Snippets of wisdom

Just a list of some interesting stuff I've come across or wondered about, in no particular order.

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Daniel Amen has given two TEDx talks worth listening to.





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Every time I hear someone talk about saving the planet, I think about George Carlin. He, in his comedian genius-ness, hit right on the nailhead with (it starts at about 1:28):



"And the greatest arrogance of all, save the planet. What!? Are these fuckin' people kidding me!? Save the planet - we don't even know how to take care of ourselves yet! We haven't learned how to care for one another, we're gonna save the fuckin' planet? /.../ The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great! Been here 4.5 billion years. /.../ We've been here, what, one hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? /.../ The planet isn't going anywhere - we are!"

Sure, Carlin also says a whole bunch of other things which I don't agree with, but in a nutshell, this is what the environmental crisis thingy is about, and it's not about the planet - it's about the environment getting to a point where it will be very hard for not just bees and snails and whoever else Carlin talks about, but humans.

We are. We're going away.

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It's been... six? Six years now that a conversation about a possible book has been going backwards and forwards between me and my publisher. I've put two very... intense periods of work into it - one right before my son was born, and another when I hadn't yet got pregnant with my daughter - and the result of those periods are three measly little chapters which I doubt will ever see the light of a printing machine.

However: I feel that there is a third period welling up inside me, and I think I am going to give it a one more go. It's... bubbling in there. I can feel it.

It's like with blogging: I rarely sit behind the computer because I tell myself I have to; usually it's the other way around: I do it because I feel like I cannot not do it. I blog because it's too hard not to blog.

When Marie Forleo interviewed Elizabeth Gilbert, Gilbert said at one point something which I found very amusing, but also very... encouraging. She said:

"I said out loud to all my future critics at that moment, "If you don't like it, go write your own fucking book! And you know what? You won't! Guess what, you won't! You won't. And guess what, I did, and therefore I won. Because mine is finished and yours doesn't even exist.""

Check it out if you'd like, it starts at about 33:30.



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And last, it is going to be a bit of a, khm!, long array of quotes now, but I was reading a 1985 Playboy interview with Steve Jobs and, man, there are some golden nuggets there, in the midst of general talking rubbish ;). Things like:

"We’re living in the wake of the petrochemical revolution of 100 years ago. The petrochemical revolution gave us free energy—free mechanical energy, in this case. /.../ This revolution, the information revolution, is a revolution of free energy as well, but of another kind: free intellectual energy. /.../ Computers make our lives easier. They do work for us in fractions of a second that would take us hours."

"People get stuck as they get older. Our minds are sort of electrochemical computers. Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. It’s a rare person who etches grooves that are other than a specific way of looking at things, a specific way of questioning things. It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing. Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they’re rare."

In 1985 Jobs probably had no idea that one day he, too, was going to be booted out of Apple just like Edwin Land had been booted out of Polaroid years before.

"Dr. Edwin Land was a troublemaker. He dropped out of Harvard and founded Polaroid. Not only was he one of the great inventors of our time but, more important, he saw the intersection of art and science and business and built an organization to reflect that. Polaroid did that for some years, but eventually Dr. Land, one of those brilliant troublemakers, was asked to leave his own company—which is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of. So Land, at 75, went off to spend the remainder of his life doing pure science, trying to crack the code of color vision. The man is a national treasure. I don’t understand why people like that can’t be held up as models: This is the most incredible thing to be—not an astronaut, not a football player—but this."

"When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back." (Psst: when I read that bit out loud to The Man, he scoffed with, "He's obviously never been to New Zealand then..." :D)

Then there's a bit that reminded me of... me. It reminded me of how, in sixth grade, a teacher called my mother to complain to her how I had argued with this teacher after class (she had wanted to punish two boys who I knew had not done what that teacher thought they had done), and my mother after patiently listening through her whole story replied with, "Thank you for telling me that. I am very proud that my daughter is growing up to be a person who isn't afraid to stand up for others." (That was, like, probably the biggest SCORE! moment I had with my mother, ever :D.)

"I grew up on a block with lots of kids. My mother taught me to read before I went to school, so I was pretty bored in school, and I turned into a little terror. You should have seen us in third grade. We basically destroyed our teacher. We would let snakes loose in the classroom and explode bombs. Things changed in the fourth grade, though. One of the saints in my life is this woman named Imogene Hill, who was a fourth-grade teacher who taught this advanced class. She got hip to my whole situation in about a month and kindled a passion in me for learning things. I learned more that year than I think I learned in any year in school. They wanted to put me in high school after that year, but my parents very wisely wouldn’t let them."

"When I was 12 or 13, I wanted to build something and I needed some parts, so I picked up the phone and called Bill Hewlett—he was listed in the Palo Alto phone book. He answered the phone and he was real nice. He chatted with me for, like, 20 minutes. He didn’t know me at all, but he ended up giving me some parts and he got me a job that summer working at Hewlett-Packard on the line, assembling frequency counters. Assembling may be too strong. I was putting in screws. It didn’t matter; I was in heaven.
I remember my first day, expressing my complete enthusiasm and bliss at being at Hewlett-Packard for the summer to my supervisor, a guy named Chris, telling him that my favorite thing in the whole world was electronics. I asked him what his favorite thing to do was and he looked at me and said, “To fuck!” [laughs] I learned a lot that summer."


And this bit reminded me of New Zealand:

"This was California. You could get LSD fresh made from Stanford. You could sleep on the beach at night with your girlfriend. California has a sense of experimentation and a sense of openness—openness to new possibilities."


And I could just keep copy-paste'ing, but instead I am just going to mention that about two thirds down there is a very amusing incident with a Hindi holy man and Steve Jobs getting his head shaved. longform.org/stories/playboy-interview-steve-jobs

So yeah, that's about it for the day. :)

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