10 Christmas Controversies We Have Seen This Year – Listverse


via 10 Christmas Controversies We Have Seen This Year – Listverse

Reprogramming Your Subconscious Mind – Change Your Mind Change Your Life – Medium


“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality” — Earl Nightingale

via Reprogramming Your Subconscious Mind – Change Your Mind Change Your Life – Medium

Did you know…


Did you know…

… that today is the anniversary of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony Premiere? In 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven premiered his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies in Vienna, Austria, during a four-hour concert.

~~~

Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.”

— Dudley Moore

Whose Son Can Move Up the Social Ladder in India?


What is the likelihood (%) of a son becoming anything else, if his father’s occupation falls under the category ” ‘Professional’ (according to authors’ conversions of IHDS-1 categories)” ?

Agriculture and other labourers Lower Skilled Occupations Higher Skilled Occupations
Farmers Clerical ond Other Workers Professionals

via Whose Son Can Move Up the Social Ladder in India?

How Can We Understand India’s Agrarian Struggle Beyond ‘Modi Sarkar Murdabad’? | Economic and Political Weekly


via How Can We Understand India’s Agrarian Struggle Beyond ‘Modi Sarkar Murdabad’? | Economic and Political Weekly

 

SO the ideologue of the Farmers movement in India is sitting abroad?

The five types of mentors you need in your life |


iStock
Here’s how to assemble your personal dream team, with tips from business expert Anthony Tjan.
Everyone can use a mentor. Scratch that — as it turns out, we could all use five mentors. “The best mentors can help us define and express our inner calling,” says Anthony Tjan, CEO of Boston venture capital firm Cue Ball Group and author of Good People. “But rarely can one person give you everything you need to grow.”

In this short list, Tjan has identified the five kinds of people you should have in your corner. You probably already know them — and it’s possible for one person to cover two or more categories — so use this list as both a guide and a nudge to deepen your bond with them.

One reminder from Tjan: Mentorship is a two-way street — a relationship between humans — and not a transaction. So don’t just march up to people and ask them to advise you. Take the time to develop genuine connections with those you admire, and assist them whenever you can.

Mentor #1: The master of craft
“If you know you want to be the best in your field — whether it’s the greatest editor, football quarterback, entrepreneur — ask, Who are the most iconic figures in that area?” says Tjan. This person can function as your personal Jedi master, someone who’s accumulated their wisdom through years of experience and who can provide insight into your industry and fine-tuning your skills. Turn to this person when you need advice about launching a new initiative or brainstorming where you should work next. “They should help you identify, realize and hone your strengths towards the closest state of perfection as possible,” he says.

Mentor #2: The champion of your cause
This mentor is someone who will talk you up to others, and it’s important to have one of these in your current workplace, says Tjan: “These are people who are advocates and who have your back.” But they’re more than just boosters — often, they can be connectors too, introducing you to useful people in your industry.

Mentor #3: The copilot
Another name for this type: Your best work bud. The copilot is the colleague who can talk you through projects, advise you in navigating the personalities at your company, and listen to you vent over coffee. This kind of mentoring relationship is best when it’s close to equally reciprocal. As Tjan puts it, “you are peers committed to supporting each other, collaborating with each other, and holding each other accountable. And when you have a copilot, both the quality of your work and your engagement level improve.”

Mentor #4: The anchor
This person doesn’t have to work in your industry — in fact, it could be a friend or family member. While your champion supports you to achieve specific career goals, your anchor is a confidante and a sounding board. “We’re all going to hit speed bumps and go through uncertainty in life,” says Tjan. “So we need someone who can give us a psychological lift and help us see light through the cracks during challenging times.” Because the anchor is keeping your overall best interests in mind, they can be particularly insightful when it comes to setting priorities, achieving work-life balance, and not losing sight of your values.

Mentor #5: The reverse mentor
“When we say the word ‘mentor,’ we often conjure up the image of an older person or teacher,” says Tjan. “But I think the counterpoint is as important.” Pay attention to learning from the people you’re mentoring, even though they may have fewer years in the workplace than you. Speaking from his own experience, Tjan says, “Talking to my mentees gives me the opportunity to collect feedback on my leadership style, engage with the younger generation, and keep my perspectives fresh and relevant.”

