What I learned this week, September 30, 2022

French Quarter New Orleans, Louisiana Halloween

Languishing, What To Do If You’re Feeling Restless, Apathetic

Many people may even have experienced – or may still be experiencing – languishing without really even knowing what it is or why they’re feeling that way


Renner School House desks.

Why Adults Still Dream About School

I have been out of school for almost half a century – and I still have nightmares about final exams. I wake up shaking, in a cold sweat, and it takes me minutes to realize I don’t have to do that any more – haven’t for many decades.


Kyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas

Taking aim at the family

Radicals have always known that the family is the biggest obstacle to achieving their goals. Regardless of their political leanings, cult leaders, utopians, and radical political movements have all done their best to undermine the family and replace it with some other fundamental social unit.


As the sun set the sculptures began to glow. This one is one of the largest (about 20 feet tall) and most dramatic works… called “The Sun.” When I first saw it, I thought it was all yellow and red glass, but some kids were looking closer and you can see that there are actually many colors in there.

The Four Desires Driving All Human Behavior: Bertrand Russell’s Magnificent Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

“Nothing in the world is more exciting than a moment of sudden discovery or invention, and many more people are capable of experiencing such moments than is sometimes thought.”


‘Ridiculously Detailed’ New Image of The Moon Is a Masterpiece of Space Photography

Time to upgrade your wallpapers, people.

Two astrophotographers have just dropped what they call “the most ridiculously detailed picture” of the Moon – the result of a painstaking, neck-craning effort roughly two years and over 200,000 frames in the making.


Rachel Harrison Moore to the point City Hall Plaza (click to enlarge)

Peter Zeihan’s Global Stability Map 2015-2030

This map created something of a stir when I posted it on social media, in part because its claims are so counter to conventional wisdom in many instances. An enlarged version is available here.


Amanda Popken on the Dallas Cycle Style Seersucker Ride

17 Ways To Be More Positive In 2021, According to Psychologists

After the last year, it’s time to invest in optimism.


What I learned this week, September 23, 2022

(click to enlarge) Book With Wings Anselm Kiefer Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

43 of the Most Iconic Short Stories in the English Language

I guess it’s not surprising – but I’ve read all but one of these. I’m off to read it now.


A Child's Introduction to Outer Space
A Child’s Introduction to Outer Space

Super-Earths are bigger, more common and more habitable than Earth itself – and astronomers are discovering more of the billions they think are out there

Astronomers now routinely discover planets orbiting stars outside of the solar system – they’re called exoplanets. But in summer 2022, teams working on NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite found a few particularly interesting planets orbiting in the habitable zones of their parent stars.

One planet is 30% larger than Earth and orbits its star in less than three days. The other is 70% larger than the Earth and might host a deep ocean. These two exoplanets are super-Earths – more massive than the Earth but smaller than ice giants like Uranus and Neptune.


Ant Lion Pits

How Many Ants Live on Earth? Scientists Came Up With an Answer

Quick answer – a lot.


Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Trinity River Flood Stage, Dallas, Texas

Autofocus: The Productivity System That Treats Your To-Do List Like a River

In one of the emails Oliver Burkeman, author of Time Management for Mortals, sent out to his subscribers, he talked about how we typically treat our to-do lists like buckets that we need to empty every day. 

The problem, Burkeman observes, is that the to-do list is a bucket that never entirely empties. As we clear some tasks out, others are added in. It’s like the Magic Beer Floating Faucet Fountain that they used to sell at Spencer’s back in 1990, along with black lights and bags of reindeer poop. 


Why we crave

The neuroscientific picture of addiction overlooks the psychological and social factors that make cravings so hard to resist


(click to enlarge) Mural, Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

Neptune’s faint rings glimmer in new James Webb Space Telescope image

The powerful space telescope shows off Neptune’s unsung rings, showing off the ice giant in a whole new way.


Time Exposure, Night, Downtown Dallas, Ross and Pearl

Why We Lost Trust in the Expert Class


What I learned this week, September 16, 2022

Heart of Texas Red, Craft Beer Logo, Four Corners Brewing Company, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

50+ Old Fashioned Insults We Should Bring Back.

