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 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 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 22, 2022

Artwork in the Braindead Brewing Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Open-minded people have a different visual perception of reality

Psychologists have only begun to unravel the concept of “personality,” that all-important but nebulous feature of individual identity. Recent studies suggest that personality traits don’t simply affect your outlook on life, but the way you perceive reality.


Struggling with positive thinking? Research shows grumpy moods can actually be useful

As psychiatry, which uses medical and biological methods to treat mental disorders, has largely overtaken psychotherapy, which relies on non-biological approaches such as conversation and counselling, psychotherapists have sought alternative challenges. One common approach is to focus on enhancing the happiness of mentally healthy people, rather than relieving the mental pain and trauma of those who are suffering.


Heat
Heat

8 Creative Ways People Kept Cool Before Air Conditioning

It’s therefore no surprise that people have come up with a range of ingenious, harebrained, and sometimes grim but often remarkable ways to stay cool during a summer scorcher. Below are eight highlights.


Wind Turbines Blackwell, Oklahoma (click to enlarge)

The real-world consequences of green extremism

Humankind long ago acquired the technological ability to thrive in all climes, but citizens of the most advanced nations must now check the weather forecast to know if their fridges and household lights will work or be shut down in an electricity blackout.


A group of friends in front of the Dallas Museum of Art, night, long exposure

The Grown-Up’s Guide to Making and Keeping Friends

The best advice for finding your people, staying close, and getting through the hard parts.


Recycled Books, Denton, Texas

7 Fiction Books That Change The Way You Think

Non-fiction books of today are equally entertaining to read as fiction books. That’s also because they’re forced to be more interesting — books have a lot of competition these days.


14 Fun Facts About Fireflies

Fact number 3: In some places at some times, fireflies synchronize their flashing


The 50 Greatest Fictional Deaths of All Time

The most tearjerking, hilarious, satisfying, and shocking death scenes in 2,500 years of culture.


How where you’re born influences the person you become

Today, unique behaviors and characteristics seem ingrained in certain cultures.


What Counts as Seeing

A conversation between Alice Wong and Ed Yong

What I learned this week, July 15, 2022

Recycled Books Denton, Texas

A Century of Reading: The 10 Books That Defined the 1970s

I’m not too surprised – but I have read all of these. What’s odd is that I’ve also read all the ones from the 1960s – all but one from the 1950s – all but two from the 1940s – all from the 1930s – seven from the 1920s – but only one from the 1910s (though I think I’m going to read Peter and Wendy – didn’t think about how relevant it is today).


Artwork in the Braindead Brewing Company, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

How to Tackle a Mountain of Tasks

I learned a lot in the past week about this kind of challenge — some of it was re-learning things I’ve learned before, but some of it was new learnings. I’d like to share here for anyone who is facing a daunting, overwhelming, discouraging mountain of tasks, messages and emails.


Bicycle Drag Racer on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Vigorous Exercise Could Add Years to Your Life, Study Suggests

All activity is helpful, but throwing in some intense workouts could give your health an extra boost.


How to make your anxiety work for you instead of against you

Anxiety is energy, and you can strike the right balance if you know what to look for.


Mayan Flint Knife from the Dallas Museum of Art

How to Sharpen a Knife

A dull knife is a dangerous knife; keep yourself and those around you safe by learning how to properly sharpen your blade.


Imaginary numbers are real

These odd values were long dismissed as bookkeeping. Now physicists are proving that they describe the hidden shape of nature


Employee engagement is out. This is the new goal

Leaders must inspire their people with a strong and achievable vision, an inclusive culture, personal growth opportunities, and competitive rewards.  


I know I’m a boring useless old man. But you need to give me (and my generation) a break. This is the stuff we were forced to watch when we were little kids. I remember watching the Red Skelton show. Young brains are impressionable – the amount of damage this sort of thing does in unimaginable.

What I learned this week, July 9, 2022

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

The Remarkable Ways Our Brains Slip Into Synchrony

Many of our most influential experiences are shared with and, according to a growing body of cognitive science research, partly shaped by other people.


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

How to spend your money for maximum happiness

Years of behavioral and psychological research have given us insight into how to splurge optimally.


Sculpture, East Dallas

5 questions to ask when you need help finding your purpose

If you’re feeling stuck, these questions can help.


Mojo Coffee, Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana (click to enlarge)

Woke Coffee Shop Closes Down After Insane Demands From Even-More-Woke Employees

A coffee shop in Philadelphia known for its LGBTQ brand identity closed its doors after employees revolted against the owners and demanded that they “redistribute” the company.


