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About

About
Hey there. My name is Maria Popova and I’m a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind at large. I’ve previously written for Wired UK, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, among others, and am an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow. Maria Popova. Photograph by Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Founded in 2006 as a weekly email that went out to seven friends and eventually brought online, the site was included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive in 2012. Here’s a little bit about my seven most important learnings from the journey so far. I think of it as LEGOs — if the bricks we have are of only one shape, size, and color, we can build things, but there’s a limit to how imaginative and interesting they will be. Please enjoy. Donating = Loving Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter.

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Naomi Klein Published in The Daily Beast Our inboxes runneth over with congratulations from American friends. “Pleasure to be able to look north without wincing,” “we’re all thrilled to have regained our sensible neighbors to the north,” “Goodbye Stephen ‘Keystone XL’ Harper.” And then there was this from England: “you now officially have the hottest Prime Minister EVER!” Like us, our friends tend to spend a lot of time thinking about climate change, so you can understand their euphoria. Among other crimes, Stephen Harper shredded environmental protections, re-fashioned our country as a petro-state, and made us climate criminals on the world stage.

Turtle Anatomy, in Stunning Images from 1820 donating = loving Brain Pickings remains ad-free and takes hundreds of hours a month to research and write, and thousands of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy and value in it, please consider becoming a Member and supporting with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner: (If you don't have a PayPal account, no need to sign up for one – you can just use any credit or debit card.) You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount: labors of love

The Art Costa Centre For Thinking Habits of Mind is knowing how to behave intelligently when you DON'T know the answer. It means having a disposition toward behaving intelligently when confronted with problems, the answers to which are not immediately known: dichotomies, dilemmas, enigmas and uncertainties. Our focus is on performance under challenging conditions that demand strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity, and craftsmanship. The critical attribute of intelligent human beings is not only having information, but also knowing how to act on it. Employing Habits of Mind requires drawing forth certain patterns of intellectual behavior that produce powerful results.

You Are A Mashup Of What You Let Into Your Life Aaron DeOliveira alerts us to a wonderful presentation by writer/artist/poet Austin Kleon called Steal Like an Artist. It's a little less than 8 minutes, but worth watching: There's a lot in there that will sound familiar if you're a regular reader, but it goes over the simple fact that content creators always build on the works of those they come across, whether on purpose or not. There were two lines that really caught my attention. The Food System The Food System The Food System - Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems Social Issues Team and Elliott Kuhn (graphic artist), 2004. Agricultural Treadmills PDF version of Agricultural Teadmills

THE STONE - Opinionator This is the second in a series of interviews about religion that I am conducting for The Stone. The interviewee for this installment is Louise Antony, a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the editor of the essay collection “Philosophers Without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life.” Gary Gutting: You’ve taken a strong stand as an atheist, so you obviously don’t think there are any good reasons to believe in God. But I imagine there are philosophers whose rational abilities you respect who are theists.

100 Websites You Should Know and Use Entertainment Meet David Peterson, who developed Dothraki for Game of Thrones There are seven different words in Dothraki for striking another person with a sword. Among them: “hlizifikh,” a wild but powerful strike; “hrakkarikh,”a quick and accurate strike; and “gezrikh,” a fake-out or decoy strike. But you won’t find these words in George R. R. Tackle Any Issue With a List of 100 The List of 100 is a powerful technique you can use to generate ideas, clarify your thoughts, uncover hidden problems or get solutions to any specific questions you’re interested in. The technique is very simple in principle: state your issue or question in the top of a blank sheet of paper and come up with a list of one hundred answers or solutions about it. “100 Ways to Generate Income”, “100 Ways to be More Creative” or “100 Ways to Improve my Relationships” are some examples. “One hundred entries? Isn’t that way too many?” Bear with me: it’s exactly this exaggeration that makes the technique powerful.

Austin Kleon on Cultivating Creativity in the Digital Age by Maria Popova The genealogy of ideas, why everything is a remix, or what T.S. Eliot can teach us about creativity. Response to Susan Schneider's The Philosophy of 'Her' In a March 2nd, 2014 New York times article, Susan Schneider used the recent film ‘Her’ to analyze some of the philosophical challenges to the concept of mind-uploading, whereby a person’s mind is transferred from a brain to some sort of computer. She presented some common (although admittedly fascinating) hypothetical thought-experiments, drawing conclusions to match. Below, I offer alternative explanations for these scenarios. Schneider claims right off the bat, of Samantha the life-like artificial intelligence portrayed in the film, “few humans would want to join Samantha, for to upload your brain to a computer would be to forfeit your consciousness.” She is putting the cart before the horse.

Old Salt Blog – a virtual port of call for all those who love the sea Alan Olson, a Sausalito boat builder and founder of the educational sailing nonprofit Call of the Sea, has some ambitious plans. He wants to build a new 140-foot wood long brigantine to be used as a sail training ship for the San Francisco Bay area and he would like to see it completely to coincide with the San Francisco America’s Cup during the summer of 2013. His new project has been named, Educational Tall Ship for San Francisco Bay.

18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently This list has been expanded into the new book, “Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind,” by Carolyn Gregoire and Scott Barry Kaufman. Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process. Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional).

Why Boredom Is Good for Your Creativity Like most creatives, you probably have a low boredom threshold. You’re hardwired to pursue novelty and inspiration, and to run from admin and drudgery. Boredom is the enemy of creativity, to be avoided at all costs. Or is it? Consider these remarks by comedy writer Graham Linehan, in a recent interview for the Guardian: I have to use all these programs that cut off the internet, force me to be bored, because being bored is an essential part of writing, and the internet has made it very hard to be bored. the beautiful Sarah Schneider My work is on the nature of the self and mind, which I examine from the vantage point of issues in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, artificial intelligence (AI), philosophy of science, astrobiology and applied ethics. The topics I’ve written about most recently include the software approach to the mind, how the mathematical nature of physics undermines physicalism, artificial intelligence, and the nature of the person. For a brief overview of some of my work see this interview with 3AM Magazine. For other discussions of my work see pieces on my work that appeared in The New York Times, Wired, Humanity+, Big Think, 3 Quarks Daily, and Discover Magazine, (see “media”, above). You can also download the introductions to my books and some papers below. June: Interviewed for NPR (on the “Night of Philosophy” event and my talk on superintelligence).

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