I live in Texas, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – but I hear a few of these used on a fairly-regular basis. “All Hat and No Cattle” – almost every day.


Underwood Typewriter
Underwood Typewriter

The Single Reason Why People Can’t Write, According to a Harvard Psychologist

This common affliction is behind so much unclear and confusing writing in the world today.


Never Forget the COVID Facists:

I submit to you that the COVID policies—shutdowns and lockdowns; “stay home, stay safe;” mandatory masking, social distancing, testing, and vaccines; and so on—perpetuated by the American left and those like-minded were the greatest demonstration of fascism the United States has ever known. In the nearly 250-year history of the U.S., never before has the American government exercised such power over its citizenry as it did in the name of “slowing the spread,” “following the science,” and the like. And never before in the history of the U.S. has the exercise of government power been so misinformed and misguided, with such disastrous results.


Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Want to be happy? Don’t follow your gut.

A data scientist on what truly makes us happy.


Tony Collins Art, Dallas, Texas

Read This Piece by James Lileks.

I’m just a bit older – but I remember being afraid of the end of the world when I was a kid. It was atomic war, of course that scared me. The “duck and cover” drills at school didn’t help. For ten years I had repetitive, awful nightmares about sentient atomic bombs (they looked like dirigibles) in the sky, searching for me… especially for me.


Regret can be all-consuming – a neurobehavioral scientist explains how people can overcome it

Regret can increase stress and negatively affect one’s physical health.


Decline in Americans’ quality of life just keeps accelerating

Scrolling Twitter–a practice I detest but is required for the job–does have its upside. I occasionally have an “aha” moment spurred on by an insight thrown out into the world by somebody else. It almost makes the drudgery of sorting the wheat from the chaff bearable. Almost.


What I learned this week, September 9, 2022

Sun God (Helios), Donald DeLue Dallas Museum of Art Dallas, Texas

Hermann Hesse : “Action and Suffering”

Action and suffering, which together make up our lives, are a whole; they are one.

What you call action is a running-away from pain, a not-wanting-to-be-born, a flight from suffering !


Loving Oil and Gas, Dallas, Texas

21 Strange and Ingenious Uses for WD40

What can you do with a can of WD40? Lubricate M-16s, catch bigger fish, de-ice rod guides, clean turtles, repel pigeons, remove dog poo, make a flame-thrower, and much, much more


The big idea: why relationships are the key to existence

From subatomic particles to human beings, interaction is what shapes reality


Tomatillos and dried peppers

Why Do (Some) Humans Love Chili Peppers?

Unthinkable as it may sound today, the cuisines we have come to associate with spiciness—Indian, Thai, Korean, and Chinese, among others—had no chili peppers at all before their introduction in the 16th century onward. Prior to that, those cuisines relied on other spices or aromatics to add heat to dishes, such as ginger, likely native to southern China, or black pepper, native to India.

How did chili peppers become part of the human diet beginning in the Americas an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 years ago? And why were they eventually embraced by the rest of the world?


The trail runs through thick forest near the south end. While I was taking this photo – my tire was losing air.

Europe’s green deception: Forests destroyed for Paris Accord compliance

This reads like a cautionary tale on the Law of Unintended Regulatory Consequences, and to some extent it is. However, it’s just as much a tale of green-movement hypocrisy, as well as yet another lesson on the impact of incentives and artificial market interventions. The New York Times explains in a sideways manner how the EU has attempted to comply with its own Paris Accord targets for carbon-dioxide reduction by, er, wiping out the forests of the continent for conversion to power.


Watching a rather horrifying documentary on Netflix about Woodstock 99.

The 90s was when I lost touch with contemporary rock, so the bands mean nothing to me. They’re mostly angry. Very angry. Loud and tight and tuneless. You look back and wonder: I don’t remember the 90s being this feral. But you get the sense of a youth culture that had completely decoupled from the civilization that gave them life and food and purpose. Just RAAAAHHHHWWWWW dude culture, like the last horrible yawp before the internet fixed them all with a pin and everyone was anesthetized by a gaming console or a phone.


