5 Dating Apps That Need to be Invented Right Now

It’s almost hard to imagine now, but I remember when people didn’t date online. It caught on while I was in college, and it grew fast but everyone was still sort of embarrassed about it. Now, of course, all that has changed. A stunning one-third of new marriages today initially began online. Once dating went online, it was only a matter of time until it went mobile. Today more than 50 million people use a single mobile dating app, Tinder.

Everyone, it seems, who is looking for love is looking online. But it’s taking longer and longer to find the right person —the median age for a first marriage is now 29 for men (it was 23 in 1960). Maybe they haven’t been looking for love in all the right places?


I thought I’d lend friends a hand who are looking for love and not finding it using their current dating apps. Here’s my list of 5 Dating Apps that need to be invented now.

Read the rest on MEDIUM

Three Pieces of Advice on Writing That Have Made a Difference Over The Years

This post originally appeared on Medium.

Writers love to write about writing.

It’s not hard to see why. Anyone who has written knows that in order to create something good, something worth other people taking their time to read, one does not just sit down at a keyboard and “let the magic happen.” It is hard work and it is lonely work. And like any difficult but worthy project, those who undertake it feel obliged to share why and how they did it. The same is true for a mountain climber, or an olympic gymnast, or a woman who has given birth. They all have stories to tell. They all have advice to share.

Of course, the other reason writers write about writing is to procrastinate and avoid the writing that they really ought to be doing.

Not all writing advice is worth listening to. I had a writing teacher in school who gave me scolding feedback that my imaginative stories and attempts at humorous prose were “not serious enough” and she graded me poorly. It discouraged me from writing for years. My writing may not have been serious enough for her taste but I wish I hadn’t taken her taste so seriously.

I have encountered, however, advice about writing that I have treasured over the years. And the thing about the treasure of advice is that it doesn’t lose any of its value when you give it away. So why not share some of it with you? Here are three of pieces of writing advice that have made a difference to me over the years:

1. You Have to Make a Mess Before You Can Clean It Up

This advice originally came not to me, but to my wife. She was in college, and struggling to get started on her senior thesis. Her advisor encouraged her to get more reckless and start throwing her thoughts on paper and worry about it all making sense later. This practical wisdom has saved me on countless projects from what I would otherwise do by nature: obsess for hours about my opening sentence and how I might grab the reader’s interest. Now I just begin and go back to the beginning at the end.

I found another (more profane, but funnier) version of this advice in Anne Lamott’s wonderful book on writing, Bird by BirdLamott encourages us to begin with “shitty first drafts.” No writer really knows where they are going when they start. Therefore your first draft is bound to be awful, or at most only a shadow of what it could be. So, get over it, she counsels. Set the bar lower and just start writing. It’s better to start with something bad and fix it in editing than to stare for hours at a blank screen or sheet of paper, growing more anxious and more frustrated by the moment. Ready, fire, aim!

2. Writing is The Art of Applying a Back to a Chair

Depending on whom you ask, this definition of “The Art” was penned by Mark Twain or Dorothy Parker or Mary Heaton Vorse (or maybe it was someone else?) As comedian George Burns said, “Good comics borrow, the best comics steal.”

The Art is about discipline. It is about doing hard things. It is about not letting yourself off the hook. The Art is doing what you need to do even when you don’t feel like it. It is about having a will of iron and buns of steel, ones that can take the abuse of a chair for hours on end.

In college I remember reading an interview with Stephen King about how he writes something like three dozen books a month. It was simple. He practiced The Art. He said he sat down each morning and didn’t stand up until he had written ten pages. Then he would have lunch.

The point is that you have to start and once you’ve started, you have to keep at it. Simple as that (and difficult as that). The trouble I find is that once I start writing, there are any number of things that I would find more enjoyable than continuing to write, continuing to apply my back to a chair. I could clean up the house. I could make myself a turkey sandwich. I could check email. I could check email again. I could begin organizing my digital photos, which I’ve been meaning to get to for the past four years. Now would be a great time to do that. I think I’m finally ready for it…

Unfortunately, the only thing that will bring an end to the pain of writing is actually writing. So I eventually I need to practice The Art. I need to paint gorilla glue on the back of my pants and then sit in my chair until it dries and I am stuck there.

