Weekend Reading: memory-making, music-making, thinking about facts, and cul-de-sacs

Weekend Reading is a weekly collation of 3-5 articles that have caught my attention, published on Saturday mornings. Previous editions can be found here.

1. Christmas Traditions Undone (FearlessFamilyLife.com)

I learned over years of trying to #makememories that memories aren’t made. Memories happen. They grow organically from the things we do over and over again, like the footpaths that appear between sidewalks, showing the shortest point between A and B. If you break down crying every year over your children’s Christmas outfits and yell at everyone to get in the car dammit we’re late for church, it will become the Christmas tradition your children remember, you can quote me on that. I try to keep my eyes on the overarching tradition of enjoying our time together, especially now that my older children are leaving home and returning for holidays. What flows from that — cooking, special outings, crafts and activities — is always up for grabs.

2. 6 of the world’s most extreme choirs (BBC Music)

Taking the Tuneless Choir concept a stage further, Mieskuoro Huutajat (Men’s Choir Shouters) is a Finnish choir that doesn’t sing at all. On their website, they describe themselves (brilliantly) as “20-40 decently dressed men” who “scream, bellow and shout excerpts from national anthems, children’s ditties or international treaties”. There are a lot of raised voices, in other words, in a range of frequencies from the heavy metal death growl to a very manly kind of screeching. They refer to their musical approach as “simple but loud”.

3. Thinking About Facts in the Digital Age (The Walrus)

I’m going to start by saying two things that will surely make some people very mad. First, the language we use has begun to obscure the relationship between facts and fantasy. Second, this is a dangerous by-product of a lack of education in our country that has now affected an entire generation of citizens. These two facts have made lies proliferate in our culture to an unprecedented degree. It has made possible the weaponizing of lies so that they can all the more sneakily undermine our ability to make good decisions for ourselves and for our fellow citizens.

4. Debunking the Cul-de-Sac (CityLab.com)

This is where it’s most apparent – from an airplane window – that American ideas about how to live and build communities have changed dramatically over time. For decades, families fled the dense urban grid for newer types of neighborhoods that felt safer, more private, even pastoral. Through their research, Garrick and colleague Wesley Marshall are now making the argument that we got it all wrong: We’ve really been designing communities that make us drive more, make us less safe, keep us disconnected from one another, and that may even make us less healthy.

“What I understand now is that the patterns of places matter enormously,” Garrick says. “Even from 40,000 feet, you can tell the difference between places. It’s not going to give you all the answers, but it’s going to tell you an awful lot about how people live in different places, just by looking at these patterns.”