‘Walking . . . is how the body measures itself against the earth.’ 👣

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Photos by Wells Baum

“Walking . . . is how the body measures itself against the earth.”

― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

With our feet on terra firma, we all walk in our unusual way. 

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Newsletter: The end of theory 🤔

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Hi everyone, below is a list of links worth checking out this week.

web gems

  1. “Marketing is knowing how to communicate what’s special about what you’ve made to the right people.” In this video, author Ryan Holiday explains why artists should take responsibility for both making and marketing their own work. Creative side = business side.

  2. Red was considered the world’s “first color” — “the basic color of all ancient peoples” — before the 12th century writes historian Michel Pastoureau before the color blue gave it some competition. While blue initially represented a “hot” color, it came to represent pacification and peace after the 14th century.

    + Speaking of color consciousness, we celebrated #WorldEmojiDay this week. The Museum of Modern Art holds the original 176 emoji, designed by artist Shigetaka Kurita.

  3. “Over 40% of our creative ideas come when we give ourselves a break.” So give your brain some rest. Says Lin Manuel Miranda “A good idea doesn’t come when you’re doing a million things. The good idea comes in the moment of rest. It comes in the shower. It comes when you’re doodling or playing trains with your son. It’s when your mind is on the other side of things.”

  4. Check out this excellent piece from The Verge on how How Artsy finally convinced galleries to sell art online.

  5. “Stare at the world, not at your model,” warns MIT economics professor Arnold Kling in his review of Richard Bookstaber’s book The End of Theory“The world could be changing right now in ways that will blindside you down the road.” Buyer’s beware.

New Track on loop

Deep Summer (Burial Remix)

Digging in the crates

Barrington Levy ‎– Murderer (1984)

Thought of the week

“There’s a whole category of people who miss out by not allowing themselves to be weird enough.” — Alain de Botton

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Wells Baum (@bombtune)


This is my daily collection of interesting reads and new music. I spend a lot of time digging the web for cool stuff and remixing them here. If you dig the blog, please consider making a donation or buying a book. A cup of coffee to helping out with hosting goes a long way.

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The taste makers

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via giphy

 “We are just beginning to scratch the surface of what happens when a molecule binds with the tongue, and then all of the biochemical events that happen after that to get a perception. If you imagine a domino trail, we’ve knocked off maybe four or five dominoes, and have a thousand more.” Taste receptors are blunt instruments. With taste alone, one cannot distinguish a grape lollipop from a watermelon one; coffee is like hot water with a bitter aftertaste, and Coke a bland sugary solution. The limitations of taste are unsurprising when one considers its evolutionary purpose. Our biological progenitors, living in the wilderness, needed to know only what was worth eating and what wasn’t. If something tasted sweet, there was a good chance that it provided energy; saltiness suggested the presence of minerals; sourness indicated the level of ripeness, and bitterness the presence of poison.

Read The Taste Makers: The secret world of the flavor factory

The placebo effect is real


Did you know that putting a pinch of sea salt in water will help curb your appetite?

More often than not, such hacks work because of the placebo effect, the oldest medicine in the world.

More often than not, such hacks work because of the placebo effect, the oldest medicine in the world.

Placebo tricks you into thinking something works when it’s really your belief at play. The mind willfully dictates the body.

Placebo also demonstrates the power of using our inner narrative to manipulate real world results. It is fictional confidence at play. But it also means we can control our feelings with a little bit of storytelling.

The mind has the capacity to influence the future by changing your current thoughts and actions. The placebo effect is, therefore, a choice; it one hell of a drug!

Learning to see again

Video by Wells Baum

Once Paul finally sat down, he made an effort to scan his body and feel his feet touch the floor. He stretched his head back to gaze through the skylight. The combined light and shadow of the glass-sheathed car danced around him like a carousel. The ambient shapes of silence put him in a trance. The plane thousands of feet above looked like a butterfly who’s wings froze to the shutter of the camera in the eye. He regained his focus, this time shuffling his feet to swirl around in the chair, searching, not for anything in particular but anything unusual.

