What I learned this week, January 14, 2022

My android tablet and portable keyboard, I stopped my bike ride on the Bridge Park over the Trinity River to get some writing done.

Learning, Practice, and Repetition: Why the Act of Writing Is Work

Jessie Greengrass on the Intersection of Muse and Routine


Lucadores, Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas

Why Your Goals Will Fail, and What You Can Do About It

If you’re like most people, you have a New Year’s resolution in place and you may have even stuck to it so far this year.  Good for you!  Realistically though, you’re going to fail. How long have you said you really should get in shape, or lamented the need for  more quality time with family and friends?  The fact is, despite the most earnest commitment, resolutions just don’t work.


Arts District, Dallas, Texas

Listen to Your Own Advice

Guilt, fear, and low self-esteem can stop you from living by your own wisdom. Here’s how to overcome them.


Dallas, Texas

The Secret Society of Lightning Strike Survivors

After the sudden and intense drama of getting hit, they suffered from devastating symptoms that wouldn’t go away. It seemed like no one could help—until they found each other.



Depressing article by Joel Kotkin, “Welcome to the end of democracy”

What I learned this week, Jan 07, 2022

Design District Dallas, Texas

The Waste Age

Recognizing that waste is central, not peripheral, to everything we design, make and do is key to transforming the future


French Quarter New Orleans, Louisiana Halloween

The feeling of ‘flow’ is surprisingly scientific

It’s like being in the zone, but more intense.


Bike rider on the DART train.

Understanding Freedom And Work

As an American, I’m convinced that the United States is the greatest nation on Earth. Obviously, I’m biased as hell and, frankly, I’m not interested in apologizing for it.

We’re not perfect, but I see remarkably little from other countries that look attractive enough to me to make me want to relocate. Especially when you understand what some of the ramifications are of certain policies.


McKinney Avenue Trolley Dallas, Texas

The ‘Woke’ Got What They Wanted — And Then What? 


The new church across the street.

Feeling anxious about work tomorrow? Here’s why having a tidy could help

If you’re someone who struggles with Sunday night anxiety, chances are you get a little restless as the weekend comes to a close. Indeed, with the weekends feeling that little bit shorter now the nights are drawing in, it can almost feel like the time is slipping away from you.


Unraveling the Enigma of Reason


Map Bag
My Not-A-Purse. What is strange is that I found this image floating around on the internet – I don’t know where it originally came from. But if you look, there is an Alphasmart Neo sticking up in the bag. I can’t believe other people out there have Neos in their bags, exactly like mine.

Podcast: The Unclaimed Baggage Center


More things I learned this week, Jan 4, 2022

Found by a photobooth, Molly’s At the Market, French Quarter, New Orleans

I have no friends

I literally have no friends. I wanted to go out today and i wanted to text someone if they’re down to do something fun. BUT then i realized i have no one to ask. Like what the fuck happened.


It’s 2022 and the Pandemic is Over.

Only the most brainwashed True Believers will cling to the failed narrative.

Denmark health chief says Omicron is bringing about the END of the pandemic and ‘we will have our normal lives back in two months’


Shooting photographs at the Seersucker Ride and Picnic, Lee Park, Dallas, Texas

Can you think yourself young?

Research shows that a positive attitude to ageing can lead to a longer, healthier life, while negative beliefs can have hugely detrimental effects


This woman, a bartender at the NYLO Southside, asked Candy, “Is your husband a professional photographer?” Candy answered, “He thinks he is.”

Make Peace with Your Unlived Life

Tina was at a crossroads. Her daughter had recently left for college, and her husband had his own pursuits. And although she’d once enjoyed banking, she now bore little interest in her work. For some time, she had been asking herself whether she should quit. But what would her colleagues and bosses think of her?


Huffhines Creek in back of my house, Richardson, Texas

The 7 Safest Mushrooms to Forage and Eat

Perfect for novice foragers, these mushrooms are delicious, easy to find, and are not easily confused with toxic species


Case Study in Thinking About Fractally Wrong Ideas


What I learned this week, December 31, 2021

Get the Hell Out of Here 2021 and Oh, Shit, Here Comes 2022

For Our Own Good, We All Need a Glimpse of the Evil Queen

Now, as far as I am concerned, dreams are statements from nature. It is not so much that we create them. They manifest themselves to us.


Drinks menu… the coffee looks good, but “Treats from the Teat” – I don’t know if that’s as catchy as they think it is.

