Ryan Richardson, Mask:
Like every utopian novel, Walkaway is a work of both future speculation and present-day critique. Doctorow’s portrait of Default and its ruling class of the “zottarich” – cynical and calculating types, luxuriating in slick condos, profiteering on climate chaos – is a mirror to the current regime of global finance. This is post-Great Recession fiction, drawing on Occupy Wall Street and other anti-austerity movements, with shoutouts to David Graeber and Thomas Piketty, always keeping capitalism and its cult of greed in the crosshairs…
…“There’s a reason walkaway stuff tends to be a building or two, a wasp’s nest wedged in a crack in default,” Iceweasel’s friend warns of their growing successes. “Anything over that scale goes from entertainingly weird to a threat they can burn in self-defense.” Her dire prediction comes true when walkaway scientists figure out how to simulate consciousness in a computer (Walkaway’s MacGuffin), leading immortality-obsessed zottarich to pummel the research facility. Abandoned Akron, now squatted by walkways, the homeless, and refugees – model of “a happy world of plenty salvaged from a burned husk with absentee owners” – is next to pay the price.
The walkaway response is to take the same technologies that allow them to live independently of Default and turn them against Default. 3D printers fab field rations and medkits for upcoming skirmishes. Clever weapon designs are downloaded off the darknet. Salvage drones are deployed in ambushes on the cops. Walkaway is an exercise in imagining technology, cleaved from the framework of surveillance and profit, being put instead to liberatory use. Some accuse Doctorow of techno-utopianism, but his latest book seems to rest on a simple point: tech is what we make of it. A network can censor revolt or spur it…
…Faithful to its premise, Walkaway delivers a utopia born among complex, cascading disasters. Doctorow’s vision of revolutionary struggle, when all is said and done, is rather bloody. But that should not dissuade us from the novel’s call, its challenge, to get ourselves out from under capitalism. As walkways know, it’ll take more than outrage to put an end to the disaster we are living through. We’ll need legions of people ready to build and fight for a new world, with all the creativity and utopian spirit they can muster.
Read the rest:
I am buying this and putting my other books aside.
| Eugene Wigner, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences
I guess this is the stuff that futures work is about, too. We ignore some things everyone believes are central to some issue, and focus on traits or trends others think are inconsequential, and then we can posit wildly different outcomes than the simple extrapolation from the present to an ‘obvious’ tomorrow.
This idea also echoes Thomas Kuhn’s work on scientific revolutions, where some new evidence pops up that can’t be explained by the current sets of theoretical supports, and which forces the development of new theory as Wigner sketches.
| Jordana Cepelewicz, The Man Who Wants to Rescue Infinity
Fascinating piece about Harvey Friedman, math wonk, who wants to ‘bring incompleteness and infinity out of quarantine’.
The hell of unwritten poems.
Writing down your thoughts is both necessary and harmful. It leads to eccentricity, narcissism, preserves what should be let go. On the other hand, these notes intensify the inner life, which, left unexpressed, slips through your fingers. If only I could find a better kind of journal, humbler, one that would preserve the same thoughts, the same flesh of life, which is worth saving.
Moreover the writer invents himself as a character in this form. He shapes himself from the shards of the everyday, from the truth of that daily life. Which is also a truth not to be scorned.
I like Simone Weil’s idea that writing is actually the translation of a text we already carry within us. That notion makes a heavy task lighter.
In fact, though, writing is the backbreaking work of hacking a footpath, as in a coal mine; in total darkness, beneath the earth. In poetry there are moments of illumination. A streak of light falls in the dark corridor, then the darkness slams shut overhead once more.
Collecting pebbles for a new mosaic of a world that I could love.
Poems—letters to friends and enemies, to the dead, maybe to one living person.
My poems are more my silence than my speech. Just as music is a kind of quiet. Sounds are needed only to unveil the various layers of silence.
Not only my house, the whole world is such a densely-packed trash heap of things and cultures. How to escape? Into death? But death has its own macabre and cowardly aesthetic—it threatens us with flowers and a tasteful tombstone.
The dangerous passion for absolute purity. To evaporate with the atom. Wake up!
— Anna Kamienska, from In That Great River: A Notebook, trans. Clare Cavanagh
(If only I could find a better kind of journal, humbler, one that would preserve the same thoughts, the same flesh of life, which is worth saving.)
Photosynthesis of the US corn crop. At the peak of the growing season it produces more oxygen than the Amazon Rain Forest.
