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Hello again lovely friends, and I hope all is well with you. This time I'm in Kōya-san, south of Osaka, surrounded by trees and sites significant to the Shingon Buddhist sect. A place less like the relentless, frenetic razzmatazz of Tokyo is hard to imagine.

To those who have been in touch, either about the typhoon or in line with last email's subject-matter, yes I'm fine, but thank you. After a little longer in Tokyo, I started to notice not only the isolationism but also a complex relationship with alcohol. Join the evening commute at major station and you'll witness salarymen already drunk to the point of incapacity, and still drinking.
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DRINK: When people find out I don't drink, about two-thirds then want to talk to me about it. There aren't many instances where people want to talk about something you don't do, as opposed to things you do. I mean, I don't eat cheese but people would generally rather run into oncoming transport than talk about that. It's also becoming less unusual: the proportion of UK adults who drink is at its lowest level in 14 years.

Perhaps more interesting than those who abstain are those who are looking to reduce (and/or reclaim control) of their drinking. While previously such things were typically labelled with a sense of loss or going without, author Ruby Warrington hit upon a powerfully positive re-expression of moderation in the title of her book: Sober Curious.

Alcohol consumption exists at the intersection of social activity and dietary preference. Not to drink in many social settings is seen as a poorer experience, and also to drink beyond moderate self-indulgence outside of a social setting is problematic. Trends in health and wellness, with people investing heavily in feeling better, are at odds both with alcohol consumption and its social halo.

For those for whom alcohol is not an addiction, the more mindful approach of choosing when not to drink is more compatible with a proactive and better-informed approach to taking care of ourselves. Another book, This Naked Mind, centres on this sense of control, and whose author advocates questioning alcohol intake as we might for sugar.

And with control over alcohol regained, unforeseen things happen. Sober people learn how to party (and in a way that doesn't result in embarrassing photos splattered over social media). Sober people even fall in love. 🍹
πŸ™… The Gender Gap in 6 Charts: if you live in a reasonably wealthy and liberal society, you might think the gap will close reasonably soon. But viewed globally, at the current rate of change, equality is a long way off.

🧘 The fast track to a life well lived is feeling grateful: for the majority of ethicists, both ancient and modern, the path to a virtuous live is clear.

πŸ“ It’s time we stop unsolicitedly redesigning Spotify: many designers, particularly those early in their career, have worked up improved versions of Spotify (or some other staples) to flex their creative muscles and pad out their portfolios, while a vast array of non-profit organisations could benefit from even low-level design expertise. See also: A New Designer Manifesto: Stop Designing Chairs!

πŸ’° Interactive map of the indices of multiple deprivation: really interesting visualisation of where England's wealth is and isn't.

βœ‹ The Toll of Me Too: assessing the costs for those who came forward: unwelcome exposure, threats, thrown drinks and epithets. Characters undermined, intension misconstrued, identities realigned, jobs lost.
On trend: Where trends go, brands follow. Nonalcoholic drinks are on the rise, no-doubt because of increased sober-curiosity connected with wellness, plus more diverse social spaces. New alcohol-free drinks brands are emerging that seek to bridge the different experiences of drinking and not drinking in a social setting. And no sooner are there market challengers than giants like Diageo snap them up.

Blending the trends for craft brewing and alcohol-free might even make not drinking cool, further proving my theory that the secret to being cool is staying as I am and waiting for the trends to come around. There are challenges ahead for industries such as advertising, though, that have long-standing cultures based entirely on drinking.

Thinking ahead, it may be hard to picture Christmas without drinking. But, if you're sober-curious enough to try it, this year in the UK is a good time and place, given that most alcohol is imported. πŸ₯‚
Finally: An encounter with Mr Noel Gallagher: ah, it's nice to have The Face back. In this interview, Noel talks about the Nineties, today, and the space between. 🎸

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