logo Ming the Mechanic - Category: Inspiration
An old rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open, free and exciting is waking up.

Monday, December 18, 2006day link 

[ | 2006-12-18 02:32 | 49 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Thursday, October 19, 2006day link 

 A sentence about yourself
When Buckminster Fuller was asked by "Who's Who�" to write a one-sentence statement of his life objectives on the model of de Tocqueville’s 152-word "aphoristic declaration", this is what he wrote:
Acutely aware of our beings' limitations and acknowledging the infinite mystery of the a priori universe into which we are born, but nevertheless searching for a conscious means of hopefully competent participation by humanity in its own evolutionary trending while employing only the unique advantages inhering exclusively to the individual who takes and maintains the economic initiative in the face of the formidable physical capital and credit advantages of the massive corporations and political states and deliberately avoiding political ties and tactics while endeavoring by experiments and explorations to excite individuals’ awareness and realization of humanity’s higher potentials I seek through Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science and its reductions to physical practices to reform the environment instead of trying to reform men being intent thereby to accomplish prototyped capabilities of doing more with less whereby in turn the wealth augmenting prospects of such design science regenerations will induce their spontaneous and economically successful industrial proliferation by world around services’ managements all of which chain reaction provoking events will both permit and induce all humanity to realize full lasting economic and physical success plus enjoyment of all the Earth without one individual interfering with or being advantaged at the expense of another.
Cool. I'd like to be able to write a sentence about myself like that, but I'd need to work on that a bit.
[ | 2006-10-19 17:58 | 13 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Tuesday, October 3, 2006day link 

A SubGenius rant against normalcy:
Who is it that gets together in mobs and hunts down, tortures and kills people who are different from them? Who is it that teaches modesty, courtesy, and generositv but lives in depravity, rudeness, and greed? Who is it that can gather together the time, energy and money to murder millions and destroy cities for the sake of a flag, deity, or economic system? Not weirdoes, not kooks or cranks or nuts. It's the "Normal" people who do those things.

It's the "Normal" people who believe there's only one "real world" and it's the one THEY'RE living in. It's the "Normal" people who kill each other over differences in that reality, and if someone can't trick themselves into ignoring the millions of inconsistencies or can't gloss over the gaping flaws in that reality-construct, or can't even pretend convincingly that they believe that flimsy and self-contradictory world is ALL TRUE, rather than have their own illusory stability undermined or accept that other ways of thinking and seeing might be valid, the "Normal" people imprison those "mentally ill," and experimentally destroy their personalities by use of drugs, electroconvulsion, and brain surgery.
I couldn't say it better myself. Watch out for those normal people, they're very dangerous.(Via BoingBoing)
[ | 2006-10-03 15:41 | 27 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Sunday, July 23, 2006day link 

 Believe Nothing
Just a little advice
[ | 2006-07-23 12:18 | 24 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Tuesday, July 11, 2006day link 

 The Law of Attraction
"Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your
words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny."
I was just watching The Secret, a 1.5 hour film about .... well, it isn't that it is that secret, or is it? The Law of Attraction. A bunch of inspiring motivational speakers and authors tell you, very well, and very convincingly, about what might be the biggest secret you need to know in your life. It costs a couple of dollars to see it online, but if, like me, you're on a Mac Intel that their video system can't handle, you can look around and find it on YouTube or in Wikipedia.

Next to my bed is the book Ask and it is Given, which teaches exactly the same thing. And, well, there are lots and lots of books that do so. The Master Key System is a cheap e-book. There are lots, and there has been for a long time. In 1957, Earl Nightingale, the co-founder of the Nightingale-Conant Corporation, and a famous motivational speaker and author made a record called "The Greatest Secret". Same secret.

And, yes, lots of folks would automatically be completely unwilling to accept such a far-out and naive new age idea. Doesn't matter. The proof is in the pudding. It is a concept that pretty much is self-proving. Except for the annoying aspect that if it doesn't work for you, it is for the same reason as why it works, and one is quite likely to reject it.

The simple point is that you get what you focus on in life. You get the types of experiences that you consistently think about, that you feel you're likely to get, that you expect and that you believe in. You attract to you that which you're emanating.