The parliamentary candidates running under the banner of the newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, appear poised to win a crushing electoral majority on Sunday that extends from France’s Alpine heights to the Brittany coast and from the Mediterranean to Paris.
Yet his party’s likely sweep of the legislative elections may disguise real challenges for Mr. Macron as well as for France, as the country tentatively journeys up a path of change it has long avoided.
Given the high abstention rate in the first round of voting last Sunday, just over 15 percent of all voters actually backed Mr. Macron’s parliamentary candidates. Yet his party could ultimately win as many as 80 percent of the seats in the 577-member National Assembly.
That disparity — between his potential to push through an agenda for deep change because of his majority and the narrowness of his true popular support — could eventually spell trouble for a young and relatively untested president. Given that, Mr. Macron may have but a fleeting window to persuade the French to stick with him. The expectations are high.
A recent study of candidates for the Macron coalition found a plethora of people a lot like Ms. Hairy [profiled as candidate for office in the article, a well-educated professional].
They “represent the upper-middle class, largely those with degrees, and the problem in France is that the popular classes, the workers, the blue-collar workers, they are not represented there,” said Luc Rouban, a researcher at the Center for the Study of French Political Life at Sciences Po in Paris.
“Yet the working class represent 40 percent of the French population,” he said.
The voters who turn out for Ms. Haïry, and those who sound open to voting for her, are in many respects a bit like the candidate: driven, optimistic and high achieving, although some are far older than she is.
I expect the up versus down tensions in France will lead to serious difficulties for Macron and En Marche, which is a centrist element of the pro-capitalism, pro-globalism faction of the electorate. And a party that is aggressively trying to ‘reform’ the labor system will be involved in dismantling elements of the economy intended to protect workers, but will be positioned as holding back progress. Then he will run afoul of the working class and the socialists.
Some of the gene variants now linked with disease probably don’t cause as many problems in other environments. Consider the border between Finland and Russia, where there’s a sharp gradient in the prevalence of autoimmune disorders like celiac disease and Type 1 diabetes. As I’ve pointed out before, these conditions have become worrisomely common in Finland in recent decades, but are between one-fifth and one-sixth as common on the Russian side, despite the fact that the Russians are just as genetically predisposed to developing them.
What protects the Russians from their own genetic inheritance? Or better phrased, what makes the Finns vulnerable?
Finnish scientists think that exposure to a particular community of microbes — one that more resembles the microbiota of our less hygienic past — prevents the diseases from emerging in Russia. That’s important because at least some of the gene variants associated with autoimmune disease are probably useful; they most likely helped us battle infections in the past.
So instead of rewriting our genetic code, a better approach might be to change the interplay between our genes and environment — in this case by altering the microbes we encounter.
Damn right I’m embarrassed about Trump. In Paris this week I was terrified people would ask me about him, like I’m responsible all the garbage that washes up on the beach. So this Neil Gross piece on embarrassment is helpful:
In a 2012 paper, the psychologists Matthew Feinberg and Dacher Keltner and the sociologist Robb Willer extended Mr. [Erving] Goffman’s [Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 1956] ideas in an evolutionary direction.
[Goffman made the case that embarrassment is caused by a mismatch between who we present ourselves to be and how people perceive us.]
In their view, embarrassment is in essence a “nonverbal apology” for having screwed up a social interaction. As such, it indicates to other members of a social group that the person who’s embarrassed is sensitive to norms and committed to group well-being. Embarrassment thus belongs to a suite of “prosocial” emotions, including empathy, shame and guilt, that evolved presumably because humans vested with them were better at maintaining the group relations necessary for species survival.
In experiments, Professors Feinberg, Keltner and Willer discovered that people with a prosocial orientation — for example, those who are altruistic — tend to get more embarrassed. They also found that observers regard embarrassed individuals as committed to the good of the group and as more trustworthy.
How does all this relate to the embarrassment that 60 percent of Americans feel — not about themselves but about President Trump?
The psychologists Sören Krach and Frieder Paulus have studied vicarious embarrassment, which is when we’re embarrassed for someone else, even if that person gives no indication of being embarrassed. They showed research subjects drawings of people in embarrassing scenarios — bending down and splitting their pants, for instance. They discovered that viewing these images thrust people into an emotional state that had some of the features of personal embarrassment. Using brain-imaging devices, however, they also discovered that among the regions of people’s brains that “lit up” in these cases were those known to be centers for empathic perceptions of pain.
