When my friend and Cool Tools partner Kevin Kelly turned 68 a few weeks ago, he posted an essay to his website titled "68 bit of unsolicited advice." (I posted it to Boing Boing.) Kevin's advice quickly went viral, and this week he was the guest on the Freakonomics podcast, where he talked about the list, among other things.
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KELLY (reading from 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice): Learn how to learn from those who disagree with you, or even offend you. See if you can find truth in what they believe.
DUBNER: So the value of doing this one seems obvious, especially in a moment where so many people are so quick to take offense, and to be offensive. Can you give me an example of where you’ve actually done this?
KELLY: There are parts of my books where I’ve written something, and somebody will say something very strong, about, “That’s dumb,” or it’s stupid, or wrong. And that’s pretty harsh. But my take is to say, “Let me see if there’s any truth to that.” Sometimes there’s not. Sometimes there may be some sliver of something. And what I’ve learned to do is to respond to that little sliver. To try to get underneath why they’re saying it and where is it they’re coming from. I don’t have to necessarily always agree with them or change it, but I have to pay attention to that signal. And so I’ve learned to treat these things as signals rather than as insults.
My friend and Cool Tools parter, Kevin Kelly, just turned 68. Happy Birthday, Kevin! To celebrate, he posted 68 pieces of advice. Kevin is one of the wisest people I know, and when he gives advice, I never dismiss it lightly. Here are the first 10:
Learn how to learn from those you disagree with, or even offend you. See if you can find the truth in what they believe.
Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.
Always demand a deadline. A deadline weeds out the extraneous and the ordinary. It prevents you from trying to make it perfect, so you have to make it different. Different is better.
Don’t be afraid to ask a question that may sound stupid because 99% of the time everyone else is thinking of the same question and is too embarrassed to ask it.
Being able to listen well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love keep asking them “Is there more?”, until there is no more.
A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier.
Gratitude will unlock all other virtues and is something you can get better at.
Treating a person to a meal never fails, and is so easy to do. It’s powerful with old friends and a great way to make new friends.
Don’t trust all-purpose glue.
Reading to your children regularly will bond you together and kickstart their imaginations.
Read the other 58 here. Read the rest
It's seems likely that Covid-19 will be a pandemic, maybe on the order of the 1918 Spanish Flu (listen to this podcast episode of The New York Times' The Daily for a persuasive argument as to why). It might be a good time to prepare your home for an outbreak. This NPR article, "A Guide: How To Prepare Your Home For Coronavirus," has good advice.
Here's a summary:
Make sure you have a supply of daily prescription medication on hand, as well as over-the-counter fever reducers.
Have sufficient nonperishable foods to last your family for two weeks.
Have soup, crackers, and Gatorade or Pedialyte on hand should anyone in the house get sick.
Clean surfaces frequently with soap and water.
Wear a mask if you get sick.
Telecommute instead of going to an office, if possible.
Have a plan in place for kids and older family members.
Wash hands as soon as you enter your home.
Cough into your elbow.
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Washington College professor of archeology and anthropology Bill Schindler demonstrates some nifty fire-starting-from-scratch techniques. "Even though you may never find yourself in a survival situation," he tells Wired, "I firmly believe that learning and practicing these primitive skills are an essential part of connecting to your past, your environment, and everything it means to be human."
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In 1992, the El Paso police department fancied themselves rappers in this cautionary tale about gangbangers. The song's called "Think Twice" (words & music by Greg Brickey) and it's pretty awesome. I bet a lot of gang members saw this and were like "Woah, I should stop being a gang member!"
Even now, watching this has forced me to reconsider my life of crime. Read the rest
In Slate's latest Dear Prudence advice column, a woman writes in to ask if she should tell her husband that a famous comedian he admires (and for whose show he bought tickets for his wife and him to attend) treated her viciously 20 years ago:
“Jake” fell in love with me and reacted very angrily when I told him I’d like to remain friends. He’d lash out if he learned I’d done anything with another friend, and he’d turn vicious if that friend was male. I was always scared of upsetting him, because he had a really awful temper, which our mutual friends always downplayed. I eventually broke off contact after I was nearly raped and Jake told me I deserved it.
She says "'Jake' has become a much beloved public figure in the entertainment industry. He’s 'woke,' challenges people like Louis C.K., and is, as he always was, very funny."
Prudence's advice: "I think you need to tell your husband the truth of your 'friendship' with Jake, and ask that he tell your closest friends whichever version of this story you are comfortable is both true and also protective of your own privacy and emotional well-being."
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Project Farm is one of my favorite YouTube channels because the guy who makes them conducts useful tests to determine whether or not common tools and materials are all they're cracked up to be. In this video, he tries a bunch of different drain openers to break up hair and soap, vegetables and bacon grease, and a piece of tape and a paper towel. He also checks to see if the various uncloggers damage pipes.
The verdict: Drano, Liquid Plumr, and lye all get an "A." Clobber and hydrochloric acid both get a "B," and Drain Sticks and Roebic get a "C." Read the rest
Good things to know:
There's a little arrow on a car's fuel gauge that points to which side the car's fuel filler is on
Snap-blade knives have a removable piece with a groove you can use to snap off old blades.
French's Mustard squeeze bottles have lids that click into place when you open them all the way.
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Anxiety and depression are deeply inter-related and both are among the most terrible things I have ever experienced.
This is in no way to say that they are worse than other things. It’s not a competition and one of the many terrible things anxiety and depression do is make you feel guilty about feeling bad because so many people have it worse off than you, because of disaster or illness or poverty or circumstance, which just makes the whole thing worse.