With what we've learned from quantum physics that doesn't have to be as outlandish an idea as you might think. Who is observing and how they're observing will influence what is observed. You can't say with certainty what is there without taking into consideration how it is observed and by who. Well, certainly at the quantum level, but, to the chagrin of some scientists, a lot of folks have found that to apply quite well to life in general. It is rather easy to understand, and in many ways easy to demonstrate. You go out into traffic and look for red cars, and you'll see a whole lot. Our senses are filters, as are our brains, so if you focus on a particular wavelength of stuff, it should be no great surprise that you'll get it. It should not be an extraordinary mental jump to the hypothesis that life works like that all the time. Whatever you focus on, you'll see more of it. Or more tangibly, you'll get more of it. Whatever you're thinking all the time, you'll be it. Whatever you're believing will tend to be validated. You think you have problems, and you're looking for problems - you'll have problems.

It can be put very simply by calling it "attraction". You attract that which, uhm, you're attracting. I.e that which you're broadcasting strongly that you want. If you tell everybody you know that you're looking to adopt a kitten, you'll attract a kitten in no time. No surprise. If you didn't tell anybody, it would be harder. But even if you told just yourself, and you thought a lot about getting a kitten, you'd probably succeed. You'd probably succeed a little faster if you put a picture of a cute kitten on your refrigerator, and you looked at that every day. That would make you think about it, feel positive about it, look forward to it, look for it, and be ready for it. And if any kitten should be available in your environment, you'd be quite likely to run into it.

The funny, or not so funny, thing is that it works just the same whether you think about the positive or negative version of it. I.e. whether you want it or "don't want it". It is a well-know fact for a hypnotist or an NLP practitioner that negatives don't matter at all in the mind. Whether you think "I don't want to burn myself" or you think "I want to burn myself", it has pretty much the same result. Both will be a message to yourself, to your nervous system, and to your general environment that you're looking to burn yourself. Psychology in general seems to be unfamiliar with that, as are usually public leaders. That's what gives rise to stupid campaigns like "Say NO to Drugs!". Or "Don't Smoke!", or "Don't have Sex!" or whatever it is. It is like when I tell you "Don't think about a pink elephant!". You can not even process what I'm saying without thinking about a pink elephant in some way. Whether there's a "no" or a "don't" in there or not, it is a suggestion to think about what I'm putting forward. And a hypnotist can tell you that it is probably more effective as a suggestion if it is camouflaged as a negative than if it is as a positive order. "You don't have to.. Get really relaxed!" works much better than "Get relaxed right now!"

So, same thing with your own thoughts and feelings. Whether you're getting worked up about wanting something or about wanting it to go away, if you spend a lot of energy on creating it in your thoughts and feelings, you're just the same attracting the actual experience to you.

That gives the rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer effect. I.e. you automatically get more of what you already have. No sinister motives have to be assigned to anybody to explain that. If you make a lot of money, and you have proof of being good at it, and you spend a lot of thoughts on imagining how you'll do even better, and you look for it, and you expect it ... then you'll be very likely to succeed, and get more of it. If you spend your energy on lamenting what you don't have, and how hard and impossible it is, and you react negatively to the obstacles you find in your way, you're naturally attracting more of the same.

The hard part here is of course how to change one's direction, if one doesn't like it. Mainly because of that feedback loop. You see what you don't like, you get irritated about it, think about it, curse it, complain about it. It is hard to suddenly spend one's creative powers on something entirely different. It is so much easier when one already is going in that direction.

If one decides to give it a try, one might quite likely give up too easily. Lots of people believe in the power of positive thinking. So, maybe you'll start saying affirmations. You might tell yourself every morning that everything is perfect, and all that you need is coming to you. And, well, if you start believing it, and you act accordingly, you're probably good. That might do it. But if you don't really feel it, it doesn't matter what you say to yourself. The point is that you attract that which you believe, that which you sincerely feel, consistently. And if you start feeling something different, it might take weeks before you see any result of that. And in the meantime you might well have decided that it didn't work, and you go back to your old unsuccessful ways of trying to change your world. In order to change and to change your circumstances, you have to keep going in a new direction long enough for it to actually manifest.

In my own experience, I've never found anything to contradict the law of attraction. I've worked as a counselor with hundreds of clients, and I've always found that they had a life that corresponded with their internal make-up. They had pretty much the successes and failures that they expected to have. They could do or not do pretty much what they believed they could. They might not be happy with what they got, but they generally had gotten exactly what they were asking for. And the only workable approach to personal change I've found would be to change your mind and start asking for something else, and believing you ought to have something else happening.