Best News of 2021: Coffee Is Incredibly Good for You

Maybe your New Year’s resolution should be an easy one: drink more coffee.


Good food makes for happy customers.

How to be happy: the psychology behind the “HEAL” method and how it helps you become happier

Fascinating new research suggests that it’s psychologically possible to train yourself to be happier.


Two girls enjoying the art for sale at the “For the Love of Kettle” event.

The unconventional approach to New Year’s resolutions that makes them stick

With this approach, perhaps you can sidestep the inevitable challenges that come with traditional New Year’s resolutions and achieve lasting, positive changes.


Fabrication Yard, Dallas, Texas

The Ungracious–and Their Demonization of the Past

The last two years have seen an unprecedented escalation in a decades-long war on the American past. But there are lots of logical flaws in attacking prior generations in U.S. history.


Venus Victrix (The Judgement of Paris), Pierre Auguste Renoir & Hercules the Archer, Antoine Bourdelle, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

The Evolutionary Advantages of Playing Victim

Victimhood is defined in negative terms: “the condition of having been hurt, damaged, or made to suffer.” Yet humans have evolved to empathize with the suffering of others, and to provide assistance so as to eliminate or compensate for that suffering. Consequently, signaling suffering to others can be an effective strategy for attaining resources. Victims may receive attention, sympathy, and social status, as well as financial support and other benefits


hiva Nataraja, South India, Tamil Nadu, Chola dynasty, 11th century, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art

How disruptions happen

Major disruptions in world history follow a clear pattern. What can upheavals of the past tell us about our own future?

More Things I learned this week, December 28, 2021

Outside the Mojo Lounge, New Orleans, Louisiana

How to know what you really want

From career choices to new purchases, use René Girard’s mimetic theory to resist the herd and forge your own path in life


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

Burdened by Books

With the quickening cascade of political, social, and natural crises in our country, the faith in progress—the belief that good will and steady work leads to a better world—is a difficult faith to maintain. There have been times when the arc of history seemed to bend toward justice. But lately it’s snapped back the other way. It’s as if we’ve heaved a great boulder toward the mountain top, and we’re now watching it, slack-jawed and wide-eyed, as it careens back to the ground below. It feels that there is something absurd, in fact literally Sisyphean, to our predicament.  


Strains—not species—of gut microbes hold key to health and disease

Every day, the billions of bacteria that inhabit your digestive system change; the food you eat, medications you take, and germs you’re exposed to make some bacteria flourish more than others. Scientists know that this ever-shifting balance of gut microbes is linked to your health and disease, but have struggled to pin down what makes one microbial balance better than another.


Running of the bulls, New Orleans, Louisiana

It Turns Out That Everything We Know About The Runner’s High Could Be Wrong

Many people have experienced reductions in stress, pain, and anxiety, and sometimes even euphoria after exercise. What’s behind this so-called ‘runner’s high’? New research on the neuroscience of exercise may surprise you.


Smoke, steam, and sulfur dioxide coming out of the volcano, Masaya, Nicaragua.

Why Does This Indonesian Volcano Burn Bright Blue?

Olivier Grunewald’s dramatic photos showcase blue flames—not blue lava—that result from burning sulfur


The Race to Find ‘Green’ Helium

Helium is a critical—and finite—resource. The future of our most indispensable technologies depends on a new supply.


The Problem with “Distemper”

Perhaps it is the word distemper that causes the most confusion. Few are aware that this is a generic term encompassing several different coatings. There really is only one type that is of relevance to historical buildings – or any building for that matter.

What I learned this week, December 24, 2021

Tough Chicks

Tough Chicks are the coolest type of female around, except maybe for Tough Rich Chicks. But those are rare.


Main Street Park Dallas, Texas

On Self-Respect: Joan Didion’s 1961 Essay from the Pages of Vogue

Joan Didion, author, journalist, and style icon, died today after a prolonged illness. She was 87 years old. Here, in its original layout, is Didion’s seminal essay “Self-respect: Its Source, Its Power,” which was first published in Vogue in 1961, and which was republished as “On Self-Respect” in the author’s 1968 collection, Slouching Towards Bethlehem.​ Didion wrote the essay as the magazine was going to press, to fill the space left after another writer did not produce a piece on the same subject. She wrote it not to a word count or a line count, but to an exact character count.