3. You Should Never Write a Book Unless You Just Have To

This advice comes from A.W. Tozer, a twentieth century writer and pastor. I came across it in the introduction to a wonderful book of his called The Pursuit of God which I remember reading while on an overnight train ride somewhere in Asia.

Ten years ago or so, someone did a survey and learned that 81% of Americans feel they have a book in them worth writing. Joseph Epstein, writing in The New York Times, found this perplexing:

Why should so many people think they can write a book, especially at a time when so many people who actually do write books turn out not really to have a book in them — or at least not one that many other people can be made to care about? Something on the order of 80,000 books get published in America every year, most of them not needed, not wanted, not in any way remotely necessary.

Why would so many people think they ought to write a book? Epstein speculated they likely saw it as a way to establish their own significance. In the absence of religion, people look for any number of ways to show their life counted for something. A book is a reasonable strategy for doing that, no? With a dark humor, Epstein disagreed:

Forgive me if I suggest that this isn’t the most felicitous way to do battle against oblivion. Writing a book is likely, through the quickness and completeness with which one’s book will die, to make the notion of oblivion all the more vivid.

I’m not as suspicious as Epstein of the apparently overwhelmingly common instinct to write. After all isn’t our conscious experience of the world and our ability to reflect on that experience the very thing that makes us human? No other creature on earth is so capable. Sharing our experience and ideas with each other is no more unnatural than sharing our cooking. You have both a stomach and a mind haven’t you?

And yet, I think Tozer is right that you shouldn’t write a book unless you just have to. There are two reasons why I think so.

First, what you have to say is probably less original than you think. The world may not need another person to write what’s already been written before. Epstein reported that 80,000 books were published 2002, but that’s nothing compared with the rate we’re publishing today. According to one source, in 2013 the United States saw 300,000 new books from professional publishers and nearly 400,000 more from self-published authors. There are more than 28 million books in print in English today. In other words, there are far more books than any person could read in a lifetime. Given this, there is no reason anyone should have to read a book that isn’t good and wasn’t written by an author who felt she just had to do it.

“The only book that should ever be written is one that flows up from the heart, forced out by the inward pressure. — A.W. Tozer

The second reason to limit your publishing to only those books you just haveto write is that writing can be such a drag. If your heart isn’t really in it, you’ll be miserable. On the other hand, if your heart is in it, the words may seem to come easily. I found this to be true while writing my first, and so far, only book, The MBA Oath. I had started an initiative to create a hippocratic oath for business school students and was given the opportunity to write about it along with a good friend. Looking back on it, I can’t believe I got it done. I had a 1 year-old daughter, was starting an intense new full-time job and commuting to work an hour each way. I’d get home, put my daughter to bed, have a quick dinner and write from 9 or 10 until midnight. But it wasn’t a burden. I felt like I just had to write the book because I cared so deeply about it that the words tumbled out of my head freely. I couldn’t imagine writing any other way.

More recently, I talked with my literary agent about a half-dozen book ideas I had knocking around in my head. I wanted to know which he thought I should pursue. He paused on the phone for a minute and didn’t say anything. Then, as if shrugging his shoulders through the phone, he said, “Life is short. And it’s shorter than you think. You ought to write the one you’d be disappointed you didn’t write at the end of your life.”

Most of my writing I do today is for the newsletter I publish, The Weekend ReaderIn it, every week I recommend and link to five of the best recent articles related to a common trend or idea that is shaping our culture. One week I focused on fashion trends no one saw coming. Another week I looked at how drones are already changing our lives. Nearly every week I return to these pieces of advice as I work on it. Make a mess. Keep your butt in the chair. Only write about this if you really care.

