Newsletter: ‘No worry before its time’

Below are five links I think you’ll find interesting. As always, listen to a new tune and old gem after the jump.

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Edward Penfield, 1896 (via The MET)

Kiss The Good Times Good Bye. We’ve gone from horses to cars to what will be, ‘standardized modules.’ The former product head of General Motors predicts the inevitable future of the auto industry that everyone knows is coming but no one wants to talk about: “nobody will be passing anybody else on the highway. That is the death knell for companies such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. That kind of performance is not going to count anymore.”

Podcast: Ellen Langer with Krista Tippet. Ellen Langer is a social psychologist who has spent 35 years studying mindfulness. She argues that most people go on living mindlessly, not noticing their surroundings until they go on vacation. Instead of forcing ourselves to be present “which doesn’t mean anything,” she encourages people to pursue “the simple act of actively noticing things.” She also agrees with the Stoics that the imagination is always worse than reality; our labeling of experiences (bad or good etc.) shapes our reality. Her adage for treating anxiety: “No worry before its time.”


What Boredom Does to You. Treat boredom as a process, a skill essential to the 21st-century hyper-speed of mobile internet addictiveness. As Steve Jobs once said: “I’m a big believer in boredom. … All the [technology] stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too.”

Why Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward? Leonardo da Vinci wrote backward (mirror writing) because he didn’t want others stealing his ideas. Writes Da Vinci biographer Rachel A. Koestler-Grack: “The observations in his notebooks were written in such a way that they could be read only by holding the books up to a mirror.” But did a genius who combined art and science so brilliantly really need to hide his work? Some authors think he did it to avoid smudging his writing.

Video: Religion Is Nature’s Antidepressant. American neuroendocrinologist and author Robert Sapolsky is an atheist who still believes in the health benefits of religion, highlighting its benevolent and social qualities. “If it is a totally heartless indifferent apathetic universe out there you are far more at risk for all the logical things which is to conclude it is an utterly depressing universe out there. Rates of depression are much higher among atheists… Go figure.”

Thought of the week

“Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea.”

Iris Murdoch

New track on loop

Chaos In The CBD – Pressure (2017)

Digging in the crates

Burial – Shell of Light (2007)

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Wells Baum (@bombtune)

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Guiding a neophyte mathematician to name the biggest number 🔢

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People are afraid of big numbers because they have no spatial understanding; the largest numbers are beyond comprehension, as the multitude of chess moves or the unfathomable number of sand grains in the desert. Infinity appears impossible to count!

University of Texas computer science professor Scott Aaronson believes the answer to naming the world’s biggest number lies within the deepest paradigm, some of which is solvable by exponentials, language, and sheer imagination:

“When thinking about 3, 4, or 7, we’re guided by our spatial intuition, honed over millions of years of perceiving 3 gazelles, 4 mates, 7 members of a hostile clan. But when thinking about BB(1000), we have only language, that evolutionary neophyte, to rely upon. The usual neural pathways for representing numbers lead to dead ends. And this, perhaps, is why people are afraid of big numbers.”

Read Who Can Name the Bigger Number?

Habit fields: Where we work impacts how we work

Where we work impacts how we work, or play. As creatures of habit, we can let certain zones remind us what to do.

Writer Jack Cheng uses a ‘distraction chair‘ at home to social network and check email while he saves focused work for the desk. Author Austin Kleon separates his desk between digital and analog.


But all habits take discipline. As soon as we start mixing tasks like skipping from Twitter to an important presentation the ‘habit field‘ loses its power as a trigger for experiences.

Whether we read from bed or write standing up, “we become what we behold,” said Marshall McLuhan, “We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

That tool isn’t just a computer or a notebook. It also includes the couch.

Newsletter: Music is not for ears 👂🎶

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“This Roman god is in fact unlocking his iPhone X using FaceID.” — Tom Standage

Below are five links I think you’ll find interesting. As always, listen to a new tune and old gem after the jump.

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Music is not for ears. Music is a ‘fundamental human experience.’ It is intuited like laughter, a proxy for thought, notes and theories. Sound perception is more than a ‘straightforwardly acoustic phenomenon’ because of the way it conjures ‘imagery, memories, stories, movement and words.’ 

The Future of Fashion. Fashion is losing staying power. The pendulum of trends changes along with the hyper-speed mobile world. The industry’s constant reinvention means that the leading designers are the ones making ‘bold moves and upheavals.’