It’s a safe bet that few of the Americans embarrassed by President Trump are embarrassed for him, exactly, though it may be hard not to experience a twinge of vicarious embarrassment when watching video clips of him stammering incoherently in response to a reporter’s question or shoving aside the prime minister of Montenegro. The guy clearly hasn’t figured out how to act presidential, and the disjuncture between his behavior and the social role he has taken on is painful to see, even if we would disclaim empathy for him.
The more interesting suggestion, though, is that Americans embarrassed by President Trump are experiencing vicarious embarrassment not for him but for the country. They’re embarrassed that, with Mr. Trump as president, the country’s claims to virtue, leadership and moral standing ring hollow.
So the fact that I’m so deeply embarrassed by Trump means I’m an altruistic person. But that only reduces the sting a little bit.
Sarah Leonard casts some light on why progressives in the US and Europe are moving way left, over into anti-capitalist socialism country. Because the political parties that formerly stood up for the middle and working class threw that all away, and became the centrist left of the worldwide Capitalist Party.
Sarah Leonard, Why Are So Many Young Voters Falling for Old Socialists?
The post-Cold War capitalist order has failed us: Across Europe and the United States, millennials are worse off than their parents were and are too poor to start new families. In the United States, they are loaded with college debt (or far less likely to be employed without a college degree) and are engaged in precarious and non-unionized labor. Also the earth is melting.
There’s nothing inherently radical about youth. But our politics have been shaped by an era of financial crisis and government complicity. Especially since 2008, we have seen corporations take our families’ homes, exploit our medical debt and cost us our jobs. We have seen governments impose brutal austerity to please bankers. The capitalists didn’t do it by accident, they did it for profit, and they invested that profit in our political parties. For many of us, capitalism is something to fear, not celebrate, and our enemy is on Wall Street and in the City of London.
Because we came to political consciousness after 1989, we’re not instinctively freaked out by socialism. In fact, it seems appealing: In a 2016 poll conducted by Harvard, 51 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 rejected capitalism, and a third said they supported socialism. A Pew poll in 2011 showed that the same age bracket had more positive views of socialism than capitalism. What socialism actually means to millennials is in flux — more a falling out with capitalism than an adherence to one specific platform. Still, within this generation, certain universal programs — single-payer health care, public education, free college — and making the rich pay are just common sense.
We’ll have to see how this plays out as an aspect of the political reailgnment that few seem to be attuned to. We have a left wing, so-called liberal press and mainstream Democrats that continues to rant in opposition to populism out in the hinterlands, branding it as extremist right wing craziness. Likewise, we see the right wing media and ‘mainstream’ Republicans attacking Hillary and Obama, trying to unmake Obamacare and screwing up the social policies that Trump promised to keep in force for his base. Underneath all that apparent left versus right jousting, the deep realignment away from left versus right to up versus down has shaken politics to the core.
That realignment is what brought Trump to the White House, Brexit to Europe, and Marine Le Pen to a runoff in France.
And behind Leonard’s words, this realignment is animating a new generation of anti-capitalists. But they aren’t leftists: they’re downists, united in their opposition to the policies and rhetoric that keep the powerful and their machinery in place, and frames the discourse about policy to exclude those who want to redefine the stratigraphy of power and polity.
The new radicalism is downism, not trying to pull so-called leftist political parties further left. It’s time to abandon left versus right, and pull all the tribes, trials, and troubles of the bottom together, to find common cause, instead of being divided by the lies of left versus right.
I’m no longer a leftist: I’m a downist. Hopefully, more progressives like Leonard will lean into the realignment.
Plans are underway to set up the country’s first Agricultural Park at Kimamba in Kilosa District that will provide farmers with land and irrigation infrastructure in the area to improve productivity for food security and economic growth.
The Agricultural Park is an area set aside largely for agricultural activities to encourage continuation of such operations, in which farmers can rent farms for a long term tenure at reasonable cost...[more]
Julie Legault: Founder and CEO of Amino Labs Inc.
As an enthusiast and synthetic biology practitioner, what attracts me most of our field is how fast is spreading and how people from different domains start to ask questions and to get interested in what we do. In the past year, I’ve heard over and over the word ‘democratization’ of synbio, which is the idea of making synthetic biology (and science in general) more available and understandable to the lay public. This certainly is no easy task. In fact, people wonder if it is even possible, and if it is, how do we do it?
