Thursday, August 29, 2013

The most pernicious cliche of our times [Article]

George Orwell pointed out that stale phrases mechanically repeated have dangerous political effects. Judith Shulevitz nominates "Disruptive Innovation", a term coined by Harvard professor Clay Christenson to explain why upstart enterprises drive better-established companies out of business.

Sunlight in a bottle - ingenuity [Article, Video]

In 2002, Brazilian engineer Alfredo Moser invented a simple way to bring the sun’s light indoors: fill a clear plastic 2 liter bottle with water and two capfuls of bleach, then make a hole in the roof and secure it with a waterproof sealant. The result: 40 to 60 watts of free, natural light. Watch the video here.

Adults are put off when youngsters pose questions [Thought]

Martin Varsavsky ruminates
Why adults should pretend to omniscience before a five-year-old, I can’t for the life of me understand. What’s wrong with admitting that you don’t know? 

If you are not the customer, then you are the product [Link]

[via GigaOm]
Facebook will pay out $9 million to approximately 614,000 users as part of a $20 million legal settlement that is intended to compensate users for the social network’s decision to display their pictures in “sponsored stories” ads without permission.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Is schooling absolutely necessary? [Article]

This will upset the apple-cart for a lot of folks - and that's exactly why it's worth a read:
Think about how we learn as adults: do we need to learn things by a certain time? Maybe, but only if that is tied to something real -- you're applying for a job that requires certain skills, or you're working on a project that requires that you learn certain things. But most of the time, learning goes at your own pace, based on what you're interested in and how much time you have and all kinds of other factors unique to your life situation. 
Then why do we insist that kids MUST learn certain things by the time they reach a certain age?

Does the world need more people? [Article]

Judge Richard Posner answers his own question: "I am dubious."

Maybe children are actually an “inferior” good, valued most by poor people either because the children of the poor work to augment family income or because the family lacks the resources for such child substitutes as expensive cars, clothes, homes, entertainment, and travel. Increasingly in the wealthy countries both spouses work, increasing the opportunity costs to both parents of raising children.  ...
There is no necessary connection between population and economic growth. The sharp decline of Europe’s population because of the Black Death is thought to have increased per capita incomes significantly by reducing the ratio of people to arable land, resulting in improved nutrition.
Viewing humans as economic "goods" is ________ (fill in the blanks with your own answer).

Startup advice for the not-mega-rich folks [Article]

Leo Babauta writes about advising his 13-year old to start her own vegan cupcake business, and how that advice was shaped by his own experience.
Screw the business plan. Planning, like perfection, is useless and stands in your way. Sure, you want to think things through, but planning is based on faulty information (we can’t know the future). Instead, experiment. Get started. Do. Then see what happens, and adjust. Flexibility is much more important than a good plan.

Playing tag for 23 years! [Article]

A story from earlier this year - eight buddies have been playing tag for the last 23 years. They're in their 40's, so the rules are slightly tweaked: the game is played only in the month of February, & has no geographical constraints. Hilariously ingenious!
The game they play is fundamentally the same as the schoolyard version: One player is "It" until he tags someone else. But men in their 40s can't easily chase each other around the playground, at least not without making people nervous, so this tag has a twist. There are no geographic restrictions and the game is live for the entire month of February. The last guy tagged stays "It" for the year.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs [Article]

David Graeber finds that despite John Maynard Keynes' prediction in 1930 that technological improvements would result in 15-hour work weeks in the Western worlds, that utopia is far from achievable. Instead, he thinks technology has been marshalled to make all of us work more, rather than less, in what he calls "bullshit jobs":
rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.
Definitely worth a read

Lou Dillon - Devil or Angel [Music]

Another great song from Lou Dillon - Devil or Angel 

Everyone does NOT need to learn to code [Article]

Programmer Chase Felker disagrees with the flavour of our times - the need for everyone to learn to code. He thinks that there is a different, and more pertinent need - the need to think.
 I wonder why people are comfortable with thinking of computers as a scary black box in the first place. Computers do only what people tell them to do, and yet it is absurdly common to hear, “Windows crashed again! Call over the IT guy—it’s so complicated!” So many users do not feel empowered to understand how to use computers well, and I think that the urgency to spread programming is a symptom of this feeling. Perhaps if everyone had some practice telling computers what to do, tech intimidation wouldn’t be so prevalent.