The above is an excerpt from the chapter Learning To See Again from my book Train of Thought: Reflections on the Coast Starlight. You can buy a copy or read it for free below.

Buy at Amazon

Download free

Please let me know your feedback on the book on Twitter. Which chapter or line is your favorite? What would you have liked to read more of? Just send a tweet to @bombtune or email me at wellsbaum[at]gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Photo by Wells Baum

 

Making for the micro

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People always made art. Now, we just make it and share it in abundance.

But all the noise makes it impossible for aspiring creators to stand out.

On the flip side, the bell curve is widening from the masses to the niches. We can build an audience around sub-genres at scale for the first time ever; the Internet helps us stay connected.

Once we shift our strategy from marketing to everyone to the marketing to the micro, we set ourselves up to make deeper work that lasts.

Your weirdness is not only acceptable, it’s mainstream.

Bookends: Red and blue in Cusco

Photo by Wells Baum (Cusco, Peru)

Red used to be the world’s “first color,” writes historian Michel Pastoureau in his new book Red: The History of a Color. It was all people knew before blue emerged as a symbolic color in the 12th century.

The red color

It is the basic color of all ancient peoples (and still the color preferred by children the world over). It appears in the earliest artistic representations, the cave paintings of hunter-gatherers 30,000–plus years ago. Blood and fire (the domestication of the latter constituting an important human achievement) were always and everywhere represented by the color red.

Photos by Wells Baum

The blue color

Blue has become associated with peace and tolerance (as in the flag of the U.N. and its peacekeeping forces). In Pastoureau’s telling, blue is the color of consensus, of moderation and centrism. It does not shock, offend, disgust, or make waves; even stating a preference for black, red, or green is a declaration of some sort. Blue invites reverie, but it anaesthetizes thinking. Even white has more symbolic potential.

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Read Red versus Blue

“Stare at the world, not at your model.”

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Photo by José Martín

Continually learning, constantly changing. The human mind is as fickle as the seasons. It is not mathematical models that predict the future but the law of nature.

Writes Richard Bookstaber in his book The End of Theory“The world could be changing right now in ways that will blindside you down the road.”

Nothing is linear and predictable; rather, everything emerges from its highest, heuristic probability — the upshot of the freedom of trial and error.

“Humans are not ergodic, however. We move through the world along a single path, and we get only that one path. Where we are on that path, our experiences, our interactions, the view we have of the world at that moment all determine the context for our actions. That path is not repeatable; we are not taking draws from a distribution.”

Even the rare anomaly becomes the impetus for our actions. People try stuff on a whim to check their pulse.

It is futile to aggregate behavior so we can algorithmicize systems. The world is unpredictable, especially the economic one.

“Chaos is the law of nature; order is the dream of man.”

— Henry Adams

Read The Practitioner’s Challenge
 

 

Richer by design

What if we had everything we already need? We can give value to things that already exists and instantly feel richer.

Say you don’t own a car so you have to take the train or bus to work. Outsourcing the driving frees up your time to do something else like plan your week, catch up on the news, or get some more sleep. Time is extra money earned.

Owning a car can be a burden. And while it makes grocery shopping and running errands on the weekends, we can appreciate the benefits of an automobile’s absence during the week. 

Just as constriction begets creativity, we can find value in our limitations to find our own happiness. It’s all the complaining that drags us down.

Give yourself permission to build 

Motivation ebbs and flows. It is fickle and short-lasting.

So we can’t wait for the muse to compel us to work. As Chuck Close said, “inspiration is for amateurs.”

However, what we can do is develop a passion for something, fire up our grit to push through crap (criticism, rejection, assholes, and pressure), and give ourselves permission to act like the finishers did before us.

It is discipline that converts information into actionable items. We learn nothing until we put knowledge and possibility into use.

