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Thrilling Developments in the Art of Folding

I few months ago I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s not the sort of book that usually finds its way into my library, but it had been recommended periodically by a handful of different people over a year or two. I found the book to be disappointing. Many of the pages struck me as fluff — clutter, you might say, which is ironic given its subject. Edited down to a pamphlet of a dozen pages, or perhaps a short series of blog posts, it could be enjoyable, but there isn’t enough content for a book.

The one thing I did take away from the book is folding. Kondo recommends folding things such that they stand on edge in the drawer rather then being stacked on top of each other. This way all the contents of the drawer are visible at once, instead of only the things on the top of a stack.

The goal should be to organize the contents so that you can see where every item is at a glance, just as you can see the spines of the books on your bookshelves. The key is to store things standing up rather than laid flat… The number of folds should be adjusted so that the folded clothing when standing on edge fits the height of the drawer. This is the basic principle that will ultimately allow your clothes to be stacked on edge, side by side, so that when you pull open your drawer you can see the edge of every item inside.

This made sense to me. Unfortunately, the combination of having a walk-in closet in my apartment and not owning much in the way of furniture means I don’t actually fold many of my clothes. Most things end up being hanged (a Kondo no-no). I fold some less-seasonally appropriate clothing for storage in Transport Cubes (another Kondo no-no) and I fold larger things like sheets and towels for storage in underbed boxes, but neither of those really lend themselves to this method of folding.

One of the few pieces of furniture I do find useful enough to own is a filing cabinet. I keep socks in the large bottom drawer and underwear in the middle drawer. The top drawer holds an assortment of bandannas, hand wraps, and some seasonally appropriate head and neck wear. After reading the book, I dumped out all the socks and underwear and folded them to Kondo’s specifications.

It is definitely an improvement. Previously I rolled socks together, which is not very efficient in terms of volume (and disrespectful to the sock, according to Kondo). The drawer was overfilling. A pair or two would frequently fall behind the back of the drawer, where I would forget about it until I happened to notice that the drawer was no longer closing all the way.

Folded this way, everything fits. Immediately upon opening the drawer I can take stock. As with all clothing categories, I have different types of socks and different types of underwear, each more or less appropriate for different applications. A quick glance in the drawer lets me know what I have available, and when it may be time to address the laundry pile.

Thrilling.

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Currently reading Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald.

The novel tells the story of dynasties struggling for power on the moon, which has been settled and turned into a mining colony. It has been described as “Game of Thrones in space”. While I have not read Game of Thrones, that seems like a roundabout way of saying that it is like another series that deals with the struggles of feudal families mining resources in space. Luna is much like Dune — even up to including a female religious order interested in long term breeding programs and social experiment (funded by The Long Now, of course). Fans of classic science fiction will likely feel at home in its pages. I look forward to the sequel.

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Currently reading The New Spymasters by Stephen Grey.

The book begins with an overview of espionage immediately before, during, and shortly after the Cold War, before moving on to the role played by Western intelligence agencies in the current millenium. Grey contrasts the earlier focus on human intelligence with the growing dependency on signals intelligence and assassination programs, and makes a compelling case for the need to return to a balanced approach with a focus on traditional spy running.

The dichotomy is reminiscent between that of the longer-term, unconventional warfare practiced by US Special Forces and the direct action focus of other Special Operations Forces as discussed by Tony Schwalm.

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Currently reading The Black Banners by Ali Soufan.

In his decade at the FBI, Soufan developed an expertise in al-Qadea, investigating the Kenyan embassy bombing, Jordan millennium pole, attack on the USS Cole, and the September 11th attacks. The book is a history of al-Qaeda, beginning with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as well as a memoir of the author’s experience investigating the organization. It is a well-written, intriguing read that offers a different insight into familiar stories. I was inspired to read it after subscribing to the The Soufan Group‘s daily IntelBriefs and have not been disappointed.

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A Tradecraft Primer

The CIA’s A Tradecraft Primer is a brief introduction to critical thinking and structured analysis. Its techniques are not limited to intelligence, but instead are applicable to any field where the bias of preconceived notions may cause harm. Its short length makes it a worthwhile read — I read it in a little over an hour while waiting for a plane — particularly as an adjunct to publications like Red Team Journal.

A Tradecraft Primer

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