The paradox of proximity

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So close yet so far.  It appears that the closer we are to something: the gym, the pool, a loved one even, we are less likely to invest the time with them.

We avoid what’s closest to us because proximity obviates the need for effort. When it’s too easy, we have a propensity to get stuck in inertia.

Why do anything?

Procrastination is the purest form of idleness. Convenience is a lazy compromise. We need to get off our ass and jump into the world, especially when it matters.

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Question the algorithms

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Photo by David Werbrouck

It is a canard to think that math can’t fail. All you need to do is look at the way society constructs algorithms – from job and college applications to Facebook feeds to find out that sorting can be wrong and biased.

In the case of the 2016 election, algorithms did more harm than good. Facebook fed the internet silos with fake news. As Cathy O’Neil author of Weapons of Math Destruction puts it in a 99% Invisible podcast: “The internet is a propaganda machine.”

We’ve adopted the factory mindset of mass-sorting, leaving the anxiety of decision-making up to machines. Humans are pieces of data, waiting to be organized by the least valuable candidate or customer.

There’s too many of us and not enough time to make individual considerations. But a conversation around algorithmic frailty might do us some good. Making generalizations impedes the magic of a discovering an outlier.

Newsletter: Have a friend “from every decade of life.” 👫

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Hi everyone, below is a list of links worth checking out this week. Listen to the new King Krule/Mount Kimbie collaboration after the jump.

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  1. Once you pass the median age of 38, you’re considered ‘old.’ But people actually don’t start feeling old until their 60s. So how do you stay young? Have a friend “from every decade of life,” is what one 101-year old recommended.

  2. If you’re looking for a way to train your brain to think positive instead of negative, try to build yourself a positivity circuit: “spend one minute looking for positives, three times a day for forty five days.” Practice.

  3. Would you rather live in New York or LA? You can only choose one. Fun think piece from someone who’s dabbled in both cities: No, I’m from New York.

  4. Do you get goosebumps of a lump in the throat when listening to certain songs? If so, research shows that your brain might be unique.

  5. Here’s your moment of Zen, a calf trying to catch snowflakes with his tongue. #TGIF

Thought of the week

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” — Nietzsche


New track on loop

Mount Kimbie – Blue Train Lines ft. King Krule

Digging in the crates

Slum Village – Reunion (2004)

PS: I created a music club on Facebook. If you want to experience some new tunes and relive some greats, knock on the door!

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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Avoiding the losses

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Every story needs a villain that disobeys the rules. Bereft of drama we lose interest in the hero’s tale.

Struggle makes us human. The will to defeat Goliath comes with an exaggerated sense of faith.

We overcompensate for our vulnerabilities, and in doing so, raise the stakes of our own determination. “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how,” wrote Nietzsche in the Twilight of the Idols.

Very few fighters go undefeated. It’s up to the hero to accept risk in the possibility of a loss. A creature of pure whim and incoherent self ultimately meets their maker.

Mental orbit

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We are distractible, drawn away from our mental orbit into the wrath of flying tweets and other snackable debris.

We need reminders to sustain our attention: sticky notes, to-do lists, meditations, and positive mantras. As Simon Critchley writes in his 2015 Memory Theatre novel:

Memory is repetition. Sure. But it is repetition with a difference. It is not recitation. It is repetition that creates a felt variation in the way things appear. Repetition is what makes possible novelty. This is what Mark E. Smith meant. Memory needs to be imagintion. (Location 684)

There’s no sticktoitiveness without a magnetic force staged to prompt us along. We must surround ourselves with priorities and push.

Newsletter: The painted bat 🦇

The painted bat (BBC Earth)

Hi, all! Below are some interesting reads I collected throughout the week pertaining to arts & culture, philosophy & productivity, social media & tech. Peep the new tune from FYI Chris after the jump.

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  1. “It’s human nature to want to prove that you’re right, but it’s rarely effective.” These are the skills you should learn that will pay off forever
  2. We usually think of art pieces like the Mona Lisa as original, a copy of one. But history shows that artists frequently made multiple versions, even Leonardo. “The idea of producing more than one version of a work is nothing new,” writes Matt Brown in his new book Everything You Know About Art is Wrong.
  3. TED distilled fourteen writing tips from an interview conducted with novelist Anne Lamott. Here’s the advice she’d give herself: “I’d teach my younger self to stare off into space more often. I would tell her to waste more paper. I would tell her she doesn’t need to stick to a decision; she can change her mind.”
  4.  A recent study shows that if you “accept life’s difficulties and one’s own negative feelings nonjudgmentally,” you’ll live a happier life. Own your state of mind; don’t be afraid of feeling bad!
  5. No longer a rare sight. The painted bat is back! So dope.🦇


Thought of the week

“Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God. It is so extraordinarily full of magic, and in tough times of my life I can listen to music and it makes such a difference.”

