The unique shall inherit the Earth

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There are three ways to stand out and be remembered:

  1. Be so good that they can’t ignore you.

  2. Be so interesting that they can’t ignore you.

  3. Be so unique that they can’t ignore you.

Talent is usually enough, but everyone can take a great picture. Technology and the internet leveled the playing field.

Grabbing attention can be fleeting. Remember the digital tenet that new things get consumed and forgotten.

But what cements you in someone else’s memory is acting remarkably daring and different.

In a world of masses, it pays to go micro. But the loopholes in individuality are getting smaller and smaller.

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Social media companies as old storefronts

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Designs by Andrei Lacatusu

If Facebook’s recent newsfeed changes are any sign, social media is in decay. It’s gone from connecting people to Buzzfeed’s linkbait to a nest of echo chambers where the likeminded and bots spread fake news.

The art done here by artist Andrei Lacatusu provides a metaphor for the chaotic and ruinous state of social media, which appears to be failing like today’s brick-and-mortar stores. While we can expect the social networks to stay in business, they need to spend 2018 rebuilding the public’s trust.

 

Newsletter: ‘8 hours of what we will’

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“8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” — Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, 1886

Below are this week’s interesting links and recent discoveries for your weekend reading.

The London Milkman. Photographer Fred Morley staged the famous photo of a milkman walking through the destruction of London after the German blitz during the Second World War. “Morley walked around the rubble of London until he found a group of firefighters trying to put out a fire amidst the fallen buildings, as he wanted that specific scene in the background…Apparently, Morley borrowed a milkman’s outfit and crate of bottles. He then either posed as the milkman or had his assistant pose as the milkman.” While the British government censored images of London’s destruction, it promoted this photo to show the world Britain’s resiliency and evoke a sense of calm.

How to do nothing. It’s not easy to escape the computer screen or leave that portable rectangular glow behind, but disconnecting is becoming indispensable to our mental health. We don’t always need to be switched on. Writes bird watcher Jenny Odell who likes to decompress at the park: “The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech.”

Why You Should Write a Memoir—Even if Nobody Will Read It. According to recent studies, writing your own memoir has various psychological benefits. Whether for private eyes or for public viewing, writing extensively about traumatic events helps you break free from the cage of anxiety. “Psychologists believe that by converting emotions and images into words, the author starts to organize and structure memories, particularly memories that may be difficult to comprehend and accept.”


Book I’m reading

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman“Here is a fact: nothing in all civilization has been as productive as ludicrous ambition. Whatever its ills, nothing has created more. Cathedrals, sonatas, encyclopedias: love of God was not behind them, nor love of life. But the love of man to be worshipped by man.”

Video I’m watching

Perhaps what we see isn’t what we get. Instead, life is just computer code and humans are information.

So does a simulated life mean that we can live forever? Says theoretical physicist James Gates: “If the simulation hypothesis is valid, then we open the door to eternal life and resurrection and things that formally have been discussed in the realm of religion. As long as I have a computer that’s not damaged, I can always re-run the program.”

Are we living in a computer simulation?

Thought of the week

“If hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.”

— Nikola Tesla


Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!
Wells Baum (@bombtune)

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From your mouth

via giphy

Words signify a consciousness, of which a newborn or pet can only hear. The baby goes on to learn the language of memes and communicates with itself while your dog relies on its own form of internal narrative.

There is some form of mental awareness in all creatures. A body without a brain contains zero working neurons and a dead narrative.

Words are a different animal than pictures, perhaps the most effective at harvesting attention; humans use words to propagandize, market, deceive and spread evil. Said Nikola Tesla: “If hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.”


Words are sensory stimulants, carving out emotions for which both the bad and good stuff sticks. “Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words,” wrote William Faulkner in 1927.

We invent words because we don’t want to die. Yet it is their existence that poses the most threat to consciousness.

The London Milkman

London-milkman-1940.jpg

Photographer Fred Morley staged the famous photo of a milkman walking through the destruction of London after the German blitz during the Second World War.

That’s right – this photo was staged. Morley walked around the rubble of London until he found a group of firefighters trying to put out a fire amidst the fallen buildings, as he wanted that specific scene in the background. Here’s where the story has some variations. Apparently, Morley borrowed a milkman’s outfit and crate of bottles. He then either posed as the milkman or had his assistant pose as the milkman.

While the British government censored images of London’s destruction, it promoted this photo to show the world Britain’s resiliency and a sense of calm.


