Clarity First Newsletter,
August 20, 2021

“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.”
– Sigmund Freud

Love & Work

A notebook about how we work, learn, love and live.

Dear reader,

I am so proud and happy to tell you that this is the 360th issue of this weekly letter. The newsletter that I’ve called Clarity First since 2016 is five years old today.

I’m using this anniversary to rename my labor of love. Going forward I am going to call this missive Love & Work. It will still be a “notebook about how we work, learn, love and live”, but I feel that the new name, inspired by a statement by Freud, reflects this mission more accurately.

I’m working on some visual changes too, and will be moving the letter from MailChimp to Squarespace. Squarespace shows off photography so well, and as we build prototypes I’m thrilled to see how the letter looks on the new platform. Stand by. There are cool changes afoot.

Happy anniversary. Happy Friday.


Rationality is having a breakout moment.

Illustration by Francesco Ciccolella

In a blog post written this summer economist, Arnold Kling, noted that “an unusually large number of books about rationality were being published this year, among them Steven Pinker’s ‘Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters‘ (Viking) and Julia Galef’s ‘The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t‘ (Portfolio). It makes sense, Kling suggested, for rationality to be having a breakout moment: ‘The barbarians sack the city, and the carriers of the dying culture repair to their basements to write.’ In a polemical era, rationality can be a kind of opinion hygiene—a way of washing off misjudged views. In a fractious time, it promises to bring the court to order. When the world changes quickly, we need strategies for understanding it. We hope, reasonably, that rational people will be more careful, honest, truthful, fair-minded, curious, and right than irrational ones.”

In this thoughtful article, Joshua Rothman, the ideas editor of, explores why rationality is beyond the reach of so many. One of the takeaways that sticks with me is the observation that “Introspection is key to rationality. A rational person must practice what the neuroscientist Stephen Fleming, in ‘Know Thyself: The Science of Self-Awareness‘ (Basic Books), calls ‘metacognition,’ or ‘the ability to think about our own thinking’—’a fragile, beautiful, and frankly bizarre feature of the human mind.’”

Article: Why Is It So Hard to Be Rational?

Economics, Community, Commons

Learning to move beyond the market vs. state framework

“Over the past two centuries, a central challenge of humanity has been to fill the void of material scarcity, and we have succeeded to some extent. There is now enough food and other products to meet most human needs if they were distributed more adequately. That’s the challenge of the current century; and it’s not just a question of rejiggering the market. It also means reconstructing of the commons, both natural and social, which is the fundamental source of sustenance and well-being. The air, water and sunshine; libraries and language and the legacies of science – without these and much else like them, there will be scarcity and collapse no matter how hard the market churns.

“The commons exists outside the typical definitions of the market and the state. It is not simply a negative to the market’s positive; it is a parallel economy that does real work—often the most important work. Without clean air to breathe, for example, or a common fund of knowledge to serve as feedstock for invention and the arts, human society would grind to a halt, as would life itself. Yet the commons is functionally invisible today. Economists disparage it as a relic of benighted times, and extol private property rights as the key to human progress. The media pretty much ignores the commons, except for bits and pieces, and politicians do as well.”

Article: It’s Time to Replace the Economics of “Me” with the Economics of “We”

Design Process

“We wanted to design a tool that would help learners engage with emerging technology in a collaborative way, and we wanted to put women at the center.”

“The team at international management consulting firm People Rocket is always trying to think of new ways to interact with the world. In client workshops and their ‘Design Thinking and Innovation’ class at Harvard Extension School, they help creatives plan innovative solutions to complicated problems. But when the team paid closer attention to the role gender played in their brainstorming sessions, they decided to rethink their own approach. ‘We have observed that learners, especially women, often get quite intimidated by new emerging technologies,’ said a team statement.

“To combat this problem, instructors Tessa Tzeitel Forshaw, Meredith Caldwell, and Richard Braden wanted to create a tool using an atypical approach. Instead of sticking to rigid, masculine systems that prioritize jargon and hard-won experience, they wanted to make technological discussions more intuitive, flexible, and accessible. Their solution was the Our Lady of Technology Tarot Cards, a Tarot-inspired deck of cards that makes for an engaging and empowering approach to brainstorming. Its 22 cards cover a wide range of today’s most influential technologies, from tactile mediums like 3D printing and robotics to digital innovations like blockchain and augmented reality. These cards are inspired by the Major Arcana, a 22-card outline of classic storytelling archetypes, including naïve heroes, wise princesses, and mercurial magicians. With the help of these archetypes, a curious Tarot practitioner can make sense of a given situation and how to best approach it.”

Article: A Unique Tarot Deck Makes the Process of Learning About New Emerging Technologies More Inclusive

Remote Working

Photographer Beowulf Sheehan adapts his art to a new normal.

“Portraiture, as I knew it, was very physical, a constant moving of my body to suggest poses to the subject and change equipment and environments with my assistant. Most of my portrait sessions involved at least three participants: subject, assistant, me. Sometimes as many as ten people—hair and makeup artists, stylist, second assistant, agent, client reps—crowded onto the set, filling my studio with background chatter and music beyond my dialogue with my subject.