This week’s edition of the Reader addresses elements of writing from odd angles, like why writing by hand is better for your memory than typing, and how sitcoms are all written with the exact same minute by minute dramatic structure. And of course, I also share a fair amount of advice for writers by writers.

After all, writing about writing is what writers like to do.

A reply from a journalist

Last week I wrote a post on Medium, "Why You Should Only Read Long Articles and Books (and why you don’t)." 

In it I highly recommended a 1991 article in First Things called, "Why The News Makes Us Dumb." The author, John Sommerville, argues that the "news" is a largely a waste of time that makes us over-focus on things that happened recently (the last 24 hours), few of which are actually important. It distracts us from that which is lasting and truly important.

I still think that is a terrific read.

But my friend Joshua Boak, a pulitizer-nominated journalist, begged to differ. He wrote me a thoughtful email defending the news. It was good, I thought I'd post it here:


"The recommended essay about the news making people "dumb" is simply wrong.

People have demonstrated their ignorance before the birth of the broadsheet and will continue to do so after its death. There are many fair and important critiques of the news. This 1991 essay by C. John Sommerville fails to rise to that level. His analysis seems to be a classic case of shooting the messenger before fully reviewing the contents of the message.

As a professional newsman, let me explain. News is supposed to be fleeting. For much of the 20th Century, today's front page was tomorrow's fish wrap. That linkage is important. The news is similar to a meal both as a routine and source of nourishment. Not every dinner requires a Michelin-starred restaurant. Nor does every bit of reading need to be Plato's "The Republic."

The news connects us to our immediate world. It is remarkably practical. A radio report about a traffic jam can save a commuter time on the way home to see her children. An analysis of a football game can pry open friendships among the shyest of co-workers. None of these stories are about the narrow concept of "change" that Sommerville claims is the driving definition of daily news. But these stories provide value to their audiences.

And while news is fleeting, it has umistakably served as the first draft of history. The stories that last do capture changes in our society and hold our public figures accountable. The seemingly disposable story of the day can grow indispensable over time. There would be no definitive text of the Gettysburg Address without an Associated Press scribbler, who most notably documented that speech's reference to the divine. (http://www.poynter.org/news/mediawire/230171/lincoln-relied-on-ap-report-of-gettsyburg-address/). The Civil Rights movement relied on media coverage to show the brutal ugliness of segregation and racism to the world.

Less than a month after this particular essay was published, the Philadelphia Inquirer printed the nine-part series "America: What Went Wrong?" It emerged from two years of reporting on the lasting consequences of seemingly arcane tax reform. It prompted mass reprints to satiate the demand from readers (http://ajrarchive.org/Article.asp?id=1441).

If Sommerville shows anything, it is merely that his eye prefers to wander to the cheap headlines that confirm his suspicions and biases. In claiming to care about what matters, he ignores the daily supply from newspapers and magazines of evidence to the contrary."


5 Reasons to Think a Real-Life Jurassic Park May Eventually Open

I'd give Jurassic World 3 out of 5 stars.  (It would have been 2 or 2.5 but I saw it in IMAX 3D and you can't help but enjoy that). It didn't cover new ground. It's basically Jurassic Park all over again, but not as novel. The special effects were great, but really not that much better than JP. Still, dinosaurs have a hold on our imagination. Could it be possible that we'd ever actually figure out how to bring dinosaurs back to life? Here's five reasons to think it might not be crazy.

1. The World's Leading Dinosaur Expert believes we can reverse engineer dinosaur-like creatures from chickens

The original Jurassic Park concept won't happen. We can't bring dinosaurs back to life because, as this article in National Geographic explains, "DNA starts to decay at death, and, given its decay rate even under ideal conditions, there's little hope of obtaining even a shred of DNA from fossils any older than 6.8 million years...Instead of bringing ancient DNA to life, scientists are thinking about how to work backward from modern DNA.  These plans are a bit closer to some of the experimentation in the new blockbuster, in which geneticists rearrange genes to create animals that better fit the local environment and visitor expectations. They’re not “pure” dinosaurs, but custom creatures rebuilt to spec."

