Mario Villalobos


Graham Greene’s Writing Routine

Joan Acocella, in a review of Richard Greene’s (no relation) The Unquiet Englishman, describing Graham Greene’s writing routine:

Graham Greene was an almost eerily disciplined writer. He could write in the middle of wars, the Mau Mau uprising, you name it. And he wrote, quite strictly, five hundred words per day, in a little notebook he kept in his chest pocket. He counted the words, and at five hundred he stopped, even, his biographer says, in the middle of a sentence. Then he started again the next morning.

I like this. It’s simple and can be done anywhere.

Deleting Tweets and Other Social Media Content

I find these reasons by Jesse Squires really compelling, enough to re-activate my Facebook and Instagram accounts sometime soon:

Regardless of whether or not I choose to continue using these platforms in the future, I prefer to retain the accounts for historical reasons and leave them vacant — at least for now… This preserves (at least the shell of) my online “identity” and prevents someone else from taking the usernames that I used for so many years. I would rather someone find my old, vacant accounts with a message to contact me by other means, instead of finding some Internet rando and wondering what happened — or worse, mistaking that other person for me.


On Instagram, after deleting everything years ago, I now keep a small handful of posts — 9 to be exact. When I post something new, I delete the oldest one. If ever decide to leave the account vacant, it will be quick and easy to do. This is how I use these accounts in ways that keep me in control.

At the end of last year, I downloaded all my data from Facebook and Instagram, so deleting all my content and keeping my accounts open there (though unused) seems like a good middle ground. I deleted Twitter years and years ago, so someone else has already taken up my old username there (which is okay, but still kinda sad—a feeling I can’t quite wrap my heard around yet).

On a side note, over the past week I’ve been getting emails from Facebook with a security code to login. I think someone out there is trying to get into my Facebook account and possibly claim my username as their own. I think this act alone is shaping my thinking on this.

The SIFT Method

Charlie Warzel in the New York Times:

In 2016, Mr. Caulfield met Mr. Wineburg, who suggested modeling the process after the way professional fact checkers assess information. Mr. Caulfield refined the practice into four simple principles:

  1. Stop.
  2. Investigate the source.
  3. Find better coverage.
  4. Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context.

Otherwise known as SIFT.

I had an argument/discussion with a really good friend yesterday about whether or not flu cases went down during the last year. I told her they went down because of our collective COVID precautions—wearing masks, social distancing, washing our hands—but she said it’s not true because they weren’t testing for influenza, so there’s no way of knowing for sure. She’s been against all the COVID precautions since the beginning, so I could understand where she was coming from. I still didn’t believe she was right, so I went online, found around ten sources for my claim that flu cases actually went down, and she said,

We don’t “believe” the same articles. We can both find ones that show what we agree with 🤣

I’m not sure if this SIFT method would’ve worked with her, but I find it useful for myself anyway. I also don’t know how to converse with my friends who don’t share the same definition of “truth” as me. Am I wrong? Is she wrong? Is there a balance? I have no idea.

But we’re still friends, and I’m fiercely loyal to my friends, even when we disagree.

Craig Mod Has Another Newsletter

Craig Mod in his introduction to his new newsletter huh:

As I was conjuring up the shape of huh it struck me as slightly insane that more photographers don’t do this — mail out a single photo once a week. Ideally we’d subscribe to a cadre of our favorites. Maybe they’d all arrive on Wednesday and Wednesday would be this visual inbox party. No comments, no likes, no stream of other images to compete against, no Reels to be sucked into, no algorithmic curveballs. Just a few beautiful images, from the four or five photographers whose work we adore. Things to be enjoyed as units unto themselves in ways that are difficult to do in the din of social streams. And best of all — if we want to say something nice, we just have to hit reply. No public-space posturing.

Photography Wednesdays sounds amazing.

James Kochalka on Being Creative

James Kochalka, via Austin Kleon:

It’s been my experience that if you’re a creative person, and you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at another thing. If you’re good at drawing, you might be good at writing, too. If you’re good at writing, you might be good at playing music, too. If you’re good at playing music, you might be good at pottery. If you’re good at playing guitar, you might be a good dancer! In order to create, there’s some little thing you have to let happen inside yourself, of just letting yourself be free. If you can turn that little switch on inside yourself in one medium, you can probably do it in another medium.

I agree with this, but I want to add that it doesn’t just happen. You do have to work for it, but I firmly believe that if you’re not having fun during the journey, then you won’t enjoy the destination.

Once Upon a Time, There Was America

Anton Troianovski in the New York Times:

It was a siege. It was a mob. It was anarchy. Or, as the Italian newspaper La Stampa put it in its front-page headline Thursday, “Once upon a time, there was America.”

Only 13 more days.

Is Dairy Farming Cruel to Cows?

Nate Chittenden, a farmer from Schodack Landing, N.Y., quoted by Andrew Jacobs in the New York Times:

“I’m in charge of this entire life from cradle to grave, and it’s important for me to know this animal went through its life without suffering,” he said, stroking the head of one especially insistent cow. “I’m a bad person if I let it suffer.”

In 2011, I chose to stop consuming dairy products after I determined, and later confirmed, I was lactose intolerant. In 2017, I decided to be vegan. I didn’t do it because I thought eating animals was “wrong.” I did it because I felt I was eating too much meat and not enough vegetables.

Over time, though, as this lifestyle sustained me and made me feel better than I ever have in my life, I underwent a sort of spiritual transformation. After a year without consuming any animal products, I realized how unnecessary animal suffering was to sustain a human life.

I’m glad farmers like Mr. Chittenden exist, and I’m grateful that farmers and scientists are trying to figure out how to farm animals ethically, but I’m done consuming animal products. I don’t need to eat them to be healthy, and I’m confident most people don’t, either.

How to Use Social Media if You Have Social Anxiety

Writing about social media and anxiety, Emma Warnock-Parkes suggests this tip to improve attention:

Play a music track and practise listening to one instrument at a time, switching between instruments every so often.

I do this and it helps to calm me down all the time.

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