The Web scientist Michael K. Bergman has compared plugging search terms into Google to dragging a net across the ocean. You may catch something, but there are fathoms you can’t fathom. That’s where we are right now with the impact of digital on design.

Nike’s bestselling Huarache only exists thanks to a disobedient employee. Tinker Hatfield’s Nike Huarache was a prototype that never was supposed to see the light of day. That is, until of the product managers sold 5,000 pairs in three days in New York. The Huarache exoskeleton design is now a Nike staple.

New futuristic Tianjin library is the coolest place to read a book in China. Despite censorship, China has built one of the coolest libraries in the world with 1.2 million books. Check out the gallery. Also worth perusing: Japan’s lonely vending machines by Eiji Ohashi

A smartphone photography study. We are taking more pictures than we have time to deal with. But it’s not all for aesthetics. This graph shows that ‘information to remember’ of wishlists, shopping lists, books to read, etc., is second to ‘scenery’ on the list.


Thought of the week

“The zoo is the epitaph to a relationship.”

John Berger

Musical vitamins

New track on loop

Portico Quartet — A Luminous Beam (2017)

Digging in the crates

Balil – Choke and Fly (1993)

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Wells Baum (@bombtune)

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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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Newsletter: The first two internets

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Below are some interesting links from the week as they relate to arts and culture. Give yourself a dose of Jheri tracks if you haven’t heard it yet.

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“Edgar Allan Poe is dead … few will be grieved by it.” Edgar Allen Poe didn’t exactly get the obituary he deserved. Even worse, they called the writer a “little more than a carping grammarian.” Ouch!

Walter Isaacson: The Greatest Genius Of Them All. Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci book is out (Amazon). The author proclaims da Vinci the truest polymath of them all, even amongst Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Steve Jobs because he excelled in a furious curiosity that helped him combine disciplines.

+ Isaacson also offers his two cents on America’s current political environment, using Einstein to illustrate his point: “Einstein wrote to his son that American democracy was like a gyroscope, that just as soon as you feel like it’s going to fall over it has the ability to right itself. I believe that’s the case; I believe that America is looking wobbly at the moment but it has a magical ability to right itself, and it will do so.”

Einstein’s Note On Happiness, Given To Bellboy In 1922, Fetches $1.6 Million. Out of tip money, Einstein preferred to give his Japanese courier a nugget of wisdom: “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” In other words, be a little more tortoise-y and a little less harish; don’t forget to enjoy life’s process.

Boiling Lead And Black Art. The printing press — considered the ‘first internet’ along with human language — was always a slow process, especially when it came to printing mathematics. But it also ensured that what got published was thorough, unlike the surfeit of the internet’s blog posts and tweets. “Slowing down requires better thought technology. It requires a willingness to draft for the sake of drafting. It requires throwing away most of what we think because most of our thoughts don’t deserve to be read by others.”

A New Theory Explains How Consciousness Evolved. We developed consciousness to deal with information overload. “Neurons act like candidates in an election, each one shouting and trying to suppress its fellows.” It sounds like democracy.

thought of the week

“The greatest impediment to creativity is your impatience.”

Robert Greene


musical vitamins

New track on loop

Herron – Ghost (2016)

Digging in the crates

Fracture & Neptune – Clissold (2009)

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Wells Baum (@bombtune)

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Believe in yourself (via Ben)

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Newsletter: Thinking like a mountain

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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 ‘Something More’ from UK artist Nabihah Iqbal after the jump.

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A Night at the Garden by Marshall Curry. On February 20, 1939, 20,000 Americans gathered at Madison Square Garden in New York City to celebrate the rise of Nazism. Film producer Marshall Curry worked with an archivist to pull together the clips of footage to tell a cohesive story that is eerily similar to today, lies and all! History is a GIF loop.

How to practice effectively…for just about anything. TED outlines four tips for practicing effectively. The first suggestion is no surprise: Focus on the task at hand. Minimize distractions like TV and social media. Put your smartphone on airplane mode or throw your phone into the ocean. I’ve listed all four tips for you here.

Want to be happier and more fulfilled in life? Learn to be open to change. You’re made to change, in small and significant ways. To think who you are today is final is nonsense, an illusion that falsely imagines the end of your own history. Instead, practice becoming, as Kurt Vonnegut so wisely encouraged.