While only time will give definitive answers to these questions, today I would like to tell you the story of Julie Legault and her company Amino Labs: ‘The company pioneering accessible bioengineering in the home and school’...[more]
Leo's working hard to do something he's never done before. He's just turned one, and he doesn't know how to walk (yet).
There are no really useful books or videos on how to walk. It's something he has to figure out on his own. But instead of waiting on the couch until the day he's ready to proudly strut across the room, he's there, on the floor, every day, trying it out.
He's already discovered a hundred ways that don't work, and stumbled countless times.
But he persists.
I don't know about you, but this is precisely the way I learned how to walk as well.
In fact, it's the way I learned how to do just about everything important. By doing it.
The standards of your industry and our culture were set a long time ago. So long ago that we often forget why... we forget and then we fail to change them.
In 1934, the rules of bike racing were changed to ban recumbent bicycles. And that rule has stood for more than 80 years, because Charles Mochet made the mistake of giving his faster, safer bike to a cyclist who wasn't respected. To preserve the status of existing riders who had paid their dues, the governing bodies banned the bike forever.
All of those riders are now dead, but the rule persists.
Cars have two headlights because horse-drawn carriages had two lanterns. Of course you couldn't put a lantern in the middle, that's where the horse goes. Now, it's easy to make a bar of light, one that illuminates from edge to edge.
And jobs used to be done by men, because statistically, it's easier to find people who can lift heavy objects among the males in the population. But now, most lifting isn't heavy, it requires insight and care instead.
What else is still stuck?
Odd list, which seems like a lot of policy. What about new management models? Freelancing? Seemes very top down.
Startup Battlefield Africa, and all you startup folks out there in the region aren’t going to want to miss this.
TechCrunch is excited to be partnering with Facebook to bring our illustrious startup competition, the Startup Battlefield, to Nairobi, Kenya, later this year. The Battlefield will feature several prominent startups from the region, each vying to be crowned the most promising startup in sub-Saharan Africa...[more]
On one list identify the grievances, disrespects and bad breaks:
- People who don't like you.
- Deals that went wrong.
- Unfair expectations.
- Bad situations.
- Unfortunate outcomes.
It's all legitimate, it's all real. Don't hold back.
On the other list, write down the privileges, advantages and opportunities you have:
- The places where you get the benefit of the doubt.
- Your leverage and momentum.
- The things you see that others don't.
- What's working and what has worked.
- The resources you can tap.
- The things you know.
- People who trust you.
Now, take one list and put it in a drawer. Take the other list and tape it up on your bathroom mirror. Read the list in the drawer once a month or once a year, just to remind you that it's safe and sound. Read the other list every day.
The daily list will determine what you notice, how you interpret what you see and the story you tell yourself about what's happening and what will happen.
You get to pick which list goes where.
Picking your list is possibly the most important thing you'll do all day.
There’s no end to male chauvinism, apparently. The Senator Kamala Harris example, where she was interrupted during questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is just a recent example. Just another Wednesday in America:
Researchers consistently find that women are interrupted more and that men dominate conversations and decision-making, in corporate offices, town meetings, school boards and the United States Senate.
Victoria L. Brescoll, associate professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, published a paper in 2012 showing that men with power talked more in the Senate, which was not the case for women. Another study, “Can an Angry Woman Get Ahead?” concluded that men who became angry were rewarded, but that angry women were seen as incompetent and unworthy of power in the workplace.
Indeed, Jason Miller, a former adviser to President Trump’s campaign and a CNN commentator, described Senator Harris as “hysterical” and shouting during her questioning of Mr. Sessions. At times, Senator Harris cut Mr. Sessions off, but she spoke in an even tone.
I can’t say I’m surprised, since the biggest of my 2017 predictions, back in January, was that Amazon would buy Slack. I bet then it would take more money, but the word is $9 billion, which would be Amazon’s largest acquisition, yet.
Message Startup Slack Said to Draw Interest From Amazon.com | Alex Sherman, Eric Newcomer, and Alex Barinka
Corporate chatroom startup Slack Technologies Inc. has received recent inquiries about a potential takeover from technology companies including Amazon.com Inc., people with knowledge of the situation said, a deal that would be the internet-commerce giant’s biggest ever.
San Francisco-based Slack could be valued at at least $9 billion in a sale, the people said. An agreement isn’t assured and discussions may not go further, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.
