To live with sincerity in our culture of cynicism is a difficult dance — one that comes easily only to the very young and the very old. The rest of us are left to tussle with two polarizing forces ripping the psyche asunder by beckoning to it from opposite directions — critical thinking and hope.

Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté.

~ Maria Popova

Sometimes the best pull-quote is what she quoted from her reading.

Often the best insight is something she herself has written.

Go follow Brain Pickings. Support her work — she’s one of the few wordsmiths building great content on the Internet.


Small b blogging is learning to write and think with the network. Small b blogging is writing content designed for small deliberate audiences and showing it to them. Small b blogging is deliberately chasing interesting ideas over pageviews and scale. An attempt at genuine connection vs the gloss and polish and mass market of most “content marketing”.

~ Tom Critchlow

…and of course, my having just linked to him is one the affect he’s talking about (among several others.)

Zooming out: This reminds me to get back to writing. Several months ago, I began an intentional hiatus from writing every day… and I really miss it. Hop to it, Craig!

Novice and Expert Learners

There are two important takeaways from this idea. The first is that this is a sliding scale not a pair of absolutes. Almost everyone sits somewhere between. Secondly, by virtue of their position, teachers coaches and educators will always be experts. They have deep domain specific knowledge about an issue and understand it in a very different manner from the novice learners they are invariably teaching.

~ John “Hedge” Hall

I am not a parkour coach. But John most definitely is. He gave a wonderfully lucid and thought-provoking discussion at the last Art of Retreat which has left a permanent idea/mark/lesson in my mind about the “journey” each of us goes through in our learning process. (Just because I feel I learned the lesson, doesn’t mean I’m necessarily any good at passing it along.)

Anyway, John has a lot of really good thoughts on inclusivity in practice!

Knuckle walkers

Walking on your knuckles is absolutely as odd as walking bipedally, a very peculiar way to get around. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s bothered anthropologists for years. Only chimps and gorillas do it. No one has come with the reason why—until now.

Having done quite a bit of walking on all-fours (aka “quadrapedie movement”, QM) I consider myself well-informed on this topic. Here’s my take:

Walking on knuckles sucks, but it is almost far superior to walking on the flat, open hands. Why does it suck? Because we humans are missing the fat pads (check the balls of your feet, and palm-side of your hand knuckles) that the Great Apes have on the back of their knuckles. When I walk on my knuckles in QM — and I do do that — I have to be very careful not to injure my knuckles. But in grass, it is delightfully more comfortable then flat, open hands. On your knuckles, the wrist is neutrally positioned and the wrist muscles are naturally activated, but not overly strained. The upper arm is easily kept inwardly rotated keeping elbows rotated/tucked rearward for a strong shoulder position. Meanwhile the forearm offers a nice range of rotation allowing comfortable hand placement.

Take a few steps on your knuckles and you cannot help but feel like a gorilla. rrr rrr RRR!

No instruction manual

The fact that you can’t remember an agreement you made with yourself doesn’t mean that you’re not holding yourself liable for it. Ask any psychologist how much of a sense of past and future that part of your psyche has, the part that was storing the list you dumped: zero. It’s all present tense in there. That means that as soon as you tell yourself that you should do something, if you file it only in your short-term memory, that part of you thinks you should be doing it all the time. And that means that as soon as you’ve given yourself two things to do, and filed them only in your head, you’ve created instant and automatic stress and failure, because you can’t do them both at once, and that (apparently significant) part of you psyche will continue to hold you accountable.

~ David Allen

…yes another quote from the GTD book.

In the first half of my life — say to age 40 — I made a HUGE MISTAKE: I presumed that I had a reasonable understanding of how my brain worked. I don’t mean at a physiology level; I still don’t really understand that. I mean at a day-to-day-doing-stuff, when-I-do-this-then-this-happens, this-is-how-one-lives sort of level. Like how I thought I knew how to use my brain to decide what to eat, what to work on, what to read, what to do with my time . . .

Now why on earth did i think I had any idea?

Seriously: You think of “me” as this “self-thing” located behind your eyes, but that “you” is just “running” in/on your brain. So have you ever tried different ways of running your life? How do you know reading some such book will or won’t change your life? Maybe you should experiment with everything. Try something radical: Pay attention to the results. You’re ALREADY following lots of advice — my advice, your mother’s advice, the TV ads’ advice, your doctor’s advice — but have you ever bothered to figure out what the results are? Then make a deliberate change intended to move you toward a specific goal. Observe results. Then make another change. Then another. And another.

I mean, it’s not like your entire life depends on the choices you … oh wait. *lightbulb*

Shuttle launches

I earn my living in comedy, but science is my hobby. I’m a fan of science: I hang out with scientists at science places and I read about science and scientists. My mom always says, “If you walk like a duck, talk like a duck, and hang around with ducks, people will start thinking you’re a duck.” This may be true for juvenile delinquents and waterfowl, but, unfortunately, if you walk like a scientist, talk like a scientist, and hang around with scientists, people will still know you’re a dumb-assed comedian.

0. When you get there, you will learn that SYMFTR is an acronym.

1. The piece begins with an apologwarning about it being long. It is not. …and if you have trouble reading pieces of this length — I weep for your soul and you really need to read more.

2. I once — ONCE — actually stood in the VIP area, 3.7 miles from a space shuttle when America EXPLODED HUMANS INTO SPACE. It was everything Penn describes. I should probably write about it, but it was so soo long ago. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anger is a temporary madness

This includes people who get angry, which is why Seneca calls anger a “temporary madness.” This class of individuals can certainly be held morally responsible for their actions, since they are perfectly capable of reason, they just don’t use it well.

Once more, louder for those in the back: Stoicism is not about suppressing emotions. It is about [among other things] having appropriate emotional responses.

How can I help?

These are questions this manager has homed in on during his decades-long career at a high-tech company. Here they are…

~ Chris Bailey

A short article listing the 3 questions managers should ask in every one-on-one meeting.

Meanwhile, separately, I have recently realized that I’ve started frequently asking, “How can I help?” (It seems to be my version of the advice to ask, ‘Why?’ five times.)