How weird is the English language, really? [Article]

English is terribly confusing to a lot of non-native speakers but how hard is it really? Is the world's most difficult language to learn? For example, guess how "Ghoti" is pronounced? The Economist weighs in and comes up none the wiser:
That doesn’t settle a bar bet along the lines of “Is English hard to learn?” But any topic worthy of a good long argument—"Who's the greatest boxer of all time?" "'Dark Side of the Moon' or 'The Wall'?"—should have that element of taste and subjectivity to keep it fun.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Human Dreamcatcher - An inspirational story [Link, Video]

Watch this video first:
What would become the Dream Model Street School began in 2001, with one blackboard, at home. Humaira taught ten friends of her age, seven of them girls. She started with the alphabet, in Urdu and English, and proceeded to the names of things. She supplied blank pages from her own notebooks, until it got her into trouble with her teachers. Then the friends went round asking people to donate paper, or bought scrap.
Humaira Bachal is in a class of her own

A reminder of what people in Syria are going through [Photo]

A grim reminder. The rest of the world stands by, condemning the attacks, & planning more.

The Human Beard [Video]

If you haven't watched this video yet, you should.
PS: If you have kids, get them to watch it too!

How to delete your web-service accounts, in one place [Link] is a great site, in progress, of links to help you delete all those web-services you no longer need, along with the related difficulty level.
Many companies use dark pattern techniques to make it difficult to find how to delete your account. aims to be a directory of urls to enable you to easily delete your account from web services.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

It's not the size of the loss, but the size of the sorrow [Article]

Why do I love the "Occasional Writings of Robert Fulghum" so much? It's because they are not occasional, and they're not stories, but a philosophy. Read this called "It's not the size... " to see what I mean.

An open letter to my son about Microsoft Excel [Article]

Zach Rosenberg takes it public - trying to get his 4 year old to love Microsoft Excel as much as he does - that is! Hilarious!

How to tell love from passion - a timeless litmus test [Article]

Maria Popova pulls out this timeless classic by James Thurber & EB White:
“By and large, love is easier to experience before it has been explained — easier and cleaner.”
and another excerpt:
Let us say you have sat down to write a letter to your lady. There has been a normal amount of preparation for the ordeal, such as clearing a space on the desk … and the normal amount of false alarms, such as sitting down and discovering that you have no cigarettes. (Note: if you think you can write the letter without cigarettes, it is not love, it is passion.) Finally you get settled and you write the words; “Anne darling.” If you like commas, you put a comma after “darling”; if you like colons, a colon; if dashes, a dash. If you don’t care what punctuation mark you put after “darling,” the chances are you are in love — although you may just be uneducated, who knows? 

18 Products you've been using wrong [Link]

At least a few of these will be new to you, as they were to me!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Joy to you baby - Josh Ritter [Music Video]

Maybe you've heard this before, maybe you've not. Either ways, listen to this & decide if you'd like to listen to more (as heard on Grey's Anatomy)

The most dangerous, toxic financial product in the market [Article]

It's the mortgage, says Faisal Islam, writing about the property market in Britain (and the concepts are true regardless of the country). Worth a read.

A list of Amazon customer reviews, that can be great material for a standup comedy! [Link]

If you're feeling down, have a read of this Amazon's hilarious list of customer reviews.

