100 years later

“Obviously we want to celebrate the centennial of this amazing event,” Rosenow says, “but we also want to interrogate it. Above all, we really wanted to showcase the Egyptian team, whose hard work has been overlooked for 100 years. A lot of them did very demanding physical labor, but others had their own expertise.” Carter had been working in Egypt for 30 years before unearthing Tutankhamun’s tomb, she notes, and in that time, he had come to appreciate and rely on the deep knowledge of local people, who had lived near the Valley of the Kings—where Tutankhamun and other pharaohs were laid to rest—for generations. “These people knew that territory,” Rosenow says.

~ Amy Crawford from, https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/king-tut-exhibit-oxford

It’s well-understood that crimes were committed. I choose the word crime, because I wouldn’t characterize what western societies have done in their self-asserted efforts to preserve history, as “mistakes”; Mistakes are something you didn’t mean to do. And Tut’s tomb was perfectly preserved for 32 centuries without western intervention. All that said, it’s a great step to see a large, well–done exhibition about some of the things that were ignored or glossed over at best, and were outright exploitation at worst.

Another negative thread to tug at from this article would be to ask what—pray tell!—will remain from western civilizations after 32 centuries? It’d be nice if the civilization itself remained. I think that’s a good bet. But in terms of artifacts? …nuclear waste seems like a good guess. (Although, I have a dream that once we get nuclear fusion power generation working at industrial scales, we’ll be able to inject all sorts of waste into the process. If you tear anything down to it’s nucleic components, the plasma of loose protons, neutrons and electrons is all just the same soup.) But on a more positive note, https:longnow.org has some neat projects in mind aimed at surviving 100 centuries.

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Gone already?!

I just want to say that sometimes the things we do online have outsized consequences in the real world. It’s easy to forget that there are real people behind every screen. I forget about that almost every day but better people than me provide some good reminders.

~ Gabriel Weatherhead from, http://www.macdrifter.com/2021/09/thank-you-this-will-be-rough.html

My title refers to the fact that it’s only been four months, and this link has already rotted. In September 2021 I marked this for later reading, (note the /2021/09/ in that URL,) and I only just got around to reading it. I read it as a locally-cached copy in my read-later software, and then realized the link was dead when I tried to write this blog post… :(

I’m so sorry. It was a nice piece about how he had reread some Vonnegut over the pandemic year and… and… it’s already gone?!

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You’re doing it wrong

That morning, my mind spun as I tried in vain to re-create the various perceptions and emotions that had been written into Google’s servers and were now abandoned to the ether. I felt a sudden sense of mourning that I still have not gotten over. And yet, to my surprise, I felt something else alongside it: a conflicting sense of relief and even levity. I would never have voluntarily deleted all of those emails, but I also can’t deny, not entirely, that there is something cathartic about sloughing off those thousands of accumulated disappointments and rebukes, those passionate and pathetic fights and dramas, even those insights and stirrings—all of those complicated yet ephemeral layers of former selves that no longer contain me. I began to accept that I would need to imagine my way back into those previous mental states if they were truly worth revisiting—and that if I could not, then the loss was necessarily manageable. I closed my laptop, wandered outside into the specific corner of France that my former selves’ cumulative choices had led me to inhabit, and was overtaken by a sense of hope.

~ Thomas Chatterton Williams from, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/11/deleted-emails-gmail-inbox-capacity/672244/

Disclosure: I quoted the entire last paragraph. Yes, that takes the zing out of the article—but I fear few of you, dear readers, will click through for something… this again, Craig?! …related to my opinions about email.

If you have folders (and sub-folders, and sub-sub-folders) of email, or especially if your Inbox is not empty: You are doing it wrong. Don’t save the email. Instead figure out why you feel the urge to save the email. Then fix that urge.

The real underlying problem is that systems thinking is not something everyone is accustomed to. And lest you fear that Wikipedia article, it’s really very helpful. Does this sound like something worth understanding?

Systems thinking is a way of making sense of the complexity of the world by looking at it in terms of wholes and relationships rather than by splitting it down into its parts. It has been used as a way of exploring and developing effective action in complex contexts.