Bicycle Drag Races Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Dallas, Texas

Here’s How Much to Ride a Week to Keep Your Brain 9 Years Younger

Cycling definitely helps keep you in great physical shape, but that’s not the only benefit your favorite activity has on your body. According to new research out of Durham, North Carolina, aerobic exercise has some serious perks for your brain, too—like helping to reverse its age by almost nine years.


The mola we bought at the estate sale.

The Secret History of Panamá’s Most Colorful Clothes

In Guna Yala, indigenous women sew stories of legend, revolution, and even Minnie Mouse into the elaborate textiles known as molas.


Commemorative Air Force, Wings Over Dallas, Dallas, Texas

How a White Lie Gave Japan KFC for Christmas

One cunning business maneuver created a tradition and saved a franchise.


St. Vincent’s, New Orleans

Brutal and Unreformed—Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Straw Dogs’ at 50

December 22nd will be the 50th anniversary of the release of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, a film so marked by violent killings and violent sex that, according to Peckinpah’s biographer, David Weddle, a third of the audience walked out of its premiere before the end.


The Dangerous Rise Of Men Who Won’t Date “Woke” Women

What I learned this week, December 17, 2021

Travelin’ Light, Alison Saar, Bronze, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

Sunday night anxiety: how to alleviate the “Sunday scaries,” according to an expert

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of dread which creeps in on a Sunday evening, is there? Despite your best attempts to push away thoughts of the week ahead – to “make the most” of your time off and forget about work for a little while longer – they somehow find a way in.


Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans

Surprising ways to beat anxiety and become mentally strong – according to science

Do you have anxiety? Have you tried just about everything to get over it, but it just keeps coming back? Perhaps you thought you had got over it, only for the symptoms to return with a vengeance? Whatever your circumstances, science can help you to beat anxiety for good.


Running of the Bulls, New Orleans, Louisiana

Twenty-Five Useful Thinking Tools

Most people think being smart is about having more facts. Trivia-shows like Jeopardy! epitomize this view of knowledge. The smartest people are the people with the most names, dates and places stored away inside their mind.

This is probably the least important and useful part of learning though. Instead of facts, I’d prefer to focus on knowledge that acts as tools. The more you have, the more ways you can approach different problems.


Virtual money flowing across the surface of the sculpture. Fountainhead Charles Long Northpark Center Dallas, Texas

What You’re Really Worried About When You’re Worried About Money

Once you’ve met your most basic needs, an obsession with your bank account might be hiding deeper anxieties.


1957 Thunderbird

The American Addiction to Speeding

How we became obsessed with driving fast, no matter the cost.


Collage by James Michael Starr, Carrollton DART station.

A Brief History of Zork

“You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.”


A wide angle view of Dealey Plaza at dawn on the morning henge day (or two days later). The brick building in shadow on the far left is the infamous Texas Schoolbook Depository. President Kennedy was shot on the curved road on the left, almost fifty years ago.

Our Extinct Cousins Reached ‘The Roof of The World’ a Long Time Before Homo Sapiens

If it wasn’t for an extinct relative of modern humans known as the Denisovans, some researchers suspect our own species might never have made their home on the highest and largest plateau in the world.

What I learned this week, December 11, 2021

Chico y Chica de la Playa, sculptor: Victor Salmones, McCasland Sunken Garden, Dallas Arboretum

5 questions to ask when you need help finding your purpose

Mark Twain once said the two greatest days in a person’s life are the day they’re born and the day they discover why. Deep? Definitely. But let’s be honest: the first day is a somewhat passive experience. The second day, however, can feel like a lot of pressure. While some of us can quickly identify our purpose (in our careers, or otherwise), others may struggle to answer the question “Why am I here?”


Karma, Do-Ho Suh, 2011. Korea, Brushed Steel with Stone Base, The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

Why Do Toxic People Get Promoted? For the Same Reason Humble People Do: Political Skill

Good workplace politics skills can help employees with toxic personalities rise to the top of an organization’s structure. There’s danger in that: Capable and valuable employees leave organizations because of bosses, or corporate fraud and accountancy scandals result in bankruptcies.


Something In front of Braindead Brewing Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

The internet is tricking our brains

Researchers are finding that the intersection of Google, smartphones and our memories is starting to mess with how we judge our own abilities.


City life damages mental health in ways we’re just starting to understand

Urban dwellers are particularly at risk from the impacts of air pollution and other hazards on mental health.