Despite that, I must admit that I personally find it as hard as anybody else to change my direction in life if things aren't going my way. At least sometimes I do. When things are flowing in a good direction, it is easy to make more good things happen. But if proof is stacking up that you aren't doing well at it, it is a little too easy to believe it.

Then it is nice to have some good meta-beliefs. Like, personally, I believe that things always work out. It is a little vague, and that doesn't tell me when or how, but I know that all problems eventually get sorted out. I mean, I've made it this far, so of course they do. And it is nice to be able to look back at past experiences where one has accomplished something against the odds, simply by keeping focused on it.

The Law of Attraction is kind of annoying, unless one has mastered it. You get that which you put out. Pisses me off a bit. It would be so nice to blame somebody else if you don't succeed in something. Much harder to admit one just didn't agree with oneself well enough. But on the other hand, it could be the most positive and mind-blowing thing to know about life, in comparison with which all other details will pale. Wherever you currently are, you can do whatever you want, as long as you're clear about it and you focus on it.
[ | 2006-07-11 23:50 | 140 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Saturday, July 8, 2006day link 

 Paper Clip to House
picture And it actually worked...! On July 12th, 2005, Kyle MacDonald took a little red paperclip off his desk and announced that he would trade it for something bigger and better, repeatedly, until he had a house. He made this site, blogging about each step of the way. How the paperclip was traded for a pen shaped like a fish, for which he got an artistically crafted door knob, which became a barbecue, an electricity generator, an instant party kit, a snowmobile, a moving truck, which became a recording contract, which then became one year's free rent, which was swapped for an afternoon with Alice Cooper, which became a KISS snowglobe, which became a paid role in a film, which became a two-story house in Kipling Saskatchewan Canada.

I was kind of pretty sure he was going to succeed after seeing the first 3 or 4 steps. Because it is a very unique idea, and he presented it in a charming way, and he got A LOT of publicity, because everybody was linking to it and writing about it.

What surprised me was some of the bizarre choices, which logically speaking should have been down-trades, but which somehow worked anyway. I mean, one year's rent in a nice house for an afternoon with Alice Cooper?!? And then down to a KISS snowglobe. Oh, horror!! Where a couple of steps earlier he had $9000 truck. But it worked. Corbin Bernsen was making a movie, and liked the publicity of offering a paid movie role for the snowglobe, and, yes, maybe he actually does collect snowglobes. And the little town of Kipling thought that was cool too, and they apparently had a house standing around to give away, so there you go. Rather illogical, but it doesn't matter at all.

Certainly demonstrates ... what? That you can achieve anything, if you set your mind to it, and you're doing it in an interesting and original way. That internet publicity has a lot of value, and you can get it for nothing, if your idea is fun and interesting enough.

Lots of news stories and mentions, like here.
[ | 2006-07-08 14:24 | 16 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Tuesday, July 4, 2006day link 

 Thinking Bigger Tricks
picture If you think you have problem, it sometimes helps to imagine something bigger. Like, a much bigger problem. Then your current problems at hand suddenly seem much smaller and easier by comparison. You can't quite get your diet to work? Well, a billion people in the world are starving - that's a bigger problem, and in comparison, it is very insignificant if you weigh 5kg too much. It also works if it is something positive, if you get to think of something so wonderful that, again, your current problems become insignificant. Which shirt should you wear, the white one or the grey one, or should you go shopping for a new shirt? Well, if the doorbell is ringing, and outside you see a news crew, and the smiling host of your local Lottery program - you'll be choosing that shirt in no time at all. No longer any problem.

Most obstacles in life are really quite relative. What you call problems will for somebody else be nothing at all, something to solve in half a second. What you call problems will for somebody else be a great blessing. You don't know what company to choose to replace the window shades on your car? Hey, in the first place, you have a car, and most people in the world are not so lucky.

Likewise, your own obstacles will seem different to you depending on what you compare them with. Like, depending on what objective you're working towards, and how much you believe in it. If suddenly you have something more important to do, you'll handle most things in no time, and you'll take on some challenges you otherwise would never have thought of.

Here's a couple of thought experiments Max and I thought up once, a long time ago. Nothing terribly unique about them, but they illustrate the possibilities well.

