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Why everyone should blog

Everyone should blog. You do not have to publish 500 words a day. You do not even need to post at all. In fact, writing comes easier when you can write for yourself, in private.

Use a smartphone journal like the Day One app or the ever popular Morning Pages Journal where you write by hand. When it comes to blogging effectively, you have to be a little vulnerable. Don’t tell all but don’t hide everything either, especially if your advice will benefit the lives of other people.

“Use your blog to connect. Use it as you. Don’t “network” or “promote.” Just talk.” — Neil GaimanClick To Tweet

I have been blogging for years (btw, I recently wrote a blog post about how to start one on WordPress) It is harder to get an audience who cares to read your stuff today than it has ever been. You have to assume nobody wants to read your shit because he or she is busy or would rather be social networking or playing games instead. However, for those readers who do read your blog frequently, they have subscribed for a reason.

Luis Suarez has been blogging since 2002 and recently offered some advice about using your blog to reflect the real you.

“It’s all about having a meaningful presence and how you work your way to make it happen, to leave a legacy behind, to share your thoughts and ideas others can learn from just like you do yourself with other people’s vs. pretending to be who you are not…Just be yourself with your own thoughts and share them along! It is what we all care for, eventually. The rest is just noise.”

People like to say blogging is dead. But not only are new platforms emerging like Medium, but blogging is just writing. Words will always be a powerful way to say something meaningful, whether it is in print, online, graffiti, or the walls of a cave.

I started this blog so I could show the world what interests me. It is no surprise that what you read here is information I learned from other blogs. In other words, blogging acts like a canvass where you synthesize, remix and interpret in your words. Above all, blogging is free, what Seth Godin calls “the last great online bargain.” Blogging gives you a voice, and it is an excellent incentive to think in a world that just wants us to consume.

Blogging is a bicep curl for the brain. Write daily, and practice the art of conviction.

'Everyone should write a blog, every day, even if no one reads it. There’s countless reasons why it’s a good idea and I can’t think of one reason it’s a bad idea.' — Seth GodinClick To Tweet

PS. If you’re looking to start a blog, I highly recommend doing so on WordPress. You can also choose a one-click WordPress installation using Bluehost.

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The sorcery of screens

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The internet never ends. Mountains of content are piling up as we speak.

The hook is neither in our control or that of technology. We pull the lever, the slot machine spits out a variable reward.

It’s impossible to disentangle ourselves from the mindlessness of a ludic loop. With more data, the machine grows smarter and more manipulative.

But we can’t fault our own blindness, zombie scrolling in the sorcery of screens.

All the while, the trees are abundant, pumping oxygen into nature and encouraging humans to rejoin the broken.

Tethered to the magic of screens, we feed the data distilleries with our oil and reap cheap entertainment pellets in return. There is no quid pro quo. We are competent and conscious only in our dreams, awaiting that return to an archaic form of life.

Guilted into trying

Things are never perfect the first time around, a bit better than second, and mind a few tweaks, they seem be just about right in the third and fourth efforts.

The fear of failure is good quality control. It ensures that in the process of disrupting ourselves, we appreciate the challenge of ascendancy.

Riding the wave of uncertainty

The attempt to blaze our own trail is never easy. Being misunderstood for long periods of time dampens the mood. But there will always be more guilt in not trying.

Dreams require a ceaseless imperative of movement, the confidence to tread into unknown territory regardless of faith and doubt.

Philip Roth (RIP): ‘Writing turns you into someone who’s always wrong’

“Writing turns you into someone who’s always wrong. The illusion that you may get it right is the perversity that draws you on.”

Philip Roth, American Pastoral

In 2016, Roth donated 3,500 of his books to his hometown library in Newark, his ‘other home.’ Among those were the fifteen books Roth said influenced his life the most.

How Japan uses blue LED light panels on station platforms to prevent suicides

Tokyo runs 13 billion passenger trips each year, making its train stations some of the busiest in the world.

Using sound design and various other psychological nudges, rail stations are able to bring some order to the chaos. One of the most effective tactics has been its use of blue LED mood lighting to prevent suicide attempts.

Photo by Allan Richarz/City Lab

Writes Tokyo resident Allan Richarz for Citylab:

According to a study by researchers at the University of Tokyo published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2013, data analyzed over a 10-year period shows an 84 percent decline in the number of suicide attempts at stations where blue lights are installed.

Operating on the theory that exposure to blue light has a calming effect on one’s mood, rail stations in Japan began installing these LED panels as a suicide-prevention measure in 2009. They are strategically located at the ends of each platform—typically the most-isolated and least-trafficked area, and accordingly, the point from which most platform jumps occur. Some stations, such as Shin-Koiwa Station in Tokyo, bolster their LED regime with colored roof panels, allowing blue-tinted sunlight to filter down on to platforms.

Whether it comes to the iPhone or infrastructure, Richarz’s piece is yet another reminder how everyday design can impact our lives.

The British Museum adds Mo Salah’s boots to its collection

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Image via the British Museum

In preparation for the Champions League final this Saturday, the British Museum has decided to include the football boots of Mo Salah in the Egyptian collection.