As writer and photographer Teju Cole once penned: “The facticity of a photograph can conceal the craftiness of its content and selection,” or Bertolt Brecht once wrote in his 1955 book War Primer, “The camera is just as capable of lying as the typewriter.”

World War II was a lesson in propaganda, in Morley’s case spreading awareness through the photographic medium to grab attention.

Marketers can be liars, which in this case proved indispensable to boosting morale and saving lives. Morley’s milkman image worked brilliantly.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘To be great is to be misunderstood’

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A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson 

To echo Jeff Bezos, be prepared to be misunderstood for a long period of time.

A Life Full of Holes

 

Newsletter: ‘To be great is to be misunderstood’

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via giphy

Happy New Year! Below are some interesting links and recent discoveries for your weekend reading.

Instagram and Facebook are ruining our fond memories of vacations. If you want to remember a vacation or any other experience, you’re better off framing a picture rather than just posting it on your Instagram feed where images get consumed and quickly forgotten.

The Book That Incited a Worldwide Fear of Overpopulation. In 1968, Doctor Paul Ehrlich warned the world of its excessive population with his book entitled The Population Bomb. “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” he wrote, “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.” While Dr. Ehrlich’s dire warnings never panned out (at least yet), his book sparked a much-needed debate about “the potential consequences of overpopulation: famine, pollution, social and ecological collapse.”

David Perrell’s Twitter thread on simplifying complexity. This Twitter thread is full of life advice on how to achieve simplicity, including how to invest, catch a baseball, and how to remain an avid learner.

Book I’m reading

Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo EmersonA foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Video I’m watching

The millennial whoop explains why all pop music sounds the same. Spotted by musician Patrick Metzger, this is how he describes the hook:

It’s a sequence of notes that alternates between the fifth and third notes of a major scale, typically starting on the fifth. The rhythm is usually straight 8th-notes, but it may start on the downbeat or on the upbeat in different songs. A singer usually belts these notes with an “Oh” phoneme, often in a “Wa-oh-wa-oh” pattern. And it is in so many pop songs it’s criminal.

The annoying ‘millennial whoop’ pattern 🎤

Thought of the week

A good candidate for Word of the Year in this category is “fake.” “Fake” once meant “counterfeit” or “inauthentic,” like a fake Picasso or a fake birth certificate. It is now used to mean “I deny your reality.” “Hoax” is used with the same intention. (“Alternative facts,” another phrase associated with reality denial, seems to have been mocked out of existence.)

— Louis Menand in his New Yorker piece: Words of the Year


Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!
Wells Baum (@bombtune)

Support my blog

Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

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Why we prefer Friday to Sunday

eg9bib1xZkMorXFQBIt‘s a curious fact, because Friday is a day of work and Sunday is a day for pleasure, so you would expect people to enjoy Sunday more, right? But we don’t. It’s not because we really like being in the office and can’t stand strolling in the park and having a lazy brunch. We prefer Friday to Sunday because Friday brings with it the thrill of anticipating the weekend ahead. In contrast, on Sunday the only thing to look forward to is work on Monday.”

The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain by Tali Sharot

Ironically, the day of rest also comes with the “Sunday Blues” while Friday, a day we should feel work-averse, fires up the brain in anticipation of the school bell.

The annoying ‘millennial whoop’ pattern 🎤

The millennial whoop pattern

The millennial whoop explains why all pop music sounds the same. Spotted by musician Patrick Metzger, this is how he describes the hook:

It’s a sequence of notes that alternates between the fifth and third notes of a major scale, typically starting on the fifth. The rhythm is usually straight 8th-notes, but it may start on the downbeat or on the upbeat in different songs. A singer usually belts these notes with an “Oh” phoneme, often in a “Wa-oh-wa-oh” pattern. And it is in so many pop songs it’s criminal.

Keep in mind that as quickly as these engineered tunes are consumed, they’re ‘promptly forgotten.’ The love for manufactured music is ephemeral, rarely timeless; programmatic loops that spin into their own obscurity.

 

Newsletter: Time passes slowly

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‘The Century: New Year’s Number’ by Frederic Remington (1902)

Happy last Friday of 2017! Below are some interesting links and recent discoveries for your weekend reading.

Time Passes Slowly. “The internet put a huge dent in boredom,” writes Bob Lefsetz in a recent blog post. We are suffering from the glut of entertainment options on our rectangular screens. Remember what it was like to be bored before the internet spread its wings of distraction?