Watch his TEDxBeaconStreet talk here:

via The five types of mentors you need in your life |

My fav Brainpickings.org newsletter.


This is a special annual edition of the Brain Pickings newsletter by Maria Popova. The regular Sunday edition will be with you predictably and reliably this weekend. If you missed the annual special of the year’s loveliest children’s books, you can see those here. If you find any value and joy in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation – over these twelve years, I have spent tens of thousands of hours and tremendous resources on Brain Pickings, and every little bit of support helps keep it going. And if you already donate: THANK YOU.

Favorite Books of 2018

I treat my annual best-of reading lists as Old Year’s resolutions in reverse — unlike traditional resolutions, which frame aspirational priorities for the new year, they present a record of the reading that merited priority over the year past. In consequence, they are invariably subjective and incomplete — a shelf’s worth of books that I, one person, read and enjoyed in the time given, with the sensibility I have. Since this year I finished writing one book and putting together another, my reading time for new releases has been especially limited, which means these annual selections are especially subjective — no doubt I missed a great many worthy and wonderful books. But of those I did read, here — in excerpts from the pieces I originally wrote about them earlier in the year — are the ones I loved with all my heart and mind:

SO FAR SO GOOD

sofarsogood_leguin.jpg?resize=680%2C862In November of 2014, the wise and wonderful Ursula K. Le Guin (October 21, 1929–January 22, 2018) — one of the great losses of 2018 — accepted the National Book Award with a stunning speech that quickly became our era’s supreme manifesto for protecting the art of the written word from the assault of the market. In consonance with her conviction, Le Guin sent the manuscript of her final poetry collection to an independent nonprofit poetry publisher, Copper Canyon Press, who turned directly to her readersto bring it to life. And oh how alive So Far So Good (public library) is — a sort of existential atlas, traversing bordering territories of mediations, incantations, and divinations on subjects like time, impermanence, and the splendors of uncertainty. Undergirding the verses is Le Guin’s largehearted generosity of spirit — toward the reader, toward nature and reality, toward the intertwined natures of life and art.

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Ursula K. Le Guin (Photograph: Euan Monaghan)

One of the loveliest poems in the book serenades a theme recurring throughout Le Guin’s body of work as her central poetic preoccupation and an animating force of her philosophical fiction: time.

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngHOW IT SEEMS TO ME
Ursula K. Le Guin

In the vast abyss before time, self
is not, and soul commingles
with mist, and rock, and light. In time,
soul brings the misty self to be.
Then slow time hardens self to stone
while ever lightening the soul,
till soul can loose its hold of self
and both are free and can return
to vastness and dissolve in light,
the long light after time.

FEEL FREE

zadiesmith_feelfree.jpeg?resize=320%2C486In the superb essay collection Feel Free (public library), Zadie Smith applies her symphonic mind to subjects as varied as music, what writers can learn from dancers, climate change, Brexit, the nature of joy, and the confusions of personhood in the age of social media.

In one of the most arresting essays, titled “On Optimism and Despair,” Smith takes on an eternal question that has bared its sharpest edges in our cultural moment — the question John Steinbeck tussled with when he wrote to his best friend at the peak of WWII: “All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.”

Caught in the maelstrom of the moment, we forget this cyclical nature of history — history being, as I wrote in Figuring, not what happened, but what survives the shipwrecks of judgment and chance. We forget that the present always looks different from the inside than it does from the outside — something James Baldwin knew when, in considering why Shakespeare endures, he observed: “It is said that his time was easier than ours, but I doubt it — no time can be easy if one is living through it.” We forget that our particular moment, with all its tribulations and triumphs, is not neatly islanded in the river of time but swept afloat by massive cultural currents that have raged long before it and will rage long after.

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Zadie Smith (Photograph by Dominique Nabokov)

Two days after the 2016 American presidential election, Smith — a black Englishwoman living in the freshly sundered United States — was invited to give a speech upon receiving a literary award in Germany. Traveling from a country on the brink of one catastrophic political regime to a country that has survived another, Smith took the opportunity to unmoor the despair of the present from the shallow waters of the cultural moment and cast it into the oceanic context of humanity’s pasts, aswirl with examples and counterexamples of progress, with ideals attained and shattered, with abiding assurance that we shape tomorrow by how we navigate our parallel potentialities for moral ruin and moral redemption today.

