Categories
Books Travel

‘Time is to clock as mind is to brain’ 🕰️

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

Time is to clock as mind is to brain. The clock or watch somehow contains the time. And yet time refuses to be bottled up like a genie stuffed in a lamp. Whether it flows as sand or turns on wheels within wheels, time escapes irretrievably, while we watch. Even when the bulbs of the hourglass shatter, when darkness withholds the shadow from the sundial, when the mainspring winds down so far that the clock hands hold still as death, time itself keeps on. The most we can hope a watch to do is mark that progress. And since time sets its own tempo, like a heartbeat or an ebb tide, timepieces don’t really keep time. They just keep up with it, if they’re able.

— Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

Categories
Books Quotes

Down to Earth 🌎

Once it passed, they fell back to earth, and were crushed by the “triviality of everydayness.”

Gary Lachman, Beyond the Robot

Categories
Books People

Stephen King lists his top 10 favorite books

To celebrate the launch of Stephen King’s novel The Outsider scheduled for bookshelves May 22 (you can pre-order it on Amazon), Goodreads asked Stephen King to list out his top 10 favorite books of all time.

The voracious reader and prolific writer never felt satisfied with his final selections but he played along anyway.

“Of course, any list like this is slightly ridiculous. On another day, ten different titles might come to mind, like The Exorcist, or All the Pretty Horses in place of Blood Meridian. On another day I’d be sure to include Light in August or Scott Smith’s superb A Simple PlanThe Sea, the Sea, by Iris Murdoch. But what the hell, I stand by these. Although Anthony Powell’s novels should probably be here, especially the sublimely titled Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant and Books Do Furnish a Room. And Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet. And at least six novels by Patricia Highsmith. What about Patrick O’Brian? See how hard this is to let go?”

Stephen King’s Top 10 Favorite Books

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(h/t Open Culture)

Categories
Culture Science

‘I wish I was a little bit smaller’

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Nicholas Kulish is 6 foot 8 inches. Towering about the average American height of 5 foot 8, society is simply not built for him. As if a tight plane seat isn’t burdensome enough, “Why do we bob and weave around the New York City subway in a strange dance?,” Kulish writes, “Are we performing for money from our fellow passengers? No, we’re just trying not to hit our heads on the metal bars that others reach up to grab.”

It’s not easy being a giant, or a little person, or any anomaly for that matter. What we know today as ‘average’ goes back to Belgian astronomer/mathematician Adolphe Quetelet, who in 1817 aggregated the mean chest size of five thousand Scottish soldiers, setting a precedent for human statistics. Abraham Lincoln mass-produced uniforms for the Union army during the Civil War. The US military also went on to standardize both uniforms and airplanes in 1926, “the distance to the pedals and the stick, and even the shape of the flight helmets.” Thus was born the bell curve.

While homogenizing average body types help simplify manufacturing and designing infrastructure, the industrial mindset makes it a challenge for outliers to thrive.

“Tall people are always trying to blend in, to keep our giant feet from tripping you at the movie theater, our elbows from cracking your heads on the dance floor. Much of our time is spent trying to shrink, to alleviate the extreme conspicuousness that is our condition.”

Normal is boring

Height compels Kulish’s identity, whether he likes or not. It is a part of him he’s come to accept and appreciate, acknowledging his bigness. Brooklynites call him Nowitzki or Porzingis out in public for being the only white guy with arms like tree branches reaching out into a sea of ants. You’d have to be ground level and face to face to pinpoint Lionel Messi in a crowd. But there are some advantages to tallness too; he can see what most people can’t.

If you invite us into your homes we will know what the top of your refrigerator looks like. (You should clean it. It’s been a while. Trust me.) We do have our uses. It probably goes without saying that we should be taking pictures for you at concerts, not to mention portraits of you, since the downward angle is the most flattering.

There is no shame in being tall, nor short, for the matter. No one wants to be called a Frankenstein nor a carnie with small hands. Being different makes one forcibly pay attention, develop sympathy for others who have similar disadvantages, and find new ways of surviving that makes them more nimble than others. The weird and different underdogs may have to work a little harder, but in doing so, they are developing advantages that normal folks can’t replicate.

Read Notes on Being Very Tall

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Categories
Books Quotes

Einstein: The World As I See It

c8nIHtU00MvV35U2Q“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”

— Albert Einstein, [easyazon_link identifier=”1494877066″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]The World As I See It[/easyazon_link] (1934)

Categories
Creativity Culture Psychology

The self promotion dilemma

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By all means, show your work. The internet is a great place to get feedback and build up your confidence. Just keep in mind, it’s all about you until it isn’t.

“It’s a total catch-22: if you don’t self-promote, you won’t be known to those who hold the keys to whatever kingdom you’re interested in unlocking. If you do self-promote, you might catch the gatekeepers’ attention, but pray they don’t read your self-promotion as needy or navel-gazing. Pray you don’t violate some unwritten code of class conduct or seem too eager. You have to appear to have a lot to offer without appearing to need anyone to take it. What a strange psychic and social predicament we’ve put ourselves in.”

Read The Case for Self-Promotion