Take my advice and throw it away

Photo by Wells Baum

Take my advice and throw it away,
As far as the wind can blow,
The cycles of life are temporary,
There is always a pendulum,
Ask the questions and then live them,
A ghoulish curiosity amps the restless,
Calm is happiness,
Not too fast nor too slow,
The seashore ebbs and flows,
Avoid shaping the wave.


The round jumpman

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Photo by Wells Baum

The original Jumpman wasn’t Michael Jordan; it was Mario! But the name didn’t stick because it wasn’t marketable enough according to Minoru Arakawa, Nintendo’s American boss in the early 1980s. Luckily, he got some outside inspiration.

From the Economist:

“His name was an afterthought. Top billing on the game was always going to go to the gorilla. (“Kong”, in the context, was more or less a given; “Donkey” was found by consulting a Japanese-English dictionary for a word meaning silly or stupid.) The protagonist was simply called “Jumpman” for the one thing he was good at. But Minoru Arakawa, the boss of Nintendo in America, wanted a more marketable name. Around that time, writes David Sheff in “Game Over”, an authoritative account of Nintendo’s rise, Mr Arakawa was visited at Nintendo’s warehouse outside Seattle by an irate landlord demanding prompt payment. He was called Mario Segale, and he had a moustache. Thus does destiny call.”

By 1990, the pudgy plumber who gained energy from mushroom fluff became more recognizable than Mickey Mouse. And if the lost hat from a Halloween costume I found on the street yesterday morning is any proof, Mario is still king!

Photo by Wells Baum

‘The zoo is the epitaph to a relationship’


“The zoo is the epitaph to a relationship,” once wrote John Berger. And while this analogy pertains to human domestication of animals in faux environments, it also serves as a metaphor for the fragility of today’s human bonds.

We are alone together separated by a fence of technology. We sit next to each other but share our true thoughts online, hiding behind the protective masks of our glowing devices. We emphasize the “I” without the confidence to look at each other eye to eye.

Combine this narcissistic phenomenon with the hyper-speed race to the bottom of name-calling and provoked antagonism plus the inability to focus on one issue at a time and we lose all sense of objectivity. Compassion, respect, and gratitude vanish into artifacts of the past.

How do we build ourselves back up? For starters, we can slow down and cultivate human decency. After all, we’re all in this together. Recall that the birds turned into fishes only out of the urge of curiosity.

Japan’s lonely vending machines by Eiji Ohashi

Photographer Eiji Ohashi spent nine years capturing images of Japan’s vending machines on his late-night commutes home from work.

“At the time, I was living in a town in the north of Japan that would get hit by terrible blizzards during the winter months. I’d drive my car in (these) conditions and use the light of the vending machines to guide me.”

Well-maintained even in harsh winter conditions, the machines stand out in Japan’s remote towns like ‘roadside lights’, the eponymous title of Ohashi’s photography book.

For a country that produces “300-plus flavors of KitKat,” the vending machines not only look the same, they all sell the same items. Said Ohashi: “I wanted to capture the standardized form of the vending machines. I thought you could see the differences between the regions through the scenery around them.”

All photos via Eiji Ohashi 



‘Laugher doesn’t need thought.’ 😂

Laughter is the quickest way to get people with divergent views or backgrounds to agree. As Trevor Noah puts it, “Laughter doesn’t need thought.” It is intuited.

Laughter is an antidote to difference because it is indifferent — it has no preference — even if a 😂 only lasts a few seconds.

Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Cage both said the same thing.

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.

web gems

“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)

Believe in yourself (via Ben)

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.


Making dream states visible 📱

Photo by Wells Baum

It was surreal. Standing in the face of General Colin Powell at Madame Tussaud’s in DC had a dream-like quality too it.

A window stood between us, the reflective glare merging our bodies. See my arms?

Powell’s face seems to conceal my iPhone; the stage-lighting effect of portrait mode paints a dark outline. Yet, everything was unintended. There were no tricks, just a play on consciousness at the magic wand of technology.

Wrote Teju Cole in his piece Strangely Enough: “But the surreal image — which, at its most resonant, breaks through consciousness instantaneously and surprisingly — is an elusive thing.”

Strangeness is hard to pin down, so to speak.

Why we worry

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We worry as a ‘preventative’ — to thwart any future stress. We try to control the situation with a surfeit of possibilities that we mentally prepare for, most of which never occur.

