The Barrchives

nsbarr’s collection of half-held values, under-baked ideas, and straight-up fibs.

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preparing the corpus

When grandfather died we cleaned out his place.

We found in the closet some shoeboxes.

We found in the shoeboxes photos, letters, pressings.

They came from a time in his life when none of us knew him. When had he been in Tokyo? Who was Jane? Where did he get this medallion?

Flipping through one photo album I found that grandfather had a good eye for buildings. He preferred architecture to people.

I expressed a wish to hang on to the photo album. I expressed regret that it simply wouldn’t fit into my suitcase. I took instead a whiskey glass etched with a hole 16 at Pinehurst, a par 5. At family gatherings I would fill this whiskey glass with ginger ale and plunk in a few ice cubes and hold it close, feeling and hearing the bubbles fizz on my face.

This whiskey glass or one like it.

The CEO of an AI chatbot company lost her friend in a bicycle accident. She missed him...

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preliminary materials towards an argument game

tune into espn and you might catch a media personality yelling a controversial, inflammatory opinion:

Sorry, but I’m gonna be the first to say it: the Los Angeles Lakers would be better without LeBron James on the floor.

detractors call this a “hot take.” in their eyes, the hot take is the atomic unit of an alarming strategy that espn, fox news, cnn, and other news sources have adopted. that strategy is to manufacture controversy in order to drive clicks, attract eyeballs, manufacture conversation, and increase other key metrics on which the business depends.

hote take.png

i like that detractors have created vocabulary to expose the machine and it’s encouraging that the vocabulary is taking off.

i really like that The Ringer and other inventive sports media startups have started to reclaim and remix that vocabulary to their own ends. Robert Mays and Kevin Clark have a segment called Take Shop...

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lenses and other ways of seeing

i am an advocate for seeing things in many ways. is there an Impressive Greek Word for that. polytropos, the epithet for my hero Odysseus, is not quite right.

i like anything that you can put on and take off.

i am a sucker for the six thinking hats and other corporate consulting strategies from the 80s. sometimes i fantasize about reimagining those charming but totally out-of-touch rituals with astrology, tarot, sunglasses… whatever the Cool Kids are Into These Days.


when people ask me for resources about product design and architecture, i always recommend The Art of Game Design: A Deck of Lenses by Jesse Schell. it’s a collection of 113 “lenses,” or ways of looking at your game. for example:

Lens 41: The Lens of Punishment

Punishment must be used delicately, since after all, players are in a game of their own free will. Balanced appropriately, it will give everything in your

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work-wonder balance

i’m not one for work-life balance. never have been. too californian, too soft.

all the same i found myself experiencing some kind of work-related imbalance. didn’t know what to call it. i felt taxed, stretched, stressed.

too much work i thought? no, that can’t be it. my workload isn’t reaching historical highs. maybe i’m getting old. well yeah, but don’t think that’s it…

under stress it can be difficult to identify the stressor.

the phrase popped into my head before the meaning did: work-wonder balance. like, the balance between executing things and thinking about things. not just everyday thinking but deep, weird, wild thinking.


work couldn’t offer me wonder so i had to find it. had to make the time for it. had to remember how to do it.

wondering can look like anything. it’s not just Being Creative. it can be investigative or daydreamy. sharp or soft. it’s nebulous but it’s...

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