Buying Slack would help Seattle-based Amazon bolster its enterprise services as it seeks to compete with rivals like Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. The company’s cloud-hosting unit, Amazon Web Services, in February unveiled a paid-for video and audio conferencing service – Amazon Chime – that lets users chat and share content.
Representatives for Amazon.com and Slack declined to comment.
I bet it will happen, because Amazon’s capital could provide the leverage Butterfield wants to compete with Microsoft, Google, and other players. And they could build an entire suite around Slack, instead of trying to fit it in as an afterthought at Google Cloud or Office 365. And from Amazon’s viewpoint, why not build yet another billion dollar a year business?
Yes, Amazon has launched Chime – with chatrooms – but that could become more focused on realtime communications – video, etc – integrated into Slack. More interesting is the question of what other companies to buy, to attack the enterprise work technologies stack?
Akosua Afriyie-Kumi knew nothing about weaving, let alone running a business, when she stumbled across a community in northern Ghana twisting raffia into baskets to sell on the roadside.
But the 31-year-old Ghanian, who had studied fashion in London, knew she'd spotted an opportunity.
She set up AAKS, making ritzy raffia bags that combine traditional weaving techniques with modern designs. Three years on, her bags are on sale in some Urban Outfitters stores in the U.S.
It's well known that the team that wins an Olympic relay isn't the fastest at running or swimming—it's the team that handles the handoffs the best.
The same thing is true of your job. The tasks could be done by many people, but someone who is great at your job embraces the mental effort necessary to do task switching, to read between the lines, to keep many balls going at the same time. Strategy and tactics both.
Sometimes, we think that these are the things that get in the way of our work. In fact, they are the work.
Writing a sentence is easy. Deciding what to write in the next sentence is hard.
Making decisions is exhausting. It involves perception and analysis and most of all, taking responsibility. Pretending to lead and manage is a trivial task, because there's no, "what if?"
It turns out that the mental load of management is primarily around experiencing failure.
Actual failure, sure, but mostly potential failure. Imagining failure in advance. All the current things that could go wrong. And more important, the things you're not doing that will be obvious oversights later. Our brains work overtime to cycle through these, to learn to see around corners, to have the guts to delegate without doing the work ourselves (even though that creates more imagined points of failure). Scan, touch, consider, analyze, repeat.
The other thing that's a huge load: Worry. Unlike all the things I've already mentioned, worry isn't actually part of your job. Worry (expressed through non-productive pessimistic cycles over things out of your control) is antithetical to the work you've agreed to do.
Clear your cache of worry.
It'll free up your processor to focus on the useful stuff.
Portfolio managers seek investments that promise high returns and low correlations with their other positions. For the past few years, crypto currencies have demonstrated these qualities better than other major asset classes, such as US equities, US bonds, gold, US real estate, oil, and emerging market currencies.More here
So professional investors have noticed… but much skepticism remains and there’s little understanding of what, exactly, is driving this value. Some arguments justify these values by pointing to the utility that crypto currencies provide, such as enabling cross-border payments, tracking assets, or hedging inflation.
My position is that, while these arguments are true, they miss the forest for the trees. The way to understand crypto currencies is to think of them as digital monetary commodities, and these examples of utility are part of a larger story.
The larger story is the emergence of digital monetary commodities as a competition to become a better form of money.
The late Jay Levinson created the Guerrilla Marketing series. I was lucky enough to work with him early in the arc, producing four of them.
One of the core tenets of the books was that marketing was no longer merely the work of giant organizations with giant budgets. That in fact, it was possible to spread an idea with care, guts and effort, not just with money. We wanted people, particularly small businesses, to see that they could be marketers too.
Well, that's no longer a problem. In fact, it's swung so far the other way that we have a new problem.
When marketing was expensive, it was done with care. Not only by committees that worked hard to keep things consistent, but by creators who thought deeply about their long-term reputation.
Today, because noise is everywhere, we're all surrounded by a screaming horde, an open-outcry marketplace of ideas where the race to be heard appears to be the only race that matters. And so subtlety flies out the window, along with a desire to engage for the long haul. Just a troop of gorillas, all arguing over the last remaining banana.
It turns out that there's a useful response... to ignore them. To stick to the work, to the smallest possible audience, to building something worth talking about.
What actually works in a noisy environment isn't more noise—it's the challenging work of earning the benefit of people telling people.
We don't need more hustle. We need more care and generosity.