Paleontologist Jack Horner advised both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. He thinks we can backwards engineer dinosaur-like creatures by starting with their cousins, birds and chickens. "By tweaking the genes and development of chickens, Horner and others have proposed, researchers can create a bird that looks like a Velociraptor."

2. One of Harvard's leading geneticists is doing research he believes will de-extinct wooly mammoths

We won't see mammoths in the immediate future, but as Harvard geneticist George Church told the UK's The Times, "we plan to do so." Church wants to help the process of de-extinction of mammoths. Church and his colleagues used the new CRISPR gene editing technique to "insert mammoth genes for small ears, subcutaneous fat, and hair length and color in to the DNA of elephant skin cells." The work hasn't been published or peer reviewed, so who knows, but Church is a leader in the field of genetic modification, not a crackpot, so there is reason to pay attention.

3. Russia has already set aside land to create the Pleistocene Park

The Ice Age is over. But Russia is trying to bring it back. The country has a section of Siberia reserved as Pleistocene Park, in hopes of giving a re-created wooly mammoth a natural habitat to roam in once it's back. The park project is run by Sergey Zimov, a researcher who believes that hunting was the cause of the disappearance of the mammoth, not climate change.

4. The Insurance Industry has figured out how to price liability policies for dinosaur parks

Mitchel Kalmanson is President of Lester Kalmanson Insurance Agency that "specializes in 'rare and unusual risks' in the animal and entertainment worlds, working on coverage for movie animals, research labs, private collections and large zoos." In this fascinating interview, he describes how he would price insurance for a Jurassic Park with surprising specificity. This is a guy who could tell you the key-animal risk policy for a killer whale is in the $3-5 million range while gorillas are only $500,000 to $1.5 million. He walks through how he'd think about it in this article in Vulture.

5. Innovation is driven by demand and people love dinosaurs. They even like watching dinosaur autopsies.

That's right, dinosaur autopsies. The National Geographic channel recently aired a special called T.Rex Autopsy made possible by some ingenious creature modeling of a 43 foot long dinosaur by the Crawley Creature  and LOTS of fake blood and guts. It's gross, but also kind of interesting to look at this as a way to learn about dinosaur. The team speculated on what would have been inside the T. Rex, but walk through each of their assumptions. The show did well. So if people want to watch that, you have to figure they'd pay money to see the real thing when it's alive...


Would we really want dinosaurs back? Judging from their track record in the movies, it seems like a bad idea. But we probably have bigger thunder lizards to worry about in the present than the ones from the past we might bring back in the future


The Top 5 Music Videos of All Time

Originally Published as Weekend Reader Volume 15


"Ain't Looking For Nothing But a Good Time" - Van Halen

We've covered some heavy topics in these newsletters. DronesPrison ReformGene Editing and Superchildren. Even last week's topic, on Self-driving cars, turned into big questions about mass unemployment, and the ethics of who a car should kill if it had to make choice.

I think we need a break. So today we're doing something fun. Today, I'm excited to present to you, THE FIVE MOST ENJOYABLE MUSIC VIDEOS OF ALL TIME, selected by you the readers (with my helpful curation). 

Over the past few weeks, many of you sent me music videos you love. I wish I could have included them all. 
A few of you suggested Michael Jackson's Thriller (Amanda L, Stephen P), and you can fault me for not including it on the list. I'm sorry, you can't please everyone. What follows may not be the best-made music videos ever. But they are the most enjoyable to watch today.The top 5 are below and I've added a couple honorable mentions, like:

  • Honorable Mention for Best Celebrity Cameo: Tom "Run Forest" Hanks in Carly Rae Jeppson's I Really Like You. Nominated by Maxine B. (Let's face it, he's America's real sweetheart. This is a fun video.)

There's three more honorable mentions at the end. And that's not nearly all of the great suggestions I got. We'll have to do a second edition sometime. So if you have more nominations let me know.