Nearly half a century after the German humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm asserted that “optimism is an alienated form of faith, pessimism an alienated form of despair” and a turn of the cycle after Rebecca Solnit contemplated our grounds for hope in dark times, Smith addresses a question frequently posed before her — why her earlier novels are aglow with optimism, while her later writing “tinged with despair” — a question implying that the arc of her body of work inclines toward an admission of the failure of its central animating forces: diversity, multiculturalism, the polyphony of perspectives. With an eye to “what the ancient Greeks did to each other, and the Romans, and the seventeenth-century British, and the nineteenth-century Americans,” Smith offers a corrective that stretches the ahistorical arc of that assumption:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngMy best friend during my youth — now my husband — is himself from Northern Ireland, an area where people who look absolutely identical to each other, eat the same food, pray to the same God, read the same holy book, wear the same clothes and celebrate the same holidays have yet spent four hundred years at war over a relatively minor doctrinal difference they later allowed to morph into an all-encompassing argument over land, government and national identity. Racial homogeneity is no guarantor of peace, any more than racial heterogeneity is fated to fail.

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Photograph by Maria Popova

Speaking from the German stage, Smith recounts visiting the country during her first European book tour in her early twenties, traveling with her father, who had been there in 1945 as a young soldier in the reconstruction:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngWe made a funny pair on that tour, I’m sure: a young black girl and her elderly white father, clutching our guidebooks and seeking those spots in Berlin that my father had visited almost fifty years earlier. It is from him that I have inherited both my optimism and my despair, for he had been among the liberators at Belsen and therefore seen the worst this world has to offer, but had, from there, gone forward, with a sufficiently open heart and mind, striding into one failed marriage and then another, marrying both times across various lines of class, color and temperament, and yet still found in life reasons to be cheerful, reasons even for joy.

[…]

He was a member of the white working class, a man often afflicted by despair who still managed to retain a core optimism. Perhaps in a different time under different cultural influences living in a different society he would have become one of the rabid old angry white men of whom the present left is so afeared. As it was, born in 1925 and dying in 2006, he saw his children benefit from the civilized postwar protections of free education and free health care, and felt he had many reasons to be grateful.

This is the world I knew. Things have changed, but history is not erased by change, and the examples of the past still hold out new possibilities for all of us, opportunities to remake, for a new generation, the conditions from which we ourselves have benefited… Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive.

Continue reading here.

SEARCHING FOR STARS ON AN ISLAND IN MAINE

alanlightman_stars.jpeg?resize=320%2C473“Every formula which expresses a law of nature is a hymn of praise to God,” pioneering astronomer Maria Mitchell wrote as she contemplated science, spirituality, and our conquest of truth. A century later, Carl Sagan tussled with the same question shortly before his death: “The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

It is, of course, an abiding question, as old as consciousness — we are material creatures that live in a material universe, yet we are capable of experiences that transcend what we can atomize into physical facts: love, joy, the full-being gladness of a Beethoven symphony on a midsummer’s night.

The Nobel-winning physicist Niels Bohr articulated the basic paradox of living with and within such a duality: “The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality. And splitting this reality into an objective and a subjective side won’t get us very far.”

Nearly a century after Bohr, the physicist and writer Alan Lightman takes us further, beyond these limiting dichotomies, in Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine (public library) — a lyrical and illuminating inquiry into our dual impulse for belief in the unprovable and for trust in truth affirmed by physical evidence. Through the lens of his personal experience as a working scientist and a human being with uncommon receptivity to the poetic dimensions of life, Lightman traces our longing for absolutes in a relative world from Galileo to Van Gogh, from Descartes to Dickinson, emerging with that rare miracle of insight at the meeting point of the lucid and the luminous.