Sleep
Sleep

Why You Feel So Tired All the Time

A little over a month ago, I started feeling more fatigued than usual. Just about everything in my life—from getting out of bed to exercising to writing to coaching to reading—required a significant amount of activation energy. All of these activities usually felt smooth and seamless. Now they had turned into a grind. I wasn’t depressed, or even particularly sad. And I didn’t have the sense of stagnation or emptiness associated with languishing. I was simply tired.


What I learned this week, September 2, 2022

Monumental Head of Jean d’Aire (from The Burghers of Calais), Auguste Rodin, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

How to read philosophy

The first thing to remember is that the great philosophers were only human. Then you can start disagreeing with them


City Hall, Dallas, Texas

Truth, Nihilism, and the American Founding

The founding of the United States is surely one of the greatest events in world history. It was what we might call a trans-historical moment. America is the first nation in history to be founded openly and explicitly on the basis of certain philosophic ideas. If the Old World invented and launched the Enlightenment, it was the Anglo-American New World that made it a living reality.


The Economic Doom Loop Has Begun

No communist was ever as dedicated to economic suicide as the current class of idiots who rule us.


Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Elites’ divide & conquer failure: How middle class now view their rulers with rightly earned disdain

Elites have always been ambiguous about the muscular classes who replace their tires, paint their homes, and cook their food. And the masses who tend to them likewise have been ambivalent about those who hire them: appreciative of the work and pay, but also either a bit envious of those with seemingly unlimited resources or turned off by perceived superciliousness arising from their status and affluence.


Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

How Mindfulness Can Make You a Better Cyclist (and 4 Tips for How to Do It)

Practice being present to find your flow on and off the bike.


Signs at one end (downtown) of the Dallas Streetcar

The end of the Constitution at the hands of the left

Many people have linked to this recent op-ed in The NY Times by Harvard Law professor Ryan Doerfler and Yale Law professor Samuel Moyn. John Hinderaker of Powerline discusses the piece here, as well, and he calls it “literally one of the stupidest things I have ever read.”


Recycled Books Records CDs Denton, Texas (click to enlarge)

Area man named Bob Jablonski returns library book called Hitler 77 years overdue.


What I learned this week, August 26, 2022

The best thing about a bicycle second line is that when the parade pauses to let the slower riders catch up – you can dance in the streets. New Orleans, Louisiana

12 Simple Strategies to Lose Weight After 50

Painless ways to drop extra pounds you’ve acquired.


Above the bar, Three Links, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas Ancient Mystic Order of Samaritans AMOS, Xerxes

Unraveling the Enigma of Reason

The basic puzzle is this:

  1. If reason is so useful, why do human beings seem to be the only animals to possess it? Surely, a lion who had excellent reasoning abilities would catch more gazelles? Yet human beings seem to be alone in the ability to reason about things.
  2. If reason is so powerful, why are we so bad at it? Why do we have tons of cognitive biases? Reasoned thinking is supposed to be good, but we seem to use it fairly little as a species.

The end of the Constitution

Many people have linked to this recent op-ed in The NY Times by Harvard Law professor Ryan Doerfler and Yale Law professor Samuel Moyn. John Hinderaker of Powerline discusses the piece here, as well, and he calls it “literally one of the stupidest things I have ever read.”


Restrained, by Deborah Butterfield, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

Dark horses in the cosmos

Could primordial black holes from the beginning of time explain ‘dark matter’, the mysterious missing mass in the Universe?


Illustration by Jean L. Huens for the Saturday Evening Post. Don for the short story “The Snails,” by Patricia Highsmith.

What to Read Before and After Seeing Loving Highsmith

I have written about Patricia Highsmith before:

The Quest for the “Blank Claveringi”

I wonder if the book/movie will talk about her love of snails.