Now without further ado, the Top 5 most enjoyable music videos ever. 

Have a foot-tapping good time,

#5: Electric Guest

"This Head I Hold"
Nominated by Anna A.

First of all, this song is rad. Second, the video has a funny take on the talent show biz. Third, this is one of those videos where you think it's about one thing, then it takes you somewhere completely different, and then back again. Nice pick Anna. 

#4: Styx

"Too Much Time On My Hands"
Nominated by Jason H.

Everything about this video is enjoyable. The armband wearing keyboard guy pointing out the notes with his finger. The drummer who multiplies with every beat. The blonde dude with the huge shoulder pads. The laser-like effects. The "comic" bar scenes. YES!

#3: Possum Posse

"Guy on a Buffalo"
Nominated by Huw E.

Alright, this is a bit of a cheat. This isn't a real band. But it is a video. And they did put music to it. And more than that, it is DELIGHTFUL. When Huw sent this to me I couldn't stop smiling.

#2: OK GO

"This Too Shall Pass"
Nominated by Jordan S.

OK GO deserves their own contest: Top 5 OK GO videos. I could have put 4 others of theirs in this lineup and they would be just as good. They. Are. The. Best. No one holds a candle to the creativity they consistently put into their work. I like them so much I featured one of their videos in my very first blog post. For this video the boys built the best Rube Goldberg machine you'll ever see.  Well chosen Jordan.

#1: David Bowie and Mick Jagger  

"Dancing In The Street"
Nominated by Me

This video needs no introduction.
This is the greatest music video of all time.
Sit back, turn up the volume, expand to full screen, and enjoy.

Other Honorable Mentions

  • Honorable Mention for Best Australian Miners Who Learn to Dance: The Avalanche's Since I Left You. Nominated by Jules F. 
  • Honorable Mention for Most Awkward Half-hearted dancing: Ryan Paris' Dolce Vita. Nominated by Sarah R. 
  • Honorable Mention for Most Visually Interesting German Foreign Video That Makes You Feel a Little On Edge: Gesaffelstin's Pursuit. Nominated by Douglas W. 

Midweek Review Media - "Kids These Days" 2015.04.08

Here's the links to the video and song from this week's newsletter. If you don't subscribe, you can through the button on the right. 

First is EvanTube:

And here is the James Vincent McMorrow Song

Let me know if you figure out what this song is about...

Five Favorites of the Week

Here again are my five favorite things of the past week, my personally recommended must-read & must-watch list. Take 'em or leave 'em.


5. What it was like inside Sony during the North Korean hack;  4. Will Ferrell sings Frozen;  3. How many people don't love their jobs;  2. How Larry David Got Started;  1. A movie you HAVE to see 

5. An Exclusive Look at Sony’s Hacking Saga | Vanity Fair

Unlike a lot of the world, I didn't follow the Sony hack real-time. There was so much hoopla and noise I found it frustrating to get the real story. Here now Vanity Fair gives a holistic inside look at how the North Koreans took down one of the biggest studios in Hollywood. From Seth Rogan arguing The Interview is a free speech issue, to the elite hacking unite of the North Korean military, to Obama's snub and subsequent critique of Sony, this tells it all. North Korea published the salaries of top execs, the screenplay for the new James Bond movie, cuts of the Annie movie pre-release. Like many of us, I have more and more of my life in the cloud so I can't help but be afraid of the risks that entails. Great read to get a sense of the danger. 

4. Lip Sync Battle with Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart

This segment is consistently fun. My previous favorite was with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Stephen Merchant. This one probably tops it. Great stuff. I'd have to give the award to Fallon for his second number. Going all out for laughs.