~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_thinking

You’re saving that email because it has a photo attached. Saving this other email because it has the order confirmation for that thing you just ordered—should be fine, but every once in a while you need that email when the thing doesn’t show up, or you need to return it, or you can’t log into their online system. Saving this other email because it has the details for that thing we’re going to. And this email has a link to something your friend said to read. That email is a newsletter you really want to maybe read later some day maybe. And so on. I’m not saying it’s easy to imagine systems for all of that stuff— but it is possible. Pick one of those emails, and have an honest think about why you’re saving it.

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slip:4a123.

Or soon every day will have gone by

… and soon the day has gone by and we wonder what we did with the day.

~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/interstitial/

I marked this for “read later” back in December 2021, and am just getting around to reading it. I know that many—most? all?—of the amazing coincidences I find in my life arise from my innate, monkey-brain drive to see patterns and causation where none actually exists. I don’t care. It’s a nice coincidence that I’ve just gotten around to reading this, while in the past couple of weeks I’ve been simplifying and focusing on a small number of things that I want to be working on.

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Screens and screen time

I read and hear a lot about how excessive “screen time” is bad. But there’s a distinction that has to be made: Is the “screen time” tool-use to accomplish something meaningful? …because tool-use is not bad for you. We don’t begrudge the time a mechanic spends wielding his tools; we call that “working.”

Today I spent nearly every waking minute in front of one of four different computer screens. For reasons of sanity and physical health, sometimes I was sitting, sometimes standing, sometimes indoors and outdoors for long stretches too. I also take intentional “vision breaks” to allow my eye muscles to relax—literally relax to infinite focusing distance, which they would otherwise never do facing a screen, or anywhere indoors.

What did I do? I did an enormous number of things. Here are a few examples from today: I submitted a presenter application for an in-person event in September. I worked on my presentation notes for a different, in-person event in 2 weeks. I researched and experimented with exporting the contents of a WordPress site, and then read and interpreted the massive data which was output, to verify that I could later write a program to parse it. I then planned out the work needed to disassemble the project, of which that WordPress site is but one piece. I estimate I spent three hours reading text articles I’d previously queued up to read later. I helped a member of a community sort out a problem they were having.

I, truly, don’t know about you. I however, am an excellent mechanic, with the finest tools, and there remain far more things worth doing than I can ever get done. My problem is not, “screen time.”

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2022’s touch-phrase shall be…

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I hope these emails aren’t piling up in your inbox. I know of at least one reader who really enjoys them. They enjoy them so much, they keep saving them for a better time to read them, and they now have a pile. That’s not what I meant to do to you; I’m so sorry!

Back on 3/3/2021, I changed this blog from going out as a daily email, to be a weekly email. One of the reasons was that I didn’t want my email piling up in your inbox. I don’t mean “waaaaaaaaa, you’re not reading!” I mean that I don’t want to be making your life worse. It doesn’t actually affect me whether you read in a timely fashion, read later, or not at all. But puh-LEASE think about this:

If you enjoy these emails so much, don’t you deserve to have a specific time that you can look forward to? Your favorite reading nook, a cup of tea (or rum or whatever)… you know: Make a little ritual out of it. If that ritual turns out to make your life better, then you can always remove my silly missives and slot in something actually worth reading. I digress.

Choose wisely.

Those of you who are regular readers will be aware that I’ve been thinkering on the touch-phrase for 2022. Coming out of the fourth turn, it looked briefly as if, Urgency?! might pull ahead in the final stretch to win by a, “U”. But it wasn’t to be; Choose Wisely was hard at it the whole way down the back stretch and simply had too demanding a lead for Urgency?! to overcome. And why did this turn into a horse race metaphor? They do sound like the name of race horses though. Choose Wisely takes up the mantel from a long lineage of winners: “No.” “Simplify” “Hell Yes! or no.” and “Festina Lente” (which is not an assessment of pasta’s done-ness) to name a few.

Hopefully—lest my life have no meaning—I’ve made you laugh, or think twice, in the past year. Seriously though, please consider hitting one of those supporter links at the tippy top. Every dollar really does matter and move me towards making a living doing things I enjoy.

In other news, I’ve hit the “Drop cap” button on that paragraph back there a ways. Why? No reason. Just always wanted to use it, just to see what it looks like in the emails.