The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

The Biden Administration Sold 950,000 Barrels of Precious Strategic Petroleum Reserve Oil to a China Firm Which Hunter Biden Just Happens To Own a Huge Stake In.

The Biden administration sold roughly one million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to a Chinese state-controlled gas giant that continues to purchase Russian oil, a move the Energy Department said would “support American consumers” and combat “Putin’s price hike.”


Chicago’s holiday weekend death toll was higher than the mass shooting on the 4th and residents wonder why no one cares.

The focus on one shocking act of violence is understandable but the city of Chicago saw many acts of violence over the July 4th weekend. In fact, more people were shot and killed over the 3-day weekend than died in the mass shooting in Highland Park. Local residents wonder why the violence they see every day doesn’t seem to attract much attention or resources.


Peak Woke?

America’s Great Awokening produced cottage industries and small fortunes. Consultants and trainers peddled odd academic theories to multinational corporations, earning millions; authors such as Ibram X. Kendi won massive grants and intellectual prizes. On the other side, public intellectuals like Jordan Peterson emerged in part as theorists of what was wrong about woke culture; conservatives like Ben Shapiro and liberals like Dave Rubin grew their audiences with an anti-woke message.


What I learned this week, June 30, 2022

Flora Street, Dallas, Texas

How your mind, under stress, gets better at processing bad news

Some of the most important decisions you will make in your lifetime will occur while you feel stressed and anxious. From medical decisions to financial and professional ones, we are often required to weigh up information under stressful conditions. Take for example expectant parents who need to make a series of important choices during pregnancy and labour – when many feel stressed. Do we become better or worse at processing and using information under such circumstances?xxx


Bike Trail, Spring Creek Natural Area Richardson, Texas

7 Powerful Habits of People With High Emotional Intelligence

You don’t get where you want to be without practice. Here’s how and what to practice.


Klyde Warren Park Dallas, Texas

Five stretches you should do every day

Even if you never work out.


One of the nice things at the Museum of Art is they had some semi-live music – a guitar player using some pre-recorded backing. It was very relaxing and everyone hung around and talked.

People who are good at small talk ask these 5 questions to be ‘more real and less awkward’: Public speaking expert

Small talk is often dismissed as being pointless and anxiety-producing. People either want to jump right into real conversation, or they want to go home. But some of the most important relationships begin with a casual conversation.


My Xootr Swift folding bike in the repair stand from Aldi

How to Do Your Own Basic Bike Maintenance

You can avoid expensive repairs and keep your bike in great working order.


B-25 “Devil Dog,” Commemorative Air Force, Dallas, Texas

Airline Labor Shortages May Wreck Your Summer Travel Plans.

Shit!



What I learned this week, June 24, 2022

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

The Strange Case of Buddy Holly’s Final Pair of Glasses

Sheriff Jerry Allen of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, was combing through a storage vault in a courthouse basement on February 29, 1980 when he came across an envelope. It was from the coroner’s office and read, “Charles Hardin Holley, rec’d April 7, 1959.” Allen opened it and found a pair of black-framed angular eyeglasses, the lenses scratched.


Campsite, Lake Ray Roberts, Texas

Ultralight backpacking hacks no one tells you about

You pack it, you carry it.


Nick reading Harry Potter.
Nick reading Harry Potter. Is this the first one?

Growing Up Surrounded by Books Could Have Powerful, Lasting Effect on the Mind

A new study suggests that exposure to large home libraries may have a long-term impact on proficiency in three key areas

On the other hand Is Reading a Waste of Time


History of the Conquest, Hank Willis Thomas, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

You Need to Practice Being Your Future Self

Being busy is not the same as being productive. It’s the difference between running on a treadmill and running to a destination. They’re both running, but being busy is running in place.


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

Dead on Arrival

At the opening of the 1950 classic film noir, D.O.A., Edmund O’Brien strides purposefully into a big-city police station, proceeds down long, endless corridors, and finally arrives at a door marked Homicide Division. “I want to report a murder,” he says to the head detective. “Who was murdered?” asks the cop. “I was,” replies O’Brien.


L’Absinthe (detail) by Edgar Degas

WHO Chief Now Says He Believes COVID Did Leak From Wuhan Lab After an Accident in 2019

Was there ever any doubt?


Wind Turbines Blackwell, Oklahoma (click to enlarge)

Is the Green Energy Climate Cabal Crumbling?

As President Joe Biden waxes poetic about the amazing “transition” his energy policies will affect, the green fervor in Europe is flailing.