Kurt Vonnegut

New track on loop

FYI Chris – Home Alone

Digging in the crates

Mos Def – Umi Says

PS: I created a music club on Facebook. If you want to experience some new tunes and relive some greats, knock on the door!

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.

$3.00

Essential writing advice from Anne Lamott


TED distilled fourteen writing tips from an interview conducted with novelist Anne Lamott. Her 1995 book Bird by Bird has become an essential guide for aspiring artists of all types.

My favorite snippet from the interview appears when she’s asked to give her younger self some writing advice:

“I’d teach my younger self to stare off into space more often. I would tell her to waste more paper. I would tell her she doesn’t need to stick to a decision; she can change her mind.”

Daydream. Plan unscheduled time. Get messy. There is no such thing as the perfect time to start anything. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “This ‘Wait!’ has almost always meant ‘Never.'”

The vocation chooses you. Do the work in despite the resistance.

Read 14 writing tips, from beloved teacher Anne Lamott

Newsletter: Loving Vincent 🎨

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The beautiful train scene from Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Spirited Away

Below are five links worth sharing this week. Listen to Pessimist’s new track ‘Glue’ and the 1979 track ‘Resurrection Los’ from Cameroon’s legendary Los Camaroes after the jump.

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  1. It took six years of development and 125 painters to recreate Van Gogh’s brush strokes to make the world’s first oil painted feature film, Loving Vincent, which drops next month. Check out the trailer.

  2. James Holdman was one of the most prolific travelers of the 19th century. He was also blind, compelling himself to see through touch. Wrote one of his friends, “He had eyes in his mouth, eyes in his nose, eyes in his ears, and eyes in his mind, never blinking, but ready on all occasions to perform his services with remarkable precision and efficiency.” Read about The Blind Traveler.

  3. A good photo speaks for itself. But with the tiniest of tweaks using iPhoto or VSCO, it can be that much better. Kirk McElhearn explains why you should spend a few seconds editing your photos before you post them online.

  4. I put together a Twitter thread of my favorite John Peel quotes to celebrate the greatest rock DJ’s birthday this week. He would’ve been 78. Take a look back at his record collection.

  5. All the internet’s a stage. Agree or disagree?

Thought of the week

“15 years ago, the internet was an escape from the real world. Now, the real world is an escape from the internet.”

— Noah Smith


New track on loop

Pessimist – Glued

Digging in the crates

Los Camaroes – Resurrection Los

PS: I created a music club on Facebook. If you want to experience some new tunes and relive some greats, knock on the door!

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.

$3.00

Loving Vincent: When nobody becomes a somebody 

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The world’s first oil painted feature film: Loving Vincent

Vincent Van Gogh was a nobody. He only sold one piece of art while he was alive and it was to his brother!

But that’s who we all are at the core — small sprinkles on Earth in a vast universe. If the solar eclipse was any reminder, the cosmos operate whether humans exist or not.

Sure, we like to think we’re special. The neurological software in our head makes accomplishments feel significant. But as Zat Rana puts it: “We’re nothing more than a fraction of a ripple in an infinite sea of entropy.”


Aren’t we just all bits of code blindly riding the opportunity of free will? 

Art is just one instrument for coping with such human triviality. It’s a narcotic for nobodies. But so are distractions. The sterile glow of computer screens and pocket rectangles manufacture ‘busyness.’ Human minds have succumbed to habit design, never mind TV and shopping.

Given such meaninglessness, we have no choice but to seize the day. Perhaps Van Gogh was right, the real thrill of life is showing through our work what a nobody has in their heart.

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Artists painted 62,000 frames to pay homage to Vincent

Newsletter: What’s your favorite number?

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Painters suspended on the Brooklyn bridge, October 1914 (Eugene de Salignac)

Hi all, I hope everyone had a chance to check out the solar eclipse this week. I saw it at 81% totality from DC. Those lucky enough to experience the total eclipse will appreciate Annie Dillard’s essay below.

New music this week comes this way courtesy of Thundercat. Ry Cooder takes the crate.

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  1. Autistic author Naoki Higashida provides a beautiful answer to the question: What’s your favorite number?