The Egyptian star scored the most goals in a Premier League season with 32. The museum’s curator said the boots were “a modern Egyptian icon, performing in the UK, with a truly global impact.” However, others like Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass finds the opportunism inappropriate, saying “If the British Museum wanted to honor Salah, it should have built a museum for him or put the shoe in a special room.”

You be the judge.

Below are some of Salah’s top goals from the 2017 – 2018 season.

Assume everything and nothing

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We suffer from a surfeit of choice. Stuck in indecision, we end up doing nothing at all. Perhaps intertia is the best solution in these dizzying times. Instead of forcing the issue, we let nature take its course.

But more often than not, life doesn’t move unless we do. It begs for action and a subsequent reaction. Even more, in doing, we realize how much more is invisible.

Passivity and dynamism coexist

Surrounded by a morass of distraction machines, it’s no wonder we permit the frustration of ‘what’s next’ chip away at our patience. “Patience is the key to joy,” wrote Rumi.

Staring into nature’s green space may not solve our problem, but it will help us think expansively. We can assume that the best answer lies beyond us. That is until we realize that the answer cramped inside us all along.

The wait never means never if we never get tired of waiting it out right now.

The search continues.

The elasticity of time

Benedict Cumberbatch reads an extract from Carlo Rovelli’s book The Order of Time:

I stop and do nothing. Nothing happens. I am thinking about nothing. I listen to the passing of time. This is time, familiar and intimate. We are taken by it. The rush of seconds, hours, years that hurls us towards life then drags us towards nothingness … We inhabit time as fish live in water. Our being is being in time. Its solemn music nurtures us, opens the world to us, troubles us, frightens and lulls us. The universe unfolds into the future, dragged by time, and exists according to the order of time. What could be more universal and obvious than this flowing?

In a physics laboratory, a clock on a table and another on the ground run at different speeds. Which tells the time? The question is meaningless. We might just as well ask what is most real – the value of sterling in dollars or the value of dollars in sterling. There are two times that change relative to each other. Neither is truer than the other. But there are not just two times. Times are legion: a different one for every point in space. The single quantity “time” melts into a spiderweb of times. We do not describe how the world evolves in time: we describe how things evolve in local time, and how local times evolve relative to each other.

Time is always moving at different speeds, a subjective interpretation.

It only takes a few micrograms of LSD to expand our experience of time to an epic and magical scale. “How long is forever?” asks Alice. “Sometimes, just one second,” replies the White Rabbit. There are dreams lasting an instant in which everything seems frozen for an eternity. Time is elastic in our personal experience of it. Hours fly by like minutes, and minutes are oppressively slow, as if they were centuries.

Before Einstein told us that it wasn’t true, how the devil did we get it into our heads that time passes everywhere at the same speed? It was certainly not our direct experience of the passage of time that gave us the idea that time elapses at the same rate, always and everywhere.

Dear Sheeple, are you part of the herd?

Each individual reduces danger to itself by moving to the center of the group. The herd appears as a unit, but its function emerges from the uncoordinated behavior of self-serving individuals.

We copy others out of safety, thinking that it’s better to conform rather than be ostracized. So like lemmings, we do whatever else is doing, including following the same people like everyone else.

But the center of normality, the standard, is flattening. There’s no longer one size fits all. The internet leveled the playing field for all niche creators and interests while perpetuating the mass.

So while Beyonce trends across the world after dropping a new track, the bedroom musician who makes ambient music strikes a chord for his or her 1,000 devoted fans.

A purple cow is too interesting to ignore. So were Darwin’s finches which thrived on their own uniqueness.

The rest of us can continue to jump through hoops. But then who’s in charge?

Why sitting is bad for you, animated

Sitting is the new smoking. While that claim may be a bit exaggerated, it is an effective reminder to remind ourselves to take our body for a walk.

The more than 360 joints inside our bodies are also ample evidence that we are built to stand up and move. And while more offices are including stand up desks and other mobility devices, the sedentary lifestyle still dominates.

Sitting for long periods of time reduces overall blood flow, particularly the oxygen that gets pushed via bloodstream through the lungs to the brain.

So, set yourself a reminder to get up every half hour and move around. But beware of text neck.

ORCAA, a logo to certify organic algorithms

“The internet is a propaganda machine,” writes author Cathy O’Neil in her book Weapons of Math Destruction where she criticizes the algorithms which have come to disrupt society and politics.

Her latest project ORCAA, O’Neil Risk Consulting and Algorithmic Auditing, offers services to companies that promise to maintain a more honest algorithm that unlike Facebook, doesn’t sacrifice private data to maximize revenue.

“People don’t really check that things are working,” she tell Fast Company. “They don’t even know how to ask the question.”

For the logo, Cathy O’Neil requested the designer Katie Falkenberg make it look “fat and fierce.” I think they just about nailed it.