Imagine you're going to die tomorrow, or maybe next week. What would you do? Clearly, your priorities would totally change if you knew, for sure, that you were going to die shortly. A lot of petty issues no longer would be an issue. Other things, which you have been ignoring, suddenly become very important. You'd probably want to tell people close to you that you love them, even if you forgot to mention it previously. You'd suddenly feel like calling up people you had some minor conflict with, and settling it. You'll apologize to a few people, for things that you did or didn't do. You'll probably put some of your affairs in order, making sure your family is taken care of, as well as possible, and that they know the password to the checking account, and that kind of thing. And then you'd probably concentrate on having the most quality time you can in your remaining days. Doing the best things you can imagine, with people you care for, and doing it in the most intense and emotionally awake way that you possibly can.

OK, you might react totally differently, and go into a deep depression, and hide in your room, and not mention it to anybody. But that would be missing the great opportunity. The opportunity to bring everything up to date, and to revel in the love and good will and closeness and compassion you kind of wanted all along, but didn't get around to.

Noticing that you very well could do most of that in a week, the question is of course why you don't just do it anyway, every day, even if you don't know you're going to die next week. After all, you might indeed be killed in any instant, by a stray meteor or a falling brick or a heart attack or a drunk driver. You don't really know, and you don't really have any good way of avoiding it. So, why not live in the moment every day, bring out the best qualities of life, and don't leave anything dangling. Say what you feel. If you feel you need to do something, do it now, as you won't necessarily get the chance again.

Such a thought experiment might of course remind you of that. Maybe inspire you to do the things that really are important, rather than messing around with unimportant stuff you don't really enjoy anyway.

Another experiment: imagine you're an inter-galactic agent who's been sent to this planet in order to clean things up. The planet is on a downward course, people are fighting about stupid stuff, destroying their environment rapidly, and following self-serving leaders who don't have more of a clue than they do. Something needs to be done, so the Grand Council in the galactic core have sent YOU. What are you going to do?

Most of us settle down on having a certain standing in life, a certain sphere of influence, a certain range of things we might attempt to do. It is different for each of us, but most of us imagine certain boundaries around our sphere of influence. I might start a business, I might be on the parent's council in my kid's school, I might get a bigger car, I might win the lottery. And I sort of position my problems and obstacles within that sphere. I might have some trouble starting a business, I might argue with the other parents in my kids school, I need to pay my mortgage and my taxes, etc. I adopt these problems as part of my allotted place in life. It goes with the territory.

Some people, who seem no more well-equipped as human beings than me, might choose bigger lots in life. To be a politician, and be elected to office, for example. They're not smarter people, but merely people who assume that they ought to do that. You might assume that your lot in life is to be wealthy and run a big company. It is not that you necessarily have something I don't have, but you define your playing field that way, and you define your obstacles accordingly. The steps for getting a bank to lend you $50,000,000 are not terribly different from the steps of getting them to lend you $50,000. Hiring 1000 people is not inherently different from hiring 1. It is just that one adopts and accepts a different scope and some challenges of a different size.

So, OK, I've been sent here on a mission, and I have, say, 1 year to change the course of the planet. What would I do? Well, I probably wouldn't just aim for getting an apartment in the suburbs and a job as an office clerk, and keeping up with my car payments, and trying to catch the latest shows on TV. Maybe I'd do some of those things as part of my plan, but that wouldn't be my focus at all. I'd have to look at it strategically. What is the power structure on this planet? Who are the most influential players? Where are they? How do I enter their circles? Who would be my allies? How do I acquire large amounts of resources very quickly? What are the most effective means for influencing mass opinion? What's the most effective framing for a movement that will change the planet - a religion, a polical party, a business, a media event, a technology? Once I establish the targets and the means, I have to go about it systematically and quickly. I only have a year, so I need to meet some major milestones every day.

That wouldn't be an easy job, but you get the idea. If that were actually what I was here for, I'd do very different things than I otherwise would. And I'd be quite likely to make some significant progress with it.

You'll notice, of course, that there already are people who work like that. Maybe they don't consider themselves inter-galactic agents, but they somehow have the motivation to claw themselves to the top of the heap, where they'll have the influence they desire. People who think very big and who don't hesitate. People who'll go directly for the most powerful points of leverage, and have no qualms about whether they deserve it or not. And the difference between them and you is not their inherent skills, but mainly the scope of their vision. They believe they ought to do something big, and they don't let themselves be stopped by small obstacles. It doesn't matter if they start with no resources. It is all in the attitude.

