INSIDE VOICE #4: “No, just very, very improbable.”

According to Kevin Stroud over at The History of English Podcast, the reason we speak English is in part due to the Black Death. The plague was an indiscriminate killer, peasants, scholars, royalty alike.

At this point in our story in the mid-1300s (which is one of my most beloved Stroud-isms), French and Latin were the the languages taught and spoken in England’s upper class. English was for peasants. Yet, after the plague, not enough French and Latin scholars remained. So, English was taught and took hold.


If Google really wants their Assistant to be part of our family, it’s going to need to inherently recognize and respond to the casual nicknames we give it (e.g. “Hey Googs”) and know when the question that follows is mocking, rhetorical and a joke for the people within earshot.


“Were I actually living inside the simulation hypothesis…I’d spend the rest of my life figuring out what I can’t do.” – Chuck Klosterman, What if We’re Wrong?: Thinking about the Present as if it were the Past.

“What if We’re Wrong” asserts that Time is continuously and aggressively deeming our work, our art, our efforts, insignificant and eroding them into dust.

Like so much sound and fury.

Chuck wants you to take this as license to push hard against the outer bounds of your work just as aggressively. To delight in the challenge and throw caution to the wind. Cuz it’s the only chance we’ve got at being remembered the day after tomorrow.


Futures Wheel is my current favorite lightweight scenario planning tool. Some may comment that it’s nearly indistiguishable from mindmapping. There is a difference. Mindmaps are stupid.


I like to start with a highly-controversial statement that feels ridiculous and just out of reach something like:

“10 Years After COVID-19 Pandemic, Americans are Healthier.”

Then answer the question, “What does this mean for the world around us?” and continue to innocently ask that recursively working your way around a circle.

Maybe start a branch with:

  • People with even a slight sniffle stay home, which means…
  • Substantially higher & more unpredictable utilization of sick days (even with working from home), which means…
  • the govt covers sick days on behalf of employers, which means…
  • health care is disconnected from employers, which means…
  • increased taxes (Huh).

We could do another branch with:

  • People eating healthier, which means…
  • Less carb consumption, which means…
  • Alcohol popularity decreasing, which means…
  • Local craft breweries go bankrupt (Argh! Wait! Wut!).

Maybe a third with:

  • People no longer commute, which means…
  • Fewer cars on the road, which means…
  • Less air and water pollution, which means…
  • Wildlife comes in closer, which means…
  • More human-animal incidents (argh, that’s how this all started)

Jeebus, FUTURES WHEEL sure can make you anxious about what comes next faster than an episode of Fortitude.


…In dialectal Norwegian, “kveik” is two different nouns. One is female and means yeast, while the other is male and means to breathe new life into something…the act of kindling a fire. – Lars Marius Garshol, Historical Brewing Techniques


Back in March, we took friend and multi-book author @HopeJahren’s advice and started some seeds. Today, it’s a massive 12×4 raised garden that the 9 year old checks every morning between breakfast and starting his school day.

We’ve lost lots from the seedlings to the garden bed. Plant Dr. Jahren says that’s OK. Trying to have some grace, considering this is my first garden in 33 years and I’ve read nothing on how to make it successful (library’s closed).

The boy is confident we’ll have lots of pumpkins, corn, tomatoes and peppers. Though, this morning he handed me the radish seeds says he’s not so confident in the canteloupe.

The Dutch settled in modern day New York and brought their knowledge of brewing with oats, rye, wheat with them. The English (and Scots), with their barley-exclusive brewing practice, settled further south in Virginia and struggled to grow barley. So, they switched to tobacco and traded it for malted barley and finished beer from the aforementioned Dutch.

In addition to the primary benefit of trade itself, this had the secondary effect of supplying the Dutch West India Company’s global trade network with tobacco while simultaneously starving the English crown of the tax revenue.


“We are now cruising at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway.”