Unprecedented

The theme is “Western civilization at the crossroads.” Far be it from me to doubt that the West is on the precipice of something enormous. But “crossroads” implies a map. Do we have one? Is a piece of paper showing the way forward—whether predictive or hopeful—even possible?


From two years ago – Natchez Paddlewheel, New Orleans

Under The Surface

Last year, in our escape from lockdown Colorado, we visited a riverboat museum near Kansas City, and that was….. bizarre.


Downtown Square, McKinney, Texas

Parents of the social media generation are not OK

Last September, just a few weeks into the school year, Sabine Polak got a call from the guidance counselor. Her 14-year-old daughter was struggling with depression and had contemplated suicide.

More Things I learned this week, December 8, 2021

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

Feel lonely? There are 4 types of loneliness. Here’s how to beat them

Have you ever gotten into bed at the end of the day and realized that you haven’t spoken out loud to anyone since the day before? Or simply found yourself feeling completely and utterly alone?


Vincent van Gogh on Fear, Taking Risks, and How Making Inspired Mistakes Moves Us Forward

“However meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth … steps in and does something.”


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

10 Works of Literary Fantasy You Should Read

What do I mean by “literary fantasy”? …, I am using it to mean works of fantasy that prioritize sentence-level craft and/or complex thematic structures, and/or that play with expectations and fantasy tropes, and/or that focus on characters and interiority as primary goals of the work. I don’t just mean “well-written fantasy” or “literary novels that have magic in them,” though both kinds of books can be found here. What I mean is books that relate to and pull from the conventions of both genres: fantasy and literary fiction.


25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites

Standing Man With Radiating Words, Leslie Dill, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

I loved watching this couple dance while Brave Combo played. The reflecting pools were dry and the Art Deco sculptures looked down on them.

Stretching is not the key to moving better. This is.

Over the past year I’ve been working hard on moving better. I’ve gone from having shin splints and sore ankles when I run to bashing out 10Ks happy as anything. It takes a bit of work, but there’s a lot you can do to improve. And it doesn’t matter where you’re starting out, either.


The land of lakes, volcanoes, and sun. A painting I bought on my last trip to Nicaragua.

Volcanic fertilization of the oceans drove severe mass extinction, say scientists

Scientists at the University of Southampton have discovered that two intense periods of volcanism triggered a period of global cooling and falling oxygen levels in the oceans, which caused one of the most severe mass extinctions in Earth history.


What I learned this week, December 3, 2021

How we uncancelled Jordan Peterson

Aristotle called man a ‘political animal’. Perhaps he should have said a ‘censorious’ animal. Some people’s urge to shut others up seems to be as strong as the baser drives to eat, drink and copulate. That is why, in the war for free speech, victory is never permanent, though you can sometimes win a local battle or two. Jordan Peterson’s visit to Cambridge this week was such a win.


Why a toaster from 1949 is still smarter than any sold today

My colleague Tom once introduced you to a modern toaster with two seemingly ingenious buttons: one to briefly lift your bread to check its progress, and another to toast it “a bit more.” I respectfully submit you shouldn’t need a button at all.

That’s because in 1948, Sunbeam engineer Ludvik J. Koci invented the perfect toaster, one where the simple act of placing a slice into one of its two slots would result in a delicious piece of toasted bread. No button, no lever, no other input required. Drop bread, get toast.


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


The crowd milling around in the Winspear Opera House, sipping their wine

How to Tell If You’re Oversharing (and How to Stop It)

Being authentic and personable is great! Constantly unloading on everyone around you is not.


A tough choice.

Want to Build Unbeatable Mental Toughness? Here Are 5 Surprisingly Effective Ways

Beating cancer made Yale Law grad Seun Adebiyi rethink his fast-paced life and become an entrepreneur.


Chapel, Thanksgiving Square, Dallas, Texas

How to Be Thankful For Your Life by Changing Just One Word

You don’t “have” to. You “get” to.


Here’s Why Movie Dialogue Has Gotten More Difficult To Understand (And Three Ways To Fix It)

I used to be able to understand 99% of the dialogue in Hollywood films. But over the past 10 years or so, I’ve noticed that percentage has dropped significantly — and it’s not due to hearing loss on my end. It’s gotten to the point where I find myself occasionally not being able to parse entire lines of dialogue when I see a movie in a theater, and when I watch things at home, I’ve defaulted to turning the subtitles on to make sure I don’t miss anything crucial to the plot.