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The great conversation

As Marcus stood upon the Stoa Poikile, he would have gazed across the Agora where Socrates once discussed philosophy, and where he was later put on trial, imprisoned, and executed. Beyond the Agora, Marcus would have seen the Temple of Athena known as the Parthenon. At that time a colossal statue of the goddess of wisdom looked down on Athens, from atop the Acropolis. Most of the drama of Socrates’ life had unfolded within the bounds of the Agora, under the gaze of Athena.

~ Donald Robertson from, https://donaldrobertson.name/2022/06/27/marcus-aurelius-on-socrates-2/

My title is a reference to, The Great Conversation, a book I’ve recently started reading. I’m not particularly interested in learning all of Philosophy, but I am interested in how those threads in which I am interested weave together. I’ve always found interesting the little bits of Socrates and his ideas which I’ve come across. I’m clearly interested in Stoicism (and a few historical figures who were its ancient proponents.) Robertson’s article is a fun exploration of Aurelieus’s interest in Socrates—he just missed Epictetus, and Socrates was already a historical figure. All of history, and so also Philosophy, is a conversation woven together, layered, erased and re-woven, re-relayered, and erased.

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Gone

This practice is one form of what Shinzen Young would call “Noting Gone.” (He uses gone as a noun here, a certain kind of sensation, rather than an adjective.) What you’re noting is the moment where a thing goes from being here in your awareness to being gone from it, and the feeling of that moment. It doesn’t matter what the thing is –- a fish, an LED light, a musical note, a shape formed by drooping power lines. It also doesn’t matter how it vanishes — by slipping beneath the surface, by turning off, by going silent, by exiting your field of vision. In all cases the this gone quality has the same feel. It is the unmistakable, mildly surreal sensation of a thing having vanished.

~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2022/06/the-vanishing-point/

This piece is a real splinter in my mind. I feel certain I’ve seen the “noting gone” concept before… but I can’t definitely find it. Perhaps I’m recalling that I read this very article, 6 months ago, AND marked it for reading later. So now I’m actually reading it a second time . . . It is definitely an unmistakable, mildly surreal sensation of a thing having vanished.

Also, in my quest to dig out the splinter, I searched for “gone” and got an interesting in itself set of posts.

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Advice

If you stop to listen to a musician or street performer for more than a minute, you owe them a dollar.

There is no such thing as being “on time.” You are either late or you are early. Your choice.

~ Kevin Kelly from, https://kk.org/thetechnium/103-bits-of-advice-i-wish-i-had-known/

Alas, though I’ve provided you a link, it has already rotted. (I lamented this just a few weeks ago too.) You’re welcome to click through, but it leads now to a teaser version of the original piece… and links to the it’s-now-a-book on Amazon. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I’m all for people making money off their own work. It’s just weird to me, because it was only just 5 months ago that I marked that URL for later reading (my read–things–later tool saved me a copy of the page) and yet now it is no more.

Pro-tip: If you have the URL to something (as I’ve given you above) the Internet Archive probably saved you a copy. For example, here’s 103 Bits of Advice… from May, 2022.

As for the specific bits of advice, above I’ve chosen just two to quote. The bit about being late or early is my favorite; The world would be infinitely better off if everyone learned that bit. And the bit about owing money to street musicians is one I learned later in life, but to which I strictly abide; If I stop to listen, I will contribute.

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Rediscovering movement

Play is a big part of our lives as children, but why do we lose our playfulness as we age? I talk a lot about the emotional and physical aspects of play, especially regarding Positive Ageing and aspects of Parkour. So many people feel like play is out of reach as they approach midlife, even though it’s an innate part of you.

~ Julie Angel from, https://julieangel.com/discovering-the-power-of-play-in-midlife/

Angel doesn’t write often, but when she does it’s something nice like this. I just want to say that physical movement and play are inseparable—without the former, you’re not really doing the later.

Or, perhaps I just want to say two things; That first thing, and that Angel is the film–maker who created my favorite video to share when people ask me, “what is parkour?” Movement of Three.

Actually, I want to share three things: Those two things, and Julie if you’re reading: OMG the cannoli!

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