So, point being, you are free to frame your life as you want it. You're equally free to choose a big frame as a small frame. The frame is just something you imagine, but it helps greatly if you believe it, and you feel it, and you act as if it is important.
[ | 2006-07-04 13:12 | 32 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Sunday, July 2, 2006day link 

 One individual for humanity
It is a well-known story, but can always bear being told again. Here's a quick summary a key turning point in Buckminster Fuller's life. From here, written by Amy C. Edmondson.
The inventor of the geodesic dome—a structure light enough to be lifted by a helicopter yet strong enough to withstand hurricanes—achieved his eventual acclaim by never breaking a bargain he made with himself in 1927 as he teetered at the edge of suicide. A series of business failures, compounded with lingering grief over the death of his daughter five years earlier, had made Fuller increasingly despondent. Then he was fired from his job as president of a construction company he had founded with his father-in-law, and a second daughter was born. Overwhelmed by a sense of failure, he felt he must get himself out of the way, ensuring that relatives would take care of his wife and their baby.

He went to Lake Michigan, intending to swim out to his death. Then he was struck by what he called a vision, in which he saw that he didn’t have the right to do away with himself. “You do not belong to you, you belong to the universe,” he was later to explain; for all his mistakes, he was the custodian of a unique package of experiences that just might have some utility for mankind. He would trust the “anticipatory intellectual wisdom which we may call God” and allow himself to live, and he would never forget that he was a “throwaway.”

Thus began the fifty-six-year experiment of “guinea pig B”—for Bucky—in which “an average healthy human being” resolved to become a problem solver “on behalf of all humanity.” One can only imagine the reactions of family and friends when the thirty-twoyear-old Fuller announced this. He further determined to dispense forever with the idea of “earning a living,” which to him meant advantaging oneself at the expense of others; if he concentrated on doing what needed to be done, funding would take care of itself. He decided to devote himself, broadly, to the technology of “livingry,” as opposed to weaponry.

Fuller moved his wife, Anne, and infant daughter, Allegra, to a one-room apartment in a Chicago slum, withdrew completely from all friends and social contact, and vowed not to speak again until he really knew what he thought. And then he began to think. His virtual silence lasted for almost two years and was the beginning of what he one day called “a blind date with principle.”
That is usually presented as sort of a "Wow, he's special!" kind of thing, like something crazy that one in a billion individuals might do, and it actually will work. Where Bucky's point was exactly that he wasn't all that special, but he just chose a different perspective: that of being of service to all of humanity. Which doesn't just necessarily mean that you become a monk, sitting around being nice, eating rice and beans, if somebody gives them to you. No, the point is the different perspective, of actually working on humanity's problems.

My reason for mentioning that is also personal, in that I notice that I personally tend to do better when I focus on crazy big global things than if I try to act normal and make a living. I'm not Buckminster Fuller, and I haven't considered jumping into Lake Michigan, and I'm not going to be quiet for two years. I simply notice that things tend to flow better for me in periods of time when I focus on bigger things, like the problems of humanity, and things flow worse when I try to do what I'm "supposed to do". You know, get a job, pay your taxes, plan your retirement, drive within the speed limit. I'm not very good at those things in either case, but they tend to sort themselves out better if there's something else that really is more important to me.

And I notice that recently, as I've tried to be more "normal", that isn't particularly working great for me. I'm not sure I know how. I don't even have much to say when I'm just being normal. So, just an observation that maybe I should think a bit bigger again.

Btw, the global climate might be more suited for that now than when Buckminster Fuller was around. You know, the Internet. It is a lot more feasible now for somebody to solve some little piece of what humanity needs, and communicate and distribute it to others easily, and more likely that they incidentally will be remunerated for it. The open source kind of thinking. Solve something that needs solving, solve it really well, and give it away, and most likely you'll indirectly see some kind of benefit from having done that.
[ | 2006-07-02 13:35 | 31 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Wednesday, June 28, 2006day link 

 The One Thing You Must Do

There is one thing in this world you must never forget to do. Human beings come into this world to do particular work. That work is their purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you forget everything else and not this, there's nothing to worry about. If you remember everything else and forget your true work, then you will have done nothing with your life.

- Jelalludin Rumi, from "The One Thing You Must Do",
The Soul of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

[ | 2006-06-28 14:49 | 27 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Wednesday, May 17, 2006day link 

 101 Things to Do
This is the idea. One makes a list of 101 things to do over 1001 days. Things to do that are realistic, but also stretching. I.e. something you want to do, or that would be fun to do, but which you wouldn't necessarily get around to doing otherwise. Carving an ice sculpture, skinny dipping in the Carribean, put money in random parking meters that have run out, stay up all night and finish a book, ride the metro from one end to the other. And you'll have 1001 days to finish the list, which is about 2.75 years, which is plenty of time, so one doesn't have to be stressed about it. And it might be small or big things. One chooses oneself.