Jupiter is a dreamlike jewel in new James Webb Space Telescope images

‘It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter together with its rings, tiny satellites, and even galaxies in one image.’


Big Lake Park, Plano, Texas

Podcast – the Pigeon Towers of Iran

Join us for a daily celebration of the world’s most wondrous, unexpected, even strange places.


What I learned this week, August 20, 2022

(click to enlarge) Mural, Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

The Big Bang didn’t happen

What do the James Webb images really show?


Writing in my Moleskine Journal outside the Mojo Lounge, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

‘Habit Stacking’ Is the Simple Mind Trick for Making a New Routine or Ritual Stick

Starting a single new ritual or habit, whether it’s washing your face every night or taking a walk every afternoon, can feel daunting for many of us. And just forget starting a whole wellness routine. Mornings complete with journaling, meditating, and yoga before breakfast might as well be aspirational, reserved for only the most methodical among us…right? Well, not if you consider the basic premise of habit stacking, which says that you only need to find one thing you regularly do by default in order to build an entire tower of routine practices.


Psychology: do you have a social vampire in your friendship group? Here’s how to handle them

Psychologists say that if you don’t know who the social vampire is in your friendship group, then there’s a very high chance it’s you…


State Street Gallery, Dallas, Texas

Four ways to stop thinking the worst will happen when you’re stressed

Imagine you have an interview for a new job tomorrow. Some people might think about what kind of questions they will be asked so that they can prepare, or imagine the interview going well. For others, the thought of an interview will cause them to toss and turn all night thinking of every worst case scenario possible – no matter how outlandish these may be. If you’re someone who has a tendency to do the latter, you are prone to catastrophising.


We Stand Together, George Rodrigue, The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

What Is Minimalist Living? Here’s How to Start Living With Less, According to Experts

This simple, purposeful lifestyle is about more than just decluttering your home.


Dallas Museum of Art Dallas, Texas

Stop drinking, keep reading, look after your hearing: a neurologist’s tips for fighting memory loss and Alzheimer’s

When does forgetfulness become something more serious? And how can we delay or even prevent that change? We talk to brain expert Richard Restak


Why the Afghanistan Withdrawal Was the Perfect Storm of Bureaucratic Incompetence

President Biden wants you to forget about what happened in Afghanistan. He wants you to forget about the bureaucratic incompetence and incompetent decision-making by nearly every senior leader. To this day, no one has been held accountable. Accountability, even verbally, would mean admitting failure and taking ownership, something the Biden administration refuses to accept.


What I learned this week, August 12, 2022

The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

Could learning algebra in my 60s make me smarter?

New Yorker writer Alec Wilkinson struggled with maths at school, finding inspiration in literature instead. But aged 65, in the hope of unlocking a new part of his brain, he decided to put the limits of his intelligence to the test


Clarence Street Art Collective, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

Stretching: 5 back and chest stretches that treat and prevent neck pain

For a while – I had a lot of neck pain riding my bike. These stretches help.


At each end of the main drag were large stages. This guy was drawing a band – though they had already finished.

How to start drawing

I have always dreamed of learning to draw. Is it too late?


Lyndon Baines Johnson Freeway and Texas Instruments Boulevard, Dallas, Texas

Why Doing Good Makes It Easier to Be Bad

Oscar Wilde, the famed Irish essayist and playwright, had a gift, among other things, for counterintuitive aphorisms. In “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” an 1891 article, he wrote, “Charity creates a multitude of sins.”


Paths (detail), by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, Arts District, Dallas, Texas

The Simple Idea Behind Einstein’s Greatest Discoveries

Lurking behind Einstein’s theory of gravity and our modern understanding of particle physics is the deceptively simple idea of symmetry. But physicists are beginning to question whether focusing on symmetry is still as productive as it once was.


The best Tex-Mex feast ever photographed. From the gatefold of the ZZ Top, Tres Hombres album

Woke food lovers have lost their minds over ‘cultural appropriation’

Once upon a time, it was permissible to make light-hearted fun of cuisines that were unfamiliar or exotic to film audiences.