Right now, the seal is a simple ring design with ORCAA’s killer whale logo and text that reads, “Algorithm audited for accuracy, bias, and fairness,” with the date. Falkenberg hopes to one day update it so it gets timestamped from the date it’s uploaded to a company’s website. Because algorithms are constantly changing, Falkenberg wants the seal to let users know when an algorithm was last certified. O’Neil says algorithms should be regularly audited–perhaps once every two years or so, depending on the complexity of the code. Falkenberg also hopes to link the seal to O’Neil’s website so users can understand exactly what it means when they see it.

Question the algorithms

Michael Pollan goes tripping on psychedelics for his new book

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

That’s the short and sweet dietary advice offered by journalist
Michael Pollan. But after writing Cooked, now he’s back with a new challenge: psychedelics.

Pollan’s autobiography on his first-hand experience with LSD and mushrooms are sure to interest people once more. He tells the Financial Times:

“There is a reason this book came into my life at this time,” he says. The author was turning 60, and felt the need to break mental habits, to “shake up the snow globe”: “taking the drugs and writing the book came from the same impulse: to try something new”.

Despite one bad experience smoking venom of the Sonoran Desert Frog, most of his trips were like enhanced meditations.

The highlight was going through “ego-dissolution”. Ego is, in many ways, the villain of Pollan’s book — a vigilant, tyrannical force that gets things done and looks after one’s interests, but is fearful and prevents “a fusion of the personal self into a larger whole”. As he writes in How to Change Your Mind, on mushrooms Pollan felt “a merging with other people, with nature . . . I realised that the ground of your ego is not the only ground on which you can stand. And that was a mind-blowing idea.” Channelling Aldous Huxley, he felt that “a door . . . opened for me on to a realm of human experience that for 60 years had been closed”.

In addition to seeking his own personal ‘reboot,’ Pollan’s other ambition was to shake up the stigma around psychedelic therapy and microdosing popularized in Silicon Valley. Keep in mind that Steve Jobs said that taking LSD was one of the “two or three most important things” he did in life.

While Pollan is not advocating for the legalization of LDS and other potent drugs, his experience suggests that their mental benefits are worthy of more research.

RIP Bill Gold, one of the best movie poster artists of all-time

RIP Bill Gold, considered one of the best movie poster artists of all-time. Below are a couple snippets from the obituary in the New York Times but the whole article is worth reading.

Long before poster artists turned to photography and computer-generated images in the 1980s and ’90s, illustrators like Mr. Gold billboarded movies with freehand drawings, based on scripts and first screen prints, that hinted at plots and moods and mysteries, without giving away too much — priming audiences for love, betrayal, jealousy, murder.

“Classic movie posters are memorable; they are held in as much affection as the movies themselves,” Lars Trodson wrote on the film website The Roundtable in 2009. “When a classic movie is matched by a classic poster, you’re held in the thrall of a distinct and pleasurable memory. The poster image becomes part of the movie experience, and is, in the end, another of the reasons why movies are so essential to us.”

LWLies_2018-May-21 1bill gold movie posterLWLies_2018-May-21

(h/t Little White Lies)

Tom Wolfe: ‘Logos are strictly a vanity industry’

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In 1972, Tom Wolfe criticized companies for creating logos for no other reason but to look modern:

The abstract total-design logo is the most marvelous fraud that the American graphic arts have ever perpetrated upon American business. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, these abstract logos, which a company (Chase Manhattan, Pan Am, Winston Sprocket, Kor Ban Chemical) is supposed to put on everything from memo pads to the side of its fifty-story building, make absolutely no impact–conscious or unconscious–upon its customers or the general public, except insofar as they create a feeling of vagueness and confusion….Yet millions continue to be poured into the design of them. Why? Because the conversion to a total-design abstract logo format somehow makes it possible for the head of the corporation to tell himself: “I’m modern, up-to-date, a man of the future. I’ve streamlined this old baby.” Why else would they have their companies pour $30,000, $50,000, $100,000 into the concoction of symbols that any student at Pratt could, and would gladly, give him for $125 plus a couple of lunches at the Trattoria, or even the Zum-Zum? The answer: if the fee doesn’t run into five figures, he doesn’t feel streamlined. Logos are strictly a vanity industry, and all who enter the industry should be merciless cynics if they wish to guarantee satisfaction.

To which Mark Wilson at FastCoDesign adds his two cents:

I can’t top Tom Wolfe–but I’d add just two more observations to his own:

1. Paying a Pratt student $35 to make a logo is. . .pretty much what Nike did to create the swoosh in 1971, the year before this criticism was printed. Wolfe surely would not have heard of the tiny Oregon shoe company yet, meaning his criticism was, at least partially, prophetic.

2. You could replace “logo” with almost any overrated trend and “business” with “the American people,” and this whole excerpt still sings. Try “fancy hamburger” or “wide leg pant.” Wolfe makes an almost algebraic argument in this passage that any product that one must rub their chin whilst critiquing is almost surely a fraud.

Of course, logos are ubiquitous. Branding is critical. We think in logos. We associate items with certain brands.

Businesses will hop at any chance to flash their latest logo on stationery, a building, football club jerseys, whatever, to impress. No siren nor Jumpman goes unnoticed.