Apparently a lot of people are doing this, and I think it is a cool idea. Putting on your to-do list to do senseless life-affirming things that make you feel good, and which stretch your boundaries a bit. You can find a list of people's lists in the sidebar of that page. There are people who build their blog around the progress with their list. Like 101 Things to Do.

Hm, personally I'm a bit ambivalent on making a list like that public. Not that I generally mind sharing my thoughts with the whole world, but somehow I find to-do lists more intimate. Mine would probably be more politically incorrect than my normal blog writing. But it is inspiring to see what other people want to do.
[ | 2006-05-17 18:01 | 19 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Sunday, May 7, 2006day link 

picture This is a PDF file, a paper from some investment strategy company on ... the psychology of happiness. I suppose it is meant to show investors that there's more to life than money, and maybe that more is important. As Adam Smith said:
Through the whole of his life he pursues the idea of a certain artificial and elegant repose which he may never arrive at, for which he sacrifices a real tranquillity that is at all times in his power, and which, if in the extremity of old age he should at last attain to it, he will find to be in no respect preferable to that humble security and contentment which he had abandoned for it. It is then, in the last dregs of life, his body wasted with toil and disease, his mind galled and ruffled by the memory of a thousand injuries and disappointments which he imagines he has met with from the injustice of his enemies, or from the perfidy and ingratitude of his friends, that he begins at last to find that wealth and greatness are mere trinkets of frivolous utility, no more adapted for procuring ease of body or tranquillity of mind, than the tweezer-cases of the lover of toys.
So, they present some various studies and graphs of how happy people are, and what seems to be contributing to it. It adds up pretty much to this set of bullet points:
1) Don’t equate happiness with money. People adapt to income shifts relatively quickly, the long lasting benefits are essentially zero.
2) Exercise regularly. Regular exercise is an effective cure for mild depression and anxiety. It also stimulates more energy, and is good for the mind and body.
3) Have sex (preferably with someone you love). Need I say more?
4) Devote time and effort to close relationships. Confiding and discussing problems and issues is good for happiness, so work on these relationships.
5) Pause for reflection, meditate on the good things in life. Focusing on the good aspects of life helps to prevent hedonic adaptation.
6) Seek work that engages your skills, look to enjoy your job. Doing well at work creates happiness, and the easiest way of doing well at work, is doing a job you enjoy.
7) Give your body the sleep it needs. Too many people have a sleep deficit, resulting in fatigue, gloomy moods and lack of concentration.
8) Don’t pursue happiness for its own sake, enjoy the moment. Because people don’t understand what makes them happy, pursuing happiness can be self-defeating. Additionally, if people start to aim for happiness they are doing activities for happiness’s sake rather than actually enjoying the activity itself.
9) Take control of your life, set yourself achievable goals. People are happiest when they achieve their aims, so set yourself goals which stretch you, but are achievable.
10) Remember to follow rules 1-9. Following these guidelines sounds easy, but actually requires willpower and effort.

[ | 2006-05-07 23:21 | 16 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Wednesday, April 12, 2006day link 

What's a fib? It is a 20 syllable poem written in the 1/1/2/3/5/8 Fibonacci sequence. Lots of stuff in nature follows this sequence. Mathematically it is formed by adding the previous two numbers together to make the next one. So, 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, etc. So, brilliant idea, you can make a poem like that, similar to a haiku. I.e. 1 syllable in the first line and second line, then two syllables, up to 8 in the last line. More examples here. OK, I'll have to try this. I suck at counting syllables, but let me give it a shot...
Two words
I can count
Syllables are fun
Fibonacci now here I come
Hm, not very poetic.
Get up
Coffee cup
Paper, hat and door
An office bee can't ask for more
Argh, now I seem to be rhyming too, and about boring people.
Deep Red
Take a breath
Fire in the belly
Ready for a day in the sun
OK, that's a little better
See you
So clearly
Why are you out there?
Darkness blew away with a puff
Hm, strange. I'm not sure I'll be a Fibonarian, but it is a good exercise.

If you're unsure about counting syllables, this is a page that will calculate it.