Why we need nomads [Article]

Another awesome article, this time by Vanessa, writing about the need for nomads in society, a breed that is fast disappearing, or is very healthy, depending on your current situation in your life.
We learn from the nomad that happiness comes in different shapes, despite society’s insistence that more money equals more freedom. We see nomads working as their own bosses, or exploring their true passions. Watching them gives us the courage to do the same.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

People simply empty-out [Letters of note]

In 1969, publisher John Martin offered to pay Charles Bukowski $100 each and every month for the rest of his life, on one condition: that he quit his job at the post office and become a writer. 49-year-old Bukowski did just that, and in 1971 his first novel, Post Office, was published by Martin's Black Sparrow Press.

15 years later, Bukowski wrote this letter to Martin and spoke of his joy at having escaped full time employment....
what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don't want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

The cookie-killing girl finds a job [Article]

For the technologically / advertising /job-hunting inclined: Rachel Law was in the news last month with her creation, called "Vortex" It is a browser extension that's part game, part ad-targeting disrupter that helps people turn their user profiles and the browsing information into alternate fake identities that have nothing to do with reality. She got her degree recently, & has found a job as "Creative Technologist" at an ad agency.

A young musician needs all the support she can get! [Video]

Tina is a 14-year old musician. Watch her blistering heavy metal performance of Vivaldi's 3rd Movement from Summer. If you haven't heard the classical version, listen here. Tina has her own YouTube channel, has had Eddie Van Halen marvel at her skills, & is going places for sure.

The irrelevance of LinkedIn endorsements from your in-laws [Article]

When your mother-in-law starts to endorse you on LinkedIn, it's time to question endorsements, writes Eliza Kern. I think this commenter on the article sums it up best:
I often get messages from friends I have never worked with asking me to endorse them for specific skills, and in exchange they will endorse me. 95% of the endorsements I have are from people who have never directly worked with me and have no firsthand knowledge of whether I have the skill or not. Therefore I see little reason to trust endorsed skills I see on others’ pages.

Monday, August 19, 2013

In praise of cynicism [Article]

It's claimed that at the age of 44 our cynicism starts to grow. But being cynical isn't necessarily a bad thing, argues Julian Baggini. It's at the heart of great satire and, perhaps more importantly, leads us to question what is wrong with the world – and strive to make it better.

The largest cave in the world [Photographs]

Take a look at these breath-taking photographs of the largest cave in the world, in Vietnam
There's a jungle inside Vietnam's mammoth cavern. A skyscraper could fit too. And the end is out of sight.

A story about the oldest song in the world [Article]

Bob Fulghum reasons his choice about the oldest song in the world:
Sometime way, way, way back in human history some alpha person invented humming by running tones together. 
And later, when language developed, words were turned into song. 
And it may just be possible that the first songs were about the sun and love. 
Think about it.

A strange alien world, magnified x1000 [Video]

German photographer Stefan Diller has made micro worlds into immense and detailed landscapes to fly over. After three years of work, he’s refined a mix of scanning electron microscope (SEM) technology with “micro-movie camera” software. Thousands of photos — 1500 frames for one minute of footage — are taken at different positions around the specimen. These images are then animated together into a video process called Nanoflight, as shown in this rather jaw-dropping video.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Travel lessons with my family [article]

If there's a trip planned shortly with the whole family (there is), here are some useful tips from a family of 8 (6 kids & the parents!)

Lose yourself to dance [Video]

When spinning a record isn't enough:

I want to make love to you like in the movies [Article Josh Gondelman]

Josh says it best: take the time to read this if you enjoy good reads.

To pee or not to pee in the ocean, that is the question [Article]

A hilariously written scientific article by Lauren Wolf that concludes thus:
“No question, pee in the ocean. Urine is harmless stuff in the first place and is diluted to the point of insignificance within minutes. There are far more harmful things in the ocean to worry about!” Yeah, like a Sharknado.
Turned off? Read about the other creatures which inhabit the ocean and who don't have a bio-chemical processing plant (aka toilet).

