Now Reading: The Wirecutter, Zero Dark Thirty, Newtown

‘Now Reading’ is a collection and sharing of online stories and is meant for minimal consumption by the few readers of this blog. Topics will include books, food, matters of culture, photography, media and technology … there are no rules. Have a story to add? Share it in the comments.

Brian Lam quit the Internet (kind of)

David Carr has an interesting column this week on Brian Lam, the founder of ‘The Wirecutter,’ a website that recommends products and directs consumers to a business partner (Amazon) to purchase them. The idea itself – a site that doesn’t flood you with choices, but rather highlights a specific few – is interesting because it runs counter to what the Internet experience has become for so many of us, but we can chat about that another time. I’m more interested in Lam himself, who ran Gawker Media’s gadget blog and nearly ruined himself with frenetic posting habits, all in pursuit of the golden ticket of website commerce – traffic. He posted and posted and posted, picking up unique visitors for Gawker Media by the millions. And then at 34, Lam decided he hated this. He hated the routine and how the demands of an Internet job bled into his personal life and ate away at his hobbies, like surfing. So Lam did what so many daydream of – he quit his job, sold his car, moved to Hawaii and came up the idea for The Wirecutter, his own digital business that fit the life he desired. Lam surfs quite a bit now.

The dilemma of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

I was initially very conflicted about ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ the new film about the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Among the questions I asked myself: 1) Do I even want to see a movie about the killing of one of America’s greatest sources of terror of the last decade? Why? 2) If I AM going to see that, what’s the point of getting a fictionalized version of the event? 3) What’s the cost of NOT seeing a movie like this, of not understanding – at least a little better – a critical piece of our history? 4) There’s nothing worse than poor movies that aren’t totally true. Is that what this going to be?

After reading this review from Manohla Dargis, it sounds like this movie is definitely not that, and I have decided that I am going to see it. It’s difficult – I don’t have an overwhelming sense of pride regarding Bin Laden’s killing. Unlike many, I did not gather in the streets and wave an American flag that night. It’s not that I would have preferred another outcome. I could just never get past the terrible acts that preceded his life ending. It just didn’t feel over to me. Anyway, I ultimately think it’s important to understand history, the shining moments and harrowing depths. So I’ll take in the story and try to learn.

Rest in peace, Newtown and Sandy Hook

I didn’t really want to post this dispatch from Newtown, Conn., by The Washington Post’s Eli Saslow. Over the weekend, I read many of the stories about the shooting that everyone did. Again, I thought it was important to fully understand what happened, and I thought it was important to empathize with all the people who have been torn apart by this. But, respectfully, I have stopped. It’s an overwhelming amount of sadness to continue to look at the photos and listen to the stories, and of course I feel terrible and silly for saying that, for expressing what I feel. And that is not lost on me.

But I felt that I had to share this story. Saslow wrote it a day after the shooting, and it’s horrifying because of its simplicity. The reporting is breathtaking, and it’s one of the few stories that haven’t turned the discussion to guns or something else. It’s just a story about what happened at that school last Friday, and what it was like to be there, and because of that it is very difficult to read. You won’t breathe. You will cry. But if you want to really understand the courage and bravery of some of those teachers who were gunned down, then you should read.

Email: Twitter: @TMitrosilis

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