Lawrence Argent, Sculptor Who Was Big on Whimsy, Dies at 60“I’m not interested in creating an object of decoration; that’s not what I do. My task is to create something that fits the surrounding or the area. If it were to be removed, you would miss it.” RIP Lawrence Argent. 

Thinking Like a Mountain. Nature writers endeavor to make sense of the land dominated by humans to see if it’s just as conscious as themselves. “What is looking back at us through other species’ eyes? Could we ever escape our own heads and know the viewpoint of a hawk? Is there such a thing as thinking like a mountain?”

thought of the week

“A caterpillar who seeks to know himself would never become a butterfly.”

André Gide


musical vitamins

New track on loop

Nabihah Iqbal – Something More (2017)

Digging in the crates

Breakage – Hard (2010)

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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How to practice effectively

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Everything is practice. Practice is everything. “Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement.”

Biologically speaking, practice strengthens the neural tissue, specifically the fatty substance myelin which enhances the runway for brains to communicate effectively with the muscles.

The 10,000-hour rule of deliberate practice doesn’t necessarily guarantee improvement. The training needs to be effective. Below are four tips for ensuring that quality meets quantity.

Tips on how to practice effectively

1 — Focus on the task at hand. Minimize distractions like TV and social media. Put your smartphone on airplane mode or throw your phone into the ocean.

2 — Start out slowly and then increase the speed of repetition. Raising the pace builds up the likeliness of performing the task correctly.

3 — Practice frequently with allotted breaks. Professionals practice 50 – 60 hours per week.

4 — Practice in your brain by reinforcing the skill with your imagination.

Newsletter: The ‘nudge’ theory and why planning backward is better than planning ahead

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Hi all! This week’s focus is productivity. Below is a list of inspirational links to help us step outside the robot and think differently about our work habits. Plus, peep the new tune from Harlem based singer-songwriter Lynette Williams after the jump.

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Pretending to be Batman helps kids stay on task. Good advice for adults and kids alike. The magic of acting like someone else helps us ignore the distractions that get in our way. “It is important to note that pretending to be another character had large effects on children’s perseverance.

The pleasure/happiness gap. We have two choices: the taking of short-term dopamine or the giving of long-term serotonin. We become what we choose.

Planning ahead is good, but planning backward is better. Start with the end-goal in in mind and then work backward. The key to goal-setting is to ‘imagine hypothetical goal achievement’ to create the feeling that you’re already making progress.

The flaws a Nobel Prize-winning economist wants you to know about yourself. The ‘nudge’ removes the barriers to decision-making by pre-selecting how one should save their money or what to eat.

Kazuo Ishiguro: how I wrote The Remains of the Day in four weeks. Nobel Prize-winning British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro talks about how he completed Remains of the Day in 4 weeks using a hack he called a ‘Crash.’

I would, for a four-week period, ruthlessly clear my diary and go on what we somewhat mysteriously called a “Crash”. During the Crash, I would do nothing but write from 9am to 10.30pm, Monday through Saturday.

Thought of the week

“I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers.”

Stephen Hawking


musical vitamins

New track on loop

Lynette Williams – Light (2017)

Digging in the crates

Aim – The Girl Who Fell Through The Ice (2002)

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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Open spaces, closed doors

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If you want to make more office collisions, you have to increase proximity. Open spaces are now the standard design model for companies looking for more ideas and collaboration. 

Multiple bump-in conversations have replaced those at the water cooler, saving potential email threads from getting out of hand. 

But excess openness “can cause workers to do a turtle” and pop on some headphones to crowd out the excess chatter. 

Like the cubicle before it, which intended to be the ‘action office’ and instead resembled prisons where no one ran into each other, the open floor layout encourages serendipity but has come to resemble a chaotic classroom. External conversations crimp the thinking voice inside a person’s head.

Focus is already scarce in a digital world. Deep work needs time to bloom. Perhaps that’s why working from home is still the best option of all.

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Newsletter: ‘Reality is an Activity of the Most August Imagination’

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Interior with a Man Writing on a Long Table (Anonymous, French, 16th century)

Below are five links I think you’ll find interesting. As always, listen to a new tune and old gem after the jump.

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Aziz Ansari has great advice for people in creative slumps. When he’s uninspired,  comedian Aziz Ansari does nothing at all: “I’m not gonna make stuff just for the sake of making stuff. I want to make stuff ’cause I’m inspired. Right now I don’t really feel inspired.” Should we force creativity? I think we know how Steven Pressfield would respond to this.

