Climb the Tree

“Chew on one thinker – writer, activist, role model – you really love. Study everything there is to know about that thinker. Then find three people the thinker loved and find out everything about them. Repeat this as many times as you can. Climb up the tree as far as you can go. Once you built your tree, it’s time to start your own branch.”–Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist

I have to say that is what I’ve been doing with Owen Barfield this past year, and still am. I just bought the only exhaustive biography to fill-in the “all about” part. And the year before, I did more or less the same about “Preston Howard”. So, when do I start the branch of my own? Am I doing that now with the War Story and the Foreign Country outlines?

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“To summarise: it is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarise the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarise the summary of the summary: people are a problem.”—Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

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Uninformed Criticism

When I first prepared this particular talk… I realized that my usual approach is usually critical. That is, a lot of the things that I do, that most people do, are because they hate something somebody else has done, or they hate that something hasn’t been done. And I realized that informed criticism has completely been done in by the web. Because the web has produced so much uninformed criticism. It’s kind of a Gresham’s Law — bad money drives the good money out of circulation. Bad criticism drives good criticism out of circulation. You just can’t criticize anything.–Alan Kay, How Simply and Understandably Could The “Personal Computing Experience” Be Programmed?

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Something’s more interesting than this

“And now, that’s always true.

“Whatever you’re doing.

“No matter who you’re with.

“Something, somewhere, is more interesting than this.

“And it’s in your pocket. Continue reading

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Absolute Faith and its Consequences

Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.–Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

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Choosing to be a Citizen

Citizens aren’t profit-seeking agents who are simply constrained by rules. Citizens behave even if there isn’t a rule about it.

Citizens aren’t craven partisans, voting for party over fact. Citizens do the right thing because they can, even if the short-term cost is high.

Citizens live by the rule of community: If everyone did what I’m about to do, would it lead to a useful outcome? Continue reading

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A Michael Moment

“Every great second act has a midpoint. In this instant something happens that ratchets our entire story to a higher level. The stakes go up, way up.

“Characters whom we thought we understood must suddenly be viewed in an entirely different, and far more serious, manner. The story upshifts. Every relationship in the narrative alters. Until this moment, we had thought the drama was about ‘X.’ At once we understand it’s about ‘X squared.'”–Steven Pressfield

In the upcoming “War Story”, what is the mid-point, what is the moment, and who is “Michael”?

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“One of the most useful bits of advice I ever got, came from the writer Anne Herbert who said that whenever she got an invitation to do something months away or even a week away, she asked herself whether she would accept the gig/meeting/task if it was tomorrow. The answer was often no. I use that immediacy trick all the time, and it has served me very well.”—Kevin Kelly

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The Internet of Beefs

“A beef-only thinker is someone you cannot simply talk to. Anything that is not an expression of pure, unqualified support for whatever they are doing or saying is received as a mark of disrespect, and a provocation to conflict. From there, you can only crash into honor-based conflict mode, or back away and disengage.”–Venkatesh Rao

Personally, backing away and disengaging has proved much more useful in the long run than full, “Go out in the parking lot and practice falling down, I’ll be right out” conflict mode.

Worth reading the whole thing, or it seemed so the first time I saw it.

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“Feminism is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands.”–G.K. Chesterton

Of course, that’s only the case in Chesterton’s day, and he died in 1936. Today’s feminism is different because…

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