[ | 2006-04-12 00:30 | 24 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Wednesday, March 15, 2006day link 

 Oblique Strategies
Oblique Strategies was a set of 100 cards, created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in 1975, as a way of assisting creative problem solving. If you're a little stuck, you'd draw a card, and see if it somehow gives you an idea for how to move forward. It is an aid for lateral thinking, basically. Providing a somewhat off-the-wall suggestion which makes you maybe see things from a different angle. There are many possible ways of provoking lateral thinking, like the old trick of looking up one or two random words in the dictionary. I'd love to make a little program or site that assembles a bunch of these methods in one place. For now, below is the list from Oblique Strategies, assembled by Robin Pamar, from several different versions of the deck. Note that Brian Eno is an avantgarde composer, so some of these are a bit specific to sound, but not much, and it doesn't really matter when we're talking lateral thinking.
A line has two sides
A very small object. Its center
Abandon desire
Abandon normal instructions
Accept advice
Adding on
Always give yourself credit for having more than personality
Ask people to work against their better judgement
Ask your body
Balance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principle
Be dirty
Be extravagant
Breathe more deeply
Bridges -- build -- burn
Change ambiguities to specifics
Change instrument roles
Change nothing and continue consistently
Children -- speaking -- singing
Cluster analysis
Consider different fading systems
Consult other sources -- promising -- unpromising
Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element
Cut a vital connection
Decorate, decorate
Destroy nothing; Destroy the most important thing
Discard an axiom
Disciplined self-indulgence
Discover your formulas and abandon them
Display your talent
Distort time
Do nothing for as long as possible
Do something boring
Do something sudden, destructive and unpredictable
Do the last thing first
Do the washing up
Do the words need changing?
Do we need holes?
Don't avoid what is easy
Emphasize differences
Emphasize repetitions
Emphasize the flaws

[ | 2006-03-15 23:43 | 28 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Sunday, February 5, 2006day link 

 Islands for Sale
Here you'll find a bunch of islands for sale around the world. Starting one's own country on a tropical island is a nice dream. Seems like $28,500 will get you started. (Via BoingBoing)
[ | 2006-02-05 21:59 | 35 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Tuesday, October 25, 2005day link 

 Idea Generation Methods
Martin Leith lists a lot of Idea Generation Methods that he has gathered over the years. Some of them are merely hints, some of them are fleshed out in detail. But all of it good stuff. Here's one of the many, called "Be The Problem":
Imagine you are the problem or issue under consideration.

▪ How do you feel?
▪ How would you rather feel?
▪ Broadly, what would it take to create this new feeling?
▪ What practical steps might you take?
▪ What's the first step?

[ | 2005-10-25 19:28 | 11 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Thursday, October 13, 2005day link 

 Something new, open, free and exciting
Hm, that's what it says in the tagline of my blog here.

An old rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open, free and exciting is waking up.

... I'm trying to remember what I meant. Trying to notice if it makes any sense to me right now.

An old rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Well, I would only say something rather negative like that if I can point to some kind of alternative. I hold myself to be some kind of optimist, after all.

The old civilization is centralized, bureaucratic, moralizing, closed-minded, unsustainable. Not hard to find many signs of that. But yet it is still there. It has become even more surreal, but it hasn't exactly died. I moved somewhere that was less surreal, but the global civilization hasn't changed much.

So, what's the new and exciting part? Well, in part it was based on a trust in collective intelligence. That somehow, to the degree that people are free to be creative and to communicate, new ways will emerge.

Closed can't compete with open. Owned and expensive can't compete with free. Limited and controlled can't compete with free in the other sense of the word. Boring can't compete with exciting.

At least in the long term. In the short term, those who hold power and control can keep things limited, closed and life-less for quite a while. Based on their ability to manipulate, their ability to coerce people through laws, economic pressure, religious doctrine, etc. We have to make a living, have to stay out of jail, have to appear relatively normal. So there are many things we could do, which maybe we would be more inspired to do, but they don't appear in the short term to be economically viable, legal, or socially acceptable.

My optimism came in part from noticing many little trends that point in the direction of self-organization, of freed creativity, of things becoming free. The Internet is still the best example of that. People making open source software, which is free and of higher quality than closed alternatives. People blogging, sharing their mind, reporting on stuff that otherwise wasn't reported on. People sharing their photos, their music, their thoughts.