The introduction of algorithms and AI into the justice system has not been smooth, so far:
The criminal justice system is becoming automated. At every stage — from policing and investigations to bail, evidence, sentencing and parole — computer systems play a role. Artificial intelligence deploys cops on the beat. Audio sensors generate gunshot alerts. Forensic analysts use probabilistic software programs to evaluate fingerprints, faces and DNA. Risk-assessment instruments help to determine who is incarcerated and for how long.
Technological advancement is, in theory, a welcome development. But in practice, aspects of automation are making the justice system less fair for criminal defendants.
The root of the problem is that automated criminal justice technologies are largely privately owned and sold for profit. The developers tend to view their technologies as trade secrets. As a result, they often refuse to disclose details about how their tools work, even to criminal defendants and their attorneys, even under a protective order, even in the controlled context of a criminal proceeding or parole hearing.
the algorithms used to generate probabilistic matches for latent fingerprint analysis, and to search ballistic information databases for firearm and cartridge matches, are treated as trade secrets and remain inaccessible to independent auditors.
This is a new and troubling feature of the criminal justice system. Property interests do not usually shield relevant evidence from the accused. And it’s not how trade secrets law is supposed to work, either. The most common explanation for why this form of intellectual property should exist is that people will be more likely to invest in new ideas if they can stop their business competitors from free riding on the results. The law is designed to stop business competitors from stealing confidential commercial information, not to justify withholding information from the defense in criminal proceedings.
Defense advocacy is a keystone of due process, not a business competition. And defense attorneys are officers of the court, not would-be thieves. In civil cases, trade secrets are often disclosed to opposing parties subject to a protective order. The same solution should work for those defending life or liberty.
The Supreme Court is currently considering hearing a case, Wisconsin v. Loomis, that raises similar issues. If it hears the case, the court will have the opportunity to rule on whether it violates due process to sentence someone based on a risk-assessment instrument whose workings are protected as a trade secret. If the court declines the case or rules that this is constitutional, legislatures should step in and pass laws limiting trade-secret safeguards in criminal proceedings to a protective order and nothing more.
The future of the criminal justice system may depend on it.
I did an interview with a leading Turkish vlogger. He sent me his work (in Turkish) and of course, the thing I noticed was this:
76 people who saw this interview took the time to give it a thumbs down. The interviewer flew across the world and shared his work for free, but 76 people hated it enough to affirmatively vote it down.
Of course, 1% of 108,000 is about a thousand. This is less than a tenth of that.
In fact, 1% of the 10,000 people who voted it up is 100. It's even less than that.
In just about everything we do, 99% approval is astonishing.
Because online, our lizard brain goes straight to the tiny speck, the little number that's easy to magnify.
Ignore it. Shun the non-believers and ship your work.
Robert Tombs, cited by Steven Erlanger in For Britain, Political Stability Is a Quaint Relic
Setting the stage for political realignment: first, widespread uncertainty about everything.
Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” It is similar to the French phrase Raison d'être. Everyone, according to Japanese culture, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is important to the cultural belief that discovering one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life. Examples include work, hobbies and raising children.
The term ikigai compounds two Japanese words: iki (wikt:生き?) meaning “life; alive” and kai (甲斐) “(an) effect; (a) result; (a) fruit; (a) worth; (a) use; (a) benefit; (no, little) avail” (sequentially voiced as gai) “a reason for living [being alive]; a meaning for [to] life; what [something that] makes life worth living; a raison d'etre”.
In the culture of Okinawa, ikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”; that is, a reason to enjoy life. In a TED Talk, Dan Buettner suggested ikigai as one of the reasons people in the area had such long lives.
The word ikigai is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. Secondly, the word is used to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It’s not necessarily linked to one’s economic status or the present state of society. Even if a person feels that the present is dark, but they have a goal in mind, they may feel ikigai. Behaviours that make us feel ikigai are not actions we are forced to take—these are natural and spontaneous actions.
In the article named Ikigai — jibun no kanosei, kaikasaseru katei (“Ikigai: the process of allowing the self’s possibilities to blossom”) Kobayashi Tsukasa says that “people can feel real ikigai only when, on the basis of personal maturity, the satisfaction of various desires, love and happiness, encounters with others, and a sense of the value of life, they proceed toward self-realization.”
Four hundred years ago, almost no one on Earth had tasted coffee. It was too difficult to move things a few thousand miles.
A hundred years ago, if you wanted a cold drink in the summer or needed to ice an injured knee, you were largely out of luck. It took millions of years of cultural and technical evolution to get to the point where people had a freezer in their house.