  2. In celebration of the solar eclipse, The Atlantic republished Annie Dillard’s epic piece on her encounter with a total eclipse in 1982. “We saw the wall of shadow coming, and screamed before it hit.”

  3. “When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” Robert Frank is best known for his 1958 book The Americans which featured 83 photos from Frank’s journey across the U.S. documenting race and material consumption in American life.

  4. Life coach David Cain provides an intriguing solution to avoid experiencing anxiety in advance: When You Can’t Stop Looking Ahead, Look Backwards

  5. If you want your food to taste better, take a picture.

Thought of the week

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”

— Marcus Aurelius


New track on loop

Thundercat – Jethro

Digging in the crates

Ry Cooder – Soy Luz y Sombra

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.

$3.00

To err is human

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gif via kidmograph

Technology evolves. Customer expectations change. Facebook tweaks its algorithm, again! All strategies and proven methods are temporary.

The pragmatist is always looking for a better way while following the practices that already work.

But there’s no way to identify what works without identifying what doesn’t work first. Strive a little toward imperfection.

Trial and error is the essence of survival. Consider doubling down on efforts that are showing promise.

We must remain in beta.

Newsletter: Sometimes thinking is a bad idea

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gif via US National Archives

Below are your interesting reads in creativity, culture, and tech from this week. Listen to the new track ‘Endless’ from Mercury Prize-nominated Portico Quartet after the jump.

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  1. “There are many different ways of getting from London to Paris, but as long as you get to Paris, that’s all that counts.” After running more than 2,300 auctions, Christie’s international director of auctioneering Hugh Edmeades explains What it feels like to conduct an auction.
  2. We are at our best when we’re relaxed and instinctive, free from the chaos of the monkey mind. Sometimes thinking is a bad idea.
  3. “I don’t just shoot willy-nilly, I wait for something to happen.” RIP Detroit street photographer Bill Rauhauser.
  4. Think of social networks as unique places, just as the bar and the coffee shop each contains its own set of memes and culture. In the Land of Internet Subcultures, Try Not to Look Like a Tourist
  5. Can a penguin go insane? Werner Herzog demonstrates the Nihilist Penguin.


Thought of the week

“We build our computer (systems) the way we build our cities: over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.”

— Ellen Ullman

New track on loop

Portico Quartet – Endless

Digging in the crates

The Defenders – Our Rights

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.

$3.00

Newsletter: We crave irreality

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Give the drummer some! Below are some interesting reads in creativity, culture, and tech from this week. Listen to the track ‘Glue’ from Belfast-based electronica duo Bicep after the jump.

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    1. The actor turned painter/sculptor, Jim Carrey, makes art as a form of catharsis in order to bring some color to his life. His work is impressive. As he puts it in the video, “artists make models of their inner life.” Watch Jim Carrey: I Need color.
    2. “Museums shouldn’t be trending! They should set trends,” says the former Met director Philippe de Montebello. Great read on How the Metropolitan Museum of Art Can Reclaim Its Glory in the age of cell phone screen irreality.
    3. “Analysts warned of several metric tons of dopamine and cortisol careening through the global economy.” This business piece made me laugh.
    4. The internet seems to be part of the air, ubiquitous and invisible. But what if you could get closer to the servers and cooling fans and take a listen? Explore What The Internet Sounds Like.
    5. Facebook is surveillance, and we give Big Brother the benefit of the doubt in selling our information to marketers in exchange for the ease of communication with so-called ‘friends.’ Thoughts?

https://wellsbaum.blog/2017/08/05/hooked-on-facebook/

Thought of the week

“Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” — Steven Pressfield, The War Of Art

New track on loop

Bicep – Glue

Digging in the crates

Bullion – Caroline, No

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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Writing by walking

41NKNoExnqL“With writing as with walking you often find that you’re not heading exactly where you thought you wanted to go. There’ll be missteps and stumbles, journeys into dead ends, the reluctant retracing of your steps. And you have to tell yourself that’s just fine, that it’s a necessary, and not wholly unenjoyable, part of the process. It’s an exploration,” writes Geoff Nicholson in his book The Lost Art of Walking.

Writing, like walking, is getting lost but at the same time, trusting that wherever the pen and feet go as you ramble and amble around will be met with strange discoveries.

As Rebecca Solnit writes in Wanderlust: A History of Walking, “Language is like a road; it cannot be perceived all at once because it unfolds in time, whether heard or read.”

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