Forgetting is just as important as remembering. Forgetfulness optimizes for better decision-making. Says professor Blake Richards, “It’s important the brain forgets irrelevant details and focuses on what will help make decisions.”

The Age of Outrage. There’s no doubt our democracy is crippling due to a slew of fake news, ethnic-nationalism, and a gloating ego with authoritarian tendencies who spouts spurious patriotism. But our founders knew best how to protect against tribalism by building “the right springs and gears” into a constitution designed like a giant clock. Says NYU professor Jonathan Haidt: “They built in safeguards against runaway factionalism, such as the division of powers among the three branches, and an elaborate series of checks and balances. But they also knew that they had to train future generations of clock mechanics. They were creating a new kind of republic, which would demand far more maturity from its citizens than was needed in nations ruled by a king or other Leviathan.”


Book I’m reading

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. “While experimentation is scary to many, I would argue that we should be far more terrified of the opposite approach. Being too risk-averse causes many companies to stop innovating and to reject new ideas, which is the first step on the path to irrelevance. Probably more companies hit the skids for this reason than because they dared to push boundaries and take risks—and, yes, to fail. To be a truly creative company, you must start things that might fail.”

Video I’m watching

We take coffee for granted.

Judging by the ubiquity of Starbucks stores, you’d think that coffee was abundant. But the coffee we like to drink, the fruity-tasting coffee arabica, is projected to decline given the dual pressures of climate change which reduces suitable land to grow coffee and the ever-growing human demand for a “cup of joe.” So how do we grow more coffee?

The Race to Save Coffee

Thought of the week

“We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all before us, and with just as much apparent reason … On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us.”

— Thomas Babington Macauley in the 1830 Edinburg Review


Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!
Wells Baum (@bombtune)

Support my blog

Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

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Leaving on a jet plane

Standing there, gazing into space. He holds a can of crisps in hand, a kid’s proclivity for snacking.

Photo by Wells Baum

Early morning light seeps through the airport, bouncing through Pringles to make an unidentifiable crater tinged with green.

Now camouflaged, at an age too young to care. Hiding is an art, driven to the impulse of waiting.

Photo by Wells Baum

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Newsletter: Productivity is dangerous

Happy Holidays! Below are some links and recent discoveries I think you’ll find interesting. Check out Black Thought’s 10-minute freestyle after the jump.

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‘A Maid Asleep’ by Johannes Vermeer (1656) via The Met

Are You Using Social Media or Being Used By It? Facebook doesn’t care about your well-being. All it cares about is sustaining dopamine hits so it can keep you gambling on your attention. I think 2018 is the year social media platforms come clean on their role as sugar water. Writes Cal Newport: “What they need is compulsive use, which is what happens when you launch the app on your phone with some important goal in mind, and then thirty minutes later look up and realize you’ve been snagged into an addictive streak of low-value tapping, liking, and swiping.”

Productivity is Dangerous: You know who else was productive? Don’t substitute busyness for productivity; excessive doing as part of “the cult of action” is not a badge of honor. Don’t be afraid to sleep in. Writes Vincent Bevins: “If instead they had spent a few years lying around, reading, drinking, listening to music, just generally fucking about, the world would have been a lot better off.”

Banksy goes to Bethlehem. Banksy opened up The Walled Off Hotel earlier this year along the wall of the occupied West Bank with the “with the worst view in the world.” More recently, he teamed up with producer Danny Boyl to put together a film called ‘The Alternativity’ which features local children and their families singing Christmas carols ‘Jingle Bells‘ and ‘Silent Night’ in Arabic and English.

Book I’m reading

On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. “Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows.”


Video I’m watching

Meet Piper, The Aviation Bird Dog

Thought of the week

“You can plan events, but if they go according to your plan they are not events. ”

John Berger

New track on loop

Black Thought Freestyle on Hot 97 (2017)

Digging in the crates

Mount Kimbie – Made to Stray (2013)

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!
Wells Baum (@bombtune)

Support my blog

Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

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Jazz slang, you dig?

Jazz vernacular is responsible for so much of the everyday language we use today. Below is a list of slang that the music genre help popularize:

  • hang
  • groovy
  • foxy
  • crib
  • cat
  • ‘the man’
  • bread
  • vibe
  • cool
  • gig
  • dig it!
  • put some stank on it

Fun fact: the origin of the word jazz wasn’t even music-related. The word was originally “used by baseball players and sportswriters in California as a synonym for “enthusiasm.”