The industrial revolution was mighty indeed. It paved the Earth, created the middle class and changed everything. And it was a powerhouse for generations, incrementally changing what hadn't been changed yet.
The TV revolution followed, introducing mass marketing as a force that could change our culture.
Then, the 60s brought the computer revolution, which involved large devices capable of sorting, calculating and processing things that were previously unsorted.
We're living right now in the connection revolution, one powered by the internet, in which people connect to people, computers connect to computers and our culture changes ever faster, daily.
The next two revolutions are right around the corner:
The biology revolution, which has had some fits and starts, will transform our bodies and our planet. Once computers are able to see, understand and modify living things, the same acceleration of the last three revolutions will kick in.
And the AI revolution, in which we engage with computers as much as with each other, is showing itself now too.
Faster, ever faster. Moore's law ratchets technology, technology changes the culture, the culture changes the economy and it continues.
Revolutions are impossible, until they're not, and then they seem totally normal.
Iced coffee, anyone?
|I’m thinking it’s a||sign|
|that the freckles in our||eyes are mirror images|
|and||when we kiss they’re||perfectly aligned|
|And I have to specu-||late|
|that god himself did||make us into corresponding|
|shapes like puzzle||pieces from the clay|
|and||true, it may seem like a||stretch|
|but it’s thoughts like this that||catch my troubled head|
|when you’re a-||way, when I am||missing you to death|
|when you are out there on the||road|
|for several weeks of||shows|
|and when you scan the radi-||o|
|I hope this||song will guide you home|
|they will see us waving from such||great heights|
|come down now,||they’ll||say-e-||yay|
|but||everything looks perfect from far||away|
|I tried my best to||leave|
|this all on your||machine|
|but the persistent beat, it|
|sounded thin||upon listening|
|and that frankly will not||fly|
|you will hear the shrillest||highs|
|and lowest lows with the win-||dows down|
|when||this is guiding you home|
|they will see us waving from such||great heights|
|come down||now, they’ll||say-e-||yay|
|but||everything looks perfect from far||away|
|they will see us waving from such||great heights|
|come||down now, they’ll||say-e-||yay|
|but||everything looks perfect from far||away|
I looked at a lot of versions of this tab, and no one else captured the ‘stay-e-yay’s in this song.
Bold.io is headed for the deadpool.
The tool was a sort-of entepriseyish tool for writing bloggish posts. Never really toed the line in comparison with Dropbox Paper, Quip (acquired by Salesforce), Notion.so. For example, they never implemented checklists, and therefore never got into the ‘work processing’ spectrum of tools.
Psychologist Johnn Kounios was prompted to write in support of the eureka moment by Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard commencement speech where Zuck pooh-poohed the idea of the lone genius hit by a blinding insight. Zuck may not be that sort of thinker, but many are:
One day in 1843, for instance, the Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton was strolling along the Royal Canal in Dublin when he had a sudden insight. As he later described it, “an electric circuit seemed to close; and a spark flashed forth.” Hamilton’s epiphany concerned so-called complex numbers. His idea, which took the form of a mathematical equation, would become (and remains today) an important tool for engineers and physicists. Hamilton immediately chiseled the equation on a stone bridge spanning the canal.
As this anecdote suggests, the eureka moment is not “a dangerous lie.” On the contrary, it is a real and benevolent force of innovation and progress.
Many advancements have resulted from a single bolt of understanding. Other examples include the geneticist Barbara McClintock’s comprehension of translocation of genetic material; Paul McCartney’s hearing the melody of “Yesterday” in his head as he awoke one morning; the pharmacologist Otto Loewi’s realization about how nerve cells communicate with one another; and the Buddha’s insight into the nature of human suffering.
Laboratory research backs up the historical accounts. Experiments that the cognitive psychologist Roderick W. Smith and I conducted in the 1990s by showed that a person can solve a problem — say, an anagram — by having the solution become available to him or her suddenly and in a complete chunk: Insights do sometimes spring to mind in their final, turnkey form. More recent research has shown that these “aha” solutions tend to be more reliable than consciously, methodically worked-out answers.
Brain-imaging studies from my laboratory and the lab of my collaborator Mark Beeman show that eureka moments are associated with a distinctive burst of high-frequency activity in the brain’s right temporal lobe. This burst of activity is preceded by a brief “brain blink” during which a person is momentarily less aware of his or her environment. Neither of these neural patterns is detectable when a person solves a problem analytically.
