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From Issue Two! True Colors: Car Choices, Food Sources, and the Fauxthenticity of Our Times

From Issue Two! True Colors: Car Choices, Food Sources, and the Fauxthenticity of Our Times

Now a month out from its release to your doorsteps, it’s now time to leak just a few samplings of what’s in our summer issue of The Mockingbird. If you feel you missed your chance, fear not! Click here and we’ll set you up.

This essay comes James Gilmore, business school professor and co-author of Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want and The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage, both published by Harvard Business School Press. In this essay, Gilmore examines the pervasive and nuanced Economy of Authenticity, where the myth of what is “real” is what…

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Summer Vacay: Where is Mom’s Coffin?

Summer Vacay: Where is Mom’s Coffin?

Officially speaking, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying tells the story of Bundren family traveling to bury their mother, Addie. Quickly in the narrative she dies. Children and husband must fulfill last request to take Mom’s body on a 40-mile trek in a wagon to be buried in Jefferson, Mississippi. Written in 1930, it dances the line between modern and post-modern literature. Different characters’ voices take over each chapter, and as the book progresses, the reader is given a complex, dark, and intimate narrative.

Unofficially, I believe it is a book written about a mother who simply wanted her family to…

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I’m Wasting My Young Years: Simone Weil Tackles FOMO

I’m Wasting My Young Years: Simone Weil Tackles FOMO

To many students like myself, mid-July feels like this: “I can’t believe school starts in only a month—I haven’t done enough summery things yet.” There’s a nagging sense of regret even in the present that maybe we could do more to optimize our time. Maybe it’s FOMO, the fear of missing out, or, perhaps, the fear of wasting time. Summer is a long-anticipated golden calf in my head, carved deep with endless vacations and immediate suntans and condensating glasses of Kool-Aid. Not a moment of this empyrean season should go to waste.

And so waste becomes the object of frenzied anxiety….

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Christmas in July: In Celebration of the Copycats and Original Cover of All Things

Christmas in July: In Celebration of the Copycats and Original Cover of All Things

When you watch a movie that’s a re-make of an older movie (which was also probably adapted from a musical adaptation of a novel) – do you ever mope and wonder if anything out there is original anymore? Is there really nothing new under the sun? I like to be cynical and sleep bitterly in this camp from time to time, sure that our collective imaginations are being mercilessly wiped away by some Never Ending Story-esque of a Nothing. “This is all that’s left of Fantasia!?” But then I consider the very concept of originality and I start to chuckle…

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On the Divine Injunction to Just Relax

On the Divine Injunction to Just Relax

Was delighted to be asked to contribute a guest post to Amy Julia Becker’s Thin Places blog over at Christianity Today last week, something dealing with the topic of Sabbath rest. Those who read the whole thing may notice a few, er, congruencies with past Mbird posts, but I was pleased with how it turned out. Here are a few paragraphs from the second half:

Talk to a member of the “greatest generation” about their childhood Sundays and they will invariably relate youthful frustrations about Sabbath prohibitions. They will tell about blue laws. About no baseball on Sunday. No…

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Yes, You Are Communicating Wrong (And No, You Will Not Like This Post)

Yes, You Are Communicating Wrong (And No, You Will Not Like This Post)

Des: Aren’t you a bit of a cad for leaving town with your girlfriend in the hospital?

Jimmy: It might look that way. I’ve been through this before. After graduation Laurie and I were going to break up, but the same day she came down with terrible back spasms. I hung around the hospital all summer, almost bankrupted her parents, and as soon as I left town she recovered. By going away and putting an ocean between us, i.e. making a definitive break, Charlotte’s likely to recover much faster.

Des: What makes you think that putting…

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Forgetting the Right to Be Forgotten

Forgetting the Right to Be Forgotten

There’s likely no such thing as the right to be forgotten. So why are we talking about it?

In the sixth grade, I opportunistically backstabbed one of my friends; the story reads like an appendix to a middle-school The Prince. I’d had a crush on a girl for three long weeks (give or take), and one of my two best friends, we’ll call him Phil, started ‘going out’ with her almost at random, I think after one of those weekend field trips which always seemed to break apart cliques, form new ones, and breathe fresh life into the daily math-science-history routine. The…

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The “Doing What You Love” Elixir

The “Doing What You Love” Elixir

Confession time: I only play pick-up basketball in gyms where the average age of those playing is well above middle-aged. I tragically got cut from the JV team my sophomore year of high school, so being on the same court as my contemporaries brings back too many unwanted memories. This preference rules out playing pick-up at my college gym. My only refuge for my ideal, quasi-geriatric hoop scene is the local YMCA where I grew up.