Anxiety often starts with a specific concern, something you are worried about, either personal [aggh money, agggh relationships, aggg jobs, aggg illness] or public [agggh run around screaming the whole world is on fire and no one seems to be able to do anything oh dear god I can never look at the news again did that really say nuclear war why won’t it stop and gosh isn’t it getting hot recently].
At some point, it metastasizes, spreading from a particular thing you have been over-thinking about and becomes a persistent feeling of dread and discomfort that will then alter your perception of anything that you think about.
Or sometimes it just turns up for no fucking reason at all.
Dread and discomfort do not do it justice, however.
It makes getting out of bed sort of…terrifying. In fact, it makes anything you have to do at all sort of…terrifying. Even the thought of doing something is terrifying. The sensation is like when you get frightened and there is this clenching in your chest but it never alleviates and turns into a rat that is constantly gnawing at your insides, a thin ribbon of indescribable panic that sits under your ribcage and pulls your focus away from the world. Read the rest
Big Think asked Shane Parrish of Farnam Street to offer advice for getting the most out of a book. From the video (slightly edited for clarity):
Before you read a book, take a blank sheet of paper and write down what you know about that subject. You can mindmap it, or you can write bullet points. Then read a chapter of that book. Now go back to that sheet and use a different color pen and fill in the gaps: what did I learn?, did I learn a different terminology?, can I connect it to what I've already read?
Before you pick up the book for the next chapter skim this sheet. It primes your brain for what you're going to read. I think that's a really effective way to not only build on the knowledge you have but to connect what you're reading to the existing knowledge. It's going to show you what you've learned because it's going to be a very visual distinction. It's going to be a different color of ink, and I think that allows you to connect to the book.
I often do this in the jacket of the book if I don't have a physical piece of paper.
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As posted by Stance Grounded: "I've been doing it wrong this entire time ??" Read the rest
Internet funnyperson Choire "Awl" Sicha (previously) has a new gig: New York Times advice columnist; Sicha is not fucking around either: "The only circumstance in which you can ask this woman out is if she sends you a literal ink-on-paper invitation to do so, like, in calligraphy and maybe with a seal stamped in wax, which would be awesome. (Also might mean she’s a vampire?) But, sure, you can totally ask her out if you don’t care about (1) her security about working with men in any capacity forever or (2) your career! Then have a blast, cannonball as many lives as possible on your way down the trash chute." (via Kottke)
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There is a major retrospective of John Waters' visual art that's just opened in his hometown of Baltimore. It's called Indecent Exposure and it pulls pieces from his entire career. In this PBS NewsHour video, we get to see a glimpse of it guided by Waters himself. In the interview that follows, the filth elder himself gives young people some advice on how to look for opportunities to break into the contemporary art world:
"It's a secret biker club that hates you. I even have a piece that says, 'Contemporary Art Hates You.' because it does if you hate it first. It's a thin line. You can't have contempt about it and go in. You have to learn. You have to study a little. You have to figure it out... and suddenly this whole world opens up to you. You can see it in a completely different way. It was like you were blind before."
There's more, watch.
You can catch Waters' exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art until January 6, 2019.
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Exhibition highlights include a photographic installation in which Waters explores the absurdities of famous films and a suite of photographs and sculpture that propose humor as a way to humanize dark moments in history from the Kennedy assassination to 9/11. Waters also appropriates and manipulates images of less-than sacred, low-brow cultural references—Elizabeth Taylor’s hairstyles, Justin Bieber’s preening poses, his own self-portraits—and pictures of individuals brought into the limelight through his films, including his counterculture muse, Divine.
Did you know that cats like to be squished?
In this now-viral video, YouTube's Helpful Vancouver Vet, Dr. Uri Burstyn, shares advice on how to handle a cat. Introduce yourself and then be prepared to support and, yes, squish it.
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There's no guarantee that the cat in your life won't cut you at the drop of a hat, but learning the correct way to pick one up might make it think twice before breaking off a shiv in one of your vital organs. Read the rest
The US Navy's Polar Manual from 1965 may come in handy during this week's blizzards. From the list of "Polar Do's And Don't's":
1. Dares are neither offered nor taken. Necessary risks are bad enough.
25. Heavy and bulky polar clothing makes you clumsy and prone to accidents from lack of normal agility. Plan NOT to have an accident.
26. Do not touch cold metal with moist, bare hands. If you should inadvertently stick a hand to cold metal, urinate on the metal to warm it and save some inches of skin. If you stick both hands, you'd better have a friend along.
PDF: Polar Manual, Fourth Edition, 1965 (via Weird Universe)
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While "design thinking" has become an overused catchphrase among consultants, it is also a real thing, a formal methodology for solving difficult problems. Bill Burnett, the executive director of Stanford's Design Program where they take design thinking very seriously, and his colleague David Evans, who co-founded Electronic Arts and teaches a very popular Stanford course called "Designing Your Life," have written a new book based on the class titled "Designing Your Life: How To Build A Well-Lived, Joyful Life". Above is the trailer for the book. From the New York Times:
They say the practices taught in the class and the book can help you (in designing-your-life-speak) “reframe” dysfunctional beliefs that surround life and career decisions and help you “wayfind” in a chaotic world through the adoption of such design tenets as bias-for-action, prototyping and team-building....
The book includes things that are not in the class, like what Mr. Burnett and Mr. Evans call “anchor problems” — overcommitted life choices that keep people stuck and unhappy. A common mistake that people make, they said, is to assume that there’s only one right solution or optimal version of your life, and that if you choose wrong, you’ve blown it.
That’s completely absurd, Mr. Evans said: “There are lots of you. There are lots of right answers.”
"Designing Your Life: How To Build A Well-Lived, Joyful Life" (Amazon)
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