But in today’s unforgiving and witless world of Indigenous-Cuisine Purity, good-natured jokes are strictly verboten. Worse, just about any dish not from Western Europe that isn’t cooked by a native-born chef is either a fake version of the  cuisine or a wicked ripoff of it — or both.


Autumn grasses, Courthouse Square, McKinney, Texas

The Grasshopper Elite and Its Enemy

Unfortunately, those loud and troublesome pests, though few, control almost all the levers of political and state police power.


What I learned this week, August 6, 2022

Unicycle, Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge, Dallas, Texas

The Quiet Glory of Aging into Athleticism

I wasn’t ready to be an athlete, in any capacity, as a adolescent or young adult. I am now.


Sleep
Sleep

The seven types of rest: I spent a week trying them all. Could they help end my exhaustion?

When we feel fatigued most of us focus on sleep problems. But proper relaxation takes many forms. I spent a week exploring what really works


Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

How to Wake Up Smiling: 5 Daily Habits That Made Me a More Positive Person

I’m usually a pretty happy person, but about a year ago—perhaps due to a lack of social connections and laughter—I experienced a few dark months. During those months, I spent most of my waking hours (and probably nights as well) consumed with negative thoughts.


Woman writing in a Moleskine Notebook, Wichita, Kansas

Two Writing Tips That Instantly Improve Your Everyday Writing

Do you see yourself as a writer? If not, it’s time to change that perception. Because you are a writer. In fact, everyone is. And here are two writing tips that will make your writing more effective.


Movie Poster for First Spaceship on Venus (Silent Star) – I remember the excitement of seeing this poster, even though I was probably six years old at the time.

TVs Are Too Good Now
Why does Home Alone look better than the latest Marvel fare on the most advanced displays?

I am really burned out on the overuse of CGI – this explains one reason.


They have been talking about bringing this amazing grand old hotel back for decades. I’ll believe it when I see it.

The Hotel-Spirit

Bringing back a grand American institution could transform society. What’s stopping us?


Persuation, from Twenty Heads

2 words that can help check your assumptions about people

Asking “so what?” can bring out your hidden beliefs and ideas, says career strategist Gail Tolstoi-Miller.


What I learned this week, July 29, 2022

Making the noodles disappear, Khao Noodle Shop, Dallas, Texas.

Fed gauge on inflation hits 40-year high

I’m old. I remember 1980 very well. This feels exactly like it did then – and that is not a good thing. The big difference is in 1980 I was 23 years old, had no responsibilities, and all I had to do was be able to buy a pack of ramen noodles and I could get through the day. That’s not true now.


LA opened a fancy new bridge and locals are doing their best to shut it down every night

I’ve been following the story of LA’s 6th street viaduct – at over half a billion dollars it felt a bit overpriced – but it’s a cool attempt at alternate transportation – I love the bike and pedestrian lanes and the views of downtown. There was a lot of excitement when it opened. But it has turned out to be a nightmare.

This is why we can’t have nice things.


Little Free Library near my house.

56 Delightfully Unusual Words for Everyday Things

Check it out… #4 Bumfodder – worth the read.


Men Between the Ponds
Men Between the Ponds – I think they are doing Tai Chi.

Keeping fit: how to do the right exercise for your age

The type and amount of exercise you should do changes as you age. To ensure that you are doing the right type of exercise for your age, follow this simple guide.


Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

6 Toxic Relationship Habits Most People Think Are Normal

6 Healthy Relationship Habits Most People Think Are Toxic

This is all so confusing.


El Paisano
El Paisano Restaurant along the Santa Fe Trail in Dallas. Menudo!

I Hate This

I am old. Still, I keep up, more of less. But I agree with this author – I hate when restaurants give you a QR code rather than a menu. It’s hard to order off a phone – they don’t always work (my work phone blocked QR codes, for example). Sure, use one for long lists like beer or wine, but give me a piece of paper.


The Most Important Scientific Problems Have Yet to Be Solved

Problems that appear small are large problems that are not understood.