The Intuitive Thing: Ray Bradbury on the Arts. I love what Ray Bradbury said about books versus movies in this interview: “when you read…you’re creating it in your own theater inside your head. But a film is total realism. You can’t change it, it’s right there, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Inside the husband-and-wife architecture duo’s sprawling Cape Town home. South African architect Gawie Fagan built his house in 1965 into the surrounding natural environment. At 91-years-old, he still lives there with his wife and still goes to the office every day.

Reality is an Activity of the Most August Imagination: Tim O’Reilly“Our job is to imagine a better future, because if we can imagine it, we can create it. But it starts with that imagination.” Tim O’Reilly explains why we should avoid envisioning a dystopian society where robots wipe out humans.

10 Einstein Quotes to Fire Up Your Creativity. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” The genius was on to something.


Thought of the week

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it’s not open.”

— Frank Zappa

New track on loop

Nathan Fake — REMAIN (Olga Wojciechowska Rework)

Digging in the crates

Erick Sermon – Music (2001)

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.

$1.00

Newsletter: ‘The asshole problem’

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via Karo Rigaud

Below are some of the interesting links I stumbled upon this week. Peep a new tune and old classic after the jump.

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This Stanford Professor Has a Theory on Why 2017 Is Filled With Jerks. Technology increases the asshole problem “because people are much more likely to be mean if they don’t have to make eye contact.” The worst part: it’s contagious.

Why We Fail and How. I love 16th-century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne’s concept of solitude in finding a “room behind a shop.”

“We must reserve a back shop all our own, entirely free, in which to establish our real liberty and our principal retreat and solitude. Here our ordinary conversation must be between us and ourselves, and so private that no outside association or communication can find a place.”

Keepers of the Secrets. No one knows what they want anymore because they depend on an algorithm to feed it to them. Thank goodness library archivists are still the element of surprise alive by giving you a box you don’t ask for. People “only want information based on the information they think they want. It’s important to look outside of your own existence.” We miss you John.

The Mask of Doom. He “wore the mask out of necessity.” Take a look back at Ta-Nehisi Coates’s piece on MF Doom from 2009.

Why We Sleep – how more sleep can save your life. “Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer.” That revolutionary new treatment is sleep. Even jellyfish get sluggish when they don’t get enough. 


Thought of the week

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”

— Gertrude Stein, “Reflection on the Atomic Bomb” (1946)

New track on loop

Corbin (Spooky Black) – Ice Boy (2017)

Digging in the crates

Roots Manuva – Ital Visions (2001)

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 need sleep 😴

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“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?”

That revolutionary new treatment is sleep. Even jellyfish get sluggish when they don’t get enough. 

Looking forward to reading this: Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Read The Guardian’s review.

Newsletter: ‘The internet is a propaganda machine.’

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Do you see a duck or a rabbit? Both 😉…?

Hi! I hope everyone is having a good week. Below are some of the links I recommend checking out this weekend. As always, peep a new tune and old classic after the jump.

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Architects around the world are designing better schools. Buildings shape learning. Architects in Japan and Denmark are redesigning schools that permit more natural light and encourage the type of play children do at home.

The Stahl House Movie. Like watching The Office or seen Big Lebowski? My older brother wrote and filmed a mockumentary about icons & contemporary Los Angeles for his Sci-Arc thesis. Watch it, funny and brilliant.

99% Invisible: The Age of Algorithm. Algorithms are doing more harm than good. Facebook, Google, and Twitter all feed the internet silos with fake news. As Cathy O’Neil author of Weapons of Math Destruction puts it: “The internet is a propaganda machine.”


An Ad for London’s First Cafe Printed Circa 1652. In 1652, London’s St. Michael’s Alley became the first cafe in London to sell coffee: “THE Grain or Berry called Coffee, groweth upon little Trees, only in the Deserts of Arabia.”

+ As author Tom Standage points out in his book Writing on the Wall: Social Media – The First 2,000 Years, coffee houses were the original social networks and MOOCS where people mingled, studied, and exchanged ideas.

Smokers Are The Last Nice People Online. “Everyone on cigarette internet is so nice to each other.” Wish we could say the same about other web communities.

Thought of the week

“Three thousand photographs and three thousand doubts.”

— Teju Cole

New track on loop

Heat Wave – Nightmare (2017)

Digging in the crates

Mobb Deep – Reach (1996)

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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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.

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.