On Comics, Comprehension Skills and Your Neighborhood Cartel

May 2018

Source: iStock

Cabin fever finally broke here in the Pacific Northwest with a string of gorgeous spring days and the Great Outdoors beckoning. In addition to hiking through national forests and along the rim of a dormant volcano this weekend, I spent more than a few hours doing yard work and catching up on podcasts. One from Planet Money stood out and, thus, leads my recommendations for what to read, watch and listen to this month.

[listen] The Indicator Goes to CaliforniaI listened with great interest as the hosts of one of my favorite daily podcasts went to the Los Angeles region to highlight several state issues, including what is contributing to an ongoing housing crisis. As someone who pays high rent in her home state (California) while currently buying a second home in her adopted one (Oregon), I listened with keen interest to the political power current homeowners wield and how it is making it impossible for younger generations to purchase homes—including those current homeowners’. As a result, middle-class families are fleeing the state in droves. A professor mentions an academic paper that compares neighborhood associations to cartels—in that they collude to strong-arm local government officials to vote against residential developments because they threaten their own home values. Such NIMBYism is everywhere, not just The Golden State, and should make us all consider the long-term effects, not just short-term rewards.

[read] A Super Read on Marvel’s Rise and Fall and Rise Again. We went to see the latest Avengers movie on its opening weekend, which broke attendance records. That led me to read this great long-form article in N+1 on how Marvel, the comic book company, was able to come back from near-death to become the movie powerhouse it is. There are some interesting business and pop culture lessons in there. Like how characters like Thor and Iron Man have shifted from seeking justice to providing peacekeeping. And who knew J.D. Salinger’s son was an actor, let alone he played the title role in Captain America, a 1990 box-office bomb? The article also has me even more jazzed for this year’s Comic-Con.

[watch] The Skill of This Century: Becoming ‘Indistractible.’ I watched with great interest Nir Eyal’s Habit Summit talk on managing distractions. “Being ‘indistractible’ is the skill of this century,” he says. As more jobs become automated, those that require human focus and creativity are the ones that will prevail. As a company that is big on creativity, I can appreciate the close attention that must accompany a project in order for it to succeed as intended. Lots of nuggets in this 23-minute talk. Remember: The opposite of distraction is traction—both of which end in action.

—Anne Saita