Some people are naturally more likely to have eureka moments than other people — their brains seem to operate in a slightly different fashion — but almost everyone has these creative insights from time to time. It’s even possible to cultivate them. Studies have revealed factors that can nudge a person’s brain into a state that is amenable to eureka moments. One of the most potent, as my colleagues and I have demonstrated, is emotion: People tend to have creative insights when they are in a positive, relaxed mood. When they are anxious, their thinking narrows and becomes analytical and cautious, which can help them to critique and refine ideas.
Though eureka-style insights appear suddenly in your awareness, it’s important to stress that they don’t come into existence from nothing. They usually consist of new connections between things that you already know. Your ability to make new connections is limited — or empowered — by the amount of knowledge you have. So if your goal is to be struck by new ideas, you first have to do the relevant homework in whatever field you hope to be innovative.
It’s also worth noting that although creative insight and analytical thinking are distinct modes of thought, they complement each other. Some eureka moments present insights that are in need of more systematic elaboration before they can be implemented. It may take several insights, each followed by analytical work, to produce, refine and assemble all the ideas necessary to complete a complex project.
Likewise, you may want to start approaching a problem with analytic thinking and then, if you reach an impasse, take a break to do something less demanding. Recent research suggests that your mental work on the problem may continue unconsciously and later produce a eureka moment. Alternating between these modes of thought can be a powerful way to generate, critique and perfect your ideas, whether they pertain to an everyday problem or the next big thing.
I often use what seems like ‘procrastination’ to allow my brain to work on deep problems while I read the news, bookmark, reorganize my to-do list, correspond. I let my mind wander, and then later, I find the deep work easier when I return to it. As that ‘recent research’ mentioned above shows (by Benjamin Baird and his colleagues):
engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind to wander may facilitate creative problem solving.
Metafluidics was built to provide a home for digital design files and all of the other information necessary to reproduce or remix a microfluidic device. Please create a profile for yourself and peruse the repository! There are devices and parts for you to make, and also a simple interface for you to add your own. We hope that this repository will inspire both veteran microfluidic experts and a whole new generation microfluidic makers and users.
Our national faith so far has been: “There’s always more.” Our true religion is a sort of autistic industrialism. People of intelligence and ability seem now to be genuinely embarrassed by any solution to any problem that does not involve high technology, a great expenditure of energy, or a big machine. Thus an X marked on a paper ballot no longer fulfills our idea of voting. One problem with this state of affairs is that the work now most needing to be done — that of neighborliness and caretaking — cannot be done by remote control with the greatest power on the largest scale. A second problem is that the economic fantasy of limitlessness in a limited world calls fearfully into question the value of our monetary wealth, which does not reliably stand for the real wealth of land, resources, and workmanship but instead wastes and depletes it.
That human limitlessness is a fantasy means, obviously, that its life expectancy is limited. There is now a growing perception, and not just among a few experts, that we are entering a time of inescapable limits. We are not likely to be granted another world to plunder in compensation for our pillage of this one. Nor are we likely to believe much longer in our ability to outsmart, by means of science and technology, our economic stupidity. The hope that we can cure the ills of industrialism by the homeopathy of more technology seems at last to be losing status. We are, in short, coming under pressure to understand ourselves as limited creatures in a limited world.
This constraint, however, is not the condemnation it may seem. On the contrary, it returns us to our real condition and to our human heritage, from which our self-definition as limitless animals has for too long cut us off. Every cultural and religious tradition that I know about, while fully acknowledging our animal nature, defines us specifically as humans — that is, as animals (if the word still applies) capable of living not only within natural limits but also within cultural limits, self-imposed. As earthly creatures, we live, because we must, within natural limits, which we may describe by such names as “earth” or “ecosystem” or “watershed” or “place.” But as humans, we may elect to respond to this necessary placement by the self-restraints implied in neighborliness, stewardship, thrift, temperance, generosity, care, kindness, friendship, loyalty, and love.
In our limitless selfishness, we have tried to define “freedom,” for example, as an escape from all restraint. But, as my friend Bert Hornback has explained in his book The Wisdom in Words, “free” is etymologically related to “friend.” These words come from the same Indo-European root, which carries the sense of “dear” or “beloved.” We set our friends free by our love for them, with the implied restraints of faithfulness or loyalty. And this suggests that our “identity” is located not in the impulse of selfhood but in deliberately maintained connections.”
- Wendell Berry, Faustian Economics