Everything is practice.

Combine your disciplines 

Photo by Wells Baum
Do you want to be the thinker or the doer, the unifier or the diversifier, the critic or the artist?

There’s no shame in preferring one versus the other. Someone has to originate and birth a concept, and someone else has to test it and give it light.

But what if you combined disciplines

With a little moxie, the observer and the maker can become one of the same: a scientist.

We’re all weird

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We’re All Weird by Seth Godin

Inspired by Alain de Button’s tweet, below is a collection of highlights of the word weird from Seth Godin’s 2011 book, We’re All Weird.

Weird by choice, on the other hand, flies in the face of the culture of mass and the checklist of normal.

The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of mass and the never-ceasing tide of weird.

It’s human nature to be weird, but also human to be lonely. This conflict between fitting in and standing out is at the core of who we are.

The way of the world is now more information, more choice, more freedom, and more interaction. And yes, more weird.

The weird are weird because they’ve foregone the comfort and efficiency of mass and instead they’re forming smaller groups, groups where their weirdness is actually expected.

The next breakthroughs in our productivity and growth aren’t going to be about fueling mass. They’re going to be relentlessly focused on amplifying the weird.

Pre-historic cultures, not nearly as productive as ours, show little evidence of the weirdness our culture has recently developed.

When you don’t feel alone, it’s easier to be weird, which sort of flies in the face of our expectation that the weird individual is also a loner.

We don’t care so much about everyone; we care about us—where us is our people, our tribe, our interest group, our weirdness—not the anonymous masses.

The weird are now more important than the many, because the weird are the many.

There’s a long tail of channels, and at least one matches every person’s precise definition of weirdness (if there’s no match, go ahead and start another channel).

My proposed solution is simple: don’t waste a lot of time and money pushing kids in directions they don’t want to go. Instead, find out what weirdness they excel at and encourage them to do that. Then get out of the way.

It’s human nature to be weird, but also human to be lonely. This conflict between fitting in and standing out is at the core of who we are.

Newsletter: Against conventional thinking

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Hi everyone, below is a list of links worth checking out this week. If you’d like to receive this email in your inbox, subscribe right here and never miss an issue.

web gems

  1. The above GIF represents 6 million years of human evolution. But the video is even more psychedelic. Watch it from the start.

  2. “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way. ”It was Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday this week. His work seems ever more relevant in the age of distraction and climate change deniers.

  3. “Every year that passes without extinction doubles the additional life expectancy.” That’s how economist Nassim Taleb describes the Lindy Effect which predicts the durability of books, restaurants, etc lasting years from now. Ryan Holiday details the art of longevity in his new book Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts

  4. I shared this a while ago but it’s worth rereading in the Google Era: How the Humble Index Card Foresaw the Internet

  5. From marketing to making decisions, Vice-Chairman Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy gives us a lot to chew on in Things To Hang On Your Mental Mug Tree. Watch it with your favorite morning brew.

New Track on loop

Ross From Friends — Romeo Romeo

Digging in the crates

Twinkle Brothers – Faith Can Move Mountains (1983)

Thought of the week

“If you say the name Andrew over and over it turns into Duran Duran. Try it.” — Doug Copeland

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Wells Baum (@bombtune)

 


This is my daily collection of interesting reads and new music. I spend a lot of time digging the web for cool stuff and remixing them here. If you dig the blog, please consider making a donation or buying a book. A cup of coffee to helping out with hosting goes a long way.

Donate with PayPal

ORGANIC

→ Stop: San Luis Obispo, CA

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Photo by Wells Baum

He circumnavigated the station, ready to go no place but where he ended up. But the more he paced, the clearer his thoughts became. All of a sudden, he had an epiphany which awakened his inner scribe.

The above is an excerpt from my latest book Train of Thought: Reflections on the Coast Starlight, which you can download for free for Kindle, iBook, Nook, or read online.

Free Download

Buy a copy on Amazon