Stress is contagious

Studies show that stress is transferable amongst partners and strangers. Our cortisol levels even rise when we watch TV.

We may not be able to control stress but we can do things to relieve it.

Start with some of the tips outlined below:

An Olympian’s guide to managing stress

How trees help you de-stress

Don’t Stress the Technique

Why silence is golden

Wave cinemagraphs by Ray Collins

Photographer Ray Collins captures the magic that happens at the intersection of water and light. Each shot in this film was created from a single one of Ray’s original photos. The stills are transformed into cinemagraphs – a hybrid between photo and video – an infinite loop that makes a single moment last forever. The original soundtrack was created by two very talented musicians, André Heuvelman on trumpet and Jeroen van Vliet on piano.

You can see the individual cinemagraphs here. Amazing.

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?

Turning inanimate objects (‘stuff’) into puppets

Stems by Ainslee Henderson.gif

Ainslee Henderson takes interesting “stuff” (wood, stick, wire, leaves, broken electronics, etc.) and turns it into stop-motion puppetry. Says Henderson on the creative process:

“It’s like making music, you just see where it leads you. I stick and scult and keep scraping, putting things together and shaping things and then suddently what was just stuff becomes this character staring back at you.”

By the end of the video, he’s got all the puppets playing music together.

“They’re like little actors that only ever get to play one role. Everything they do is their swan song. They have a tiny little life and then they go back to being an inanimate object again.”

The illusion of a sole genius

midsection of man holding hands over white background

Upon winning the MacArthur Fellow award for creating unconvential, immersive opera experiences, Yuval Sharon didn’t feel like he was a ‘genius’ in any sense of the word.

The fellowship is also known as “the genius grant” although the organization steers clear of using the term in its to describe MacArthur Fellows ““because it connotes a singular characteristic of intellectual prowess.” Yuval Sharon felt the same way.

In his LA Review op-ed, he elaborates:

The Foundation probably takes pains to say this because so many people find something deeply uncomfortable about the concept of “genius” — its exclusionary implications and air of elitism; a Romanticism that seems out of step with contemporary (let alone everyday) life; the affirmation of canonical standards set by … who exactly? Any person mature enough to strive for self-awareness finds the moniker embarrassing, and only an unstable narcissist could ever self-apply the title without shame.

Perhaps there are only a few true geniuses: Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, and most recently, Steve Jobs. The author Walter Isaacson has written biographies on all three.

But no genius is truly original, as Brian Eno alludes to. A genius is merely part of what he calls a ‘scenius,’ a community of fellow artists who share similiar interests and collaborate, helping prop up the most notable. Says Yuval:

Moments, ideas, a single poem in a collection — a work of genius, no matter how individually wrought — is never the product of a single individual. We should stop thinking of genius as an attribute and instead start to think of it as a condition, a circumstance.

Genius is social and participatory

This notion of a sole genius reduces the collective nature of people. The world participates in the process of creation no matter how one artist tries to individuate their craft. Yuval sums it up nicely:

I spent part of the day reading about the other Fellows in my class and found myself feeling so inspired by their dedication and accomplishments in fields far removed from my own. The world seemed bigger. This may be where the “genius” moniker is still useful: by calling out examples of how and where the endlessly searching attendant spirit still visits the world. Because anyone, anywhere, can participate in it.

Tesla’s American experience

He left Thomas Edison’s lab. He relinquished his Alternating Current (AC) royalties to Westinghouse to prevent the company from going bankrupt.

Motivated by wonder and awe, he exploited his imagination to foresee the wireless networking and cell phones we have today. “Why can’t we photograph thought?” he once asked.

Tesla was an artist working with dreams and visions but “his medium was electricity.”

'If hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.' — Nikola Tesla Click To Tweet

Six months after his death, the US Supreme Court gave the patents for Marconi’s invention of the radio to Tesla: “Telsa, not Marconi, invented radio.”

Tesla was a magician who combined science with science fiction.

This is what happens when you reply to spam email

For three years, writer and comedian James Veitch answered spam email.

“All I’m doing is wasting their time. I think any time they’re spending with me,  is time they’re not spending scamming vulnerable adults of out their savings.”

In a hilarious TED Talk, he details his thread with one spammer who contacted him about a business deal. Into the second week, James got the spammer to start replying in ridiculous code revolving around candy.

Advises Veitch, if you’re going to reply to spammers do it from an anonymous email to avoid a barrage of even more SPAM.

Learning to move

When will machines have human agility?

That’s what the film studio Universal Everything tries to answer in their captivating videos pairing a dancer and a copycat robot mimicking his moves.

Set in a spacious, well-worn dance studio, a dancer teaches a series of robots how to move. As the robots’ abilities develop from shaky mimicry to composed mastery, a physical dialogue emerges between man and machine – mimicking, balancing, challenging, competing, outmanoeuvring.

Can the robot keep up with the dancer? At what point does the robot outperform the dancer? Would a robot ever perform just for pleasure? Does giving a machine a name give it a soul?

These human-machine interactions from Universal Everything are inspired by the Hype Cycle trend graphs produced by Gartner Research, a valiant attempt to predict future expectations and disillusionments as new technologies come to market.

Based on recent research done by UK company Deep Mind, AI is showing flashes of a brain-like GPS system.

Even more, you’ll be able to buy some of the Boston Dynamics robots next year.

Views of Tokyo (1913-1915)

Views of Tokyo (1913-1915)

Last week, I blogged about a trip through Golden Gate City: San Francisco (1939). This week’s archival video goes back in time to views of Tokyo, 1913-1915.

Some observations:

  • Notice the clash of those wearing modern (Western) clothing versus the traditional feudal garb
  • A lot these kids (and their kids) probably went on to fight in both World Wars
  • The girl with the bouncing ball (see gif) has impressive football and basketball skills

Another fascinating look at black and white footage augmented with a sound for added ambiance. Be sure to check out the archival footage of New York (1911) as well.