The real take home of the Snowden leaks [Article]

Charlie Stross believes the three-letter acronym agencies haven't considered a problem: Gen X & Gen Y.
The key facts are: Generation X's parents expected a job for life, but with few exceptions Gen Xers never had that — they're used to nomadic employment, hire-and-fire, right-to-work laws, the whole nine yards of organized-labour deracination. .....
... Edward Snowden is 30: he was born in 1983. Generation Y started in 1980-82. I think he's a sign of things to come. PS: Bradley Manning is 25. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Social exclusion hurts: and how [Article]

A US-based psychologist, Kip Williams, was strolling through a park when a mis-thrown Frisbee caught him on the back of his head. Unhurt, he picked it up and threw it back to one of the players. They threw it back to him. Briefly he was involved in their game, before the Frisbee players stopped passing it to him and returned to their back-and-forth routine.

A relatively unremarkable social interaction, the scientist was nonetheless surprised at how hurt he felt at being excluded from the game and hurried off to his lab to ascertain what is happening in our brains when we feel left out.

Read on

Letting go of crutches: Simplifying life [Article]

Leo Babauta discovered the crutches he used in his life (eg smoking) and gave them up.  Quite easy to do, he says:
I meditate, drink tea mindfully, run and workout, go for walks, give myself more space in the day, let go of the expectations/ideals that are causing the stress in the first place. I find pleasure in all of these things, and in socializing with good friends, and in a good book, and don’t need to smoke to find pleasure anymore.

Mark your calendars, says Marc Abrahams [Link]

If you enjoy the site Improbable Research, and think the Ig Nobel Prizes are fun, mark your calendars for the live webcast on Sep 12 for the 2013 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony & Lectures. Supported by Nobel Laureates:
in addition to the awarding of the 2013 Ig Nobel Prizes, the ceremony will include a variety of momentously inconsequential events. Among them: World premiere of "THE BLONSKY DEVICE"
Tune in to find out what that does! 

Gandhi's printing press [Book]

Christopher Smith reviews a book by Isabel Hofmeyr, titled "Gandhi's Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading".
The selection and arrangement of extracts in the Indian Opinion, as well as the pamphlets that Gandhi published, served to create a rough surface—in contrast to the smooth macadam of industrialization—that would help readers slow down and contemplate what they were reading. The content that Gandhi offered in his publications was meaty and aimed at promoting the cause of satyagraha. News stories and excerpts from authors such as Ruskin, Tolstoy, and Thoreau, whose work Gandhi saw as essential to the ethics of satyagraha, served to form a slow, attentive community that could resist the empire’s industrial pressure for speed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kevin Ahern's Metabolic Melodies, Verses & Mildly Popular Limericks [Link]

Hours of goodness on Kevin Ahern's site - music, limericks & poems, if such things take your fancy.  Videos like this make me think I would have loved to learn stuff such as Gluconeogenesis if a teacher had made it as interesting! :) Who says education, music & fun can't go together?

From one second to the next: Documentary on texting while driving [Video]

Take a look at this 34 minute documentary by Werner Herzog on the consequences of texting while driving.

How to dial a rotary telephone! [HIstorical video]

A public service announcement, showing people how to use the new instruments, when rotary phones were introduced to replace operator services. [HT David Weinberger]

You needn't be wrong to be called delusional [Article]

The easiest (and most common way) to discredit someone is to label them "delusional". History is replete with such examples - you may even know someone. The implications can be devastating when applied in a medical context.

The new version of the psychiatrists' diagnostic manual (DSM-5) has redefined "delusion":
No longer are psychiatrists asked to decide whether the patient has "a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary". A wordy and unhelpful definition that has so many logical holes you could drive a herd of unicorns through it.
Instead, the new definition of delusions describes them as fixed beliefs that are unswayed by clear or reasonable contradictory evidence, which are held with great conviction and are likely to share the common themes of psychosis: paranoia, grandiosity, bodily changes and so on.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Are you paying attention? [Video]

Some people pay attention to the detail, & others to the bigger picture. Which one are you? Find out.