“In-person media productions, the only kind I’d known, were banned in New York days into the pandemic. In September they were permitted again if one followed certain safety protocols. I had hospital-grade disinfectant. I had a HEPA/UV air purifier. Plenty of PPE. In-person commissions returned slowly. On September 30th, an email from the novelist David Hoon Kim arrived with “query regarding remote portrait work” in the subject line. “I am a writer living near Los Angeles in need of an author photo for my novel,” he wrote. After exchanging a few emails, I was confirmed to make my first remote author portrait.”

Article: On Learning to Take Author Photos Remotely During the Pandemic

Social Messaging

Gelo’s ‘Parent Track’ aims to build on the recent surge of kids educating their parents and driving more sustainable practices at home.

Gelo is a sustainable soap startup that claims to use 97% less packaging than soaps that rely on single-use dispensers. Rather than buy a new bottle of hand soap, the company encourages you to refill your old bottle with a pod of concentrated Gelo and water.

To promote their idea they have “launched an anti-single-use plastic campaign with a fresh angle: It gives kids the power to follow their parents around the internet with ads that constantly urge them to ditch single-use plastics and live more sustainably at home.

The Parent Track, developed by Gelo in partnership with creative agency Mischief @ No Fixed Address, comes as more children than ever before are educating their parents on being more environmentally savvy.”

While a clever way to tap into the influence that kids have on parents, I’m struck by two things: 1. Do we really want to teach our kids to track loved ones, even with good intentions? 2: In our local co-op I can buy a really nice bar soap called Just Soap. It has zero packaging, and no water, ever. Just sayin’.

Article: Kids Can Take Over Parents’ Devices with Ads Urging Them to Ditch Single-Use Plastics


Curating, skewering and roasting the worst of advertising to comic perfection

“Ahh… where to go with this?
Are they saying:
We are making FOOD, PEOPLE?!! Got that?!!
We are manufacturing a special food which is called ‘Food People’
We are converting food into people
or maybe it means…
The bottom line:
it means NOTHING!!!”

Lee Sachs, the curator of this always open museum, says about advertising: “No matter what gets thrown up on the Giant Media Wall in our faces, 99.9% passes through our brains faster than you can say ‘CPM.’

“So it shouldn’t be a surprise that a lot of the stuff is throwaway. Who cares?  Nobody’s going to remember anyway?

“Not here! At The Museum of Marketing Madness, we like to celebrate the failures.  Remark upon the unremarkable. And otherwise…make fun!”

Website: Museum of Marketing Madness


“This thing is better at skating than me”

Post: A Skateboarding Robot That Never Misses


Article: Ouch. Most Americans Favor Faster Shipping Over Shopping Sustainably.

Article: How to Redesign Your Office for Hybrid Work

Article: Chuck Close, Artist of Outsized Reality, Dies at 81

Article: Miles4Migrants Donates Frequent Flyer Miles to Those in Need



Last week I referred to the Doctrine of Discovery, the first international law, a law that granted the rights to land not occupied by white people to the white “discoverers” of that land. This week I stumbled upon an achingly beautiful song by Indigenous Australian singer-songwriter and activist, Ziggy Ramo, backed by singer-songwriter and guitarist Paul Kelly. It tells the story of the doctrine, and how its influence binds us today.

Kelly’s clean acoustic guitar and harmonica make an unmistakable reference to Dylan’s ‘Times They Are a Changing’, as does the first line of the song: “Gather around people, and I’ll tell you a story”. But the direct and cutting lyrics tell that the times have not changed anywhere near enough.

Video: Paul Kelly & Ziggy Ramo – ‘Little Things’ live on The Set


Image of the Week

Maverick Francisco Oyao decided to undertake an epic fashion project when he discovered his family couldn’t afford to rent a prom dress for his younger sister, Lu Asey Keanna Oyao. The Culture and Arts Education student from Zamboanga City got to work designing and putting together an elaborate one-of-a-kind winter ball gown that allowed his sister to have her fairytale moment.

“Oyao shared his heartwarming story in a now-viral Facebook post, where the devoted brother revealed his initial design sketches and progress shots. The young designer claims to have looked to the Internet for inspiration. He writes, ‘I browse on YouTube and on Google on different types of ball dresses, especially Michael Cinco’s Spring and Summer Collection.’ He sketched out his design—complete with a show-stopping skirt, a corset-style bodice, wing-like sleeves, and even a crown. His extravagant vision was clearly going to be a challenge to pull off, and even Oyao began to second-guess himself. He admitted, ‘I didn’t expect that I could do this on time. I even doubted myself if I could do this or not because the concept is different from what is already being done.’”

Article: Loving Brother Handcrafts Incredible Prom Dress for His Sister After His Family Couldn’t Afford One

What’s Love & Work?

Love & Work is the weekly newsletter by me, Mitch Anthony. I help people use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as a pedagogy and toolbox for transformation. For five years, 360 issues, I called this letter Clarity First. But as of this anniversary – August 20, 20121 –  I renamed this labor of love as Love & Work. It will still be a “notebook about how we work, learn, love and live”, but the new name, inspired by a statement by Freud, reflects this mission more accurately. Learn more.

If you get value from Love & Work, please pass it on.

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