasive tests and expensive treatment. We decided against it. We love him and we also understand his lifespan and limitations, and ours as well. We don’t see our cats as people.
Pain is pain, and how anyone can make sense of medical pain scales is beyond my understanding. I know the pain of losing a pet and the pain of losing people who are close to me. I know that I am obligated to use the resources I have to help other people heal. To do what I can to decrease suffering and corruption and increase equity.
I want to keep these beliefs in mind. And, at the same time, honor the weeks that I spent frightened and helpless, hoping that Merle and Harry and Isabel and Suki would heal. I want to find a place for all these beliefs and feelings.
Welcome to March 2022’s Disappearing Moment, an inventory of my experiences. I hope you enjoy it.
- Crumbs (I Liked It): Emmy Olea’s search for love and self-acceptance feels tender and authentic. The fact that her show is lousy with megacorp ads feels almost hopeful.
- History of American Slavery (I Loved It): Scholars present biographies and stories that deepen our understanding and our passion. Which is exactly what some are trying to legislate away.
- Homemade Stories (I Liked It): Shannon Casson recalls a time when one could make a living and a name for oneself by telling stories well. He is funny and fearless.
- The Trojan Horse Affair (Serial) (I Loved It): Come for the accents, xenophobia, and intrigue. Stay for the camaraderie and insightful meta-journalism.
- What’s Ray Saying (Worth My Time): A distinctive, unblinking writer and narrator. While I admire the craft that is evident in his polemics, I prefer the personal stories.
Remember how hard it was to cleanup pictures in Photoshop? And how we loved it? Remember walking ten miles to school, uphill in both directions?
The Vitamix: the bougiest of bougie products. I didn’t want to love it, and yet I do. We use it at least twice a day.
Personal Finance and Investing
Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder letters are irreplaceable lectures on value investing. Credit to Warren Buffett and his editor, Carol Loomis, for making them funny, too.
Santangel’s Review, “Norbert Lou of Punch Card Capital, L.P.” (A Personal Favorite): A careful and fascinating profile of a creative, disciplined investor. There is a correlation between value investors and an economy of language.
Antilibraries are about “books unread, imagined futures, literary longing.” These are books I want to read (along with a few books I’ve started and haven’t finished).
- Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
- The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshone Zuboff
- All the Devils Are Here by Bethany McLean and Joseph Nocera
- America’s Constitution: A Biography by Akhil Reed Amar
- American Lucifers by Jeremy Zallen
- Are your lights on? by Gerald Weinberg and Donald Gause
- Bayesian Statistics for Beginners by Therese Donovan and Ruth M. Mickey
- Bayesian Statistics the Fun Way by Will Kurt
- Beartown by Fredrik Backman
- The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson
- The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
- The Cass Neary crime novels by Elizabeth Hand
- Code by Charles Petzold
- The Comedians by Kliph Nesteroff
- Competing on the Edge by Shona L. Brown and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt
- Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
- Crooked by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin
- Cult of the Constitution by Mary Anne Franks
- Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
- The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow
- The Dead Are Arising by Les Payne and Tamara Payne
- The Deviant’s War by Eric Cervini
- The Diary of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
- Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone
- Don’t Label Me by Irshad Manji
- The Dream Machine by Michael Waldrop
- Dreaming the Biosphere by Rebecca Reider
- E.J. Josey by Renate Chancellor
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barber
- Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown
- The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
- Essays of Michel de Montaigne
- Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
- Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard
- From Here to Equality by William Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen
- The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
- Golden Gulag by Ruth Wilson Gilmore
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- Halfway Home by Reuben Jonathan Miller
- How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens
- Humble Inquiry by Edgar H. Schein
- Humor Seriously by Jennifer Aaker
- Hungry Brain by Stephan Guyenet
- I Am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett
- In the Shadow of Justice by Katrina Forrester
- Inside Story by Martin Amis
- Intuitive Biostatistics by Harvey Motulsky
- It’s Always Personal by Anne Kreamer
- Just Giving by Rob Reich
- Kafka on The Shore by Haruki Murakami
- The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer
- Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler
- The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
- Luster by Raben Leilani
- The Machine that Changed the World by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Roos
- The Man from the Train by Bill James
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker
- The Mind of Bill James by Scott Gray
- The Mushroom at the End of the World by Anna Tsing
- No Hard Feelings by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
- N.P. by Banana Yoshimoto
- Odyssey by Emily Wilson
- The Power of Reading by Stephen Krashen
- Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
- A Promised Land by Barack Obama
- Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn
- The Purpose of Power by Alicia Garza
- QED by Richard Feynman
- Reading: A Very Short Introduction by Jack Belinda
- Safe Haven by Mark Spitznagel
- Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
- Seeing Systems by Barry Astri
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. DuBois
- Statistical Rethinking by Richard McElreath
- Staying with the Trouble by Donna Haraway
- Stubborn Attachments by Tyler Cowen
- Subtract by Leiden Klotz
- A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders
- Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
- Think Julia by by Ben Lauwens and Allen B. Downey
- Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- V. by Thomas Pynchon
- Wanting by Luke Burgos
- Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman
- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
- We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
- We Are the Light by Matthew Quick
- What Can a Body Do by Sara Hendren
- Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
- X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Ray Davies
- The Years by Virginia Woolf
- Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
Thanks for spending a few moments with me. I look forward to corresponding again next month.