Neuroscientists and the Dalai Lama Swap Insights on Meditation [Article]

Christof Koch accompanied a team of physicists, psychologists, brain scientists and clinicians to the Drepung Monastery in the quiet town of Mundgod, Karwar, in southern India, at the invitation of the Dalai Lama. He compares the Western mode of education & life with what the Buddhist monks learn:
We prefer to be distracted by external stimuli, conversations, radio, television or newspapers. Desperate not to be left alone within our mind, to avoid having to think, we turn to our constant electronic companions to check for incoming messages.
Yet here we had His Holiness, a 77-year-old man, who sat during six days, ramrod straight for hours on end, his legs tucked under his body, attentively following our arcane scholarly arguments. I have never experienced a single man, and an entire community, who appeared so open, so content, so happy, constantly smiling, yet so humble, as these monks who, by First World standards, live a life of poverty, deprived of most of the things we believe are necessary to live a fully realized life. Their secret appears to be mind control.

How would you like your orange juice, diseased or genetically modified? [Article]

Ricke Kress of Southern Gardens has high hopes for his secret plot of test orange trees, some of which are genetically modified. In five years or so, with regulatory approval, some modified trees could be the first to produce juice for sale.

The winds of change [Article]

+JP Rangaswami calls out the ungentlemanly conduct during the last Ashes test match, but his message is broader:
Spirit matters.. ....when change is brought about, it is important to remember the core values of that which is being changed, so that they don’t change.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A first world problem, Outgrowing the Traditional Grass Lawn [Article]

Ferris Jabr pays attention to the life in  his little backyard, and realises, while outlining the its history, why the traditional lawn is completely out of tune with nature:
To keep our grass lawns green year-round, we continuously douse them with water and fertilizer, forcing the plants to grow nonstop. But we don’t want them to grow too tall, of course. By mowing down grass before it has the chance to produce flowers and seeds, we effectively trap the plants in perpetual sexual immaturity—although many are still able to reproduce asexually, cloning themselves and spreading laterally with creeping roots. Mowing also requires grass to devote a lot of energy and resources to healing itself by sealing off all wounds. The smell of freshly cut grass—so often comforting and nostalgic—is a chemical alarm call: a bouquet of fragrant volatile organic compounds that plants release when under attack.

Peruvian Prison Aerobics - via Storyhunter [Video]

Convicted of kidnapping, Alejandro Nuñez del Arco brings together more than one thousand inmates to practice Full Body aerobics in the courtyard of one of Peru’s most notorious prisons. With armed guards peering from above, Nuñez del Arco attempts to break the world record for the most people simultaneously performing the exercise, whether inside a jail or not.

Why I changed my mind on weed [Article]

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a neurosurgeon, and the CNN's chief medical correspondent. He's been a strong & vocal critic of the medical application of the millenial-old plant known as cannabis, or marijuana. He recently came out with a documentary, and an apology:
I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now. I didn't look far enough. I didn't review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.
He has this to say:
We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.
Of course, American lead on this matter has meant that the natural plant - eeed I say it, something that grows aplenty in nature! - has been made illegal around the globe, & helped create a thriving industry.

Shoot for the moon [Video]

These boys are, well, you decide.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The price of hypocrisy [Article]

This article, by Evgeny Morozov, about the hypocrisy of information consumerism that has enveloped the world, was published recently in the German magazine Worth a read.
Even the best laws will not lead to a safer internet. We need a sharper picture of the information apocalypse that awaits us in a world where personal data is traded to avert the catastrophy.