This particular basketball court is the mecca of mediocre basketball and varying life advice. Because a young buck like me is such a rarity there,…

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A Quick Calvin and Hobbes

CHadulthood 2

Lydia Davis Gets Ready to Die in a Plane

Lydia Davis Gets Ready to Die in a Plane

From the MacArthur Genius’ (very funny) book of daydreams, real dreams, and five-sentence memoirs, Can’t and Won’t. Recommended reading for this summer–each entry is mostly no longer than a page, many times without much of a plot–and this one talks about in-flight complications, and the anxious (even superstitious) thinking of the end of one’s life. The pilot has just made an announcement about the wings’ failure to slow the plane down, so it must circle very close to the ground to attempt to slow itself down. Davis journeys back through the way her mind processed this news.

The announcement,…

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Another Week Ends: Cultural Literati Pretenders, Fake Empathy, The Search for Cool (Moms), Kurt Vonnegut, Calvary, and the Gospel Dustups

Another Week Ends: Cultural Literati Pretenders, Fake Empathy, The Search for Cool (Moms), Kurt Vonnegut, Calvary, and the Gospel Dustups

1) The Atlantic attempted a definition of “cool” this week, and it runs in tow with Shane Snow’s definition of humor in the New Yorker. Whereas humor can be defined as “benign violation,” cool is defined by Derek Thompson as “a measured violation of malign expectations.” Sounds good to me! Within this definition, cool is bound on both ends by law: cool is a response to some form of constraint or expectation, but it also must operate within an expected set of parameters in order for it to be seen as cool. If it operates beyond the parameters of its…

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Social Un-Networking

Social Un-Networking

There are a couple of interesting tidbits for thought coming from the social media side of things. The electronic communities that have promised us relationships in this ever-fragmenting age are now enabling us to disconnect. First, The New Yorker recently informed many of us of an app called Cloak. Its purpose? Unlike other social media apps that help you “connect” with people, this one alerts you to the locations of your followers so that you can avoid them. (Yep, you read that correctly.) And then Twitter announced this month that they are introducing a new “mute” feature to enable a stealthy exit from following…

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It’s Not/All About the Numbers

It’s Not/All About the Numbers

via thisisindexed.com

The NY Times tossed us quite a softball this week in the form of Bruce Feiler’s “The United States of Metrics”. The premise of the article is a familiar one: the advent of ‘smart’ technology has allowed us to quantify things that we couldn’t quantify before, from the steps we take per day to the friends we have to the size of our carbon footprint, and as a result, we are “awash in numbers. Data is everywhere.” It may sound alarmist, but Feiler tempers the diagnosis with some fascinating trivia and bits of humor. For example:

Samsung just added…

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From The Onion: Man’s Insecurities Versatile Enough To Be Projected Onto Any Situation

The well of inspiration over there just never seems to run dry! Breathtaking, ht JD:

albertbrooksRALEIGH, NC—Marvelling at how often he finds himself consumed by doubt and anxiety throughout the course of his day, local 32-year-old Ross Erickson told reporters Tuesday that his array of personal insecurities was versatile enough to be projected onto any type of situation. “Sure, my fears that I’m a fraud who won’t amount to anything and that I’m inherently unlikeable crop up in the usual places—like in my relationship or when I’m dealing with my parents—but what’s really remarkable is that they’re also adaptable enough to find their way into the most everyday situations, like interacting with strangers or even just thinking of speaking up in a work meeting,” said Erickson, noting that his exceptionally flexible worries could assume control and cause him to completely freeze up in scenarios as diverse as attending a friend’s barbecue, sharing an elevator with a coworker, or simply being in the presence of an attractive woman… “There’s really no limit as to when or where [my personal fears] can make me feel self-conscious and force me to analyze and obsess over every little detail involved.” At press time, Erickson was mentally berating himself, convinced he had given a terrible, embarrassing interview to reporters.

The Day I Confessed My Sins To Louis C.K.

The Day I Confessed My Sins To Louis C.K.

Louis C.K.’s FX show, Louie, has been a breath of fresh air in the world of situation comedies. That fresh air, though, sometimes steals the wind out of my sails and leaves me drifting in open water, alone with my thoughts, convicted, waiting for rescue. I have noticed that episode 3—“So Did The Fat Lady”—struck a chord with many since it aired on Monday night. It has the classic Louie setup, with all of the awkwardness and profound insights that are part of who Louis C.K. is as a comedian.

Vanessa, a waitress at the Comedy Cellar where Louie does his…

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