How to Find Fulfilling Work By Maria Popova “If one wanted to crush and destroy a man entirely, to mete out to him the most terrible punishment,” wrote Dostoevsky, “all one would have to do would be to make him do work that was completely and utterly devoid of usefulness and meaning.” Indeed, the quest to avoid work and make a living of doing what you love is a constant conundrum of modern life. In How to Find Fulfilling Work (public library) — the latest installment in The School of Life’s wonderful series reclaiming the traditional self-help genre as intelligent, non-self-helpy, yet immensely helpful guides to modern living, which previously gave us Philippa Perry’s How to Stay Sane and Alain de Botton’s How to Think More About Sex — philosopher Roman Krznaric (remember him?) explores the roots of this contemporary quandary and guides us to its fruitful resolution: Never have so many people felt so unfulfilled in their career roles, and been so unsure what to do about it.
Alice in Quantumland: A Charming Illustrated Allegory of Quantum Mechanics by a CERN Physicist by Maria Popova Down the rabbit hole of antimatter, or how to believe six impossible things about gender stereotypes before breakfast. As a lover of science and of all things Alice in Wonderland, imagine my delight at discovering Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics (public library) — an imaginative and unusual 1995 quantum primer by particle physicist Robert Gilmore, who has under his belt experience at Stanford and CERN. Besides the clever concept, two things make the book especially remarkable: It flies in the face of gender stereotypes with a female protagonist who sets out to make sense of some of the most intense science of all time, and it features Gilmore’s own magnificent illustrations for a perfect intersection of art and science, true to recent research indicating that history’s most successful scientists also dabbled in the arts. Gilmore writes in the preface: In the first half of the twentieth century, our understanding in the Universe was turned upside down.
Ross Andersen – Humanity's deep future Sometimes, when you dig into the Earth, past its surface and into the crustal layers, omens appear. In 1676, Oxford professor Robert Plot was putting the final touches on his masterwork, The Natural History of Oxfordshire, when he received a strange gift from a friend. The gift was a fossil, a chipped-off section of bone dug from a local quarry of limestone. Plot recognised it as a femur at once, but he was puzzled by its extraordinary size. The fossil was only a fragment, the knobby end of the original thigh bone, but it weighed more than 20 lbs (nine kilos). The Baloney Detection Kit: Carl Sagan’s Rules for Bullshit-Busting and Critical Thinking Carl Sagan was many things — a cosmic sage, voracious reader, hopeless romantic, and brilliant philosopher. But above all, he endures as our era’s greatest patron saint of reason and common sense, a master of the vital balance between skepticism and openness. In The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (public library) — the same indispensable volume that gave us Sagan’s timeless meditation on science and spirituality, published mere months before his death in 1996 — Sagan shares his secret to upholding the rites of reason, even in the face of society’s most shameless untruths and outrageous propaganda. Through their training, scientists are equipped with what Sagan calls a “baloney detection kit” — a set of cognitive tools and techniques that fortify the mind against penetration by falsehoods: The kit is brought out as a matter of course whenever new ideas are offered for consideration. Sagan ends the chapter with a necessary disclaimer:
The Poetics of the Psyche: Adam Phillips on Why Psychoanalysis Is Like Literature and How Art Soothes the Soul by Maria Popova “Everybody is dealing with how much of their own aliveness they can bear and how much they need to anesthetize themselves.” “A writer is someone who pays attention to the world — a writer is a professional observer,” Susan Sontag once said. The object of the writer’s observation isn’t just the outer world but also — and perhaps even more so — the inner. In that regard, the writer bears a striking similarity to another professional observer — the psychotherapist. Legendary Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips on Why the Capacity for Boredom Is Essential for a Full Life by Maria Popova “Boredom … protects the individual, makes tolerable for him the impossible experience of waiting for something without knowing what it could be.” When was the last time you were bored — truly bored — and didn’t instantly spring to fill your psychic emptiness by checking Facebook or Twitter or Instagram? The last time you stood in line at the store or the boarding gate or the theater and didn’t reach for your smartphone seeking deliverance from the dreary prospect of forced idleness?
What Does It Mean To Be Human? A Historical Perspective 1800-2011 by Maria Popova What Aristotle has to do with the women’s suffrage movement, Darwin, and M. C. Escher. Last year, we explored what it means to be human from the perspectives of three different disciplines — philosophy, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology — and that omnibus went on to become one of the most-read articles in Brain Pickings history. Resilience Alliance - Panarchy No system can be understood or managed by focusing on it at a single scale. All systems (and SESs especially) exist and function at multiple scales of space, time and social organization, and the interactions across scales are fundamentally important in determining the dynamics of the system at any particular focal scale. This interacting set of hierarchically structured scales has been termed a "panarchy" (Gunderson and Holling 2003). Panarchy is a framework of nature's rules, hinted at by the name of the Greek god of nature- Pan - whose persona also evokes an image of unpredictable change. Since the essential focus of Panarchy is to rationalize the interplay between change and persistence, between the predictable and unpredictable, Holling et al. (2002) draw on the notion of hierarchies of influences between embedded scales, that is pan-archies, to represent structures that sustain experiments, test its results and allow adaptive evolution.
It’s a “Story Problem”: What’s Behind Our Messed-Up Economy by David Korten The peoples of earlier times prospered from the guidance of simple stories that offered answers to their deepest questions. We need those now more than ever. posted Jul 18, 2013 For people, generally, their story of the universe and the human role in the universe is their primary source of intelligibility and value. ... The deepest crises experienced by any society are those moments of change when the story becomes inadequate for meeting the survival demands of a present situation. —Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth Avoid Harmful Chemical Teeth Whitening With These DIY Tricks To A Brighter Smile Teeth naturally yellow as we age. A number of things we eat and drink can contribute to the loss of a pearly white smile. Drinking a lot of coffee, red wine, and smoking can cause yellowing. Soda, tea and berries contain chromogenic agents which stain teeth.
Talking to a Philosopher About True Detective "I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution,” mutters Matthew McConaughey's Rust Cohle in his version of ride-along small talk with partner Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson). While True Detective is heralded for its slow-burn mystery shrouded in atmosphere as thick as the bayou, half the fun of an episode is waiting to see which metaphysical concept Rust will tackle in monotone soliloquy. Life, death, religion, love, the fourth dimension, man's physical self as a conduit for violent action — Rust has a line for every topic and, thankfully, is always willing to share. It's easy to forget there may be answers at the end of True Detective's tunnel when McConaughey continues to drop foggy poeticisms with such grace. But do Rust's nihilistic ruminations reflect a founded philosophical doctrine or is he spewing pure bunk? Is nihilism even the right word for it?