Kids can't (don't know) use computers [Article]

Teacher Marc Scott finds, from his experience, that the accepted norm of teenagers being "tech-savvy" is not true. It's a fairly long article, and Scott makes quite a few propositions, some practical, others not. I agree with him whole-heartedly on this point:
Tomorrow’s politicians, civil servants, police officers, teachers, journalists and CEOs are being created today. These people don’t know how to use computers, yet they are going to be creating laws regarding computers, enforcing laws regarding computers, educating the youth about computers, reporting in the media about computers and lobbying politicians about computers. Do you thinks this is an acceptable state of affairs? 
It's not an unique phenomenon: history is replete with these examples whenever new technology has gone mainstream (cars, printing, etc). But will we learn from history?

The first CEO blog post [Article]

A very good piece of advice. For any communication, for that matter.
Be brave, say what you really think, say it in your own words. And I mean your own words - the way you would talk to a friend. Not falsely informal nor nervously official. Your real voice, the real you. Surprisingly this is what makes it so damn hard

The decomposition of a pineapple over 2 months...[Video]

Something to watch with the kids.. the decomposition of a pineapple over 2 months, a time-lapse video

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mike Masse & Jeff Hall - cover of Toto by Africa [Music]

One of the best renditions of Toto's Africa that I have heard. Two ordinary guitars, two ordinary guys, two amazingly gifted & blended voices. Mike Masse & Jeff Hall aren't popular - who said the really good musicians are popular? Turn up the volume on this one & have a great weekend!


Fred Wilson needs no introduction to those in the VC business.  His blog at
& the community he has created there (see the comments) is a great resource if you are an entrepreneur or would simply like to get a sense of what the startup business is like.

Fred's been reading the biography of Steve Jobs & writes about it:
Focus is critical when you are three people, when you are twenty-five people, five hundred people, and ten thousand people. You can always get farther faster by saying no to too many projects and too many priorities. Pick your shots carefully and hit them. That's what Jobs did to turn around Apple 
The comments are illuminating - not everyone shares the awe around Jobs' management styles

Going back in time - @jobsworth took me down memory lane [Article]

+JP Rangaswami has a way with words, and especially when using history as a guide to the future. This post reminded me of my childhood-  when the medication for almost all ills could be found without the need for a prescription:
 Stomach ache? A spoonful of omum water. Sore throat? Gargle with warm salt water. Cough and cold? Vicks Vaporub, with or without head-under-covers steam session, depending on how chesty the cough was. Cough continues? Vasaka syrup. Really bad? Benadryl. Fever? Blankets and rest. Sweat it out. 
This post is not about that though. JP cuts to the quintessence of the conversation that is called "market", the need for generic rather than the brand.

Libraries don't need to be a thing of the past - [Article]

Anita Sethi visited Melbourne's Victoria State Library, & argues why they ought not to become a thing of the past.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness [Video, Article]

George Saunders delivered this convocation speech to the graduating students of Syracuse University. The NY Times published the text of his speech, if you find that video hard to follow.  Worth your time.

English is a dialect with an army [Article]

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an American, in France, learning French. He tackles the challenge of being the speaker of only one language, a language that everyone around the world believes is the way to opportunity:
You are the cultural conqueror. You wield the biggest guns. Somewhere in your home there is button which could erase civilization. And then you come to this place and find yourself disarmed. You see that it has its own culture, its own ages and venerable traditions, that the people do not tremble before you. And then you understand that there is not just intelligent life in outer space, but life so graceful that it shames you into silence. 

The effect of skull shape & size on music preferences [Article]

Another one from the Improbable Research stable. Your skull, as much as what’s in it, may affect your musical taste — you may dislike a song because your head is too big (or too small) — suggests this study:
The influence of skull resonance on music preference was studied across a series of experiments. Listeners were presented with a set of original melodies and were asked to judge how much they enjoyed each selection…. this research suggests that the skull [shape and size] might influence the music that a person dislikes rather than the music a person likes.”