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Art by Derek Dominic D’souza from Song of Two Worlds by Alan Lightman

Lightman, who has previously written beautifully about his transcendent experience facing a young osprey, relays a parallel experience he had one summer night on an island off the coast of Maine, where he and his wife have been going for a quarter century. On this small, remote speck of land, severed from the mainland without ferries or bridges, each of the six families has had to learn to cross the ocean by small boat — a task particularly challenging at night. Lightman recounts the unbidden revelation of one such nocturnal crossing:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngNo one was out on the water but me. It was a moonless night, and quiet. The only sound I could hear was the soft churning of the engine of my boat. Far from the distracting lights of the mainland, the sky vibrated with stars. Taking a chance, I turned off my running lights, and it got even darker. Then I turned off my engine. I lay down in the boat and looked up. A very dark night sky seen from the ocean is a mystical experience. After a few minutes, my world had dissolved into that star-littered sky. The boat disappeared. My body disappeared. And I found myself falling into infinity. A feeling came over me I’d not experienced before… I felt an overwhelming connection to the stars, as if I were part of them. And the vast expanse of time — extending from the far distant past long before I was born and then into the far distant future long after I will die — seemed compressed to a dot. I felt connected not only to the stars but to all of nature, and to the entire cosmos. I felt a merging with something far larger than myself, a grand and eternal unity, a hint of something absolute. After a time, I sat up and started the engine again. I had no idea how long I’d been lying there looking up.

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One of Étienne Léopold Trouvelot’s pioneering 19th-century astronomical drawings.

Lightman — the first professor at MIT to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and the humanities — syncopates this numinous experience with the reality of his lifelong devotion to science:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngI have worked as a physicist for many years, and I have always held a purely scientific view of the world. By that, I mean that the universe is made of material and nothing more, that the universe is governed exclusively by a small number of fundamental forces and laws, and that all composite things in the world, including humans and stars, eventually disintegrate and return to their component parts. Even at the age of twelve or thirteen, I was impressed by the logic and materiality of the world. I built my own laboratory and stocked it with test tubes and petri dishes, Bunsen burners, resistors and capacitors, coils of electrical wire. Among other projects, I began making pendulums by tying a fishing weight to the end of a string. I’d read in Popular Science or some similar magazine that the time for a pendulum to make a complete swing was proportional to the square root of the length of the string. With the help of a stopwatch and ruler, I verified this wonderful law. Logic and pattern. Cause and effect. As far as I could tell, everything was subject to numerical analysis and quantitative test. I saw no reason to believe in God, or in any other unprovable hypotheses.

Yet after my experience in that boat many years later… I understood the powerful allure of the Absolutes — ethereal things that are all-encompassing, unchangeable, eternal, sacred. At the same time, and perhaps paradoxically, I remained a scientist. I remained committed to the material world.

Against our human finitude, temporality, and imperfection, these “Absolutes” offer infinity, eternity, perfection. Lightman defines them as concepts and beliefs that “refer to an enduring and fixed reference point that can anchor and guide us through our temporary lives” — notions like constancy, immortality, permanence, the soul, “God”; notions unprovable by the scientific method. Conversely, however, notions that belong to this realm of Absolutes fall apart when they make claims in the realm of science — claims disproven by the facts of the material world. With an eye to how the discoveries of modern science — from heliocentricity to evolution to the chemical composition of the universe — have challenged many of these Absolutes, Lightman writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngNothing in the physical world seems to be constant or permanent. Stars burn out. Atoms disintegrate. Species evolve. Motion is relative. Even other universes might exist, many without life. Unity has given way to multiplicity. I say that the Absolutes have been challenged rather than disproved, because the notions of the Absolutes cannot be disproved any more than they can be proved. The Absolutes are ideals, entities, beliefs in things that lie beyond the physical world. Some may be true and some false, but the truth or falsity cannot be proven.

Generations after Henry Miller insisted that “it is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis,” Lightman adds:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngFrom all the physical and sociological evidence, the world appears to run not on absolutes but on relatives, context, change, impermanence, and multiplicity. Nothing is fixed. All is in flux.

[…]

On the one hand, such an onslaught of discovery presents a cause for celebration… Is it not a testament to our minds that we little human beings with our limited sensory apparatus and brief lifespans, stuck on our one planet in space, have been able to uncover so much of the workings of nature? On the other hand, we have found no physical evidence for the Absolutes. And just the opposite. All of the new findings suggest that we live in a world of multiplicities, relativities, change, and impermanence. In the physical realm, nothing persists. Nothing lasts. Nothing is indivisible. Even the subatomic particles found in the twentieth century are now thought to be made of even smaller “strings” of energy, in a continuing regression of subatomic Russian dolls. Nothing is a whole. Nothing is indestructible. Nothing is still. If the physical world were a novel, with the business of examining evil and good, it would not have the clear lines of Dickens but the shadowy ambiguities of Dostoevsky.