3. 70% of Americans are Unhappy at Work

Gallup recently published the results of a survey that says 7 out of 10 U.S. workers are either disengaged from their work or actively hate their work. Yeah, yeah, so what? No, this is HORRIBLE. Work is the thing most of us do with most of our time for most of our life and only 30% of people like what they are doing? How can this be? I had lunch with a friend this week and he asked if I thought it was because the jobs were actually bad or if people had bad attitudes about it. There's no way to know, I guess, but my bet is that three things are at play: 1. Some jobs are really bad - bad managers, uninteresting work. 2. Some people have the wrong attitudes - they have unrealistic expectations about what their work should be and aren't realizing they have it pretty good. 3. A lot of people are in the wrong jobs. They should be doing something else, something they'd be excited to do, but are doing something else because they feel trapped. Trapped either by expectations of others or by their own financial need. I wouldn't mind if my life's work were about helping people do good work - work that meant something to them and that was good because it helped people. More thoughts on that later

2. Sitting Shiva with Larry David

So a few weeks ago I posted about how Jerry Seinfeld got his start. Now here's a great article from New York Magazine about his writing partner, Larry David. The famous curmudgeon has written a Broadway Show, Fish in the Dark, about a family funeral for the patriarch. (By the way if that's a genre you're interested in, I highly recommend the new play Wyoming written by Brian Watkins and directed by Danya Taymor.) The picture created of David is of a man who is constantly in two places at once: he is with you in the moment (kind of) and then he is above the moment, noticing it, commenting on it, looking for the awkward humor in it. Exactly the kind of mind that would create an entire half-hour Seinfeld episode about waiting in line at a Chinese restaurant. 

1. Trailer for THE DROP BOX

Every once in a great while, you come across a story that stops you in your tracks. Every year hundreds of babies in Seoul, South Korea are abandoned to die by their mothers. This is the story of a man who built a "dropoff box" to take them in. My words won't do it justice at this point. Instead, just watch. As my friend Matt said, I challenge you to watch this without a tear in your eye. 


Five Friday Favorites

Congratulations people. We made it through another week. I thought I'd celebrate by sharing my five favorite things I came across this week. 

- Max

5. Patriots Fans Defend Tom Brady

In a just plain awesome response to deflate-gate, "Donald O'Donnell McDonald" go to bat for their team and their quarterback.

4. Babies Going through Tunnels

The name kind of says it all. This is hilarious and awesome.

3. Tim Keller Talk on Prayer

Tim's new book Prayer is a best-seller and last night, despite some laryngitis, he gave a great talk on prayer, covering topics like "why should we pray if God is omniscient and already knows what will happen?" Also a teaser on Tim's thoughts on the Super Bowl.

2. Funny and touching short on being a mom

Great social commentary here. Making fun of how people can be self-righteous abotu their parenting no matter what their philosophies are. Check it out

1. Weatherman Displays his Improv Talent

An Arizona weatherman dealt with his screen graphics going haywire on the air. But he handled it like it was part of the act. Very cool customer. And pretty funny. Thanks to @peter_trautmann for finding this.

A few words of introduction

Hello there. 

Thanks for stopping by. I'd offer you a cup of coffee if I could. Instead all I can share is a brief word about this blog. I intend to use it as a tool to share what I'm reading, what I'm writing, and what I'm thinking about. These days those things are most often related to:

  • feedback and the difficulties and benefits of speaking frankly with each other 
  • how to find your mission in life, especially for the millennial generation
  • building dynamic businesses that innovate
  • business ethics and social responsibility

I'm also thinking about fatherhood, prayer, productivity, entrepreneurship, creativity, fundraising, movies, and addictive television series. I'll probably write about those things from time to time too.

Since I'm publishing these notes instead of keeping a private journal, I'll try to make them interesting and useful. And brief. 

In that spirit, I'll leave you with a gift. It's the "new" OK Go video, I Won't Let You Down, released this past October. Filmed in a single take with what seems to be a drone-mounted camera and featuring what look like hundreds of synchronized umbrella-wielding school girls, this video will blow you away. If you haven't seen it, or aren't familiar with OK Go's incredibly creative, incredibly choreographed music videos, take five and enjoy. And if you can take ten, check out their prior video, The Writing's on the Wall.