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Well, hello there. You might have missed these emails. You might not even have realised they'd been missing. At any rate, after three years (!) and hundreds of hours of cranking these emails out every month, I've decided to rejig things. Basically, I'm going to send them out whenever I feel like it. It might be fortnightly, it might be monthly, it might be quarterly. It just depends on how much good stuff I find and how motivated I am to collate it. Let me know what you reckon. As always, you can save any of these articles to read for later using Pocket. 


Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture by Chantal Panozzo in Vox
Reading time: 10 minutes
If you took a look at my CV, you might be a little surprised at which of those jobs paid well and had fair leave practices. That said, I'm glad I live in a country with Medicare, where paid sick and vacation leave is a legal requirement for full time workers. We must protect that at all costs. 

"The Swiss work hard, but they have a strong work-life balance. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average Swiss worker earned the equivalent of $91,574 a year in 2013, while the average American worker earned only $55,708. But the real story is that the average American had to work 219 hours more per year for this lesser salary."

Keep Your Identity Small by Paul Graham
Reading time: 5 minutes
Why do people get so riled up by politics and religion so quickly? It's all about identity. 

More generally, you can have a fruitful discussion about a topic only if it doesn't engage the identities of any of the participants. What makes politics and religion such minefields is that they engage so many people's identities. But you could in principle have a useful conversation about them with some people. And there are other topics that might seem harmless, like the relative merits of Ford and Chevy pickup trucks, that you couldn't safely talk about with others.

You Don’t Have To Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here: A Eulogy For Yet Another Queer Space by Lazy Susan in Junkee
Reading time: 7 minutes
The Greyhound Hotel (aka The GH) is a famous gay venue in Melbourne which has finally fallen prey to property developers. I'd had a great time going there to see any of the dozens of RuPaul's Drag Race alumni perform, and this is a good eulogy/look at the current state of gay venues and culture generally. 

"Anyone could tell me why the closures of queer venues are inevitable and it will make sense. But ‘good sense’ was never something we traded in. We don’t sculpt a pound of makeup onto our faces for good sense. We don’t scream until hoarse over a wig reveal because it makes sense. And I sure as hell didn’t ugly cry to a lip sync of ‘And I Am Telling You’ because it made any kind of sense."

The Coming Tech Backlash by Ross Mayfield on LinkedIn
Reading time: 7 minutes
"In 4–8 years there will be a populist politician who will point the finger at the tech industry as enemy number one. In a way, Trump already has. This person will yield a backlash against tech that will stunt progress and make it a far worse instrument of her or his control. This is more than stones hurled at Google Buses. When people start to feel their unhappiness is because of tech, the post-truth era of Trump and post-ethics of the GOP elite will pale in comparison to the real movements someone could control.

Tech still has time. Lean your products towards augmentation and job creation. Solidify your principles for what is humanely right against fear-mongering and scapegoating. Foster education, and not just what worked for you, but what junior colleges can do to help people transition. Tech company policy needs to go beyond the regulations that risk a single company wants to manage, and reflect it’s inherently progressive value set. Admit disruption is a bad word, and at least cause-relate your marketing and mission."

How to escape the over-thinking trap: stop judging yourself by Mark Rice-Oxley in the Guardian
Reading time: 6 minutes
"We need a completely new relationship with our thoughts. Instead of viewing the world and our experience as we think they ought to be, we need to treat them as they actually are. We need to recognise when we are ruining a day, a week, a moment or a relationship with catastrophic thoughts and judgments, and understand that often it is the thought itself that makes us feel bad, not the experience itself."

Emotional Intelligence: the social skills you weren't taught in school by Eric Ravenscraft in Lifehacker
Reading time: 8 minutes
I learned everything in this article through years of therapy. It groups "emotional intelligence" into the categories of self-awareness, self-management, motivation, empathy and social skills. Save yourself a lot of time and money and read this instead. It'll make your life and relationships easier to navigate. 

Who Killed Virginia Woolf by Karrie Higgins
Reading time: 15 minutes
This is the best piece of first-person memoir I have read recently, but it's also incredibly full-on and has explicit discussion of sexual abuse, suicide, mental illness and drug abuse ... so consider this a content warning for that. 


Music: I've become a little bored with heavy guitar-based music. Maybe it's because I've spent more time than I'd like over the past few months doing PR-disguised-as-entertainment-writing about rock bands for money that is long promised but seldom paid in a timely manner. Maybe I've finally taken what I needed from the aggression and macho energy of it all.
Country: Lucinda Williams - Dust (Ghosts of Highway 20, 2016)
I've fallen down a Lucinda Williams wormhole in the last week or so. It's incredible how her songwriting just keeps getting better with age. 
Jacky Winter NEEDED A GUN Official Video
Indie: Jacky Winter - Needed A Gun (Every Bump, 2016)
A local Melbourne musician who needs more hype, frankly. 
Kelela - Rewind (Official Video)
RNB: Kelela - Rewind (Hallucinogen, 2015)
I had never heard of Kelela before I saw her play at Meredith Music Fest in December, but her set was amazing, as is the EP this song is from. 


The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben
This is the most magical non-fiction book I have ever read. Wohlleben, a forest steward in Germany, explains how trees grow with and among one another and communicate through their root systems. It's incredible. I'd love for a version of this focusing on Australian forests and bushland. 

Trainwreck: the women we love to mock, hate and fear, and why by Sady Doyle
If you only read one pop culture/feminism book this year, make it this one. Doyle casts a look back at famous "train wrecks" from Lindsay Lohan to Charlotte Bronte to Sylvia Plath, and how their perceived sins are all really derived from being seen as too slutty, too mad, too much. 

Vigil by Angela Slatter
I'm not usually into fantasy, but I got this book for Christmas and really enjoyed it. It's set in modern-day Brisbane and is a lot of fun. Here's the blurb:
Verity Fassbinder has her feet in two worlds. The daughter of one human and one Weyrd parent, she has very little power herself, but does claim unusual strength - and the ability to walk between us and the other - as a couple of her talents. As such a rarity, she is charged with keeping the peace between both races, and ensuring the Weyrd remain hidden from us.

But now Sirens are dying, illegal wine made from the tears of human children is for sale - and in the hands of those Weyrd who hold with the old ways - and someone has released an unknown and terrifyingly destructive force on the streets of Brisbane.

And Verity must investigate - or risk ancient forces carving our world apart.


After 3.5 years, I've finished up at Crikey. I've met some fantastic people while working for Private Media and will really miss my team mates, but full-time journalism is hard on my health and I wanted to try something a little different. That thing is working as a Media Officer at Breast Cancer Network Australia. It's a wonderful organisation that does good work and is full of good people. 
Copyright © 2017 Sophie Benjamin, All rights reserved.

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