Continue reading here.

HOW TO BE A GOOD CREATURE

howtobeagoodcreature.jpg?resize=320%2C410“To be a good human being,” philosopher Martha Nussbaum observed“is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control” — to have, that is, a willingness to regard with an openhearted curiosity what is other than ourselves and therefore strange, discomfiting, difficult to fathom and relate to, difficult at first to love, for we cannot love what we do not understand. Out of such regard arises the awareness at the heart of Lucille Clifton’s lovely poem “cutting greens” — a recognition of “the bond of live things everywhere,” among which we are only a small part of a vast and miraculous world, and from which we can learn a great deal about being better versions of ourselves.

That is what naturalist and author Sy Montgomery, one of the most poetic science writers of our time, explores in How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals (public library), illustrated by artist Rebecca Green — an autobiographical adventure into the wilderness of our common humanity, where the world of science and the legacy of Aesop converge into an existential expedition to uncover the elemental truth that “knowing someone who belongs to another species can enlarge your soul in surprising ways.”

Looking back on her unusual and passionate life of swimming with electric eels, digging for mistletoe seeds in emu droppings, and communing with giant octopuses, Montgomery reflects on what she learned about leadership from an emu, about ferocity and forgiveness from an ermine, about living with a sense of wholeness despite imperfection from a one-eyed dog named Thurber (after the great New Yorker cartoonist and essayist James Thurber, who was blinded in one eye by an arrow as a child), and about what it takes for the heart to be “stretched wide with awe.”

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Illustration by Rebecca Green from How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery.

At the New England Aquarium, Montgomery gets to know one of Earth’s most alien creatures — the subject of her exquisite book The Soul of an Octopus. She writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngReading an octopus’s intentions is not like reading, for instance, a dog’s. I could read [my dog] Sally’s feelings in a glance, even if the only part of her I could see was her tail, or one ear. But Sally was family, and in more than one sense. Dogs, like all placental mammals, share 90 percent of our genetic material. Dogs evolved with humans. Octavia and I were separated by half a billion years of evolution. We were as different as land from sea. Was it even possible for a human to understand the emotions of a creature as different from us as an octopus?

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Illustration by Rebecca Green from How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery.

As Octavia slowly allows this improbable and almost miraculous cross-species creaturely connection, Montgomery reflects on the insight attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus — “The universe is alive, and has fire in it, and is full of gods.” — and writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngBeing friends with an octopus — whatever that friendship meant to her — has shown me that our world, and the worlds around and within it, is aflame with shades of brilliance we cannot fathom — and is far more vibrant, far more holy, than we could ever imagine.

Continue reading here.

A BURST OF LIGHT

audrelorde_aburstoflight.jpg?resize=320%2C498“There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear,” Toni Morrison exhorted in considering the artist’s task in troubled times. In our interior experience as individuals, as in the public forum of our shared experience as a culture, our courage lives in the same room as our fear — it is in troubled times, in despairing times, that we find out who we are and what we are capable of.

That is what the great poet, essayist, feminist, and civil rights champion Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934–November 17, 1992) explores with exquisite self-possession and might of character in a series of diary entries included in A Burst of Light: and Other Essays (public library).

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Audre Lorde

Seventeen days before she turned fifty, and six years after she underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer, Lorde was told she had liver cancer. She declined surgery and even a biopsy, choosing instead to go on living her life and her purpose, exploring alternative treatments as she proceeded with her planned teaching trip to Europe. In a diary entry penned on her fiftieth birthday, Lorde reckons with the sudden call to confront the ultimate fear:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngI want to write down everything I know about being afraid, but I’d probably never have enough time to write anything else. Afraid is a country where they issue us passports at birth and hope we never seek citizenship in any other country. The face of afraid keeps changing constantly, and I can count on that change. I need to travel light and fast, and there’s a lot of baggage I’m going to have to leave behind me. Jettison cargo.

“Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,” the poet Mark Strand, born within weeks of Lorde, wrote in his stunning ode to mortality. Exactly a month after her diagnosis, with the medical establishment providing more confusion than clarity as she confronts her mortality, Lorde resolves in her journal:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngDear goddess! Face-up again against the renewal of vows. Do not let me die a coward, mother. Nor forget how to sing. Nor forget song is a part of mourning as light is a part of sun.

By the spring, she had lost nearly fifty pounds. But she was brimming with a crystalline determination to do the work of visibility and kinship across difference. She taught in Germany, immersed herself in the international communities of the African Diaspora, and traveled to the world’s first Feminist Book Fair in London. “I may be too thin, but I can still dance!” she exults in her diary on the first day of June. She dances with her fear in an entry penned six days later:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngI am listening to what fear teaches. I will never be gone. I am a scar, a report from the frontlines, a talisman, a resurrection. A rough place on the chin of complacency.

Continue reading here.

CALL THEM BY THEIR TRUE NAMES

callthembytheirtruenames_solnit.jpg?resize=320%2C457“Finding the words is another step in learning to see,”bryologist Robin Wall Kimmerer wrote in reflecting on what her Native American tradition and her training as a scientist taught her about how naming confers dignity upon life. If to name is to see and reveal — to remove the veil of blindness, willful or manipulated, and expose things as they really are — then it is in turn another step in remaking the world, another form of resistance to the damaging dominant narratives that go unquestioned. Walt Whitman knew this when he contemplated our greatest civic might“I can conceive of no better service… than boldly exposing the weakness, liabilities and infinite corruptions of democracy.”

A century and a half after Whitman, Rebecca Solnit — one of our own era’s boldest public defenders of democracy, and one of the most poetic — explores this crucial causal link between the stories we tell and the world we build in Call Them by Their True Names (public library) — a collection of her essays at the nexus of politics, philosophy, and the selective record of personal and political choices we call history. Composed in response to more than a decade’s worth of cultural crises and triumphs, the pieces in the book furnish an extraordinarily lucid yet hopeful lens on the present and a boldly uncynical telescopic perspective on the future.

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Rebecca Solnit (Photograph: Sallie Dean Shatz)

Solnit writes in the preface:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngOne of the folktale archetypes, according to the Aarne-Thompson classification of these stories, tells of how “a mysterious or threatening helper is defeated when the hero or heroine discovers his name.” In the deep past, people knew names had power. Some still do. Calling things by their true names cuts through the lies that excuse, buffer, muddle, disguise, avoid, or encourage inaction, indifference, obliviousness. It’s not all there is to changing the world, but it’s a key step.

When the subject is grim, I think of the act of naming as diagnosis. Though not all diagnosed diseases are curable, once you know what you’re facing, you’re far better equipped to know what you can do about it. Research, support, and effective treatment, as well as possibly redefining the disease and what it means, can proceed from this first step. Once you name a disorder, you may be able to connect to the community afflicted with it, or build one. And sometimes what’s diagnosed can be cured.

That, indeed, is what the philosopher and Trappist monk Thomas Merton celebrated in his beautiful fan letter to Rachel Carson after she catalyzed the modern environmental movement by speaking inconvenient truth to power in exposing the truth about pesticides, marketed at the time as harmless helpers to humanity — an act Merton considered “contributing a most valuable and essential piece of evidence for the diagnosis of the ills of our civilization.” Such naming of wrongs, betrayals, and corruptions unweaves the very fabric of the status quo. It is, Solnit argues, “the first step in the process of liberation” and often leads to shifts in the power system itself. In the age of “alternative facts,” when language is used as a weapon of oppression and manipulation, her words reverberate with the irrepressible, unsilenceable urgency of truth:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngTo name something truly is to lay bare what may be brutal or corrupt — or important or possible — and key to the work of changing the world is changing the story.

Continue reading here.

HIKING WITH NIETZSCHE

hikingwithnietzsche_kaag.jpg?resize=320%2C491Chance and choice converge to make us who we are, and although we may mistake chance for choice, our choices are the cobblestones, hard and uneven, that pave our destiny. They are ultimately all we can answer for and point to in the architecture of our character. Joan Didion captured this with searing lucidity in defining character as “the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life” and locating in that willingness the root of self-respect.