“I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened.” — Mark Twain

Anxiety is a thinking problem that rides around the racetrack of uncertainty. It imagines issues that don’t yet exist. Caught in the worry loop, imagining fear stimulates discomfort.

But when a worry becomes a reality we realize how capable we are in dealing with it. We grow more resilient. Once we develop the courage to face our problems, like a lighthouse, we develop the energy to share our experience to console others.

To worry or not to worry, whatever happens, happens.

Seeing non-existent patterns

Photo by Wells Baum

The forces that bind together meaning aren’t always strong, nor are they credible. Your inner-dialogue is like a bank: the more you put into it, the more it wants to synch patterns between disparate events.

We look at the world through the context of our collected experiences. We choose what sticks around to arm us for the uncertainty that the future brings. Carl Jung once said, “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” But what if our mind manufactures stories of coincidental events? Imagination tends to hyperbolize reality.

Perhaps there are no gravitational forces; everything is just a game of chance despite our aim to corroborate our beliefs with supposed facts. When we try to find meaning in everything, we often end up with an incomplete picture.

Certainty tries to assert itself as the dream of man. But when we learn to relax our beliefs, we realize that there are only a few items in life that deserve our scarce attention. Everything else should be left to chance.

There’s a still of rhythm to be found in between the cacophony of noises where we decide what we want to hear.

The cost for convenience

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It doesn’t take too much convincing to bend the will of the well-intentioned.

People are fickle. Show them a better deal, and they’ll chase it, jettisoning their commitment to trusted relationships.

Care and experience are the first to go in exchange for convenience. Having your books and groceries delivered to your doorstep saves time, but it also prevents the happy accidents of bumping into a friend at the market or overhearing an interesting chat in the philosophy aisle.

The compromise for conveniency — texting over calling, shopping in your pajamas, etc. — is a loss in real human exchange. It’s easier to tweet when you’re hiding behind a mask.

Basking in the train glow

All photos by Wells Baum

The only source of light is a mellow glow on a metro head. Whether bald, strawberry blonde or redhead, the light shines through on top of the dome.

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But there’s also a type of soft glow of that keeps you awake. It’s the strange glow of stoic pride that screams with confidence ‘I got this.’

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Stay the course, sitting among the living glow of neighbors, tethered to the sterile glow of handheld devices, all the way underground into the train’s magnetic flashlight.

The glow of independence, the weird-colored glow of elegant ideas, all arrive trademarked by the fluorescent glow of the train’s exit. The powerful glow ends. Doors open.

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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.

web gems

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.


Seeking an objective point of view

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Photo by Wells Baum

We are obsessed with the first-person because we live in a culture that emphasizes the individual. The selfie generation makes “I” the predominant jargon for almost everything we post on social media and talk about in real life.

Me-ness has shrouded our ability to step outside the self and see the world objectively. It’s not all about us. We view ourselves in the reflection of other people. The looking glass self is external. Writes Adam Price in defense of third person.

It worries me that we may be slowly losing the cultural ability or inclination to tell stories in third person. Why does this matter? Because, I believe, third-person narration is the greatest artistic tool humans have devised to tell the story of what it means to be human.

“I think therefore I am.”

Our inner-narrative predicts how we’ll act in real life. It controls the outer stage of actions. As narrators, we can be more thoughtful of how to talk to about ourselves despite the egotism reinforced by the dizzying pace of status updates. We find deeper meaning when we can see and express a world bigger than ourselves.

We constantly divide our attention between the first- and third-person points of view, between desiring the shiny object in front of us and figuring out what it means for us to take it: who else wants it, what we have to do to get it, and whether it’s worth taking it from them.

In Defense of Third Person

Be open to change

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You are elastic, not stagnant.

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

— André Gide

You may not be a morning person now. But you might be when you have kids.

You may not think of yourself as a meditator, but after listening to Tara Brach, you may become hooked.

You may have loved drinking chocolate milk and eating fruity pebbles as a kid. But do you still consume them as an adult?

You may order an espresso each morning until someone introduces to you the Americano or flat white.

And so forth…

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.

“We all think that who we are now is the finished product: we will be the same in five, 10, 20 years. But, as these psychologists found, this is completely delusional – our preferences and values will be very different already in the not-so-distant future.”

Perhaps instead we should ‘practice becoming,’ as Kurt Vonnegut so wisely encouraged.

Want to be happier and more fulfilled in life? Learn to be open to change