All is Well in the Land of Crickets

Just wanted to share this timely quote. I am aware that the word ‘timely’ may not make sense to you, but trust me. The word fits, snugly.

Everyone, at some point in their lives, wakes up in the middle of the night with the feeling that they are all alone in the world, and that nobody loves them now and that nobody will ever love them, and that they will never have a decent night’s sleep again and will spend their lives wandering blearily around a loveless landscape, hoping desperately that their circumstances will improve, but suspecting, in their heart of hearts, that they will remain unloved forever. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to wake somebody else up, so that they can feel this way, too.
– Lemony Snicket

Found it in Brain Picker’s Literary Jukebox project. Click the link and read with heart pleasing the music.
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A Bit of Wisdom from Stephen Fry

For anyone familiar with the hilarious TV sketch series ‘A bit of Fry and Laurie‘ the name Stephen Fry does not need an introduction. For the rest of the population, you really don’t know what you have been missing. Seriously, go to YouTube and check out all the very funny and smart sketches performed by Fry and his comic partner Hugh Laurie (yes, he of the Dr.Gregory House fame).
Stephen Fry is a British intellectual who is widely-known as an actor, author, journalist, poet, comedian and a television personality. He personifies the dry and almost dismissive British wit but underneath that he is a man of deep understanding of the world around us. He is well-known for his atheist beliefs, a big promoter of scientific research and a technology evangelist. He had a troubled childhood, spent time in prison for credit card fraud and as an adult even had prolonged bout with manic depression but through it all he has emerged as one of the great thinkers in British media.
When someone goes through these wild ups and downs they tend to get a unique perspective on life. Such experiences facilitate great moments of learning and realizations that help them see past the general fluff of everyday life, purported by the people and institutions that stand to gain with the spread of that fluff, and get a greater understanding of what is really important for a fulfilling stint on earth.
In this interview, Mr.Fry imparts some of the things he has learnt over the course of his life which spans more than five decades and, as one might expect from anyone with a well-developed sense of introspection, they are some of the most basic but crucial pieces of advice one could give to others.

1. Keep your ego in check. You’ll be better liked, and more opportunities will come your way.
2. Get outside your comfort zone by traveling to distant lands and reading books in a serendipitous way.
3. Be a giver, not a taker. It’s more rewarding.
4. Learn with friends.
5. Have heroes.
6. Always think for yourself.

Via Open Culture


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Goodbye, David Rakoff

One of the side effects of regularly listening to This American Life is the pleasant experience of getting to know some great artists. Since it is a public radio show, sound is all that is available for the show’s producers to make a good impression and they do extraordinarily well to broadcast the best possible sounds. David Rakoff is one of the frequent writers featured in the show and his unique style in words and narration fit snugly with the core characteristic of TAL. The idea that ordinary things are interesting and that every day moments and experiences have meaning and purpose is a celebrated notion in TAL universe and Rakoff’s brooding, melancholy laced tone that brought the same weight his narrations, whether is it was about cheese grating or his long bout with cancer has always been an enjoyable experience. For some, life’s sombre moments linger for far too long and there seem tobe a lot more of those moments than other people seem to notice. For those of us, Mr.Rakoff’s works stand out as a source of anchor and, may be even, an inspiration. Last Thursday, on Aug 9, David Rakoff passed away at the age of 47 in New York City.

I had the wonderful experience of watching his last performance in front of an audience during the live TAL cinema event conducted in May of this year. At that time, the cancer treatment had rendered his left arm useless and I don’t know if there is anyone who could have made that performance more powerful than Mr.Rakoff. It is not everyday when you see someone stand up to cancer with a poignant dance in the middle of an essay reading and then return to the narration with perspiration and steely determination as the audience exploded in applause. Thanks to the Internets, we can all enjoy and appreciate it.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldqjM7x6NhE&%5D

Thanks and good-bye, Mr.Rakoff.


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Ten Rules to Achieve Greater Learning

A new workweek is upon us and it is essential that we start the Monday with the right mindset. We don’t have control over whether good things or bad things happen to us, but what we can control is how we perceive the situation. No matter what the outcome is there is always something to learn from the situation which, may be a nuanced observation or an epiphany, could turn into a valuable piece of information for life. To learn well is to be a good student and being a good student takes constant effort. Here are 10 rules attributed to John Cage, a pioneering musician, composer and writer, and his sister Corita Kent, who is also a well-known artist and educator. The rules were constructed with the conventional teacher and student in mind, but as you read it, I am sure you will agree that it can easily be expanded to apply for human kind’s longest class in session – life.

1. Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

2. General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

3. General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

4. Consider everything an experiment.

5. Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

6. Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

7. The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

8. Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

9. Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

10. [We’re] breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do [we] do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.

General Strategies: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.

Via Brain Pickings


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Sight: The Next Revolution in Human Vision

Augmented reality is all the rage for futurists these days, especially since the announcement about Google Glasses. From the pictures it looks like a fashion accessory that also doubles as a virtual dashboard that brings necessary and relevant information in front of the wearer of the said glasses and as long as the person is ok with constantly distracting visuals with bright colors and big numbers swiping across his or her field of view, this gizmo can be an important piece in our evolving puzzle of exceeding the human limitations with technologies. By now I am sure we are all convinced that the commodity economy has faded and the knowledge based economy is in full swing. The next wave of instruments would not necessarily be about essential comforts and needs of the population, but will be devices whose whole purpose will be to place the right information at the right time in front of the right person. In the future, everyone knows nearly everything so only those who can create and manage the meta data (data about all the other data) would be different from the common population. They will control information and there by they will control everything. I hope Google releases those glasses in multiple styles of frames because that will probably be the one of few sets of choices we would have. (You are free to conjure even more dire and tyrannical future whose bleakness is only limited by your sick and twisted imagination.)

From all the sci-fi movies and books, we can make a decent guess that somehow these revolutionary devices would be used to control and manipulate people to the personal gains of a powerful few. Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo have imagined such a future world of augmented reality where glasses are replaced by contact lens and … I don’t want to spoil it.

Can’t wait for the future!

via Flowing Data


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How Big is Our Solar System

Ahh, the Universe. It is so freaking huge. The smartypants at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) managed to land the one ton SUV-sized rover called Curiosity, that doubles as minerals lab, on the surface of Mars, with exacting accuracy in the early earth-hours of this monday and it marks yet another step in our species’ centuries long marathon to find out if there are life forms outside our rapidly warming blue planet. Mars, which is 54.6 million kms (36 million miles) when it is nearest to earth, is only a short hop away if you consider the vast size of our solar system which, along with the universe, is constantly expanding. Let’s see what we’ve got. There is land where we live, then there is lower atmosphere where birds fly, then the upper atmosphere where clouds and airplanes cruise, then as you move farther out, you have your low, medium, and high orbit satellites, the International Space Station, the f*cking moon and that’s only about 238 thousand miles – barely an inch as far as the universe is concerned. Just consider what an insignificant speck of carbon molecules we are from the perspective of the planets and the stars, comets and asteroids, galaxies and constellations, vast gobbles gas and dust. It is scientifically impossible for our human brain to visualize and comprehend distances of such scale and it is for circumstances precisely such as this we have information design.
Behold the expertly designed infographic from the BBC. (I did steal borrow it from the BBC, but I am linking to their website, so its cool.)


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