The teacher becomes the learner [Video]

Backstage in Zagreb, Croatia, 8 year old Frano Živković plays one of Tommy Emmanuel's compositions during a meet and greet.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More jobs that don't necessarily need a college degree [Article]

Last week, I linked to an article by Mr. Money Moustache (MMM) attempting to list 50 jobs that do not require an expensive college degree, yet helped so many people pull in more than $50k per year.  Here's the continuation of that list - you may be surprised

Awaken the possibility that you can get good at being good [Article]

David of Raptitude gives words to thoughts:
if you are to be a sane and good person, the well-being of others can be worth no less than yours. It’s the same thing.

Precision saw-blades in precision hands can make magic [Video]

I watched this video that my friend Greg shared, and had this to say at the end: 'How the hell did he do that?" A master craftsman indeed.

A homely jazz concert every Sunday afternoon [Article]

Since 1995, Marjorie Eliot has been holding jazz concerts in her apartment in Harlem every Sunday afternoon.
"It's free of charge and people just really come here to hear live jazz in intimate setting," says her son Drears. "That's the only reason to come here, to hear live jazz." 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Declutter your life: A few ideas [Article]

Leo Babuta offers a few:
How do you start [to declutter your life] when you’re facing a mountain of clutter, and another mountain of commitments, and piles of files and mail and email and other digital information? The answer became clear, as I got started: start simply. Keep it simple as you go. Simple, each step of the way.

How do you map a life? [Article]

Ordering the events of a life over a timeline is how social media & the CV do this. Cathy Haines, writing in the School of Life, wonders 
So what if we tried an experiment and mapped our life as we really experience it to be: a map without measurements? One that gives space to events according to their significance rather than their length in clock-time? 

The Blip: American Economic History on a timeline [Article]

I grew up to the adage that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold. What happens in America does have an impact on the rest of the globe's denizens. Which is why I read this article with interest.  Benjamin Wallace-Wells deciphers economist Dr. Robert Gordon's two predictions for the American economy:
Perhaps it isn't that our success is a product of the way we structured our society. The shape of our society may be far more conditional, a consequence of our success. Embedded in Gordon's data is an inquiry into entitlement: How much do we owe, culturally and politically, to this singular experience of economic growth, and what will happen if it goes away?

The owners of the future [Articles]

Jaron Lanier, author of  "Who owns the future?", says we're being enslaved by free information. He explains in this interview.

Evgeny Morozov takes the opposite view - he thinks there are many simpler ways to protect the middle classes. Pushing technology companies to provide better working conditions — it was only last year that Amazon agreed to install air conditioning in its warehouses — and closing numerous tax loopholes would be a good start. Lanier’s solution, alas, is an odd and unfortunate distraction.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Can the chocolate temptation be held at bay? [Article]

Researcher Nicola Buckland discovers evidence that smelling oranges can do the trick:
She asked women to smell fresh oranges and chocolate. Later, she told them to help themselves to the aromatic fruit and chocolate treats. It turns out that women in the study who were trying to diet ate about 60 percent less chocolate after smelling the oranges (compared with how much they ate after smelling the chocolate).

The joys & travails of travel [Article]

‘What is life, but a form of motion and a journey through a foreign world?’ - wrote George Santayana in 1964. Claire Evans is a musician, & spends a lot of time on the road, travelling. She contemplates the meaning of travel:
Travel is inherently narcissistic. Even if we’re looking to be knocked off our axis, we’re still in the business of self-improvement. People want to go to faraway places and return changed. A lot rides on this expectation. We hunt for perspective, for miraculous connections, but when these moments happen, we don’t always recognise them — or we look in the wrong places.