How To Increase Your Eidetic Memory | Insanity Mind. I found this quite interesting.


via How To Increase Your Eidetic Memory | Insanity Mind

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How To Increase Your Eidetic Memory

large_69662651The eidetic memory  is an ability to recall images, sounds or objects in memory with high precision for a few seconds without using mnemonics. It is the closest thing to photographic memory (which actually, does not exist!).

Eidetic memory is very poor in adults, but it can be increased with proper training. This post will show you how you can train your eidetic memory.

An improved eidetic memory will increase you reading speed. You can use this enhanced ability to read faster, and acquire data quicker. This is very important when doing speed reading, or when participating on a speed memory championship.

The Technique

You need to train your eidetic memory in three ways: one in speed, two, in space, and three, in quantity.

Remember that in order to train this skill you cannot use your mnemonic skills like the ones you learned here. The goal now is to train just eidetic.

Training your eidetic memory in speed

This training technique is made to train your speed in perceiving and remembering what you have seen. The idea is that you require the shortest amount of time to eidetically memorize what you have seen.

To train this ability, you can make use of a computer program that presents to you something for a very short amount of time. You can start, showing the stuff for half a second. However you should decrease that time as you train. Good memorizers usually take less than 100 ms to eidetically memorize a list of 10 numbers.

Training your eidetic memory in space

The goal is to make you able to memorize stuff that is separated in space with a single eye shot, provided that you do not have the time to move your eyes from one stuff to the other (because is very slow). For example, imagine memorizing a telephone number in a single eye shot, without reading the number from the first number to the last. To achieve this feat, you should train the use of your periferic vision.

To train this skill you need to use a program that shows to you stuff that is separated, both in height and in width. You start at a given short distance, and progressively increase that distance to increase your eye span.

Training your eidetic memory in quantity

With this training, you try to remember as much data as possible. For example, if you are memorizing telephone numbers, you should add more and more numbers to the list to memorize.

To train this skill, you should use a program that shows you stuff to memorize, and progressively increases the amount of stuff shown, without increasing the time to memorize it.

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The Workout

There are two workouts, and both of them combine the three required trainings. In each workout you are going to train eidetic in speed, in space and in quantity at the same time.

For the workouts you will need to download and familiarize with the official Speed Memory program (which works in Windows only). You can download the program from here. Learn at the Speed Memory page how to use the program. Then come here to perform the workout.

Everyday, from Monday to Friday, perform the two following workouts.

Workout n.1: decimal numbers

  1. First, download this configuration file for the Speed Memory program.
  2. Start the Speed Memory program and load that configuration file on it.
  3. The config file configures the program to show you a group of 4 decimal numbers at the center of the screen for 0.5 seconds, when you press start.
  4. Press start and try to memorize the 4 numbers. Then write them in the form that will appear on the screen.
  5. If you feel like you did not have time, increase the time of shown by 0.1 seconds more.
  6. If you feel like it was easy,  decrease the time by 0.1 seconds.
  7. If you reached the time of 0.1 seconds, then, instead of decreasing the time, increase the number of decimals shown. Add another number at the right, and another at the bottom (you will have to play with the configuration to arrange them close to the other numbers).
  8. Repeat from step number 4 for 20 times.

Workout n.2: binary numbers

  1. First, download this configuration file for the Speed Memory program.
  2. Start the Speed Memory program and load that configuration file on it.
  3. The config file configures the program to show you a group of 4 binary numbers at the center of the screen for 0.5 seconds, when you press start.
  4. Press start and try to memorize the 4 numbers. Then write them in the form that will appear on the screen.
  5. If you feel like you did not have time, increase the time of shown by 0.1 seconds more.
  6. If you feel like it was easy,  decrease the time by 0.1 seconds.
  7. If you reached the time of 0.1 seconds, then, instead of decreasing the time, increase the number of binaries shown. Add another number at the right, and another at the bottom (you will have to play with the configuration to arrange them close to the other numbers).
  8. Repeat from step number 4 for 20 times.

Conclusion

Everybody can improve his eidetic memory. Actually, it is a very important skill if you want to participate on a speed memory competition.

 

 

 

photo credit: clickykbd via photopin cc

photo credit: jef safi via photopin cc

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