But it is a fairly even battle. New ways also appear of making things more closed. Copyright laws are closing more things down, even fair use is at risk. Companies patent large numbers of ridiculous items, like self-evident design elements, software algorithms, business procedures, and life forms.

The media industries try hard to lock down any hardware or software that might play or store or transport any kind of media. They come up with ways of controlling what you do with their words or pictures, to suit their business model. They might succeed in having laws passed, and already have in some places, that make it illegal for you to resist.

I'd like to believe that all of those kinds of efforts will fail, necessarily. But I can't say I am sure.

I believe that sufficiently well-informed people will make different choices. I believe freedom is more powerful than control. I believe creativity beats conformity. I believe there's something inherent in life that makes it impossible to squash in the long run.

I guess the thing to do is to shine the light on the signs of life that appear. The new, open, free, exciting stuff.

And I suppose that's what I'm doing here. I'm just a little out of the habit.
[ | 2005-10-13 14:39 | 33 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Tuesday, October 4, 2005day link 

 How to be Creative
picture Hugh MacLeod has written a wonderful book, How to be Creative, which can be downloaded online. Very inspiring stuff, from a very creative person. In part about how to succeed with your ideas, also economically.
1. Ignore everybody.

The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you. When I first started with the cartoon-onback-of-bizcard format, people thought I was nuts. Why wasn't I trying to do something more easy for markets to digest, i.e., cutie-pie greeting cards or whatever? You don't know if your idea is any good the moment it's created. Neither does anyone else. The most you can hope for is a strong gut feeling that it is. And trusting your feelings is not as easy as the optimists say it is. There's a reason why feelings scare us. And asking close friends never works quite as well as you hope, either. It's not that they deliberately want to be unhelpful. It's just they don't know your world one millionth as well as you know your world, no matter how hard they try, no matter how hard you try to explain. Plus, a big idea will change you. Your friends may love you, but they don't want you to change. If you change, then their dynamic with you also changes. They like things the way they are, thatʼs how they love you — the way you are, not the way you may become.

Ergo, they have no incentive to see you change. And they will be resistant to anything that catalyzes it. That's human nature. And you would do the same, if the shoe were on the other foot. With business colleagues, it's even worse. They're used to dealing with you in a certain way. They're used to having a certain level of control over the relationship. And they want whatever makes them more prosperous. Sure, they might prefer it if you prosper as well, but that's not their top priority.

[ | 2005-10-04 14:32 | 7 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Tuesday, August 16, 2005day link 

 What would I do
picture A famous Bucky Fuller quote. It somehow makes a quote more important when somebody makes a sign out of it, so here. How would you be? What would you do? If it really depended on you.
[ | 2005-08-16 15:56 | 20 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Tuesday, July 26, 2005day link 

 Cosmic Self
picture Upwinger, on FutureHi, via Bird on the Moon:
In the end, evolution on this planet will have been the growth of an immortal spark of Divinity from an invisible evolutionary trigger to a hyperspatial Entity with complete mastery of Space and Time.

What began as an implicate order tightly knotted into the subquantum fabric of reality will end as a fully explicate architecture of dazzling supernatural complexity, an interplanetary flowering into Deity.

[ | 2005-07-26 00:03 | 19 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Monday, April 25, 2005day link 

 The Man Who Planted Trees
picture This is about as inspiring as it gets. It is a famous story, but I hadn't read it before. About a quiet man who spent his days planting trees in the mountains, ending up revitalizing a whole region.
Having arrived at the place he had been heading for, he begin to pound his iron rod into the ground. This made a hole in which he placed an acorn, whereupon he covered over the hole again. He was planting oak trees. I asked him if the land belonged to him. He answered no. Did he know whose land it was? He did not know. He supposed that it was communal land, or perhaps it belonged to someone who did not care about it. He himself did not care to know who the owners were. In this way he planted his one hundred acorns with great care.

After the noon meal, he began once more to pick over his acorns. I must have put enough insistence into my questions, because he answered them. For three years now he had been planting trees in this solitary way. He had planted one hundred thousand. Of these one hundred thousand, twenty thousand had come up. He counted on losing another half of them to rodents and to everything else that is unpredictable in the designs of Providence. That left ten thousand oaks that would grow in this place where before there was nothing.
The full text is below in the More link, or you can find it here. It is translated from French, and you find the French version here. It is in the public domain, so you can copy it as much as you want.
[ | 2005-04-25 13:47 | 23 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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