A tribute to European Architecture [Video]

Watch Nightvision, a kickstarter project by Luke Shepard:
Over the course of three months I journeyed with a friend through 36 cities in 21 countries with the ambition of capturing some of the greatest European structures in a new and unique way. Comprised of thousands of carefully taken photographs, strung together and stabilized in post-production, Nightvision aims to inspire appreciation for these man-made landmarks

CCR "Looking out my back door", animated [Video]

A nicely done music video, inspired by Rip Van Winkle.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A few perspective about the reasons for large-scale spying [Article]

Dave Winer articulates. Read it.
We can't change any of these things. We will have an economic collapse. The climate will disrupt our lives in unimaginable ways. And hackers will rule us. All this will happen.
Charlie Stross had a recent blog entry about this too.

George Carlin referred to this a long time ago. Will anyone listen?

Improbable Research: German male soldiers with one enlarged breast [Article]

Slapping the rifle against the chest, in the course of performing ceremonial duties, caused the enlargement of the left breast in the men, as this Guardian article exposes. The comments thread is hilarious too..

A different, powerful kind of wave [Article]

Rob Fulghum brings it to attention:
And there’s a much smaller-but-visible wave that strikes me sometimes. I don’t have a name for it.  But you will recognize it if I tell you about it.

Sicksad was sick of the UK govt's porn filter, so he built one himself! [Article]

So i hear the UK government wants to make a porn filter. About bloody time i reckon. I’m fed up of happily browsing the Internet for boobs, only to have non-porn related subject matter thrust down my face hole.
So taking inspiration from other great Internet filtering nations such as North Korea, China, Syria, Iran, Cuba, Bahrain, Belarus, Burma, Uzbekistan, Saudia Arabia and Vietnam I decided to help out the UK government and build an Internet filter that only allows pornographic material through.
Read on:

Friday, August 2, 2013

Birth to death - as told by the movies [Video]

To kick off the weekend, Birth to death, as told by movies.

Food for thought: Do you need an expensive college degree to earn a big income? [Article]

Not really, reckons Mr. Money Moustache, starting to put together a list of 50 jobs that pay over $50k a year, and which don't really need a degree (sure, it takes some work). Scoffing at manual labour? Think producing content on YouTube is a joke?

How to avoid death (or at least try!) [Article]

James Altucher draws the similarities between himself & his father over the course of their individual lives:
Spending time with people you love and who inspire you is not about making money or having fun. It’s a matter of life and death.

Can anyone learn to be a master memorizer? [Video]

In his TED talk on memory, Joshua Foer takes the audience through an evocative image that he paints, & then shares his transformation from a science writer covering the US memory championships to becoming a contestant. Training, he reckons, can make anyone into a master memorizer.  He shares a few ideas with the audience too.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The answers to my problems were always simpler than I wanted them to be. [Article]

David of Raptitude discovers a profound truth to a vexing but common problem that I can certainly relate to:
it’s almost always obvious what others should do, and less obvious what we should do ourselves. I’ve become increasingly aware of this phenomenon, both on the giving end and receiving end of advice.

A simple act of kindness saved lives [Article]

From the history books, this is one of those stories that rarely reach the world through newspapers. This is a story of two families from during WWII, a small act of kindness that started life-changing events that rippled through generations.
In 1941, a poor Polish farmwoman travelled from the countryside to Israel Rubinek's village store, but found she didn't have enough money to pay for the things she needed.

More than an apple a day [Article, Video]

Leo Babauta gave up meat to become a vegan. But as he explains, eating a vegan diet doesn't necessarily equate to a healthy diet, despite what many believe.
If you care about your health, (and less about pharma companies profits), please take the time to watch this video (which runs for an hour) by Dr. Greger called  More than an apple a day: Preventing our most common diseases.

edX's Anant Agarwal explaining MOOC's on the Colbert Report [Video]

“I don’t understand. You’re in the knowledge business in a university. Let’s say I had a shoe store, ok, and then I hired you to work at my shoe store. And you said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Let’s give the shoes away for free.’ I would fire you and then probably throw shoes at your head.” In other words, why would universities disrupt themselves and give education away at no cost?  Watch Anant Agarwal explains to Colbert